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Shooting in your own backyard

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Shooting in your own backyard

I was in Istanbul a couple of months This week on the Practicing Photographer, I'm going to talk to What I was doing there, getting stuck, and getting unstuck, Photography is a craft as much as an art and This may not sound like much, but I think it's a really good exercise.

Shooting in your own backyard

I was in Istanbul a couple of months ago sitting in the courtyard in the Blue Mosque. Does that sound obnoxious? Is that like the place equivalent of name dropping? I'm not trying to gloat or anything. I was there as part of an event and it's a beautiful, the building is incredible and there was all these people around it. It was a really spectacular location, I was sitting there and I kind of looked around and I said, there's nothing to shoot here. It was, a ridiculous thing to think, I, I was tired but still I, I really did think that, nah, nah, there's nothing to shoot here in this spectacular location in a foreign land.

And I continued to sit there, actually a little bit relieved with the idea that there was nothing to shoot there because I was off the hook. I was able to just continue to sit there and vegetate, or whatever it was I was doing. But then my eye caught a play of light on a far wall, on some you know, 12th Century stone wall, there was this beautiful splash of light and I though oh, okay I, I could take a picture of that. And I thought well, I should because, I'm a photographer and all. So I walked over there and took the picture. This week on the Practicing Photographer, I'm going to talk to you about how you can get past your, one way you can get past a block, if you're feeling like there's nothing around you that's worth taking a picture of.

In this case, I really was certain that I was in a location where there were no pictures. When I saw the splash of light, though, something changed. I went over and took a picture of it. It's not a picture that's worth talking about. But, it reminded me that, oh, light is interesting. And I began just photographing light and from that then I saw, oh, look at that woman over there, oh, look at that kid with the cell phone, oh, look at. And, I was seeing again. Light was my entry back into having my eyes open and realizing that no, no, no pictures can happen anywhere. So, I would like to challenge you with a little exercise.

What I was doing there, getting stuck, and getting unstuck, really had nothing to do with the space I was in. Yes, I was in this beautiful location, but it was internal, that was the problem. I wasn't doing the work of being a photographer. So I would like to challenge you to go out and remind yourself of the work of doing the photographer, and you don't have to go to Istanbul to do that. Go to it in your own back yard, walk on your back yard with your camera, and find some pictures. Now you may think, but there aren't any pictures in my backyard, yes there are, I promise you there are pictures in your back yard.

You have to go hunt them down. Now, here's the thing. Let yourself off the hook. You're not going to, it doesn't matter if you come back with lousy pictures. You don't have to show these pictures to anybody. There're two points to this exercise. One is to remind yourself of the fact that seeing is an active process. It is something you have to go out and do. When I was sitting there at the Blue Mosque, I was waiting for the pictures to come to me. The reason I didn't feel that there were any was because there was not a parade of elephants walking by that was obviously a picture.

Once the, I saw the light and went over and shot it, I remembered, oh, right, I have to go find them. Same way in your backyard, go find some. Now, because we're giving ourselves the out, here, of saying we don't have to come back with great pictures, some things might happen. You might come back with a great picture. You might come back with a bunch of mediocre pictures. That's okay, you're reminding yourself that it's an active process, that you have to go look for the pictures. But something interesting happened to me while I was doing this. Same exercise just now. I remembered a bunch of technical stuff. I'm pretty adept technically.

And yet when I was out here taking some pictures I realized, yeah I don't need any more depth of field or any less than I'm getting with F 3.5. In fact, in this shot, I don't care about depth of field. But I ought to shoot it five, six to a little bit above because my lens will be sharper there. My lens has a sweet spot. I know that. I've been forgetting to think about that. I've been forgetting to adjust my aperture accordingly. And so on. And so forth. There were a lot of just technical things that I noticed. I could hold my camera more steady if I would go back to correct posture. I should think more about the controls on this new camera that I'm not quite entirely used to yet.

The depth of field button, preview button is in a different place and I keep reaching for it in the wrong place. Photography is a craft as much as an art and craft is something that has to be practiced so if nothing else, heading out into the backyard to shoot some stuff is going to make you practice the craft aspect of it. This may not sound like much, but I think it's a really good exercise. I think it's something you should do anytime you're feeling stuck, anytime you're feeling complacent, anytime you're feeling smug. I had a good day of shooting the other day and I think it put me in a space that oh I can go find pictures anywhere. Well, go try it in your backyard. Even if you don't find any, you're still going to learn a lot.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

85 video lessons · 51071 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 5m 50s
    1. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject NEW
      5m 50s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 8h 18m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s

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