Everyday Photography

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!

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!

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




Let in the Light: Secrets to Controlling Lens Flare

Ahhh! Lens flare! I happen to adore all that dreamy haze, artistic, colourful, and geometric shaped light but this was not always the case. When I was first starting out as a photographer, I, like many, found myself drawn to those hazy and dreamy flare filled images but when I tried to capture images filled with flare I found my captures were often wash out or my flare overpowered my main subject. Whether you are embracing the gorgeous artistic enhancement of lens flare or want to eliminate it knowing how to control lens flare is your first step. Here are a few secrets to controlling and mastering lens flare.

To help you better understand lens flare let me briefly and simplistically explain what it is. Lens flare is simply light. When a photographer captures an image, using a digital camera, light hits the camera sensor triggering electronic signals that then turns the light into an image. However, sometimes, in certain lighting situations, there is light that refracts or reflects inside the lens. This light shows up in various forms of flare depending on the lens type, lens settings and how that light is refracting.

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

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

1. Use a lens hood

The first point of control when it comes to lens flare is in your gear. That hollow circular part that attaches to the front of your lens is your lens hood and it can be very effective in controlling and even eliminating lens flare. Lens hoods help block or minimize the amount of light entering the lens which will help reduce or control flare. Now if your goal is a lot of haze or lens flare then by all means remove your hood and let the light in! 

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8, 1/800SS

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8, 1/800SS

2. Lens choice

Lens choice matters when it comes to flare management. Wider angle lenses are often build to handle more light entering the lens and can sometimes manage flare better when compared to telephoto lenses in the same light. More expensive lenses often have an anti-glare coating which can help reduce flare. Prime lenses or fixed focal lenses also tend to control flare better because there are fewer internal parts in which light can bounce off of. My favourite lens for capturing lens flare is my Nikkor 105mm 2.8f. It’s dreamy every single time.

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

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

3. Type of light

This may be obvious but the type of light you use will impact the amount of flare in an image. Direct backlight is going to result in more flare than shooting with your back to the light source, which will likely almost eliminate most flare. Side lighting will result in different flare than backlight. A high light source will result in less flare than a light source that is low and directly shining into your lens. Filtered light will typically result in less flare than full unfiltered light. Be aware of what type of light you are working with and conscious of how that light source will impact potential flare.

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1600

ISO 400, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/1600

4. Photographer composition

This point is similar to the last except it’s not the type of light you’re using rather it’s your own position to the light that is important. Small movements can make a big difference in managing lens flare. I often take several shots of the same scene making small movements up, down, right or left so that I can choose how much or how little flare I want when I’m in post processing.

ISO 500, 35mm, 2.5f, 1/320SS

ISO 500, 35mm, 2.5f, 1/320SS

5. Aperture

Closing down your aperture (f9, f13, f22) will result in less light entering your lens and less lens flare. Most often you can create a sun burst at these apertures especially if the rays of light are being dispersed by an object. A wider aperture (f2, f2.8, f3.2) will result in more lens flare because more light is entering you lens. Also, this type of flare is often more hazy and less defined when compared with apertures like f9, f13, f22. 

ISO 31, 35mm, 22f, 1.3sec

ISO 31, 35mm, 22f, 1.3sec

6. Post processing flare

Yes! I’m all for it! My love of all things creative runs pretty deep. I admit that indeed I do use flare overlays to add and enhance flare in post processing. As long as the flare works with the type of light in the image I will often incorporate an overlay to enhance already present flare. I enjoy being creative so this type of editing works with my style of photography.

ISO 200, 200mm, 2.8f, 1/1250SS

ISO 200, 200mm, 2.8f, 1/1250SS

If you are subscribed to my website I sent you a spring gift so check your inbox! Did you get it? My spring gift to you is a sun flare overlay, which I created specifically for those subscribed to The Photographer’s Notebook! I used the flare in the image above. Enjoy using the overlay to enhance the flare in your images. If you are not subscribed to my website you can pick up the flare by subscribing, but do so before April 30, 2019 because this gift disappears after that date.

