Long Exposure in Landscapes

Several weeks ago, I wrote about My 3 Favourite Landscape Photography Techniques. A few weeks after that, I discussed How to Capture a Static Landscape Image. This week, I want to elaborate further on that first post and talk about long exposure photography. Long exposure, in landscape photography, is a creative technique in which movement is showcased. Most often, long exposures showcase movement in clouds and water. Long exposure photography is gorgeous, and once you try it, I think you’ll fall in love with this technique. If you are interested in trying long exposure photography, I have a few tips to get you started.

1. Use a wired cable or wireless shutter release

I am of the opinion, when you are learning a new genre of photography, that you should jump right in and get started even without having all the fancy tools. If landscape photography is something you find you enjoy I highly recommend your first landscape photography specific purchase be a shutter trigger release. Wired (cable) or wireless both work and there is no need to go expensive here. The inexpensive triggers work well. I use a Neewer Shutter Release cable. A shutter release will prevent camera shake when you begin and end a long exposure.

ISO 50, 16mm, f14, 136sec

ISO 50, 16mm, f14, 136sec

2. Use a Neutral Density filter

If you are enjoying landscape photography and interested in trying long exposures I suggest you invest in a neutral density (ND) filter. These filters come in different stops. My two favourite ND filters are my 6 and 10 stops. ND filters are like very dark sunglasses for your lens and limit the amount of light entering your camera. This allows for you to capture longer exposures.

ISO 100, 26mm, f14, 120sec

ISO 100, 26mm, f14, 120sec

3. Set focus before attaching your ND filter

It will be difficult and even impossible for your camera to focus on a scene when a ND filter is attached. Be sure you set focus and then attach your ND filter being careful to not bump the focus on your camera.

ISO 100, 16mm, f13, 1/6 sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f13, 1/6 sec

4. Set a base exposure before you attach a ND filter

You will need to have a good base exposure before you can determine how long you’ll need to run your exposure with your ND filter attached. The best practice here is to determine the settings for proper exposure without the ND filter attached. Expose for your highlights so that they are not blowing out but are very bright. Take a test shot to ensure your exposure is good. Now it's time for some math. When you add your ND filter, you are darkening your exposure. For example, if you plan on using a ten stop ND filter, you will be darkening your exposure by ten stops. The time you will now need to attain proper exposure is going to increase by 10 stops. The easiest way to determine the time you will require for appropriate exposure, when using a ND filter, is to use a long exposure app. My favourite long exposure app is the LEE Filters-Stopper Exposure. When using a long exposure app, you enter the settings you used for proper exposure without the filter. The app then calculates the time you should exposure your image for with the ND filter attached.

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 90 seconds

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 90 seconds

5. Use Bulb Mode

When I use my 6 or 10 stop filters, I am usually looking at exposures that are minutes in length. To be able to capture exposures longer than 30 seconds, I must shoot in bulb mode. I set my ISO, aperture and shutter speed to determine my settings for proper baseline exposure. I then use my long exposure app to determine the time I need to expose my image with the filter attached. If the time exceeds my camera’s 30-second exposure ability, I dial in bulb mode. With my shutter release cable, I open the exposure and close the exposure once my desired time has passed.

ISO 50, 16mm, f14, 120sec

ISO 50, 16mm, f14, 120sec

6. Practice and experiment

Long exposure photography takes practice. You’ll learn lessons as you try out this technique. You’ll also learn what shutter speed looks best in certain situations and, more importantly, what you like in your long exposures. Take time to experiment with different shutter speeds. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy being creative with this incredibly beautiful technique.

ISO 50, 16mm, f13, 30sec

ISO 50, 16mm, f13, 30sec

Long exposure is a gorgeous and creative landscape photography technique. It’s a favourite technique of mine, and I almost always prefer my long exposure over the static exposure I take in the same scene. Long exposures also add fantastic variety of a single scene without even having to recompose! Have fun experimenting with your landscape images.

Photographing Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! For my friends around the world not celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, you can tuck away the information below for another time!

As I went to prepare this post, I looked back in my archives for some Thanksgiving images; certain, I’d find a few. I found plenty of Autumn photographs but very few Thanksgiving specific pictures. I know that past Thanksgivings have held many wonderful family memories, but in the hustle and bustle of those moments, it appears I forgot to pick up my camera. So my lesson here for myself and one that I want to remind you of is that everyday moments matter. No matter how trivial those moments seem, taking the time to pick up your camera and capture at least one meaningful memory every day, or as often as possible, is worth it. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are a few ideas I have about how you can infuse Thanksgiving into your photographs this year.

