Recently, I joined my Digital Imaging class on a day trip to a Montana State Park & Ghost called, Bannack. While there I shot a series of photos where I captured scenes through windows.
I had such an amazing time! This was the first time I’ve ever taken an entire trip just to take photos. We spent the whole day there and I took upwards of 800 photos (including bracketing – so more like 600…but still).
Halfway through the day, I discovered that my camera was on Auto-ISO! Gah! I kept setting my ISO between 100 and 400 but ended up with shots that were upwards of 5-6000. I was pretty bummed when I found out but I will make the best of it in post. And I can honestly say that I will never make that mistake again.
There were so many interesting things to photograph at Bannack. I took enough photos that I could have done a series on the amazing fading and peeling wallpaper, the doorknobs, or even just textures but I really liked the way my window photos turned out.
Both the photo above (sewing machine) and the photo below (curtain) were both taken at the Doc’s house. I love the way the window warped the outside view in the photo below:
The last two window photos in my series were taken at the Hotel. The first was shot from an upstairs window, the last from downstairs. Both show the buildings across the street.
This last photo shows the schoolhouse across the street from the Hotel. This final photo was one of my bracketed photos. I wanted to capture the detail of the sky outside even though the view from the window was really bright. I think it turned out really well.
When I think of nature and the outdoors, Island Park, Idaho is the first place that comes to mind. On a recent drive up to Island Park, I stopped at Ponds Lodge with my nephews to play outside and stop for some pizza. The boys roamed around the property and explored the nearby, Buffalo River while I shot photographs.
I decided to make Ponds Lodge my subject for “Perspective of 9”, a photo assignment which includes 9 different perspectives of one subject. While shooting photos of the grounds around Pond’s Lodge, I was lucky enough to catch a shot of a hawk flying above me!
Using the picture of the hawk along with a wood texture photo I took, I created the blended photo above.
While shooting in nature around Ponds Lodge, I used a shallow depth of field to take this photo of a weathered metal Island Park sign.
For the Landscape photo below, I wanted to create something unique. Originally I shot some clear, deep depth photos of the landscape but thought they looked a bit busy with the parked cars nearby. I decided to only leave part of my photograph sharp, making sure the Ponds Lodge sign was included (on the right).
I loved the texture on the concrete path near the lodge. While my nephews were exploring, I captured their feet as they ran.
My favorite type of depth to create in photos is a shallow depth of field. I love the mystery that a shallow depth creates. In these next few photos, I used a shallow depth of field to capture different perspectives found in nature around Ponds Lodge.
I love that they still have lights in some of the pine trees on their property. It lends a neat sort of holiday ambiance all year round.
For my ninth and final collage photo, I wanted a deep depth of field photo of Ponds Lodge which showcased the beauty of the surrounding nature.
I really enjoyed looking at the nature around Ponds Lodge from different perspectives. If you want to see even more of the perspective shots I took, I’ve included them below.
Extra Perspective Photos
I took loads of photos while I was at Ponds Lodge. I’ll share a few that didn’t make it into my Perspective of 9 photo collage but I still really liked the way they turned out.
The Buffalo River runs along right next to Ponds Lodge. While you can see the Lodge when standing on the bridge, I struggled to get a shot of the river that included the Lodge for perspective shots. Even though this photo of the Buffalo River didn’t make it into my photo collage, it did turn out nice.
The next several photos are more perspective shots that I took while wandering around Ponds Lodge.
The last shot is another of the Buffalo River from the bridge. To me, the Buffalo River and Ponds Lodge go hand-in-hand.
With a small aperture (also called f/stop) you can keep everything in your photo sharp. If the subjects in the foreground, middle ground and background are all in focus, you have successfully created a deep depth of field.
In both the photo above and the photo below I used a small aperture (or opening), f/16, to create photos with a deep depth of field.
Shallow Depth Field
To create a shallow depth of field, I used a large aperture setting (large opening but a small number). I used my largest opening, f/1.4, to capture a very close-up photograph of a tiny seedling.
I used a large aperture, f/2.5, to capture the details of the birthday cake my sister made for her son. Using this large aperture helped to create a shallow depth of field, leaving only a small portion of the photograph in focus and the background blurry.
If you want to create depth of field easily, try using the Aperture Priority Mode on your camera. On my Nikon camera, it is the “A” setting. On some cameras, it shows up as AV (aperture value). In Aperture Priority mode you can set how small or large your lens opening is. Set it to a large number (small opening) to deep depth of field, or a small number (large opening) for shallow depth of field. You determine the aperture you want, then based on the available light, your camera will choose the correct shutter speed to ensure you get the photograph you want.
Have fun experimenting with your camera’s aperture to create Depth of Field!
