What to shoot with your camera this month


1 Travel far & wide

No matter where you roam, amazing shots can always be found. Go searching for the perfect photo just like Riccardo Masut.
“The beautiful Lake Braies lies at the foot of the rock wall of the Croda del Becco, and is one of the deepest lakes in the Italian province of Bolzano, with a maximum depth of 36m. It's a popular tourist destination because of both the intensely blue colour of its waters and the vibrant scenery all around it.
  “I was on holiday near the lake with my family and knew that I wanted to take a shot there. Most of the photos of this location are taken from the same spot, so I decided to walk around the lake in search of inspiration. There's a small wooden house with a jetty that juts out, which looked like the perfect place.
 “Using a 14mm lens and my Nikon D750 I was able to capture the vast beauty of both the lake and the magnificent mountains. Including my legs gave me the opportunity to try and draw my viewers into the scene as much as possible. I think my main photographic goal at the moment is to be able to return to this magical lake as many times as I possibly can.”

Magnificent landscapes like this lake deserve to be shown off in all their glory. Use a wide-angle lens like a 14mm for incredible results.


2 Zoom in with a telephoto lens

Landscape photography is typically associated with a wide-angle lens, but sometimes showing off as much of the landscape as possible isn't what's going to get you the best results. Why not zoom in on the smaller details like photographer Dino Marsango (500px.com/dinom), who used a 70-300mm lens to capture a stunning landscape from the other side of a valley.
 “Photography is one of my favourite hobbies, but I also love combining it with another passion of mine - hiking. When I'm exploring the mountains I always get caught up in the amazing feeling of being on top of the world. I quickly realised that taking photos of these places meant I could capture this feeling and enjoy it again at a later time.
 “My favourite lens to shoot landscapes with is usually a wide-angle 16-34mm f/4. However, this picture required a 70-300mm lens, as the house was on the other side of the valley and too far away to be shown in all of its glory with a wide-angle. I also used a sturdy tripod to ensure that any chance of camera shake was eliminated.
 “I feel very lucky to live so close to the photographic wonders of the Dolomites in Italy, and for me weekends are a chance to get away from it all and take some photographs. I'll also do some postprocessing in the evenings, usually using Luminosity mask techniques in Photoshop.”
 Follow Dino's lead when you're in an epic location by zooming in with a telephoto lens to create amazing images based around small details.  

Above Use a 70-300mm lens to zoom in on the most dynamic part of the shot.

To produce saturated colours in a scene like this, use the Vibrance Tool in Photoshop. This will help stop bright colours from oversaturating. 


3 Employ nature's hues

Make the most of the brighter weather and colourful flowers that should be blooming by now, by heading outside for a portrait shoot with a difference. Alexandra Bochkareva coupled these arresting sunflowers with her model for striking results.
 “I shot this photograph last year in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia. I'd organised a portrait shoot, and since it was a warm day, my model, Polina, and I headed outside. We didn't have to go far too before we stumbled across a great location, as we found these amazing sunflowers just a few streets from my house.”
 “I immediately wanted to incorporate them into the shoot, as they reminded me of my childhood, when we had lots of them in our garden. They also worked really well with Polina's dress, which was covered in a bright sunflower print.”
 “When it came to post-processing, I wanted to make the portrait not only bright and contrasting, but dramatic too. First I opened the image in Adobe Camera Raw and enhanced the exposure, blacks and whites. I then boosted the colours and atmosphere. I used frequency separation for retouching the curves, and applied colour grading. After all the colour work, I added some scratches and dust textures, and made the portrait a little bit darker.”


4 Capture colourful candids

Time spent waiting - and planning - for the opportune moment is rarely time wasted. Bill Sherman found the opportunity for his perfect shot after scouting out a location multiple times beforehand.
 “This image was taken at the Apple Store in Manhattan, New York City. I'd visited the store several times without my camera, so I already knew that I wanted to take a picture of the dynamic glass staircase that runs through it.
 “It's always awkward taking pictures in a shop, as people tend to stare. It's more acceptable shooting with a smartphone, so my Nikon D600 drew some curious looks.
 “The staircase is in the store's front corner, which has glass walls to the outside, letting in streams of sunlight. I was expecting the mixture of natural and artificial light to be a bit of a challenge, but in this case it turned into an advantage, and I really enjoyed working with it.
 “I wanted to capture an image from below, so that I could catch people climbing the stairs. This gave a pleasant blurring effect, as I focused on the steps themselves rather than the figures. The way the light fell, with the top half being artificially lit from inside and the bottom half from outside, provided the wonderful colour gradation that makes this shot so successful.”
 When you can't physically move any closer, a zoom lens can help perfect your composition. Bill's 24-120mm lens gave him the added versatility he needed and allowed him to easily frame his shot.

Above Using a shutter speed of 1/400sec will allow you to freeze your subjects completely. This is perfect for taking candids.

