Harsh Lighting Meetup

I love shooting in harsh lighting because it’s a challenge, and I’m always up for a challenge. I’m firm believer that a great photographer can tackle any lighting conditions given to them, and should not shy away from shooting in conditions other than “golden hour” (one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset).

As a co-organizer of the Meetup.com group, Aspiring Photographers, I organized a “harsh lighting meetup” in the middle of the dry lake bed at a time where the sun is at its peak. I chose the dry lake bed because there is no shade to hide. It was a very windy day, so not only the meetup tested our skills in harsh lighting, but also in harsh conditions.

Below are behind-the-scenes photos taken by the members of the group that I grabbed from our Meetup page.


Photo by Niraj Bhatt


Photo by Ken Elsner


Photo by Ken Elsner


Photo by Donavon Lockett


Photo by Donavon Lockett

During this meetup, I demonstrated the difference between using natural light in harsh lighting versus off-camera flash or a strobe. Normally, the sky would be blown out in a natural light shot, but because the weather was partly cloudy, there were some blue skies.

These are the results of using off-camera flash in harsh lighting.

Towards the end of the meetup as we were leaving, a dust storm started building. I was about to put my camera away, but when I saw a dust storm creating a cool backdrop, I quickly pulled out my camera and shot with natural light.