Sports shooting in bright light


CR Pro
Mar 22, 2012
Hi all just a general question looking for advice from others on shooting sport in bright light.
I'm from a country where sunshine is not a common occurance.
We have alot of cloud and rain and that makes sports photography relatively easy.
But from time to time a match I may be shooting is hit with bright sunlight.
Generally in that case I try to shoot with the sun behind me but its not always possible and team I'll be shooting with be facing one half into the sun and one half with the sun behind them. I aways use a lens hood. I keep the shutter speed up a 1/2000 at least on sunny days. I use a monopod.
I often end up with images that are both slightly over and underexposed, slightly hazy.
Others here might be shooting in countries where sunshine is far more common.
Do you tend to under expose or over expose?(Its where dynamic range being higher would be helpful).
Do you expose for the face and ignore blown out skies or do you try to avoid overexposure and fix the faces post processing.
Do you have a preference for shooting into the sun or keeping it behind you.


Dec 26, 2011
It's been a long time since I shot outdoor sports on any regular basis so others may have more current techniques. Here are some thoughts, you need to figure what works best for you.

Shooting full auto exposure, even with matrix/evaluative metering, is likely to yield missed exposures in harsh lighting like full sun; however, shots shouldn't be hazy. That sounds more like lens flare, dirty lens/filter, or airborne dust from the playing field.

If lighting is consistent - i.e. no passing clouds - shoot manual. Auto exposure metering can easily get confused by shadows, bright reflections off objects, etc. You likely will need to adjust depending on the direction you are shooting (into or away from sun).
Use camera spot metering if available. Utility will depend on size of spot vs. subject. Color of uniforms can affect this too.
Learn to use your exposure compensation adjustment quickly based on the situation. It's rare for the sky to be the main subject in sports photo but if your positioning forces you to include a lot of sky with players in shadow then go EC +1 or so.
Expose for the primary subject. Of course, it's always easier to pull up shadows than to try to recover something that is blown out. But blown out sky rarely matters and, unless you are a PJ on assignment, can be replaced in post.
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The dark side - I've been there
CR Pro
  • Nov 7, 2013
    Hi Hector!

    I shoot dragonflies (you surely know) as well as soccer sometimes in very bright light.

    I would second old-pr-pix to work with different exposure modes to see what works best for you.

    So try fully M mode, or try spot or selective metering. I prefer the later but sometimes fully M mode works better for me.
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