Enjoy embracing light!

4 Tips that Draw Attention to your Subject

There are many different reasons photographers pick up the camera.  It could be to document a moment and preserve a memory or perhaps to create art, or maybe it’s a combination of both, or perhaps photography is a business for the photographer? Regardless the reasons behind why a photographer captures an image I wager a bet that there is a subject in the photographer’s frame. Capturing an image in a way that draws attention to your subject will create stronger more dynamic images. Here are four elements that I use in order to draw attention to my subject.

1. Light

Light is hands down one of my favourite elements in which to bring attention to my subject. The power of light is undeniable.  Thinking about how you can light your subject in a way that makes him or her shine is a sure way of drawing attention to your subject.

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

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

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/800SS

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/800SS

2. Composition

Composition is an in depth topic. It’s vast theory is extremely powerful and can help draw your viewer into your image towards your subject, can help lead your viewer’s eye through the frame and can help tell the story you intend through your images.

Two favourite compositional techniques that I often use which draw attention towards my subject are framing and filling the frame.

Fames are a very effective way in which to define your subject within an image. I enjoying looking for and finding all kinds of frames and I love creating them too. There are many types of natural frames outdoors such as trees or even grasses. There’s also artificial frames which can be structures like bridges or park equipment. When I’m outdoors my favourite kinds of frames to find usually involve something sparkly. I enjoy shooting through shrubbery which creates that frame I want but also adds a touch of sparkle magic into my images.

ISO 400, 135mm, 3.5f, 1/4000

ISO 400, 135mm, 3.5f, 1/4000

A second way composition can be used to draw attention to your subject is to fill the frame. Filling the frame ensures that your subject is front and centre within the image. Distractions are often completely eliminated and there is nothing else to focus on but your subject.

ISO 100, 35mm, 4f, 1/320SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 4f, 1/320SS

3. Selective focus  

When we view an image our eyes are typically drawn to areas of focus. Our brains tend to feel more comfortable with in focus aspects of an image and will be drawn to areas of focus before exploring out of focus areas within an image. The use of purposeful and selective focus can help draw your viewer’s eye into an image and towards your main subject creating impact.

Dandelion.jpg

4. Colour

Colour is a high attractant and will almost always draw attention towards your subject especially when that colour is bright and bold against a more neutral background. I use this technique often and have a collection of bright and colourful accessories and clothing for my children.

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

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

These are only a few ways in which a photographer can draw attention to a subject. There are many more. In fact, I think in the future I’ll write under this topic again with different tips!

Thanks for reading!

7 Must Capture Spring Images

Now that winter is over, so says the calendar. (I’m choosing to ignore the snow that remains and is all too slowly melting away). I’m ready to capture all things spring! I always enjoy some inspiration so here are a few of my very favourite spring elements to incorporate into all my images.

1. Outdoor Adventures

I think winter is beautiful. I adore the fluffy white snow and sleepy frozen landscape but it gets cold here, very cold, often so cold it’s hazardous to venture outside for any longer than a few minutes so come spring we embrace our outdoor adventures enthusiastically. I wager a guess that, like me, you have been heading out into nature more. I love going for walks along our city pathways, venturing into the woods and parks, playing down by the river and stopping in at the park. These adventures all make for fantastic opportunities to capture everyday moments of childhood in a genuine and authentic way.

ISO 200, 35mm, f5, 1/1000SS

ISO 200, 35mm, f5, 1/1000SS

2. All Things Flowering

With spring comes new life. I’ve already seen green grass sprouting up through the thawing winter earth so I know it won’t be long now and the flowers will begin to bloom. Fields of flowering weeds, dandelions and flowering trees all begin to blossom over the next few months. I adore infusing the colour spring flowers have to offer both into my child images and landscape images.

ISO 400, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/2500SS

ISO 400, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/2500SS

3. New life

Spring is about new life. I’m certainly partial to the earthy smell of moist soil and green growth and I enjoy watching my children nurture tiny seedlings that will eventually be transplanted outdoors but for now need tender care and attention.

