Happy Sunday Everyone!
A new week brings a new blog and this time I’ve been having a think about how I started to develop my photographic skills. When we first pick up a camera, our initial thought process is ‘there is the thing I want to take a picture of’, points camera straight at thing, clicks button, job done’, but there comes a time where we want our pictures to have more depth and to tell a story with the correct lighting and angle. You can read a thousand guides to the rule of thirds and focal points, but in the end the best way to develop your abilities is to practice. Where do you start though? There are so many photographic opportunities at every corner, which is best for practicing? Well, what I find best when trying to learn things like lighting, manual settings and composition, is to pick a subject that allows you to take your time, and take multiple photos with different settings and angles; namely things that don’t move! So here’s my top subjects (that don’t move) to help you practice photography.
I’ve always loved flowers, so naturally, every time I see a pretty one, 3 seconds later I’ll have a camera in my hand. There are so many great things about flowers as a photographic subject, the main thing being that you don’t even need to have a garden with flowers, because you can buy a bunch and photograph them in your house, and this is when you can easily adjust the lighting. Placing them in a well lit window can give natural light, alternatively you can shine a torch to either reduce or create shadows. I find a dual-head reading light a good choice as you can adjust either head to point at different angles lighting a wider area and the clip can allow you to securely hold in in place on a nearby object. Venturing outside will give you great natural light, and this is when you can practice the best angles for photographing a gathering of flowers. You might want to get down low and point the camera up the stalks to the petal to create the feeling of height, or from above so it seems as though flowers stretch for ever in a field. You’ll also have the opportunity to catch insects on the flowers once your skills develop to be able to use manual focus. If learning to focus and get sharper images is your main aim you’ll want to start with macro photography, up-close shots of the petal and centres of the flowers. If you’re finding that camera shake is a problem, check your camera settings for a shake stabiliser, if not you can acquire a tripod very cheaply as photographing flowers doesn’t need a very weather resistant frame just one that’s stable enough to not shake. Whether using a tripod or taking the picture with your hands you’ll find a shutter timer useful for manual and macro, as it’ll give 2 to 10 seconds to allow you camera to settle before taking the photo. If holding the camera, when you take the photo bring your elbows in close to your body and lock that position to try and reduce shake more. When you grow bored of your garden’s and local supermarket’s selection of flowers you can go to one of my favourite places, public gardens. There are Botanical Gardens set up for conservation and study but also gardens created for aristocracy at places like national trust manors and great halls.
Food and Drink
In recent years there’s been a big increase in food photography, no longer is it confined to cook books but now makes regular appearances on Instagram feeds. The reason food makes such a good subject is because you are completely in control. You stage the scene, choose the background, the lighting and it won’t move at all. Because of this it makes good practice for composition you can move things around until you reach a structure that feels right to you, and you can vary your angles with no time restraints. Photographing from above has become popular, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick to that, sometimes a side shot can add more perspective. If you need inspiration get on Instagram there are some amazing bloggers out their who take aerial food shots with lovely colour schemes.
There is so much beauty to be seen in architecture, intricate carvings, hidden doors and magnificent heights. You can’t always control the lighting but taking photos of buildings is a great way to learn your camera settings, as you create a pin sharp, correctly exposed, shot to show the buildings details in all their glory. It also very accessible to all, as we don’t have to travel far to come across some architecture. You can start by photographing the entire building and then you can practise your composition by selecting just one part of that building to be the centre of your photograph.
I’ll be in the house itching to take pictures, but it’ll be bad weather or I can’t be wasting petrol to go out, so I’ll look around me, “what can I photograph?” The answer is anything and everything. I’ll be walking down the same high-street I have for years, “what could I possibly photograph? What would make a good subject?” Yes, you’ve guessed it anything and everything! Everything can make a good photographic subject if you find the right way to photograph it. It is all about composition; the way you position the object or the way you frame it in the camera. These are possibly the most fun kind of subjects too, because you get to look around, try and find something that catches your eye, and when you do figure out how to make it look interesting. It could be a mundane, everyday object, but it’s your job to make it look great. They’re not living so they’re not going to move, so you can take your time finding that perfect shot. You can even pair a few different objects together to make a scene, objects that tell a story about who they belong to. Have fun! You’re imagination is the limit with this one, and it will help you develop the eagle eye of a photographer for when you head out with purpose and in everyday life.
Hope you enjoyed reading this week’s post 🙂 If you found it useful please like and share.
Amy Williams-Weeks (AWW)