Here are 5 tips for taking photos outdoors this spring and summer from our resident editor and motion graphics animator Milla Sampaio.
1. get a feel for the space
Take a few minutes before you get started to take notes about the lighting where you are. Track the sun position before you start so you will know where to stand in relation to your subject. Cloudy days are better for photographing people with light skin, the clouds work as a big diffuser. If it’s sunny and your subjects are fair-skinned, look for shade. Prepare in advance by checking the weather forecast and schedule the shoot for optimal sunlight (try early morning or late evening) if possible.
Another note about the light is that you may not be able to rely on what can see when you’re outside. Your vision and the camera screen might be affected by the sun, so trust your numbers. Also most cameras work slowly if you are using the display and it is tricky to trust what you see there.
2. know your equipment
Things don’t wait for you in nature so be prepared to make last-minute changes and work fast with the camera settings. Practice ahead of time to make sure you are comfortably able to adjust settings as fast as possible.
3. click often, edit later
Try to take pictures of the same thing with different settings. You probably won’t have time to check your work after every click and that natural moment won’t wait for you, especially if it involves an animal sighting. Autofocus is your friend when timing is of the essence.
4. be ready to work with your subjects
Long exposure only works for landscape. With animals and babies, you need the shutter working as quickly as possible so the subject(s) won’t be blurry.
Be aware of your influence. If you are taking photos of animals, try to be silent and move slowly and only if necessary. Don’t be nervous, try to steady your heartbeat, as animals can often sense your feelings. Try not to make them uncomfortable. Close your eyes for a few seconds if they look your way (if it’s safe for you to do so) so they know you are not a threat.
5. dress for the occasion, be prepared
Extra batteries and SD cards are a must, but bring as few pieces of gear as you can so it won’t limit your movements. Use comfortable clothes and don’t be afraid of getting dirty.