15 Minute Photo Challenge: Around the House on a Winters Day

15 Minute Photo Challenge: Around the House on a Winters Day

Find things around your house to shoot. No need to stage anything, just get close, let your camera do the thinking, bounce your flash if you have one. Use natural light if you don’t. My simple advice, get close, shoot long and open your aperture if you can. Check out my results and notes below. See my 5 quick tips at the end of the article.

Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 500 56mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 500 56mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

14 minutes 18 seconds was my shoot time for all these photos. 39 frames total, with 8 keepers. Not all exactly perfect as you can see. I could have actually used more depth of filed on my shoes – maybe f4 so the toe on the close one would be more in-focus. Post processing was limited to a quick touch up and some vignetting in Lightroom. For this shoot I used my Nikon D700 with my 70-24 f2.8 lens in aperture priority mode along with my Nikon SB600 flash attached to the camera bouncing it off the ceiling. The flash happened to be geled with 1/8th CTO. Everything was hand held.

Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 260 70mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 260 70mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

My simple approach, get close and zoom in as much as possible.  I shot everything closer to the 70mm end as opposed to the 24mm end.  I’ll save 24mm (wide) shooting for another photo challenge.

Nikon D700 1/60th f4 ISO 450 70mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f4 ISO 450 70mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

Granted I’m on full frame with f2.8, but if you read my shallow depth of filed challenge article, you’ll know you don’t need expensive glass to pull it off. I just happened to use my D700 full frame and 24-70.  I could have just as easily done this challenge with my Nikon D40 and an 18-200 or with my iPhone. The goal is to show how easy it is to pull off good photos with limited time or effort. Learn to get close, zoom in a LOT and see what it does for your photos.

Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 280 66mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 280 66mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

In my opinion shooting things vs people is easier. People have several more layers of variables. There really are no preconceived expectations as you look at these photos. The quick and dirty trick to make it pass the general muster as looking professional is to narrow the depth of filed.

Things vs People: Dust on a shelf? It doesn’t matter.  Color temperature? It doesn’t matter. Focal length distortion? It doesn’t matter. Expression or pose of a subject? It doesn’t matter because there isn’t one. Clothing choices? It doesn’t matter becasue there aren’t any. Superficial opinions from others on the beauty of a person? It doesn’t matter, no people involved.

Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 450 62mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 450 62mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

Learn to shoot like this with any camera and all of a sudden people will think you know what you are doing. Shoot that drink, your dinner plate or an engagement ring and wedding shoes. Learn so get close and zoom in. Zoom your lens as far as you can, then get as close as you can and snap away. Doing both help a lot.

Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 200 52mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 200 52mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

Every photo on m51photo.com is a photo I personally took.  That’s kind of the point of my site. Putting people on the site is really difficult to do. However making stock photos for yourself of objects, that’s sooooo much easier and its well worth your time to practice and learn. Especially if you post them anywhere.

Nikon D700 1/60th f5 ISO 900 70mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f5 ISO 900 70mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

The other thing you will see in all these photos is that in order to show off the depth of field I shoot an an angle. If I shot the puzzle by standing over it, everything would be in the same focal plane.  Everything would be tack sharp. It wouldn’t look nearly as interesting.

Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 200 60mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8) SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
Nikon D700 1/60th f2.8 ISO 200 60mm (Nikon 24-70 f2.8)
SB600 Bounce 1/8th CTO gel Aperture Priority Mode
(click on any image for a larger slideshow)

Take my challenge right now and spend 15 minutes shooting stuff around your house.  The only photos I posed was the shoes on the treadmill. The rest were just my natural surroundings. Also pay particular attention to how you went about shooting each photo so you can figure out the formula that works for you and your gear.

Quick Tips:

  1.  Get really close.  If you have an DSLR great, if you don’t and are using a camera phone, get as close as you can. Take several shots focusing on different parts of the stuff in your photo.
  2. If you can zoom (real zoom, not digital), zoom in as much as possible.  If were shooting with my 18-200 or 70-200 I would have taken all these photos zoomed as much as possible (ie at 200mm)
  3. If you can set the aperture, set it wide open (f2.8 vs f8).  Consider using aperture priority mode on your camera.
  4. Don’t shoot objects head on.  Shoot them from an angle. It gives them depth and dimension. Plus if you are achieving narrow depth of filed is shows it off nicely.
  5. If you have a flash and can bounce it, do it. All these shots were with the flash bounced off the ceiling. White ceilings in some cases, but in the workshop yellow insulation and shop lights were all part of the exposure. Bouncing softens the light significantly making it look way more professional.

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