Tips for capturing everyday moments

People in Landscape: It's a Great Big World-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 7

I’m incredibly passionate about landscape photography. Next to photographing my children, it’s my favourite genre of photography. So it’ll come as no surprise that capturing my children within a landscape is the perfect fusion for my photography style. There are a few things that should be considered when photographing people within a landscape scene. I want to share some of those tips with you.

1. Consider your lens choice

For the most part, a wider lens should be your choice when you want to capture a human subject within a landscape scene. This big perspective allows you to photograph your subject and the environment too. A wide-angle lens allows for a grande scale to be showcased and can result in a “little person in a big world” kind of feeling. My favourite lens choices when capturing my children within a landscape are my 35mm, 16-35mm, and my 14mm.

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/500SS

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/500SS

2. Consider your exposure triangle settings

When I capture landscape images, I, for the most part, always use a tripod. However, the use of a tripod is not an option when I’m capturing my children in a landscape. They are busy and move around in a scene, so I need mobility too and forgo my tripod. Since I’m not using a tripod, I need to use a faster shutter speed than I likely would if I was capturing only a landscape scene. I like to keep my shutter speed at 1/400 or even higher for my person in landscape images.

Also, I need to consider my aperture choice. I have a couple of options here. If I want to isolate my subject, I can choose to use a wider aperture and blur my background a bit so a choice of f4 or lower would work. However, if I want to ensure sharp focus throughout my entire image, then I will need to use a small aperture like f9 or higher.

If you are shooting in manual mode, don’t be afraid to set your aperture based on what you want in focus within your image, then set your shutter speed to eliminate any possible motion blur from wind through trees or grasses or a moving subject. To complete your exposure triangle, set your ISO last to balance out your exposure triangle.

I often find when I’m capturing a human within a landscape, I often underexpose my image to preserve the highlights within the scene, which are usually in the sky details. I can adjust the shadows in post-processing by bringing them up.

ISO 200, 35mm, f13, 1/320SS

ISO 200, 35mm, f13, 1/320SS

3. Consider your composition

Good composition is vital to a solid image, so this is something I always consider. In the image below, I purposefully composed the scene by considering the rule of thirds (ROT) when I placed my son along the 1/3 ROT line. I also chose to compose my image with my son in the left side of the frame, as this enhances a shared experience with a viewer. When the viewer’s eye lands on my son he or she will share in the experience of looking towards the boat in the distance and off into the sunset.

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/1250SS

ISO 250, 35mm, f3.5, 1/1250SS

4. Consider mood

There’s always mood in a landscape image. Landscape moods are highly dependant on the type of light and weather at the time of the image. I think it’s important to consider how the mood within the landscape impacts the overall feeling within the image and how the person is captured within the scene. If you have a stormy landscape, it might seem out of place to have an energetic and playful child running through the scene. This type of behaviour is probably more cohesive with a bright and sunny scene. It is, however, worth experimenting a bit with humans in a landscape and mood because juxtaposition is a powerful thing.

ISO 400, 35mm, f16, 1/160SS

ISO 400, 35mm, f16, 1/160SS

5. Use post processing to enhance your vision

Post-processing is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to infusing your vision into an image. Very often in post-processing I’m lifting shadows, lowering highlights, adding colour, tweaking clarity and contrast and fine-tuning my straight out of camera capture. Learning programs like Lightroom and Photoshop will help you enhance your images beautifully and artistically.

In the image below, I wanted to enhance the image in post-processing by adding more vibrancy than in the SOOC. I think the enhanced colour increases the mood as my subject looks off into the dramatic sky while the waves crash into the shore.

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS SOOC

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS SOOC

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS Edited

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/2000SS Edited

This concludes The Sensational Summer Photography Series! Thank you for incorporating my concepts into your summer photo memories!

Summer Adventures: Capturing the Memories-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 4

Now, this is what summer is all about for my family! Adventuring! Summer exploring gives me all the warm and fuzzy feelings and taking my camera with me while out and about on summer explorations is an absolute must! I want to ensure that I document all the beautiful summer memories that we’ll be making. I also find I’m incredibly inspired when immersed in a new and unfamiliar environment, and this sparks my creativity.

Here are a few tips when it comes to traveling or taking your photography on the road with you this summer.

1. Pack Light

I tend to want all the things and all the images, but that is entirely unrealistic when out adventuring. My favourite family adventure, during the summer months, is hiking. Our hiking playground is the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Lucky us, right? I sure think so! There are some smaller hikes, but we tend to be relatively adventurous, and often walk longer distances with a fair amount of elevation through the forest and alpine conditions. There is no way I can take a lot of camera gear without being uncomfortable, so I pack as light as possible. For me, this means taking my smallest camera body and a light lens. I usually find my 35mm works best as it is most versatile when it comes to capturing big scenes but it also works for details too.

