Summertime—the kids are out of school, days are hot and nights warm—and everywhere you look a photo opportunity presents itself.
With all that bright sun, you can lower your ISO during the day. For photos where you want the background to blur softly, you need to do this—so you can set a wide aperture such as f/2.8 or f/1.4.
To make it easier on little ones, set up your picture taking in the shade. No squinting here. Or grab a shot of your kids wearing a floppy wide brimmed hat or cool looking shades.
Who knew that watermelon could be such a great prop for summer pictures. Especially when it’s a huge slice being held by tiny hands. Other great “props” for a summer photograph are icy popsicles or ice cream cones.
Sneaking upon a candid moment happening between siblings will create a memory your entire family will be sure to cherish for years.
If you’re setting up a shot with your kids, just tell them to act naturally while you “fiddle with the camera”. When you see that they’ve relaxed to the point of acting natural, that’s when you can snap the picture. With the Z series cameras, you’ve even got silent shooting so they won’t know that you’ve got your shot!
Keeping it Cool
Keeping kids cool during hot summer days can make for some of the best images. Playing with a garden hose, running through a sprinkler, taking a dip in the pool or even giving man’s best friend a bath.
Leave it to the kids to “ham it up” for the camera like this young lady who has put on all her necessary swim items including multiple colorful inner tubes, water wings, flippers and goggles. She’s ready to jump off the diving board. By including the location (diving board of the pool) you realize this isn’t just a set up picture, its capturing reality.
Big floppy hats will keep the sun out of her eyes. Use spot metering to meter on her face underneath the brim of the hat. This will ensure you have the correct exposure, and that the camera isn’t fooled by the bright background. You can also use fill-flash to add a little light to her face. If your camera has a built-in pop-up flash—that’s a great use for it during the daytime. Don’t be afraid to turn on the flash during the day. It fills in deep shadows for a more balanced exposure.
Everyone likes keeping cool on a hot summer day including man’s best friend. Let the kids give your dog a bath outdoors where they can all make a mess that can be hosed away easily. You’re sure to get some fantastic images. The kids do the work and you reap the “photographic” rewards!
Use the bright sun as a backlight for your portraits. Simply place the sun behind your subject and spot meter off of their face for the correct exposure. You can also use fill-flash if your camera has a built-in pop-up flash or you have an accessory Speedlight. Your kids will be all smiles and no one will need to squint.
Bubbles… bubbles… who’s got the bubbles. Another fun thing for kids to do in the summertime is blowing bubbles, whether its using a small bubble wand or larger ones designed to create giant bubbles to float in the air. Little kids often like to chase bubbles, as do puppies, so you can get everyone in on the fun and make some great photos too.
Other photo ideas—practically any game the kids are playing outdoors would make for a great photo—like hopscotch or jacks.
To make photos with an out of focus background, you will want to use a wide aperture, such as f/3.5, f/2.8 or f/1.4. When you're shooting in bright sunlight, you may need to lower your ISO for the camera to be able to set a correct exposure at a wide aperture. If on the other hand, you want as much sharp detail as possible, you'll want to use a small aperture such as f/16 or f/22. In order to do this, you may need to increase your ISO if the lighting you're shooting under isn't bright enough. And, if you're trying to capture fast moving kids running around the backyard, increase your shutter speed faster to 1/500 of a second or faster so you'll be able to freeze the action.
If you’ve got one of Nikon’s waterproof cameras, remember that you can take it underwater in the pool, lake or ocean for even more unique images. Kids love swimming up to an underwater camera, in that its often such a unique experience—try capturing some video of them too.
Stay cool and have fun making great photographic memories of your kids this summer!