Hello Sunshine: Your Summer Photography Guide

You’d think summertime would be the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and capture some amazing photos. But in fact, summer often heralds the worst conditions for photography with harsh lighting, strong shadows, high contrast, hazy horizons or bland blue skies…

To get on top of this environment, you need to start being more clever about your photography. Summer is the time to experiment with different camera settings, locations, and photography techniques.

sunglasses in summer photo

Below, we’ve listed just a few easy things you can do to combat those washed-out summer pictures and capture some real stunners.

1. Use a polarizing filter

A polarizing filter reduces exposure by as much as two stops, making it essential on those starkly bright summer days. Along with deepening blue skies, it:

  • Emphasises clouds
  • Eliminates reflections
  • Reduces glare and haze
  • Cuts down on reflections in water
  • Boosts colour saturation.

Since polarizers drop two stops of exposure, you’ll need to keep an eye on handheld shutter speeds – and you might want a tripod.

Don’t have a filter? In the meantime, just allocate your shooting time to either end of the day – or compose with the sun cropped from the shot.

2. Master your white balance

Experimenting with your white balance settings can help you produce some creative shots that more accurately reflect your vision.

The Daylight setting makes a crisp, perfect white which may be accurate for your scene – but cloudy settings often add a more dramatic, warm touch by adding yellow and red tones to your shot.

You can often preview the results on your LCD screen before you take the shot while shooting in RAW gives you the opportunity to adjust the tones or correct the setting in post-production.

3. Embrace shadows

shadows in summer picture

That high, bright midday summer sun can produce some pretty stark images. But the bane of many a photographer’s life in summer photography is the number of shadows darkening any shot.

Strong shadows can actually be used to your advantage by allowing you to get creative in your photography. For example, taking photographs from a higher vantage point can produce some interesting shadow play, better colours, and stronger details. Thankfully, this is easier to do than ever before with the introduction of drones to the industry.

Alternatively, find shadow patterns to use as the primary focal point in your photos, or as leading lines in wide angle shots.

4. Play with background light

sunny photo with silhouette

Why not use those bright backgrounds to your advantage by creating strong silhouettes or lens flare in your photos.

Simply place your object – a person, a tree, or a building, for example, against a bright background to bring out the details in their silhouette or produce bold sunbursts.

For silhouettes, your background doesn’t necessarily have to be a bright sky or brilliant sunset. It could be as simple as a reflective water surface.

If you’re shooting at midday, try shooting from a low angle to create flare. The sun doesn’t have to be in your frame for lens flare, just shining across the lens element. But if you want a complete sunburst, you’ll need to position your subject in front of – but not entirely obscuring – the sun.

Read this post to learn more about these techniques.

5. Go black & white

black and white summer photo

Sometimes, the lighting and conditions just aren’t going to play nicely. In these circumstances, don’t write off your photographs completely. Experiment by converting your photo shoot to black and white.

Monochrome photos accentuate shadows for added drama and work particularly well on those blue-sky days in the city, where shadows abound.

Shoot in combined RAW and JPEG formats with your camera Picture Style set to monochrome so you capture enough data for post-production.

6. Chase the storms

summer storm

Most of us think of summer photography as endless stretches of blue sky, bright, rich colours, and postcard-pretty landscapes. But summer also summons storms, thanks to the humidity.

Here’s your opportunity to practise those dramatic storm photographs you’ve seen on Instagram. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and watch the sky for dramatic plays of light.

It’s best to plan your location in advance and think about the camera settings and equipment you’ll use so you’re all ready to jump into the car as soon as a storm starts brewing.

Be ready for extreme weather conditions, with protective gear for your camera equipment. And avoid changing lenses in windy conditions – especially if you choose the beach as your location.

7. Find reflective objects in your environment

In portrait photography, putting a reflective object near your subject can angle some of that harsh summer sunlight in your favour, helping to lift shadows and brighten your subject’s face.

Since you’re likely to be outdoors for summer photography, you can find those reflective objects in your natural environment, from beach sand to the white sides of buildings.

8. Go for an artistic, graphic angle

sky scrapers in summer

In some photography, you’ll want that stark, bare sunlight. Graphic photography is one such occasion.

Cities are fantastic places to photograph on cloudless days. Crisp blue skies reduce clutter to accentuate the clean lines of buildings and the details in bridges. Find unique angles and unusual vantage points and use a wide angle lens to capture abstract images.

Ready to start taking better photos this summer? Check out the Camera House blog for more clever ideas and techniques to improve your photography. Preparing for your winter photography? Brush up on techniques and tips with our Winter Photography Guide.

Post to Twitter

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>