ISO 800, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/250SS

ISO 800, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/250SS

4. Bugs and Baby Animals

I don’t know about your children but mine adore bugs. Wiggly, squishy, fast, slow, slimy, hopping…all are excitedly scooped up and gently played with. I treasure these childhood moments because there’s so much joy found in such a simple everyday moment.

When my children were a little younger we used to visit a local farm around the Easter season. I have many capture of them petting the baby goats and holding tiny baby chicks. All wonderful sentimental moments that I cherish to this day.

ISO 800, 105mm, 4f, 1/800SS

ISO 800, 105mm, 4f, 1/800SS

5. Weather

Spring is truly about the full four seasons for us. Snow, rain, fog, sun we get it all. I enjoy the variety these weather elements offer and aim to incorporate weather into my spring images from both outside and inside.

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/4000

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/4000

ISO 320, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/320SS

ISO 320, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/320SS

6. Spring Vacation

Our spring vacations can range from sun and beach to snow and ice and somewhere in between. Holidays are always inspiring and I want to capture all the images all the time. Outside of everyday routine I always find myself inspired by scenes and the newness of my surroundings.

ISO 400, 16mm, 10f, 1/320SS

ISO 400, 16mm, 10f, 1/320SS

7. Colour

Winter where I live is either white and pretty or dried brown bland so I fully embrace the colours of spring. The brighter the better! I love to capture nature’s beautiful colours but I also embrace colourful clothing and accessories too! I find beautiful colour so refreshing and rejuvenated after a long white colourless winter.

ISO 640, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

ISO 640, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

Have you picked yourself up a Photographer’s Notebook yet? Take 5 minutes or so to brainstorm some spring themed images after reading this post! Jot down your ideas for images you can capture and be inspired to capture all the beautiful moments spring offers because this season often moves on in the blink of an eye! Happy spring friends!


My Favourite Types of Indoor Natural Light

Winter is certainly sticking around up here in the Northern Hemisphere where I live. Although most have made it through the majority of winter, if I’m being honest as opposed to optimistic, I know that we will not see signs of spring, outdoors, until about late April early May. However, signs of the coming spring are abundant inside my home. Once February arrives I begin to see new light in my home that disappeared during the darkest of the winter days. I get really excited this time of year discovering new light and using it in fun and interesting ways.

For those of you who know me as a photographer you will know that I’m incredibly passionate about light. I especially enjoy watching light move and change throughout the seasons inside my home. It’s like a little gift. As spring approaches and I begin to see the significant and dynamic changes within the light inside my home I begin to ponder how I can push my light use it in a creative way.

Here are some of the types of light I like to look for and use within my home.

1. Soft light

In its most basic form natural light found indoors can fall into two different categories: Soft or hard light. If you are new to the study of light, soft natural light can be defined as light that generally has a softer transition from highlight into shadow. If there is no clear definition between lightness and darkness the light is defined as soft. Soft light can be used in many different ways inside your home and is probably the most used light. I also think that soft light is often easiest to photograph.

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

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

2. Hard light

Hard natural light can been seen in situations where there is a distinct line between a highlight and shadow without a smooth transition between the two. I really enjoy playing with hard light which can bring unique and fun patterns into a scene.

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

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

3. Patterned light

Patterned light is one of my favourite types of light. It can result from both hard and soft light but is very often hard or towards the harder side of soft in nature. I think it’s really creative light and can be used in all kinds of ways to add drama or unique interest into an image.

ISO 320, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/500SS

ISO 320, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/500SS

4. Sunburst or sun flare

Capturing a sunburst or sun flare adds gorgeous dynamic light into an image. A sunburst and sun flare can be found and captured when the sun is directly shining in through a window. You will most often see hard light in your home when there is the possibility of capturing a sunburst or sun flare. It’s easiest to capture that burst or dispersion of light rays when the sun is being filtered through or hitting an object such as the side of a window frame. This helps disperse the light creating that sunburst. Flare will occur when the light enters the lens and can be controlled with small movements in your positioning. A sunburst and sun flare can occur together or separately.

