A wander in the New Forest with my canon 24-70mm lens on my crop sensor camera. The 24-70mm lens from what I have read online is an ideal walk around lens on a full frame camera – but for me it has a focal range 38.4mm- 112mm.
I have noticed recently that I am not using this lens enough – I now have four favorite lens, and this is number 4… so today I put on my camera and went to explore, with the idea I would capture some Autumn landscapes.
ISO800 was chosen today as the skies were overcast and I wanted to make sure I had fast enough shutter speed for my lens, above I used F8 and 1/200sec focusing on the heather in the foreground. I liked the muted tones of the heather and the blue misty background in comparison to the gorse – which brings sunshine to the heathland in winter.
This photo totally breaks the rule of thirds, putting the trees on the horizon so close to the bottom of the frame – but I just loved the texture in the sky. ISO800, F8, 1/200sec
The winding path through the heather caught my eye and leads you through the image. ISO800, F8, 1/800 sec – not a person in sight and it makes me realise how lucky I am to have this location on my doorstep – I don’t think I will ever tire of it!
I got down low to fill the frame with the forest steam – the water in the forest is often very dark. ISO800, F9, 1/250sec.
Autumn seems to have passed through the New Forest quickly this year, there are lots of leaves down now and bare trees. ISO800, F9, 1/160sec
I was not happy with the photos that I took for day 266 – my first attempt at flatlay, so I had to choices – to go away and try a different style of photography or have another attempt at this one. A second attempt won – after all the idea of the blog was to improve my photography, so stopping when I find something hard, is not the way I will learn new skills.
Flatlay might not be a style of photography that I like – all though many of the examples I have seen a very pleasing on the eye – they do include skills that are useful in all aspects of photographer – cross transferable skills.
So where to start … more research, I had a look on google and I read up:
Styling flatlay photography – I need to create a story, or think about what I want the photo to communicate. There are loads of ideas here.
Flat Lay photography tips – a video – I watched a demonstration on the thought process, and which talked about natural light creating the right tones.
I read up about light – not for just flatlay but for still life images – I found her light diagrams really helpful.
A really useful bluetac tip in this blog along with encouragement that it takes practice.
I never even thought of “flatlay” for clothes – this could be a great way to display products, presenting them into a situation to create a mode.
Today I choose the room based on the light available – not based on where I wanted to take the photo. I took the last photos in my lounge – it is south facing, with lots of direct sunlight, even though I tried to diffuse it through a sheet – today I headed west – and used my kitchen floor … as I often think the light in there is much softer. I think something has just dawned on me – it is about the light – not the space available…. why do I therefore use my lounge….
My inspiration – afternoon tea … the story – time for a break … peppermint tea, biscuits, pretty plates – I thought more about the composition. I wanted to include flowers – ideally pink ones, to match the flowers on the cups – my crop includes part of a daisy … I should have cloned it out … but it is a good example of including something that should not have been included. My papermint tea – matched my phone case … and I had the idea of including a web site on my phone that related to the post.
I rearranged – included more of the daisies, tossed in some mint to reflect the peppermint flavour of the tea, swapped the biscuits for cake and I removed my phone case as I thought it looked too heavy – the mint looks messy, the daisies unrelated and I think the phone now looks too dark.
I tried again – I cropped closer – made the focus the story – my tea break… a cup of tea and a read of my phone – the image I wanted on the phone was not clear enough so I photoshopped my own image into it and I like it.
Today I was doing a lot of work for the Coastguard Association – sorting out paperwork, preparing raffle prizes for an event at the weekend, so I thought I would take a photo themed to that – the blue and yellow colours work well together, the blue-tac trick was excellent and worked well. There are some shadows – it seemed to bounce back from my reflector rather than the light source.
Following the inspiration I have seen on other posts – I then choose to crop tighter to try and get the image to tell a story – I also edited the colours in lightroom to create a more muted image – I stuck to a square crop as instagram flatlays are usually a square crop. I like this image – it tells a story … coastguard, raffle, pen to write peoples names on … and is perfect for a blog post!
