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Jun
19

Don’t Know What to Shoot? These 4 Photography Exercises Will Keep You Motivated

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Landscape, Outdoor, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Whether you’re just getting into photography, or if you’ve been at it for years; you can keep yourself rejuvenated, and keep the creative juices flowing by always trying new things.

If you’re feeling uninspired photographically, that’s a sign that you need to shake things up by trying something completely different, or at least something that isn’t your usual style. You might be surprised at how small exercises can boost your creativity while teaching you new techniques and solidifying old principles in your mind.

Who knows, you might even discover a new passion!

To give your brain a little kick in the butt, challenge yourself to try some of these photography exercises. Even if they aren’t new to you, going out shooting with a new purpose feels refreshing and may lead to something completely new.

Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell

Fire Wave at The Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, taken from a high perspective on an opposite hilltop

1. Change your perspective

Photographers often get in the habit of shooting at eye-level which tends to make photos repetitive and somewhat common. We know this, and so we take the odd shot on our knees or even occasionally lying on the ground.

But is this really enough? Aren’t there other vantage points?

Challenge yourself to go out shooting and never shoot from eye-level for a whole day. Instead, find a new vantage point any time you take a picture. Get yourself up high above your subject, and crouch and shoot from a low angle. But that’s just the beginning. Ideally, you should try shooting your subject from a variety of angles.

Take one shot from below and one from above. Then, take one even lower, and one even higher, if possible. Then, step back a bit. Then step forward. Move to your right, and move to your left. Taking the same picture from many positions adds variety and will help you understand it better. Plus, you may discover a way of seeing something that you didn’t expect.

If you resolve to do this with every picture you take, you’ll begin to really understand the subtle effect that perspective has on an image, which points of view work for which subjects, and how this can inform your shooting style from here on out.

Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, by Anne McKinnell

Another perspective on Fire Wave, this time taken up close, from a low angle.

2. Create a story

Rather than trying to capture your subject in one single image, try doing a series instead. Create what LIFE Magazine coined a “photo essay” – a series of images surrounding a single subject or group of subjects, each of which pinpoints a different aspect of its nature. This can be as simple as zooming in on its finer details, or photographing it in different contexts. This method of doing things defines the subject not only by how it appears in a single moment, but also by the way it changes (and the way it stays the same) over several moments. It also helps to craft your visual storytelling abilities.

Choose one subject and cover it completely, the way a journalist would. Do this either by photographing every aspect of it you can think of, photographing it through the course of a day, or by revisiting it over and over throughout a week. Include shots at different distances and using different focal lengths – include some close-up details and some wide compositions – and whittle all the shots down to around ten final images, making sure that no two photos are alike. When you have your picks, try to organize them in an order that tells a coherent story, whether it’s narrated or implied.

Terlingua Ghost Town Texas by Anne McKinnell

These three photos are from Terlingua, a ghost town in Texas.

3. Shoot in Black and White

For a whole day, turn your camera to Black and White mode and don’t take it off. Of course, you can convert your RAW images to black and white after-the-fact in post-processing, but as an exercise, try shooting them in Black and White.

At first the limitation may seem frustrating, but Black and White photography requires a completely different way of seeing the world in terms of shape, form, and contrast, rather than through the common visual cues that you’re used to. Composing your photos in this way will invariably improve your compositions in colour photography, too. You can play with contrast settings in-camera or in post-processing to perfect the highlight to shadow ratio which defines a good monochrome image.

Bandon Beach, Oregon, by Anne McKinnell

Bandon Beach, Oregon.

4. Make manual long exposures

For this exercise, you’re going to take full advantage of digital photography’s instant feedback, and use it to play with making manual long exposures.

With your DSLR mounted firmly on a tripod, set the ISO to 100, set the aperture to the smallest opening (the largest f number like f/22 for example), and set the shutter speed to Bulb mode. When the camera is to Bulb mode, the shutter will stay open for as long as the shutter button is held down, but it’s a better idea to attach a wired remote shutter release to prevent camera shake.

Once you have your composition and your focus set, press and hold the button on the remote to hold the shutter open for a few counted seconds. Just guess how many seconds will be required based on the light level. Then, check your results. If the image is too bright, try again, but count half as many seconds. If the image is too dark, count twice as many seconds – or more, if necessary. Do this over and over again, in different scenarios and lighting situations. This practice will hone your ability to read the levels of light present at any given time.

You’ll get the most interesting results if there is a certain amount of movement in your frame, such as drifting clouds in the sky, crowds of people, or running water. The longer your exposure is, the more blurred that movement will appear to the point where water may seem like nothing more than mist, and people will disappear from the image altogether. If you have a solid neutral density filter your exposures can be even longer, creating more extreme effects.

