Summer Food-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 3

Summer fun comes in all forms, from play, through adventure, through delicious and mouthwatering treats, snacks, and meals. Only recently have I begun to incorporate food as a theme into my summer captures and I wish I had started capturing the deliciousness of summer earlier. I adore those childhood moments when a watermelon slice becomes a smile, the sticky melt from a popsicle runs down a little arm, or little fingers squish together a s’more, oozing out all that marshmallow and chocolate goodness.

Here is some inspiration and tips for you as you go about capturing all the delicious food goodness that comes with summer living!

1. Be ready

At my house, summer treats either melt very fast, are ferociously devoured at an incredible rate of speed, or both! When I want to photograph my children and food, I make sure I’m prepared. I always have a plan on how I want to capture the scene before I even pass over that watermelon slice. With my settings already dialed in and my camera in one hand, I only then release that snack into those little hands and wide as saucer eyes. I know I won’t have long to capture what I want, so I work fast, and being prepared and ready helps with this.

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

2. Try different perspectives

This summer, I know I'm going to work on mixing up my perspectives when photographing my children and their food moments! Food is food. Sometimes one watermelon looks like the next to me, as does one popsicle. To add variety, I need to change up my perspectives. Try photographing food straight on, from above, from below, up close and from far away. This variance in view will add uniqueness into your summer food images while capturing those childhood summer memories you don't want to miss.

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

3. Focus on the food

How about making food the focus of the image? The talented @this_chaotic_life created the stunning image featured below, and it is a perfect example of making food the focus in an image. In this featured image, @this_chaotic_life has used a shallow depth of field. This perfectly isolates the ice cream cone. The gorgeous flare frames the cone nicely, and the creativity in the flare draws beautiful attention to the sweet treat and all the precious drippy details.

You can find Meredith and more of her creative work on Instagram @this_chaotic_life.

ISO 80, 50mm, 1.8f, 1/400SS

ISO 80, 50mm, 1.8f, 1/400SS

4. Focus on the activity

We camp in our trailer almost all summer long so hot dogs over the fire, marshmallow roasts and picnics are commonplace for my family. This summer, I want to capture these events often because as commonplace as they are, they hold wonderful memories of family time fun.

ISO 800, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/400SS

ISO 800, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/400SS

Incorporating food into your summer-themed images is a delicious and fun way in which you can document your summer memories. When photographing your summer food memories be ready with your camera before that snack is up for grabs. Also, don't be afraid to incorporate different perspectives and angles while capturing food moments.

Enjoy the deliciousness of summer! Be sure to tag #thephotographersnotebook on Instagram too!

Next week I'm sharing tips on how you can best capture your summer adventures! You won't want to miss Part 4 of The Sensational Summer Photography Series! Talk to you then!

A Stunning Combination: Water and Your Camera-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 2

In last week’s post I discussed 6 Fun Elements to use in your Summer Images. As part of The Sensational Summer Photography Series I’m going to dive deeper into each topic and provide inspiration and a few tips on how you can go about capturing these specific elements.

Since it’s summer up here in the Northern Hemisphere I know we are all welcoming the glorious warmth of the sunshine but sometimes that heat is in need of a little taming. The cool refreshing touch of water sounds like the perfect way to cool off those hot summer days. I’m always really cautious about my camera gear around water. Who wouldn’t be, right? Cameras and water don’t really mix well…or do they? Seems to me like so many rules in photography are meant to be broken and this is certainly one of them. So rule breakers, here’s some advice when it comes to incorporating water into your photography this summer!

1. Protect your gear

There are many different options out there when it comes to water and photography. Most of my images taken in and around water are while I’m at a beach, lake, river and in and around sprinklers. I don’t have access to a pool all that often so I haven’t had the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of submersion photography. Regardless, protecting your gear or having a camera system that is underwater friendly is a necessity when shooting in and around water.

There are a couple of ways I protect my camera gear when mixing the element of water into my images. If my camera is poolside or sprinkler side and there’s the risk that a small splash or a few droplets might come flying my way I simply protect my gear with a rain sleeve. These sleeves are readily available and are inexpensive. I highly recommend them. In situations where there’s the potential for a lot more water exposure or when we are going to the beach where I’m bound to encounter sand I use my DiCAPac. This bag provides excellent protection for my camera from both water and sand. I must test the bag prior to each use and look for leaks and it is a bit cumbersome when it comes to changing my camera settings when my camera is inside the bag but overall this bag works really well for the types of water images I’m shooting in.

