There seems to be the idea floating around that you have to “go somewhere” to take a fantastic photograph. Sure, it’s great to go to exotic or picturesque locales and take photos, but you don’t absolutely, positively have to pack your bags to find photo-worthy subject matter.
In fact, there are plenty of subjects right in your own backyard! It just takes a bit of imagination and an understanding of composition to get the breathtaking images you seek.
Here are a few ideas for how you can maximize your staycation photography.
Look for the Right Stuff
All great photos have some things in common - good lighting, a strong subject, colors, shapes, or forms to give the image interest, or even motion. Certainly, you won’t find a vignette with all of these visually engaging qualities, but rest assured that with a little time spent looking at the scenes around you, you will find something that can be made into a high-quality photograph.
Part of looking for the right stuff is finding the best perspective from which to compose your photograph. The first angle you shoot from might get you a quality photo, but the second, third, and fourth angles might be even better. Get up high and down low and move to the left and the right. Move around the subject you’ve chosen to find the most appealing background. Look for ways to enhance the impact of the lighting that’s available. Don’t just settle for the first shot - keep looking and see what you can find that will get you an even better photo!
Get the Gear
Staying close to home means that you have easy access to your entire collection of gear. Try different camera bodies and lenses. Go macro, then go telephoto. Try some close-ups with a wide-angle lens too. Manipulate the shutter speed to freeze and blur movement. Mount your camera to a tripod, then hand hold it for additional shots. The point is that this is a great time to experiment and push the boundaries of what you typically do.
Focus on Depth of Field
A common complaint of people who try to photograph things near their home is all the ugly stuff they don’t want in the image - street signs, trash cans, freeway on-ramps, and so on.
Of course, these things can be easily eliminated by working with a very shallow depth of field. Remember that depth of field decreases as the aperture widens, so try shooting as wide open as possible. Also remember that the distance from your lens to the subject, and the subject to the background impact depth of field. As a result, get in close, and try to frame the shot with as much room behind the subject as possible. If you do these things, it won’t really matter what’s happening in the background because it will all be nicely blurred.
There is a multitude of subjects just out your front door that are worthy of a photo, especially if you catch them at the right time. Here are a few of our favorites:
The birds that visit and live near your home are one of the best subjects to try your hand at wildlife photography. They are easily accessible, used to humans being present, and if you provide them with a birdfeeder, birdhouse, or bird bath, they will hang around for awhile, giving you time to snap their photo.
Your yard or garden is rife with life on the macro level. Grab your macro lens, ring light, tripod, and remote shutter release and head out to find ladybugs, spiders, dragonflies, and other insects that you can highlight in a macro shot.
Flowers are abundant in many areas and make a wonderful subject for a lovely close-up photo. When photographing flowers, try to isolate a single bud in the frame, ensuring that it is in sharp focus in front of a nicely blurred background. Alternatively, you can step back for a wide-angle shot if there is a lot of variety in terms of color and shape.
In the spring and the fall, in particular, your grass and plants will be covered with dew in the morning. The dew drops are an excellent visual addition to any photo, particularly if you can position yourself such that there is backlighting to make the dew drops sparkle. Look for spider webs for a more graphic visual element.
Sunrise or Sunset
Golden Hour is an ideal time of day to photograph just about anything. Whether it’s a nearby field where you can isolate a single stalk of wheat in front of the rising sun or the silhouette of your kids playing in front of a sunset, Golden Hour will give you great lighting to highlight the everyday objects, people, and events like those outlined above.