Perfecting Summer Shots


What’s your idea of the perfect summer shot?

Is it a photo of your children frolicking in the whitewash during your annual trip to the shore? Maybe it’s a picture of your pup cooling off in the sprinkler. Or, perhaps, your ideal image is capturing a brilliant sunset as it dips below the horizon.

For me, it’s any shot of my daughter chowing down on summer picnic food, from red, ripe watermelon to juicy mangos, a dripping ice cream cone or a super-sized hot dog. However, I’ve learned from experience that whether she is licking a Popsicle or inhaling a hamburger, the setting for the shot has to be carefully considered if I want the photo to be frame worthy. For example, if you are taking a picture of your family sharing a meal in the great outdoors this summer, you need to set-up the shot entirely in the sun or entirely in the shade. Combo lighting will be the death of your picnic photo.

If you choose to shoot in the sun, be sure the blazing ball of gases it is at your side or behind your subjects. It’s also a good idea to avoid taking pictures at high noon. Taking pictures when the sun is directly overheard will likely cast harsh shadows on your subjects or at the very least cause them to squint, which doesn’t make for attractive photos. Also, resist the temptation to shoot with the sun behind your back. Often, the result is an unflattering image of family members looking down or away from the sun. For those who have no choice but to shoot in direct sunlight, consider using your flash to fill in shadows, or use a large piece of aluminum foil as a reflector to bounce light back onto your subjects.

If you decide to shoot in full shade, be sure to use a tripod or hold your camera very steady. When you are shooting in low light situations, the tiniest movement can result in the biggest blur. This can be reduced if your camera has a built-in image stabilization feature, though even with the high-tech feature, you still need to be mindful of how you handle your camera.

Related Articles:

Shooting the Perfect Portrait

Telling A Story With Your Shots

Natural Framing

This entry was posted in Techniques, Tips & Tricks by Michele Cheplic. Bookmark the permalink.
Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.