ISO 200, 35mm, 5.6f, 1/3200SS

ISO 200, 35mm, 5.6f, 1/3200SS

2. Split View or Submerge

As I mentioned I haven’t had a lot of opportunity for full submersion water photography but when I’m brave enough to venture into a cold river or lake I like to play around with split view images. In these types of captures my bagged camera is only half submerged. When the water is clear I get a fun underwater view and can capture my subject above the water too! This is such a fun technique to experiment with!

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

3. Give me all the water bokeh

Who else here has a bokeh addiction? I know you’re out there! If you love bokeh then you my friend are meant to be one with your camera and water! As mentioned, my bodies of water are not warm. They are glacial cold even on the hottest of summer days. However, my slight obsession with water bokeh sparkle has me jumping right into that frozen water! I’ve found that the best water bokeh is created when light is hitting the water and when water is moving, so a splash, rushing river, sprinkler or even a water gun will give you bokeh delicious images. When the water droplets are in motion they catch the sunlight creating that bokeh you crave or soon will be craving once you give it a try!

ISO 200, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

ISO 200, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

4. Reflections

Next to bokeh, reflections are another favourite element to capture when I am around water. Your subject doesn’t even need to be in the water. Angles are everything here and it’s a really good idea to move around the scene to determine how you can best incorporate or capture a reflection. Static water reflects the best and provides beautiful crisp reflections. Also, if you happen to be at a beach, wet sand reflects in a beautiful way as well. Keep an eye out for those reflections as you capture your summer in and around the water this summer.

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

This summer don’t be afraid to use the element of water in your captures! I think water and photography result in some stunning summer captures! The current theme at The Photographer’s Notebook on Instagram is #tpn_water until July 22, 2019! I look forward to seeing how you’re using water in your own summer captures!

Part 3 in The Sensational Summer Photography Series is next week! I talk about how to incorporate food in your summer images! Talk to you then!

6 Fun Elements to use in your Summer Images-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 1

I’m really excited about the summer! Up here in Canada, we finish up school a little later than most of our friends in the United States, so we have only just started to settle into our summer routine of outdoor play and adventures.

I know I’m super excited to start photographing all things summer! As a means to inspire and provide you with tips on how you can go about capturing your summer memories, I’ve created The Sensational Summer Photography Series which I’ll be sharing with your over the next seven weeks! This week, to begin this series, I’m sharing my favourite fun elements to incorporate into my summer images!

1. Water

Water and summer are a perfect pair. With the hot days of summer who wouldn’t want to cool off with a little water? I really enjoy experimenting around water and take my camera with me to the river and beach all summer long. If you’re not around natural bodies of water there is lots of fun to be had around pools and sprinklers too.

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

2. Food

Good food and summer go hand in hand.  There are so many opportunities to incorporate food images with a summer theme.  Messy, gooey and sticky faces and fingers are always enjoyable signs of summer.  BBQ meals, ice cream cones, popsicles, watermelon, marshmallow roasts, strawberry fields, to name only a small few, are all moments that can be photographed and incorporated into your summer captures.

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

3. Adventures

My number one reason for my love of the summer months is the ability to be outdoors. We spend a significant amount of time out exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains during the summer. I love capturing my children when we are out hiking, biking, and adventuring in the Rockies. I feel very inspired by the beauty within the outdoors, and I enjoy capturing our everyday outdoor summer adventures.

ISO 500, 35mm, f9, 1/1000SS

ISO 500, 35mm, f9, 1/1000SS

4. Weather

Summer weather is spectacular! From the hot sun to wild summer storms, I enjoy capturing it all. When the weather puts on a show, I most certainly grab my camera.

ISO 200, 35mm, f5, 1/320SS

ISO 200, 35mm, f5, 1/320SS

5. Details

I know I say this a lot, but details really are the best and summer details are no exception. I want to remember the dirty knees, the sandy faces, the frog that brought the biggest of smiles to my children’s faces, the tiny bugs, and muddy fingers. Attached to these details are beautiful memories that I never want to forget.

ISO 1000, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/250SS

ISO 1000, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/250SS

6. Landscapes

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know I’m incredibly passionate about landscape photography so you’ll find it no surprise that I enjoy capturing my children while immersed in a beautiful landscape.

ISO 100, 105mm, 2.8, 1/4000SS

ISO 100, 105mm, 2.8, 1/4000SS

Be sure to stay tuned friends! Next week I offer my best tips on how to capture images in and around the water during the summer months as part of The Sensational Summer Photography Series!