ISO 400, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/250SS

ISO 400, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/250SS

5. Silhouette

Silhouette isn’t as much a type of light rather it is how a photographer uses the dynamic range within a scene but I think it’s worth mentioning. Silhouettes are a beautiful way to highlight a profile or enhance a mood within an image. A tip here is to try and have your subject’s limbs separated from his or her body so that there is definition and your subject doesn’t become a black blob.

ISO 1600, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/320SS

ISO 1600, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/320SS

Here’s a little challenge for you this coming week! I’d love to see you find these types of light situations in your home and then shoot for them! Actively noticing the light in your environment will help you understand light better which in turn will result in you becoming a stronger photographer! Another tip is to pull out your Photographer’s Notebook! Have you picked one up for yourself yet? Study the light inside your home and jot down notes about what you see! This will help you not only learn about the light in your home but you’ll know where to go when you want to use a certain type of light in a creative way!

all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019









9 Tips to Encourage Subject Cooperation

I’ll admit it. I’m extremely fortunate to have, for the most part, cooperative subjects to photograph but trust me it’s not always this way. I also have two preteens and as they age their opinion in how I photograph them in addition to their compliance plays a role in how and when I capture them.

I am also not a documentary photographer. Yes, I enjoy capturing everyday moments but photography feeds my creative soul and because of that I have a need to capture everyday moments within my creative vision. Sometimes I’m a little more relaxed with my vision for an image but sometimes I do aim for a specific outcome. Over time I’ve learned a few tricks and tips that help me achieve the images I want and allow for my children to have fun with my photography too.

1. Short and sweet for all vision focused images

I’m often a vision focused photographer. What this means is that I have an idea in my creative mind about what or how I might like to capture a memory. Before I even ask my children to participate I set up every single detail from light manipulation to creative props to camera settings and so on. I’ll even take a test shot to ensure my settings are spot on and that I’m on the right track for what my vision is. Only after I’m completely ready will I ask my little subject to pop into the scene. I quickly snap away and get what I want within a few short minutes.

For example, in the image below I knew what I wanted to capture and how. I was completely set up and prepared before I asked my daughter to start twirling for me. She only twirled a few times before I knew I had what I wanted. This ready beforehand and short photo shoot session makes it fun and easy on everyone.

ISO 800, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 800, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

2. Make it fun

In addition to making any planned photo shoot short and sweet I also try to come up with fun photo shoot ideas. I find things like movement and play are openly embraced by my children. I also know that almost any type of outdoor play will be welcomed by my children. Outdoor adventures are always the most fun and easiest moments for me to capture. Also, if I incorporate an idea that is mildly dangerous to me or entertaining for my children I know my children are bound to participate.

For example, my son loves to throw snow balls at my camera lens! I just make sure I stand far enough away out of full impact reach!

ISO 250, 92mm, 4f, 1/2000SS

ISO 250, 92mm, 4f, 1/2000SS

3. Use a longer lens

I prefer longer lenses anyway but I find the use of a longer lens important when my children are just not quite in the mood to be photographed. Outdoors, I use a long lens pretty much exclusively. This allows for my children to run and play and be themselves while I can maintain distance and hang back a little. My longer lenses also allow for me to experiment creatively with things like light or composition or even creative additions into an image like a prism.

ISO 500, 190mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 500, 190mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

4. Ask for their input into a photo shoot

I use this often with my children. I let them know that I’d really like to photograph them and tell them that they get to come up with what we do.

For example my daughter has been working really hard at reading and I told her I wanted to capture this milestone. I asked her to plan the shoot in her room. When I showed up she had all these sparkly crystals she’d found that she wanted me to use. She willingly participated in the photo shoot and I captured that milestone image I wanted. She was super excited to see how her idea of the crystals came out in the final image.

