Summer is one of the best times to sharpen your skills as a photographer. Not only is there more light for longer, you don’t feel uncomfortably cold or restrained while operating your camera. You can go out for as long as you want, day or night, and take great photos when the opportunity is the best. Summer also presents a few challenges to the photographer. With an overabundance of light, it can sometimes be difficult to capture your subject the way you see it. Try out the following tips to get the most out of your camera this summer.
Don’t waste your summer. Get into camping.
Where on Earth am I going with this advice? Well, it’s simple. If you want to capture images people haven’t seen before, you need to go to places most people don’t dare to visit. I’m not talking Everest or anything like that, but when you hike out on a trail for a day or two, you’ll be in the thick of the wilderness, a place most people never get to see. My advice? Bring your camera!
It’s usually a bit too cold to get to these places in the spring, fall, or winter, so use the summer as your time to catch up on photographing them. Camping and photography go together like a fine Cabernet and thick meaty steak. Most of us naturally wake up just as the sun is rising, so you will have no choice but to be out and about in the early morning hours when the light is best for taking pictures. Instead of grabbing breakfast, grab your camera and take a few shots before you return to camp.
Nighttime photography in the wilderness can be especially spectacular if you have the right equipment setup for it. I know of a few photographers who have gone out to the desert for a night, setup a camera with a tripod, and taken 30 minute long exposures of the stars as they slowly move across the sky. When you open your shutter for as long as 30 minutes, the moonlight illuminates the ground resulting in a truly spectacular effect.
Just don’t forget to bring a lot of spare batteries and memory cards on your trip. When you’re gone for a few days, and all you have to do in your spare time is take photos, you end up chewing through batteries pretty fast. You will also want to make sure your camera is kept in a waterproof container. The last thing you want is for a rogue thunderstorm to destroy hundreds of dollars worth of equipment.
A lot of my hardcore camping friends do their best to minimize the amount of camera equipment they bring on their trips. They usually pick an ultra portable, low-end DSLR and one zoom lens that covers the middle of the road. Something like a 35mm to 110mm zoom will work perfectly. Many of them also opt for a super light and very portable tripod that can be folded and easily added to a tent bag. Or use a monopod that can double as a walking stick. As a general rule, if you have more than $1,000 worth of camera gear on you while you are camping, you are carrying too much. Keep it light and cheap.
Capture Lots Of Action
Summertime means bright sunshine and action. Whether you are out waterskiing or playing a game of baseball, take your camera along and ramp up the shutter speed to get some images when the action is at its peak. If you really want to freeze action and see a split second breakdown, you need to set your shutter speed above 1/1000s. This is only possible in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. Be sure to set your camera to continuous fire mode, and you won’t miss a single moment.
People aren’t the only things that move fast. Animals move even faster. The summer is the best to time to capture wildlife for a variety of reasons. First, more animals are out and about because the weather is nice, and second, there is more available light to capture their every move. When you keep your shutter speed fast, you can capture the flapping of a hummingbird’s wings or a thrilling chase scene between a predator and its prey.
Because there is a lot of light in the summer, even later on in the day, you should always use a faster shutter speed or a more closed aperture. It’s very easy to let in too much light and overexpose your pictures on bright summer days. If shooting in manual mode, just to be totally certain I’m not overexposing my shots, I like to take a few pictures at a slightly faster shutter speed, just in case. If you do this with every different kind of shot, you’ll have all of your bases covered, and you will avoid overexposure.
Summertime is great for getting away from the city and taking pictures of far off places. If you plan your trip accordingly, and only bring as much equipment as you need, you’re certain to come up with some great photos this summer season. While you’re at it, let me know how you do. I want to see your best camping photos. What is your favorite thing to take a picture of while you’re out on a trip?