Folly Beach Pier, Charleston, South Carolina by Anne McKinnell

Folly Beach Pier, Charleston, South Carolina – 2 second exposure.

Folly Beach Pier, Charleston, South Carolina by Anne McKinnell

Folly Beach Pier, Charleston, South Carolina – 30 second exposure.

Don’t wait until you start feeling uninspired to try these exercises! Keep your photography energized and creative by trying something new on a regular basis. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be your “thing”, it’s fun and you’re bound to learn something.

The post Don’t Know What to Shoot? These 4 Photography Exercises Will Keep You Motivated by Anne McKinnell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
15

Never Ending …

Filed Under 16:9, Landscape, Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor



English: I'm so confused these days, I can't stay still ... . As you can see on my last posts I like being in another dimension. Anyway, I'm so grateful that I have a camera, I hope you like it! And of course, some more realistic shots will follow ;).

German: Die letzten Tage sind irgendwie anders, still stehen ist gerade überhaupt nicht möglich. Wie in den letzten Posts unschwer zu erkennen ist, wäre ich gerade lieber irgendwo in einer anderen Dimension. Nun ja, so bin ich dankbar eine Kamera zu besitzen und vielleicht könnt Ihr diesen Bildern etwas abgewinnen. Ganz sicher werden auch bald wieder leicht realistischere Aufnahmen folgen ;).


Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS
Focal: 144 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/640s
ExposureBias: 0.7 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 400

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Feb
13

For A Walk

Filed Under animals, Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor, People



English: No typical words - no story for this capture ... . The advantage of a pure photoblog is its definition: Let's talk the moments :).

German: Diesmal gibt es keine Beschreibung, keine kleine Geschichte. Das ist doch auch der Vorteil eines Fotoblogs: Momente sprechen für sich selber :).

» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS
Focal: 200 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/1600s
ExposureBias: 0.7 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 400

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Feb
13

Standalone [Complex] II

Filed Under Landscape, Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor, People



» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 17-40L F/4
Focal: 19 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/25s
ExposureBias: 0.0 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 1600

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Feb
3

Voll[er]Pfosten

Filed Under Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor



» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 50mm F/1.4
Aperture: F/2
Exposure: 1/400s
ExposureBias: 0.7 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 100
Cropped: minor (4x3)

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Jan
28

Standalone [Complex]

Filed Under Landscape, Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor



English: Back home - otherwise: Doggie Mila and me just moved to the new apartment. I start loving this new part of live, I love the experience of living in my own "castle". So many people supported the removal - thank you so much! For showing you some of my feelings I choosed this capture taken 4 weeks ago. But my progress will be continue next weeks, some trips across Germany, not without camera (if I do found some of my equipment inside a dozen of removal boxes *ops*). See you!

German: Zurück zu Hause - oder anders: Hündin Mila und ich sind nun endlich in der neuen Wohnung angekommen. Ich mag diesen neuen Lebensabschnitt und ich liebe die Erfahrung im eigenen "Zauberschloss" zu wohnen. So viele Menschen haben mir geholfen, ich bin überwältigt - ein riesengroßes Dankeschön an alle! Und da gibt es so viele Gefühle im Bauch die ich mit dieser Aufnahme, vor 4 Wochen aufgenommen, zeigen möchte. Die Reise nimmt aber noch kein Ende, ich werde in den nächsten Wochen viel in Deutschland unterwegs sein aber natürlich nicht ohne Kamera, wenn, ja wenn ich denn endlich mal die gesamte Ausrüstung aus einem Dutzend Umzugskartons zusammengesucht habe. Wir werden uns bald wiedersehen!

» If you are interested in, this picture is as print available
» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS
Focal: 100 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/1250s
ExposureBias: 0.7 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 400
Cropped: none

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Jan
15

A Lensbaby Adventure

Filed Under Architecture, Landscape, Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor



English: Based on my last post Carlos wanted to see more of my trip "Disturbia". On that day I also had to relieve my mind - thats why I choosed the Lensbaby Composer for getting some "other" captures. For all who are interested in (I receive many questions on postprocessing), I used Apples Aperture 3 for this series, no Photoshop or anything else. In the past I used Aperture only for archiving - It was time to check out his opportunities. I'm not really fascinate yet of Aperture, but it worked for me on this collection. What do you think, I'm very interested in your thoughts!

