As I’ve mentioned outdoor lighting–in other words, sunlight–is the best lighting when you can get it. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect though. Having such a bright light (and at an angle you can’t control unless you have all day) can pose problems. For instance I wanted to photograph my mom’s new David Austin roses. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a good shot of them on the bush; the blooms are so heavy that they sag and point down and, therefore, end up in shadow. So I cut off one of the prettiest blooms so I could move it into the light. That’s my best advice for shooting in direct sunlight: move what you are shooting, if at all possible, so it is in the best light. (If it’s something that can’t be moved there are other tricks, like using your camera flash or an alternative light source to help light up shadowed spots.)
I got two shots I really like, the one at the top I took with the rose on the flagstone patio under our mesh-like table because, with the angle of the afternoon sun, that provided some shade without being dark. It’s a pretty true picture of the rose, but the color is slightly cooler than it was in real life.
The second shot, just above, was on top of said table, with the sun behind the rose and a bit of a light shadow cast over the rose itself by a nearby tree. See what a difference that can make? The rose itself itself actually has a warmer tone to it and the background is washed out by the brightness and overexposure. Also not perfectly true to real life. Both are beautiful and both, I think capture the beauty of the rose well if not wholly accurately. What amazes me is the different moods you can set with the light (and complementary composition). I find the first shot slightly wistful and perhaps old-fashioned and the second one says to me bright and vibrant.
So don’t be afraid to try different things, move your subject around. Get out a reflector to brighten up the shadows or a filter to dim the light (I have not invested in either, but I do have them on my wish list.) Try an artificial key light, like the flash, or go au natural. You won’t know what you like till you’ve tried it and digital, unlike film, is free–snap away!