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6 Tricks For Taking Great Summer Photographs

Summertime just screams “BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!” to me. So did our Carnival cruise. In fact, when I told Carnival we’d be happy to jump on their ship, Carnival Magic, for 7 days, I knew I wanted to write this post for them after we got back because it would be so easy and fun for me. I took this trip to 1. have fun with my family and 2. take beautiful pictures.

I have 6 tips for getting great summer vacation photos (and really, these tips can apply to any and all photos). Move beyond having the family pose next to the palm trees, and awkwardly clustering themselves on a beach. These tips will help you take your vacation photos from snapshots to framers.

1. Look for the lines. Let natural lines lead your picture and help you compose your subjects. Instead of getting your kids to look at you, and centering them in the frame as they force a smile, try placing them along the shoreline as it cuts diagonally through the picture:


Or use vertical lines to draw the eye up through the image:


Docks are great for adding visual interest with natural lines:


2. Look for repetition. The repetitive planks in the dock pictured above are one example. Repetition adds visual interest and gives you something to focus on. Here’s a row of empty chairs we found on the deck of Carnival Magic. This shot would be pretty blah without them:


3. Find natural frames. Shoot from beyond door frames and through windows, even between railings and ropes. This was taken from inside our boat as we made our way back to the ship from Starfish Island in Belize:


4. Redefine the family portrait. Sure, there will be plenty of friendly, fellow tourists to shoot a picture of your whole group for you, but get creative with ways of including yourself in other shots. This picture is one of my favorites from the trip. I got us all in the same frame without having to get anyone’s attention, all while sipping a tropical drink.


And take advantage of shiny sunglasses! Look close, you can see he’s got an eye on me AND the kids in the pool.


5. Crank up your shutter speed and capture the action. So much about vacation involves lots of movement. Make sure you increase your shutter speed – or put your camera on the action setting (usually an icon of a running man)- so shots like cannonballs into the pool don’t come out blurry, and you freeze every drop.


This works great for capturing high-speed exits from water slides, too.


6. Work some magic into the editing when you get home. This is a bit of an advanced tip, but here are a couple pictures from the trip that I played with to make spectacular by editing.

I took this…


And made it this…


I increased the temp (white balance), highlights, clarity, vibrance, and exposure (just a bit). I applied another increased exposure mask just over the bottom half of the picture so I didn’t blow out the details in the sky. Then I added color to the sunset with various tinted graduated filters that I pulled from the top of the picture, halfway down. I also saturated the oranges and blues a bit.

This picture…


Became this picture after some time post processing…


I increased the temperature (white balance) and added graduated filters in shades of blue to both the sky and the water. I increased the clarity, vibrance, and contrast, deepened the dark tones and sharpened it up a bit. I also saturated the greens a little.

So don’t go deleting “bad” pictures too quick. Invest a little time learning a basic photo editing program, and you can bring a lot of life out of them.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.