I will try to reach everyone here today, like thispatriarch is trying to do, and not leave anyone out -by covering lighting, subjects, composition, color,and photo impact.
Although some day I would like to try alarge format camera, what I have right nowis a Pentax K10D SLR. All my close upphotos that you will see were taken with a100 mm Macro lens from Vivatar. The restare with my Pentax 18-250 mm zoom lens.
The material I will be covering is not that difficult. It’s not likeshoe inspection at the Shaolin Temple or starting your own country.
Some people are quite attached to theirhomes and do not venture out much whentaking photos. I have worked at home for thelast 32 years and am quite home-oriented.
By “home” photos I mean here your houseand its immediate surroundings—your yard,driveway, the sidewalk in front, if you haveone, etc. Of course there will be a range in the size andstyle of people’s homes.
Some of us have homes that a real estateagent would describe as having “charm”.These can make for interesting photos fromthe outside.
Some of us have homes with great views, and wecan take interesting photos of the outdoors withouteven stepping outside.
Some homes have really superb views, withgreat photo possibilities.
Some homes give the phrase “tree house” a new meaning
You may have a mobile home, in which case yourview out the window could be changing every day, or you may live in a jar at the circus. It is hard to cover all possible home situ- ations in this talk, but we will try.
Before we go inside your house or look atthe yard, let us linger for a moment on pho-tos that might have the house itself as a sub-ject, or sights you might see right outside.We should never underestimate the potentialof our immediate surroundings.
giraffe Even an apartment dweller may find an interest-ing sight just by looking out the window. If your apartment complex has a pool there could be an interesting photo about that.
A house under duress, in the winter, or after somedamage, may make for an interesting photo.
When youtake a photooutdoors it isusually agood idea totry to makethe horizonexactly hori-zontal. But not al-ways.
I could not resist including this imagefrom the internet. Free associating when youview images is a good way to keep your mindflexible. Whoever came up with this captionwas really inspired.
Here is one of my own photos from a fewyears ago, in front of my house. The fence andits shadows made an interesting pattern on thesnow. I boosted the contrast some and fiddledwith the photo to optimize its appearance.
A home can providemore good sights out-side than you mightthink. You might beable to catch animalseating from your trashcans, or living in a treeoutside.
You might see, in your yard, a deer eating asnowman’s carrot nose, or some other photo-worthy deer scene.
Here is one of my photos, of a cardinal in my back-yard. The burst of color from the bird makes it standout prominently from the bland background. Thebusy foreground at least is not immediately behindthe bird, which would be distracting.
Here is a closeup, with a telephoto lens, of anothercardinal in my backyard. I always cheat with pho-tos like this and enhance the bird’s eye to make itstand out more. It adds a lot of life to the photo.
I took this telephoto shot of a tiny chickadeein my backyard because I liked its assertivestance—sort of “here I am, world”
In any wildlife photo you want the back-ground to be simple and not distracting.This may require you to move around someto get a better taking position. This tele-photo shot of a hummingbird out of myback window is simple and colorful.
Birds watching bird-watchers can also bea good photo opportunity.
Animal photos can be interesting, like thisunexpected appearance of the Turtle Godsin one’s driveway.
If some unusual wildlife turns up in yourbackyard it can make for a good photo.But for more mundane appearances youneed to have something novel, like a inter-esting taking angle or a closeup or an im-plied mini-story in the photo.
Here is a telephoto shot I took right outsidemy kitchen window. The dynamic posegives impact to this photo, as the squirrelpeers right out of the picture frame towardsus. As usual, I enhanced the eye some togive more of a highlight to the eye pupil.
The squirrels in my yard are very goodat getting at the seeds in my bird feeder.
You never know what will turn up just bylooking out your window.
Even someone walking their dog outsideyour house might be a photo-op.
Looking out your window you might seean interesting sight, like the arrival in yourneighborhood of termites. A vigilant eyeis always a plus in photography.
Unusual pet photos can be interesting, butit is hard to do much with a typical dog orcat, since that is such an overworked sub-ject.
Maybe your cat hates music. It’s always betterto show a pet doing something instead of just astatic portrait.
Even if it is just a shot of your cat watchingthe “Mouseketeers” on TV, that is better than asimple portrait of the animal. Maybe you havepet playdates with your friends, for a photo op.
Or you could be doingsomething with your pet,like giving it a bath.
Or grooming it. I assume you have a sep-arate toothbrush for yourself.
A closeup ofyour pet,with somecropping,can make foran interest-ing image.
With pet photos you want to avoiddistracting backgrounds, like here. It isalso too symmetrical a composition.
