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If you’re looking for some fun and creative photography challenges this weekend check out the continuation of our previous post of fun weekend photography projects.
Many of us are less comfortable in front of the camera than behind it, but if you are lacking a willing model and need a subject to fill that spot than this may be your only option.
This is actually a great excuse to get a little creative and with the right focus you can actually have quite a bit of fun with self portraits. One option is to photograph your reflection in a mirror or other reflective surface which provides a plethora of compositions and ideas for creativity.
The use of an instrument such as a gorillapod (www.joby.com) allows you to attach your camera to stoic objects such as trees, lamp posts, even chandeliers to provide give you some height, as well as a variety of angles and perspectives. A remote trigger release is useful for this, but if you are quick a self timer may suffice.
Another neat trick is to create ghostly effects in low light or complete darkness. Position your camera on a tripod, dial in a long exposure and narrow aperture, and set the self timer. Start by standing still for a few seconds and look at the camera, then move slowly at a diagonal crossing in front of the camera and moving out of sight. Check the LCD for the results – you should find a slightly blurred ghostly figure with an ethereal trail leading into the distance. There are so many ideas to try, just push the limits of your imagination.
A lot of cameras today offer multiple exposure modes, which allows the photographer to take two or more shots and blend them together in camera to make one composite. With this option you can play with lighting, focus, shutter speeds, depth of field and more.
To create a sharp/soft image, switch your camera into this mode, meter from and focus on your subject and take the shot.
For the next exposure manipulate the focus manually the so subject is no longer defined and take the image again. When these two are blended together the subject will appear sharp with a softened edge and blurred background. If your camera doesn’t offer this mode, simply take the series of shots separately in camera and merge them in an editing suite later.
Silhouettes can look so intriguing and inspiring when done correctly, the most difficult part can be deciding what to use as your focus. Architecture and elements of nature such as trees, rocks and mountains can provide adequate interest, but for a more vivacious capture find a willing model to portray a variety of position and shapes.
Your model may find they become more confident knowing their body will be look more defined and the person completely in the dark giving them more incentive to concentrate simply on the shape of the poses. Environmental portraits can also work well in silhouette – for example a fisherman bringing in his catch, a farmer forking hay in the fields or city workers commuting home after the daily grind. The best time to use natural light for this purpose is sunrise and sunset – when the sun is low on the horizon. Simply position the subject between yourself and the sun. If the sun is distracting in your composition, move yourself or the model so their frame blocks the glow. Deactivate the flash, meter from the sky and use a fast shutter speed to keep the subject defined.
Just because it’s raining or foggy, there is no need not to go outside and get snapping. Yes a low auburn sun may be considered the perfect light for outdoor photography but if you live in a country where it drizzles more than it is dry your only option is to get out there and make the best of what you have to work with.
Thunderclouds can enthuse drama and tension into a shot, so meter on the clouds and set a narrow aperture to capture as much detail as possible, but don’t forget to include some foreground interest. If your camera can perform multiple exposures take a series of shots catering for the highlights, shadows and midtowns and blend these in a HDR program or editing suite.
For lighting set your camera on a tripod and use the bulb mode to keep your shutter open manually, as the lighting strikes release the button and if possible use a remote for sharper shots.
Even if it is pouring with rain you can still use this as a photo opportunity. For best results use a tripod, self timer and dial in a long exposure or use a narrow aperture. The resulting image should show the slow fall of the rain and convert to black and white for a more dramatic images. If you have a specially designed rain cover for your camera obviously use this or duck under a protected covering like a porch or tree for some shelter. Alternatively grab a plastic bag, make a hole in it for the lens to poke through and a hole for you to use the viewfinder or LCD and screw on the lens hood to protect the glass from droplets.
Who said portraits had to be defined and in focus? Set your model a few meters from your camera and attempt to use natural lighting by either photographing outdoors or near a large window (diffused with a white sheet or net curtain if it is particularly bright).
Deliberately defocus the shot to reduce the scene and subject to simple, yet intriguingly bold shapes.
Check out part 1 of this series of fun photography projects here.
Don’t be afraid to bolster the ISO if the light drops, as the noise can bring another interesting element to the shot too.
Read more at: Taking Unfocused Photos.
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