Meet Your Photographer!

Who am I? I’m more than just the little blurb on the front page of my website. I’m also more than what Instagram or Facebook shows you. I’ve lived in different cities, provinces, and countries, I’ve traveled, I write, I play music, I am obsessed with certain video games (Zelda, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, just sayin), and a lot more!

So I’ve decided to write this blog post so that clients can get a better sense of me before contacting or even after contacting or maybe you think I’m really weird and you want to check out this post to see if it’s true (probs?).

So let’s go back and learn a bit about Kristen!

A SORT OF BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHO I AM

I grew up in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

That’s closer to the Northwest Territories than the States; it’s technically included in Arctic Circle events. I grew up going to the same school from kindergarten to grade 9 and because of this I still have so many close friends from this school, even though we live all over the country now! As a kid it was a quiet prairie farm sort of town. My family on both sides have been farmers in the area since the early 1900s. It’s a part of my history I’m particularly proud of. We have an AMAZING collections of old photographs from their pioneer lives and I remember being a kid and flipping through all the photos and realizing I was related to those people. Pretty neat! Here are some photos of my family (my dad, mom, and sister) just hanging out and being super 90s cool.

PS: I’m the younger kid! 

My parents are super cute and the ultimate love story. They met in junior high but didn’t start dating til grade 12. My dad was like, too cool for school basically and my mom was a good student so it’s like Grease, maybe, that’s what I tell myself hahahaha. They are still married and I love them so much! They are wonderful supporters, so friendly and thoughtful, and took me and my sister on many adventures as kids. My dad introduced me to photography, and my grandma bought me my first camera at 8! I was obsessed. I took so many bad photos of my dog on the couch, running around the house, and I would set my TYs up against a blanket backdrop. I was obsessed.

I have an older sister and she is way too cool for me. When I was younger I always looked up to her reading choices and politics, I forced myself through Jane Austen in like grade 6 because she was reading her and I wanted to also. She’s a gifted writer (my sister, not Jane Austen. But also Jane Austen)!!

Here are my parents being amazing in their youth AND only a couple years ago (second photo by Kate Ediger).

Above are some examples of my early work. Hahahaha. Honestly though, I loved capturing people and things in their natural elements, ever since I can remember. Through all my phases of cameras, film, point and shoots, digital, I was obsessed with finding moments and things just existing without any push from anything else. I loved it. I would have followed my dog around forever taking photos of her running around just existing if I could have, haha! Also yes, I took a model photo of a Grand Champion horse toy and it was honestly a photo I was proud of for SO MANY years as a child. My first attempt at posing something with a nice clean background. I’m pretty sure it was my front yard in the early spring.

I was always a part of the music groups in school, and I played flute and saxophone. It might sound dorky but it was SO much fun. We went on trips to Vancouver, CUBA!, and Toronto, and it showed me that living in bigger cities was possible. After all, the closest big city to us was Edmonton, about six hour drive south. I actually continue to play flute to this day, and I was President of the Simon Fraser University Concert Orchestra in my undergrad—but we aren’t there yet!

I got my first car at 16 and fell in love with driving around the prairies, exploring dirt roads I didn’t know, catching wildlife in the fields, and especially taking my camera out and taking photos of sunsets and sunrises, stormclouds, and especially canola, which is like a neon yellow field in the summer. Me and my friends also loved going out and taking photos of our explorations and there are so many old embarrassing photos of us on Facebook checking out forests and driving around. V exciting but it was so much fun!  

There’s not a lot to do in GP when you’re in high school, and I guess driving around with my friends was my big joy haha. I also LOVED going camping. I still do! It was nice to grow up only 5 minutes away from nature. There is the boreal forest right to the north, big rivers surrounding the town, and the Rockies aren’t too far away either. The winters are bitterly cold, and it was normal to wake up and scrape frost off my car to go to school in -35. I don’t know how many times I got stuck in snow or my battery died. A lot! The summers are dry and beautiful, they can be in the 30s, and the rustle of fields of grain in the sun is one of my fave sounds. Unfortunately, right now with climate change, the summers are quickly becoming fire smoke-filled months. It’s heart-breaking. Still, you can’t beat prairie sunrises and sunsets!

