Be wary of the quality of light in late spring and early summer

May is the time of year when flowers bloom and the land comes alive again. Many of us like to get out and take photos of all these flowers, but it can be challenging.

The rule of thumb with amateur photography is “watch the light”. The quality of light differs throughout the day according to the position of the sun. The relative position of the sun in the sky also changes throughout the year.

In winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is relatively low in the sky throughout the day, and the angle of the sun’s rays provides terrific contrasts between light and deep shadow, and warm, brilliant colors.

In late spring and early summer, the sun is high in the sky, almost directly overhead, providing very little contrast or shadow, and, at midday, an almost washed-out effect for photos. It’s something to be aware of. The powerful spring and summer sunlight tends to diffuse colors, rather than create strong contrasts.

The following photos demonstrate this effect.

Here’s a shot of a Camas meadow taken directly into the sun, about 2 hours before sunset on a spring evening.

The trees, instead of blocking the sun, diffuse the light to give the photo a washed-out look:

On the other hand, the flower petals capture the light beautifully.

This next shot is taken perpendicular to the light source (the sun). This helps enhance what contrasts there are from the lighting conditions. We also used a simple photo editing program to enhance the color saturation and make the photo more eye-catching.

Remember, shadows make it easier for the eye to catch (and appreciate) detail in your photographs.

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