We’re in the midst of summer and for many of us that means accelerated photography: pics of fireflies and flowers, picnics and barbecues, beaches, ballgames, and a sense of freedom not found in other seasons. I love summer and fittingly, the majority of my photos are taken from June to September. Ironically, summer is viewed by most professional photographers as being the most challenging time of the year for photography. As a general rule, never point your camera directly at the sun as that can do serious damage to the sensor. Another option is using a diffuser to soften the light (link). A diffuser is simply a piece of translucent material which scatters light rays. Diffusers reduce glare and harsh shadows. They eliminate unattractive contrast and even out the tonality in an image. As an added bonus, you can use items found in your home so you don’t have to spend extra money.

Moving on – here are top 3 tips and subjects for summer photography:

Botanical Beauties

Seasonal flowers and gardens reach their pinnacle during the summer months. From suburban yards to urban window boxes and parks to the countryside, greenery and carnival colors abound. Take advantage of nature’s glorious floral display by using different techniques. If shooting with a DSLR, reach for your zoom lens for a focused close-up. Experiment with a shallow depth of field for beautifully blurred out backgrounds. Or try your wide angle for a swath of color. If you have an iPhone plus (7, 8, or X only) you can use portrait mode to accomplish a shallow depth of field.

The Golden Hour

As mentioned above, summer’s harsh daylight and stark shadows can make photography difficult when trying to shoot family and friends in a flattering light. Instead, opt for an overcast day for your portraits, or seek shade. The best light, however, is during the golden hour- the timeframe is just before sunrise and right around sunset. The sun’s rays are longer, warmer and gentler and create a softer light. Objects and landscapes look better as well- infused with a romance and magic that only summertime can produce.

Weather or Not

Of course it’s not all sun and fun in summer- thunderstorms, rain showers and hazy hot + humid days are also part of the summer season. If you are a storm chaser, a darkened summer sky can offer some dramatic photography opportunities: think bolts of lightning, moody cloud formations, rainbows and sun rays peeking thru, or steel grey skies and white capped water. If you prefer to keep cool and play indoors, museums, historical sites, and churches all offer interesting and often architecturally significant subjects to focus on.

Lastly, don’t forget to edit your summer snaps. Keep the best and delete the rest! You don’t need 20 shots of that golden hour sunset; a few should suffice.