Each season has a distinctive look and feel. Ask a photographer to nominate their favourite season and watch the gears turn in their head as they ponder. Unfortunately, you would probably be hard pressed to find a photographer who says summer is their favourite season. The lushness of spring, followed by autumn’s stormy light and fiery colours, all finished off with the drama of winter, often means summer comes last.
In a way, it’s quite strange, as it’s the season we experience the most sunlight and longer days – but many amateur photographers are simply put off by the high contrast, harsh light and hazy weather.
However, if you are in the know and embrace the conditions, summer photography can be like any other season. With these summer shooting tips, you are perfectly placed to get those creative juices flowing.
Up with the sparrows
The days are so long in early summer that if you want to catch the 4.30am sunrise, it’s hardly worth going to bed! However, the occasional sacrifice of sleep due to a summer dawn might make it worth your while.
Locations that are surrounded by water are perfect as they mirror the same colours in the sky. Why not plan a cheeky getaway to the coast, or check google maps for the nearest lake near your home. Arrive half an hour before the sun rises and revel in all its glory. Just make sure you bring your waterproof and dustproof camera case.
By 9 o’clock in the morning during the summer, the sun is well on its way to the highest point in the sky, where it will sit until around 5pm. On a clear day, this light is intense and harsh, with short, dense shadows overhead. Perhaps not the most atmospheric of conditions for shooting, but if you are particularly fond of shooting graphic images, this sunlight is an absolute gift.
Man made structures such as tall buildings and bridges can look awesome against a blue polarised sky. Get yourself into the city centre and play around with unusual angles and wide angle lenses to make some dynamic compositions. Make the most out of the colour contrasts and identify the abstract details.
Gardens are usually in their most photogenic state in summer, with shrubs and plants generating a riot of colour, even in the most humble of gardens. Buttercups, poppies, daisies and other vibrant bloomers are perfect for close ups. Your macro lens is also perfect for shooting large drifts and the compressed perspective will help give the appearance the flowers are close together. To isolate a single bloom from its surrounding though, use a wider aperture.
Put a solid object between your camera and a bright background, and boom, you have yourself a silhouette. Easily identifiable objects like a person, boat, building or a tree can act as your object, while your background can be the summer sun sitting low in the sky during a fiery sunrise or sunset. A silhouette always makes for an eye catching picture.
The crossover period
Fancy taking some shots at night? Well summer photography is arguably the best for doing so. The period between sunset and darkness is known as “the crossover period”. Here, there is still some colour in the sky and man made and daylight illumination is in perfect harmony. Unlike other seasons where you will have to change your lens rapidly, in the summer, the crossover period can last to up to an hour, so you can really take your time.