Happy summer friends! I’m thoroughly enjoying all the incredible summer images being tagged to #thephotographersnotebook so far this summer!

Getting Started in Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is truly spectacular and I have a tremendous amount of love for this genre. I adore being out in nature and spend a significant amount of time living and exploring in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. With world class beauty a stone’s throw from where I call home it’d be a shame if I didn’t revel in my fortune and so I do. You’d think that residing as close as I do to the Canadian Rocky Mountains that I’d have been a landscape photographer for many, many years but actually that’s not the case. It wasn’t more than 4 years ago that I started to immerse myself within this genre. Being that my journey into landscape photography is fairly new I can still remember what it was like when I first dabbled in this genre. I have a few tips for those of you interested in and just starting out in landscape photography that’ll get you up exploring and photographing the jaw dropping beauty that is nature.  

1. Start with the gear you already own

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m quite attached to all of my landscape photography gear and accessories but when I was first starting out in this genre I really had nothing more than the camera equipment I used to photograph my children. I captured most of my beginner landscape images with my 35mm lens and a $25.00 tripod. No joke here friends. Of course I think you are going to fall head over heels in love with landscape photography but if you find this genre is not for you then you’ve lost nothing if you use the gear you have. Quite the opposite actually, you’ve gained the experience and knowledge that comes with exploring other genres, which is invaluable. But when you do fall in love with landscape photography you can slowly add to your collection of gear. 

If you like to take a look inside my landscape photographer backpack you can do that here.

ISO 800, 70mm, f14, 1/500SS

ISO 800, 70mm, f14, 1/500SS

2. Use a tripod 

A tripod is in my opinion absolutely necessary for any landscape photographer. You don’t have to break the bank here either. There are many options and brands out there. The most important thing is that your tripod is study enough to support the weight of your camera and lens in addition to withstand natural elements like strong winds. It’s also very helpful to have a tripod that folds down fairly small, mine fits quite nicely into the side of my backpack. It’s also nice to have flexibility when it comes to adjusting the legs of your tripod as I find I’m often photographing a scene on uneven ground and I want my camera remain level. 

ISO 31, 16mm, f22, 1/4SS

ISO 31, 16mm, f22, 1/4SS

3. Use a time delayed trigger release

A time delayed trigger release is incredibly useful when capturing landscape images. Landscape images are often taken with shutter speeds that are much slower than when you capture hand held images. The simple act of manually releasing the shutter has the potential to introduce camera shake when using slower shutter speeds. Use of an internal camera timer set to a two or so second delay will allow for you to depress the shutter and then remove your hand from your camera prior to shutter release increasing the likelihood of a sharp image. Better yet, you can purchase a cable or wireless trigger release system. They can range in price from quite affordable to expensive. I’m going to suggest to you that the inexpensive trigger releases are the way to go. They work just as well and if they break purchasing a new one won’t be costly. Some trigger releases also come with an intervalometer which is a more advanced landscape topic but it’s nice to have incorporated into your release for when you’re ready to learn this technique. 

ISO 200, 24mm, f13, 300sec

ISO 200, 24mm, f13, 300sec

4. Compose thoughtfully 

Composition in landscape photography is a dynamic topic. When you are just starting out in photography my recommendation is to simple compose a scene with thought. There are so many different ways in which a single scene can be captured. Sometimes it’s worth while to walk around and observe a scene from different viewpoints then go about capturing that scene from your favourite spot. It is also always worthwhile to capture a single scene from various perspectives so that when you get back home you can decide which perspective you prefer. 

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 2.5sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 2.5sec

4. Shoot in manual mode

Manual mode is truly queen when it comes to photography in general but when it comes to landscape photography I think it really is necessary. There are some photographers that shoot in aperture priority mode but manual mode really does allow you to have full control over your settings. As a tip to get you started, when it comes to your exposure triangle settings, try and maintain as low as an ISO as possible when shooting day hour images. This allows for the best quality file. Also, do choose a smaller aperture so that your whole scene is in focus. I find my main landscape lens is sharpest around f14 so I consistently stick to an aperture around that setting when capturing daytime images. From here, set your shutter speed in order to expose your scene well with no blown out highlights. These rules of thumb will get you off to a good start. 

Now having said that, once you’ve captured your scene play around with your settings a bit. If you can, try a longer exposure. Without a neutral density filter, which is again another more advanced topic, you may want to try longer exposures in situations when there’s less light, like just before sunrise or just after sunset or when there is not a large variance in dynamic range.  

