Now you've got 2 options. Either you pack away the camera and just enjoy the sighting...or you try to work with the light you have and create some images that might come out better than you thought, or better yet, might come out a litte 'out-of-the-box'. In this post I will elaborate on some of these situations you might encounter, and also show some of the images I have been able to capture in similar cases which I thought came out okay.
The classic case is the "back-lit" image, where the light comes from directly opposite your viewing position and you have to use it to enhance the contours and outlines of your subject. The key here is to ensure you under-expose significantly to ensure you capture the mood and don't blow the highlights. You can either do this by manually adjusting exposure or exposure compensation bias and checking the histogram, or if you like to use your metering function apart from your focusing function you can meter off the brightest highlights.
Another angle of light we encounter in the field is a case of strong 'side-light'. In this case the light hitting the subject creates a stark contrast between one part of the subject and another. Obviously this is only possible in the early morning and late afternoon...no noon-time shots available here! The ideal exposure for me in cases like this is to obtain enough detail in the shaded parts without making it look unnatural and without blowing out the highlighted areas.
The key to facing a situation where the light is challenging, is to know your equipment well, know how to use your exposure bias setting to achieve an over- or underexposed shot, and think creatively...in the end the best images are formed in your mind's eye before you even trip the shutter.
We all want those moments of "perfect" light, but they seldom are perfect...my advice would be to make the most out of the situations you do find yourself in when you are out in the field. Most of us have so precious little time to spend in the field to begin with!
Here are some more images I have been able to capture in these kinds of light.
Till next time!