Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

by Rick Diffley on April 23, 2012

Backlite Flower

First, let’s review what the weekly photo challenge was about…

The Challenge: Sun

“We’ve done sunset before, but what about when the sun, in its full glory, is the feature of your photo?

The Problem:

If you take the challenge literally, you will have run into the following problems. Shooting in direct sunlight can lead to images that have high contrast, blown out highlights, dark shadows with no detail, lens flare and colors look overly saturated. If you’re shooting portraits they can also lead to the ‘squint factor’. In many of the images I have seen, if you attempt to include the full sun, these are the issues that pop-up. Other’s have not used the full sun and have come up with some creative alternatives to the weekly challenge.

Three Solutions

Golden Hour: Most photographers will tell you early morning and evening light works best and is often called the “golden hour.” The sun is lower to the horizon and is further away from than at midday. Therefore it has to travel through more atmospheres, which diffuses and softens the light. The other plus for shooting at this time is you get very nice warm colors across your subject.

Shoot Silhouettes: In simple terms, one solution for shooting mid-day with full sun, make your subject into a Silhouette against a bright background. The basic strategy you’ll need to employ in taking these type of shots is to place your subject (the shape you want to be blacked out) in front of some source of light and set your cameras  exposure based upon the brightest part of your picture (the background) and not the subject of your image.

Shoot Backlite: The key is exposing for your flower. Manual mode is going to really help you out here. Simi-transparent flower works best. Place your flower in front of your light source, here I used full sun light. My settings with my Nikon D300, using a Tamron 90mm macro lens, in manual mode: Shutter speed = 1/2000, f/11.


I really didn’t meet the challenge, because I didn’t feature the full sun in my image. So, I shot something that used the full sun and would produce a pleasant image.



{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Imelda April 23, 2012 at 7:54 PM

This is a very nice image and thank you for the tutorial. I especially appreciated the tips about shooting a silhouette. Indeed, as one person who likes taking pictures of the sun, I got a little headache after looking directly at the sun.


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Glad you stopped by. Regarding silhouettes… Try to pick some interesting subjects like a group of kids jumping in & out of a water sprinkler.


Cardinal Guzman April 24, 2012 at 12:56 AM

I must say that you came up with a great interpretation of this Weekly Photo Challenge, even if you, in your own words: “really didn’t meet the challenge, because I didn’t feature the full sun in my image.” Like you’re pointing out in your article: featuring the full sun in an image wouldn’t produce a satisfactory result.

I also reacted when I first saw the challenge as presented by the WordPress team and I had to come up with an alternative solution. They already had a challenge called “sunset”, which leaves out a lot of photos, but still you see that many bloggers posted photos of sunsets in this challenge too.

Ideally I think that the photo challenges should be more open to interpretations and force the participants to think about their photo technique and composition.
“Picture the sun” could might as well have been “picture a chair”; it is to narrow and a challenge like that doesn’t really show appreciation, neither for photography nor creativity.


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 7:32 AM

Big smile… The Word Press Team should hire us as consultants!


Jeff Sinon April 24, 2012 at 2:48 AM

Beautifully composed, and the hint of blue sky adds just the right finishing touch. Not to mention the great perspective.

I also went with a different take on this weeks theme. Choosing to emphasize how the light from the sun, “in all its glory,” whether the sun itself is in the frame or not, is the star of the show.


Cardinal Guzman April 24, 2012 at 3:43 AM

Very nice photos Jeff.


ritarivera5150 April 24, 2012 at 8:16 AM

that’s amazing! gorgeous! – rita


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Thank you for the comment! It was fun to capture.


Patti Kuche April 24, 2012 at 9:12 AM

Rick, love your shot of the golden sunshine flower and very much appreciate your tutorial, thank you. Due to my lack of creativity I am not posting to this week’s challenge as I would be choosing b/w sunrises, sunsets and bad in-betweens!


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Thanks Patti! Loved your Wall Street article and pics!! Good job.


David April 24, 2012 at 9:38 AM

I didn’t understand your comment on my sun photo but after reading this it makes perfect sense. I enjoy taking photos of the sunrise over the ocean at Virginia Beach. It seems that the photos are not blown out when its just over the horizon. But five minutes later when it’s a few inches above the horizon everything in the photo goes crazy. So I’m still looking for a solution there. But your photo is very beautiful and I appreciate your comment too.


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Thanks for you comments. Bottom line, it is tough shooting in full sunlight, especially late morning, mid-day, & until near sundown. One solution can be the use of a graduated neutral density filter. Read more about it here:


Another solution, depending on what you have for editing images, PS CS, PE, etc, you can apply the same effect. Nik Software Color Efex Pro 4 has a specific grad filter that is easy to apply and control.

Hope this helps! Get back to me if you have further questions.


Liv O'Brien April 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM



Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Thank you. Enjoyed following your Vegas tour (-: Have family there so we visit often.


milkayphoto April 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Looks “sunny” to me, Rick. :-)

Challenges are all open to interpretation and I find that many take the easy way out. A literal interpretation, ie, photo of the actual sun would have been predictable and well, boring. Your photograph evokes the feeling of sun and sunshine and happiness and warmth. Well done. :-)


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Always interesting to see the various interpretations. Thanks for the nice comment.


Paula April 24, 2012 at 11:38 AM

I will be able to learn a lot on this site :). Great advice and a terrific shot for the “Sun” weekly challenge.


Rick Diffley April 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Thank you for stopping by and I’m always available for questions.


Anne Freeman April 25, 2012 at 5:59 AM

Stunning photo. The lines, colors and textures are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Here are my two contributions to “Sun”: http://annefreemanimages.wordpress.com/


Rick Diffley April 25, 2012 at 3:35 PM


First, thank you for stopping by. Second, your comments are generous.

Enjoyed seeing your entry for this challenge.


amar April 25, 2012 at 3:44 PM
Rick Diffley April 26, 2012 at 4:27 PM

Thank you! And, I really like your sunset image in the series you posted at your website.


Jessie April 25, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Wonderful photo, and great tips. I see there is a weekly lesson and assignment under construction… sounds pretty interesting!


Rick Diffley April 26, 2012 at 7:39 AM

Thanks Jessie. Ugh! Yes, the weekly lessons & assignments. It has just been sitting there, empty (-: I have a lot of lessons with assignments to go, but I have to finish up my base lesson to shoot in manual mode.


suburbanferndaleark April 27, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Oh I think you did more than meet the challenge. You showcased another way the sun defines what and how we see. Well done!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: