10 (Actually Helpful) Tips For Outdoor Photography

March 19, 2015

None of that vague 'use natural light and let your shining personality do the rest, hehe!' faffle - when I do tips, I do them good.

Coming on board Regimental Vintage as both co-owner/girlfriend of the founder (I'm bedding the boss, hyuk-hyuk) and photographer has had its benefits. First; I get all the vintage military clothes I want - five years ago I dreamt of having a rail full of gorgeous military jackets. Now I have enough to fill a boutique (literally). Second; I get to source beautiful vintage designer pieces for the boutique on the premise that 'I'm introducing diversity to the brand in the form of attainable luxury'...or something like that. Third; Regimental Vintage is currently an online boutique on ASOS Marketplace (we're still on the hunt for the perfect brick-and-mortar shop, preferably in East London) so it's down to me to photograph all our stock and do them justice so that they're properly represented on the boutique. 

I started my journey as in-house photo-monkey some six months ago. Along the way I've graduated from using a compact camera to snap quick shots against white walls, to taking photos with a DSLR in interesting outdoor settings. In the 1,000 or more photos I've taken for Regimental I've gained - three new camera lenses (read 'My Lenses and Guide to Prime Lenses' here),  a renewed appreciation for photography, a much better understanding of how to shoot in (gasp!) manual, and also how to (in lieu of a fancy photography studio with professional equipment) shoot evocative photos using just natural light and the humblest of settings - a nearby park. Happily for us Londoners our smog-belcher of a city is also a green one - nobody is ever far from a green space, so any aspiring photographer who wants to get to grips with how to learn to shoot under uncontrolled, unpredictable circumstances should grab their camera, get to their nearest park, and snap away!

To aid you along your way, I thought I'd share with you ten of my tips for shooting outdoors. 

The Golden Hour is the time shortly before dawn and dusk when the sun is lower in the sky, enriching all it casts its benevolent eyes on with a softer, redder hue. What does it mean for us? An instant, glowing tan (or is that Instatan?) - nature's Valencia filter! Reds, golds, yellows, and oranges are all enhanced - perfect for showcasing your gorgeous tan, real or otherwise. Photos will be more saturated, and look 'warmer'. If you want to shoot gold clothing or accessories, the Golden Hour is the time to do it. 

Henry wears - British Army Issue wool jumper. Shop here.

Henry wears vintage denim prison trousers. Shop here.

Henry wears vintage blue denim prison jacket. Shop here
Like Tyra has said to cycle after cycle of aspiring Next Top Models, you have to 'find the light'. Always turn your face upwards to the source of light - this magically 'erases' dark eye circles, shows off bone structure and especially cheekbones (you can tell by how in some of my photos I look like I have apples stuffed inside my cheeks), and brings out your features. Allow Bluebell to demonstrate...

Bluebell wears - Burberry Prosum black coat. Shop here.

Bluebell wears - black leather Burberry coat. Shop here.
Don't listen to what some say about 'beware of backlight' - that only applies when you're taking photos, say, on the deck of a cruise ship on a terrifying sunny day with a compact camera. With a bit of manipulation, you can use backlight to your advantage when shooting outdoors, as I have  done here. With light shining from behind my models the flowers and leaves become bokeh, the light form subtle halos around them, and their surroundings are illuminated. To do this, I increased the exposure then focused on Bea and Henry. 

Bea wears British Military camouflage trousers. Shop here

Henry and Bea wear - Vintage British Army camo shirt. Shop here (his) and here (hers).
Drop to your knees, soldier! Apart from the obvious benefits of shooting from a low angle - ie. your subjects look taller and more statuesque (vain girls, this means instant Photoshop!), taking photos from a lower vantage point can make for a more dramatic composition, and in the case of a grimy walkway you can make the ground 'vanish' with a bit of clever cropping. Also good for shots with pets - nobody wants to see just the top of your dog's head.

Arched branches overhead, imposing trees, piles of logs - the elements are all there; immerse and surround yourself in and with them. Stand between trees, heck, climb them - you're outdoors, make the most of it.

Henry wears - vintage Burberry checked shirt. Shop here
Looming clouds blocking out the sun and threatening to rain on your parade. Don’t despair - overcast clouds can make for a moody photo. Up the ISO (more of that in point 8), lower your exposure to compensate for a slower shutter speed, and say 'Hello, darkness my old friend...'

Henry wears - blue flannel lumberjack shirt. Shop here

Bluebell wears - vintage Burberry trench coat. Shop here
I've mentioned in my Guide To Prime Lenses that I prefer to shoot with a wide aperture, around f/1.8-f/2.0 - it makes for soft backgrounds and a crisp focus on the subject. Bonus: softer backgrounds give photos an atmospheric, movie still-quality.

Henry wears - British Army camouflage assault vest. Shop here
Ah, noise and film grain, the bane of many a photographer. Don't be afraid of using a high ISO (within reason of course, nothing over ISO1600) - noise can give photo an interesting texture, best suited for gritty pictures like the 'post-apocalyptic' outdoorsy vibe that Henry is obsessed with especially now that's he's hooked on watching The Walking Dead.

I like using ‘Auto Colour’ in Photoshop to see what kind of hues Photoshop suggests are best suited to the photo. I find that with 'Auto Colour', outdoor photos take on vibrant purple hues, orange hues, green hues etc. which I can adjust with Curves, Colour Balance, and Levels. Of course a more refined way to edit would be to shoot in Raw and adjust the photo temperature in Raw Editor or Lightroom, but using Auto Colour is like playing the lottery - you never know, there might be a winner in there.

Bluebell wears - vintage Burberry wool jumper. Shop here

Personally I prefer bright, high-contrast pictures for food photography, product photography, and of course portraits of myself. Lately I find that lowering the contrast for photos taken outdoors - especially very bright photos taken on sunny days - brings out details that would otherwise be 'blacked out' in darker areas. Lowering the contrast - in Photoshop this can be done in Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast - also makes for a more consistent tonal range throughout - easier on the eyes, yields more details, and invites a closer look.

Bluebell wears Royal Air Force tunic. Shop here.

These are my ten tips for outdoor photography, and I hope you've found them somewhat useful and enlightening (haha). If you enjoyed this post and know someone who would too - amateur photographer, fashion blogger, or fellow shutterbug please share this post with them using the social media buttons below!

Also, I've just created a Facebook Page for Posh, Broke, & Bored and I'd really appreciate it if you could show me some love - it's lonely over there, I've only just made my Facebook Page yesterday and I've only got 700 likes so far! Thank you all for your support - you make staying up till crazy 'o clock to write this all worth it. x

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  1. You weren't joking when you said you did tips well! Love all of these - and the shots. Definitely going to incorporate the ones I'm not doing into my outdoor shooting from now on, it's good to experiment with how other people do things to up your own photo game. I adore that jacket Bluebell is wearing in the last two shots :)

    little miss fii || Fii x

  2. Loved this! I've really been getting back into photography lately and these tips will be priceless no doubt.
    Thank you! :D

    Mark x

  3. Thanks for these Jasiminne! They're really great tips - will definitely be using them when I play with my new camera, yayy!

    PS you got Disqus after last night's chat - woop!

    Lauren xx

  4. Hellooooo Lauren! Yes I've finally jumped on the Disqus bandwagon, and WHAT A BANDWAGON! I'm loving it!

    Can't wait to see what you do with your new camera! Share share! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  5. Thank you Mark! Show me your photos - tag me on Twitter - I'd love to see them! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  6. Ohh such a good bandwagon!!

    I need to learn how to use it properly - my first proper camera! woooop! I've been using it in recent posts, but ohh it's going to get better when I learn properly! XX

  7. Fii! When I tip, I tip HARD. Especially in restaurants, but that's another kind of tip altogether.

    Also, I forgot to link it but you can buy Bluebell's jacket here! Regimental Vintage, naturally ;)

    Looking forward to seeing more outdoor photos from you! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  8. Great tips thank you! Can't wait to get out this weekend and start experimenting :) x


  9. Good luck Anna! Can't wait to see your photos! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  10. Hope you don't mind me saying so, but steaming the clothes would make a world of difference!

  11. You're right! It's time for me to invest in a steamer! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  12. These are fab tips!! I never really know how to deal with light outside, or really how to pose, I will definitely be finding the light next time! x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

  13. Always find the light, Jasmin! It makes a world of difference! x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored