How to take summer photographs
It’s understandable why summer is the time of year when most photographers take a majority of their images. With family holidays, longer days, and comfortable weather (at least in theory!), the opportunities are more plentiful and appealing.
Looking purely from a photogenic aspect however, summer is actually one of the most challenging times of the year to take great images, and there are a few reasons for this.
Firstly, the ‘golden hour’ around sunrise and sunset, when the light is at its best for most forms of photography, happens at inconvenient times. Unless you are willing to get out of bed at 3am, and be out until midnight, then you are not going to be able to get the most out of the day.
Secondly, places of photographic interest are often also places of general interest, such as national parks, coastal areas, historic towns, etc, and during the summer they are packed with tourists – all seemingly determined to walk into your frame just as you press the shutter.
Thirdly, the air quality is often hazy during the summer months, and this reduces the contrast of anything in the far distance of a landscape.
There’s not much we can do about the seasonal air quality, but we can make an extra effort to get out with our cameras at times when the light is at its best, and coincidentally, this also reduces the number of tourists on location. Although summer is far being the ideal season for photography, we can make the most of what it has to offer by putting in the required effort.
So what does summer have to offer?
This is at its most vibrant towards the beginning of the season, with many scenes so green that you will find yourself turning the saturation down in post production rather than up.
Is abundant at this time of year, with many migratory birds and marine life making their brief annual appearance in the UK. If you don’t live close to the coast, then try out your macro skills by capturing bees or butterflies on flowers in your garden.
Make for great photographic subjects, and if you have never tried to photograph them before, it is easier than you might think.
Here in the UK, such storms tend to move in a north-easterly direction, and often occur late in the afternoon. If you find yourself right beneath one, find cover and wait around, as once it has moved on, you will be in the perfect position to get the sun shining under the dense black cloud to provide the perfect lighting conditions imaginable.
In such situations, you can take a photo of almost any subject and it will look good, but obviously the better the subject the more potential your image will have. If you find a thunderstorm at night, then making a long exposure to capture lighting flashes is a good technique to ensure you get something worthy of your effort.
As a general rule, easterly facing beaches will work best at sunrise, and westerly facing ones will work best at sunset. To avoid footprints in the sand, try to coincide your visit when the tide is receding, as this will ensure you are faced with a spotless beach. Just be careful not to walk in areas you might want to photograph.
If you are on a beach at twilight, try composing a scene using waves in the foreground. Avoid looking straight out to sea, but try to shoot at 45 degrees to the waterline. With an aperture of around f11 – f16 you should be able to get an exposure time of around a second or more.
If you start your exposure as a wave recedes back down the beach, this can make for some really interesting effects, with the moving water streaking over the sand or pebbles.
If you can’t find a beach, then anywhere where the sea meets the land usually has potential not too far away. Waves crashing on rocks always offers something interesting when caught with a long exposure.
Although autumn could be argued to be woodland’s golden moment of the year, visiting in summer often provides vibrant scenes. With dense leaf cover overhead, and an abundance of green below, it is easy to get some great results in most weather conditions.
Try to avoid sunny days when the sun is more than 20 degrees above the horizon (or your own shadow is less than twice your height) otherwise the contrast between directly lit areas and deeply shaded areas will prove too much for your camera.
Bright overcast days suit woodland very well, but the best woodland condition of all is morning mist. A rising sun shining through the canopy will create amazing beams of light reaching down to the ground. If you use a wide angle lens, these will fan out like a giant flower and look amazing.You can check out the wide range of SPI courses available by clicking here.