Learn With Me: Photography, Week 2


I am loving this new interest in photography, and it seems I’m not alone, as several of you joined in with me, too – thanks! Last week, thanks to Em’s tips, I started to have fun with it, experiment and focus on a project. It’s week two, and we have a lesson in perspective today, from Mama H at Thursday’s Child, Friday’s Thoughts….

beginner's photography guide to perspectivePerspective

I always loved taking pictures, but in a snap away on a point and shoot kind of way. I took the odd photo that was what I would now describe as “really great” but most of my images caught the moment and nothing more. They were memories, pins in the board, but not things to print or frame. The result is that I have just that of E in her early days: Lots of pictures, which of course I love, but no pictures I felt all that proud of and wanted to display. So, 18 months ago, I bought a new camera. A step up. And quickly that got upgraded too. My Canon and I have been sharing the love for just over a year now, and I’ve learned so much about photography in that time. I am by no means professional. I’m just passionate about beautiful pictures. I’ve done the odd shoot for friends, and the camera goes pretty much everywhere with me. And we carry on learning.

So I’m thrilled to by writing about how perspective in photography can – in my opinion – really make an image. A lot of what I have to say will relate to my most photographed subject – my daughter – but the ‘rules’ apply to whatever it is you’re capturing.

Firstly, I’d like to nip in the bud the “oh but you have an expensive camera” kind of comments. Yes, expensive cameras can take good images. But there are plenty of people who are taking stunning images on their iPhones. And plenty of people with expensive cameras who use them in automatic and take rubbish photos because they don’t think about the composition of their image. Rant over.

One of the first things I noticed when I started reading more about photography and starting to analyse images more closely was the perspective of where images were taken from, and how that was different to where I might typically stand when I took a picture. And I noticed that pictures that I had taken of things low down, ie the dogs, my baby, children playing, were all taken from above. Now of course, that captures a lot of memories exactly how we, as grownups, see what’s going on, and you could argue that that’s probably how we should capture the memory. But what it actually results in is lots of pictures of the dog’s back, and lots of missed facial expressions. When I was taking pictures at friends’ weddings, I was capturing the smiles and the happiness on the couple’s faces, but I was missing the heartwarming bits, like the holding of newly married hands, or the shoes that the bride was showing off. When we’re taking pictures of our new additions, we take pictures of them, but forget about their features that don’t stay for too long as newborns. Essentially, I was capturing what was going on at or from c. 5’ 8” tall as I could see it when I walked in and nothing else. Sometimes I was so intent on capturing something in particular, which left with a dull, flat image… I know now not to be afraid of things that might be out of focus in the foreground, as these will add some depth to a photograph.

Toddler in swing taken from 5'8ish

Toddler in swing taken from 5’8ish

Toddler in swing taken from toddler height. Here I can see more of what I want to see - her lovely face!

Toddler in swing taken from toddler height. Here I can see more of what I want to see – her lovely face!

Toddler swinging taken at toddler height

Toddler swinging taken at toddler height

Toddler swinging taken from ground level. In the swinging pictures, she's swinging at exactly the same height, but here she looks like she's swinging far higher and makes her look far more of a daredevil!

Toddler swinging taken from ground level. In the swinging pictures, she’s swinging at exactly the same height, but here she looks like she’s swinging far higher and makes her look far more of a daredevil!

Newly wedded Mummy Morkus: A sneaky shot - and the out of focus buck's fizz glass and someone's hair in the foreground give it a much more candid feel, as well as some depth

Newly wedded Mummy Morkus: A sneaky shot – and the out of focus buck’s fizz glass and someone’s hair in the foreground give it a much more candid feel, as well as some depth

So, I charge you to take your camera and try at least one of the following things. Perhaps try capturing something as you would have done normally, and then see how you can retell the story, or get a different perspective.

1) Change your height. Get down on the floor, or go and stand on something. Lean against a tree to steady yourself half way down. Pictures of children playing are more magical when they’re taken at a child’s height; you see more face and less hair and you feel part of the action. Changing your height also really changes the story too, or changes who could be telling the story. Be adventurous and enjoy that in the days of digital you can never take too many photos.

Jasper the dog from above - a rare moment of obedience

Jasper the dog from above – a rare moment of obedience

Jasper from Jasper level - you don't appreciate the wisdom of his eyes from any other angle

Jasper from Jasper level – you don’t appreciate the wisdom of his eyes from any other angle

Toddler baking, taken from table height

Toddler baking, taken from table height

2) Sometimes, in order to change your height, you also have to change your clothes (ooh-err). And by that I mean accept that you’re going to get mucky. Muddy knees and elbows from getting down on the ground, or a bruised bum from slipping off a damp tree trunk. Some of my favourite pictures from a toddler shoot I did came from me getting in the sand pit with them while they threw sand everywhere. I had to go home and wash my hair before I could go to the party I’d been invited to in the afternoon! Put yourself somewhere you wouldn’t normally to capture the moment, and apologise to the owner of the flowerbed you ended up crouching in afterwards.

Poppy and Max enjoy the sand pit. I took a lot of sand pit home that day.

Poppy and Max enjoy the sand pit. I took a lot of sand pit home that day.

3) Get right in. Zoom in, take pictures of hands, accessories, shoes, wrinkly toes, little paws, a baby bump, that first experience feeling something new. They tell a story too, and you don’t always need to see everything to understand what was happening.

Get right in and catch details

Get right in and catch details

This picture is all about the tactile, so her hands were more important than her face.

This picture is all about the tactile, so her hands were more important than her face.

Three week old baby toes sock fluff and all. They don't stay like this for long.

Three week old baby toes sock fluff and all. They don’t stay like this for long.

I find myself in all kinds of places, not always advisable heavily pregnant, I imagine, and looking a bit silly sometimes when I’m taking photos. I once saw a pin on Pinterest about how a photoshoot is like a workout, and they were right. Stretches, squats, lunges, balancing on one leg…. Who knew you’d be getting a better photograph and some muscle toning with this post?

My lovely friends Rach and Andy. This picture needs no explaining but captures everything it needs to.

My lovely friends Rach and Andy. This picture needs no explaining but captures everything it needs to.

Can't think what's in there!

Can’t think what’s in there!

Happy snapping!

Mother of one with another on the way. Wife, teacher, photographer, crafter and a lover of homemade, homegrown and locally sourced, not always in that order. Blogging about the ups and downs of parenting over at Thursday’s Child, Friday’s Thoughts, and tweeting as @oneformybaby12 with a penchant for talking about herself in the third person.

Thanks, Mama H! OK, I think I get this. I actually found myself experimenting with this the other day while photographing Little Man, totally by chance! So, I’ll give it a whirl, and share my snaps with you in the next post. Do link yours up, too…



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