ISO 1000, 35mm, 2.0f, 1/200SS

ISO 1000, 35mm, 2.0f, 1/200SS

5. Be sure to make a effort if they want something captured

This is similar to the above point but different. I almost always have my camera with me but there are times when I actually don’t feel like picking up my camera. I remember a particular hike we were on last summer when we came upon a field of beautiful fox tails. I was feeling disappointed about the smoke from forest fires ruining the mountain view but my oldest was extremely excited about running and playing in the field of fox tails. As she was playing she asked if I was going to photograph her. I remember not feeling all that interested in picking up my camera but I did because she wanted me to preserve that memory for her. Looking back now I’m glad I have those moments captured. When they ask for an image I always make an effort to do just that.

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

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

6. Capture what they love

I find if I ask my children to do something that they love that they’ll be way more cooperative as subjects. My oldest adores going to the park to feed the Chickadees and Nuthatch. These little birds will actually fly right up and sit on an open hand. Yesterday, she asked to go to the park and when I agreed she got herself ready, without any prompting, in a winter coat, toque, matching scarf and her more attractive boots…all items I’d be thrilled with photographing her in.

ISO 55, 190mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 55, 190mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

7. Capture moments not poses

I came across an image the other day when I was browsing all the beautiful images grouped into #thephotographersnotebook on Instagram. I absolutely love what this Momma had to say:

“It always goes like this when we actually plan a photo - I end up loving the photo that I just randomly took for fun before we took the “planned” photo! I’ll never tire of real and authentic shots. To me they tell a story, like this beautiful one of my amazing little girl who has the biggest heart of all.” Amy Louise.

Image Credit:  @agirlwandering

Image Credit: @agirlwandering

What Amy Louise had to say completely resonated with me. I love portraiture. That beautiful soulful connection with the camera in a gorgeous well lit pose is captivating to me. However, my children have zero interest in standing a certain way to allow for light to fall in the perfect Rembrandt Triangle while staring deep into my camera. I’ve tried this. It doesn’t work out well. This feels rigid and uncomfortable for them and can be frustrating for me. I’ve learned to let go of having this expectation and instead aim to capture a relaxed portrait. I adore these types of portraits even more and the authenticity that comes from images like this. In a relaxed portrait personality shines through and these are always the images I love the most.

ISO 500, 125mm, 3.2f, 1/640SS

ISO 500, 125mm, 3.2f, 1/640SS

8. Photograph only the details

Yup, I do get that look. The rolling eyes, the intentional defiant expression, the “I’m not going to look pretty on camera” glare, the “There’s no way I’m participating” pose. In these situations I switch directions and focus in on details.

For example, my son did not want to be photographed prior to me capturing this image. He was giving me the frozen eye roll glare. However, he’d found a rock that was shaped like a bear and when I suggested we capture that detail he was all in.

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

9. Take no for an answer

Sometimes putting down the camera is the best answer. I want my children to feel like participants in our photo shoots and enjoy my camera too. So if they are truly not in the mood I put my camera away. After all, there will always be another opportunity.

ISO 200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/500

ISO 200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/500

all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019

8 Mistakes I Made as a New Photographer

When I first began my photography journey I made a lot of mistakes.  That’s okay, really! I truly think a person learns from making mistakes. A person can also learn from information and so I’ve gathered together some of the mistakes I made as a new photographer to give you a little food for thought.

1. Shooting at slow shutter speeds

This is probably the biggest mistake I made when I jumped from shooting in auto to manual mode. I didn’t quite understand the importance of a fast enough shutter speed.  Shutter speed controls motion in your images so it’s really important to ensure that you maintain a fast enough shutter speed to freeze not only the motion of your subject but your own movement as you capture your image. Rule of thumb when it comes to shutter speed is, try to keep that shutter speed above 1/160 if your subject is very still, like asleep still. Personally, I do not like to set my shutter speed below 1/200 and prefer 1/250 if I have a still subject. Now when it comes to a moving subject I like to keep my shutter speed at least 1/800.  I prefer to go higher if I can.

Now having said that playing around with shutter speed can be extremely fun and will introduce creativity into your images. You can try panning and other creative slow shutter techniques, like long exposure, as a means to feed your creativity.