After high school I took a year off to decide what I wanted to do. I thought it’d be great to be a photographer or novelist, but I thought I could pursue those endeavours outside of school and should pursue something more realistic. SO, for SOME REASON, to me that meant archaeology! In case you don’t know, archaeology is the study of human history through material culture. Not dinosaurs. Not buildings. Anyway. In this year off I worked at a grocery store (I’ve been working since I was 14! My first job was the GP Public Library), and then I decided I wanted to travel so I went to Southeast Asia, because at that time it was very affordable. This would have been… 2010. I went to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, all by myself at 19, and it was a wonderful, important, eye-opening, sometimes scary but mostly exhilarating, experience.

Then I did a year at my local college to get my basic classes for university done, and then I had to decide where to go for university! I was still into the idea of archaeology and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver has a great archaeology program. So I applied and accepted without ever having visited it or checked it out. Omg! Luckily my mom came with me a couple months before to scope out the scene. Sometimes I take risks hahaha.

Then my family drove me to Vancouver and I officially left home! It was crazy. It was also just the beginning! I was pretty busy in my undergrad. I continued to work, take classes, joined my student society, joined the SFU Concert Orchestra, met new friends (some of whom are still my dearest pals across the country/world), did a nude archaeology calendar photoshoot (it was awesome and it sold so well and we had 12 archaeologist models!), went to work in Peru (archaeological work) for a summer, and lived in England for a semester, where I took some neat archaeology courses and then also explored the UK and Europe. Phew! I think I also got my scuba diving license. I’m sure there’s more?? I loved Vancouver. I still love it! It is honestly the most beautiful place you could plunk a city. I used to live by the ocean. I had mountain views everyday!! The cherry blossoms in the streets are killer beautiful. Honestly, it’s hard to beat in its beauty and nature!

After graduation I did an internship at the SFU Museum while working. Then I decided that archaeological fieldwork in Canada might not be the future for me. So I applied to the Master of Museum Studies program at University of Toronto and got accepted! So that meant another trip across the country, joining another new music group (Toronto Concert Band), getting involved in the student society again, working, taking a full course load, and writing my thesis. Sometimes I worked like 3 jobs. It was insane!

Below are some photos from my time in Vancouver: my co-presidents for the SFU Concert Orchestra, Nathalie and Adri, my fam and I at my graduation, and me working and exploring in Peru! 

Anyway. That’s a summary of my life up til now. I’m still in Toronto, I have a 9-5 in the heritage field, but I still dream of writing and photographing! Funny how you should probably follow your instincts…

Because I took the academic route I did not take photography courses. I’m self-taught. I know that’s not always the way it’s done but I am glad I did it this way! I do love learning though so I’m hoping to take photography courses on certain things, just to be a better photographer for future clients and myself! But you know, that’s all in the future.

Last year, 2018, I got two poems published, which was very exciting! I’m currently working on a poetry collection that is infused with photographs I’ve taken (two of my loves!) and am attempting to work on a novel but it’s hard when you’re busy! And of course, I have Golden Birch Photography, which hit my mid-year goal on clients. THANK YOU everyone for allowing me to follow this passion. It’s so exciting! I can’t wait to keep growing.

Ummm what else….. I love living in big cities! I always wanted to. In Toronto I ride my bike around now and it’s the best thing EVER. If you ever live in a big city, ride a bike! Or a small city! It’s so fun to be a part of it. I love the hustle and chaos of big cities, the old buildings of Toronto, the streetcars rumbling past, the unique cafes and restaurants and stores, all crammed into unexpected places. The bars are amazing. I loved Vancouver too, for different reasons: the nature, the mountains, the ocean at your doorstep, the beautiful skies. It had some of the same hustle and bustle, but not quite to the extent of Toronto. It’s hard to describe the vibrancy of a big city like this. I love riding my bike everywhere and being a part of everything. Too bad it’s so expensive here! It is honestly such an exciting place to live!  I’m so glad I’ve managed to experience all the places I’ve lived! I love them all for different reasons.

Still, one of my favorite things is traveling to new places. I love hopping on a plane and landing down somewhere completely new, where I don’t speak the language, where I have to learn and appreciate and respect and try new things. I love exploring new streets and seeing different kinds of architecture, plants, landscapes, foods. I am obsessed with reading and can usually be found with a new book in my bag. I have recently started taking advantage of the Toronto Public Library and it is AMAZING I forgot how much I love libraries (considering I worked in one). I’ve had a ton of jobs, lol, like a lot. All sorts, from bookstores to museums to highway maintenance. I’m all over the map.

