IDEA 1: Sunrise. Early morning light has very different qualities from other times. It comes from a different angle. Often weather is also calmer at daybreak. And, you often have dewdrops and spiders and other morning beasies to shoot. This is a good time to get down low and up close. You may want to choose macro mode (often a flower icon) to get close focus.
IDEA 2: Sunset. Late evening also has interesting light. Often with a nice sunset or late light, you can capture some really neat silhouettes. Just expose for the sky and often the foreground image will be darkened. Tip: move your camera to open sky, half-press the shutter and then move back to frame your subject. Or choose the Sunset mode and disable your flash.
IDEA 3: Pick a theme and take a series of photos. These would be great “B-roll” shots for scrapbooking or gifts. Lemonade, ice cream, produce, beach, there are many themes that would represent summer. My sample photo here is from my mini-garden. mmm, tomatoes….
IDEA 4: Tour the neighborhood. Someone has a neat garden. There’s a creek or pond nearby. Take a new angle on the architecture of that crazy house nearby. Do a photoessay on summer flowers. Throw that camera in your pocket when you walk the dog, and stop every 20 paces and shoot something from where you stand. At least the memories of the walk will keep you warm in February!
IDEA 5: Blue Skies. Fall skies in Erie are strange, with grey clouds. But summer skies are often very blue. Try getting low and shooting upward at your subjects, to get some blue sky in the frame. If you have a camera that can accept filters, try out a polarizing filter to deepen that blue. You can also push saturation and contrast in your photo editor to emphasize sky colors.
IDEA 6: A week of new settings. Get out that camera manual or just wing it. For each day of the next 7, keep your camera on a setting you have never used, and try to take photos using that setting. Sports is for moving things, but what will it do to a bowl of fruit? Macro is a blast. How about landscape? The modes or settings are shortcuts for a few basic parameters – flash, f-stop, shutter, sensitivity and white balance. Figuring out what mode works for your subjects will help you make better images.
IDEA 7: Get out of the Sun! Bright sun shots often cause squinty subjects, blown out highlights and dark darks. Basically the contrast levels are extreme in bright sun. Try walking into the shade and taking some portraits. Kirk Voclain has a great technique for finding great shade light: Hold up your index finger and turn in a circle until you can see directional light/shadow. It looks silly but it works! If you must shoot in the sun, often forcing the flash to be on will lower the contrast and eliminate the extreme shadows on faces.
IDEA 8: Tourist at Home. Take an afternoon or evening and hit some of your area’s best known tourist or photo spots. Capture some images, and you can use them in scrapbooking, and better yet, you can make up note cards on your printer from these and send them to out of town friends and relatives. People love shots from the hometown, especially if they have moved away.
IDEA 9: Sign up for a photo sharing site. Now that you have all of these great (and some maybe not) shots, share them! Sites like Winkflash, Flickr and many others will let you upload for free, get inexpensive prints, and share with others. Let’s see those shots!
So get out there and have some fun!