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!

Outdoor Composition: 3 Techniques (Part 1 of 2)

Despite a couple of weather hiccups this spring, involving snow storms, we are slowly warming up and I know that many of you are well into summer like weather. With spring blooms on the horizon, where I live, we are venturing outside a lot more often. Heading back outdoors has rejuvenated my creativity and I’ve started to look for new but familiar places to photograph my children. With that, I’ve also become excited about exploring composition outdoors. Composition is an important tool in photography as it can attract a viewer’s attention, lead a viewer through a frame, help tell a story and infuse intention into what you the artist is trying to visually convey. Intentional use of composition will help you become a stronger photographer.

Here are a few techniques and elements of composition, that I like to use in my outdoor images.  

1. Incorporate foreground elements

Incorporating foreground elements within a frame can help add depth to an image which creates a more three dimensional and lifelike feeling.  There are several ways foreground elements can be infused into an image.  One of my favourite ways to layer an image and create that foreground is to get down low, and by low, I mean really low, often laying on my stomach in order to capture an image.  This results in a nice blurred foreground if you are shooting at a reasonably wide aperture and focusing on your subject in the distance.

ISO 200, 200mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

ISO 200, 200mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

A second way foreground elements can be incorporated into an image is simply by shooting from behind an element like a tree, shrub, grasses and so on.  This technique is a favourite of mine when I backlight my subjects because the foreground objects typically catch the light creating beautiful sparkly foreground bokeh and glow.

ISO 800, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1000SS

ISO 800, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1000SS

A third way in which to incorporate foreground elements is to use creative techniques like a prism.  I really love how a prism can reflect surrounding natural elements into an image or how a beautiful rainbow like flare can infuse a little creative magic into a capture, making it fun and unique.

PortraitPrism.jpg

2. Framing

Framing is a fantastic way to bring attention to a subject or subjects within an image.  Outdoors, I find opportunities to frame exist everywhere!  Subjects can be framed in park play structures, doorways of tunnels, in doorways of buildings, through windows of a structure, through fences, between tree trucks, amongst tree branches, between grasses, and so on.  Being aware of naturally occurring and structural objects and using them in a way that frames your subject can really elevate an image in a creative way.

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1250

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1250

3. Leading lines

Leading lines not only help bring a viewer’s attention to your subject but can also add depth to an image and lead your viewer's eye through a frame, helping tell a story.  I like to look for elements like pathways, man-made and naturally occurring, shorelines, logs, tree branches and anything that helps lead my eye towards my subject in a fun and creative way.

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

I hope you’ll enjoy incorporating some of these compositional techniques into your own outdoor images! Part 2 of this mini series on outdoor composition is on its way next week so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

Inside My Camera Bag: My Most Used Photography Gear when Capturing my Children

I always enjoy reading about what’s in a photographer’s gear bag so I thought I’d take you inside mine! Don’t worry I’ve cleaned out the rocks, I’ve taken out the sticks, removed the dried up leaves and flowers and shaken out the snack crumbs for just this occasion!

Speaking of camera bag, I own Kelly Moore’s, The 2 Sues in a pretty deep mauve. This bag is big enough to hold one camera body and two average lenses. I adore all the pockets and places to store items like extra batteries and memory cards. I’ve had this camera bag for years and put it to the test! It still looks great and has withstood snow, rain, sand and mud. It’s even water resistant which I appreciate!     

Now let’s dive in and I’ll share my favourite and most used photography gear!

1. Nikon D810 and D610

My camera body of choice is currently my Nikon D810. I’ve hung onto my D610 for several reasons, I’m a bit sentimental when it comes to gear, but I find it’s also incredibly useful to have two bodies at times. My D810 is my go to camera but if I need a second body for some reason I use my D610. I also bring my D610 to places like the beach or hiking because it’s a littler lighter and there’s a higher possibility that it might get scuffed up. If I’m doing any photography around water I always use my D610 as it fits nicely inside my DiCAPac.  