ISO 500, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/800SS

ISO 500, 35mm, 2.2f, 1/800SS

2. Find Balance

As I mentioned, I want to photograph all the things all the time, but again, this is not possible. I think my family would run off without me! LOL! I need to take a break from my camera and my children most certainly need a break as well. When I’m out capturing memories, I try to capture a few solid frames and then focus on enjoying the moments.

ISO 640, 35mm, f4, 1/250SS

ISO 640, 35mm, f4, 1/250SS

3. Capture images in all types of light

Summer fun happens from sunrise to sunset. Don’t shy away from light conditions that are out of your comfort zone. If you make an effort to capture your summer in all kinds of light, you will undoubtedly learn more about light and grow as a photographer in your skill and comfort level. Try full sun, open shade, dappled light and overcast light. Don’t be afraid to embrace the light you have in order to create your summer memories. Every image does not have to be portfolio worthy.

ISO 100, 35mm, f1.8, 1/320SS

ISO 100, 35mm, f1.8, 1/320SS

4. Think creatively

We spend a lot of time at a mountain beach during the summertime. My children play for hours and hours, and so do I! I try new things, and I experiment. Sometimes those experiments work and fit into my style of photography, and sometimes they don’t. The beauty in trying something new and thinking creatively is both freeing and educational. I find I always learn something when I’m pushing the boundaries within my photography. I think summer is the perfect opportunity to try new things!

ISO 100, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/3200SS

ISO 100, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/3200SS

5. Capture something you normally would not

Perhaps you’ve always been interesting in landscape photography or maybe macro? Perhaps you’ve wanted to try freelensing or rent a Lensbaby. Step outside your comfort zone and into exploring during the summertime. Make an effort to try capture something different or try a new technique that you’re not comfortable with! I am in no way a macro photographer, but I do like to capture a few images of the tiny summer world from time to time. There’s an incredible amount of freedom and learning in trying something new and allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn new skills.

ISO 800, 105mm, 4.2f, 1/250SS

ISO 800, 105mm, 4.2f, 1/250SS

Enjoy all your summer adventures and remember these tips when you’re out and about! Be sure to pack light, enjoy your summer moments by putting your camera down from time to time, take images in all types of light, play around with creativity and take some risks!

Next week is Part 5 of The Sensational Summer Photography Series! I’ll be sharing tips on how to incorporate weather into your summer captures!

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!

A Stunning Combination: Water and Your Camera-The Sensational Summer Photography Series: Part 2

In last week’s post I discussed 6 Fun Elements to use in your Summer Images. As part of The Sensational Summer Photography Series I’m going to dive deeper into each topic and provide inspiration and a few tips on how you can go about capturing these specific elements.

Since it’s summer up here in the Northern Hemisphere I know we are all welcoming the glorious warmth of the sunshine but sometimes that heat is in need of a little taming. The cool refreshing touch of water sounds like the perfect way to cool off those hot summer days. I’m always really cautious about my camera gear around water. Who wouldn’t be, right? Cameras and water don’t really mix well…or do they? Seems to me like so many rules in photography are meant to be broken and this is certainly one of them. So rule breakers, here’s some advice when it comes to incorporating water into your photography this summer!

1. Protect your gear

There are many different options out there when it comes to water and photography. Most of my images taken in and around water are while I’m at a beach, lake, river and in and around sprinklers. I don’t have access to a pool all that often so I haven’t had the opportunity to be exposed to a lot of submersion photography. Regardless, protecting your gear or having a camera system that is underwater friendly is a necessity when shooting in and around water.

There are a couple of ways I protect my camera gear when mixing the element of water into my images. If my camera is poolside or sprinkler side and there’s the risk that a small splash or a few droplets might come flying my way I simply protect my gear with a rain sleeve. These sleeves are readily available and are inexpensive. I highly recommend them. In situations where there’s the potential for a lot more water exposure or when we are going to the beach where I’m bound to encounter sand I use my DiCAPac. This bag provides excellent protection for my camera from both water and sand. I must test the bag prior to each use and look for leaks and it is a bit cumbersome when it comes to changing my camera settings when my camera is inside the bag but overall this bag works really well for the types of water images I’m shooting in.

ISO 200, 35mm, 5.6f, 1/3200SS

ISO 200, 35mm, 5.6f, 1/3200SS

2. Split View or Submerge

As I mentioned I haven’t had a lot of opportunity for full submersion water photography but when I’m brave enough to venture into a cold river or lake I like to play around with split view images. In these types of captures my bagged camera is only half submerged. When the water is clear I get a fun underwater view and can capture my subject above the water too! This is such a fun technique to experiment with!

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

ISO 100, 50mm, 3.2f, 1/1000SS

3. Give me all the water bokeh

Who else here has a bokeh addiction? I know you’re out there! If you love bokeh then you my friend are meant to be one with your camera and water! As mentioned, my bodies of water are not warm. They are glacial cold even on the hottest of summer days. However, my slight obsession with water bokeh sparkle has me jumping right into that frozen water! I’ve found that the best water bokeh is created when light is hitting the water and when water is moving, so a splash, rushing river, sprinkler or even a water gun will give you bokeh delicious images. When the water droplets are in motion they catch the sunlight creating that bokeh you crave or soon will be craving once you give it a try!

