Photography Tips

Summer Food-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 3

Summer fun comes in all forms, from play, through adventure, through delicious and mouthwatering treats, snacks, and meals. Only recently have I begun to incorporate food as a theme into my summer captures and I wish I had started capturing the deliciousness of summer earlier. I adore those childhood moments when a watermelon slice becomes a smile, the sticky melt from a popsicle runs down a little arm, or little fingers squish together a s’more, oozing out all that marshmallow and chocolate goodness.

Here is some inspiration and tips for you as you go about capturing all the delicious food goodness that comes with summer living!

1. Be ready

At my house, summer treats either melt very fast, are ferociously devoured at an incredible rate of speed, or both! When I want to photograph my children and food, I make sure I’m prepared. I always have a plan on how I want to capture the scene before I even pass over that watermelon slice. With my settings already dialed in and my camera in one hand, I only then release that snack into those little hands and wide as saucer eyes. I know I won’t have long to capture what I want, so I work fast, and being prepared and ready helps with this.

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

2. Try different perspectives

This summer, I know I'm going to work on mixing up my perspectives when photographing my children and their food moments! Food is food. Sometimes one watermelon looks like the next to me, as does one popsicle. To add variety, I need to change up my perspectives. Try photographing food straight on, from above, from below, up close and from far away. This variance in view will add uniqueness into your summer food images while capturing those childhood summer memories you don't want to miss.

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

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

3. Focus on the food

How about making food the focus of the image? The talented @this_chaotic_life created the stunning image featured below, and it is a perfect example of making food the focus in an image. In this featured image, @this_chaotic_life has used a shallow depth of field. This perfectly isolates the ice cream cone. The gorgeous flare frames the cone nicely, and the creativity in the flare draws beautiful attention to the sweet treat and all the precious drippy details.

You can find Meredith and more of her creative work on Instagram @this_chaotic_life.

ISO 80, 50mm, 1.8f, 1/400SS

ISO 80, 50mm, 1.8f, 1/400SS

4. Focus on the activity

We camp in our trailer almost all summer long so hot dogs over the fire, marshmallow roasts and picnics are commonplace for my family. This summer, I want to capture these events often because as commonplace as they are, they hold wonderful memories of family time fun.

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

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

Incorporating food into your summer-themed images is a delicious and fun way in which you can document your summer memories. When photographing your summer food memories be ready with your camera before that snack is up for grabs. Also, don't be afraid to incorporate different perspectives and angles while capturing food moments.

Enjoy the deliciousness of summer! Be sure to tag #thephotographersnotebook on Instagram too!

Next week I'm sharing tips on how you can best capture your summer adventures! You won't want to miss Part 4 of The Sensational Summer Photography Series! Talk to you then!

Getting Started in Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is truly spectacular and I have a tremendous amount of love for this genre. I adore being out in nature and spend a significant amount of time living and exploring in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. With world class beauty a stone’s throw from where I call home it’d be a shame if I didn’t revel in my fortune and so I do. You’d think that residing as close as I do to the Canadian Rocky Mountains that I’d have been a landscape photographer for many, many years but actually that’s not the case. It wasn’t more than 4 years ago that I started to immerse myself within this genre. Being that my journey into landscape photography is fairly new I can still remember what it was like when I first dabbled in this genre. I have a few tips for those of you interested in and just starting out in landscape photography that’ll get you up exploring and photographing the jaw dropping beauty that is nature.  

1. Start with the gear you already own

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m quite attached to all of my landscape photography gear and accessories but when I was first starting out in this genre I really had nothing more than the camera equipment I used to photograph my children. I captured most of my beginner landscape images with my 35mm lens and a $25.00 tripod. No joke here friends. Of course I think you are going to fall head over heels in love with landscape photography but if you find this genre is not for you then you’ve lost nothing if you use the gear you have. Quite the opposite actually, you’ve gained the experience and knowledge that comes with exploring other genres, which is invaluable. But when you do fall in love with landscape photography you can slowly add to your collection of gear. 

If you like to take a look inside my landscape photographer backpack you can do that here.

