Got some spare time over the Easter holidays? Why not make the most of it by setting yourself a photography project?
We have a number for you to try, according to the weather and your mood.
Whilst some people still have to work over the Easter weekend, for many of us it’s a chance to take some extra time to spend with family, friends or on a favourite hobby. If you have chance to take your camera out, why not set yourself a photography project to complete over the weekend? Take a look at our suggestions for great Easter photography projects for ideas…
1. Capture your Town
You don’t need to travel far to tell a story with your images
Sometimes just one photograph isn’t enough to truly capture the feel of your surroundings. Whether you live in a quiet rural village or you’re situated right in the heart of a busy city, there will be a host of buildings and landmarks that help to make your home town what it is. So this weekend, why not try to capture this in a series of images, that when placed together demonstrate what it is that really makes your town stand out. This could be its collection of great historical buildings, its lush and vibrant parks, or even the hustle of the business area. Once you’ve captured a series of images, merge them into a multi-image montage using Photoshop to really give the project its full effect.
1 Before heading out to shoot, make a list of iconic buildings that you feel help to make your town or city important. This could be a historic site like a cathedral, or even a modern building, such as a football ground.
2 Add variety to your montage by taking a mixture of close-up detail shots of things such as signs, monuments and statues, as well as a host of wide angle photos of buildings, scenic parks and important roadways.
3 Your final montage can be constructed from as many photos as you like, although we would suggest that a minimum of three and a maximum of eight images will be just right for achieving the desired effect.
4 Once you’ve collected your photos, import them into your computer and assemble the montage onto a new A4-sized document by going to File>New in Photoshop, and choosing the A4 paper preset under International Paper.
2. Colourful still life
Alternatively, if it’s too miserable outside to go out, why not stay at home and challenge yourself to shoot a colour still life image? You may think that you need a load of kit to achieve this – especially various bits of lighting – but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how simple it can be.The first thing to do is to choose your subject. Flowers are an obvious choice, but don’t discount anything else that catches your eye; even simple objects can take on a whole new appearance when looked at differently. Be bold with your choice of subject, and you’re likely to get striking results. Once you’ve picked your item, and you’re happy with it, make some space on a table and then set to work creating your still life.
1 Bold, colourful backgrounds that are either in harmony with your subject, or create a striking contrast, are key. Experiment with different backgrounds, from simple sheets of card to Perspex and textured material.
2 There’s nothing to stop you using flash to control the lighting, but natural light can be just as effective. Shoot near a large window using reflectors to bounce light around your subject. Don’t discount black boards to stop light leaking.
3 Rather than working on a single composition, work hard to look for interesting angles from the same subject – get three shots you’re happy with and you can then think about creating a still-life triptych.
4 Depending on what you end up shooting, a macro lens may be desirable, but in most cases not necessary. A fast 50mm prime lens is always a great choice. While you may want to handhold your shots, think about using a tripod.
3. Slow-sync flash
You probably think of flash as a way of freezing your subject so it removes all sense of movement. However, using slow-sync flash is a great way to creatively light your subject, while still retaining plenty of drama in the image. So why not try shooting an action shot using slow-sync flash this weekend? It’s easier than you think.Start by trying a panning technique. You’ll need to be fairly close to your subject, and should ensure a slow enough shutter speed is in place to record blur in the background. Then, when your subject comes past, fire the shutter at the desired moment and the flash will add an almost three-dimensional look to your shot. This, of course, works well with fast-moving objects. Here are a few things to consider when giving it a go.
Simply being in slow-sync mode won’t give the best results because the flash will fire at the beginning of the exposure, making your subject look like it’s moving backwards by the time the exposure is complete.
To avoid this ‘backwards’ effect, select rear curtain-sync mode. This will fire the flash at the end of the exposure. It requires a bit more practice, but produces a much more pleasing, natural result, since the blur from the ambient exposure looks like it’s trailing the subject.
Once you become competent, you can try the technique with multiple flashguns positioned remotely around your subject to create even more dramatic results. But make sure you’ve got the basics right first.
