Photo Tip Monday Jan 20th - Ld

Photo Tip Monday, January 20th

Happy Monday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I want to take a second away from photography and share one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The quote is "If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” That quote reminds me that although I may never be as influential as Mr. King Jr., the things I can do, I can put everything I have into it and hopefully do great things. If you would like to see more quotes from Dr. King Jr, here is a great website. 

I have a confession to make...I had GREAT intentions to go out this past weekend and take new pictures to show on the blog today. Not only did I have a four day weekend, but we got 4-5 inches of snow. 

Side note confession. Winter photography has always intimidated me a little bit. I find it harder to find inspiration and subjects in winter, but it is something I'm working on it. End side note.

I went out cross county skiing twice. But did I take pictures? No. Why? Good question. There are a couple of reasons. First, the place I went cross country skiing (shout-out to the MN Landscape Arboretum - gorgeous ski trails and free admission in the month of January!) is incredibly gorgeous, but also a little hilly. I haven't quite mastered the stopping part of skiing when you are going down a hill and that hill curves and the groomed trail is no longer quite groomed. I fall. At least once. This is a big reason I'm not a downhill skier. Because of this, I don't necessarily want to have my camera anywhere near me because my luck is I will fall on it. Ok, actually, that is the biggest reason.  

Anyway, I digress. The point of that long tangent is that I don't have a new photo to talk about today. Therefore, I was trying to come up with something for this post. Last week, I debuted 'New Photo Monday'  which kind of turned into 'New Photo Monday with a Photo Tip'. I thought for this Monday, and maybe future Mondays, why not make it 'Photo Tip Monday'? So that's what I'm going to do. 

Today I'm going to start a 5 part series on tips you can do to set up a great photograph. These tips will go through things that I'm thinking about and looking for when I'm looking through the view finder of my camera. The tips will not include any technical stuff (ISO, white balance, etc) which while important, is for other posts. 

Warning: Throughout this series I will be showing you some pictures that well...are not some of my favorites. Unedited. Never before posted (never before wanted to post). I decided to post these pictures versus finding examples on the internet because 1. that would be copyright infringement, and 2. because I want you to see that I don't always get it right. I have learned by doing and I want you to learn from things I have done. The best way to do this is through some of my mistakes/examples. 

So, without further ado, here is part one of the 5 tips you can do to set up a great photograph series (I really need to work on titles):

1. Pay attention to your source of light

A great thing about nature photography versus photographing people is that when paying attention to lighting, you don't always have to worry about the same things. When photographing people, you need to make sure that the sun isn't directly in the subject's eyes (think squinting), no harsh shadows are on their face, the light isn't directly behind them, etc. Cloudy days are great for people photography. In nature photography, you can be really creative with your lighting, and I prefer having sun when I'm photographing nature.  Part of the fun is  finding ways to highlight your subject and the light. 

Here are some examples:

These pictures are of the same flower. I was taking pictures at sunset, which many photographers refer to as the 'golden hour' (also can be during sunrise) because of the beautiful golden light available. It is by far my favorite time to shoot. 

The sun was casting a beautiful golden light on the flower, and I was trying to capture that (left picture). The flower was my main focus but I also wanted the golden hue. However, this wasn't producing the picture I was looking for, so I decided to try other ways of photographing the flower. The result is the right picture. The light on the flower is still a nice, warm hue, but you also get the beautiful sunset in the background. 

Let's take a look at another example.

These two tree pictures are similar in how I took them. As you can see, the biggest difference (besides type of tree) is the lighting. The tree on the left I took with the sun lighting up the tree trunk, and the one of the left the sun is behind the tree. 

In this picture on the right, my subject was the tree bark and I wanted to use the light to make it stand out without washing it out. I liked how rich the tree bark looked with the sun behind the tree, and how everything else looked like it was glowing. When the sun was shining directly on the bark, you didn't get that same effect; nor did the bark have such a rich color.

The tree on the left has bark much lighter in color and again, was my focus. If I would have taken the picture with the sun behind the tree you wouldn't be able to tell the color of the bark because of the shadows. I also liked how the bright blue sky contrasted the light bark. If shooting with the sun behind the tree, I may have still captured the sky color, but the contrast wouldn't have been so observable (pretty sure I've never used that word before in my life)!

When out taking pictures, you may run across something and just know that is the picture you want to take. Other times, you may know what subject you want to photograph (ex. flower, tree bark), but you have to play around with the lighting to get it just right. Both are OK! The important thing is that you try different ways to capture your subject in the best light. Don't be afraid to be creative! You just never know what you will come up with.  

Here is the takeaway:

-Make sure you have your subject identified, and any specific parts of the subject you want to highlight

-Figure out where your best light source is coming from and use it to highlight the subject

-Don't be afraid to be creative

-Don't be discouraged if your pictures aren't turning out the way you want. Figure out a different way to photograph the subject

-Get out there and do it!

Do you have any favorite photographs that capture the lighting and subject? Tell me about them in the comments or post the picture to my Facebook page. 

Check back next week for part two of this 5 part series!

Happy Photographing!

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