1. Included a seasonal item in your image

Make it bold or include a subtle hint of the season and holiday in your photographs this Thanksgiving. Autumn is in her glory during Canadian Thanksgiving, so my home is decorated with touches of fall. Including these touches within your images adds an excellent seasonal feel in addition to the sentiments the time of year evokes.

ISO 200, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/400SS

ISO 200, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/400SS

2. Get creative

Don’t be afraid to get creative. I adore sparkle and bokeh and enjoy infusing colour into my frames. In the image below, I used fall garland and a decorative pumpkin to capture a Thanksgiving-themed image. Creatively using seasonal props is fun for myself and my children when we photograph Thanksgiving.

ISO 1600, 35mm, f2.5, 1/250SS

ISO 1600, 35mm, f2.5, 1/250SS

3. Capture the details

My family typically spends Thanksgiving with extended family, but last year we enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving at home. Take a moment to capture the festivities, including dinner preparation, the meal, dessert and other traditions that are favourites. When you look back over the years and are transported to those memories and emotions, it’ll be worth the time it took to stop and capture an image.

ISO 1250, 35mm, f3.2, 1/200SS

ISO 1250, 35mm, f3.2, 1/200SS

4. Capture outdoor activities too

Do you have an outdoor Thanksgiving tradition? Maybe it’s a wagon ride or visit to the pumpkin patch, or perhaps it’s just a walk in the park during the evening exploring the beauty of Autumn nature? Don’t forget to bring your camera along with you to record these moments too. I know my family always enjoys a fall walk in Autumn’s pretty evening light!

ISO 800, 135mm, f2.8, 1/1250SS

ISO 800, 135mm, f2.8, 1/1250SS

Regardless of whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or not this coming weekend, I wish for you a wonderful weekend filled with family connection!

Freelensing: Technique and Tips

I’m super excited to talk about the creative technique of freelensing this week! It's one of my absolute favourite ways to great creative behind the lens. I came across this technique years ago when I began to dabble in creative photography, and it has stuck with me.

The very first lens I purchased, beyond my kit lens, was a Nikkor 50mm 1.4. Over time, as I expanded my lens collection, my 50mm started to collect dust. I contemplated selling it until I discovered that I could freelens with it. Freelensing is called the “poor man’s tilt-shift” because it captures images with a similar look. When a photographer captures a picture with a lens attached to the camera body, she can control the depth of field or focal plane only through aperture choice. Freelensing disrupts the plane of focus because the lens is detached from the camera body. This technique results in a thin line of focus that is not necessarily only horizontal and extreme blur throughout the rest of the image.

Here are some tips to help you get freelensing:

1. Start with a 50mm

As mentioned, I use my Nikkor 50mm 1.4 when freelensing. You can freelens with most lenses; however, the 50mm is said to be one of the easiest lenses to use when photographing with this technique. This lens is also smaller, and it's manageable to handhold up to the body of your camera. The weight of larger glass could be more difficult.

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

2. Set exposure prior to detaching your lens

Before you detach your lens from your camera body set your exposure using the widest aperture for your lens, for example, when I use my 50mm 1.4 to freelens I set my aperture to 1.4 then balance my exposure settings to attain a well-exposed image. Since I’ll be shooting very wide open, I usually have a lower ISO and faster shutter speed.

ISO 100, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

3. Detach your lens

Once you detach your lens, Nikon users will need to tape or hold open the aperture ring. Nikon lenses automatically close down the aperture (lens opening) when a lens is detached from a camera body. I have a little piece of paper that I use to stick into the aperture slot to carefully force and hold the aperture open while I’m freelensing. Some photographers purchase older lenses specifically for freelensing and alter the lens so that the aperture ring permanently stays open. I haven’t done this with my lens because from time to time, I still like a fully functioning 50mm. Canon users don’t have to worry about forcing open the aperture ring when detaching the lens from the camera.

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

4. Set focus on your lens to infinity

You will not be able to use autofocus once your lens is removed from your camera. You can prefocus your lens before you detach it from your camera body; however, if you or your subject moves your focus will be off. So I like to and suggest you set the focus on your lens to infinity. To achieve focus when freelensing, you’ll want to move closer or farther away from your subject while moving the lens slightly from side to side or up and down.

