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5 Ideas to Use Your Camera Creatively at Home

As photographers, being stuck at home can feel very limiting – but it shouldn’t mean that you can’t take any photos at all! If you usually shoot events or are limited in your options for nature photography, try something new at home. Use the equipment you have and put it to use for a different purpose than usual. Try food or product photography, pet portraits or document a new hobby you might be learning at the moment. In this article we’d like to give you some inspiration to keep busy and creative with your camera while staying home!

1. Combine learning a new hobby with photography

It seems like everyone is starting a new hobby recently to make all the time spent at home more fulfilling. Since many of us no longer commute to an office, there are a few hours more per week to devote to learning a new skill: be it a new form of exercise, a manual skill like sewing, woodwork or gardening, (re-)learning an instrument or arts. If you feel like you have nothing to photograph since you can’t go places, try documenting your learning journey. This will not only give you new subjects to shoot, but it’s also satisfying to visualize your progress this way. Here are some examples:

  • Learning to cook or bake creates great opportunities for food photography – going way further than the occasional phone shot at the restaurant! Try recording the entire process of making the dish to the final result.
  • Creating something with your own hands can be so satisfying… and the photo opportunities a new manual skill or a form of art can give you are unlimited! You could even get into product photography if you want to sell some of your creations.
  • Take photos every week to document your improvements in any form of exercise you are practicing. This works especially well for things like flexibility training or learning a certain yoga pose.

2. Learn from constraints

Since most of us are stuck at home, unable to travel to photogenic locations or do photo-shoots with people, it’s easy to feel like you have nothing to take pictures of. Normally you would have a stunning landscape or a model as an inherently interesting subject. Creating visual interest in your own home will definitely be harder, but honing the skill of perception can make your future shoots a lot easier.

For the challenge: choose one room of your home that you will take all pictures in. Take a close look around you to identify possible subjects. Then try to take as many creative pictures of the environment, working with different perspectives, lighting, negative space, and composition. You can also spread this over the day and notice how the natural lighting conditions change the look and atmosphere of your pictures. Limiting yourself like this can really push your creative boundaries since you have to work with what you’ve got and sharpen your eye for interesting compositions.

3. Shoot (self) portraits at home

For many people, more time at home means more family time. Why not use the opportunity to take some family portraits? You can also try practicing new techniques on your family members, partners, pets, room mates, or if you live alone – on yourself. YouTuber Sorelle Amore does a great job on explaining how to take the best “advanced selfies”. Check out her tiny room challenge or this one in a small town for inspiration. Taking portraits of yourself is quite tricky so having remote control over your camera will be extremely helpful. Here are a few ways to add some creative spark to your photos:

  • use props like glasses, phone screens, prisms, glass balls, kitchen utensils like sieves, knives, etc. in front of your lens to create interesting flares and shadows
  • use fabrics you have at home like curtains, sheets, scarves or blankets as backgrounds, in the foreground, draped around you or even as clothes
  • project a picture or pattern over the subject using an overhead projector

4. Time lapses & long exposures at home

Sure, you have less opportunities to travel at the moment. That shouldn’t necessarily keep you from creating stunning time lapses and long exposures, though. You may still be able to capture magnificent sunsets or sunrises from your window or garden. If you live in a highrise or the middle of the city, its neons and passing cars lend themselves perfectly to long exposures. Or change things up a bit and record time lapses indoors: meal prep, food baking in the oven, a satisfying decluttering session, your plants growing, someone making art… the possibilities are endless!

5. The Airbnb Photo shoot

Using the extra time to deep-clean your home seems to be trending at the moment, so why not use the opportunity to do a little photo shoot and get some beautiful shots of your living space? Pretend you want to put your apartment on Airbnb or get featured in an interior design magazine − make your place look immaculate. (Maybe it can also motivate you to tidy up in the future, once it no longer looks like in the pictures ;) ) Get creative with your shots by using wide angle lenses to get sweeping shots of the room and some more detailed shots with a tighter lens. Use a macro lens for details usually overlooked to get some cool abstract shots. If your apartment doesn’t have great natural lighting, this can also be a good challenge to practice your low light photography skills.