ISO 200, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

ISO 200, 50mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

4. Reflections

Next to bokeh, reflections are another favourite element to capture when I am around water. Your subject doesn’t even need to be in the water. Angles are everything here and it’s a really good idea to move around the scene to determine how you can best incorporate or capture a reflection. Static water reflects the best and provides beautiful crisp reflections. Also, if you happen to be at a beach, wet sand reflects in a beautiful way as well. Keep an eye out for those reflections as you capture your summer in and around the water this summer.

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

This summer don’t be afraid to use the element of water in your captures! I think water and photography result in some stunning summer captures! The current theme at The Photographer’s Notebook on Instagram is #tpn_water until July 22, 2019! I look forward to seeing how you’re using water in your own summer captures!

Part 3 in The Sensational Summer Photography Series is next week! I talk about how to incorporate food in your summer images! Talk to you then!

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!

Tweens and Teens: 9 Tips for Photographing Older Children

With summer approaching very fast I’ll soon have my children all to myself all day long and I’m super happy about that! With our busy school season schedules it sometimes feels like I hardly see my children, especially my almost teenager and preteen. So I’m looking forward to some down time over the summer and I know I’ll certainly take advantage of the time we have together to capture some, or perhaps a lot, of images! But capturing preteens and teens can sometimes be a challenge. As my children grow they become increasingly opinionated about my camera. For those of you with preteens, teens and older children here are a few tips that make it easier on my children and myself when it comes to photographs that I know will be helpful to you.

1. Aim to capture a relaxed portrait

I love a good portrait however for the most part my teens are not interested in dressing up in stylish outfits and posing in the forest in pretty light with beautiful smiles. This sounds like torture for both of us. My approach to portraiture is much more relaxed these days. When we’re out and about if I’m able to snap a quick cooperative or even unknown relaxed portrait then I do so otherwise I don’t push for it. I’m also okay with lack of eye contact or a portrait that incorporates a moment of fun or play. I rarely ask for a pose or give direction. I always want to choose genuine expressions and authenticity over stiff and forced smiles.

ISO 400, 125mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

ISO 400, 125mm, 2.8f, 1/500SS

2. Take on a lifestyle approach

My main goal when capturing my children is to capture them in the moment preserving little memories. The same is for my teens. I want to remember moments of play and childhood so I’m not necessarily looking for the perfect set up. Instead, I want moments in time that trigger fun and playful memories.

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

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

3. Use a longer lens

I’m partial to long lenses anyway but I find the use of a longer lens valuable when I’m photographing my teens. Maintaining distance between myself and my teens allows for them to feel more independent and they don’t have a camera in their face. I find this increases authenticity as they get to be themselves while I go about capturing their moments.

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/500SS

ISO 200, 105mm, 3.2f, 1/500SS

4. Be ready

Even when I do have the cooperation of my teens I find their interest in my camera is limited so I’m ready with settings all dialled in before I start capturing a scene. I don’t want to bore or annoy them as I change and play around with settings. I know their attention spans for my camera won’t last that long.  

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

5. Incorporate their ideas into a photo shoot

Occasionally I’ll suggest a photo shoot to my teens and ask them how they’d like for me to capture the idea. They are really good at coming up with ideas and are typically excited and cooperative when I’m photographing their ideas.

ISO 500, 35mm, f4, 1/1600SS

ISO 500, 35mm, f4, 1/1600SS

6. Capture what they love

Preteens have opinions about what they like to do.  I find my preteens are more likely to participate with my camera if they are involved in something they enjoy doing. My daughter is a super star soccer player and her passion is soccer. She was more than willing to pose for this image because it was about her love of soccer.

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

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

7. Make it fun

We all know our children best and know what they like and don’t like. My daughter was happy to have this image taken of her because she was enjoying swinging back and forth in the hammock. The moment was fun for her too.

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 400, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

8. Always ask permission

There are two parts to this point for me.  First, I always ask permission before capturing my children.  I might say something as simple as, “I’m going to bring my camera along on our walk for a few photos,” or “Mind if I take a few pictures of you throwing rocks?” I rarely get a “no” if I forewarn my teens that my camera is around and I intend on capturing images.  Second, before I post anything on social media I ask permission or let them know what I’ll be posting.  My children are all over the internet and as they become increasingly private about their lives and understand that what I post might be seen by their peers, teachers, coaches and even strangers they have opinions. I want to be respectful of that.

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/2000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 3.5f, 1/2000SS

9. Take no for an answer

Everyone likes cooperation but that’s not always the case especially with teens.  Their opinion matters and if they are not in the mood or say no to my camera I put it away.  No questions asked.  After all, I really want them to agree to my camera the next time around.  

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

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

Do you have any other tips for capturing tweens or teens? Let me know by posting in the blog comments below! I hope with the summer you’ll have lots of opportunities to capture your older children!

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! 

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!

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!