I also LOVE gardening, I know like every hip girl on Instagram seems to love gardening now, but when I was a kid my mom and dad let me and my sister have our own gardens and I swear to God going outside and seeing my sweet peas blooming or going out and pulling weeds was like the highlight of my summer days. So I’m happy I can keep growing things and I haven’t killed too many plants (yet).

Last, most importantly, I am with the coolest guy I’ve ever known. He’s kind, smart, funny, so supportive, a crazy talented musician, cutie handsome, thoughtful, passionate, adventurous, hard-working, and amazing. He’s one of the best things to ever happen in my life, no questions asked! Oh yea, his name is Sean.

Some of my favorite things:

-travel
-beer
-wine
-coffee
-good food, like pasta
-plants! Especially when they thrive and don’t hate me
-comfy chairs
-good books
-a crackling fire; campfire is the BEST smell
-on that note, camping
-listening to records
-going to shows, like symphonies or musicals
-going on walks down new streets
-riding my bike!
-video games
-fun earrings
-clothes shopping in thrift stores
-thunderstorms
-driving around the countryside
-writing
-PHOTOGRAPHY, especially film. I am deep into film these days
-pretty notebooks
-nature
-most things, really, I love life

Some of my least favorite things:
-doing the dishes (boooo)
-outhouses
-my hay fever and allergies (currently in the throes of intense hay fever)
-my expensive décor tastes cause I want to buy so many things and can’t
-when your phone dies in the early afternoon, like wut
-how attached I am to my phone
-cold weather
-snow
-mosquitos and wasps
-when you buy something and it doesn’t work/isn’t what you needed
-repetitive noises
-grumpy people

OKAY. That’s a deep dive into my life. I used to be pretty shy, it’s funny, I never would have imagined myself running a business or “promoting” myself in any way shape or form. But then high school hit and I actually discovered I thrive on social interactions and laughing, and then in university I just felt so RIGHT when I was making new friends and trying new things. I’m sure there’s more I could talk about (learning to ride a horse as a kid, dressing up as a pioneer for one of my jobs and the ridonk questions I would get, my obsession with writing fanfic as a youth, great character development in stories) but hopefully this helps you get a better feel for me, understanding of what I dig, and makes you excited to work with me!!!

Photo by Kate Ediger. 

Bonus image of 16-year-old me with my first photograph on display: a photo I took in Cuba on an old point and shoot; also, it was published by National Geographic! Dream big my friends! 🙂


Future Guides for You!

Hey everyone! This will be a very small blog post, in that it is only a POLL! With ONE question! 

I have a lot of fun making PDF guides and want to put out strong content with good design for EVERYONE! So I’m working on it again this year. If you have a second and are interested in getting free PDF guides on certain things (wedding day prep, engagement sessions, posing) please take a second to fill out the poll below! I’ll have it open for ONE week. It would be super hepful so I know what my peeps want to see from me! Thanks guys. 🙂 

TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE!

Adventure: Toronto Santa Claus Parade

Photographing the Toronto Santa Claus Parade

It’s almost Christmas! So it’s time for a sort-of Christmas themed post!

A few weekends ago I went to my first Toronto Santa Claus Parade! It was actually the first one ever created. It started in 1905 and is still going strong! It was pretty cold and by the end my toes were numb but I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the marching bands and drumlines–I am a huge marching band/band/drumline dork so that was great! We were in a perfect spot, not too many people, and so I got to play around with my camera.

It’s so important as photographers to also shoot for yourself, and I like sharing these types of photos as well as the photoshoots; these are just another facet of my photography! Enjoy! 🙂 Remember to go out and take photos for fun too!

 

 


My Favourite Photographers: Fred Herzog

It’s been awhile since I managed to write about another of my photographic influences (like… 5 months). As I say in almost every blog post: school is crazy! Life is crazy!

Just to recap: I started these blog posts because all photographers have their influences. For me, it’s important to talk about and share those people throughout history who have inspired me. My first post about Vivian Maier explains my feelings in further detail!

 

Who is Fred Herzog? 

Fred Herzog was born in 1930 in Germany, but had to be evacuated as a child during WWII. His parents died during the war and he found work on ships until he emigrated to Canada in 1952. He moved first to Toronto, then Montreal, and finally Vancouver. He primarily took photographs of Vancouver, BC; this might be why I feel such a strong pull and connection with his photographs, since I lived in Vancouver for 6 years! He is a street photographer and I love his ability to capture remnants of Vancouver that are no longer around, particularly the infamous neon light signs on Granville Street.