Unusual colours can give abstract shots like this an extra edge. Search for interesting contrasts to create a visually dynamic image



5 Find your focus

Using a wide aperture to produce deliberate blur can create stunning photographs that will wow your viewers. However, apertures like f/2.8 can be tricky when you're working with a specific focal plane that you need to keep tack sharp. Fortunately, with a little bit of practice and careful attention to detail they can create some amazing results. Use blur to your advantage, just like African photographer and Instagram influencer Nana Ampofo.
 “This image forms a part of an ongoing project that experiments with transparency, perspective and depth-of-field by using various glass props. In the past, I've used different sized crystal balls and even an hourglass. I'll often choose cliché locations for these images, in an attempt to bring a new perspective to old and familiar images.
 “Like crystal balls, magnifying glasses have been used to great effect by many photographers I've stumbled across and ended up following on Instagram. It was only a matter of time until I added one of my own to my set of props. On a recent trip to Sydney I came across this particular magnifying glass and it was love at first sight.
 “The trickiest part of the image was getting a clear and in-focus centre to the shot. Magnifying glasses are really quite capricious! It took me a couple of attempts before I was finally able to get the desired effect.
 “On this occasion the lighting turned out to be perfect for what I had in mind. Choosing an overcast morning at around sunrise definitely helped to turn the odds in my favour.”
 Using a wide aperture like f/2.8 allowed Nana to achieve a shallow depth-of-field that draws sharp attention to the crisp and clear centre of the image. This technique works best when you have an easily recognisable background. If your viewers have to squint to figure out exactly what it is that's outside of the tack-sharp magnifying glass, then the effect simply won't be as good.

Above 1 Switch your camera to Live View and zoom in.  
Above 2 Then adjust your focus by using the manual focus ring.
Above 3 Use a fast shutter speed like 1/250sec.


6 Use eye-catching designs

Impressive architecture can provide amazing images, like this shot by Tim Cornbill.
 “Arriving in Berlin on a bright summer's day, my wife and I decided to take a morning walk along the River Spree. We soon came across a large concrete building and I found myself instantly struck by its scale. I positioned myself across the river and laid in wait. A couple walked into the viewfinder and I simultaneously noticed the cyclist out of the corner of my eye. I waited for her to ride into the frame before hitting the shutter. I tried to balance the composition while keeping in mind that this shot would work well in a square crop.”
 “This image was really all about timing. Not only was I lucky with the path of my subjects, but the brilliant weather and the time of day also proved to be really important as well. Concrete is an organic material in a lot of ways, as it reacts to its conditions and takes on colours and shadows depending on the lighting and climate. On a dry and bright day, like the one in this image, it's light and almost reflective, making it the ideal backdrop.”

Above Use a wide focal length like 20mm to capture large architectural structures.


7 Blend the past & future

New and old technologies merge in this fun technique by Amelie Roy.
 “The goal of this project was to symbolise what photography is today - a perfect mix of film and digital. This is why I chose to bring together my favourite Polaroids and a screen.
 “My second motivation was being able to get the magnificent memories that I captured with my Fujifilm Instax Wide film out of their dusty box and give them a second life. In my opinion, this is proof that vintage and digital pictures are indivisible.
 “I used my Canon 5D MkIII and a 50mm f/1.4 lens for this high-angle shot. The most difficult part was perfectly aligning the picture I took beforehand on my iPhone with the Polaroid behind it.”

Above A 50mm lens has the least amount of distortion possible, making it perfect for still life.


8 Mask your subject

Searching for your subject's identity is a common motif in portrait photography, but for Jessica Lia it's the central theme of her work.
 “In A Room of One's Own Virginia Woolf wondered, 'Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.' This series of images is somewhat inspired by this line. I wanted to portray the anonymity of women, how they're always behind a mask imposed by society and history. I feel that the idealised form of womankind can represent everything holy and sinful, but nothing in-between.
 “This photograph is my way of exploring these ideas through my camera. The female figure in the shot isn't visible, but is wrapped in myths and fantasy. However, the motion of the fabric shows that the woman is trying to break free, just as women today are stepping away from the pre-conceived notions of how they should look and behave.”


9 Shoot a city on the move

When you think of long exposures, your mind will instantly jump to tripods. However, Alan Humphris created this surreal image handheld.
 “About ten years ago I was feeling dissatisfied with my photography. I felt like there was something missing from my images, so I decided that some experimentation was in order. I wanted to shoot photos that didn't capture what the scene looked like, but what it felt like. I do this by shooting the constant motion of the street and capturing the ghostly, dream-like impressions that everyday life leaves for us when we're not paying attention to what's going on.”
 “The shots are taken using long exposures of up to 5 seconds. During the day I use ND filters and will keep my camera moving, often following one subject in particular.”

Tips An ND filter will cut out sunlight for long exposures.



10 Find contrast

Shoots may not always go to plan, but a disappointing day can still provide wonderful opportunities. Lionel Du Plessis discovered this when shooting in South Africa. “I took this image in the car park of a hotel on the outskirts of Tzaneen. It wasn't the shot I wanted, as I'd actually planned the trip around a completely different image entirely. I'd just unpacked the car when I passed this little palm grove. The striking gold of the dying palm leaf against the other leaves was too beautiful to ignore, so I had to immediately take a photo.”

Add new comment