Use the time well

In Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

You could vegetate and spend hours reading or binge-watching movies and series, possibly with the occasional pause to walk the dog or make a sandwich, or you could use the opportunity to improve your photography… 

Although location and light are key to getting great travel pictures, an important component is the ability to know your camera and use the right techniques. In our regular content gathering trips we have bought back some lovely pictures which feature on Facebook, Instagram as well as in our newsletter, but being bound to the province in lockdown means that you have more time on your hands to hone your photo skills. When the next trip comes up your pictures will benefit.

Whist this image was taken at Mission Hills Golf Couse in Phuket, Thailand, local golf courses are great spots to practice your photography! Photo Credit: © Ian Georgeson

So practice is key, one can tweak skills using both your iPhone and DSLR to get you ready for that perfect shot.

Play with your settings, the three variables, ISO, aperture and shutter speed and how they interact with one another control the overall exposure of your picture, the depth of field as well as sharpness. Establish what will affect your image the most then tweak the other two until you get the exposure right. For example, with moving objects shutter speed would be key but if you want to blur the background and focus on the foreground you would play with aperture! ISO should generally only be adjusted for low light conditions. A good exercise would be to choose a feature in your garden and photograph it every day at a different time. Play with the settings and examine the final pictures on your camera or computer to compare the settings and the results.

Your weather apps will give you the daily ranges for sunrises and sunsets – within these periods there is a magical quality to the light, often referred to as magic light or golden light. Focus on your chosen feature and observe how the quality of light influences the potential image.

Kai !Garib vineyards. Photo Credit: © Ian Georgeson

Then be bold and do things that you have never done before. Shoot a few street scenes in documentary style and play with angles. Or if there is no ambient light, try to photograph the moon or stars. Night photography is not the easiest as it does require a good deal of experimentation with the settings. If you decide to shoot in a documentary style, try and tell a story. This dialogue helps you bring an element of “storytelling” to your photography, which will stand you in good stead as you document future trips.

Challenge yourself by commissioning an “assignment” – going out to get the pictures. Another idea would even be to set a themed shoot. Two examples come to mind and they can be done simply whilst you walk the suburb. You could choose to shoot interesting house numbers or gates or even graffiti in the parks. If you have a suburban thoroughfare or shopping area, some interesting possibilities could present themselves. Life in lockdown produces many opportunities but do be careful of taking expensive equipment into remote areas. Crime has picked up considerably in some of the open spaces. There is also a feeling of hollowness in the emptiness of streets that were previously bustling with people and cars. The “cafe” lifestyle presents great scenes especially with “social distancing” at play now that restrictions have been relaxed. One does need to be careful about taking pictures of people without their permission. With your activity being limited comes the need to express yourself differently and stretch creativity.

At the same time, this is also a good time to get the hard drive out and relook your old edits as well as editing your new pictures. You never know what will happen when you look at an older picture and just apply a different edit. In many cases, it will be like a breath of fresh air.

Fire in the sky… Photo Credit: © Ian Georgeson

Basic software that comes with your computer or even an app like “snapseed” will allow you to adjust exposure, clarity, saturation and many others as well as cropping and fine-tuning images. At the end of the day, you should hope to arrive at images that could be framed or put on canvas that you will hang on a wall in a prominent spot. Even print a few and pass them on to friends – they may be having a rough time and would appreciate the gesture.

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