If you have a home aquarium that can pro-vide some nice photos, but the lighting is criti-cal. Your camera must take into account fluo-rescent lighting, if that is what you are using,to get the color balance to come out right.Some Photoshop fiddling can also compensatefor lighting particulars. I took this with a mac-ro lens.
If your pets have pets of their own, then thatcan make for an unusual photo opportunity. I don’t have any pets so I try to find wildlife right around my own yard, like bugs.
Extreme closeups of spiders can show somebeautiful colors and patterns. I only use day-light for all of my photos, so it can be tricky toget both good exposure and enough depth offocus. Also the background should not be busyor distracting.
Here the web anchor adds some interestand makes it look like a circus acrobat isabout to start a high-wire act. I have en-hanced the colors and contrast here to bringout detail.
My “homeland security” photo was taken onthe side of my house.
Bees in your yard can make an interesting macro lensshot, and also have the beauty of a flower for the back-ground. This is actually a bee that I caught, put in myfreezer for about 10 minutes, to slow down its metabo-lism to a crawl, and then I posed it on the flower. Af-ter I took a few shots the bee warmed up and flewaway. This trick does not work as well for pets orpeople.
Here is a photo that I set up with a deadbee and some toy soldiers, in my backyard.
Wildlife photos grab your attention in a way thatshots of plants can never do. For botany photosyou need lots of great beauty or interesting designelements.
A botany type of photo will never have theimpact of more animated life scenes, so wehave to try harder.
This mushroom complex has appealing designelements and a nice combination of color andshadows. I took this when the sun gave goodshadows, and time of day is always important.
Texture can provide interest even if there isno color or other design elements to liven upthe composition. This old sawn tree stumphas patterns of grain and saw marks that giveit a geometrical kind of detail. I cropped myphoto to give a better composition.
If you poke around in your back yard youmight find some interesting odds and ends.
You might have some milkweed in yourbackyard and that can make for nice autumnphotos. It is tricky to get the right kind oflighting and background to give all of the fo-cus on the foreground, as I did here.
Milkweed seeds make for very interestingphotos, if you have them in your yard. I tookthis at just the right stage of the pod opening.
The seeds and their billowy “wings” can bequite beautiful, as in my macro shot here..
This crabapple scene from my front yardwas tricky to set up so that the backgroundwould not be distracting. A macro lensgave the good depth of field.
Water on leaves can make for a nice pic-ture and you only have to step outside yourhouse to find it. As usual, lighting and back-ground control are key for a good photo.
At the right time of year frosty leaves inyour yard can provide for a beautiful com-position. The frost may be from overnightand quickly vanish once the sun comes up.
Hasta leavesgive geomet-rical patternsThat can bequite strik-ing.
A morning glory inmy back yard givesdifferent images atdifferent times ofday, as the floweropens up and thencloses.
Fuschia can provide dramatic shapes and colors.
Of course a flower garden is always a greatsource of images, like my photo here.
You might have lots of roses, like thisSouthport home, and then you can get a nicecomposition with a fence and the large diag-onal of the fence broken up by the narrowverticals. Outdoor photos like this are quitedependent on the time of day for the bestlighting.
Your cleaning lady with a casual comehither look, like this Renoir odalisque, givescharacter and interest to a candid photo What you don’t want is to have a boring photo.
A candid photo of a reaction to a gift canmake for a lot of human interest.
Family gatherings may make some goodphoto opportunities, especially if people aredoing something interesting.
It can be hard to think of good ideas for homephotos when you have other things on your mind.
Your bedside readingmight inspire an ideafor a photo. I tookthis damsel fly photosome years ago. It isa simple image with alot of impact. My 100 mm macro lens lets me be pretty far away from the bug, so that it doesn’t get spooked by the camera.
If your business is based out of your home,like this mohel (Jewish circumciser), youcould take a photo that is work-related.
You may have a home hobby that would leadto an interesting photo.
Pets sometimes seem almost human, so maybeyou can catch something of that in a photo.
The potential for exciting photos is much less in-door so we have to have different goals.
Indoor photography usually is just not all thatexciting so we have to work a little harder.
One source of good ideas for home photos isto look for a perspective or taking position thatis different from how you normally see things.
Another possibility is to look for interest-ing lighting effects, like these two of mine.
I took this photo because I liked the way thatthe straight edges of the blinds became wavycurves when their shadows and bands of lightfell onto the semi-transparent curtains. Thisshot only lasted like this for a short time andchanged quickly as the sun moved in the sky.
I took this photo because of the simple shapesand shadows and single color—my favorite, blue.
You can experiment with lighting to create amood, like my cozy bedroom photo.
