A man and two children sit in a sunny field enjoying a picnic. Photo by Hannah Clark on a Canon EOS 250D.

SUMMER PHOTOGRAPHY

Sun-kissed, simply beautiful summer photography on the Canon EOS 250D

Swedish photographer Hannah Clark's summer shots evoke the feelings of hazy days in the sun. Her natural style of photographing friends and family has a beautifully light and warm aesthetic.

For years Hannah pursued photography as a hobby, using compact cameras to shoot everything from colourful streets in Stockholm to vast landscapes on her travels. Recently she decided to take photography a little more seriously, investing in a Canon DSLR camera to help her turn her hobby into a small business that she now runs alongside her day job.

Hannah chose the lightweight and easy-to-use Canon EOS 250D, which packs a host of features that her old compact cameras didn't have, such as compatibility with EOS system lenses and Speedlite flashes, an optical viewfinder and a guided user interface (GUI) to help her get up to speed.

With the Canon EOS 250D, a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens in her kitbag, Hannah tackled a series of photographic challenges to expand her skillset. These challenges ranged from rethinking composition to trying different focal lengths, pushing her creative boundaries while making her familiar with her new kit. Here's what she learnt, including some techniques you can take inspiration from when capturing your own summer holiday fun.

1. Get some unusual angles

Capturing shots from unconventional angles is something Hannah enjoys exploring in her photography. "I think about composition a lot," she says. "I envisage the typical way I'd take the picture and then play around with it – shooting high and low and putting the person in different places in the frame. If I just move a little bit, I can create a whole new picture."

The Canon EOS 250D is the lightest DSLR with a moveable screen*, which can prove practical when you're holding your camera above your head or crouching down on the ground to get a more interesting shot.

A composite photo shows a yellow flower and a girl in a yellow dress, photographed by Hannah Clark on a Canon EOS 250D.

2. Use Eye Auto Focus to get pin-sharp eyes

Getting sharp results is made simple with the autofocus system on the Canon EOS 250D. Eye Auto Focus ensures your subject's eyes are in focus when using the screen in Live View, which is easily activated by pressing the Live View button on the back of the camera.

"I almost always use the Eye Auto Focus mode when taking pictures of the kids playing, because regardless of what they're doing, their eyes are their most expressive feature," says Hannah.

"I envisage the typical way I'd take the picture and then play around with it."

3. Play with different focal lengths

Hannah has been experimenting with both prime (fixed focal length) and zoom lenses – specifically the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM prime and the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM zoom. Though she enjoys moving position to frame shots with the prime lens, she says "it's fun to use the zoom because I can get different angles of the kids in action, even if they're far away".

While testing the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM by photographing her children in grassy fields and by a lake, she found its light weight to be a revelation. "I loved playing with the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM," she says. "It's very light, which surprised me – I'd take it on holiday and would absolutely use it a lot."

However, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens allowed her to get a shallow depth-of-field and create background blur in her portraits – meaning it still has its place in her kitbag. "The 50mm has a wider aperture, so that's perfect if it's a little darker, or if I want to create a blurry background. Combined with the Canon EOS 250D, the 50mm lens is great for portraits. If I had to choose just one lens to work with, it would be this one," she says.

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A composite shows two children looking at a flower, and a boy sitting on a dock, photographed by Hannah Clark on a Canon EOS 250D.

4. Take a low light portrait

The soft light cast when the sun is lower in the sky, particularly around dawn and dusk at the 'golden hour', is popular with photographers. This gentle lighting is part of Hannah's personal photographic colour palette and creates a warm appearance, with the sun's glow beautifully illuminating skin tones.

"I like the evening light best and prefer shooting in low light to bright sunlight – it's more subtle," she says. However, moving indoors or shooting when the sun sets is easy with the Canon EOS 250D. "I have tried up to ISO 3200 and the images are not noisy", says Hannah. "I love playing around with ISO, increasing it to allow me to use a higher shutter speed and to capture movement even in low light. I've heard that a lot of people are afraid to dial the ISO up but the Canon EOS 250D still delivers great results at higher ISOs."

What's more, the autofocus on the Canon EOS 250D works at levels your eyes will consider very dark (up to -4EV in Live View) – the camera is better at seeing at night than you are, so place your trust in it to pick out your subject.

A composite shows a girl in a field of long grass, then standing with a boy in the same field, photographed by Hannah Clark on a Canon EOS 250D.

5. See how far Auto takes you

As Hannah has progressed her photography, she's moved to shooting primarily in Manual mode. Yet she also sees great value in automatic settings that give you high quality results at the touch of a button and help you learn along the way. She explored the Auto settings on the Canon EOS 250D, including its fully automatic Scene Intelligent Auto mode, which analyses the scene in front of you and picks the best settings for your surroundings.

"I used the scene settings at first to ease into using Manual mode," she says. "They're perfect for someone who hasn't used a camera in a long time or has never had a DSLR before. The camera chooses the settings to use, which you can learn from. When I first got the camera, I used the Sports scene mode to get moving kids in focus, as well as the Portrait setting."

Hannah revels in documenting small details in her photographs and turned her camera onto Auto mode to shoot her son washing his hands in a bright pink bucket of water. "I love shooting details and making a story with the pictures," she says. "It could be hands grabbing a shoulder, feet, sunglasses on a table, a hat lying on a beach – small details from a bigger scene." In this instance the Auto settings shot at f/5.6, 1/500 sec and ISO 200. The fast shutter speed of 1/500 sec meant that she was able to freeze drops of water splashing on hands.

6. Don't miss a second of action

"The biggest thing I've learned is to always have my camera with me," she says. "If I have it around, I'm always learning and growing more familiar with it, which makes me a lot more confident." While photographing her family for these challenges, Hannah often followed her kids where they led her and let them play naturally. Rather than asking people to pose, she prefers to photograph them while they're enjoying themselves. "I just go with the flow and do the things they want to do, while having the camera with me all the time. The best shots of children playing come when they're not so focused on the camera."

To make sure she didn't miss a moment, Hannah shot bursts in Continuous Shooting mode, which captures five frames per second (fps) on the Canon EOS 250D. "I always have the burst setting on so that it takes a lot of pictures per second," says Hannah. "You have more chance of getting a great photo if you have a series of frames – I love this shot (below), with the splash at the side – it feels so energetic."

7. Use the camera's connectivity

While shooting on the move on day trips, it's great to be able to share your photos with friends and family. The Canon EOS 250D can easily be linked to your smartphone or tablet, using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and the Canon Camera Connect app, allowing you to transfer images and upload to social media or send to loved ones.

"I often want to put the pictures I take on Instagram, so it's ideal that I can transfer them from the camera to my phone, to then post," says Hannah. "I use this feature with the Canon EOS 250D and I think it's super smooth and easy – and I'm not very technical! There's a guide in the Canon Camera Connect app that gives you instructions on how to connect your camera too."

For further advice on how to make the most of your camera's features, the Canon Photo Companion app includes tips on how to be successful in any genre of photography, with expert advice, tutorials and tips tailored to your camera model.

Written by Lucy Fulford

*EOS 250D (Black/Silver) is the world's lightest among all the digital single-lens reflex APS-C size sensor cameras with a fully articulated LCD monitor. Including battery and memory card as per CIPA guidelines. As of 9 April 2019 (researched by Canon).

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