Photography

Fred Herzog’s street photography focuses on working class people and their environment, primarily the city. He worked with slide film, in color, which somewhat limited him from exhibiting since most photographers were shooting in black and white. He hasn’t been recognized really until the 2000s, despite his prolific work since the 50s. Unlike Vivian Maier, who I talked about last time, he did not include himself in his photographs or take many self photographs.

His photos do not need people in them; he also takes photographs of buildings and streets, the echoes of humans and their movements in all of his photos.

A lot of his photographs are portrait, or vertically shot. I find this absolutely fascinating. It helps in numerous occasions: to define the height of the buildings and make the photographs feel like you’re walking down the street; to get most of the body of a person when he shoots; and captures most of posters, windows, etc. Going through his photographs you’ll definitely notice an affinity for vertical photographs. Just a little tidbit!

Why Herzog is a Favourite

I find that Herzog is an astute photographer, able to capture and see humanity no matter where he is or what he photographs. These shadows, these traces, these small glimpses, are what draws me in to Herzog’s photography. He also takes many photographs in Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is my favourite part of the city!

 

I love when he photographs people but just as much I enjoy his photographs of light, shadow, and color. The way he uses architecture to create photographs is something that I am fairly certain I’ve taken and run with in much of my street photography. There is nothing I love more than a good staircase or doorway that tells the story of a neighborhood or building. Herzog’s photography makes me see and feel just how important location is to a photograph. His work also makes me yearn for an older Vancouver I never knew, but feel like I do at the same time… somehow?

The colors are so rich (Kodachrome!) and I love how even when he takes photos of empty street corners it feels like someone has just turned the corner, their arm or leg disappearing just out of frame. Herzog has a natural ability to capture the bones of a city, the essence of a time. Going through his photographs is like going back through time. I can’t get enough of them! I even have some of them hanging up on my wall and they act as daily inspiration.

 

Who are some of your favourite photographers? Who do you find inspiration from to take photographs or to appreciate a good view? Let me know in the comments!

 

All photographs taken from the Equinox Gallery website.

More resources on Fred Herzog

Books:

Fred Herzog: Modern Color


Technique Tuesday: Shutter Speed

Since I’ve done a previous post on aperture/depth of field, I decided it was time to do one on shutter speed. As I discussed in that post, aperture and shutter speed go hand in hand when creating a photo using the manual setting.

What is Shutter Speed?

Shutter speed is how fast the shutter closes on your lens, ie: the length of time light has to get into your camera to take a photo.

Recap:

Aperture: size of hole that light travels though

ISO: camera sensitivity to light

Shutter speed: length of time light has to get through aperture hole size

Think of the shutter as a set of blinds… they shut at different speeds, deciding how much time light has to hit the “film” in your camera (or in the case of digital cameras, the sensor). The longer these blinds are open, the more light; the quicker they are shut, the less light.

What Does It Look Like on my Camera?

Good question. The shutter speed on your camera is most commonly the fraction, however when you scroll to change the speed and make it slower, it uses the quotation symbol to equal a whole second. When you see 1/200 or 50″, those are both indicative of shutter speeds. But what do they mean? What is the difference? I will tell you!

Shutter speed is counted in fractions of a second (faster) and whole seconds (slower). For example, if you take a photo and your shutter speed is at 1/200, that means your shutter is open for 1/200 of a second when you click that button to take the photo. If you have the shutter speed at, say, 30″, that means the shutter is open for thirty whole seconds; for lengths like that, you need a tripod! It can also be as simple as 1″, or 1 second.

The standard shutter speed is often designated at 1/60 of a second.

Fast Shutter Speeds

The faster your shutter speed is, the more your photos will be “frozen” in time. For example, with a shutter speed of 1/800 of a second (f/4, ISO 200), I got this:

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You can see individual droplets frozen in the air at this speed. The faster your shutter speed, the quicker it catches movement, whether it be water, people, or anything else. The best measurement of testing is water; it’s what I like to use the most when playing around with shutter speed!

This one was taken at 1/4000 of a second (f/5.6 and ISO a crazy 6400) for the effect I wanted:

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This was out in the ocean and I was standing on the beach; it was a cloudy day. Still, you can see individual droplets of water frozen in the air. I played with this for a long time, with all different shutter speeds.