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

5. Hold your lens close to your camera but leave it unattached

The art of freelensing is capturing an image while your lens is detached from the camera body. You will hold your lens very close to the camera body and with slight movements of the lens left to right, or up or down, you’ll be able to achieve a thin slice of focus. The trick here is to remember that the movements of your lens should be very slight.

I strongly recommend you use a neck-strap to secure your camera to your body. You’ll be holding your camera body with one hand while holding your lens with the other. If you accidentally let go of your camera body, then it’ll be secured to your neck with the strap instead of crashing to the ground. Do not let go of your lens or it’ll fall.

Due to the fact that your lens is not attached to your camera body it is possible and likely to get light leaking in and hitting your sensor. It does depend on your angle to the light in the scene, as well as how close or far away your lens is to your camera body, but it’s fun to experiment.

If you twist or turn your lens significantly or pull it away from your camera body, it is also possible to create some fun vignetting so don't be afraid to experiment a bit.

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/400SS

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/400SS

6. Use Live View

Acquiring focus when freelensing is not easy. It takes practise and a lot of patience. When I first started freelensing I practised on flowers all the time. This way, I could experiment with twisting and turning my lens and identifying how to attain different focus planes. In the end, don’t dismay if the focus is not sharp. I think that’s a beautiful part of freelensing. Images that are soft in focus can be breathtaking and dreamy, so embrace the blur!

ISO 200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

ISO 200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

7. Be very careful

Freelensing should be done at your discretion. With your lens detached from your camera body, there is the potential for dust and other particles to end up on your sensor. I have a second and older camera body that I use when freelensing, but I am still always very cautious about where I’m freelensing. I would never take too big of a chance and freelens in conditions that may damage my camera sensor. Accidents can happen so be cautious when using this technique.

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

8. Try reverse freelensing

Are you a macro lover? My eldest daughter adores macro photography and reverse freelensing is her absolute favourite technique. I’ll often find her laying down on a forest floor capturing the micro-world or up close and personal with a bug. The steps to reverse freelens are the same as above, except you will need to turn your lens around. The result of turning your lens around and photographing is stunning. You’ll capture a gorgeous macro scene surrounded by incredible bokeh blur.

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/160SS

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/160SS

Freelensing is an absolutely gorgeous creative technique but it does take some practice so don't dismay if it doesn’t go well the first time you give it a try. Overall, have fun with the creative process and remember to be very cautious when trying out this technique.

5 Must Take Autumn Images

Happy Autumn! It’s officially Fall! There are so many reasons to love Autumn. I can hardly count the ways this beautiful season captures my adoration. The cooler temperatures and the need for warm cozy sweaters, the fresh scent of foggy morning air, and the gorgeous colour begging to be photographed are a few of the reasons I love Autumn. I live in a climate where I’m fortunate if Autumn lasts beyond a couple of weeks. So you can bet that I’ll have a camera in hand and be out photographing all things Autumn before this season becomes covered up under a blanket of white snow.

Today I’m sharing my list of must capture Autumn images that I know you’ll want to incorporate into your fall images too!

1. Colour

My top priority when it comes to fall images is photographing the beautiful colour that occurs when the leaves change. There are so many different ways a photographer can incorporate Autumn colour into their images, and it’s super fun to get creative during Autumn. Don’t be afraid to think outside the norm and get creative with colour!

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

2. Weather

Where I live Autumn seems to have some pretty serious weather mood swings. We get the entire mix. Sun, rain, fog, sleet and snow are all thrown into the mix. I really enjoy incorporating weather as an element within my Autumn images. When the weather shows off I like to head outdoors and capture the display.

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

3. Leaf tossing

No Autumn is complete without a few good leaf tossing images! These are some of my very favourite captures during the Autumn season. As a bonus, these are some of my children’s favourite images too and they have so much fun tossing leaves up into the air.

ISO 800, 130mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

ISO 800, 130mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

4. Details

Don’t forget to fill the frame with all those beautiful Autumn details. There are so many different options here. Leaves, berries, wild mushrooms, apples and pumpkins are all great items that are reminiscent of Autumn.

ISO 800, 90mm, 3.2F, 1/2000SS

ISO 800, 90mm, 3.2F, 1/2000SS

5. Autumn Indoors

With all the beautiful changes occurring outdoors during the Autumn months it can be easy to forget about all the fun fall activities going on indoors. My children love to bake fall cookies and treats. I enjoy photographing these memorable moments.