ISO 800, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/250SS

ISO 800, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/250SS

2. Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 f 

The Sigma Art 35mm is my most used lens when I’m photographing indoors. I like to shoot a little wider indoors as I can capture a little more space around my subject which helps me tell a better story. This lens is a dream when it comes to sharpness, although it did need calibrating with my D810. I love that I can open up my aperture nice and wide letting in as much light as possible in lower light situations. I also adore the beautiful flare that I can get indoors with this lens! It’s so pretty!   

ISO 1600, 35mm, 2f, 1/800SS

ISO 1600, 35mm, 2f, 1/800SS

3. Nikkor 50mm 1.4f 

This was the first lens I purchased and it was the only lens I captured my children with for a very long time. It’s a fantastic all around lens. Nowadays though I use this lens for all my freelensing images. 

ISO 3200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/200

ISO 3200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/200

4. Nikkor 105mm 2.8f

This is my absolute favourite lens. I’m particularly attracted to telephoto lenses when I’m out capturing my children. My children can run and play and I can hang back a little allowing them to be themselves and in the moment without a camera interfering. I also happen to adore that this lens isn’t all that heavy. My absolute favourite thing about this lens though is the gorgeous bokeh and flare!

Another thing about this lens is it doubles as a macro which is awesome! It’s nice to have options!  

ISO 800, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1250mm

ISO 800, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1250mm

5. Nikkor 70-200 2.8f

I love telephoto lenses and this lens does not disappoint! I adore the zoom on this lens. It allows for signifiant versatility when it comes to focal length. I enjoy taking this lens with me when we are not going far or shooting long because it is heavy and big. The bokeh and flare however are gorgeous and if you like that look this lens will fill up your heart’s desire! 

ISo 400, 95mm, 3.5f, 1/640SS

ISo 400, 95mm, 3.5f, 1/640SS

6. Prism, copper tube, lace

I adore creative photography so tucked into one of the pockets of my camera bag is my prism, copper tube and a piece of lace. I enjoy pulling out these tools and embracing the creativity that comes with their use! 

ISO 200, 85mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 200, 85mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

7. Sigma Art 14mm 1.8f

This lens isn’t in my camera bag yet but I wanted to mention it because it sits at the top of my wish list. I want it specifically for night landscape photography however when I rented it I enjoyed using it with my children. I adore the wide aperture and I think it’ll fit nicely into my collection of lenses I use when capturing my children specifically when I want to capture a whole scene.

I’d love to hear what your favourite child photography items are and why! So please feel free to leave a comment in the blog post!

How to Take Stunning Photos in Overcast Light

Light happens to be one of my favourite photography topics. I adore all things light. Finding light, manipulating light, capturing light…it’s a passion of mine. I also happen to love a good challenge so the more challenging the light the more enticing it is for me to work with and capture it in a technically strong and creative way. In the past I’ve found myself a little disappointed when the outdoors has given me overcast light. However, in time I’ve found ways to work with overcast light in ways that can be beautiful too. Here are some of my tips for working with overcast light.

1. Create portraits or environmental portraits

Overcast light can be beautiful portraiture light. The dynamic range or difference between the highlights and shadows in your scene is lessened as compared to shooting in stronger light. This creates more even lighting in your scene. This even lighting falls beautifully across a subject resulting in smooth and even skin with little worry about distracting highlights or shadows.

When creating portraits in overcast light I make sure that I’m still aware of where the sun should be. If you are unsure of where the sun should be you can look for soft shadows around you. The sun is always opposite the direction in which a shadow is falling. Or there are numerous free apps such as Sky View Lite, Sky Guide and others that will superimpose the sun’s placement when you hold your phone up to the sky when using the app. Knowing where the sun is will help you still use overcast light in a good way. I like to have the light behind me, falling flat over my subject. This creates beautiful catchlights in your subject’s eyes, especially if your subject’s head is tilted upwards just a touch, and soft and even skin tones. 

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

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

2. Embrace the mood within overcast light

Overcast light emits a certain type of mood. Usually one of peace, tranquility and calm or sometimes even moody drama. Play this up! Capture images in a way that enhances the calm or moody drama in your surrounding.