REMEMBER: the shutter speed will affect the look of a photo when used in conjunction with aperture and ISO. For example, if you make your shutter speed fast (1/400), at ISO 200 and leave your aperture at something like f/14, it will be far too dark! Your aperture is too small and will not let enough light in for a shutter speed that fast; imagine it as a tiny hole in a dark little room and for a fleeting second you open a pinhole and then shut it again. The light doesn’t even make it to the back wall! So if you are increasing shutter speed (or decreasing it, for that matter) you MUST remember to compensate with your other settings. Otherwise, your photo will not work. This takes lots of practice and sometimes some guesswork; however, sometimes you get results you never expect and end up delighted with!

Slow Shutter Speed

So now you know what a fast shutter speed looks like: it freezes droplets of rain, can freeze people in the middle of physical activity or movement, and more. Slow shutter speed has the opposite effect. The slower your shutter speed, the smoother the appearance of things: water becomes a smoky glass, people become a blur of activity. People often despair when they see their photos and that people are blurry or not in perfect focus. However, slow shutter speeds can make amazing photos! It naturally adds an element of movement, activity, and liveliness to a photo; it can capture something more real and fleeting rather than simply freezing a moment in time.

Slow shutter speeds are often designated as speeds slower than 1/60 of a second. There comes a point when it is too slow and a tripod must be used. Slow shutter speeds are often used for photos of lightning storms and starry night skies in order to capture everything; however, I have yet to hunker down outside with my tripod and try this out. I can’t wait to though! And when I do you bet I’ll make a post about it.

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This is not the greatest example of a slow shutter speed photograph, however I have fond memories of this moment. Walking beneath a bridge in Arequipa, Peru, at night, and we stumbled onto these young kids, just playing music and dancing with each other. I loved the way the dresses of the girls moved and tried to capture that movement; however right after I took this photo they started laughing and became embarrassed. Oops! The boy is a bit too blurry for my liking but I love the girl spinning her dress, the laughter in the background, just kids dancing for fun… The shutter speed here was 1/13 of a second (f/4, ISO 800).

I like to catch people in motion with slow shutter speeds. Here is another:

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This was again taken in Peru, the night of a festival in Cusco. You can get a feeling of the emotion and movement of people in the setting, and I think the shutter speed helps with this. Not only because it shows the movement of people, but the low lighting is rich and deep, very unlike the lighting would look if I had used flash or a faster shutter speed. Half the reason I use a slow shutter speed will be for the warm lighting that I want to capture. This often means that movement is also shown, which I am okay with. (shutter speed 1/15, f/4, ISO 1600).

If photographing people moving makes you anxious, try it with water!

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This photo was not too slow of a shutter speed (1/50) however it was moving fast enough to catch a blur, and I kept my f stop a smaller size (f/14).

The great thing is seeing how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO all work in concert with each other. When you change one it always means you have to tweak another to get the photo you want (usually).

My challenge to YOU: take your camera and play with shutter speed. First try it on the Tv setting, which is shutter speed priority; this means the camera will figure out the corresponding aperture and ISO for you to get an exposed photograph. Once you figure out that and how shutter speed works on its own, go to manual and play with it and your other settings to see what kind of photos you can make.

Good places to test shutter speeds: rivers and waterfalls, streets with cars, players at sporting events, dances, crowds, parades, and more. In the winter time, try catching snow falling and see how it is! If you are really into it, grab a tripod and set up for a starry sky, northern lights shoot, or even tracing the lights of cars on the street. Let me know how it goes!


Technique Tuesday: Black and White Photography

This Tuesday I’ll be looking at one of my favorites… black and white photography.

The general idea seems pretty straightforward: either you make the setting on your camera black and white or change it in post-processing. However, just like color photos, you should have your creative eye and mind in a black and white setting if you take a photo and plan to make that the outcome. Black and white photography is the original photography and should be taken just as seriously and not as an alternative afterthought.

I love black and white photography. Give me grainy, dirty, smudged, mid-movement black and white photography any day and I will be obsessed with it. Black and white is fun because it allows you to:

  • focus on shape, line
  • focus on composition
  • focus on expression and emotion
  • focus on lighting: shadows and highlights, silhouette
  • focus on texture
  • focus on patterns

In black and white photography, you can’t rely on soft colors or Instagram filters to tell your story. It has to be done with the shapes, the faces, the pure feeling that the photo evokes. And that, my friends, is the best part about photography. Take away all of the tools, all of the technology, and yet you still have the chance to do what photography is all about, and that is tell a story.

