Summertime photography is great. Colours are more saturated with the sky a deeper blue, clouds are cotton white, flowers are in bloom, grass is a vibrant green, people are generally in higher spirits and best of all, the lighting of the sun lends itself to better photos.
So, here are five tips to help you get the most out of snapping away throughout the summer.
1. Avoid the midday sun
Plenty of light is normally a good thing with photography. But too much can spoil it. The midday sun (generally between 11am and 3pm in the summer) is best avoided due to the harsh shadows it casts. These are undesirable in most shots and ideally require a fill flash to flatten out. Photographing portraits in this light will result in your subject squinting, while all types of shots will lack the softer shadow detail which helps give them mood or visual impact.
If you have to shoot portraits in the midday period, step in to a shaded area – under a tree for example, or get them to turn sideways to the sun so that they’re not looking straight in to it and neither are you. If you’re shooting landscapes or buildings, then seeing as they’ll still be there a few hours later, it’s probably best just to wait until the sun is lower in the sky. That’s not to say that midday photography should be completely avoided. Often the results are more than satisfactory. You’re just unlikely to achieve your best results during this period.
2. Shoot in the ‘golden hours’
The first and last hour or two of sunlight is famed for its softer lighting and warmer hues. For this reason many photographers aim to shoot around these times of the day. With the sun lower in the sky, the light becomes diffused and more flattering. Its softer contrast results in less harsh shadows, mirroring the effect of using a flash diffuser in the studio which, as every professional photographer will tell you, creates a more pleasing photo.
3. Make us of the vibrant colours around you
As I mentioned in the introduction, summer brings with it an increase in colour saturation all around you. Everything from the grass and the flowers, up to the red and orange hues of a summer sunset look so much more appealing and impressive in photos. So make use of these heightened colours!
4. Show people enjoying the sun
People quite rightly flock outside once the summer takes hold, so use this as an opportunity to photography them enjoying themselves. Young families playing together or loving couples relaxing in the park – use your camera to capture the atmosphere of summertime through the medium of people. You could also show people trying to cope with the heat in a busy city, for example. Note: Ensure you get permission prior to photographing individuals.
5. Travel Light
As a photographer you must learn to travel light in the summer. If you’re a DSLR user, then select one or, at most, two lenses which will cover all of your shots for the day – perhaps a wide aperture portrait lens coupled with a general walk-around lens. You definitely don’t want to be lugging around your camera bag filled with all your kit and accessories in the height of the summer heat. Plus it will force you to get the most out of the one or two lenses you have to hand – which is always a good thing to do.
Author – Oliver Pohlmann
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