So what I have learnt
Light is essential, I need to learn more about light
Less is more
Flatlays and still life images need to tell a story – you need to think about what to include, and equally what not to include
I am doing an online course called Photography for Bloggers – I am not a blogger … or I wasn’t a blogger before I started my 365 project – but I might be. I share information online though this web site and through a variety of work related Facebook pages, so I can going to try include the old relevant post relating to the course as I hopefully my eyes are open into a new direction.
The course is not aimed at photographers necessarily… it is aimed at bloggers creating images to go with their content – this is different to someone blogging about photography…. you can take the photos on any device, but I am hoping it will increase my awareness in a different direction.
Week one, and I already challenge – produce a “flatlay” – great … I have never heard of a flatlay. But will a little research and watching the tutorials I am already learning something – a flatlay is a style of still liife photography… so I am going to have a go. It is able composing the subject and taking a photo directly above the subject on a horizontal plain with lovely lighting.
You have to consider:
What to include in the image to tell your story – colours have to complement each other, the image had to composed – the position of each detail through about and the end presentation considered.
Making sure the camera is positioned correctly … so the image is really a flat lay.
This was way harder than I imagined …
I had no idea what to take a picture of – the idea I think is to take something for your blog that relates to your blog content – my blog is about the photography, but today I am given a blank canvas – I have to create the image rather than see it … and I just don’t know where to go with it.
My first attempt – fresh muffins, chocolate and coffee on a brown background… nice neutral tones, but I really don’t know why I put the marshmallows in – they are not relevant. Looking at the image you have to really think about what to include or what not to include. I also wasn’t on the right horizontal plane – I should not be able to see the side of the cup if the camera was at the right angle … I have a lot to learn.
A different scene – a different background – coloured paper, sea shells and a pebble … this one I feel works better, but rather than an irregular scattering or stones – I am not sure if the shells work … I can see this style there definitely working to create interest in a subject – but what is the subject here – a love story on the beach perhaps?
A third attempt … goodies from the bathroom… the colours work really well together – but the background is too textured it is competing with the objects in the foreground. I am not level again … the tutorial said use a tripod – I didn’t … I need to set up my space and do it properly – taking short cuts won’t work … I need to get it right and with still life – you really need to get it right.
The image below – I moved some of the items around, I recomposed and took a different shot – the background is less obvious and it works better – but the lights is not right either.
I have come to the conclusion I need to try again – I can’t just change the subject when the image is not right, I need to come up with a subject that represents my blog post, compose it to tell a story about the article I am writing and try again. Maybe even tomorrow!
I had a lovely afternoon at the weekend talking with a good friend – we did a photography course together and from there have been inspired to take different journeys into the world of photography – I have improved my photo skills through talks, workshops, online learning and challenging myself – she is opted for formal learning first an AS-Level in photography and now amazing she is about to do a degree. She is interested in the story behind the photo – the reason the artist created that shot, although she does not believe necessarily it was the right way to create the image and her onward journey – she is going to be starting a blog and I cant wait to learn from her discoveries… Continue reading →
Monday night at camera club, the guest speaker was Slawek Staszcuk – and he showed us a range of urban and countryside landscapes that he had captured over the last few years. He was originally from Poland, but now lived in the UK and was enjoying taking photos of our unique landscape and historic churches, and he talked lots about the importance of capturing photos in the right light and the amount of time it takes sometimes to wait for that perfect moment when the clouds act as a giant light box lighting up the shadowy side of objects, how the position of the light can add depth and interest to the landscape. He also talked about how your eye is taken to the brightest area of the image or the area with the most contrast – and this is often the area in the photo where the landscape meets the sky – the horizon – which is not necessarily what is the most interesting part of the image – so he did not often include the sky in his images unless they added to the story.
Slaweck talked about minimal editing, he prefered Lightroom – but he also only spent at most a minute of two and and would prefer to get the image right in camera – he carried filters with him and would often use a 10 stop ND filter for images with water, and a graduated filter to achieve the effect he wanted.
Slaweck also talked about the fact that taking an original images was getting increasingly harder – we are inspired by others, other images we have seen, and try to replicate them with our own photos – he likes to try new angles, new directions and to try and create something different, he often photographed from afar using a large zoom lens – all this information very much reinforces the talk about Coastal environment I listened to a few weeks back, different light, different lens and different compositions add to your interruption on the image.
