April 23, 2020

10 Things to shoot during the Stay at home order.

As a nature and landscape photographer during the pandemic, I find myself looking for things to shoot. Not only keep from going crazy, but to keep my skills sharp, learn a new technique, or to stretch my creative muscle. Have you noticed that when you don’t shoot for a few weeks it take a while to get back into your grove. We need to stay at it in order to keep sharp. So here are a few things to I am doing to try to keep my mind active and my skills sharp.

1. Practice your macro skills

One of the great things about macro photography is that it can be done almost anywhere. So get out in your yard and look for something you have never shot before. Dandelions make great subjects, both the flowers and once they go to seed. Get out early – its early spring here in Ohio and we just had a frost. Frost covered leaves, or seed heads can be very unique.

2. Backyard Birds and Butterflies

Set up a place for them to perch before they come to the feeder, and shoot them there rather than at the feeder. Feeders also attract a host of other critters, especially squirrels. They are very charismatic little critters and are a lot of fun to shoot. Try setting up your camera with a remote release and a wide angle lens for a total different perspective.

3. Water Drops

You don’t have to have any special equipment, all you need is your camera on a tripod, some sort of remote release, and a flash or two. There are all kinds of you tube videos on how to set this up.

4. Bubbles on a lemon or orange slice

Submerge and lemon or orange slice in a clear glass container full of club soda, bubbles will immediately form on the fruit, experiment with all different lighting techniques.

5. Try a still life

Find a still life painted by one of the Dutch masters and try to replicate it, especially the light. Then build on it to create your own version.

6. Try a time lapse video

Some cameras have a built in intervalometer, it may require a deep dive into the camera manual, but experiment with it to find the right frame rate. Flowers make great subjects, dandelion flowers open relatively quickly (a couple of hours) some cameras will even process the video in camera. I will general bring the plant indoors so I can control to light and there is no wind. Set you camera to manual focus and manual exposure, I set the interval to 1 minute, and the total number of shots to be sure to cover the amount of time it will take for the flower to open.

7. Set up a specific challenge

Try something like shooting a white flower against a white background, or something black on a black background.

8. Experiment with selective focus with shallow depth of field

This is one of my favorite techniques to use with flowers. I look for the dominant feature of the flower and be sure that it is in focus, and shoot with a wide aperture, like f4 or f8 if you are using a macro lens or extension tubes. If not use the largest aperture available with your lens. Be sure to set you camera to manual focus so you can control exactly where you want to focus.

9. Shooting through the foreground

Get very close to your foreground with a telephoto lens (a 70 – 200 will work) manually focus on your subject with a large aperture like f4. You may need to do some focus stacking to get enough depth of field to cover your subject.

10. Last but not least

Shoot a flower of plant reflected in a water drop. This is probably the most challenging. This set up really does require the camera set up on a tripod with a remote release, a true macro lens and maybe even extension tube to get close enough. Since we are focusing on the water drop we don’t need a huge amount of Depth of Field, but given how close we are to the water drop f16 is about right. Light the subject that is being reflected in the water drop. Good luck and have fun! If you have any questions on the specifics leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible.

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