Some subjects lend themselves more to slow-sync flash than others, so take this into consideration when seeking out shots. For striking results, try to get as close as you can with a wide angle lens and shoot from a low vantage point.
4. Child’s Portrait
If you’ve got young children in your family, then you’ll appreciate the truth behind the saying, ‘They grow up so fast.’ That’s why capturing stunning photos of them while they’re still young is incredibly rewarding.Whether it’s your own children, grandchildren or a relative’s child, capturing child portraits is a fantastic way to sharpen your core photography skills, as it requires speed, dexterity and a watchful eye to snap the right moment. Let’s face it, children (especially younger ones) won’t want to sit nicely for very long, so it’s important to ensure that you stay alert with your camera in hand, ready to snap that all-important shot whenever the opportunity arises.
1 Prime lenses are great for portrait photography as they offer a wide maximum aperture that allows you to blur the background and isolate the subject. If you’re photographing babies, use a 50mm lens wide open and focus on the eyes.
2 If you’re photographing a child that is old enough to walk or run, then it’s vital that you switch your camera’s drive mode to continuous, as this will allow you to rattle off multiple shots and keep up with the action.
3 Children have a much shorter attention span than adults, so it’s important to keep them entertained throughout the shoot. Try getting them to pull funny faces at the camera and then showing them the results.
4 For older children, invite the family to go for a walk around a park and photograph the children as they play. You can always ask them to climb trees, play or kick up fallen leaves to keep them entertained.
5. Keep it simple
Complex compositions with many elements all fighting for your attention can often make a shot unsuccessful, as the eye doesn’t have anywhere to rest, and the overall feel can be rather chaotic.With this in mind, why not shoot an image that has been stripped back to the bare bones, keeping your composition as simple as possible? By adopting the philosophy of less is more, your images can take on a much more tranquil, reflective mood thanks to the pared-back arrangement of elements.It goes without saying that this method requires a considered approach. You’ll have to survey the scene to exclude the elements that will clutter your shot. Head out with a clear mind and a fresh pair of eyes and you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.
1 A wide angle lens isn’t necessarily your best option here. A telephoto lens is often a better bet as it will allow you to isolate your desired subject much more easily and maintain the purity of the composition.
2 Be bold with your framing. You don’t have to fill the frame with foreground interest or follow the rule of thirds. Position the point of interest in the centre of the frame, for example, to break the classic rule.
3 Long exposures automatically lend themselves to minimalist scenes, with the extended exposure forcing clouds and water into blurred streaks of movement if the conditions are right.
4 Some scenes are naturally suited to this style of photography, but the weather is just as important. Overcast, misty conditions can be ideal for stripping back elements of a composition to the minimum.
6. Photograph your cat
For many of us our pets are like another member of the family. Cats in particular seem to be a firm favourite with photographers, as they’re the perfect subject matter to test cameras with – if Internet forums are to be believed. Unlike dogs though, cats can be a little more aloof and independent, making them slightly more challenging to photograph. Get them at the right moment however, and they can be a rewarding subject.If you haven’t got a cat at home and don’t have family or friends with one, it might also be worth thinking about contacting your nearest animal rescue centre like the Blue Cross. You’ll often find that they’d welcome a volunteer to get some nice shots of their current residents and help them find a home.
1 If you’re going to be working inside, look for a spot with plenty of natural light, as a cat won’t be a big fan of flash. Don’t be afraid to overexpose the background, as it’ll deliver a cleaner image with fewer distractions.
2 Be patient, as a cat may not be in the mood to cooperate. If this is the case, put your camera down and wait until they’re more receptive. Let them settle in their favourite spot, or give them a treat to help them relax.
3 Get some help. Working on your own can be tricky, so enlist some someone else to get the cat’s attention. Have your helper stand behind the camera, and dangle their favourite toy just above the lens.
4 Don’t be afraid to get down to their eye-level and experiment with focal lengths. Standard or telephoto focal lengths are flattering, but why not try getting in close with a wide angle for a humorous shot?