So how has that affected my photos today … I went out to capture the New Forest landscape, but as the sky was cloudless and blue – it was about 8.30am in the morning, I focused on excluding the horizon and using a zoom lens to capture the landscape.
It first struck me as to how the seasons are changing – the heavy dew on the grass looked almost like it could have been frost – I choose to covert the above image into monochrome, as I felt it highlighted the colours in the light more.
The Highland Cow became my subject is this one, but I shot low and carefully framed the subject so that I did not include any sky, but the New Forest moorland fading into the background behind. I took this as I really liked the diagonal angle of the cows horns and the way the colours of the cow worked on the same colour palette as the heather and gorse.
Slaweck’s landscapes had a greater depth of field than mine – but the idea was to create your own image based on the inspiration of others … I wanted to draw your attention to the heather in the foreground, but give a sense of scale and depth – the lightest part of the photos is the telegraph poles, it draws your attention, but I think helps balance the image, and gives a sense of the vastness of the New Forest.
The heavy dew across Setley Pond – the New Forest ponies add interest to the subject and the reflections add an additional layer to the image. The early morning sun and the damp grass creates an image full of neutral tones.
One of the images that we were shown on Monday was a reflection… we were told that a polarising filter really enhanced reflection images – sadly I did not have mine with me… but I liked the contrast between the pink heather and the blue sky, so captured the moment.
The morning dew and the heather was lit beautifully in the morning light – it will be interesting to see if I can head out earlier – sunrise this morning would have been at 6.20am, the golden hour ended at 7.04am, whereas this image was captured at 8.45am – I wonder what it would have been like 2 hours earlier…. perhaps I need to start getting up earlier to enjoy the better light.
Below is a close up of the heather – I wanted to capture the light on the heather in the foreground – but I have not got enough separation between the foreground and the background for it to work – why – simple, my own error, I had too narrow an aperture – of course F22 will not achieve the desired effect, I would have been better shooting at F5.6, by day 253, you would have thought I would have remembered to check my aperture before I click the shutter button…. gggrrrr!!!
Today I chose my 50mm lens, my thought was to go for a local walk, choose something to take a photo or and experiment with different viewpoints and see what happens.
I purple wild flower caught my eye in the grass and I decided that this would be my subject, I choose a wide aperture to separate from the background, and then whilst leaving the flower there for others to enjoy I moved the camera into a variety of positions to capture it.
I think my favorite composition is the last one (below) – I think the colours are lovely and the image has a very soft and relaxed feel, a totally different style to the photos I took yesterday. I can also see how my editing of these flowers have been influenced by seem one of the photogrpahers I follow online -as this time I have reduced the contrasted and reduced the blacks more in editing to produce a soft image – what do you think?
Continuing on thinking about the composition of every photo that you capture, and I have been looking at different composition techniques inspired by Emma – she shares some wonderful examples.
Colour – Harmonious (or ‘analagous’) colours are ones with similar shades and tones.
Discordant – these colour combinations shouldn’t work, but they often do. Colours that jar, or seem to be haphazard, can make a striking photo
Abstract -Abstract photography doesn’t try to replicate reality, but suggest something using colour, shape, texture and other composition techniques.
Repetition –The most appealing design technique out there
Break the rules – Now you know what the rules are, you can break them.
So last night I headed off to the beach with these composition challenges in mind and worked with the late evening light.
Above – my location, as I looked out to the Needles of the Isle of Wight, I decided that this shop with the pale sky, green headland, white cliffs and sea was full of Harmonious neutral tones and would be a great place to start as it sets the scene for my location.
This area of beach was damaged in the storms in February 2014, and they have recently put a new barricade in place. This shows of the power of red, leading lines as well as being a repetitive pattern, it would have been a stronger short if there was a person or something of interest at the steps towards the end.
As the waves crashed onto the shore they made all sorts of abstract patterns which varied with the changing light, changing waves movements and shutter speed. These shots work in both monochrome and in colour as the tones are very subtle.