ISO 1250, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/250SS

ISO 1250, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/250SS

Autumn falls away quickly so enjoy photographing your beautiful moments this fall!

How to Capture a Static Landscape Image

A few weeks ago, I wrote about My 3 Favourite Landscape Photography Techniques. If you missed that post, you can find it here. In that post, I talked about my three favourite techniques for capturing a single landscape scene. One of the methods I mentioned was static exposure. Static exposure is essentially photographing a scene as it is, and freezing it, as you see it, in time.

When I began my landscape photography journey, I had very little knowledge about how to capture a good landscape photograph. I had never photographed a landscape scene before. Also, I'm a mom photographer and was used to chasing my children around snapping images with wide-open apertures. My child subjects didn't stand still like a landscape scene. As I explored landscape photography, I quickly learned that my approach to capturing a landscape image was different than the approach I took when photographing my children.

Static, or regular exposure, of a landscape scene is the most basic of captures when it comes to landscape photography. However, this does not mean it’s easy to execute this type of exposure. There are a few tips I want to share with you so that you can get off to a good start when out capturing static landscape images.

1. Use a small aperture

I shoot in manual mode both as a mom photographer and as a landscape photographer. I find it gives me exceptional control over my final vision for an image in both genres. As a rule of thumb, landscape images are photographed with a small aperture (f9, f13, f22). When shooting a landscape scene, most photographers want the entire image from the foreground through the background to be in focus. Shooting closed down allows for a large depth of field and full focus throughout a frame.

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 92sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 92sec

2. Use a low ISO

There are exceptions, but typically landscape scenes are photographed with a low ISO. Using a low ISO, such as ISO 100, will usually allow for higher quality images with less noise, and this is preferred in a landscape image.

ISO 100, 19mm, f13, 1/40sec

ISO 100, 19mm, f13, 1/40sec

3. Use a slow shutter speed

Use of a small aperture and low ISO is almost always going to result in a slower shutter speed than recommended for a handheld image. A tripod is a landscape photographer’s best friend. Don’t be hesitant to use as slow of a shutter speed as you need to capture a well-exposed for landscape scene. As long as you use a tripod, you won't have to worry about hand-held camera shake.

I also recommend a wired or wireless shutter release for landscape photography. These releases prevent accidental camera shake when a photographer manually depresses the camera’s shutter. I currently use a NEEWAR shutter release and intervalometer cable.

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 1/5sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 1/5sec

4. Consider composition

Landscapes aren’t running around like our children do. I think this is one of the reasons I’m so attracted to landscape photography! It’s the peacefulness! Since a landscape scene stays put, I’m able to scout or walk around a location before I set up my camera. When I'm walking around the environment I want to capture; I like to think about how I can best compose my image. I highly recommend you do this too. Thoughtfully composing an image will help you capture a solid landscape photograph. Don’t be afraid to try new things as well. There are always alternative compositions that are beautiful. It's good practice to try different arrangements of elements within a scene.

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 1sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 1sec

5. Consider light

It is the photographing of ordinary things, in extraordinary light, which results in extraordinary photographs. (David Young).

This quote shines true across all genres of photography. Light is photography and light should always be considered when capturing landscape images. It is entirely possible to photograph a beautiful landscape image at any time of day. However, the most sought out light is, typically, in the hours before, during and just following sunrise and sunset. The light during these hours of the day is spectacular, and the colours with sunrise and sunset are often breathtaking. It’s well worth it to make an effort to head out into nature to capture a landscape scene during sunrise and sunset.

ISO 100, 17mm, f13, 1/13sec

ISO 100, 17mm, f13, 1/13sec

One of the best ways you can learn a new genre or get better at a certain genre of photography is by practising and experimenting over and over again. The best lessons to be had are always the ones learnt through experience. So be sure to get out there and start photographing this beautiful world while learning along the way.

Simplify the Frame

I embrace simplicity in my images. For the most part, I enjoy simple frames that are free from clutter and what I think are distractions. There are many photographers, especially documentary photographers, that infuse themselves beautifully within a scene capturing every little detail as a means to help tell a story. My style is much simpler than that. However, is my environment free from clutter or what I view as possible distractions? Absolutely not! There are a few techniques I use which help me create simplicity within my images. Here are those tips: 

1. Shoot from above

Shooting from above, or bird’s eye view, is one of the easiest ways a photographer can simplify the frame. Top-down images can exclude a lot of external environment and can help isolate a detail or moment. The closer you are to your subject, the less context in the frame and the less potential for distractions.