ISO 100, 19mm, f14, 1/6

ISO 100, 19mm, f14, 1/6

5. Shoot in RAW and tweak in post processing 

No more jpegs please! Part of landscape photography is post processing a scene. RAW captures a full range of data within a scene. A scene that you’ve likely put a lot of effort and work into capturing. You can make adjustments to jpeg images however this is not advisable. RAW preserves all the data your camera has collected and allows you to make tweaks in post processing in a way that infuses energy and life into an image. Even if you’re new to post processing having some ability to practise on files in programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, Camera Raw or ON1 Photo is a vital part to landscape photography. 

ISO 100, 20mm, f13, 120sec

ISO 100, 20mm, f13, 120sec

6. Practise, practise and practise some more

I think the learning curve in landscape photography is very steep but don’t dismay. There’s truly always something to learn and to work on. I’m constantly learning new techniques and new ways of doing things. The journey of personal growth in the field and in post processing are endless. What will get you learning and growing as a landscape photographer is practise. Bite of small pieces and learn that technique then move on then revisit that technique if need be. Learning and growing as a photographer in landscapes is something I thoroughly enjoy. I absolutely love the challenge and I just know you will too!  

ISO 500, 22mm, f4, 441sec

ISO 500, 22mm, f4, 441sec

Landscape photography is incredibly rewarding in so many beautiful ways. I hope these tips will leave you feeling inspired and help you get started in this beautiful genre this summer while you are out and about capturing your family memories too.

Tweens and Teens: 9 Tips for Photographing Older Children

With summer approaching very fast I’ll soon have my children all to myself all day long and I’m super happy about that! With our busy school season schedules it sometimes feels like I hardly see my children, especially my almost teenager and preteen. So I’m looking forward to some down time over the summer and I know I’ll certainly take advantage of the time we have together to capture some, or perhaps a lot, of images! But capturing preteens and teens can sometimes be a challenge. As my children grow they become increasingly opinionated about my camera. For those of you with preteens, teens and older children here are a few tips that make it easier on my children and myself when it comes to photographs that I know will be helpful to you.

1. Aim to capture a relaxed portrait

I love a good portrait however for the most part my teens are not interested in dressing up in stylish outfits and posing in the forest in pretty light with beautiful smiles. This sounds like torture for both of us. My approach to portraiture is much more relaxed these days. When we’re out and about if I’m able to snap a quick cooperative or even unknown relaxed portrait then I do so otherwise I don’t push for it. I’m also okay with lack of eye contact or a portrait that incorporates a moment of fun or play. I rarely ask for a pose or give direction. I always want to choose genuine expressions and authenticity over stiff and forced smiles.

ISO 400, 125mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

ISO 400, 125mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

2. Take on a lifestyle approach

My main goal when capturing my children is to capture them in the moment preserving little memories. The same is for my teens. I want to remember moments of play and childhood so I’m not necessarily looking for the perfect set up. Instead, I want moments in time that trigger fun and playful memories.

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/2500SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/2500SS

3. Use a longer lens

I’m partial to long lenses anyway but I find the use of a longer lens valuable when I’m photographing my teens. Maintaining distance between myself and my teens allows for them to feel more independent and they don’t have a camera in their face. I find this increases authenticity as they get to be themselves while I go about capturing their moments.

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/500SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/500SS

4. Be ready

Even when I do have the cooperation of my teens I find their interest in my camera is limited so I’m ready with settings all dialled in before I start capturing a scene. I don’t want to bore or annoy them as I change and play around with settings. I know their attention spans for my camera won’t last that long.  

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

5. Incorporate their ideas into a photo shoot

Occasionally I’ll suggest a photo shoot to my teens and ask them how they’d like for me to capture the idea. They are really good at coming up with ideas and are typically excited and cooperative when I’m photographing their ideas.

ISO 500, 35mm, f4, 1/1600SS

ISO 500, 35mm, f4, 1/1600SS

6. Capture what they love

Preteens have opinions about what they like to do.  I find my preteens are more likely to participate with my camera if they are involved in something they enjoy doing. My daughter is a super star soccer player and her passion is soccer. She was more than willing to pose for this image because it was about her love of soccer.

ISO 1000, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/800SS

ISO 1000, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/800SS

7. Make it fun

We all know our children best and know what they like and don’t like. My daughter was happy to have this image taken of her because she was enjoying swinging back and forth in the hammock. The moment was fun for her too.