The beach is naturally a place you associate with blue and yellow, I was pleased to be able to find an abstract of these harmonious colours on one of the beach huts – the wall was blue and the door yellow. It also works as it shows off the texture of the material – weathered by the sea, and the paneling of the wood is in two distinctive patterns.
Another beach hut, this time the colours are discordant – they don’t really balance at all in the picture, the tight crop gives an abstract feel and without me telling you in is a beach hut you are left wondering what you are being asked to look at. The purples, greens and orange sunlight are at odd’s with each other and clash.
As the sun began to set it coloured things with a distant orange feel and with the water in shadow – I snapped this image, again an abstract with discordant colours … however I think in this case the birds are too close to the top of the frame and cause a distraction.
Now it is time to break the rules – I shot into the sun with the horizon in the center of the picture. There is no real focal point, and the breakers cut completely across the picture. I like the tones of the image, but I don’t think it is a very strong composition.
Another go at breaking the rules – my watermark is distracting (but automatically placed – sorry) the horizon is too low, but I have included lots of rules too – there lots of space in the composition, there is detail and a sense of scale in the foreground and there is something of interest of the thirds!
And after all the rain we have had recently the warmth of the sky is a pleasure to enjoy!
Something different today, I am on a home based day and was wondering what I could photograph for today’s blog when one of my teens came back from walking the dog with a croissant to enjoy and brighten up my day … I did not really need the calories, but why not – but to make it extra special I thought I would use it to inspire me to take some still life photos with natural light from the window.
I thought I would experiment with the position of the camera and how it impacted to the photo. I carefully set up a cup of peppermint tea and the croissant on a matching plate, and then took a variety of photos. The only lighting was diffused window light to the left, and I used my 50mm lens through out – hand held, I also choose a wider aperture – so that I can see how the focal point impacted the image.
My first composition. The wooden surface was fairly neutral but had lines which I angled in one direction, whereas I choose to angle the cup handle, croissant and cutlery in the other direction from it. I left the teabag in the tea with the twinings label on purpose but the tea bag does not add anything to the shot when I photograph it from this angle. The depth of field is such in this photo that nothing is truly sharp and in focus… but this was just my scene setting photo, t show the space around the objects.
I got lower, focused on the cup of tea, with a hint of the croissant in the foreground. Unfortunately the grain of wood changes in the background – but this could be sorted out in Photoshop by feeling in the area with the other wood.
Lower again, and you see less tea – more of the background – but I like the light on this image, the focus point on the tea label “enjoy me” – your eye is drawn to the writing in a photo … and here… well I have to see when I did enjoy my almond croissant it was lovely!
I changed the focus point to the croissant – it is the same angle as above but it is the croissant that is the subject. The black writing on the tea label is now the darkest point on the image and is distracting, especially as you can not make out what it says. I think together these images encourage me to think about what I want the photo to say … if I am selling the croissant – the second photo showcases the product, but if I was selling the concept of breakfast or a relaxing cup of tea the first shot would be the stronger image. It really depends on what “story” you want to tell to the audience.
Shot from above – the teabag in the cup is now a messy distraction and does not work. The side lighting had burnt out the detail on the croissant and the shadows look much harsher – it needing a reflector to the right to balance out the lighting. The knife also makes the croissant look small, and cuts the photo almost in half. The photo also looks very flat, the tea cup and croissant loose its depth … it is kind of flat, don’t you think? For me this photo does not work – but I think it is really important to still share it…
I have talked lots about the importance of moving your feet and changing angle, and that is exactly what I did here, I am now shooting towards the window – there are so many reflections on the cup, the shadows are looking much darker and the angle of the objects photographed are not as strong. I have not moved any of the objects or the lighting just me – and this really highlights to me how important it is to position the photographer in the right place to create the image you hope to achieve, note the label is partly hidden, the handle and spoon are on competing angles, where as the knife and spoon form a triangle that point you out of the image – this for me does not work.
Moving closer – above and just focusing on the cup .. I changed angle and you can see some reflection from the window – but I think you are missing part of the story … where’s the croissant…. I think the crop is much too tight.
The opposite of cropping tight is to shoot wider, so I moved further away as I was using a fixed length prime lens. I dont’t think it is such a strong shot as one where only part of the croissant is shown.