Light itself can be your subject, like theseburner flames on my stove in a dark room.
You can try to be creative and make clever ar-rangements of common items, like your daily doseof your various pills. (these are not mine)
You can create pretty color combinations and shapes.
Sex always has impact so you can look for asexy arrangement of some objects, like fruit, orfind something like my sexy tomato here -where I found a taking position and cropping toemphasize the voluptuous curves and sexycreases of this baby. It is almost an indecentphoto!
Fruit can make for interesting compositions,Which orientation looks most phallic?
Of course if you have a nude painting in your homethat is sexier still, but you can still get some sexy imagesfrom vegetables like my curvaceous tomato.
You can play with fruit and vegetables,like this saxophone I made from a pineapple,squash, pineapple slices, and tomatoes.Then I added in the notes at the top with mycomputer.
The internet has some interesting imagesof fooling around with food.
You don’t have to get fancy—a simplestill life can make a good photo if the com-position is pleasing and there are colors andtextures to give it interest. The apples hereare on a piece of black felt.
Squash come in an amazing variety ofshapes and colors. They can be shot sin-gly, as I did with like this one or in inter-esting groups.
Sometimes just part of a fruit or vegetablemakes for the best photo, like the way Icropped my picture of this squash.
You can pair a still life with a painting,as I did with these onions and a Renoirprint of onions.
Extreme closeups of food, with a macro-lens, can give photos that you are not usedto seeing. I took this one of a cut tangerineand really like all the detail and 3D depththat you see here. The fruit was on a pieceof black felt.
You can playwith your foodand that mightlead to somecreative photos.
Humor and food can make a nice pair but ittakes a lot of creativity to pull off somethinggood.
Human/food interactions can get bizarre.Try some playful experiments and see whatyou can come up with.
A keen eye can spot “faces” in flowers oreven whole people, like my “Dancing OrchidLadies” here. They are quite tiny— lessthan 1/2 inch—and you have to look closelyto notice something like this.
In addition to seeing imagined life wherethere is none, you can set up situations whereyou yourself create a suggestive scene—likemy “The Gossips” photo here. I carefully ar-ranged the cactus flowers and camera angle sothat it looks like the two stamens are talking.
Of courseflowersalwaysmake forgoodhomephotos.
I prefer extreme closeups of flowers, likethis center of an African Violet blossom.It looks like a Georgia O’Keefe painting.
You may have an indoor fern. Alwayskeep an eye out for interesting geometricalpatterns, as I did here. Usually this will re-quire cropping out much of the plant andjust featuring the best part.
A black background, like dark felt, providesa lot of impact to a flower photo. Lightingis still important. I took this photo with nat-ural sunlight, falling on the flowers.
The artists among us can try getting creativewith some drawing, for a funny home photo.
My wife is an avid knitter. I took a photoof some of her yarn and knitting needles,then flipped one quadrant of the photo overa few times (with the computer) to makethis symmetrical mirror-image arrangement.
Of course Photoshop can do wonders for yourphotos, but you want to start out, at least, witha good eye in order to get the best results. Nocomputer program can match a good eye forproducing great photos.
We all know how the human eye works. Payingclose attention to your surroundings, while lookingfor good home photos, means reducing the amountof time that the little man here leaves his post togo to the refrigerator or the bathroom.
We just have 2 eyes so we need to usethem carefully when looking around for goodphoto opportunities. Woody Allen oncewrote about a mythical beast with 40,000eyes—20,000 for distance and 20,000 forreading.
You may find yourself of empty of new ideas,like this “Innovation” barge here, but often justwalking around in your home or yard with akeen eye can prompt some new photo possibili-ties. Look for geometric patterns, unusual tak-ing positions, novel color combinations, etc.
You would be surprised how many good photoopportunities there are right around the home.
Even stacked laundry can make an interesting photo
Right outside your front window youmight see cars having sex—a great photoop. They usually only do this at night,so this is a rare picture.
You could try to capture something inmotion. A fast shutter speed and flashmay still require many tries before youare happy with the results.
It took me over 200 shots to get this precise moment. Quite a challenge!
This photo catches water drops from my kitchensink spray, with a vase in the background.
You might want to try a photo in your homethat involves water in some way.
Or maybe you have water on your propertyand want to use that for some shots.
Here is an exercise to try. Take somehome photos that involve one or more ofthese themes. Water or liquid in some form Captured motion Unusual perspective or taking position Unusual lighting effects Geometrical patterns Still-life of flowers, fruit, or vegetables Views from the home Yard scenes Portraits or candid shots
For the nextmeeting take 6photos aroundthe home oryour yard andsend them toBill Balch.