Here are two examples of shutter speed. In the first image, the shutter speed was fast enough to freeze her motion and the movement in the drapery. In the second image, the shutter speed was slow which blurred the movement in the water and clouds in the sky. A tripod is a necessary tool when capturing long exposure landscape images.

ISO 640, Freelensed with a 50mm 1.4, 1/2000ss

ISO 640, Freelensed with a 50mm 1.4, 1/2000ss

ISO 100, 35mm, 13f, 127sec

ISO 100, 35mm, 13f, 127sec

2. Using a wide open aperture

I remember purchasing my first pro lens.  I saved my pennies and bought a Nikkor 50mm 1.4. I was really excited that I could now open up my aperture to 1.4 and so I did that. At the time I did not understand the relationship between aperture and depth of field.  Aperture significantly effects depth of field.  Depth of field is what is in focus or how big your slice of focus will be.  Another factor that impacts depth of field is how close you are to your subject and your focal length.  I’d open up my aperture to 1.4 and then I’d shoot a close up of my subject. I didn’t understand why my subject was not fully in focus and why only one eye or half the face was. I understand now that a large aperture (f1.4) will have a small area of focus and a small aperture (f22) will have a large area of focus.

Now shooting wide open has a purpose and is a wonderful creative technique to use when you want a small slice of focus to bring visual attention to only a part of your image.

ISO 400, 50mm, 1.4f. 1/800

ISO 400, 50mm, 1.4f. 1/800

3. Thinking that a high ISO would ruin my images

One of the reasons I was shooting at an aperture of 1.4, when I first started, was because I was concerned that a higher ISO would ruin my images. Yes, it is true that a higher ISO will add some noise, or a grainy texture, into your images however noise is always preferred over an out of focus or blurry image due to a poor choice in aperture or shutter speed.  There are noise reduction options in post processing that can really help reduce noise. I often shoot at ISO 2000 or even higher in low light in order to ensure I make good choices about my exposure triangle.  

ISO 5000, 35mm, f4, 25sec

ISO 5000, 35mm, f4, 25sec

4. Not understanding the relationship between light and mood

I had a big moment of learning when it was brought to my attention that there is a significant relationship between light and mood. I’ve always been fascinated by light but it was a long way into my photography journey before I understood that light impacts mood. Brightly lit images are more likely to evoke happy and energetic moods while low light is more likely to evoke peaceful or tension filled moods. It’s not only important to find and use good light within your images but it’s also important to think about the mood within the light.  A smiling happy child might seem out of place in a low and minimal light situation.    

ISO 800, 50mm, 1.6f, 1/500ss

ISO 800, 50mm, 1.6f, 1/500ss

5. Using actions or presets without tweaking

Actions and presets can be incredibly useful in post processing.  They can help a photographer cohesively edit a series of images, maintain a style and speed up workflow. However, very often actions are not one click and will likely need some tweaking. It is best to learn what an action or preset will do to your SOOC (straight out of camera) image before using it. It is also best to tweak most actions and presets.

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

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

6. Wishing for more gear

Gear does not make a photographer. It is the photographer that captures the image. Don’t get caught up in thinking that a different camera or a different lens will make you a better photographer.  Practise and learning the technical side of your camera is more valuable than any new gear.

A fun creative exercise to try here is to use a different lens then you’d normally choose in a situation and see what you can come up with!

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

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

7. Being afraid to ask for feedback

Putting yourself out there is really hard.  I understand this. However, asking for critique will help you learn and grow as a photographer.  Take the advice or leave it.  It’s up to you. Being open to the opinion of another photographer can certainly help you see differently.

ISO 500, 200mm, 4f, 1/640ss

ISO 500, 200mm, 4f, 1/640ss

8. Comparing

Theodore Roosevelt was absolutely right when he said, “Comparison Is the Thief of Joy". Comparing inhibits you from infusing yourself and your own unique artistic vision into an image. It’s impossible to create an image just like that of someone else. In the end you’ll only be doing yourself harm if you compare. Capture what you love in your own unique and beautiful way.  

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all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019