How to Take Better Photographs Outside

I recently covered  how you can take better photographs in the house   when dealing with low light conditions. Nowadays, I’ll focus on the opposite situation: outdoor photography, where the light may be over-abundant. This article points out the most common problems you’ll find in outdoor photography and how to fix them.

Before we begin, if you aren’t comfortable with the relationship between aperture , shutter speed , and ISO , you will want to read through Elizabeth’s article on the exposure triangle before we get going.

X-T3 + XF18-55mmF2. 8-4 R LM OIS @ 18mm, ISO 200, 8 seconds, f/10. 0

Table associated with Contents

Problem: My Outdoor Pictures Are Too Bright

When photographing inside, most of our problems originate from figuring out how to get enough light. We have the opposite issue outdoors, where we must learn how to control the abundant lighting that is usually available. In case too much light reaches your own camera sensor, your images may turn out too bright.

Solution: Reduce your ISO (and then alter shutter speed and aperture)

Most of the time when your images are overexposed outdoors, it’s because you are in manual mode and using settings meant for indoor photography – a high ISO, wide aperture, and slow shutter speed.

The first one of these settings to fix can be ISO. It’s usually probable in daylight to lower your ISO quite a bit, maybe still to the base value of hundred if there’s enough light. There’s certainly no reason to be at high ISOs such as 3200 or 6400 and overexposing your photo!

If you lower your INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG to the base value and are still getting overexposed images, have a look at your shutter speed and aperture settings. Indoors, it could be common to use values such as f/1. 8 for your aperture and 1/50 second for your shutter speed in order to capture enough light. But outdoors on a sunny day, those people settings will easily result in overexposure, even at base ISO. I recommend picking an aperture that gives you the right  depth of industry   (such since f/8 for landscape photography) and then letting shutter quickness fall wherever gives you an adequately exposed shot.

Shot at f/8 to obtain enough depth of industry, and 1/340 second to avoid overexposure.

Problem: Why should i have weird shadows on my subject?

Sunlight, even when plentiful, has its challenges. If a lot of harsh light is definitely pointed at your subject – or, worse, directly lower from overhead – you are going to run into all sorts of issues within your photo. Your subjects may be squinting, and the light might be excessively high in contrast. Worst of, if you aren’t careful about how you position your issue, you can easily end up with odd patterns of dark shadows plus bright highlights going across them.

outdoor copy

Solution: Look for open up shade

Short of turning into Superman plus re-positioning the Earth back in time, it is safe to assume that you happen to be stuck with the sun in whichever position it is at the time of day you are shooting. If you can not wait around for better gentle (see below for more upon this), you’re going to have to move your subject instead. The best place to start is searching for areas of open tone.

Open color is when trees, buildings, or other surfaces create areas of shade that are encircled by areas of open sky. If you look at the shadows on the ground, these areas are easy to recognize. You’re looking for the edge from the shadows – the outlines where light and color meet. Position your subject at the edge of the shade, so that they are standing in the color but looking out into the open up light. This way, the light falling on them will be both soft and bright.

Make sure that the shade over your subject really is full shade, rather than areas of dappled sunlight as it filters by means of tree branches or other structures. The easiest way to check for this is to look at the shadows on the floor. You want solid areas of shade; patches of shade speckled with random dots of sunlight indicate dappled lighting that you generally want to avoid (unless you are going for a really specific effect).

In the image below, searching at the shadow patterns, you can easily tell the difference between dappled light and the more optimal area of open shade. With this image, the subject is at an ideal spot along the edge of the open shade. The causing light is both smooth and bright. (If a person wanted to photograph the subject’s face, don’t change your digital camera position; just get them to change and face toward the sunshine. )


If you happen to be shooting with an overcast day instead, the particular clouds will soften the particular sunlight enough to turn the particular scene into a giant soft box. In those cases, you have a lot more freedom in order to photograph your subject without worrying about harsh shadows.

Problem: My Shadows Are Too Dark (Or the Sky Is White)

X100F @ 23mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/16. 0

No matter how well you expose your photograph, you may be limited by the amount of dynamic range your camera is able to catch. Dynamic range is the variety of stops between the darkest plus lightest areas of your image. If the dynamic range of the scene is too great, you will have to choose between capturing details in your shadows and in your own highlights. The bright, severe light of mid-day tends to exacerbate the problem.

Solution: Pay attention to the position of the sun

Since you can’t move the sun, you have two options: wait for the sun to be to want it, or move the camera. For many purposes, sunlight is best for photography early and late in the day, once the angle is low as well as the light is warm. Middle day, when the sun is straight overhead, you are often likely to have harsh shadows and more dynamic range than your camera sensor can handle.   By photographing when the sunlight is low in the stones, you often end up with smoother shadows and more flattering light in general.

Your next option is to move the camera. When photographing mid-day or in suboptimal lighting conditions, moving the camera’s position even a small amount can produce a big difference. Rather than getting the sun in your photo and wasting out the sky, you can change positions so the sunlight is partly obstructed – or point in a different direction so that it’s at the rear of you.

The particular images below were used less than 20 minutes aside. In one, the sun is behind the Capitol dome. Within the second image, I went around to the other part of the building where the sun, instead of being hidden at the rear of the dome, was directly shining on it. Changing my position changed the path of light on the subject plus created two very different pictures.

Capitol constructing with the dome blocking the sun
Capitol dome from the opposite part, with the evening sun illumination the building.

