Outdoor Photography

Simplify the Frame

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

1. Shoot from above

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

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

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

2. Fill the frame

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

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

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

3. Pull your subject away from a background

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

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

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

4. Shoot with a wide aperture or freelens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISO 800, 105mm, 1/2000SS Edited

ISO 800, 105mm, 1/2000SS Edited

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

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!

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!


4 Tips to Capture Fun-Filled Outdoor Images

Today’s blog post is incredibly exciting because I get to introduce the first featured artist here at The Photographer’s Notebook. I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce Jillian Baudry who is a photographer residing in the south of France. She truly captures the most stunning images of her daughter and family in beautiful and colourful ways! Her use of light is both breathtaking and inspiring! I know you will enjoy what she has to say so without further ado lets dive into Jillian’s expertise on capturing fun-filled outdoor images!


Featured Photographer Post By: Jillian Baudry

Whatever the weather, our little family is at it's happiest outdoors and there's nothing I love more than being able to capture those adventures with my camera! Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way to make our outdoor time fun, avoid meltdowns and return home with images I love.

1. Plan a fun activity

I discovered early on that little ones don't have much patience for sitting still and posing! My little girl is constantly on the move and it can be a challenge to slow her down enough to be able to take some shots. With this in mind, when we go outside and I intend to take photos, I plan a fun activity. Something such as collecting shells, flying a kite, or throwing sticks in the river not only means she enjoys her time outside, but it also keeps her occupied and in one area for long enough to let me take some shots. She's now learned to associate my camera with having fun outdoors rather than standing and posing for boring photos, so it's a win-win !  We are creating happy memories at the same time and after all, aren't these the moments we all want to record, the reason why so many of us picked up the camera in the first place? Activities don't have to be complicated or costly. There are so many things you can come up with. It can even be something as simple as examining a pine cone for really young children, anything that slows them down a little bit and means they don't feel uncomfortable in front of the camera. 

ISO 500, 20mm, 4f, 1/2500SS

ISO 500, 20mm, 4f, 1/2500SS

2. Move around

I rarely shoot posed images and I don't direct my subjects, but the scene as it appears right in front of me isn't always perfectly photogenic. My solution is to move myself, so much easier than trying to move my little subject and disrupting her play! Try walking around your subject and moving closer or further away. That way, you can utilize different kinds of lighting, include more or less of the surrounding environment to tell your story or find a less cluttered background for your subject. Don't forget to get really close to preserve those important little details too, such as a tiny hand holding out a found treasure or the way your little one's hair blows in the wind. Shooting from above or below can also minimize background distractions, provide variety and help focus on the details.

ISO 250, 20mm, 2.8f, 1/1600SS

ISO 250, 20mm, 2.8f, 1/1600SS

ISO 800, 20mm, 3.5f, 1/1000SS

ISO 800, 20mm, 3.5f, 1/1000SS

3. Add some color

A quick glance at my images will tell you that I'm a big fan of color! I love to add a pop of color whenever I can, as it not only helps add contrast and interest to my images but also helps me capture the fun-filled mood and energy of our outdoor adventures. Although she's only 4, my little girl already insists on making her own decisions on what to wear. We avoid arguments by me offering her a choice of brightly colored tops, boots, umbrellas etc. leaving the exact details up to her. Along with my beloved wide angle lens, using a pop of vibrant color helps me to create images with a fun, dynamic feel.

ISO 200, 20mm, 3.2f, 1/4000SS

ISO 200, 20mm, 3.2f, 1/4000SS

4. Be prepared

We always dress appropriately for our trips outside but very often, we need a dry change of shoes and a towel too. We've fallen in puddles, Daddy wades into the river when necessary to rescue an escaped shoe, our dog has fallen in the canal...In fact we've found a whole host of ways to return back to the car wet and muddy! A dry change of clothes, a hot or cold drink and a snack for everyone helps the adventure end on a happy note amid promises to do this again soon!

ISO 320, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/1000SS

ISO 320, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/1000SS


Jillian Baudry

Jillian is a natural light photographer, living in the south of France, creating colorful, light-infused imagery of her family's outdoor adventures. Living between the Mediterranean and the mountains, you'll usually find her out and about, camera in hand, exploring with hubby and her little girl with their rescue dog Hector leading the way.

You can find Jillian on:

Instagram

Website

Bio image.jpg