Tips for capturing everyday moments

Photographing Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! For my friends around the world not celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, you can tuck away the information below for another time!

As I went to prepare this post, I looked back in my archives for some Thanksgiving images; certain, I’d find a few. I found plenty of Autumn photographs but very few Thanksgiving specific pictures. I know that past Thanksgivings have held many wonderful family memories, but in the hustle and bustle of those moments, it appears I forgot to pick up my camera. So my lesson here for myself and one that I want to remind you of is that everyday moments matter. No matter how trivial those moments seem, taking the time to pick up your camera and capture at least one meaningful memory every day, or as often as possible, is worth it. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are a few ideas I have about how you can infuse Thanksgiving into your photographs this year.

1. Included a seasonal item in your image

Make it bold or include a subtle hint of the season and holiday in your photographs this Thanksgiving. Autumn is in her glory during Canadian Thanksgiving, so my home is decorated with touches of fall. Including these touches within your images adds an excellent seasonal feel in addition to the sentiments the time of year evokes.

ISO 200, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/400SS

ISO 200, 35mm, 3.2f, 1/400SS

2. Get creative

Don’t be afraid to get creative. I adore sparkle and bokeh and enjoy infusing colour into my frames. In the image below, I used fall garland and a decorative pumpkin to capture a Thanksgiving-themed image. Creatively using seasonal props is fun for myself and my children when we photograph Thanksgiving.

ISO 1600, 35mm, f2.5, 1/250SS

ISO 1600, 35mm, f2.5, 1/250SS

3. Capture the details

My family typically spends Thanksgiving with extended family, but last year we enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving at home. Take a moment to capture the festivities, including dinner preparation, the meal, dessert and other traditions that are favourites. When you look back over the years and are transported to those memories and emotions, it’ll be worth the time it took to stop and capture an image.

ISO 1250, 35mm, f3.2, 1/200SS

ISO 1250, 35mm, f3.2, 1/200SS

4. Capture outdoor activities too

Do you have an outdoor Thanksgiving tradition? Maybe it’s a wagon ride or visit to the pumpkin patch, or perhaps it’s just a walk in the park during the evening exploring the beauty of Autumn nature? Don’t forget to bring your camera along with you to record these moments too. I know my family always enjoys a fall walk in Autumn’s pretty evening light!

ISO 800, 135mm, f2.8, 1/1250SS

ISO 800, 135mm, f2.8, 1/1250SS

Regardless of whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or not this coming weekend, I wish for you a wonderful weekend filled with family connection!

Freelensing: Technique and Tips

I’m super excited to talk about the creative technique of freelensing this week! It's one of my absolute favourite ways to great creative behind the lens. I came across this technique years ago when I began to dabble in creative photography, and it has stuck with me.

The very first lens I purchased, beyond my kit lens, was a Nikkor 50mm 1.4. Over time, as I expanded my lens collection, my 50mm started to collect dust. I contemplated selling it until I discovered that I could freelens with it. Freelensing is called the “poor man’s tilt-shift” because it captures images with a similar look. When a photographer captures a picture with a lens attached to the camera body, she can control the depth of field or focal plane only through aperture choice. Freelensing disrupts the plane of focus because the lens is detached from the camera body. This technique results in a thin line of focus that is not necessarily only horizontal and extreme blur throughout the rest of the image.

Here are some tips to help you get freelensing:

1. Start with a 50mm

As mentioned, I use my Nikkor 50mm 1.4 when freelensing. You can freelens with most lenses; however, the 50mm is said to be one of the easiest lenses to use when photographing with this technique. This lens is also smaller, and it's manageable to handhold up to the body of your camera. The weight of larger glass could be more difficult.

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

2. Set exposure prior to detaching your lens

Before you detach your lens from your camera body set your exposure using the widest aperture for your lens, for example, when I use my 50mm 1.4 to freelens I set my aperture to 1.4 then balance my exposure settings to attain a well-exposed image. Since I’ll be shooting very wide open, I usually have a lower ISO and faster shutter speed.

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

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

3. Detach your lens

Once you detach your lens, Nikon users will need to tape or hold open the aperture ring. Nikon lenses automatically close down the aperture (lens opening) when a lens is detached from a camera body. I have a little piece of paper that I use to stick into the aperture slot to carefully force and hold the aperture open while I’m freelensing. Some photographers purchase older lenses specifically for freelensing and alter the lens so that the aperture ring permanently stays open. I haven’t done this with my lens because from time to time, I still like a fully functioning 50mm. Canon users don’t have to worry about forcing open the aperture ring when detaching the lens from the camera.

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

4. Set focus on your lens to infinity

You will not be able to use autofocus once your lens is removed from your camera. You can prefocus your lens before you detach it from your camera body; however, if you or your subject moves your focus will be off. So I like to and suggest you set the focus on your lens to infinity. To achieve focus when freelensing, you’ll want to move closer or farther away from your subject while moving the lens slightly from side to side or up and down.

