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Six tips for great summer photos

These quick tips will help you turn average holiday photos into memories worth framing.

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Summer is the perfect time for capturing memories on camera. Here are some quick tips designed for beginner photographers to get the most out of holiday photos.

Fill it with light

Thought that using your on-camera flash was a no-no? Only sometimes. When taking photos outside, it can actually be an incredibly useful tool.

In bright outdoor situations, or if you are positioning your subject with a strong light source behind them, turn on your camera flash. This will give you a nice burst of fill light to illuminate the foreground while still exposing the background.

Adjusting the intensity of the flash, or using exposure compensation, can also be useful if you find your subjects are blowing out or there's not enough light cast.

The iBlazr can be used as a flash or as a constant video light. Lexy Savvides/CNET

If your primary camera is a smartphone, you still have options. Using a fill light can make all the difference. The iBlazr, which is an LED flash with a 3.5mm jack for easy smartphone connectivity, can be used as a constant light to illuminate your subject. Alternatively, forcing your camera flash to fire in bright situations can give shots that extra boost of light.

Summertime is synonymous with sunshine, but that also means there's lots of light and glare around. If you have a dSLR, you may want to invest in a filter to help alter the properties of the light entering the lens. A circular polariser can help to increase contrast in a scene by darkening the sky and making colours appear more vivid.

Time it well

Timing is everything in getting perfect holiday shots. Golden hour is the period just after sunrise and before sunset when light has some incredible properties, making everything look golden and glistening.

Lexy Savvides

To work out when golden hour occurs in your location, there are plenty of online tools and apps such as the aptly-titled Golden Hour on iOS to keep you updated. On Android, there's Exsate Golden Hour which offers some extra parameters. Windows Phone users can grab Sunrise which also lets you set alarms.

Alternatively, if you're a super early riser or prefer to stay out later, blue hour is also an excellent time to get some landscape shots.

Get in there!

Majestic photos of exotic locations do a great job of documenting your holiday, but it's important to remember that you were there too. As the photographer, it's easy to get stuck behind the camera directing other people, so make sure you end up in some photos.

A GorillaPod or flexible tripod can hold your camera steady, even without a flat surface. Lexy Savvides/CNET

There are plenty of ways to make sure you're in the shot, such as using the self-timer feature on your camera and placing it on a tripod. Alternatively, you may want to consider investing in a wireless shutter release for your dSLR or compact camera, or use your smartphone in conjunction with a device like Triggertrap to take photos remotely.

Take one lens

Travelling light on a summer vacation is a great way to push your photographic boundaries and really be disciplined with how you take images.

Consider taking only one body and one lens, which will really force you to think about composition and working with what you have. One of my go-to travel kits is a compact dSLR with a prime lens such as a 35mm or 50mm, ideal for portraits, street photography and general situations.

Yes, you can shoot landscapes with a 50mm lens. Lexy Savvides

For landscape lovers, a wide-angle zoom will be more appropriate, or even just stick to the single kit lens that came with your camera. It can still produce some amazing images with the right technique.

Use a reflector

Holiday photography is all about making the most of the light you have. It's not really viable to carry around several flash units to get things looking like they've come straight out of a studio. You can use available light to your advantage by using a reflector to bounce light onto a subject.

For example, if you are taking a portrait and one side of your subject's face is in shadow, you can use a reflector positioned appropriately to bounce light onto the shadowed area.

Don't have a fancy silver or gold reflector? Some tinfoil on a piece of cardboard works wonders to bounce light for a fill effect. Alternatively, some white styrofoam board is ideal.

Overcast weather and cloud cover might not seem particularly summery for photos, but it's actually a great time to shoot portraits as the light is incredibly even and super flattering.

Don't forget to edit

When you're back from your trip, it's a great time to get your photographic memories in order rather than letting them languish on a memory card.

If you are shooting in raw, here are some tips to get the most out of your images when processing.

An image with a VSCO film emulation preset applied. Lexy Savvides

Give your images some extra oomph by applying filters or even film emulation presets. There are plenty of packages available that will simulate the look and feel of classic film stocks, or just boost contrast, saturation and even out skin tones without you needing to know anything about photo editing.

Some popular presets include VSCO (available for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw) and DXO FilmPack.