7. Panning landscapes
We’ve probably all been in the position where we’re travelling along, whether in a car or on a train, gazing out of the window, only to come across a brilliant scene that would make a stunning image.More often than not, though, it’s impractical to stop, and if you’re on a train it’s impossible. But rather than miss out on what could potentially be a great shot because you can’t get out and shoot it in the way you would normally like to, why not have a go at shooting as you’re moving?You’ll be surprised how effective the results can be, with the blurred foreground adding a highly distinctive look to your photographs.To get a successful shot this weekend as you’re travelling, see our tips.
1 If you’re shooting through glass (which is more than likely if you’re on a train), swap to manual focus and lock your focus on the background. This will prevent your camera from hunting and inadvertently focusing on the glass.
2 You’ll also need to keep your reflection from appearing in the image when shooting through glass. Try putting your hand up to the lens or lifting your jacket over you and your camera to combat this.
3 Don’t be afraid to use a slow shutter speed. Hold the camera as still as possible and, with it focused on the distance, fire the shutter. The movement from the train or car will blur the foreground for you.
4 For the best results, you’ll understandably want to shoot with your dedicated photo kit. However, you may not always have it with you at the right time, so don’t discount using a smart phone instead.
8. Outdoor sculpture
Whether it’s a large contemporary structure or a classical piece that’s a focal point in a public garden, there’s bound to be a striking outdoor sculpture near you and often these pieces of art will make fantastic photo subjects. However, rather than settling for a simple snapshot of the sculpture, why not challenge yourself to come up with something a little different?Spend time studying the piece and get an understanding of the concept or intention behind it. How it sits in the landscape will affect how you take the shot. If it’s positioned in a built-up area, you may want to wait until it’s floodlit and the surrounding buildings become less of a distraction, while a sculpture in a more natural setting may need subtle backlighting to really highlight its forms.
1 Think about your background. Ideally, you want it uncluttered so as not to distract from the sculpture you’re shooting. You may need to look for a low vantage point from which to shoot, to isolate your subject.
2 While the artist may have had a vision of how the piece would sit in the landscape, try to put your own personal stamp on the image. Think about how you frame the sculpture or how you’ll process it.
3 Sculpture by its very nature is three-dimensional, so lighting is incredibly important. Look at how the light hits it, where the shadows are cast, the best time of day to shoot and try to visit the location regularly.
4 Don’t just think of the bigger picture. Rather than trying to fit the entire sculpture in the frame, look a little closer and see if you can pick out any interesting details – focus on interesting shapes or textures.
9. Make a photo book
With the majority of us now viewing our images via digital displays, it seems a shame that they’re simply going to languish there as a series of 1s and 0s.So why not look through your images this weekend and select your best shots to create a beautiful coffee-table book? While hardback photography books were once the sole preserve of the ‘highly regarded’, modern-day printing now means anyone can produce their own high-quality photo book. You can make a special one-off edition, while some printers offer the option of bulk ordering, bringing down the unit cost. There is also an extensive range of sizes, finishes, paper types and bindings to choose from.So unshackle your images from the hard drive and create a beautiful photo book. It’s a much more satisfying way of looking and showing off your images, as well as doing your hard work justice.
1 While there’s nothing wrong with a ‘best of…’ method for selecting images, a cohesive selection of shots from your portfolio that follows a theme or story can work really well together.
2 Look at the layout and style of books you admire for inspiration, paying attention to how the images have been laid out. Don’t be afraid to let a single image breathe on a spread with a blank page next to it.
3 Photo books are more than just bound portfolios, so take time to work on a title, introduction and other details, such as page numbering and footers. Also, make sure spelling and punctuation are spot on.
4 Double-check that you’re happy with everything about each image, from the overall look to the absence of dust marks. The last thing you want is to get your photo book back and find it’s ruined by stray blotches.
Whatever project you do this weekend, don’t forget to share your best results with us, on Facebook
Credits to Amateur Photographer