Learning to capture motion with your camera takes some experimentation. Recently I had the opportunity to try to capture some photos of the water falls in Idaho Falls, Idaho. This early morning sunrise shoot provided the chance to practice blurred motion. While I am no expert, I can say that I had a lot of fun and was happy with my results.
Blurred motion requires a slow shutter speed, so I set my Nikon camera to “S” for Shutter Priority. With the camera dial set to 1/6 second, my camera automatically adjusted the aperture to f/16. To avoid camera shake, I used a tripod for this shoot. With these settings I was able to capture the blurred motion of the waterfalls above.
On a different day, I experimented with blurred motion to create the ghost-like affect in the photo of my son, Parker below:
With my camera on a tripod, I was able to set my shutter speed to allow for 4 full seconds. Parker moved quickly from one spot to the other on the couch. It created such a fun photo — both Parker and I were excited with the results.
While frozen motion works best in broad daylight (you want plenty of light while using a fast shutter speed), I wasn’t able to experiment with frozen motion until an evening when I had my fast-moving nephews over for a sleepover party. It was dusk by the time I was running after the boys trying to freeze motion with my camera.
With my camera set to a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second, I was able to capture a photo of my nephew, Cooper jumping in the air. I love that his tongue is sticking out as he looks at his younger brother (off camera):
While I still had light, I continued running after my nephews for the next half hour. I captured the following photo of my nephew, Bear and our little dog, Gracie. Gracie was running after birds, while Bear was running after Gracie.
It was able to capture some sweet moments using a fast shutter speed to capture frozen motion.
Experimenting with Motion is very fun! Take the time to set you camera to shutter priority and play with shutter speeds to freeze or blur motion.
While setting out on some self-motivated education about the three fundamental elements of exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, my quest became easier when I found fantastic, royalty-free, images to share while visiting www.pexels.com.
Photographers often refer to the camera’s aperture in f-stops. When first learning how to use the manual mode on your digital camera, it can feel really confusing. Together with shutter speed, aperture determines how much light can reach the lens.
Aperture Quick Tips: A wide aperture or opening equals more light. A narrow aperture or opening equals less light.
The above photo of the Eiffel Tower is an example of wide aperture. using a wide aperture allowed the locks in the foreground to be crisp and clear while the background remained blurry (or as photographers like to call the blur, bokeh).
Here’s where aperture can get confusing: The wider the aperture, the smaller the f-stop. Big opening = small number. Examples of wide aperture f-stops are f/1.4, f/2.8, or f/4.
Use a wide aperture when you want to focus attention on your subject while keeping the background blurred (also called bokeh), isolate an object from a distracting background, allow more light to reach the sensor enabling a faster shutter speed (freeze action or stop camera shake), or create some fun abstract or macro photos.
The above photo of a snowy lake town in Austria is an example of using anarrow aperture. Using a narrow aperture allowed the photographer to achieve a perfectly in-focus photograph. You can see the amazing detail of the mountains in the background along with the crisp, clean detail of the houses along the lake shore.
Conversely to wide, a narrow aperture’s f-stops reflect larger numbers. Small opening = large numbers. Examples of narrow aperture f-stops are f/16 and f/22.
Use a narrow aperture when you want your entire photo to be in focus, to capture fine detail in landscape or building shots, allow for slower shutter speeds which can create motion blur or light trails in night photography.
Fast Shutter Speed
The above puddle splash photo is an example where the photographer used a fast shutter speed. Using a fast shutter speed created a shot that not only froze the water in action but also captured all detail in the tiny water droplets. Some examples of fast shutter speeds are 1/2000 second down to 1/125 sec.
Use a fast shutter speed when you want to freeze extremely fast movement (cars or bikes), freeze moving animals, people walking, or children playing, or reduce blur from camera shake or shows without using a tripod.
Slow Shutter Speed
Above is a beautiful example of extremely slow shutter speed. The photographer was able to capture the firework’s light trails using a slow shutter speed (or long exposure), allowing more light to hit the camera’s sensor.
While fireworks are very beautiful to photograph, the task can sometimes seem daunting. Almost all use of slow shutter speed requires the use of a tripod. Most new photographers who experiment with this type of photo end up getting frustrated with the results because they try to capture their photos without using a tripod.
Some examples of slow shutter speeds are 1/15 sec up to 1 second or longer. Use slow shutter speed to blur motion, soften moving water, or capture fireworks/night photography.
Let’s talk about ISO. ISO is all about your camera sensors sensitivity to light. When shooting in the daylight you want to use a very low ISO (100 or 200) because you already have a lot of light to work with. The darker it gets outside, the higher ISO (more sensitivity to light) you will need. For night photography, you might want to set your ISO around 1600 and go up from there.
