The arrival of summer means plenty of sunshine for outdoor photography in New England. Catching the sunrise takes an early bird these days, while 8:30PM sunsets offer ample time to prepare for those golden hour shoots. Right now Vermont and New Hampshire are receiving an impressive fifteen and a half hours of potential sunshine which is more than enough reason for me to get outdoors with my camera.
Being partial to the soft low angle light at dawn and dusk, I try to plan my camera time accordingly. It’s no secret to photographers that the first and last hours of daylight are the most desirable times to shoot. I took this thistle photo just before sunset on Tucker Mountain in Newbury, Vermont last summer.
The shot wouldn’t have been very interesting without the warm shafts of light filtered through the trees. I went up the mountain with the intention of taking a scenic sunset photo, but found myself more interested in botanical close-ups thanks to the flattering light. I achieved this look by aiming directly into the sun with a large aperture and fast shutter speed. This created a nice rim light making the thistle glow and stand out in the scene.
Another option is to light your subject head-on. I stumbled upon this fawn in the morning as I stepped out of the woods and into an open field. I came out right on top of this youngster, and he immediately pranced off into some thick brush. After just a few minutes he mustered up a little courage and stepped back out into the grass.
I was crouched down with my camera snapping photos as the fawn grew curious and walked right up to me. This kind of encounter certainly doesn’t happen every day, and I was glad to be sporting my 70-200mm 2.8 IS. It’s pretty rare that I find myself zooming out when shooting wildlife with this lens!
Knowing exactly when to plan your shoot is very helpful. Websites like golden-hour.com are a good resource to assist you with this. Golden-hour automatically finds your location and tells you the length of the day, sunrise, sunset, and of course when the golden hours begin.
This is usually the best time to shoot anything from wildlife, to portraits but it doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy photography during the afternoon. I snapped this cedar waxwing shot in the middle of the day on open water in Pittsburg NH. In order to freeze this guy in flight and still get a detailed look at his “wax dipped” wing feathers I had to use a very fast shutter speed. This wasn’t a problem for my Canon 60D at 100 ISO thanks to plenty of summer sunlight that day.