Spring Photography Tips

It’s been a non-existent winter on most of the east coast, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t all itching for spring! Bright green growth, flitting birds, and eye-popping flowers! Oh my! Spring is often accompanied by rain, a gift to photographers if you use it right. If you’re ready to get out there and take some photos, keep the following tips in mind. As always, if you want more tips or need help practicing them, please join one of my walking photography tours!

Shoot Up

With trees blooming, take advantage of the opportunity to include them in your shot. Turn a boring vacation photo into something special by shooting up. Instead of photographing your friend, from your eye level, standing in front of a blooming tree, get low and angle your camera up, filing the lens with your friend and the tree. The trick is finding a flattering angle. Most people look best when they’re photographed from a position that is just above their eye level, so you may need to experiment a bit to find a position that is flattering.

Shoot Macro

Some of the best parts of spring are the first blushes of life – the fresh shoots coming out of the ground, the emerging buds on a tree, or ephemeral flowers. Get up close to shoot them and fill the frame. Use either macro mode on a Smartphone, or a DSLR/CSC lens with a short depth of field to focus just on one flower. When shooting with a low depth of field, I personally like to blur both the foreground and background. I use the foreground blur to help "frame" my subject.

Shooting cherry blossoms in macro mode on an iPhone. Using the blurred foreground to virtually frame the shot and focus the eye. 

Shooting cherry blossoms in macro mode on an iPhone. Using the blurred foreground to virtually frame the shot and focus the eye. 

Get Outside Right After it Rains

We all know the expression, “April showers bring May flowers.” Well, nothing enhances new vibrant life like fresh raindrops. It only really works if you’re shooting close up/macro, otherwise you can’t see the drops. Alternatively, look for puddles and reflections. I find myself walking around cities after rain looking for puddles. It doesn’t have to be very large, even a 1-foot square puddle can work. Make sure you get low – anywhere from 2 inches to 3 feet from the puddle depending upon the effect you’re looking for.

Look for puddles after rain and remember shoot low and close to the puddle. In this shot the camera is about 3ft from the ground and puddle. Experiment with getting really close from the puddle, like 2 inches. 

Look for puddles after rain and remember shoot low and close to the puddle. In this shot the camera is about 3ft from the ground and puddle. Experiment with getting really close from the puddle, like 2 inches. 

It may the right time to think about a short focal length lens

If you’re enjoying close-up photography and have a DSLR or CSC, spring may be the right time of year to invest in a short focal length (aka, low f-stop number) lens. By low, I mean an F1.4 or F1.8 lens. If you've been on a Fetching Photos tour, you may remember the simple Low/Low/Low rule. But, I also find a lot of people don't know how to figure out the f-stop capability of their lens. Here's a simple tip - just look at the front of it, it will be printed right there on the vast majority of lenses. If you have a zoom, it will give you two numbers, the minimum f-stop at both ends of the zoom spectrum. In this case, my lens can extend from 18 mm (wide angle) to 200 mm (zoom). At 18 mm, the minimum f-stop is f3.5. At 200 mm, the minimum f-stop is f5.6. In short, look at your lens and find the number(s) printed after "1:" (but don't ask me what 1: stands for!).

Look at the front of the lens to figure out the fstop capability. In this case the minimum at 18 mm is f3.5.

Look at the front of the lens to figure out the fstop capability. In this case the minimum at 18 mm is f3.5.

 

Shoot in Color

This one is so obvious, it almost doesn’t warrant mentioning. But, if you’re like me and been shooting a lot of black and white in the overcast, gray light of winter, it’s time to switch modes and start thinking, and looking, in color again.