Spring is sprung! Now is time to stop making excuses and get your butt out there and take photographs.
“But of what? I live in the suburbs/city and there’s nothing here!”
Pthh. You’re not looking hard enough. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Make a time lapse video.
All those flowers photographs? Any schmuck can do that. They’re everywhere. Instead, try your hand at making a time lapse video of them growing and blooming. If your yard is private, set up a tripod and leave it there for a week or two. This will ensure that your camera is in the same spot and will make for a more seamless time lapse.
No yard to speak of? Try at your local park or garden conservatory. Find a spot that’s low-traffic and use stones to mark where your tripod legs would go. That way you can get more consistent placement of your subject.
Go photograph that spot every day. Maybe twice a day. When you’ve 100 or so images, collect all your images, and use a free video editor to cobble them together. You can make a time lapse using Youtube’s video editor, as an example.
Plants not your thing? I gotcha — it’s not my favorite subject, too. Try an urban scene instead – people walking by (be sure you photograph people in a public space!).
Birds, Birds, and More Birds
Birds are everywhere. Even the Arctic circle has birds. You can’t get away from them.
Even if you’re not a birder, they make great photography subjects for practice.
If you prefer action or sports photography, shoot them for practice. Birds are so damn fast and flittery that photographing sports will seem like sluggish in comparison. Challenge yourself to get eye contact. And to nail that perfect shot of a bird in flight.
Set up a birdfeeder, or better yet, go searching for bird nests.
Be sure to practice the 7 Leave No Trace principle, and avoid disturbing the nests, though!
Read up on what different species’ nests look like and where they tend to build them so that you know what to look for. A bald eagle’s nesting habits is different from, say, an osprey’s.
If you’re reading this and going, “mehhh”, keep reading. I’ve got more ideas for you!
Daytime Long Exposure – Water Scenes
Springs generally brings rain — or surprise snow storms — and you know what that means? Snowmelt. Lazy, shallow streams and trickling waterfalls will turn into raging torrents of water.
Unless you live in the Death Valley, you likely have a water source somewhere. If you’re in an urban area…your city has water fountains, right? You won’t have the snowmelt-raging torrent, but fountains mean moving water. That’s the key element you need for an effective Daytime Long Exposure: motion.
The other four elements you’ll need? A ND filter ranging from 4 stops to 10 stops, a tripod, a shutter remote (in a pinch, you can use a self timer, though), and a stopwatch.
I would not recommend a “variable” or “adjustable” ND filter. While I haven’t personally tried them, there are numerous complaints about their durability and consistency in image quality.
These filters allow you to take long-exposures in daytime without overexposing your images. It’s how photographers get the silky and foggy water effect that’s been permeating social media in the recent years.
When you buy, make sure you purchase the correct filter size for your lens (denoted as 67mm, 72mm, etc – the size you need will be printed on the inside of your lens’ rim). If you want to use the filter on a number of lens, get the size that fits the largest diameter lens you have, and grab a step-down filter ring.
In general, the foggier and hazier a water scene is, the longer the exposure needs to be. To get a similar results to the above image, you’d want a 8 to 10 stops filter and 30-60 seconds exposure.
If you’re not keen on water scenes, try long-exposures of varying time lengths of city scenes. If you can get long enough of an exposure time, you can get a city scene that looks like it’s empty.
Moar? You want MOAR? Okay! Here’s one more idea:
Many towns and cities have free or inexpensive events on weekends and in evenings. Street fairs and festivals, art festivals, expos, parades, local sports events, and rodeos.
It’s a great way to try out street photography, event photography, portraits, and even food photography. All at one location.
In short, get your butt out the doors and look for something interesting to photograph. Do it, even if it’s not a genre you’re particularly interested in, it’s always good to practice the basics. You never know — you might need the skills someday!
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