ISO 1250, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/250SS

ISO 1250, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/250SS

2. Fill the frame

Filling the frame is similar to shooting from above. However, this concept is not about the angle in which you capture your subject; rather it's about moving close to and photographing only your subject. You want to fill your camera frame with only the intended subject. In these types of images, the background and environment are often excluded from the image. This is a beautiful way in which a photographer can isolate a single details within an image or create a stunning simple portrait.  

ISO 800, 105mm, f3, 1/3200SS

ISO 800, 105mm, f3, 1/3200SS

3. Pull your subject away from a background

The closer your subject is to a background, the more in focus your background will be, especially if you are not shooting at a wide aperture. Pulling your subject away from a background helps the details in a background blur more. This helps isolate your subject when focus is set to him or her and simplifies the frame.

ISO 800, 105,,m 2.8f, 1/2500SS

ISO 800, 105,,m 2.8f, 1/2500SS

4. Shoot with a wide aperture or freelens

For those who have a solid understanding of aperture and depth of field this point probably goes without saying; anytime a photographer chooses to use a large aperture the smaller the plane of focus. Images taken with a large aperture (2.8 or lower) will have more blur, which simplifies an image, as humans tend to ignore areas within an image that are not in focus. Images that are captured with a small aperture (f4 or higher) are likely to have more in focus within the frame, which often results in less simplicity.

When you freelens an image, there is a tiny slice of focus. This is also another good way in which to blur out potential background distractions and simplify a frame.

ISO 100, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

5. Use an object or creative effect to block a distraction

Composing your image in a way that blocks distractions is a fun exercise in observation and creativity. When composing your image, look around your scene to determine if there are elements you can use to hide potential distractions or use in a way that simplifies the frame.

In the image below, to the right of the frame, is my daughter’s closet. Her clothes and toys were visible in the frame until I used the bokeh from a handheld chandelier lampshade to cover those distractions.

ISO 1000, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/200SS

ISO 1000, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/200SS

6. Don’t be afraid to use post processing tools

Post-processing is powerful and can help a photographer execute their vision for an image. It's a good idea to become comfortable with the tools in image processing programs like Lightroom and Photoshop. The clone stamp tool is one of my favourite post-processing tools. This tool can help me eliminate potential distractions and simplify my image.

The image on the left is straight out of the camera. I didn’t love the tree on the left of my frame, as I found it pulled my eye away from my subject. So I decided to clone it out. This tweak resulted in a simpler image, in my opinion, with less distraction.

ISO 800, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS SOOC

ISO 800, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS SOOC

ISO 800, 105mm, 1/2000SS Edited

ISO 800, 105mm, 1/2000SS Edited

If simplicity is your style I highly recommend the above suggestions in order to eliminate possible distractions in your scenes. Give them a try! I’m certain you’ll find a favourite!

All is Quiet: What to Photograph when your Children are in School

Sadly, summer is over. My children returned to school this morning. As much as I know, a routine is good for everyone, I already miss my children and the unscheduled days of summer. With the return to school, I need to get myself settled into my own routine and attempt to find balance amongst my responsibilities. As I find this new balance, I know that photography will remain a constant in my everyday life. However, I also know that my time photographing my children's everyday moments will be limited due to the fact they are away at school all day and most days, after school, we will be rushing down a snack or dinner, before we taxi off to an extra curricular activity.

I'm sure my adoration for photography will never be extinguished. So when I'm unable to photograph my children's everyday moments here are some ways I can still pursue my passion.

1. Self portraiture

When my children are away at school, I try, on occasion, to capture a few self portraits. I think self portraiture is it’s a wonderful way to experiment with light and creative techniques. After all, I’m a willing subject. I don’t often share these images, but I create them as a gift to myself. I think self portraiture is an empowering and therapeutic experience, especially when the aim is to photograph or express yourself in a certain way.

When I attempt any self portraiture I always use a tripod. I shoot in manual mode so I dial in my settings and prefocus my camera before I jump into the scene. Typically, I do use a smaller aperture to allow for a larger depth of field or area of focus. I like f4 if my settings can support this aperture well. Focus can sometimes be tricky when capturing self portraits because it must set prior to you entering the scene. I like to set focus in the scene by placing an object, like a teddy bear, where I’ll be standing or sitting. I then remove that object prior to capturing the image. I also always use a self timer. You can use your camera’s internal timer but since I’m a landscape photographer I have a handy intervalometer that I use. I usually set the shutter release delay on my intervalometer to about 20 seconds which gives me time to start the timer remote then hop into the scene. I usually capture about 10-20 images at once slightly adjusting my pose between exposures in hope that at least one of these slight movements will result in an image I like and a final edit.

