Tips for Outside Photography

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Author: Heather

Are you one of those people who loves to take pictures but the ones you take outside of your friends, family, etc. don't quite turn out the way you want them to. For example their faces are shadowed or there is a harsh glare. Obviously you don't want that to be the case, you want these pictures to turn out beautiful and compliment the people you are taking a picture of.

So here are 5 easy tips for improving the pictures you take with almost any camera.

1) Avoid Direct Sunlight

Find shade or wait until a cloud covers the sun. Direct sunlight is simply far too harsh for photos. If you want to avoid harsh shadows on people's faces, find a spot of shade to place your subject in. What shade does is gives you a non-directional pleasant light. Give a try sometime and you will be pleased with the outcome.

Portrait photo avoiding direct sunlight
Portrait: Tina by Jan Toledo on flickr (licensed CC-BY-ND)

2) Use a reflector

You can buy reflectors specifically for photography, but you also have the option to use a piece of white mat board, or reflectors for car windshields. You want to position the reflector so it shines/reflects light onto the subjects face on the shadow side. The result will be filled in shadows and even light on your subject.

Test Portrait using a reflector for lighting
Test Portrait by Charles (Scott) Barnhill on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

3) Use your flash

I'm sure you noticed that on auto mode your camera automatically turns the flash off when in a bright environment. You can override this and if you turn on the flash you will be pleasantly surprised by the results. (You can turn on the flash by pressing the button that resembles a flash of lightning.) Using the flash will brighten up the subject without effecting the background much and will fill in the shadows created by the sun.

Portrait photo using flash
Keiko by photoskate on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

4) Fix your shutter speed

If you are photographing moving subjects like children, make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/125th of a second, and preferably 1/250th or faster. This will keep them from blurring as they move about. You can usually accomplish this automatically by putting your camera into action mode, or sports mode.

lola running
lola running by anthony kelly on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

5) Positioning the subject

You should place the subject with their back turned almost straight towards the sun, and use your flash to illuminate the subject. The flash will illuminate the person's face, the sun will shine beautifully through their hair and the ambient light will even the shadows for you. If you do this you will also avoid that squinting that people do when they have to look at the sun. Note you may have to use your hand to shade the lends so the sunlight does create what is known as a lens flare.  This will also avoid the squinty look from having the people staring into the sun.

summer.isle - backlit portrait
summer.isle by Tyler Burrus on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

Finally: Just for fun; remember to keep your subjects happy so you can capture that smile you love to see.

Ryan by tanya_little on flickr (licensed CC-BY-SA)

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Digital Mini DV Camcorders

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June 14th, 2011 at 5:00 am

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