ISO 800, 70mm, f14, 1/500SS

ISO 800, 70mm, f14, 1/500SS

2. Use a tripod 

A tripod is in my opinion absolutely necessary for any landscape photographer. You don’t have to break the bank here either. There are many options and brands out there. The most important thing is that your tripod is study enough to support the weight of your camera and lens in addition to withstand natural elements like strong winds. It’s also very helpful to have a tripod that folds down fairly small, mine fits quite nicely into the side of my backpack. It’s also nice to have flexibility when it comes to adjusting the legs of your tripod as I find I’m often photographing a scene on uneven ground and I want my camera remain level. 

ISO 31, 16mm, f22, 1/4SS

ISO 31, 16mm, f22, 1/4SS

3. Use a time delayed trigger release

A time delayed trigger release is incredibly useful when capturing landscape images. Landscape images are often taken with shutter speeds that are much slower than when you capture hand held images. The simple act of manually releasing the shutter has the potential to introduce camera shake when using slower shutter speeds. Use of an internal camera timer set to a two or so second delay will allow for you to depress the shutter and then remove your hand from your camera prior to shutter release increasing the likelihood of a sharp image. Better yet, you can purchase a cable or wireless trigger release system. They can range in price from quite affordable to expensive. I’m going to suggest to you that the inexpensive trigger releases are the way to go. They work just as well and if they break purchasing a new one won’t be costly. Some trigger releases also come with an intervalometer which is a more advanced landscape topic but it’s nice to have incorporated into your release for when you’re ready to learn this technique. 

ISO 200, 24mm, f13, 300sec

ISO 200, 24mm, f13, 300sec

4. Compose thoughtfully 

Composition in landscape photography is a dynamic topic. When you are just starting out in photography my recommendation is to simple compose a scene with thought. There are so many different ways in which a single scene can be captured. Sometimes it’s worth while to walk around and observe a scene from different viewpoints then go about capturing that scene from your favourite spot. It is also always worthwhile to capture a single scene from various perspectives so that when you get back home you can decide which perspective you prefer. 

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 2.5sec

ISO 100, 16mm, f14, 2.5sec

4. Shoot in manual mode

Manual mode is truly queen when it comes to photography in general but when it comes to landscape photography I think it really is necessary. There are some photographers that shoot in aperture priority mode but manual mode really does allow you to have full control over your settings. As a tip to get you started, when it comes to your exposure triangle settings, try and maintain as low as an ISO as possible when shooting day hour images. This allows for the best quality file. Also, do choose a smaller aperture so that your whole scene is in focus. I find my main landscape lens is sharpest around f14 so I consistently stick to an aperture around that setting when capturing daytime images. From here, set your shutter speed in order to expose your scene well with no blown out highlights. These rules of thumb will get you off to a good start. 

Now having said that, once you’ve captured your scene play around with your settings a bit. If you can, try a longer exposure. Without a neutral density filter, which is again another more advanced topic, you may want to try longer exposures in situations when there’s less light, like just before sunrise or just after sunset or when there is not a large variance in dynamic range.  

ISO 100, 19mm, f14, 1/6

ISO 100, 19mm, f14, 1/6

5. Shoot in RAW and tweak in post processing 

No more jpegs please! Part of landscape photography is post processing a scene. RAW captures a full range of data within a scene. A scene that you’ve likely put a lot of effort and work into capturing. You can make adjustments to jpeg images however this is not advisable. RAW preserves all the data your camera has collected and allows you to make tweaks in post processing in a way that infuses energy and life into an image. Even if you’re new to post processing having some ability to practise on files in programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, Camera Raw or ON1 Photo is a vital part to landscape photography. 

ISO 100, 20mm, f13, 120sec

ISO 100, 20mm, f13, 120sec

6. Practise, practise and practise some more

I think the learning curve in landscape photography is very steep but don’t dismay. There’s truly always something to learn and to work on. I’m constantly learning new techniques and new ways of doing things. The journey of personal growth in the field and in post processing are endless. What will get you learning and growing as a landscape photographer is practise. Bite of small pieces and learn that technique then move on then revisit that technique if need be. Learning and growing as a photographer in landscapes is something I thoroughly enjoy. I absolutely love the challenge and I just know you will too!  

ISO 500, 22mm, f4, 441sec

ISO 500, 22mm, f4, 441sec

Landscape photography is incredibly rewarding in so many beautiful ways. I hope these tips will leave you feeling inspired and help you get started in this beautiful genre this summer while you are out and about capturing your family memories too.

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!