ISO works hand-in-hand with your aperture and shutter speed. Adjusting the ISO can help you get a clearing shot with less natural light. Keep in mind that the higher ISO you use, the noisier (grainy) your photograph will turn out.
The above photo is an example where the photographer had to use a high ISO and a tripod. This photo is a great example of how ISO, aperture and shutter speed work together. Using a higher ISO provides more light sensitivity, along with slow shutter speed (more light), enables the use of a narrow aperture (sharp photos) to capture the detailed night landscape.
Recently I stumbled across spoonflower.com. Have you explored this site yet? I found myself uploading some simple digital designs that I created, then printing my own custom fabrics. Seriously cool.
I created my own little ‘shop’ on Spoonflower called, Clever Christie Designs. After ordering test swatches, I can sell my design to anyone who is interested in printing them on fabric, wallpaper, or any other option that Spoonflower offers.
I just finished a semester of school and have a few days off. Finally, I found time to play with some of my Adobe programs. Recently I discovered how to make textures using Adobe Capture. I know it’s not a new thing, just new for me.
I had so much fun working with atmospheric perspective in Adobe Draw on my iPad. All the textures I created using Adobe Capture came in handy.
I know it’s not perfect, I was really just poking around and having some fun but I really do like the way turned out.
Do you love using the Adobe programs? Which is your favorite? I’m really loving Illustrator.
Our photographs can vastly improve by applying just a few photography basics: Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, and Depth of Field.
When we understand these rules and make a few simple adjustments to the way we frame our photos, then our photos will have a more professional look and feel to them.
Take time to research professional photographers, they give us fresh ideas when we want to experiment with photography. Looking at beautifully composed photographs by professionals inspires our own creative work.
Rule of Thirds
I’ve always loved looking at beautiful photographs and I often find myself scrolling through Instagram. A few years ago I started following Tifforelie, or Tiffany, on Instagram. Tifforelie shoots incredible photographs, they’re always a feast for the eyes. One of her photography strong suits is using the Rule of Thirds.
A quick way to remember the Rule of Thirds is simply to
divide your photo into thirds vertically and horizontally. I’ve divided
Tifforelie’s photos using the Rule of Thirds below:
Notice how her legs and feet are lined up on the left third
of the photograph, the blankets are on the bottom and middle thirds, and the
cups are located on the middle-bottom third.
The Rule of Thirds is my go-to for photo composition. Below
I’ve shared a couple of my own, non-professional attempts at using the Rule of
In the composition of this photo, you can see that the statue is placed on the right third of the photo. Using the Rule of Thirds is not hard, promise!
Something I’ve learned from viewing professional photography:
When you’re taking landscape photos, you want to put the horizon line along
either the top or bottom third of your photograph.
You can see where I’ve put the horizon line on the top third
of my photo below:
Leading Lines are a very effective photography tool. You can lead the viewer’s attention where you want them to look. Human eyes like paths, they will naturally follow them.
Did you notice how your eye is eventually drawn to the little building on the hilltop?
I tried to use the Leading Lines to lend an artsy feel in the
photo below. Notice how they lead to a vanishing point:
This photo of a little mountain stream in France is one of my
attempts to use both the Rule of Thirds and Leading Lines:
If you want to feel really clever, use a person (or people) as Leading Lines. Let’s say you photograph someone pointing or looking a certain direction, our eye will naturally follow them. For example, when you photograph several people looking at a child blowing out their birthday candles, the people surrounding the child become Leading Lines.
Depth of Field
In photography Depth of Field as two main types: Maximum Focus, when you use a very small aperture (small opening on your camera lens) to show incredible amounts of detail throughout your entire photo, and Minimum Focus, when you use a very large aperture (large opening on your camera lens) to focus on only a certain part of your image, the rest has a soft, blurry look to it or shallow Depth of Field.
For now, let’s ‘focus’ (pun intended) only on Shallow Depth of Field or Minimum
In this professional photo, only the cairn (rock pile) is in focus. The beautiful ocean in the background and additional rocks on the beach are soft-focused so our eyes can rest on the lovely rock formation.
While in Florence, Italy, my husband and I came across a
lovely bronze map of the city. I wanted to use a shallow Depth of
Field to show only the buildings we were standing near at that moment.
Do you feel that I captured shallow Depth of Field? The surrounding buildings on the 3-D map are out-of-focus, while the center buildings remain sharp.
Again, I tried to accomplish that same Depth of Field by focusing on the old metal parts at a traditional cart-making mill in Costa Rica:
In all the personal photos shared above, I attempted to use the Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, and Depth of Field. Hopefully, these photography ‘rules’ helped to make my photos look less amateur. What do you think?
I recommend you try these three photography basics next time you grab your