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Below I’ve listed some tips for black and white photography. This is not my most complex Technique Tuesday, so I hope you will be able to try out some of these ASAP!

Shoot in RAW

Always shoot in RAW! It serves the same purpose as a negative for film, meaning you can go back and work on it again and again and it won’t lose quality; it’s the highest data image file you can have! Which is good for black and white, as you may need to adjust things like highlights and shadows quite a bit.

WARNING: only shoot in RAW if you have a program on your computer that can edit it! That would be the program your camera with, or any Adobe program (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) at least the newest versions.

Low ISO 

Be sure to shoot your photos at a low ISO, even if they are in color. As soon as they are turned black and white, grain becomes much more apparent. Here’s one I took with grain to show you the difference between a low ISO photo and a high ISO.

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You can see the grain in the photo above from a higher ISO I used.

Remember what ISO is: your camera’s sensitivity to light! 200-400 is the ISO for normal daylight and counts as a lower ISO number.

Best Times of Day to Shoot

Black and white photographs actually work best on overcast days. So if you’re not getting the sun you want for dramatic colors, try out some black and white instead! Overcast works best because it stops your photos from being overexposed or too shadowed.

However, this may not work for you if you want a more dramatic lighting situation, which would still work for photogs. Sun flares in black and white can be dramatic and beautiful! However they make a more dramatic landscape (either very dark or very bright) and aren’t great for portraits or for certain types of photographs (some architecture shots or general subject-based photography).

Composition! 

Composition matters SO MUCH in black and white photography. The placement of people, things, and even you when it comes to taking the photo is key. This is when you really have to stretch your brain. Don’t just look at what’s happening in front of you but what makes up the scene. Is that just a door on the side of a building, or is it a minimalist rectangular shaped photo that extends to the building shape? Is that railing just a railing or a pattern to study? Look at architecture as a good starting point: watch for patterns, bold designs, straight lines, simple compositions. Once you start thinking this way, it is almost impossible to stop. I’m like this even when I don’t have my camera on me; it’s a great way to be, because then I remember what catches my eye and I go back later with a camera!

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Texture: Active Skies or Minimalist

It’s important to start learning to look in tone and texture, not color, for black and white photography.

“Active skies” refers to the idea that if you are taking a black and white landscape, it doesn’t always work best with a plain sky. It’ll create a drab photo. It might look beautiful and blue in color, but in black and white it just looks like a flat space, which is not always what one wants. Active skies is a term for an exciting sky with depth, however I also mean it in terms of overall texture in your photograph.

One time this won’t apply is when you are going for a minimalist look, with bare accents and mostly shapes and light as your main tool to create a photograph; this works just fine in some cases as well, of course! There are no limits in photography, only different directions.

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An active sky above adds depth to the photo.

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A rather inactive sky here shows a more minimalist approach to black and white landscape photography with similar-sized subjects.

What Kind of Lighting to Look For

Light is one of the biggest elements in B & W photos. What adds depth and variety to these types of photos is the combination of shadows, highlights, and contrast.

Make sure to keep an eye out for varying shadows because it will add different and dynamic depths to your photos. If you see a good contrast–a white building with a black door, say–this makes for a strong photograph as well. Light is so important to keep an eye on in a photo. Go with your instincts; if it looks like a cool light dynamic against a builiding, or there’s a shadow cutting half across a person’s face to add an element of mystery and you like it, then go for it! Document it!

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In color, this photo was rather flat. But with a quick change to black and white, you can see the shadows pop and add depth to the photograph.

Underexpose 

My favorite technique: underexposure! Do this especially if you have the intention of creating a black and white image; if you don’t do this, there is a high chance of blowing out the photo’s highlights in post-processing. This means that when you play around with the image, your whiter highlights will end up becoming too bright and ruining the photo. Underexposing solves this irritating dilemma.

How to Make Black and White in Post-Processing

This is easy!

In Photoshop, you just go to the Image tab, adjustments, and then change to black and white. From there you can play with brightness, contrast, or shadows + highlights if you feel the inclination. You can also do it on your camera beforehand but it’s not recommended. In post-processing you have much more leeway if it is a color photo that has been changed afterwards.

Secret Tip

One of my favorite things is to use my polarizing filter. It helps cut reflection on objects and reduces the risk of having washed out black and white photos. A polarizing filter is meant to reduce glare (i.e.: turns water clear, skies darker, etc.) but I love to sneak it in for black and whites. This is a bit of a cost but fun to work with!