ISO 1600, 35mm, f2.2, 1/160SS

ISO 1600, 35mm, f2.2, 1/160SS

2. Try something new

Still life, styled flat lays, food, macro and street photography are all genres that I’m not particularly familiar with or good at. I think there’s a ton of freedom when you give yourself permission to try something new and make mistakes. I always find when I’m photographing genres I’m not particularly familiar with that I come away having learned something valuable. When your typical subjects aren’t available, it’s also an excellent time to practice photographing techniques you want to experiment with like a Lensbaby or Freelensing. You can also give yourself some post-processing leniency and think about trying new techniques or something out of the realm of your typical post-processing workflow.

ISO 1000, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/500SS

ISO 1000, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/500SS

3. Catch up on post processing

Raise your hand if you have hard drives filled with hoards of unedited images. I’m right there with you. I have so many unedited photos; it’s truly shameful! There are a million things to do in a day but when I have a moment, without my little subjects around to photograph, I really do enjoy taking the time to edit images that are waiting for post-processing love.

ISO 100, 26mm, f14, 120sec

ISO 100, 26mm, f14, 120sec

4. Focus on learning

Who has a ton of learning material stored up with a plan that one day you’ll read or watch it? Have you been meaning to read the latest post to The Photographer’s Notebook but just haven’t quite had the time? Between school drop off, grocery shopping, those hundreds of loads of laundry and career obligations there never seems to be enough time. However, I bet there are moments from time to time when you can prioritize your learning and take some time for you to grow as a photographer. There’s goodness waiting for you.

ISO 1000, 105mm, f4, 1/250SS

ISO 1000, 105mm, f4, 1/250SS

5. Take a break

As rewarding as photography is for me sometimes I can get in a FOMO (fear of missing out) head space when it comes to documenting my children’s lives. I know that giving myself permission to take a break from photography is healthy. Engaging in another activity that I’m interested in helps me from becoming bored and falling into a dreaded photography rut. Sometimes it’s nice to put away your camera and enjoy the gift of quiet or another favourite activity while your primary little subjects are away at school all day.

ISO 400, 200mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

ISO 400, 200mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

I’d love to hear what you enjoy photographing when your children are in school! Let me know in the comments below!

My 3 Favourite Landscape Photography Techniques

There are many different approaches a landscape photographer can take when capturing a single scene. This is, in my opinion, where much of the artistry in landscape photography is born. I’ve been asked before if I ever get bored of shooting the same scene over and over again, and my answer is always, “Absolutely not!” Weather conditions, light, and seasons change. Those changes add beautiful difference into a scene. However, a photographer does not necessarily need to wait for a different day to capture a scene differently, as it unfolds. There are three ways in which a photographer can capture a single scene that will yield a different look with different results.

In the below three images I’ve captured the same scene, the iconic Three Sisters in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. However, I used a different technique in each of these images, which resulted in different looks.

My three favourite landscape photography techniques when approaching scenes are:

1. Static or normal exposure

Static exposure is capturing a scene as it is. Typically, it is necessary to maintain a faster shutter speed in order to eliminate any possible water or cloud movement. It freezes the beauty of a moment in time. This is an excellent technique to use when there is dynamic cloud definition, or the scene is quiet and reflecting.

ISO 100, 18mm, f14, 0.5sec

ISO 100, 18mm, f14, 0.5sec

2. Long Exposure

A long exposure is a stunning technique with beautiful results. Longer exposures capture movement and infuse a pretty softness into moving clouds or water. It’s a technique that will often require a neutral density filter, such as a 6 or 10 stop filter. Capturing a long exposure is a good choice when there are a clouds moving through the sky. Long exposure is probably my favourite technique when I’m out capturing landscape scenes.

ISO 100, 19mm, f13, 270sec

ISO 100, 19mm, f13, 270sec

3. Night Exposure

Waiting after a sunset shoot until Astronomical Twilight is well worth it. Shooting at night quickly became an attractive technique when I started capturing landscape images. There’s spectacular beauty in the night sky. When everyone else is sleeping stars light up the sky and twinkle their magic down upon a scene. Most people don’t have the opportunity to see these incredible scenes at night. The camera also can pick up details in the night sky that the human eye is incapable of seeing. When photographing during the night you can try both a static and long exposure. A static night sky image will capture a breathtaking star-studded sky. A long exposure at night will capture gorgeous star trail movement creating a stunning and unique effect.

