Are you wondering how to master summer light to get great photos? My motto is “shoot for the light and not the location.” I say it all of the time. I tell my clients when I am photographing their sessions and my students when I am teaching them to take better photos…I even tell my husband when he’s taking travel photos with his smartphone. That’s why I’ve put together these ideas to help you master summer light.
Learning how to use the light correctly will make your photographs go from mediocre to absolutely amazing! And what better time to use light than on these long summer days.
Once you learn how to use the light, it is not that hard; it just takes practice. Pick a weekend, follow these tips to master summer light, and start using that light to get amazing shots!
Tips To Master Summer Light
Pay Attention to Light
My first tip to master summer light is to begin paying attention to whether the light is “hard light” or “soft light.”
Hard light creates sharp shadows. There is a hard contrast to this light. It is the light produced on a bright sunny day with almost no clouds in the sky. The smaller the light source, the stronger the light. Most people will avoid hard overhead light, but I want you to search for it.
Summer is the perfect season to seek out that hard light. Look for the strong light coming through the trees, the bright reflections coming from the metal of a playground slide, or the reflections of a water
fountain. Don’t avoid it. Today I want you to seek it out.
Soft light is more gentle, soft, and understated. It is the light that comes when the sun is diffused through the trees or is lower in the sky.
Soft light’s transition is much more subtle and delicate and tends to be much more flattering than hard light.
When learning the light, soft light is by far the easiest to use. It softly falls over your subject, almost wrapping them in light.
Use The Light To Set A Mood In Your Photos
Photography is the art of telling a story, and you can use the summer light to help tell that story.
How do you want your photo to feel? Different types of light evoke different emotions.
Hard light creates more of an edgy look. It’s great for showing the heat of the summer in a city.
Soft light is used to create emotion, nostalgia and can be used to portray tender moments at the beach.
Flat light is often forgiving and used when the photo itself is full of
character, and the light doesn’t need to be the star. Backlight tends to lend itself to a more nostalgic look. It is the light that you get during the golden hour.
Play With The Light At Golden Hour
The golden hour is one hour before sunset and shooting at this time of day has many advantages. The light is magical…soft, warm and golden. It wraps itself perfectly around your subject. There is no better time than the summer to get out and play with the light of the golden hour.
You want to be prepared when shooting at Golden Hour as the sun fades fast. Get to your location early, get set up and make sure you think through your shot and your camera settings and shoot in manual for the best results.
It’s easy to play with shadows and textures, as well as silhouettes with golden hour light but be aware that the shadows can sometimes interfere with your subject.
Have fun, play with lens flare and remember that if you don’t get your shot one day, you can always return the next.
Play with Backlight and Silhouettes
Again mastering summer light and capturing backlight and silhouette photos really comes down to understanding your camera settings. Head to the beach as the sun is setting and play with the perfect silhouette. Anything can create a silhouette but you want to make sure that your subject has a distinct form, and it helps to have your subject move. Twirling, spinning or jumping makes for a great silhouette shot, and nothing is better than capturing your kids looking off into the distance as the sun slowly sets.
I love natural light and summer natural, summer light is magical. Once you master summer light your photography possibilities are endless. Remember to have fun when creating those memories, practice and if you want to learn to understand your camera and its settings today, make sure to check out my Beginners Photography Essentials Class!