Nikon Learn & Explore

Summertime’s Must Take Photos

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl and boy sitting on a swing, hanging from a tree

© Kathy Wolfe

Kids sitting on a swing hanging from a tree—what’s more iconic and idyllic that that. Compose the photo so you’re placing them on the edge of the frame, facing the direction that they’d be moving in for a more pleasing image. If you placed them on the edge of the frame close to the direction they’re facing, it would seem as if they’re going to swing right out of the picture.  

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.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl and boy, each with a big slice of watermelon.

© Kathy Wolfe

Another example of a great image that you can capture when you look for the candid moments. This image does more storytelling about the kids enjoying the watermelon slices than it would if they were looking directly at the camera.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a toddler with a big piece of watermelon

© Kathy Wolfe

Capturing a toddler with a gigantic piece of watermelon makes for a cute image.

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!

Kathy Wolfe photo of two girls enjoying popsicles on a hot summer day.

© Kathy Wolfe

A cool treat shared among friends. By taking the photo while the girls are talking with one another, the photographer has captured a nice candid moment.

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.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a boy with a garden hose, spraying the water out of the frame

© Kathy Wolfe

A child playing with a garden hose definitely speaks to cooling off on a hot summer day. You might want to use a zoom lens here, to stay away from the spray!

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.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl wearing water wings, flippers, goggles and circle floats, standing on a diving board

© Kathy Wolfe

This child is exaggerating her need for floatation devices to jump into the pool, but at the same time, it’s a really cute photo. The diving board she’s standing on adds context to the image, showing her location.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl wearing a big floppy blue hat

© Kathy Wolfe

Floppy hats are fun to wear. Spot meter or use fill-flash to make sure you don’t underexpose the face of your child wearing the hat, otherwise the bright sunshine might trick your camera’s exposure meter into the assumption that the entire scene is brightly lit.

Best Friends

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!

Kathy Wolfe photo of kids giving a dog a bath in a steel tub.

© Kathy Wolfe

What’s more fun that a bunch of kids giving a dog a bath? If you’re photographing action or quick movements, increase your shutter speed to make sure you’re able to freeze the action. Using a camera with scene modes? Select the Sports scene mode.

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.

Kathy Wolfe photo of two young girls standing on a bench laughing

© Kathy Wolfe

Capturing a sweet moment between two friends. Sometimes we forget that we can turn the camera vertical for a photograph. In this case, vertical framing suits the image better than if it was composed horizontally.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a little girl smiling at the camera, backlit by the sun.

© Kathy Wolfe

Place your subject so the sun is behind her, and spot meter on her face. This way the camera’s exposure meter isn’t going to be fooled by the bright sunlight filling most of the frame.

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.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl blowing bubbles on a sunny day

© Kathy Wolfe

When photographing your subject looking into the camera, try to capture natural smiles. Shoot a few frames so you’re sure to get a great shot.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a toddler blowing bubbles

© Kathy Wolfe

A nice candid shot of a child blowing bubbles. Not every photo needs the subject to be staring into the camera.

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!

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl playing hopscotch.

© Kathy Wolfe

When photographing kids playing games or with toys, you'll want to include the game board such as this hopscotch board, in the frame, to give the viewer context for the subject’s actions.

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