ISO 800, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/4000SS

ISO 800, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/4000SS

3. Incorporate juxtaposition

As just noted overcast light typically suggests calm or moody drama within an image. Incorporating elements into your image that are contradictory to these moods will likely draw attention to your image. Think energy within a moody scene, like a dancing child or movement of any kind.

ISO 2000, 120mm, 3.5f, 1/1600SS

ISO 2000, 120mm, 3.5f, 1/1600SS

4. Focus in on detail

Another favourite technique of mine in many situations is to simply focus in on details. When the light is not dynamic drawing attention to a simple detail can still contribute to a powerful and stunning image.  

ISO 200, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/1600SS

ISO 200, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/1600SS

5. Use interesting compositions

Overcast light is for the most part flat. Incorporating elements of composition that enhance depth can result in a more interesting and dynamic image. Challenge yourself to find creative composition after all you’ll be working with light that isn’t all that hard to manage so now is the time to take risks and challenge yourself with experimenting in composition.

CreativeCompOvercastLight.jpg

6. Incorporate a creative technique

I really enjoy thinking up ways in which I can push my images creatively. By using natural elements around me like shurbs, tree branches, flowers or other products like a prism or by freelensing a bit of artistic flair can be infused into an image making it unique and captivating even in overcast light.

ISO 200, 105, 3.2f, 1250ss

ISO 200, 105, 3.2f, 1250ss

Next time you are given overcast light remember these tips! Stunning images can be captured in every lighting situation!

4 Lessons Landscape Photography has Taught me that Make me a better Everyday Photographer

I have loved the Canadian Rocky Mountains since I was a little girl. As a child, I remember my sisters and I impatiently waiting for our father to arrive home from work while our mother hurried around packing up our motorhome in anticipation for another family adventure into the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I recall feelings of excitement as I buckled my seatbelt with my sisters beside me and my sheltie pup, Cindy, at my feet. There was a thrill in the air as we headed off towards the sunset and “my mountains”. Some of my happiest childhood memories are from these mountain trips. It’s been many years since I was a child but my connection to the Rockies has only grown stronger as the years have gone by. Now it’s my turn to take my own children into “my mountains” to create cherished moments and beautiful memories.  

As a mother my passion for photography was initially being fed by my desire to photograph every single moment of my sweet little children’s lives. However, in 2015 my desire for personal photography development branched off into me exploring landscape photography and I haven’t looked back since. This genre is truly a perfect fit for me. My love of nature and all things outdoors, my passion for spending time in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and my love of photography has melded together and made me into the landscape photographer I am today. I’m about as passionate a landscape photographer as they come and as my priorities to my family allow.

Photography has given me so many amazing gifts. There’s nothing more thrilling then watching the morning sky fill with beautiful warm coloured light while listening to the good morning songs of the mountain birds or watching the sun fight stormy clouds during a dramatic sunset over mountain peaks while breathing in the scent of fresh rain or standing in silent awe beneath a sky twinkling with stars that shine so brightly it’s as if they were touchable…it takes my breath away, every, single, time. The giving doesn’t end there though. The friendships I have made, the laughter so fierce that your belly hurts and your eyes well with tears, the connections, the moments, the memories…all priceless and all because of landscape photography. There’s also applicable gifts that landscape photography has given me which make me a better everyday photographer. Those are what I want to share with you in more detail. 

ISO 100, 21mm, 14f, 1.6sec

ISO 100, 21mm, 14f, 1.6sec

1. Light is key  

One of my favourite all time photography quotes is from George Eastman who stated, ”Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” 

Landscape photography has taught me how to embrace, admire, love and above all know light. As a landscape photographer my relationship with light found an all new level of respect. I cannot manipulate light when I’m out immersed in landscape. I must embrace and accept light for how she shows up. I’ve come to learn that all types of light are beautiful and that knowing how to work with any given light is truly the key to photography. There’s power and beauty in all types of light. 

