Fig. 6: The photo on the right was taken with a polarizer, a camera filter used in outdoor photography that
reduces glare and gives you more saturated colors.
Polarizers work with all types of cameras.
6. Try a polarizer.
A polarizer is one filter every photographer should
have for general outdoor shooting. It works with
both single-lens reflex cameras and point-and-shoots (just by holding the polarizer in front of the
lens). By reducing glare, the polarizer gives your
shots richer, more saturated colors, especially with
skies (see the before and after shots above). Just
one caveat: polarizers give such nice saturation by
eliminating reflections, so be sure not to use one if
you’re actually trying to capture a reflection image.
7. Trick your auto-exposure.
In-camera meters try to make your subject 18%
gray. But some subjects are vastly darker or lighter
than that, so it’s easy for your meter to get tricked
and turn a snowy hillside into a dark, muddy mess.
What you need to do is trick your meter back.
The most reliable way to do this is to use an 18%
gray card like the one made by Kodak. To use it, place
the card in the same light as your subject. Then
point your camera at it, filling the frame. Lock in this
exposure by pressing the shutter button halfway, then
recompose and shoot with perfect exposure still set.
If you don’t have a gray card, do the same thing
Fig. 7: In-camera meters automatically try to make your
subject 18% gray, but sometimes the subject is too light
or dark for this to work well (photos on the left). We used
a “gray-balancing” card to get the image on the right.
with something in the scene that seems 18% gray.
This may be your own hand, a rock, or the grass in
the same light as your subject.
8. Master outdoor lighting.
For stellar outdoor shooting, use these tips for the
3 main times of day:
» Middle of the day Harsh midday sunlight is
especially problematic, because of dark shadows
in the eye sockets, under the nose, and in other
unflattering crags. A terrific solution is your
camera’s Fill Flash mode, where the camera
exposes for the background first, then adds just
enough flash to illuminate your subject. Use Fill
Flash midday to lighten dark shadows and even
on cloudy days to brighten faces and separate
them from the background.
» Early/late day For scenic shots, the light is usually
best very early or very late in the day. That’s when
you get the warm tones and long shadows of professional nature work. Of course, people and animals
also look great in this light. You can even experiment with Fill Flash to balance a glowing sidelight
from the sun where the face is mostly in shadow.
» End of day/Magic Hour The part of the day