Freelensing photography

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.  

GinaYeoPortfolio-32.jpg

all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019

The Dreaded Winter Photography Rut. 7 Tips to Help you Stay Inspired.

January can be tough.  The nights are long and the days are short. It’s often very cold up here in the Northern Hemisphere, especially where I live, and we are sometimes stuck inside with cabin fever. By this time of year we’ve already had a couple months of winter and with a few months to go before spring starts blooming we can start to feel kinda blue. 

I, however, actually love photography during the winter months!

Here are a few tips on how I stay inspired and avoid the dreaded winter photography rut:

1. Bundle up and head outside

There are plenty of days when spending some time outside is absolutely possible. Here, we bundle up in our winter gear and off we go. There’s a ton of fantastic childhood winter moments to capture and personally I love how those winter toques, that’s Canadian for hat, covers up unsightly hair! I have a small collection of colourful toques, mittens and scarves that I can pop on my children before we head out into the winter elements. My children play joyfully in the snow and I capture all those rosy red cheeks and fun snowy moments. They don’t seem to mind the cold like I do!  

Tip: Make sure your camera is protected from winter elements like wet falling snow. I use a plastic rain sleeve and it works great! You can find rain sleeves in most photography stores and through online retailers. 

ISO 1000, 35mm, f8, 1/320ss

ISO 1000, 35mm, f8, 1/320ss

2. Indoor treats

I don’t know if this is the case at your house, but at mine, after we’ve played outside in the cold a warm treat is always requested. Absolutely! As long as I can capture that moment with my camera.  

Tip: Capture details like those little fingers clasped around a warm cup of hot chocolate.

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

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

3. Bring the outdoors inside

Alright, I get it! The winter chill is not for everyone but snow and winter atmosphere can be gorgeous! I like to try and capture outdoor elements, like falling snow or a snowy backdrop, from the inside of my home. 

Tip: Try setting your exposure triangle for the brighter outdoor light allowing your subject to fall into the shadow or try a silhouette. This will allow for you to showcase the outdoors from the inside of your home.

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/200ss

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/200ss

4. Don’t be afraid to use artificial light

Natural light is at a premium during the winter months.  Often my children leave for school in the darkness of the morning and by the time they’ve settled in at home after school the daylight is almost gone. I’ve learned to enjoy embracing the challenge of artificial light. No I don’t have any fancy equipment here! I like to use light sources such as an iPad, computer or lamp.  

Tip: Use a high ISO to keep your exposure settings balanced. My ISO during the winter can be upwards of ISO 2000 or higher inside my home.  

ISO 3200, 35mm, 1.6f, 1/800ss

ISO 3200, 35mm, 1.6f, 1/800ss

5. Practise your low light photography

My house does not get a lot of bright natural light during the winter months with it’s position to the sun but what I do get are unique patterns of light. I’ve learned to embrace low light photography. 

Tip: Look for fun patterns of light that might only occur during the winter months. 

ISO 3200 35mm, 1.8f, 1/200ss

ISO 3200 35mm, 1.8f, 1/200ss

6. Take advantage of that early hour golden light

The light during the winter months is incredible. I find as the sun lowers itself to the horizon the light becomes soft and buttery in a stunning way.  I adore this type of light. 

Tip: Try faking a golden hour look.  It’s quite possible during the winter months because the sun is low to the horizon. Use a natural screen like a forest or treed backdrop to help filter some of the light during the day when backlighting your subject. 

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.5f, 1/1600ss

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.5f, 1/1600ss

7. Try something creative

Still feeling uninspired? Try getting creative. This is when it’s time to try that genre of photography you’ve always wanted to try, like macro or maybe landscape. How about trying to freelens? Do you have a Lensbaby you’ve been neglecting? What about shooting through something like glass or crystals. Trying something new is bound to stir up those creative juices and leave you feeling inspired!   

Tip: Don’t put expectations on yourself here! Just click away on your shutter embracing the potential for creativity.  

ISO 800, Freelensed, 1/500ss

ISO 800, Freelensed, 1/500ss

all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019

6 Tips to Capture Everyday Moments without the Overwhelm

ISO 400, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/2000

ISO 400, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/2000

Thank You!

Before I dive into sharing the photography tips I have for you, I want to thank each and every one of you for being here! This is my first blog post on The Photographer’s Notebook! Very exciting! I’m honoured and grateful that you’ve chosen to allow me to guide you in your photography journey!

Now let’s get to it! 

We are all busy. Our days are filled with routine and obligation. There isn’t much downtime. How in the world do we find that extra time we’ll need to capture those everyday moments before they pass us by?

It really isn’t that tough. I promise! Here are a few quick tips for you to use when you go about capturing your meaningful everyday moments.

1. Keep your camera in an accessible location

I like to ensure my camera is safe but visible. This keeps my camera easily accessible but also reminds me to pick up my camera and capture something in my everyday. I also like to have user friendly exposure triangle settings ready in my camera. This way I’m less likely to miss a moment. My user friendly settings for my camera inside my home are usually ISO 1000, SS (shutter speed) 250, f (aperture) 2.8 with a WB (white balance) of 5250 K (kelvin).

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.0f, 1/320ss

ISO 200, 35mm, 2.0f, 1/320ss

2. Keep a log with moments you want to capture

I love my photographer’s notebooks! I have quite a few. I am constantly jotting down notes, ideas and inspiration that come to me about how and what everyday moment I want to capture. If I’m feeling stuck or uninspired I take a quick look at my notes which are bound to motivate me to pick up my camera!

ISO 1600, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/320ss

ISO 1600, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/320ss

3. Schedule in an appointment with your camera

This might seem a little silly but trust me it works! You wouldn’t miss an appointment, right? Scheduling in a date with your camera prioritizes photography. It doesn’t need to be a long date. Short and sweet works. Try 10 minutes to start. Capture that simple everyday moment that you’ve been meaning to!

ISO 1250, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/160ss

ISO 1250, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/160ss

4. Bring your camera with you when you leave your house

My camera is not small. I find if I’ve made the effort to shove my camera into my purse and take it out of my house with me then I’m going to make the effort to use it. I enjoy nature. Being outside is invigorating so we go on a lot of nature walks. My camera is always by my side. My children have fun playing and I capture them doing just that. Wonderful, memorable, childhood, everyday moments preserved! Yes! Put it in the win column!

ISO 320, 125mm, 4f, 1/1600ss

ISO 320, 125mm, 4f, 1/1600ss

5. Change your perspective

This tip is fantastic for making the most out of a single photo shoot. Varying perspective to your subject will get you a ton of unique looks. A few ideas to try here:

  • Side light your subject

  • Front light your subject

  • Backlight your subject

  • Capture your subject from above

  • Capture your subject when looking up at him or her

  • Capture a close up of your subject

  • Capture your subject from far away

  • Capture precious details like eyelashes

ISO 500, Freelensed, 1/1000

ISO 500, Freelensed, 1/1000

6. Give yourself some grace

You do not need to be super human. There are days when picking up the camera is just not possible and that’s okay. Try again tomorrow.

ISO 400, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800ss

ISO 400, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800ss

all content and images © Gina Yeo Photography, 2019