Firstly congratulations to Vicky Inseal for winning December’s ‘Christmas’ photo challenge competition. Don’t forget this month’s winner will be announced at the start of February, so make sure you submit your entry before the closing date of 31st January to be in with a chance of winning!
For this month’s Expert Advice article our resident photographer, Phil Surbey, set himself the task of capturing the indoors.
This month’s Photo Challenge is a nice easy one for you to do! After setting you the theme ‘Christmas’ last time, not surprisingly – which I know can actually be quite challenging, not least because it’s so hard to be original – I decided to give you a bit of a break. So, I am letting you stay indoors in the warm this time round – please send me your best shot taken inside your own home.
As always, I am presenting a few illustrations here to get you in the mood, plus some information about my taking of them that I hope is also helpful. I will be judging all the pictures you send me on their composition, subject matter, interesting lighting styles and also, mood. So, let’s see what you can come up with…
I have no doubt there are loads of things in your home that you can shoot, but of course the trick here is to try to make it interesting! As you can see, I have tried to shoot my examples from interesting and graphic viewpoints, and made sure these shots were done with great lighting. Sometimes, a seemingly mundane brief can present a bigger challenge than you might think.
All my shots here were taken with my trusty LUMIX set to shoot in Raw and in the Manual mode. Some were shot with the camera mounted on a tripod, while others were handheld. Can you tell which are which just from looking? And which style do you prefer yourself? As always, I encourage you to be experimental and just go for it. Don’t settle in your comfort zone!
The shots of the cat and the shelf were both taken early on the same day, with a rising sun casting its golden glow onto the wall in my conservatory. A lovely effect, I hope you agree – always use natural light to your advantage is what I say. Obviously, a static subject is easier than a living creature that doesn’t necessarily want to pose for their portrait… but I think I got lucky here. The aperture for both shots was set to 1/200th of a second, at f2.8 and ISO 200.
My shot of my 60-year-old toy, ‘Teddy Bear’, is my personal favourite of this selection. It was lit by a single anglepoise lamp, from a position low down and with the shadows filled in by a piece of white card held above the head of the bear. Simple, but effective. Often it’s worth playing around with your setup like this until you get the effect exactly as you want it.
The beauty of modern digital photography, obviously, is that you can check instantly the results you are getting and adjust all the elements in your setup until you’re entirely happy. The teddy shot was post-processed and converted to monochrome in Photoshop. Settings: 1/4 second at f5.6 and ISO 400.
The shot of a few of my books was, again, lit by my anglepoise lamp alone, with a very graphic composition that I’m quite pleased with. Books can tell you a lot about a person, in this case yours truly, and their interests and hobbies. That’s what I mean about finding a subject within the brief that interests you – and, therefore, will hopefully interest the viewer. Perhaps your own bookshelf will be your subject to enter into this month’s competition? What other indoor hobbies or interests might inspire a great shot? Settings: 1/8th second at f5.4 and ISO 400.
Moving on to the ‘My Guitar’ shot. Well, this is one of my favourite possessions (hobbies again!) – and I just love shooting it almost as much as I do playing it. Nothing complicated about this one; the shot was lit by the light from a window, with my subject propped on a box on the floor. You can’t get much simpler a setup than that! Settings: 1/20th second at f6.3 and ISO 400. For rock’n’roll fans, the guitar is an Epiphone Riviera 1964 by the way.
Finally, the last shot here I’ve entitled ‘Man at Work’. I decided to shoot this selfie from a high viewpoint while I was judging the Christmas-themed Photo Challenge from the previous article. I used the 7-14mm lens with just the available light once again. The LUMIX was set to the 10-second shutter delay and to shoot three frames each time.
I actually took about 30 shots until I got the one I was happy with. It’s always worth getting the look and composition right – as you envisaged the shot in your head or, on especially happy occasions, better even than you had imagined. Settings: 1/10th second at f7.1 and ISO 400 again.
So, there you have it. No special camera tips and no technical stuff really this time round, just some interesting shots, I hope, and a fresh Photo Challenge issued to you! Let’s see what you can do.
I want to start the New Year with a great selection of your best shots to look carefully through, so make sure you send yours in for the chance to win a great prize.
Happy New Year everyone!