Photo tips for your holiday: How to make your summer photos a success

We show you how to take the right photos: To make your photos of the beautiful season a success, we have selected various shooting situations that place high demands on the camera and operation, especially in summer. We provide tips on the respective camera settings, motif design and matching accessories. With the manual camera mode of many smartphones, you can also apply these tips to many mobile phone cameras.

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1. beach, bright light & reflections control

The bright sand on the beach, glistening sunlight and light reflections often lead to overexposure and pale colours when shooting at the popular water edge.

For cameras with attachment options, so-called polarisation or polarisation filters help here. These filters are attached and rotated to the appropriate position to ensure that light rays that vibrate “incorrectly” are neutralized, depending on the subject situation and lighting conditions. This causes a suppression of reflections, for example on a water surface as well as on warm, strong, natural colors of sky, clouds and beach.

Lateral incidence of light can be prevented with sun visors, which are available as attachments or are included with the camera when purchased. Many cameras, especially the small compact ones, offer the automatic motif beach.

Camera settings

  • Automatic: Try the automatic motifs beach or snow
  • Manual output setting: AV mode, aperture 8, ISO automatic
  • Recommended accessories: polarization filter, sun visor, tripod if necessary

2. backlight photography

Backlight photography is the term used when the light comes from the direction in which the picture was taken. This can be a natural or artificial light source. Summer shots are often taken in the late afternoon with the sun low (see example image).

In backlit photography, the subject usually has a silhouette-like appearance. Like our lady in the example picture, the motif stands out from the background like a shadow and rich in contrast. The colours are deliberately pushed into the background. Since a correct exposure is often difficult to determine, we recommend in most cases to make an exposure series.

Most digital cameras, now also compact cameras, offer such an automatic function in their function menu. If this option is not available, you should try different settings manually. In the case of digital recordings, the unsuitable images can be deleted again.

In any case, one should expose on the bright image areas in order to achieve the silhouette-like outline of the motive. Attachable lens hoods or a lateral incidence of light additionally reduce unwanted glare spots in the image. For inspiration and ideas visit

Camera setting

  • Automatic hardly possible, possibly sunlight or series of exposures – if possible
  • Manual output setting: max. ISO 100, aperture 4 to 8, shutter speed 1/400 sec.
  • Recommended accessories: tripod, lens hood (against hood reflexes)

3. photos at sunrise and sunset

When shooting sunrises and sunsets, time plays an important role, because the lighting conditions change very quickly early in the morning and in the evening. Therefore, you should firstly be on site in good time and secondly assume that the setting requirements (lighting conditions) change quite quickly due to time.

The camera should be positioned as low as possible. An upstream gradient filter is very helpful, which compensates for the extreme horizontal differences in light intensity (sun level very much light, foreground little light or shade), which cannot be managed with the aperture setting of the camera (you can only select one aperture setting).

The gradient filter in front of the lens allows a balanced exposure in the entire image spectrum due to its applied gradient coloration. These filters can be adjusted to the respective horizontal light conditions by pushing them up and down. Before the “hot” shots, one should practice the handling and take test photos, because as already mentioned at the beginning, the time factor plays an important role in sun shots.

If you can’t use a gradient filter, you should try to find the optimal settings with exposure series. Another tip for the subject: Give the sky about 2/3 of the height when creating the picture and move the sun horizontally a little to the left or right.

4. freeze fast-paced sports scenes

When shooting sports, the rapid movement of the subject is usually a great challenge. In addition one would like to clarify the action with splashing water, rising sand or flying blades of grass additionally. Of course, most digital cameras have an automatic mode on board. But this can only offer an average setting.

It is better to make these settings manually. The freezing of the respective fast-paced scene usually takes place with very short shutter speeds (e.g. 1/1,000 sec.). However, the shorter the shutter speed, the larger the aperture (2.8 – 5.6) and a higher ISO number (200-800) should be. Because of the short exposure time, as much light as necessary must fall on the photo sensor.

The lower the aperture value, the more open the aperture is and the more light can be admitted. The greater the ISO number, the more sensitive the sensor is to incident light. Before using a photo, you should test the possible settings, for example on passing cars, in order to find the optimum settings for your camera.

When doing sports, you should not be stingy with shots and provide a lot of storage space. Therefore, camera modes that shoot several pictures in a row are very well suited.

5. to get a real picture of a party society

With a small compact camera it is very difficult to take appealing photos of parties in dark surroundings. The key point here is the lack of light and the dynamic nature of the subject. The built-in flash usually does not reach far, too close attached, the pictures are quickly flashed.

It is better to mount cameras with an additional flash. These offer a longer range. Of course it is possible to use additional lamps, but this is difficult with the mostly big hustle and bustle. In low rooms you can try to flash indirectly by aiming the flash at the ceiling.

In any case, you should set a low aperture value and a high ISO value for manual adjustment. Then you have to experiment with the shutter speeds depending on the subject. In order to prevent the background of the subject from sinking into the dull black, one should pay attention to some illumination behind the subject. At day parties, as explained above, you can try the settings of sports photographers.

6. taking pictures in and under water

Special cameras make it possible, without additional protective measures for the camera, to shoot underwater photos just below the waterline or to take splash-proof pictures just above the water. Some models can also be packed into special underwater housings to penetrate deeper.