We hope some of these ideas inspire you to use your camera creatively at home!

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How to? – Long Exposure

How-to-do-long-exposure

As we’re reviving our blog, we were thinking that it’s necessary to introduce a series that is about photography and filmmaking itself: The terminology, the basics, techniques or hacks. At some point we might even get other photographers to post their “best-way” practice or share their newest “how-to”. Let’s see where this takes us. As our final goal is to see people flourish in what they love doing, we want to help in the best ways we can. Well… and since we’re kind of into this photography thing, we want to engage with other photographers and filmmakers all over the world. So if you love your camera or are even just getting started: You’re right here. :-)

We know, in general, there are many ways or techniques to reach a certain goal. It’s the same when taking photos or videos. That’s why, whenever we or someone else is posting something, we want to start a conversation and discuss ideas – always in a respectful way.

Well today, we want start the series off by looking into some of the basics: Long Exposures.

LONG EXPOSURES

A small excursion into the making of a photo: A photo in general, needs exposure in order to be able to show what you actually photographed. In a more technical sense: It’s the amount of light hitting the electronic image sensor – or in earlier days – the photographic film. It determines how bright or dark a picture is in the end. Obviously, it is a variable thing, so it can (and should) vary from photo to photo in order to have the “perfect” exposure (which in the end is very much subjective) or to achieve a certain effect.

In photography, the exposure that can be controlled by your camera, is determined by the shutter speed, aperture (the opening of the lens) and ISO (which basically controls the brightness and darkness of your photo). It’s a formula of three variables. For long exposures, yes, you consider all three variables, however, shutter speed is the significant factor: It is the only variable that actually has a relevant connection to time. That’s why it’s called “LONG” exposure. So the idea behind playing around with shutter speed is, that, because of the time factor, you’re able to catch (more) movement – things that happen over a period of time. And in the end, movement is what makes and creates a typical long exposure shot.

Typical scenarios where long exposures are and have been used:

Night Photography

This topic deserves an own article since it’s huge. There are many different ways to take photos at night, but one thing is for sure: If you don’t want a super dark photo and a lot of noise (because of a very high ISO), there is no other way but making use of a very slow shutter speed – because at some point the lens cannot be more open to catch more light (aperture).


Night Photography

Star Trails

Even though it’s part of night photography, catching star trails is a category of its own since it demands certain techniques (bulb mode, stacking etc.) and especially a lot of preparation and timing. The idea behind it is to catch the stars’ movement, caused by the earth’s rotation, which creates these very nice trails.

Light Painting

Here, you typically keep the scene very dark and use a light source (flashlight, fire, smartphone LED) to “paint” something in the air. Since the shutter is open and the (bright) light source is not at one place for a long time (because of the movement), you get crystal clear lines of light, even letting you write entire sentences.


Light Painting

Water-Long-Exposures

Being used in combination with the HDR technique quite often, long exposures of moving water create a very mystic/mist-like look. In combination with the – most of the time – not moving objects around, before or behind the blurry water, the photos are super interesting and definitely worth trying.

City-Long-Exposure

It’s the same principle as for water-long-exposures. This time, the not-moving elements of the photo are the buildings and the moving elements are the cars with their lights on, creating those beautiful light trails tracing the streets of the city.

Car Light Trails


So the next time you want to go out there to take photos, just go out at night. It brings tons of opportunities to be creative and to take beautiful photos that are also fun doing. Just set your camera into manual mode, try to keep your ISO down, open up your aperture and play around with shutter speed. Very important: Try to use a camera remote control so you don’t have to touch your camera. Otherwise, you might cause some shaking and the photo is not sharp but blurry.

Let us know in the comments what long exposures you like doing the most or what special tips you have for certain scenarios and effects.

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