Summer Photography is a Breeze with a Few Simple Tips!

15 January 2018

There’s no better time than those warmer months of the year to kick off your shoes, slap on a hat and get into the great outdoors for a little summer photography with the family.

With your trusty camera and a relaxed attitude, you’ll be bringing special memories of summer fun home with you in no time.

Location, location, location

Yes, this principle applies to photography as well as real estate. Take photos with the right backdrop and you could easily produce some gorgeous new artwork for your walls!

Shooting at the beach

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When you think of summer, it’s quite likely that you’ll be thinking of taking your camera down to the beach with the family, if not once, perhaps even a few times, should you be lucky enough to live near one of course!

Something to remember when shooting at the beach is to be aware of the horizon in your shots. With such a strong point of reference in your background it can be a little off-putting when that obvious line between sea and sky is not straight, even if it’s not the main focal point of an image.

Wind direction is another thing to consider when shooting out in the elements. There is nothing better than using the old fashioned ‘wet your finger in the breeze’ trick to figure out which way your subject should be facing to avoid getting a face full of hair.

You may also want to give a little forethought about protecting your precious photography equipment while down on the beach.

That mischievous sand has a knack for getting into lenses and such so a waterproof, preferably sand proof carry bag with a good seal on it will reduce the likelihood of unwanted damage to your gear. And don’t forget to use your neck strap; you don’t want to drop your camera into the waves!

Shooting in a natural environment

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If you don’t live near a beach, consider taking a picnic to another natural environment for your summer photography.

This could be in your local park, playground, national forest or even just a random yet picturesque nature strip located off the beaten path.

  • Explore your surroundings and find an unusual vantage point.
  • Climb a tree and shoot through the foliage from above.
  • Get down on the ground for a worm’s eye view.
  • Set the scene by laying out a picnic rug with sandwiches and fresh fruit.
  • Shoot without being noticed, when your family members are acting naturally without posing.
  • Try your hand at some action shots; pack a Frisbee for the dog to catch or a soccer ball to capture the kids on the move!

When to shoot is just as important as where

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We all know that the sun provides good natural lighting for our photography but when was the last time you thought about the location of the sun?

Its position in the sky can have a significant impact on your images and the harsh light of summer photography can prove challenging at times, especially for portraits.

Portrait photography is best avoided altogether from 11am to 2pm when dark shadows are cast onto faces from the direct sunlight above. You also want your subject to have a relaxed expression on their face. Squinting is not a good look!

It is widely considered that the ‘Golden Hours’ for photography are just after sunrise and just before sunset when the sun is lower in the sky creating softer lighting conditions. The shadows will be long to create depth and interest while the colours will be warm and rich. This is when the magic happens!

A word of warning though; it’s best to work quickly during these windows of opportunity as the most ideal lighting conditions in the great outdoors can be fleeting and change before your very eyes.

If you’re shooting at the beach, be sure to check the tide times so that you don’t arrive at high tide to discover that a full complement of sand is no longer at your disposal.

The Rule of Thirds for cool composition

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No matter what your subject is – a person, a flower, a horse or even a shell on the beach – it’s how you compose that object within the frame that makes for a more dynamic image. You may have heard about The Rule of Thirds which can be a very helpful guideline to think about the next time your finger is poised to click.

The rule involves imagining a tic-tac-toe-like grid of nine squares over your potential image and composing its contents in such a way that the main element of your image falls beneath those lines or at the points of intersection where the squares meet. Think outside the box and try not to fall into the trap of feeling like you have to centre everything smack dab in the middle of your shot.

Experiment with placing your main object to the bottom left or to the right. Have fun with it! Check out these examples.

Colour is your friend

Another way to really bring your summer photography to life is to use colour effectively in your composition.

It’s widely known that colours evoke a variety of emotions and introducing a pop of colour into your imagery can really make a difference.

  • Use strong, bold blocks of colour for maximum effect but keep it simple. Too many colours at once can be confusing to the eye.
  • Try allowing one colour to dominate a composition coupled with the introduction of a second flash of opposing colour for a touch of the unexpected, sometimes known as ‘the WOW factor’.
  • The softer pastel hues of nature tend to be subtle so use them to your advantage when trying to create a relaxed feel in your images, particularly with portraiture.

Working with kids and pets

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Unpredictability is a word that springs to mind when taking photographs of children or animals but this doesn’t have to deter you from capturing some special memories of your family at various ages.

The key here is to have a lot of patience; get them involved by asking for their valuable input, showing them shots along the way and make it fun so that they’ll want to participate all the more!
It’s your job to be a little bit sneaky and to capture special moments as they occur during a family outing without forcing them to happen.

Let the children wander. Follow their lead. Observe as they make their discoveries in a new environment. Ask lots of questions. What can they see around them? How high can that bird fly?

Suggest an activity like tossing pebbles across a lake or throwing a stick for the dog to fetch. Don’t limit yourself to just an hour. Go out again another day or try a different location.

Make time to record those never-have-again moments

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When you think about it, enjoying your summer photography is as easy as spending time with your loved ones, soaking up those warm rays and reconnecting with nature. Even adults need a little time out with a dash of creativity thrown in for good measure.

Happy shooting!

Looking for more ideas to beat the heat this summer holidays?

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