Secrets to Great Outdoor Photos – Location & Light Part 1
Summer is coming and it’s that time of year when you head into the great outdoors, usually armed with a digital camera. You have a great day and take lots photos to remember the day by but when you get home your delight turns into disappointment as you look at your photos. There’s a tree, or other object, sticking out your family’s head, their faces are shrouded in shadow or they are so white that they could be a ghost.
Whilst I can’t guarantee the sunshine, I can guarantee that if you follow these top professional tips that I’ll be sharing with you in my newsletters, you’ll get photos that you’ll love to share with your family and friends.
My tips this month give you a few things to start thinking about around location and light;
The great thing about being outdoors is that you can shoot almost anywhere from your back garden or country park to a beach or theme park. The main things to consider at any location are:
Keep it simple and try to photograph people against an uncluttered background.
If your location isn’t photogenic concentrate on your subject with close up photos and focus on their eyes. No matter what your location is there’ll always be a small area that will look great - walls, ivy, flower beds all make great backgrounds if you’re zooming in and using a uniform section as a background.
Consider the image as a whole. Power lines, signs, trees, a piece of rubbish and even a long single blade of grass can distract from the overall image and the person you are photographing.
Check around your subject to ensure you don’t have a telegraph pole or something similar sticking out of their head. Move yourself or your subject if they do.
Photography is all about light. We need light to make the image. So what sort of light do you need, what is the right light? To take a great photo you’ll need a good light source, which may be sunlight, flash or artificial lights.
Bright summer light might seem perfect for getting great photos, but in truth it often produces the worst results. The light is harsh, and creates dark shadows as well as very extremely light areas in your photo. So here are some tips to avoid this problem;
Avoid taking a photo where the sun is directly behind you – directly in front of your subject. This will cause a very “flat” light and also cause your subject to be squinting in the photo.
Play around with the sun’s position. Many photographers will say take the photo at an ideal angle of 45% to the sun, but don’t be afraid to break the photography rules to get some different results. You can even try taking photos with the sun behind your subject which will bring a lovely highlight to their outline and the lens flare that is created by the sun shining into the lens can give some stunning results.
Position people in shady areas or wait for the sun to go behind some clouds for a natural diffused effect. Play with children under a tree to get natural shade and a lovely soft light.
Make sure you set your exposure on your model (even if you move your camera to reframe the photo afterwards) so that your photo isn’t exposed for the background. If you don’t your model could end up looking too dark or too bright. Many cameras set their exposure without you knowing when you click your shutter button down half way, so check your cameras settings.
Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to have a great time while you’re outdoors with your friends and family. If you enjoy the day it will show in your photos!