Problem: I Can’t Get a Blurry Background

X100F @ 23mm, ISO 2000, 1/640, f/4. 0

We’ve all observed photos with the lovely blurred background created by a nice low depth associated with field . But if your digital camera settings aren’t correct, it could be difficult to achieve this effect.

Solution: Work with a wider aperture and a longer lens, and move your subject away from the background

To take these types of “shallow focus” photos, you will need enough depth of industry for your subject to be sharp, but your background must drop outside of the focus area. There are some ways to achieve this.

First, the most obvious answer is to use the widest aperture on your own lens. If you’re shooting within an automatic or semi-automatic setting on your camera, you might unintentionally be at narrower apertures like f/8 or f/11 without even realizing this. Instead, switch to aperture priority or manual mode and place the widest available aperture, such as f/1. 8 if you’re using a 50mm f/1. 9 lens.

In case your lens doesn’t have a very wide aperture, zoom it all the way in which in to its longest telephoto setting and start there. If you’ve ever taken pictures having a long telephoto lens, you have probably noticed that your depth of field begins to fall off quickly, even with more moderate apertures.

Also, move your own subject away from the background. Background blur relies on the background getting outside of the focus area within your image, so moving your own subject away from the background the big difference in achieving obnubilate.

Taken with f/2. 8 and 54mm in order to achieve an out-of-focus background.

Because a wide aperture allows a lot more light into the camera, we are back to the problem I discussed a moment ago about having too much light. All you need to undertake is lower your ISO benefit, and if it’s already with base ISO, use a faster shutter speed.

Problem: I Want to Make use of Longer Shutter Speeds Yet Can’t

outdoor12 copy
GFX 50R + GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR @ 32mm, 8. 5 secs, f/8. 0

There are many subjects want water and clouds that may look interesting with a lengthy exposure. But when there’s this kind of abundance of light during the day, you simply can’t use shutter speeds of multiple seconds without overexposing the photo, no matter what ISO or aperture you use.

Solution: Use a neutral density filter

GFX100S + GF32-64mmF4 Ur LM WR @ 64mm, ISO 200, 60 seconds, f/8. 0

If a low ISO value and a narrow aperture are not enough to get the shutter rate you want, the solution is to use the neutral density filter.

A Neutral Denseness (ND) filter reduces the quantity of light entering the digital camera – like sunglasses for your lens. ND filters are available in different densities so that you can control their light blocking ability. A 3-stop ND filtration system, for example , would let you work with a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second when your picture would otherwise require 1/250th.

My personal favorite (and most used) ND filter is a 10 stop, which could take your shutter speed through 1/1000 on a sunny day time all the way down to 1 second, perfect for smoothing out drinking water. And at sunset when the lighting is lower, it can easily produce exposures of a minute or more, perfect for a cloud-streaked skies. Make sure you are using a tripod on a nice solid surface when photographing long exposures, as even a small amount of digital camera movement will make for blurry images.

Another use of an ND filter for photography is when you wish a wider aperture compared to light would otherwise permit. It’s a bit of a special situation, but in extremely bright situations like the beach on a sunny day, your camera may max out its shutter speed (usually 1/4000 or 1/8000 second) and make it impossible to use wide apertures without overexposing. The solution is really a mild ND filter like a 3-stop to cut down the light a bit.

Problem: My Moving Subject matter Are Blurry

outdoor14 (2)
X-T3 + XF50-140mmF2. 8 R LM OIS WR + 2x @ 248. 6mm, ISO 200, 1/1800, f/5. 6

Photographing moving subjects outdoors seems like it must be simple. After all, you generally have enough light for accelerated shutter speeds. But those who have photographed fact moving actions, pets, or children knows that getting sharp images is certainly trickier than it initial appears. In particular, focusing on the topic can be a big challenge.

Solution: Watch your meter and use constant autofocus

Although there is usually a lot of light when you’re photographing outside, action photography tends to need very fast shutter speeds of 1/500 to 1/1000 second if you want to avoid motion obnubilate. This may be fine if your subject matter is in bright sunlight, but even on a cloudy day, it may not be enough.

So , make sure to watch the particular camera’s meter to see in the event that it’s suggesting too slow of the shutter speed. If so, do not be afraid to bump up your own ISO even in daylight. For the image below, I boosted my ISO to 2500 even though this is an outdoor photograph during the daytime, so that I possibly could keep my shutter velocity to 1/640 second. Taking into consideration how fast my subject matter was moving, this was the only method to get a sharp image.

outdoor 14
X-T3 + XF50-140mmF2. 8 R LM OIS WR @ 119. 2mm, ISO 2500, 1/640, f/2. 8

Other times, the culprit behind blurry photos is your focus setting rather than your shutter quickness. When photographing action, you should make sure that your camera is set in order to continuous autofocus. Continuous autofocus (also called Al Servo on Canon cameras, plus Continuous Servo or AF-C on Nikon) tells the camera to keep focusing on the topic constantly rather than just once.

If you mistakenly established your camera to single-shot focus, it will focus on the topic once and stay right now there permanently, even if your subject starts to move. While there is nothing wrong with single-shot focus for stationary topics, it will lead to out-of-focus images when you’re trying to catch moving subjects.


Photographing outdoors is about learning how to control the existing, and frequently abundant, natural light. While this will generally make things easier than low-light photography indoors, it still comes with its very own list of challenges. I hope this post gave you a good idea of how to troubleshoot some of those common problems.

Please share in the comments if you have any questions about outside photography, things that you find challenging, or your favorite outdoor subjects!

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