Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons 

While this post will be most beneficial to wildlife photographers, it applies to anyone who shoots outdoors. You need to pay attention to sun angle. In bird photography we primarily “shoot on sun angle.” That means we point our shadow at the bird. We make sure the sun is as directly aligned as possible with the bird to bring out all the details in the feathers and to avoid ugly shadows.

While those of you who have never photographed an eagle up close might be happy to have this shot, as someone who sells and publishes bird photos I am NOT happy about it.

The reason is simple. I wasn’t on sun angle. The shadow cast by the bird’s beak makes this photo unacceptable to me. There may be those of you who like it, but none of you would be editors assigned the task of selecting images for “Birding” Magazine!

Photo editors, especially those who buy wildlife photos, are particularly finicky about this stuff. So whether or not you’re photographing eagles, pay attention to the direction of the light. For some subjects, you may want to backlight, sidelight, etc. But for wildlife, most of the time you’ll want direct front lighting. Point your shadow at the subject and fire away.


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