Photographing children

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

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

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

1. Water

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

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

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

2. Food

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

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

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

3. Adventures

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

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

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

4. Weather

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

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

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

5. Details

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

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

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

6. Landscapes

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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! 

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!

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