Water reflecting the sky with clouds and low sun
Landscape,  Lens-Artists,  Photographic techniques

The sun will come out tomorrow (and I will photograph it)

Breaking the rules of photography

When I was about ten I was given my first camera, a Kodak Brownie. And my father, himself quite a keen photographer, taught me a few of the basic rules of photography. One of the most important of these was, you must always have the sun behind you when you shoot. Sorry, Dad, but that’s just not true!

I’ve learned since that the rules of photography are there to be broken; you can often get a more interesting image by shooting into the light. Obviously pointing your lens directly at a bright sun is never a good idea. But when it is partly shaded by cloud or mist, and when it is very low in the sky, that’s the time to forget that ‘rule’ and turn your face to the sun.

For this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, entitled ‘The sun will come out tomorrow’, I want to share some images shot directly into the sun, to celebrate our nearest star and the constant light it shines on us – every day, even during a pandemic.

I’ll start with a couple from the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The photo at the top of this page was also taken there. The skies are immense and every sunrise and sunset was stunning, and unique!

Expanse of water with low sun and clouds
Sun rising, Okavango Delta
Dramatic sunset reflected in water
Sunset in the Okavango Delta

Then let’s follow the sun from rising to sunset, around the world:

Hot steam rising in front of sun
Dawn breaks at the El Tatio Geysers, Chile
Lake with a jetty and mountains beyond
Morning at Lake Crescent, WA
River with several bridges and low sun
Bridges over the Tyne, late afternoon
Sunset over the sea, waves breaking on rocks
Sunset at Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
Sunset with river in foreground
Sunset over the Nam Ou, Nong Khiaw, Laos

Just look what you get when you break the rules! So turn your camera, and your eyes, to the sun, because the one certainty in this uncertain world is that it will come out tomorrow.

[OK I know it’s November right now in the Northern Hemisphere so we may not actually see it, but it will be there!]

Thank you to Ana for proposing this interesting Lens-Artist challenge!


  • rosalieann37

    My dad gave me a Brownie camera when I was about 10. I don’t remember his instructions. But he was mad about sunsets. He took thousands of photos of sunsets, which of course nearly always to be taken into the sun.

    I do love your photos – when the sun low in the sky in the winter is a really good time to take that kind of photo.

    It was not just your dad – the prohibition against taking pictures into the sun was pretty much universal from way back.

    We were in Germany in 1950, in the funicular (?) somewhere like Heidelberg and Dad had loaded his movie camera. When you loaded the film into a camera in those days (I know you know this Sarah, but younger folks may not), you have a leader which has been exposed to light. You have to run the leader through to get to the good unexposed film. Dad was taking movies on the leader, when the one of the other people in the car said to the other (in German) “Look at the stupid American, taking pictures into the sun”.

    Europeans assumed that Americans could not speak or understand anything but English – Dad understood perfectly since he grew up in a German immigrant family and spoke German before he spoke English. [He politely answered in German.]

    • Sarah Wilkie

      That’s a funny story about your Dad Rosalie! I’ve come across similar things happening to others too (it might make a good discussion topic for our FB VT page one day?) I didn’t mean to imply that my father was inventing that rule – he was passing on the accepted principles of photography of which that was one. But I’m sure he broke it himself occasionally, just for the odd sunset!

  • Easymalc

    I totally agree with you Sarah, and I’m so glad that you’ve managed to find somewhere to really express your individual photographic ability 🙂

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