It’s summer! It’s that time of year when we are outdoors; playing, working, traveling, living. It’s also brings out our cameras to record and share these wonderful summer memories. Here are some tips on making the most of summer photography.
Fireworks can be tricky to capture. Its night, but we also have these bright lights.
To capture stunning fireworks images you need to plan ahead a bit and you may want a friend along to assist. You will want a tripod, because your exposure will be longer than you can hand hold your camera [yes, even your cell phone cameras] without moving your hands. This causes the image to streak or become blurry.
You may want a friend to help run interference for you if you are in a crowd. You don’t want people bumping you or your equipment, or walking in front of you just when the show is the best
I capture fireworks with my camera on a tripod, and a remote shutter release [so I don’t shake the camera when I push the shutter button]. I set my focus manually to infinity, that way the camera doesn’t need to take the time to focus itself [sometimes your camera cannot autofocus because it’s dark].
I also set my camera to manual; this means that I control how long the shutter is open. My technique is to start the shot as soon as I hear the launch and do not let up on the shutter until the firework has burned out. This can be as long as 5-10 seconds.
There is a lot of information on the internet to assist you with your own type of camera settings. This process is trial and error, so don’t get discouraged; a little practice and you will achieve spectacular images.
You can visit a festival, or five, every weekend in our area, in the summer. These can be interesting to photograph. This is people watching at the next level. Capture the bright lights, the kids playing games or riding rides.
During the bright part of the day set your camera to the Sport [running man] mode to get the action as it happens, but because it is so bright, the shadows are so dark in contrast, and your camera does a very poor job in this scene. Solution: Use your flash to fill in the shadows.
As it gets towards dusk you will need more light, try using the portrait or the night mode, it should give you nice soft backgrounds that make your subject pop.
Spending time on or near the water
Plain and simple, you need to have a polarizer filter for your camera; it cuts the glare, makes the sky and water bluer, pops those fluffy white clouds and brightens up greens.
Most of our cameras don’t have a method to attach an external filter, but that’s not a real problem. Go to your nearest discount store and by a cheap pair of clip-on non-prescription, polarized sunglasses, and keep them in your camera bag or attached to the strap of the camera.
Place one lens of the sunglass in front of the camera lens and snap away. This works with any type of camera.
In the Woods
Hanging out in the woods is an adventure for children of all ages. A hike among the trees and hills of our region is tonic for your soul.
To capture some of those serene sights with your camera you need to be prepared. You need to watch the light and set your camera accordingly. The interplay between light and shadow is one of the hardest to get.
To capture animals and birds [and children], you need to be fast: put your camera on the sport mode. To get the sunlight filtering through the trees, try the portrait mode. As we discussed previously, where there are sharp shadows, turn on your flash to acquire some of the detail that otherwise would be lost.
Almost everyone will travel during the summer, whether it’s a big major vacation or a day trip to the zoo, and everything in between. Do some planning ahead to determine what you may want to carry with you to preserve those memories.
For example, you do not want to take an expensive camera to the beach, and then spend all your time worrying about it. The same goes for travel to major urban areas where you don’t want to make yourself a target by carrying around that expensive equipment, which identifies you as a tourist.
Take what you need, figure out a way to protect it and yourself when you are in unfamiliar territory. In some cases I will not carry my “good” equipment in favor of something that I can fit in my pocket.
Myself, being a photographer I tend to take a lot of equipment with me, sometimes a small suitcase full. This equipment goes with me as carry-on; I never let it out of my site. You may want to invest in a bag or a small pack that you can use to transport your gear. I use one that stores my gear, a few small snacks, a bottle of water, medications and so on.
Finally, go out with your camera and have fun, these are memories to last a lifetime.