Friday, August 30, 2013

In Focus Friday w/ My Mind's Lens: August 2013

Kaeley is here today for the August edition of In Focus Friday.  Lucky for me, she takes requests.  My goal for this holiday weekend is to soak up as much information as I can from my Shoot Fly Shoot classes for my trip to Florida.....I don't want my trip to the ocean to be a big fat picture fail!  If I am being honest, this post has kind of scared me.  Kaeley's pictures are beautiful, but I am seriously doubting my ability to capture similar images.....aperture, ISO, shutter speed - oh, my!  May the DSLR force be with me...and enjoy the eye candy below!


Last month, I asked Julie if there was anything in particular that she would like me to share with you for In Focus Friday - such as a specific subject, all black & white, or tips.  She chose #3.  A little bird told me that she is getting ready to visit Florida *which makes me very our summer here in the NW seems to be getting ready to die down already* and she's planning on bringing her "big girl camera", as she likes to call it.

While I would never claim to be an expert, I'd like to share a few tips on how to take pictures of the ocean, as well as capture beautiful sunsets.

Before you start taking pictures of the waves crashing onto the sand, or the sun reflecting off the wet beach, you should try to picture in your mind what you want the image to look like.  If you are wanting to capture the movement of the water, and the flow of the waves coming and going, you will want to use a slower shutter speed.  This will cause the shutter to stay open longer, capturing a longer period of time and resulting in that soft, blurred look.  However, if you want to freeze the motion and be able to see the details and individual water droplets, you will need to have a very fast shutter speed.

I don't have a perfect example of this, but below are two photos of a waterfall.  The shutter speed for the image on the left is 1/250 of a second, while the one on the right is much slower, 1/25 of a second.  The slower shutter speed captures a greater period of time, which allows the water to "flow".

If you are on full manual mode, you will need to adjust your aperture and ISO as well in order to get enough light to properly expose the photo.  Another option would be to use the shutter priority mode - this will allow you to choose your shutter speed, and your camera will adjust the aperture and ISO automatically.

You may also want to use a polarizing filter when taking photos of the water - it will help bring out the blues.  I got mine from Best Buy for less than $20.

One last thing about taking pictures of the ocean, or any body of water really: be mindful of the sky.  The following images were captured on the same day, at the same beach.  In the morning, the sky was gray and overcast, which was reflected in the water, giving the ocean a dark, murky appearance.  Later in the day, the clouds burned off and the pretty blue sky gave the water that glorious blue color.

Moving on to one of my favorite aspects of summer: the {beautiful} sunsets.  To be honest, I haven't captured too many of them in my own photos.  The colors and luminescence of the setting sun bring me a sense of awe and peace, but I rarely have my camera around to harness that feeling.  But, I recently had an opportunity to change that.

When photographing sunsets.....

1. Do not look directly at the sun!  You have heard this before, but just be careful and protect your eyes.

2. Set your aperture to a high value.  This one is weird for me.  When I take portraits, I tend to set my aperture at f/4 or f/5, utilizing a shallow depth of field and creating a blurred background, allowing the subject of the photo to really stand out.  By increasing the aperture, though, you capture more detail in the full image.  You will end up with a clearer photo.  Just as I told you that you'd have to adjust the aperture and ISO for your chosen shutter speed, you will need to adjust the ISO and shutter speed for your chosen aperture.  Your camera should also have an aperture priority mode that will do this automatically.

These were all taken using f/16 - which is a pretty small opening in the lens.  If you turn it up even further, say to f/22, you can get a really dramatic looking sun, and capture that "starburst" appearance.

3. Play around with your shutter speed.  When doing this, you will need to be in full manual mode.  Leave your aperture at one spot (try f/16), and move your shutter speed from faster to slower and watch the difference in the lighting of your images.  I forgot to mention before, but when using slower shutter speeds, you should try to use a tripod to help stabilize the camera body and prevent unwanted "camera shake" or fuzzy images.  If you don't have a tripod, try setting the camera on a table or other stable surface.

Here are some examples of how changes in shutter speed can change your photo:

Personally, I really like the dramatic contrasting look of the photos with shutter speeds around 1/125 and 1/250.  But it really is about getting the picture that YOU like best.

4. Wait for the sun to actually go down, and wait around a little after that.  As beautiful as the sunset itself is, the sky is often even more colorful once the sun goes down.  We didn't wait as long as we should have, but here is a little of what we got:

5. Try a silhouette.  This may sound challenging, but it really isn't.  First, find a subject in the foreground - a bridge, dock, rocks, another person.  Next, set your exposure by focusing on the sky.  Refocus on your subject and take your photo.  This is going to make it so the sky is illuminated, but the foreground will be underexposed, resulting in the silhouette.

{Please note, with the exception of the black & white conversion, none of these photos have been digitally enhanced}

I'm not doing very well at minimizing the "photo dumping" - but I can't help it.  So you get it all....actually this isn't even half of the images that I sorted through, so consider yourselves lucky!

post signature

I hope Kaeley's post was helpful and informative to any fellow budding photography junkies out there.  I personally cannot wait to get out and give my newly acquired knowledge the old college try.My skill level on the manual setting has nowhere to go but up!  Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Don't let it scare you! Like I said, start with the aperture and shutter priority modes, that way there is one setting to adjust and your camera will do the rest.

    If you want to have the whole frame in focus, use aperture priority mode and set it to f/16 or f/22.

    If you want to "freeze" the motion of the water and capture the water droplets, use shutter priority mode and set it as fast as it will go (maybe 1/4000 sec.)

    Keep it simple, my dear! You can do it!

  2. Lots of great tips and photos!! :)

  3. What great tips, and as always, great photos!

  4. Very interesting tips! I'm trying to figure this all out myself!

  5. Great tips Kaeley! Your pictures are gorgeous!


I love meeting new bloggers and love reading your comments....each and every one!