Summer is a busy time for everyone but don’t let that get in the way of your photography interests. As you venture out, remember to grab that camera. Here are few suggestions to get you started.
Summer means sun, so there is no better project than a cyanotype to rekindle your photography interest or break out of a slump. Cyanotype is a process developed in 1842 by Sir John Herschel that involves light-sensitive iron salts produced by mixing ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. The solution is brushed onto paper and dried. Once exposed to light, the solution produces a deep blue. By placing objects over the paper, a shadow of the object will be registered on the paper. Kits can be obtained to make your own solution and treat paper, or you can just purchase paper or fabric at https://cyanotypestore.com. If you have children, this is a great outdoor activity that all ages can enjoy.
If you enjoy abstract art, you will love this idea. Go for a walk with your camera and a macro lens if you have one. If not, most point-and-shoot cameras will have a macro or close-up setting. Find interesting patterns and textures in nature and take a photo of them as close as you can while keeping the image in focus. Once home, load your pictures into your photo editor and scan the images for interesting lines, areas of contrast, and textures that make for a visually stimulating work yet make the actual subject nebulous. Crop the image and resize the print. These type of images look great printed on canvas. There are hosts of online canvas printing outfits. I have had excellent service from Fabness.
Summertime is synonymous with vacation. Make sure you take your camera and capture those amazing waterfalls, vistas, valleys, sunsets, etc. Don’t just capture one image, but take multiple moving from one side to the other, overlapping slightly. Some cameras also have a panoramic feature to accomplish this same task. If you have access to Photoshop, you can automate the process of compiling your photos into one final image. Then it is as simple as cropping and resizing for whatever format you wish. I have also found Fabness incredibly economical for printing large scale panoramics on canvas (watch for special offers/coupons).
Summer nights are long and lovely with the slow fading sunsets. This low light situation is a wonderful time to soften a water feature with an extended exposure. This will require a tripod, some trial and error, and patience but the effect can be dramatic. The longer the exposure, the less detail you will see of the water; however, the surrounding objects will be in sharp focus (provided you used a tripod and everything remained stable) creating the interesting contrast in your image. Remember to use the self timer on your camera or a remote when taking the picture to avoid camera shake. If you just want to sit and enjoy your sunset or don’t have the patience for the trial and error method, you can purchase a neutral density filter for your camera (may not be available for all camera types – check out B&H Photo for all your photo needs). A neutral density filter decreases the amount of light that enters the camera’s sensor. I recommend a 10 stop filter if you are shooting in bright conditions. This allows for a very long exposure and some dynamic water smoothing effects even in broad daylight. It can also be used to capture movement of objects or light. Check out the work of Radim Schreiber to see how he has employed long exposures to capture the luminescence of fireflies.
It would be great if summer was never-ending, but that isn’t the case. However, with photography you can freeze a moment in time, and summer is the best time to do it. With abundant light, you are able to shoot at high shutter speeds that allows you to catch whatever summer action may arise. For instance, if your child is in the sprinkler, and you want to capture every water drop frozen in time, set your camera to shutter speed priority and then set the speed to 1/250 sec or greater depending on the available light and shoot.
Hopefully, these suggestions will get you inspired. Starting a photography club has been the most motivating stimulus for me as an amateur photographer. With assignments every two weeks, I keep the dust off my camera and my skills sharp. I would highly recommend setting up a photography club over email or even a simple WordPress site. You can check out my photography club website at www.masterphotomethods.com for additional ideas.