Vacation Photo Tips

Using flash at sunset in Jamaica

Not using the flash outside is one of the biggest mistakes many people make with their vacation photos.

Probably the one place for vacations which could use the flash more than we ever think is at the beach. Typically the sun is so bright at the beach the only way for people not to be squinting is to be sure the sun is behind them. The problem with this is now their face is in the shade.

Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Chelle plays in the sand. Flash used at the beach.

If you turn your flash on it will fill in the shadow and make it easier to see their face. There are limits to this working effectively. Most on camera flashes work best from three feet to ten feet from the camera. If you get much further away your flash will have little impact on the photo.

Having a person face the camera where the sun is on the side of their face will also benefit from the flash. This is where is softens the contrast from the shadow side to the sunlit side of their face.

Disney World at Magic Kingdom. Using flash to fill in the shadows. [NIKON D100, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Normal, ISO 400, 1/180, ƒ/16, (35mm = 90)]

A good basic guideline for most people is to always use their flash when photographing people outside when they are closer than ten feet to the camera.

Another time of the day where this can also improve your photos at the beach is at dusk. This is where a photo of your loved ones with the sunset sky behind them can capture the beauty of the location you have chosen for your vacation.

While using flash is a great way to improve your outside photos another helpful hint is to compose your background before putting your subject (family, friend and loved ones) in the photo.

When you go somewhere for a vacation it is better to capture your group in these locations so you can see you were there. For example if you plan to go to Washington DC compose the photo so you can see the monument fully in the photo.

Vacation at Sawgrass Resort in Ponte Vedra, Florida [NIKON D100, AF Zoom-Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D IF, Mode = Normal, ISO 200, 1/180, ƒ/5.6, (35mm = 57)]

Once you have done this, and then leave a little space to one side or the other to have your friends then walk into the photo facing the camera. Have them walk close to the camera and have the monuments over their shoulders in the background. Your friends will typically be seven to fifteen feet away with the monument almost a football field away from you.

Disney World at Magic Kingdom. Compose background first then put your family in the photo. [NIKON D100, 24.0-120.0 mm f/3.5-5.6, Mode = Normal, ISO 200, 1/320, ƒ/9.5, (35mm = 36)]

Remember to use a flash outside when subject is closer than ten feet and to compose for your backgrounds to show where you were on your vacation to improve your photos from your summer vacation.