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

8. Always ask permission

There are two parts to this point for me.  First, I always ask permission before capturing my children.  I might say something as simple as, “I’m going to bring my camera along on our walk for a few photos,” or “Mind if I take a few pictures of you throwing rocks?” I rarely get a “no” if I forewarn my teens that my camera is around and I intend on capturing images.  Second, before I post anything on social media I ask permission or let them know what I’ll be posting.  My children are all over the internet and as they become increasingly private about their lives and understand that what I post might be seen by their peers, teachers, coaches and even strangers they have opinions. I want to be respectful of that.

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/2000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/2000SS

9. Take no for an answer

Everyone likes cooperation but that’s not always the case especially with teens.  Their opinion matters and if they are not in the mood or say no to my camera I put it away.  No questions asked.  After all, I really want them to agree to my camera the next time around.  

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

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

Do you have any other tips for capturing tweens or teens? Let me know by posting in the blog comments below! I hope with the summer you’ll have lots of opportunities to capture your older children!

5 Tips for Finding Creativity in Full Sun

Last week I shared with you My Three Best Tips for Managing Full Sun in your images this summer. This week I want to inspire you to get creative in full sun when capturing your summer images. I know that my family is outdoors a lot in the summer and there’s a little more time to experiment and play creatively when the sun is high in the sky all day long. Here are some creative ideas to play around with this summer when you are out and about enjoying the full summer sun.

1. Incorporate natural elements

If you’ve been following The Photographer’s Notebook for awhile now you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of shooting through natural elements like flowers, leaves, trees and branches. I enjoy using natural elements in a way that infuses creativity into my images. You can try to use these items as foreground blur or in a way that frames your subject in a creative and fun way.

In the image below I held up a bouquet of dandelions in front of my camera and shot through them as I captured my daughter trying to blow bubbles. I think it adds a fun element of colour and creativity.

2. Incorporate man made elements

There are many different ways in which to incorporate man made creative elements when capturing images in full sun this summer. Some of my favourite tools are lace, bubble wrap, slime, copper tubing, a prism, plastic, straws, glass or really anything! The key here is to play around and experiment.

In the image below I held up a plastic water bottle to my lens and shot through it. Perhaps not for everyone but I really like the bokeh effect I was able to infuse into the image.

ISO 200, 50mm, 3.5f, 1/4000SS

ISO 200, 50mm, 3.5f, 1/4000SS

If you’d like to learn more about using a prism in photography click here.

3. Incorporate sun flare

“I don’t like lens flare,” said no photographer ever! Magical flare is one of my favourite creative elements to incorporate into an image. Flare can be achieved anytime light enters into your lens. So strong light, like full sun, is bound to create spectacular flare. Flare can drastically range in its form and shape so it’s really fun to play with it. Don’t forget that when the sun is high and strong you can create a sunburst, which is a form of flare. Sunbursts are best achieved with a small aperture like f18 or f22.

The rainbow flare in this image was created by a single drop of water that was catching light from the sun.

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.5f, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.5f, 1/1000SS

For tips on how to control lens flare click here.    

 4. Incorporate bokeh

I’m a bokeh addict. I fully admit it! Give me all the pretty sparkly light forever! Full sun sparkles in an incredible way and if you are looking for it you can find bokeh absolutely everywhere. There’s bokeh in trees, in water, in sand, on cement and so on. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find it! Bokeh is enhanced by camera depth of field blur so you’re more likely to capture it when shooting fairly wide open.

ISO 400, 140mm, 3.2f, 1/2000SS

ISO 400, 140mm, 3.2f, 1/2000SS

5. Incorporate shadow play

With full sun comes shadows so why not incorporate them into an image? Focusing on shadows is a fun and creative technique that I know I’m going to challenge myself to play with this summer. Images using shadows can focus solely on the shadow itself, include subject and shadow or portion of subject with shadow and can also get creative with dappled light.

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

Full sun is amazing and filled with creative potential so embrace it this summer. Play around and experiment. Take risks. I’m certain if you do this you’ll create images you adore and learn a ton along the way!