In this photo, I have moved again and this time the light is behind me. The background objects, which I have not noticed in any of the other images are now in shot and are a distraction, but the colour on the cup is lovely… you get just a glimpse of the spoon and the nice, you are told to enjoy me, and I just want to reach out and taste that croissant – I should reshoot without the clutter – but I have eaten it!
Instead though I removed the background in Photoshop, as it always good to practice your skills..
Continuing on thinking about the composition of every photo that you capture, and I have been looking at different composition techniques in my composition challenge inspired by Emma – she shares some wonderful examples.
Alignment – What is touching the horizon? What’s crossing it? Which elements in the image are overlapping? Is something touching that shouldn’t be? Is your subject placed against your background with no distractions? Taking one step to the left or right, or moving your camera just an inch, can make the difference between a nice photo and an outstanding one.
Foreground – Often overlooked, but crucial. Your foreground should lead the viewer into the photograph, suggesting context but not distracting from the subject.
Aspect ratio – You’ve got 3 choices: landscape, portrait and square. Think about your final photograph before you take it, and place the subject consciously in the frame depending on which aspect ratio you are using or how you plan to crop it later.
Focal point – Do you always have one clear focal point in your image? Or is your viewer sometimes confused about where they should be looking? For a strong image, you want one focal point which is sharp and in focus.
Choice of lens – Like aspect ratio, you might not think your lens choice affects your composition. But your lens’s focal length has a discernable effect on apparent perspective compression, and this technique can be used as a composition technique.
Complementary colours – Set your subject against its complementary colour to make it pop out of the photo. Complementary colours are on opposite sides of the colour wheel.
Colour – mono – Mono isn’t just black and white. Using just the tones of any single colour is a strong composition technique.
Thanks Emma, these ideas continue to give me a direction to think in… and I can think of some examples over the last eight months where I have already made those choices, but instead of revisiting some of those I popped out into the garden with my 100mm macro lens and had a close look at the daisies. I choose the macro lens for a couple of reasons – first I have not used it for a while, second working close I need to make sure I have my focal point on mind, and third I thought it would enable me to consider these composition challenges in one go.
How did I do?
Did you know that flies like to hang out on my daisies after the rain? I did not know that … which shows how amazing things are when you look at the details of this world. The white daisy against the dark brown background work well together, the background daisy and stem help frame the shot, with the foreground slightly out of focus you are drawn into the subject, which stands out as it matches the background. There is space around the front daisy but it almost touches the back flower – more separation would make for a better aligned shot.
This I think is a great example of alignment at work – the focal point is the fly in the flower on the third, but the flower in the background aligns well to almost give the feeling that the daisy is spot lit. I have not added any vignetting to this shot, it was all done in camera. The foreground again is out of focus to pull you into the flower.
The simplicity of this photo – no fly this time, but you can see the raindrops resting delicately on the petals. I am hoping you can see what I wanted you to focus on. Only the yellow and green tones in the image are saturated with colour. Cropped into a letterbox style.
This photo was taken with a square crop in mind. I noticed a natural reflection in the raindrop on the petal. The foreground is more in focus as it helps with the idea of scale – I think.
I capture a fly and a relection and where they are both on different planes it made focusing tricky. This photo therefore has to focal points, the fly and the white flower in the reflection – your eye is drawn more to the tiny flower as it is a bright spot in the image and therefore I feel this composition is not as strong. although there is some great detail in the fly.
This one works though – your are drawn to look at the reflection of my patio in the droplet. The out of focus daisies in the foreground give the whole image a sense of scale, and with the focused flower on the thirds the composition is quite strong.
The fly, this time with the droplet our of focus, the foreground out of focus and the background very soft – bu shooting close I was able to get a very shallow depth of field and capture the details on the fly. The fly balances well within the flower petals, which in turn act as a natural frame.
I did not really look at the last two composition challenges – complimentary colors or mono colours whilst in camera – but a quick visit in Lightroom and I created a monochrome version of the image above – with a different crop which I think works really quite well.
All the colored images are mainly white, greens, browns and yellows, which are not complimentary colours but Analogous colours – which means they are a groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, hence all the photos are nicely toned. The colour wheel in action but in action differently!