Whether you live in the Finger Lakes or are just visiting, the area offers superb, year-round opportunities for photography. Here are several tips to try to improve your photographic adventures.
1. Change your perspective. We always see the world from standing height. Make your photographs more interesting by looking at the world from a different view. Get low to generate more depth in your foreground. Try using different lenses to change the perspective as well. A wide-angle lens will elongate the foreground while increasing the depth-of-field. Using a higher f-stop will also increase your depth-of-field, giving you a sharper photo from foreground to the horizon. When using this technique during that “magic hour” after sunset, be sure to use a tripod to compensate for slower shutter speeds.
2. Include people in your photos. Use them in your landscape photos to add character. You can also use a telephoto lens to create close-up environmental portraits. Using a telephoto is another way to show a different perspective. Telephoto lenses will compress the distance between the foreground and background. Using a lower f-stop will also throw the background out of focus, isolating the subject from the background. Telephoto lenses will magnify camera shake so a tripod or monopod is recommended.
3. Frame your subjects. Use natural objects within a scene to create a border around your photo, drawing your eye into the photo and to the subject. The framing could be with a solid object such as leaves, trees, mountains and such or could be done with patterns of light, such as rays coming down from the clouds or shimmering light in a moving stream. Use vanishing points to draw the viewers’ eyes to the subject. Placing your subjects in the 1/3 and 2/3 sections of the frame both vertically and horizontally can create some dramatic compositions, however there will be times when direct centered symmetry is desirable.
4. Experiment with shutter speeds. Unlike our eye, a camera can accumulate light over a period of time and compress it to a single moment. This is most often seen with running water or the trails from a car’s tail lights. Place the camera on a tripod and set the shutter speed as slow as possible. Water flowing over rocks will appear as a veil. Use this technique at night to create star trails and unique landscape photos lit by moonlight.
5. With digital technology, the post production opportunities to enhance your photos are virtually endless. Use editing tools such as Photoshop to manipulate your photos. Adding vignettes to the edges of the photos adds a lot of drama and impact to the image by drawing the viewer’s eye to the subject of your photo. With Photoshop you can manipulate colors, create black and white images, change focal points and much more.
After your photos are edited to your satisfaction, there are numerous companies that you can send them to for unique products such as coffee table books, calendars, post cards, posters, and the list goes on and on. You can share your photos online with companies such as Shutterfly.com and Snapfish.com.
Thinking out of the box and using different combinations of the tips above will challenge you to take different, compelling images.
by Steve Chesler
Steve Chesler owns Chesler Photography in Canandaigua. To view more of his images visit www.cheslerphoto.com.