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 400, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

5. Hold your lens close to your camera but leave it unattached

The art of freelensing is capturing an image while your lens is detached from the camera body. You will hold your lens very close to the camera body and with slight movements of the lens left to right, or up or down, you’ll be able to achieve a thin slice of focus. The trick here is to remember that the movements of your lens should be very slight.

I strongly recommend you use a neck-strap to secure your camera to your body. You’ll be holding your camera body with one hand while holding your lens with the other. If you accidentally let go of your camera body, then it’ll be secured to your neck with the strap instead of crashing to the ground. Do not let go of your lens or it’ll fall.

Due to the fact that your lens is not attached to your camera body it is possible and likely to get light leaking in and hitting your sensor. It does depend on your angle to the light in the scene, as well as how close or far away your lens is to your camera body, but it’s fun to experiment.

If you twist or turn your lens significantly or pull it away from your camera body, it is also possible to create some fun vignetting so don't be afraid to experiment a bit.

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/400SS

ISO 800, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/400SS

6. Use Live View

Acquiring focus when freelensing is not easy. It takes practise and a lot of patience. When I first started freelensing I practised on flowers all the time. This way, I could experiment with twisting and turning my lens and identifying how to attain different focus planes. In the end, don’t dismay if the focus is not sharp. I think that’s a beautiful part of freelensing. Images that are soft in focus can be breathtaking and dreamy, so embrace the blur!

ISO 200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

ISO 200, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/2000SS

7. Be very careful

Freelensing should be done at your discretion. With your lens detached from your camera body, there is the potential for dust and other particles to end up on your sensor. I have a second and older camera body that I use when freelensing, but I am still always very cautious about where I’m freelensing. I would never take too big of a chance and freelens in conditions that may damage my camera sensor. Accidents can happen so be cautious when using this technique.

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/1000SS

8. Try reverse freelensing

Are you a macro lover? My eldest daughter adores macro photography and reverse freelensing is her absolute favourite technique. I’ll often find her laying down on a forest floor capturing the micro-world or up close and personal with a bug. The steps to reverse freelens are the same as above, except you will need to turn your lens around. The result of turning your lens around and photographing is stunning. You’ll capture a gorgeous macro scene surrounded by incredible bokeh blur.

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/160SS

ISO 500, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/160SS

Freelensing is an absolutely gorgeous creative technique but it does take some practice so don't dismay if it doesn’t go well the first time you give it a try. Overall, have fun with the creative process and remember to be very cautious when trying out this technique.

5 Must Take Autumn Images

Happy Autumn! It’s officially Fall! There are so many reasons to love Autumn. I can hardly count the ways this beautiful season captures my adoration. The cooler temperatures and the need for warm cozy sweaters, the fresh scent of foggy morning air, and the gorgeous colour begging to be photographed are a few of the reasons I love Autumn. I live in a climate where I’m fortunate if Autumn lasts beyond a couple of weeks. So you can bet that I’ll have a camera in hand and be out photographing all things Autumn before this season becomes covered up under a blanket of white snow.

Today I’m sharing my list of must capture Autumn images that I know you’ll want to incorporate into your fall images too!

1. Colour

My top priority when it comes to fall images is photographing the beautiful colour that occurs when the leaves change. There are so many different ways a photographer can incorporate Autumn colour into their images, and it’s super fun to get creative during Autumn. Don’t be afraid to think outside the norm and get creative with colour!

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/400SS

2. Weather

Where I live Autumn seems to have some pretty serious weather mood swings. We get the entire mix. Sun, rain, fog, sleet and snow are all thrown into the mix. I really enjoy incorporating weather as an element within my Autumn images. When the weather shows off I like to head outdoors and capture the display.

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

ISO 1000, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/640SS

3. Leaf tossing

No Autumn is complete without a few good leaf tossing images! These are some of my very favourite captures during the Autumn season. As a bonus, these are some of my children’s favourite images too and they have so much fun tossing leaves up into the air.

ISO 800, 130mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

ISO 800, 130mm, 3.2f, 1/1250SS

4. Details

Don’t forget to fill the frame with all those beautiful Autumn details. There are so many different options here. Leaves, berries, wild mushrooms, apples and pumpkins are all great items that are reminiscent of Autumn.

ISO 800, 90mm, 3.2F, 1/2000SS

ISO 800, 90mm, 3.2F, 1/2000SS

5. Autumn Indoors

With all the beautiful changes occurring outdoors during the Autumn months it can be easy to forget about all the fun fall activities going on indoors. My children love to bake fall cookies and treats. I enjoy photographing these memorable moments.

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

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

Autumn falls away quickly so enjoy photographing your beautiful moments this fall!

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!

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!