Quick Tips for Better Photos: An Easy Way to Improve Your Daytime Photos

Hey friends, I think it’s safe to say that most of us like to take photos, right?  But I also realize that most people don’t actually want to learn photography, what they want is a few easy tips to take better photos.  So I’m writing this monthly series to help you with that, whether you have an SLR, a point and shoot camera, or even a smart phone.

Have you noticed when you take a photo in the middle of the day, it can look washed out?  Maybe it looks kind of flat, and lacks vibrant color.

It’s because shooting in the midday sun is actually the worst time to take a photo. The colors aren’t very saturated and the contrast between the shadows and highlights can be extreme.  Which is too bad since that’s when we’re all outside taking photos, right?  It’s when we’re sightseeing, or at the beach, or attending a summer wedding.

Here is a quick way to darken up the scene and saturate the color just a little bit. It’s called exposure compensation, and it’s all about cutting down the amount of light we’re letting in to our cameras (or on the flip side, if it’s dark, allowing a little bit more light in).

UP Collage

If you have a point and shoot camera or an DSLR, look for the +/- button, if you press it, you’ll see a scale that (generally) runs from -3 to +3.  If you move to the left (-), that will make the scene darker overall, and to the right (+), it gets lighter.  Try it and see what happens, some cameras give you a preview of the scene before you take the photo. (And don’t forget to put it back to 0 when you’re done shooting!)

Exp Comp SLR

Exp Comp Scale

If you have an iPhone (sorry Android users, I’m not sure if this is a feature on your phones), hit the area on the screen where you want the camera to focus.  See that little sun to the right of the yellow box? Touch that and a scale will appear.  Try moving it up and down and you will see your screen lighten and darken.  Your exposure stays like that until you hit the screen again.  It’s a super useful tool!

iPhone Exposure Comp

Here is a sample below – see on the right how there is more detail in the clouds and on the dirt path, and the colors look a bit more natural compared to the image on the left.

Exp Comp iPhone Collage

Too subtle?  How about this:

Monica Faucherie Collage

That hot spot on the riverbank on the left image drives me crazy, in fact, my eye doesn’t even leave that area.  On the right, we have nice color and you can even see more detail in the water.

Here are a few more:

Wildflower Collage

Puerto Rico Collage


Have fun with this, and practice.  Sometimes not letting enough light in will result in photos that are out of focus.  But if you get comfortable using this tool, it will result in much more striking photos.  I promise.

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