Summertime Photo Tips

Summer is here, and (hopefully) we’re all getting to play outside often. For some, that may mean more cycling. For others, it’s hiking and camping. Or it could just be family picnics at the park or beach. One thing is for sure though, you’ll want to take a few photos, either to share, or just to capture a moment. The following are a few tips to help you get better photos, whether with your phone, compact camera, or DSLR.

When photographing people (or animals, which isn’t easy), try placing them in some open shade. That could be under a tree, overhang, or the side of a building. This is most important during mid-day, when the sun is high, and eyes get lost in shadows. If you must photograph someone in direct sun, don’t despair. First, place them with their back to sun, if possible. Why? Well, the backlight can be a nice effect. Also, your subjects are less likely to squint. If that’s not possible, try some side-lighting. Almost anything is better than having your subject facing directly into the sun.

Since I couldn't pose this squirrel, I moved in an arc until I got a little sidelight, making for a nice wildlife portrait.
Since I couldn’t pose this squirrel, I moved in an arc until I got a little sidelight, making for a nice wildlife portrait.

Next, don’t be afraid to use a little flash. Most phones have an LED for a bit of extra light. On your compact camera, you probably have a low power flash, and most DSLRs will have a pop-up flash. To be sure, none will overpower the sun. But, they can fill in the shadows a bit. So next time you are taking a selfie or quick snap of your kids or pets, turn the flash on. It usually brightens close faces, and puts some sparkle in eyes. It can also bring out the colors in flower closeups.

Trees provided some shade, but with strong backlight. A bit of flash brings out Jane's blue eyes.
Trees provided some shade, but with strong backlight. A bit of flash brings out Jane’s blue eyes.

Speaking of closeups, check your phone or camera for a macro mode. Usually, this is indicated by an image of a flower. Focus and exposure will be optimized for closeup images. While I prefer a dedicated macro lens for my DSLR, even a phone can capture some great images. If the weather or wildlife are not cooperating, think small. It works for me.

Even phones take good macro shots. And small objects can be much more interesting when blown up to many times life-size.
Even phones take good macro shots. And small objects can be much more interesting when blown up to many times life-size.

Grand landscape shots are great, but consider where you will be sharing them. They lose their impact when viewing Instagram on your phone. When shooting for Instagram, think square. If you’re posting to Facebook, consider turning your phone on its side, for a horizontal shot. Most computer screens are wider than they are tall. ┬áThat’s another reason I like macro shots – they work well for most formats. Also, when possible, get closer. Don’t be afraid to fill the frame with your subject. Although you can zoom with a camera lens, that’s less effective with the digital zoom of your phone. And while you’re at it, watch for distracting backgrounds. Trees growing from someone’s head is rarely flattering.

There are nine deer in this image. But you'd never know, if you were viewing it on your phone.
There are nine deer in this image. But you’d never know, if you were viewing it on your phone.

These are just really basic, simple suggestions that apply to the most basic cameras and phones. If you’d like to see more articles like this, as well as advanced tips and tricks for phones, compact cameras, and DSLRs, leave a comment and let me know. As someone who loves taking photos outdoors, I’m more than happy to help you get more images you’ll be proud to share.

All but the last of these images are from my Instagram. Some have been cropped to fit this page a bit better, from their square format. If you like them, check out the rest, and give me a follow.

Thanks!

Brian

 

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