My Three Best Tips for Managing Full Sun

Summer and sunshine go hand in hand and are undoubtedly best friends. The sun wakes up early during the summer months and goes to sleep late which makes for long and beautiful days filled with glorious sunshine. What that means for us photographers is, most likely, our children are fast asleep during those beloved golden hours. I learned a long time ago that if I want to capture my children during the summer months I’m going to have to embrace full sun and so I have done just that. There are a few things I look to do when I’m out capturing my full sun summer memories as means to manage that harsh but amazing full sunlight. Here are three of my best tips for manage full summer sun:

1. Filter the light

When you are out enjoying summer and making memories this is the number one tip I can give you when shooting in full sun. Filtering out some of those strong rays of sun through a screen of some sort will make light more manageable and you might even be able to fake a golden hour look if shooting outside of that time. Screens can come in almost any form. Using a dense forest or tree line is one of my favourite ways to filter light. You can also use a structure such as a building or even playground equipment. Angles are important here. If the sun is a touch higher in the sky getting down low and shooting up with allow for the sun to appear lower in the sky making filtering easier and more effective. Remember you can even use your subject to filter a bit of the sun. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative.

ISO 400, 70mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

ISO 400, 70mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

2. Photograph a faceless image

One of the dreaded results of shooting in full sun is the common racoon eyes in which eyes fall into shadows and appear dark when sun is at a top down direction. This is simply the result of shadow being cast onto the face from the brow bone. There are a few ways to work with top down light such as have your subject wear sunglass or side light your subject having him or her turn away from the sun which allows for their own body to cast an even shadow. However, these techniques take a little patience and direction on your part which might interfere with summer playtime. Capturing a faceless image is usually pretty easy to do and is my second best tip for capturing full sun photographs. Think variety here too! You can capture a full body faceless image when your subject is turned away from you or you can even crop in tight capturing faceless details of your subject any which way you like.

ISO 100, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/4000SS

ISO 100, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/4000SS

3. Front light your subject

Front lighting your subject is as simple as ensuring that the sun is at your back and your subject is in front of you. This allows for shadows to fall back and away from your subject which creates more even lighting falling across your subject’s skin minimizing unsightly shadows. Try incorporating movement for an energetic feeling which I think melds well with full sun images. This technique also allows for deep saturated colours within an image, which I also think works well with full sun imagery.

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

Don’t be afraid to embrace full sun this summer! It really is beautiful light! Experiment and play around you’ll be learning and fine tuning your photography skills as you do this! I look forward to seeing all your summer images over @thephotographersnotebook on Instagram.

Inside my Camera Bag-My Most used Photography Gear as a Landscape Photographer

Landscape photography is no small feat! I’m usually weighed down by an incredible amount of weight as I trudge out into my beloved mountains. You see I like to be prepared just in case I need this lens or that lens or this filter or that one. Part of my enjoyment when capturing landscapes is when I explore creative techniques so I like to have some tools to do that.

If you are interested in landscape photography I think the equipment you have is enough for you to start learning and immersing yourself into nature. So don’t let gear limit you when you’re first starting out. Over the last several years I have built up some lenses and tools to help me capture landscape images with my vision for a scene. Here are some of what I take with me while I’m out capturing landscape images.

1. F-Stop Guru Backpack

Having a great backpack to hold all my gear is absolutely essential when it comes to landscape photography.  I wouldn’t get far without this. I must be able to store the necessities, like snacks, water and clothing layers in addition to first aid items, bear spray and extra camera gear like batteries, memory cards and a head lamp for night shooting. I really like the F-Stop Guru. It has plenty of space but isn’t too big for me. My favourite feature about this backpack is that it holds the ICUs (internal camera units). I can store my gear in these units day to day and then they are grab and go ready when it’s time to head out. These units also fit perfectly into my bike saddlebags when I want to take my gear out on a mountain bike excursion. These unit are easy and no fuss. I like that a lot. My backpack is also water resistant and a separate waterproof barrier can be purchased. It’s really tough too. I’ve hauled it up and down many a mountain through sun, rain, snow and ice.

ISO 100, 17mm, f14, 3sec

ISO 100, 17mm, f14, 3sec

2. Nikon D810 and D610

My camera body of choice when it comes to capturing landscapes is my Nikon D810 however having two camera bodies is very useful when capturing landscapes. If I’m running a long exposure I can still shoot with my alternate body or I can set up and run a time lapse on my D610 while shooting shorter frames with my D810 or I can shoot wide with one body and telephoto with the other. Two bodies give me options and I like that.

ISO 100, 16mm, f11, 1/20sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f11, 1/20sec

3. Nikkor 16-35mm f4

This is my go to lens when it comes to my landscape photography. The majority of my landscape images are captured in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I’m often standing right or very close to the base of a range. I like to be able to shoot wide capturing the entirely of these majestic scenes. I also like to be able to have room to incorporate compositional elements in the foreground and a wide angle helps me do just that.

