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. Summer brings a set of challenges that are hard to overcome but, with a little preparation, it’s totally worth it. Here are our summer photography tips.
Tips for taking great summer photos
1.Try shooting in the shade
If the summer light is simply too bright, we recommend shooting in the shade. You’ll still capture that dazzling brightness but, being under cover, you will have enough contrast to capture exactly what you see. In shade, the light is soft instead of harsh but it still retains aspects of the summer brightness.
2.Water creates the most glare, so avoid on bright sunny days
On particularly bright days, it may be best to avoid large bodies of water like rivers, lakes and so on. When the sun is high in the sky and without clouds to block it, the glare will make things very difficult for you. That’s not to say that you can’t photograph water, of course! If you’re planning these scenes, we recommend doing it when the sun is lower in the sky or when it’s more overcast.
3.Keep your lens cap on
Though this applies to digital cameras, it’s especially important if you have a film camera. If you do not have a lens cap on your film camera, prolonged exposure to the sun can warp your lens which causes lasting damage and can ruin your photography. Keep your lens cap on and only take it off as and when you shoot.
4.Wake up early… it’s worth it!
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 (remember, as we said earlier, you’ll need to time it right). Why not plan a cheeky getaway to the coast, or check google maps for the nearest lake to 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.
5. Shoot at night (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.
What conditions can I expect from summer photography?
Summer creates very dramatic opportunities for photographers, ranging from moody sunset photos to bright and fresh morning snaps. Sunlight photography is a spectrum, with a whole range of contrast from sunrise to sunset.
Let’s start with the sun itself
When it comes to summer photography, the sun is your best friend but it can create problems, too. It’s all about how you time it.
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.
The great outdoors
Summer is when the great outdoors are arguably at their healthiest. Everything is in bloom! Gardens are also 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.
Take advantage of beautiful silhouettes
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.
More resources for budding photographers
If you found the above useful, we have plenty more resources where this came from. Here’s a list of articles you might enjoy. If you have any questions about photography, or your camera case, then simply get in touch here.
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