Now these are all a few quick and easy tips. Post a comment if you have any questions or other black and white ideas! My main point is: start thinking and looking in a way that breaks down what is in front of you to light and shapes. Just try it out! Now go have fun. 🙂

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Technique Tuesday: Wide Angle

Today’s Technique Tuesday focuses on a certain shot type that is fun, dramatic, and creates beautiful landscape photography as well as unique portrait shots! Yes, I am talking about the (often under utilized) wide angle shot.

So what does it mean exactly when you’re chatting with someone and they say “oh, and then I brought my wide angle lens…” and you nod and smile but really wonder “what did they just say?” Let’s look into it!

What is a wide angle lens? 

A wide angle lens is a lens that has a substantially shorter focal length. This means it says something like 35 mm or 25 mm and lower (the lowest without starting a rounding edge–known as a fish eye–is 17 mm). Basically, this shorter focal length allows for a wider view of a shot: perfect for landscapes or for capturing a smaller scene in a limited amount of space.

Truth be told, wide angle lenses are some of my favorite. I bought my Sigma 18mm-200mm zoom when I was in high school. It was the second lens I bought for the sake of diversity. I was too poor for Canon so I bought a Sigma, and let me tell you… it is one of the best purchases I have ever made! I highly recommend Sigma lenses. I’ve had it for 7 years and only now it is starting to clunk a bit, mostly my fault. It has traveled all over the world with me, dealt with sandy deserts in Peru, humid socks-turned-lens-bag in Asia, and more. Unfortunately due to its age I need to start looking into new ones, if anyone has suggestions!

Why do I love it so much? It is so versatile. It really allowed me to work on my landscape photography which I love so much to do. In one move I can go from 18 mm and get an entire scape, and then I can shift and get closer and closer with a few clicks. This allows me to get different perspectives of the same scene much faster. However, the zoom feature is not my favorite part by the wide angle part… the 18 mm!

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My Sigma 18-200 mm resting peacefully.

Downsides: the zoom lens means not as great of photo quality as a prime lens. You can get a smaller zoom (17-55 for example) or go for the wide angle prime lens (a lens that doesn’t zoom). They have the best quality. Any wider than 17/18 and you start to get a fish eye look.

What is a wide angle shot?

Okay so we know what people mean now when they talk about their “wide angle lens”. What about the wide angle shots? As I briefly mentioned above, those are photographs taken when the lens is at a wide angle focal length (anything 35 mm and shorter).

I like them for their dramatic look, as well as the fact that it lets you see everything. As someone from the prairies, I am happiest when I have a big open sky in front of me. The wide angle lens achieves that same feeling with ease! It’s also good for variety when taking photos of people; who wants constant close ups of their face? By the way, this is something I am still working on… 🙂

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This is an example of a wide angle shot. I took this in Jasper 2 years ago. My lens was at its shortest, 18 mm for this. It allowed me to capture some of the reflection of the mountain as well as getting those in the distance, with still enough room for a sky!

How to know when you take a wide angle shot

If you are unsure of what constitutes a wide shot, make sure to watch your lens as you move it (if you have a zoom). You can see the little line changing focal lengths as you rotate the zoom. Try to stick in the 18-35 mm range for wide angle shots. The more you do it the more familiar it becomes until you can scroll through your photos and know by instinct ones you have taken are within that focal range.

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Between the 18 and the 35 constitutes as a wide angle shot.

Examples: Landscape 

There is no doubt that wide angle lenses show off their best in landscape work. Think of dramatic National Geo landscape shots or those with a subject and a vast background behind it. Photojournalism loves wide angle shots. I’ve used some examples below to show what I like about them. All are taken with my Sigma 18-200 mm lens.

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focal length: 24 mm


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focal length: 18 mm

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focal length: 18 mm

Examples: Portraits

This is something still new to me but I know will be lots of fun! It’s a chance to get the location into a shot with your subjects and gives a feeling of gravity. I can’t wait to make more!

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Technically a portrait… focal length: 24 mm

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focal length: 28 mm

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focal length: 18 mm

There’s some information on wide angle lenses and shots. I hope you all go out and experiment with them now! Make sure to use the rule of thirds from a few Tuesdays ago and see how it looks. If you have any questions about the photos, tips, or more, feel free to comment!


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