German: Bezogen auf die letzte Aufnahme wollte Carlos mehr von meinem Trip "Disturbia" sehen. An diesem Tag musste ich meinen Kopf ein wenig "auslüften" und deswegen bin ich auch gleich mit dem Lensbaby Composer losgestreuselt um auch "andere" Bilder zu schiessen. Für die Interessierten von Euch (Ich bekomme immer noch viele Fragen), hier habe ich nur mit Apples Aperture 3 gearbeitet, kein Photoshop oder Ähnliches. In der Vergangenheit habe ich Aperture lediglich zum archivieren genutzt, also war es an der Zeit endlich mal herauszufinden was für Möglichkeiten zur Verfügung stehen. Auch bin ich immer noch nicht richtig angetan, dennoch ganz gut um eine Bilderserie zu überarbeiten. Was sagst Du dazu? Ich bin gespannt!

» This is a collection of 13 pictures, click on the image to see all.




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Jan
14

My Disturbia

Filed Under Architecture, Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor



English: As I told you - I'm still in process moving to my new apartment. But this day I was burned out a little bit, thats why I took doggie Mila and the Lensbaby Composer for a walk. And? I could not resist showing you a scene I really like. It's fascinating - sometimes I think my soul put his finger on the trigger, not me. And sometimes such shots are the result. I love life, I love so many things - but sometimes I'm looking for something more ... sometimes.

German: Wie schon angekündigt - befinde ich mich mitten im Umzug in die neue Wohnung. Aber an diesem Tag stand ich nur noch unter Strom, deswegen bin ich mit Hündin Mila und dem Lensbaby Composer zu einem kleinen Spaziergang aufgebrochen. Und? Ich konnte schwer widerstehen und zeige nun doch eine neue Aufnahme. Irgendwie ist es faszinierend - manchmal glaube ich mein Geist hat seinen Finger am Auslöser, nicht ich. Und manchmal sind dann solche Bilder das Resultat. Ich liebe das Leben, ich liebe so vieles darin - aber manchmal suche ich nach etwas mehr ... manchmal.

» If you are interested in, this picture is as print available
» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Lensbaby Composer
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/160s
ExposureBias: 0.0 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 640

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Jan
5

A Devil Inside?

Filed Under Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor, People



English: I thought for long which capture should be the next one... . Next weeks will be some Rock'n'Roll in my life - I move to a new apartment and everything seems to be a little bit chaotic. I will be offline for a while but not without giving you a impression of my hot-cold mixed feelings with Max. Thanks for stopping here, particularly on my last posts. I hope everything is going well for posting here soon. Stay tuned! ^N^

German: Ich habe lange darüber nachgedacht welche Aufnahme hier als nächste erscheinen könnte ... . In den nächsten Wochen heisst es Rock'n'Roll - ich werde umziehen und es wird wohl leicht kaotisch. Für eine Weile werde ich offline sein aber nicht ohne einen Eindruck meiner heiss-kalten gemischten Gefühlen, mit Max. Und: Danke für die vielen Besuche hier, vor allem für die letzten Beiträge. Ich hoffe, dass irgendwie alles klappen wird um bald wieder hier zu sein. Also dann, schön hübsch bleiben! ^N^

» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 50mm F/1.4
Aperture: F/2.8
Exposure: 1/1000s
ExposureBias: 0.0 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 100
Special: lens-correction

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Jan
3

Ruegen-Island / Beachcombing #2

Filed Under Nicki Exhibition, Outdoor



English: I could not believe how many shoes and other urban pieces we found along the shore in one day. I took a lot captures and this one is my little fav: As you can see, this is a shoe from a child. I havn't cropped the frame for showing you its real size. I hope you like it - what do you think of such shots combined with that processing? I like it so much to spend some time for such a result.

German: Ich konnte kaum glauben wieviele Schuhe und andere weggeworfene Gegenstände wir entlang der Küste an nur einem Tag fanden. So entstanden auch viele viele Aufnahmen und diese hier ist mein kleiner Favorit: Unschwer zu erkennen ist dies ein Kinderschuh. Um das Grössenverhältnis zu wahren, habe ich die Aufnahme nicht beschnitten. Ich hoffe es gefällt - was denkt Ihr über diese Art zu fotografieren kombiniert mit der digitalen Dunkelkammer? Ich für meinen Teil liebe es sehr Zeit damit zu verbringen, um zu solch einem Ergebnis zu gelangen.

» If you are interested in, this picture is as print available
» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS
Focal: 144 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/160s
ExposureBias: 0.7 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 400
Cropped: minor rotate

If you like my pictures, please take a moment to vote for me, your support is much appreciated:
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