As I mentioned in my post last week, I have been really energized by the practice of carrying my phone along on my walks and trying to capture some of what I see around me. The fact that I give myself the task of capturing one good image from each walk means that I am looking around me more carefully, and when I see something interesting, I am then thinking about how best to frame it, capture it, translate it.
Here are some of the steps to capturing a great still life in nature. If you are inspired to go out and take any photos after reading this, please post them and tag us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. I’d love to see where your walks take you.
1. Pay Attention.
What moves you? What brings you a moment of joy? Pay attention to your surroundings and tune into what’s important to you, what catches your eye. What has been capturing my attention lately is colour and light. Who can resist the bright flowers and the crisp greens of spring? I took this picture on a really bright day, and what caught my attention was the way the leaves cast shadows on each other.
The shadows multiplied the shades of green, and highlighted that really juicy pale green of the young leaves. I tried it from several angles and distances.
This was too close to capture the feeling of the wide bright sky:
And this captured the blue sky but not the intensity of the bright light, and the background is too busy:
I finally realized that I would have to get underneath the tree and shoot towards the sun from an angle only possible from the ground, so I sat down on the sidewalk and got this:
Now I had the shot that captured what I was seeing: new leaves, green shadows, bright light, blue sky. This was taken with my iPhone camera with no filters, and it’s pretty close to the final image that I published on Instagram. I then edited and framed the photo in Phototoaster so that the leaves on the bottom were off centre and in sharp focus, leaving the background foliage blurry, and I made the colour more intense. These are effects that I added after the fact with my photo editor app: Phototoaster. I love Phototoaster. I am not the kind of person who likes to experiment or play with technology because I don’t have the patience, but Phototoaster is the exception. With this app, you choose a photo from your phone camera album (the original is not changed), and then you have fun and play. You can add shading, intensify colour, blur the edges, make it black and white or sepia, choose a texture that makes it look like an oil painting or an old photo. So many possibilities and so much fun. Taking the picture is really only the beginning; most of the effect comes from using the photo editor.
2. Get Close. Really Close. Closer!
I lost some of the resolution by using the zoom to get so close to this tiny lilac blossom, but I still like the final effect. Get as close as you can without using the zoom to get the best resolution, and then play with the zoom when you edit.
I did not want that lilac flower to be in the centre of the square photo, so I composed the photo with it off-centre, and the eye travels from bottom left to top right with the movement of the stalks. Figure out where you want the eye to go. Do you want symmetry or asymmetry? Do you want attention all in the foreground, or do you want to keep details from the background?
I do all my cropping in Phototoaster so that my original is not changed. It’s a really important step that allows you to cut out any extraneous “noise.”
This is the really fun part! I have so much fun taking a photo through different incarnations. When I took this photo, I wanted to capture my sense that the poppies were on fire. Something about the early morning light shining through those fragile, feathery petals looked like flame. This is as shot:
And then to intensify the colour I played around with focus until I got the best impression of fire that I could. I actually had a hard time deciding between these.
It’s the final step to making your image pop.