How to Shoot in Extreme Lighting Scenarios

I love a challenge, especially when it comes to testing my photography skills as it helps to grow my experience as a professional. Not to mention, the journey of attempting a new challenge often leads to some exciting results that have pushed me past boundaries only I was putting on myself. In photography, a lot of challenges present themselves during unique lighting scenarios to the point where you may shy away from trying to overcome them. Well, not today! Let’s look at a few extreme lighting scenarios and some tips on how to shoot in them.    

Scenario #1: Shooting in the midday sun

Tip – Have your assistant, grab a buddy, use a light stand, or try self-holding a scrim to diffuse the harsh light. You can also use a reflector to fill-in shadows. I highly recommend investing in the following light kit, which includes:

  • 5 in 1 Portable 24 x 36"/60 x 90cm Round Collapsible Multi Disc Photography Studio Photo Camera Lighting Reflector/Diffuser Kit

  • C-Stand with boom arm

  • Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps (4 1/2 inch 6 Pack)

  • Sand bags to safely weigh down the c-stand

Check out’s selection by going to

Tip – Experiment with lens filters (especially graduated for outdoor photography).

Tip – Move to solid shade-side of a building, under a shroud of branches to avoid direct sunlight if possible!

Tip – If later in the day-but still before golden hour, try your best to back light your subjects from different angles.

Scenario #2: Shooting at in very low light or at night

Tip – Depending on your subject, using a combination higher ISO, shower shutter speed, or wider depth of field to achieve proper exposure. If possible always use a tripod. *Worst case, try combo of cranking your ISO and later using noise reduction during photo-editing. Again, reflectors can really help fill in shadows.

Tip – Invest in speedlights compatible with your camera model (with a light softener) or outdoor battery operated air lights (expensive-but totally awesome) *flash heads and soft-boxes recommended. I recommend visiting B&H - to check out standard examples and then searching other camera sites for the cheapest option. Used gear, whenever possible, is an awesome choice!

Scenario #3: Shooting with natural light only (no flash or lighting kits) -indoors and outdoors

Tip – Try finding a wall to bounce light off of, and/or to provide complete shade.

  • If possible, use a white foam board to reflect against bright wall/fill in shadows.

Tip – Again, seek out evenly shaded areas at all costs if outdoors. If indoors, place subject near a window and use a reflector to bounce an even light from the other side.

Don’t let another unfamiliar lighting scenario set you back. Try a few of the ideas above and let me know how it goes. Better yet, I’d love to see your results!