Sunlight can be both a blessing and a curse. Both landscape and wildlife photographers often prefer to photograph in the soft light around sunrise and sunset to avoid the harsh shadows created by the bright light in the middle of the day. Wildlife photographers also avoid midday hours because animals tend to reduce activity during the day which doesn’t lend to dynamic images of animal behavior. Sometimes, however, midday light can be a benefit.
For animals that move a lot in the morning or evening or get easily spooked, photographing them during the middle of the day can be great! If you can get close enough to them without being a disturbance to them or a jeopardy to your own safety, you can capture beautiful poses of them relaxing.
Even slight changes in head position can change the whole dynamic of the image. In the case below, this female rested peacefully but occasionally lifted her head to listen for possible males within the vicinity. There likely was not one close by since she was still in a relaxed pose for this image.
She became slightly more alert in the image below and her gaze became more focused in one direction as she decided whether or not the male was enough of a threat to make her move.
Because the one directional nature of midday light is very apparent when there are no clouds, we have to be a bit more thoughtful when planning our images. Ideally, we would like the sun behind us so that the portion of the animal facing us is lit up by the sun with the shadows behind it.
When dealing with grizzly bears, however, you don’t always get a choice about where you can stand to get the sun behind you. 🙂 . Luckily, I was able to capture this one below looking at me intently as she was eating and the image still worked even though I wasn’t perfectly on sun angle.
Sometimes we have to disregard sun angle to get the animal in a landscape scene as shown below. The stream flowed nicely through the meadow and provided a great backdrop for this Grizzly bear chomping on the grasses.
When all else has been tried, it’s fun to zoom in close and crop around the animal in the bright light. The sun highlighted the golden fur around the edges of her frame, adding dimension to the image.
As mentioned in a previous post, Alaska was being ravaged by wildfires while we were in Lake Clark National Park so some of the haze actually helped us for midday shooting when we captured the beauty of a sleeping bear.
We saw other wildlife besides bears so stay tuned for more! You can view these images individually and more not posted here in my portfolio located here.
If you missed my TV debut on ABC15’s Sonoran Living, you can check out a recording of it here. You don’t want to miss this!