Following Ansel & Lisa’s Key Largo, FL wedding, Joy & I (along with our partners in action, the Princes) decided it would be a shame to be so close to the beach & not stay for a few days. We’re strategic like that! So… we planned beforehand to spend the remainder of the week at Pompano Beach. We had little scheduled with the exception of lounging by the ocean, catching up on reading, eating great seafood, & taking lots of pictures. It was perfect!
Although we were on vacation, I’m kind of a big nerd & can rarely sleep past 7:30am. Wait, speaking of big nerds, Ryan Prince spent the majority of vacation reading the unabridged version of the classic, The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas. Folks, we’re talking over 1300 pages; he’s a certified geek. And, while I’m off subject, if you want one of the best sandwiches you’ve ever imagined, try the Monte Cristo at the Spot of Tea in Mobile, AL; grab a glass of Strawberry Sweet Tea while you’re at it. You can thank me later (& you will)! I digress. Yes, even though I’m on vacation I usually wake up before 7am, usually 6:15 or so. I haven’t always been this way but realized shortly after college that I can accomplish more between the hours of 6am-9am than I can between 9am-2pm. I try to be disciplined & wake up early. There are less interruptions & generally speaking, my mind is most focused during these hours. Not to mention, the early morning lighting is perfect for natural light photography!!
You’ve likely heard it before that the prime hours for photography are the few hours following sunrise & before sunset. There is a reason. First, the lighting is not as harsh resulting in relatively no shadows cascading from objects. It’s the same as over-cast days; it’s as though God hooked you up with a sky-sized softbox. Praise-a-lujah! Second, you can generally see a hue of colors throughout the sky that aren’t generally visible during other hours. Third, the weather is generally more mild. Don’t you just love the feeling of the cool morning air?! I could go on but you get the point.
Somewhat regularly, I am asked questions pertaining to photography. People have cameras but don’t necessarily understand much beyond the Full-Auto mode. I am asked such things as “How do you focus on your subject & let the background blur?”, “What’s the difference between a shutter speed & an aperture?”, “What is an ISO?”, “How do you photograph landscapes?”, “How do you photograph children?”, “How do you shoot without using a flash?”, “What editing software do you recommend?”, & etc. Therefore, I thought it may be beneficial to address these types of questions as they arise. Along the way, I will refer you to many fantastic photographers & friends who have tackled similar subjects well beyond my ability to do so.
I thought it appropriate to begin with an area that many pro photographer friends of mine seem to constantly affirm… shooting landscapes. And, it gives me a reason to post some of my recent favorite landscapes from Pompano Beach.
Aside from my suggestion to getting your booty out of bed early & arranging your evening schedule to catch the hours before sunrise, there’s certainly an art to photographing landscapes. Let me put a few thoughts out there for you:
The Rule of Thirds: Essentially, this rule breaks an image down into thirds, both vertically & horizontally, resulting in 9 squares. When you frame (or compose) your shot, there are certain places you should put your “points of interest” or “subject.” When doing so, it adds balance to your image & makes it more interesting. For a helpful article check out, check out Darren Rowse over at Digital Photography School, click here. Notice on the image below that the pier is in the lower third of the image (horizontal) yet I’ve framed the lifeguard stand on the right third (vertical). [ISO 100, 50mm, f/16, 1/10]
Exposure: Exposure can be somewhat subjective. One photographer wants the foreground exposed, the other wants the background, & then the spoiled want both (especially those HDR guys!). It’s different for differing styles of photography. For example, when I shoot weddings & portraits, I generally could care less about the background. I want the subject (in this example, bride & groom) to be be exposed properly. In the image below, I thought it would be cool to expose for the sun & sky while allowing the pier to silhouette. If I would’ve exposed for the pier, the sky would’ve washed out & you would not have been able to see the details in the sky. [ISO 50, 50mm, f/16, 1/25]
Aperture: Depending on what you are wanting to capture affects what aperture you choose. Simply put, aperture is a term that describes how wide or narrow the lens opens. This affects what part of the image stays in focus. It almost deals exclusively with your lens not your camera body. Many people, when referring to aperture, use the term depth-of-field. Explaining aperture is an entire blog post within itself (I promise to do so soon!). In short, if you want very little to be in focus, with the exception of the subject, you want a big aperture (low number… f/1.2, 2.0, etc.). In contrast, if you want everything to be equally in focus, you are looking for a small aperture (high number… f/16, 20, etc.). A helpful article you may want to check out is everyone’s favorite cowgirl, Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman, who wrote two blog posts entitled “What the Heck is an Aperture?” For the image below I wanted everything to be in focus so I chose to shoot at f/22. [ISO 50, 24mm, f/22, 1/6]
Of course there is much more to keep in mind & there’s a ton of things I failed to include. For beginners, I highly recommend purchasing a nice tripod & head. All of the above images were shot using a tripod. And, it’s beneficial to read the manuals that come with your camera & lens. On down the road, I will spend some discussing additional principles of photography including aperture, shutter speed, shooting modes, ISO, focal length, editing software, etc. In the meantime, if you know anyone that might find this article beneficial, please pass it on. And, if you have any questions, feel free to ask & I’ll respond as soon as I can. Thanks friends, enjoy!!!