ISO 400, 16mm, f4, 481sec

ISO 400, 16mm, f4, 481sec

In each of the above scenes my subjects remain exactly the same however there is significant variety between the three scenes due to the choices I made in my exposure setting techniques. Next time you are out capturing a single landscape scene I encourage you to try capturing the scene in both a static and long exposure mode. Capturing a scene at night might take a little more effort but it is well worth the effort. The results are captivating.

People in Landscape: It's a Great Big World-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 7

I’m incredibly passionate about landscape photography. Next to photographing my children, it’s my favourite genre of photography. So it’ll come as no surprise that capturing my children within a landscape is the perfect fusion for my photography style. There are a few things that should be considered when photographing people within a landscape scene. I want to share some of those tips with you.

1. Consider your lens choice

For the most part, a wider lens should be your choice when you want to capture a human subject within a landscape scene. This big perspective allows you to photograph your subject and the environment too. A wide-angle lens allows for a grande scale to be showcased and can result in a “little person in a big world” kind of feeling. My favourite lens choices when capturing my children within a landscape are my 35mm, 16-35mm, and my 14mm.

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/500SS

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/500SS

2. Consider your exposure triangle settings

When I capture landscape images, I, for the most part, always use a tripod. However, the use of a tripod is not an option when I’m capturing my children in a landscape. They are busy and move around in a scene, so I need mobility too and forgo my tripod. Since I’m not using a tripod, I need to use a faster shutter speed than I likely would if I was capturing only a landscape scene. I like to keep my shutter speed at 1/400 or even higher for my person in landscape images.

Also, I need to consider my aperture choice. I have a couple of options here. If I want to isolate my subject, I can choose to use a wider aperture and blur my background a bit so a choice of f4 or lower would work. However, if I want to ensure sharp focus throughout my entire image, then I will need to use a small aperture like f9 or higher.

If you are shooting in manual mode, don’t be afraid to set your aperture based on what you want in focus within your image, then set your shutter speed to eliminate any possible motion blur from wind through trees or grasses or a moving subject. To complete your exposure triangle, set your ISO last to balance out your exposure triangle.

I often find when I’m capturing a human within a landscape, I often underexpose my image to preserve the highlights within the scene, which are usually in the sky details. I can adjust the shadows in post-processing by bringing them up.

ISO 200, 35mm, f13, 1/320SS

ISO 200, 35mm, f13, 1/320SS

3. Consider your composition

Good composition is vital to a solid image, so this is something I always consider. In the image below, I purposefully composed the scene by considering the rule of thirds (ROT) when I placed my son along the 1/3 ROT line. I also chose to compose my image with my son in the left side of the frame, as this enhances a shared experience with a viewer. When the viewer’s eye lands on my son he or she will share in the experience of looking towards the boat in the distance and off into the sunset.

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/1250SS

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/1250SS

4. Consider mood

There’s always mood in a landscape image. Landscape moods are highly dependant on the type of light and weather at the time of the image. I think it’s important to consider how the mood within the landscape impacts the overall feeling within the image and how the person is captured within the scene. If you have a stormy landscape, it might seem out of place to have an energetic and playful child running through the scene. This type of behaviour is probably more cohesive with a bright and sunny scene. It is, however, worth experimenting a bit with humans in a landscape and mood because juxtaposition is a powerful thing.

ISO 400, 35mm, f16, 1/160SS

ISO 400, 35mm, f16, 1/160SS

5. Use post processing to enhance your vision

Post-processing is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to infusing your vision into an image. Very often in post-processing I’m lifting shadows, lowering highlights, adding colour, tweaking clarity and contrast and fine-tuning my straight out of camera capture. Learning programs like Lightroom and Photoshop will help you enhance your images beautifully and artistically.

In the image below, I wanted to enhance the image in post-processing by adding more vibrancy than in the SOOC. I think the enhanced colour increases the mood as my subject looks off into the dramatic sky while the waves crash into the shore.

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS SOOC

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS SOOC

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS Edited

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS Edited

This concludes The Sensational Summer Photography Series! Thank you for incorporating my concepts into your summer photo memories!