Friday, 31 January 2014

INSIDER TIPS: Bringing "Quiet" into your Photos

It was a noisy busy afternoon trying to bake cupcakes with my choco-holic daughter, trying to convince her, to do things MY way and STOP licking everything! But while the cupcakes were cooling down, I pressed Pause. Took a breath in my Quiet behind the lens. That Chocolate icing just looked too yummy.

So how do you make a QUIET shot out of that messy situation?


1. Decide what your shot's about!

Did I want the noisy busy atmosphere? the kitchen that looked like a blender had exloded? Not today, maybe some other time. Today we're trying: Quiet Focus. So I zoomed in to focus on the icing.
CROP CROP CROP!!! Cut out ALL the background. Don't include anything that doesn't add to the shot. Be minimialist. Isolate your subject. Go in close.

2. Blur the whatever's left.

Blurring your background creates a smooth soft canvas to put behind your subject. Colours melt into one another and your eye doesn't have to jump around from detail to detail searching for your subject. It goes straight in to find the yummy and there it can Pause. It can rest. That's what creates that Quiet.

Did you find these tips helpful? Do you have any advice to add in the comments below ? 
Speak to me people! I'd love to hear from you.

* Best Kept Secret: Equipment
Ok, I believe the photographer is always more than the equipment he/she uses, BUT I'm learning that investing in the right equipment just makes it all so much easier!

Lens: 50mm f 1.8 Canon 
This lens creates magic! It is somehow sharper than my zooms and you really CAN see the difference. You are able to open your aperture, much wider (to f1.8) which allows light to flood in, lets you shoot in dark places without flash and blurs the background beautifully. And so isolating your subject. 

The only hassle is inching your entire body backwards and forwards until you have the right shot in your frame. Call it Photo-Contortion. But it really is worth it! Not only for your stiff muscles - also for those magical shots.

Without this lens these shots are still possible - the shots above were taken on f4, which many lenses should stop down to. But somehow it's not the same. I just love my 50mm and think it's many a photographer's best kept secret.

Quiet Focus

My sister and a good friend of mine use baking as a stress relief. I tend to find the eating of their goodies to be MY stress relief! Why baking? I think it's got to do with the focus, the concentration on something, and blocking out the rest of the world in the process.

I  find my true Quiet in nature,  escaping entirely from the noisy busy world. That's Quiet that surrounds you. As a teen, I used to go for long walks with my dogs, in the hills above the small town where I lived. Otherwise, every opportunity I had, I'd get to the beach. That soothing rhythm of the crashing waves always cleared my soul, and brought me back to base.

But when you cannot surround yourself entirely with that kind of soothing quiet, where is your Quiet then? One way of finding it, is doing what my baking companions do: block out your surroundings and focus on something. Whether it be reading a book, or meditating, or writing down your dreams on a scrap of paper - so blocking out the world around you and turning your focus somewhere specific is another way of finding Quiet.

I've realised that, that's what I do behind the camera. I go into this zone, where I am able to block out all the noise and just focus on the image. Sorry girls, were you talking to me?
(When I'm shooting for a client I actually have to constantly remind myself to communicate with them, smile, and include them in my world! :) )

So, when you're communicating visually, how do you get that soul-cleansing, focussed QUIET into your images?  How do you block your ears to the rest of the world in a visual way?
It's the same thing isn't it? Blocking out the rest of the world and focussing on one thing. Isolating your subject from all the noise around them. Making them stand out.

With the camera that often means aperture. Take down your aperture, blur the irrelevant part and you're left with the essence - that Quiet Focus. (See Insider Tips )

It can be a noisy kids party, but you blur everyone except the birthday girl, and for a second you're able to isolate her moment, feel her inner voice. It's magical isn't it?

How do you block out the rest of the world? Where do you find your Quiet Focus? Do you have some Quiet images you've taken that you'd like to share?
Write to me in the comments below.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Quiet Light

This morning I woke up to blue skies and sunlight! That meant icy sparkly frost. So I grabbed the Yapper and my telephoto lens and headed out to the forest in search for some Quiet.

Morning and evening light have a natural quietness about them. The way the light skims the surface of the earth at those times, means that light often reflects in all kinds of directions creating a soft haze. Just the atmospheric light I love!

This morning the sparkly frost and icy air had faded all colour, as the world slowly awoke. I wanted a little more colour, so I changed my colour setting to "Landscape", which increases the intensity of colour slightly.

Early morning light usually has a cold bluey tinge to it, before the sunrise casts its warm glow. I kept that colour tone in the first image below, but thereafter I decided to warm everything up, by changing my White Balance to the "Shady" setting, which tends to give one warmer tones.
And then I wandered around and paused to play in the quiet light.


Lens: Telephoto 70 - 300mm Sigma
ISO: varied between 100 and 800
Colour setting: LANDSCAPE
White Balance: Shady
Aperture: 4.5 most of the time
Speed: varied

Saturday, 18 January 2014

finding QUIET

It's a new year and honestly I've had quite a few blocks to work through to get back here.

I jumped right in there, joined an online photography group, got tons of inspiration and tasks to conquer, then I tackled the first one and BANG! It was YUCK! My balloon didn't pop it exploded! (Why don't my balloons have thicker skins?)

At the same time I've been doing some personal soul-searching as one does at the beginning of a new year. Up and down, back and forth - you'd get sea-sick inside my head.

And now? Well, first I have to confess that I'm an Image-Addict and what could be the greatest drug for an Image-Addict? Oh, yes!!! PINTEREST!!! (you have to try it if you haven't yet! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!)
SO? ...Well, I was on Pinterest today when I saw a beautiful page called QUIET. It's filled with lovely peaceful images. They were calling me. I wanted to go there - crawl into my Mac and just bask in it. I wanted to be a part of that QUIET. I want to take those images.

At that moment (and I'm not exaggerating) the nearby church bells started clanging, an ambulance's siren went off and a second set of bells started to compete with the first. I had to close the windows, so that I could have some peace and enjoy the images! I really hadn't asked for a sign, but I think I've found my next photo-challenge.


Maybe I can find inner peace, by going backwards and searching for outer peace first? :) It will be a challenge, between running after kids, telling them to stop bickering, dealing with a yapping dog, trying to explain to my youngest that by putting her voice on repeat she is still not getting what she wants...

PAUSE. Do you remember what it's like to have that QUIET moment? Just with yourself.
Where you hideaway and stop everything. Be quiet. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and relax.
Just a moment, a couple of minutes to gather yourself together. To remember who you are and what you want, before you tackle what lies ahead? It's so easy to lose yourself in everyone else's demands and find yourself wearing thin. Maybe it's time to invest in those couple of minutes again.

Want to help me capture that QUIET?
Do you know where you'd find it?

Here's my inspiration Pinterest Page:
And some more:

Tell me what you think! Send me a comment below.