ISO 100, 16mm, f13, 30 sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f13, 30 sec

4. Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8

This lens is absolutely fantastic for close up captures of landscape details and mountain peaks. The zoom ability is amazing because I can add variety when capturing a single scene.

ISO 100, 120mm, f14, 1/25sec

ISO 100, 120mm, f14, 1/25sec

5. Lee Filter System 

I adore this filter system. The Lee filter system foundation kit has a base ring that is screwed on and attached directly to my lens of choice. A filter holder is then attached to this ring base. From here it’s really easy to slide various filters in an out of the holder. I really like the ease of this system especially during sunrise and sunset when light is changing very quickly. Long exposure photography is a favourite technique of mine when I’m capturing landscape images so my neutral density filters are a must. I have the Lee foundation kit and the little, big and super stoppers. I also often shoot with soft grad neutral density filters.

ISO 100, 20mm, f13, 8sec

ISO 100, 20mm, f13, 8sec

6. Polarizer

I have a love then hate relationship with my polarizer but it’s incredibly useful in situations where I need to cut through haze or glare off water. I’m glad I have this filter when I need it.

ISO 100, 16mm, f11, 37sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f11, 37sec

7. Tripods

Owning and using a tripod is a must when it comes to landscape photography. I have two tripods. My go to tripod is the MeFoto Globetrotter. It’s a perfect fold up and slide into the side of my backpack tripod. It’s a fantastic all around tripod that does the job in most circumstances. I also have another simple and very inexpensive tripod that I take with me into some locations in order to set up and leave running for techniques like time lapse or shorter single frame captures.

ISO 2000, 18mm, 5.6f, 30sec

ISO 2000, 18mm, 5.6f, 30sec

8. Sigma Art 14mm 1.8f

This lens is brand new to me. I purchased it out of my adoration for night photography. I wanted a faster lens and the ability to shoot really wide at night in order to capture the expansive night sky.

ISO 100, 14mm, f11, 421 sec

ISO 100, 14mm, f11, 421 sec

So there you have it! My most used landscape photography gear when I’m out capturing this beautiful earth!

If you missed it I also have a blog post on: Inside my Camera Bag: My Most Used Photography Gear when Capturing my Children.

What is and how to use a Triangular Prism in Photography

Recently I’ve had some interest in and questions about creative photography techniques so I thought these topics would be ideal for a few blog posts. 

Today, I’m going to talk a little about using a triangular prism as a creative tool in photography. A triangular prism is simply a five sided transparent glass object that is shaped, you guessed it, triangularly! It’s a readily available tool that is often used in grade school science to teach properties of light. In photography, this tool infuses beautiful creativity into a photograph. One of the fantastic things about this tool is that it is small and can easily be tucked into any camera bag. After some practice, it’s also very easy to use. This beautiful technique can infuse rainbows, light flare and reflections into an image. Here are a few tips that will help you be more successful when using a prism. 

1. Lens Choice

I think prisms work a little better with my telephoto lenses and I tend to use my prism most successfully with my 105mm. Perhaps it’s because of the small glass circumference on this lens in addition to this telephoto’s lighter weight. However, don’t be afraid to experiment with various lenses because prism use can work with all your lenses.

ISO 320, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

ISO 320, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

2. Aperture considerations

I recommend shooting in manual mode when using a prism or aperture priority mode as aperture is important when using a prism. I typically shoot with a wide aperture (3.2, 2.8, 2.2, 2.0) as this really does work well with the prism technique. The shallow depth of field from a wide aperture better blurs the prism itself and the artistic effect into the image.

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

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

3. Remove your lens hood

Prisms work best when they are close to your lens. It’s important to be careful when holding objects up near to the glass on your lens. You don’t want to accidentally scratch your lens. Most of the lenses I use with my prism are inlaid a bit from the lens casing but I’m still conscious of how I’m holding the prism in relation to my glass.

