Hello Graceless Living readers and a happy new year! May your 2021 be much more fulfilling and less turbulent than your 2020.
With the new year came a new camera for me (a few weeks before to be precise). More specifically this is a Nikon Z7ii for those of a technological bent; hot off the mirrorless press. And I’m loving it! Naturally I’ve been out and about over the Christmas holidays doing my best to capture some nice photos. This has been easier said than done during the pandemic, and especially now we’ve been fully locked down again 😦
Photography is something I’ve been doing for many years now, but this time I’ve tried my hand at producing a little video cataloguing my exploits over the last few weeks. This is the first time I’ve filmed and put together something like this, and truth be told I’m a little nervous to put it out in the World. I don’t think I have the best on-camera persona, but perhaps this will get better over time if I do it more. SO… I’d really appreciate any feedback on a) the images, and b) the video. There are hundreds and thousands of people posting this type of content, so please let me know if it’s the kind of thing you think people would be interested in watching.
This video doesn’t cover everything I took during the last few weeks so please have a look here if you’d like to see more!
Despite not being able to get out as much as I’d like. I’ve found that I’ve actually been getting out MORE often to take photos since the pandemic restrictions began. I think it has become a bit of a haven to take my mind off things. Have you been engaging in more photography during lockdown? How have you managed to do this whilst we’re not allowed out?
Here’s how I’ve been going about it:
Run a photography competition between your friends
It doesn’t matter what camera you have; it can be anything from your phone to a professional mirrorless/DSLR camera. It’s not about the gear, it’s more about creating your composition and the use of colour/contrast etc. For our competition we used photo categories that ranged from broad things like ‘yellow’ to more specific things like ‘self portrait’. Here are some categories you can use:
- Macro / close-up
- A colour of your choice
- Anger, happiness (or any other emotion)
- Black & White
- Self portrait
- Hot or cold
Learn a new technique
Just because we’re restricted on movement doesn’t mean we can’t learn how to take a shot we’ve always wanted to. You could…
Learn focus/exposure stacking
Bracketing your photos (taking multiple shots) and blending them together in software to get more in focus or more of the image exposed correctly is one thing you could learn to do. Make sure you use a tripod to get the shots as aligned as possible. Photoshop or Lightroom are great tools to do the blending. If you’re on a budget I can thoroughly recommend Pixelmator Pro or even GIMP for a free alternative.
Learn how to do astro/star photography
This one is a massive topic, and certainly one to have a read up on before attempting it. Try and use the widest open lens you have (low f-number), a maximum shutter speed of 500 divided by your lens focal length (to get sharp stars), and minimise ISO where you can.
For instance this shot was done on a 24mm lens, so my shutter speed was 20s to make sure the stars were nice little points. Alternatively though, you could leave the shutter open for many minutes to capture the star trails. This one is about 8.5 minutes of exposure.
Do some light painting
Grab your sparklers (or glow sticks). Set a long shutter speed and try not to paint anything rude.
Long exposure photography
There are plenty of ways of using long exposures to make interesting images. One I’ve been trying recently is to use a 10 stop filter (AKA sunglasses for your camera) to be able to leave the shutter open for minutes during the day without over exposing everything. This works especially well with moving water.
Post processing practice
Have you been saving your RAW files? These files give us the most flexibility to bring the most detail from the shadows/highlights. I think we all get better at post processing over time, and it can be really easy to overdo it on the sliders when first starting out. Take the time to go back and edit some old photos in a new style.
This one is easier said than done as you’ll need a specific lens to get in close enough. It can also be difficult getting everything nicely in focus. My advice is to make sure you clean things properly, as you’ll see every spec of dust.
Well that’s all for now. I’d love to see of the stuff you’ve been taking over the lockdown so please send me links!
Many thanks, and stay safe.