ISO 100, 24mm, 13f, 20sec

ISO 100, 24mm, 13f, 20sec

2. Composition matters

One of the first lessons a new photographer, of any genre, learns is that composition matters. Then, usually, the rule of thirds is mentioned but composition is so much more than that. Landscape photography has taught how to thoughtfully consider the elements present within my scene and to use them in a way that helps tell a story in a meaningful, visually pleasing and creative way. 

These lessons have impacted my everyday photography. When I capture my children as opposed to just snapping away I try to always compose very thoughtfully. I’ve also become more comfortable with embracing creativity and it was landscape photography that opened my eyes to this possibility.  

ISO 400, 16mm, 11f, 25sec

ISO 400, 16mm, 11f, 25sec

3. Post processing matters 

I find that there are two type of photographers…those that loathe post processing and those that adore it. I’m in the latter category. I think that there is an incredible amount of post processing freedom within the digital manipulation of a landscape image. I’ve embraced those freedoms and thoroughly enjoy creating an artistic image. 

The freedom I have found within processing landscape images has most certainly translated over into my everyday images. I enjoy manipulating and creating something beautiful.

ISO 100, 17mm, 14f, 3sec

ISO 100, 17mm, 14f, 3sec

4. Embrace your own creative self and infuse you into your images

When I was a new photographer learning all the things I could possibly learn I remember feeling anxious whenever someone talked about photography style. Did I have one? Or didn’t I? What if I didn’t? I needed one! When would my style develop? How would I know that I’d found my style? What if I never found my style? Ha! Well these days I’m much more relaxed about such things. Why? Well because I’ve learned, but sometimes still have to try hard, to let go of what I think others will think about my images and instead embrace my own creative self and infuse that into my images. Landscape photography has taught me that no two photographers will ever capture the same scene in the same way. The differences might be subtle, in some cases, but will never be identical. Landscape photography has taught me that as a photographer I need to trust in myself and then capture my images in a way that no one else can ever replicate. I need to always capture what I love, from my own heart, and in my own unique way. 

ISO 1000, 16mm, 10f, 3sec

ISO 1000, 16mm, 10f, 3sec

I’m absolutely delighted to be able to co-facilitate: Enchantment in the Rockies with Kristen Ryan of Kristen Ryan Photography coming this November 6-10, 2019. This retreat has been created for women and will be held in my beloved Canadian Rocky Mountains. Priority registration opens up tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24, 2019 for those subscribed to my website. I look forward to meeting the ladies who attend. I’m thrilled to be able to have the incredible opportunity to connect, learn and grow with each of you as women photographers.

Easter-3 Must Capture Perspectives

In my home Easter is a fun time! My children always request Easter egg decorating as an activity this time of year. They literally sit for hours perfecting their egg masterpieces while I snap images on my camera. After awhile though I begin to realize I’ve taken the same image over and over again just with a different egg. Ha, ha! Okay, I better mix things up! In situations like this where my children are still and engaged in an activity I like to add variety to my images by changing my perspective. This allows me to get several different captures out of a single photo shoot.

1. Eye Level

This is certainly the most traditional perspective when capturing an image. This straight on, at eye level, capture is a must have. You can also try for variety in this perspective by capturing different facial expressions and maybe an image or two with eye contact as well.

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

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

2. Bird’s eye view

I really love this point of view. This is certainly a perspective that us parents can all relate to as we often view our children from this view point. Whenever I see images captured from above a child I find I’m filled with that parental feeling of nurturing.

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

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

One way you can add variety within this perspective is to capture the bird’s eye view point from in front of but also from behind your subject.

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

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

3. Details

Details are beautiful but so easily overlooked. I am making a more conscious effort to capture the details around me. You can certainly vary how you capture your details as well and use various different perspectives. Also, don’t be afraid to shoot at a wide aperture which will draw attention to your subject and blur out your background.

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

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

There! All done! Now I have at least 4 or more Instagram worthy images ready to be posted! That sounds like a win in my books! Happy Easter friends! I hope you have some fun and relaxation planned with your family!


all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019