ISO 400, 105,, 3.2f, 1/1600SS

ISO 400, 105,, 3.2f, 1/1600SS

4. Focus

Focus is not always easy when you are holding an object up in front of your lens as your auto focus system will try and focus on the foreground object. When I’m shooting with a prism I play around a bit with the prism in front of my lens in order to get an idea about what position the prism will need to be in for the look I want. I then pull the prism away from the lens, focus on my subject, then quickly return the prism to it’s position and capture the image. This way my subject is in focus and my camera doesn’t try to focus on my prism. I use back button focus which I find works very well in this situation. BBF (back button focus) separates focus from the camera shutter. I’ve assigned a button on the back of my camera for focus. Separating focus and shutter allows me to not worry about my camera trying to focus prior to shutter release when I go to capture my image because I’ve already focused using BBF and focus and shutter release are not attained using the same button. Although much more tedious, but as an alternative to using BBF, you can focus on your subject then flip your camera into manual focus prior to releasing the shutter if focus and shutter are attached to the same button. The difficulty here is that we all know how fast children move. I find it much quicker to use BBF then quickly move the prism in front of my lens before depressing my shutter. The majority of my images are in focus using this technique.  

ISO 500, 200mm, 3.5f, 1/1250

ISO 500, 200mm, 3.5f, 1/1250

5. Light choice

Prisms work in all types of light but you will get different effects depending on the light available in the scene. So again, the idea here is to experiment. One note of caution is specific to very bright light. If you are backlighting your subject be careful when you are turning the prism as there is the potential to reflect the bright sun right through your lens and into your eye. If you have live view on your camera you can use this to prevent strong sun reflections into your eye via the viewfinder.  

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.5f, 1/200SS

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.5f, 1/200SS

6. Turn the prism

Here’s where the fun begins! Turning the prism is your key to creating your desired creative effect. The very basic science behind a prism is that when it is held up in front of a lens as light hits the prism it bends or refracts before it even enters the camera lens. The refraction of that light results in separation in the colours of light resulting in a rainbow being superimposed into your image. Prisms can also reflect light which often shows up as hazy flare into an image when it is held at a bit of an angle and further off to the side of the lens. Another gorgeous creative effect produced by a prism is reflection of the environment. This results in a double exposure look. This is best attained when the prism is held flat horizontally or vertical at the edges of the lens and tilted just a touch. Again, experimentation really is best! 

ISO 200, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

I adore creative photography and I never think there’s a right or wrong when it comes to infusing what you like into a creative image however one thing I do tend to keep in mind when using creative effects like a prism is that I want to use the technique in such a way as to not detract from my main subject rather I want to simply enhance the artistic quality of the capture. 

The most important thing to remember when shooting with a prism is to embrace the experimentation process! I think that’s part of the fun and uniqueness of prism use anyway! 

Outdoor Composition: 3 More Techniques (Part 2 of 2)

Last week I mentioned how I enjoy incorporating foreground elements, framing and leading lines into the composition of my images in order to create stronger and more dynamic images. This week I’m sharing three more elements of composition that when used well will strengthen the quality of your captures. Composition is really easy to use as you go about capturing your everyday. It’s about being aware and shooting with intent.

Here are three more composition techniques that will bring attention to your subject and help you create stronger photographic images.

4. Centre composition  

One of the first rules of composition I learned as a new photographer was the rule of thirds, which specifies your subject placement should not be centre composed rather it’s more pleasing to have your subject placed within the first or last third of a scene. However this rule is meant to be broken. Nature has a way of being incredibly balanced. When I see a scene in which nature is balanced or mostly balanced I will often use centre composition. I find so much calm in nature and I think a nicely balanced image helps infuse a sense of harmony and peace.

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

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

5. Perspective changes

This is a super fun technique!  I’m drawn to a certain type of image and I thrive on simplicity in my images so there are times I feel like I’m repeating the same image over and over again just in a different location. This is my favourite compositional technique to add uniqueness, variety and even creativity.

Try shooting up at your subject. I adore the sense of height and freedom implied within this composition. Sometimes shooting up means laying on your back and shooting directly up towards to sky and your subject. Just make sure you’re safety outside of a potential collision path!

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/500SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/500SS

Or try shooting down at your subject! There’s a wonderful feeling of protection and caring infused into this composition perspective.

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

6. Scale

I adore the feeling of little in a great big world.  I often use this technique to capture my children when we are out in nature.  Nature can be big, bold and oh so beautiful and I like to showcase how grande the world around us is.

ScaleOutdoorComposition.jpg

Remember these composition techniques when you are outdoors capturing memories. If you take a moment to compose your images thoughtfully you’ll immediately elevate an image.

In case you missed the first three outdoor composition tips you can find that here: Outdoor Composition: 3 Techniques (Part 1 of 2).

Enjoy being creative and exploring different types of composition when you are out shooting!