Go to a zoo or a farm and photograph animals. Photograph only animals, not people on horseback, for instance, or an animal with a trainer.
Goals to consider: Try to get more than just a photograph of an elephant or cow or dog. See if you can capture something special about one particular animal.
Tips: Animals, like people, are highly expressive and mobile. To photograph them well, you’ll have to catch them in action or wait till one stops in an interesting pose. Experiment with perspective. Get in close enough to crop out the background completely. Step back and show the animal in its environment. Show the whole animal, just a part of it- an ear, eye, tail, foot or several animals together.
Look for texture (such as an elephant’s hide) and pattern (a zebra’s stripes). In addition to zoos and farms, you might find good subjects in a park or the nature reserve. Even in the middle of a city, you should be able to find dogs and cats; you might find horses; and you will certainly find pigeons. If there is a cage between you and your subject, get as close to the bars or wire as possible (assuming you can’t shoot between them). The cage will then just be a blur, especially if you use a large aperture. Try to open up to about f/2.8, but remember that you’ll need to focus very carefully. If your subject is also fairly far away, the cage may disappear entirely. Alternatively, if you’re at a zoo, an outdoor show may give you an opportunity to photograph animals outside of their cages.
People at work are interesting photographic subjects and provide scope for exciting action shots. Because they are involved in an activity with which they are familiar, they feel less self-conscious about being photographed and consequently reveal a lot about their character and lifestyle, giving an honesty and integrity to the photographs.
Be open, and people will usually co-operate.
Photograph water any kind of water, from a puddle to an ocean.
Goals to consider: Capture some of water’s different qualities: calm and still, rippling, splashing, falling, cascading, moody, etc.
Tips: Watch for interesting reflections on calm water; for water interacting with other objects (people, animals, rocks); for how water affects and is affected by its environment; for water as an environment; for drops of water on leaves, glass, metal, etc. Try looking into the water for fish, pebbles, discarded bottles or whatever else you might find. Photograph a landscape or a city street through a wet window in a home, apartment or car. Keep an eye out for floating leaves, sticks or boats, anything half in and half out of the water. Look for things growing in water: lilies, grass, algae. You may want to photograph an object and its reflection, or just the reflection. Try shooting a calm reflection first, and then tossing in a pebble to see what effect that has. Finally, you might catch people playing in water – at a fire hydrant, in a swimming pool, along a river or at the ocean.
You can capture the items on tables from a wide range of source locations. This can be something that you capture as a natural event that takes place, or meticulously put together as part of a studio picture.
Still life studio photography is a precise, time-consuming craft, requiring meticulous attention to detail, cleanliness and great patience. Also, their movable fronts and backs allow you to alter the perspective distortion and to control depth of field. Build up the picture piece by piece, assessing the impact of each additional prop or light. For a basic lighting set-up begin with top back lighting, which makes the object stand out from the background, and a front reflector.
Whichever direction you go, be sure that the items provide a narrative to a story the viewer will need to “uncover”.
The host of visual delights offered by street life make it well worth overcoming any shyness you might have about photographing people in public places. By remaining unobtrusive you can capture enchantingly natural poses, and even if you are spotted, direct confrontation between subject and camera can produce equally striking results. Consider using a tripod or bench, using the self-timer so that people don’t see your finger on the button
As you photograph store windows, look for two things: merchandise on display and reflections in the glass. Be careful to keep yourself out of the photograph as much as possible. It is not acceptable for you to be clearly visible.
Goals to consider: Try to catch something unusual, especially something humorous. Don’t just show a window with things in it. Make sure your photographs say something about those things.
Tips: Look for patterns and interesting juxtapositions (or combinations) of objects. Notice how the reflection interacts with what’s inside the window. Watch for signs (inside the window or reflected in it). Keep an eye out for interesting mannequins, or displays being rearranged. Consider getting two windows together in one photograph. Be conscious of your cropping. As a general rule, only the window should in the photograph, not the rest of the building. But if the building relates to what’s in the window, then include both.
Pay particular attention to converging lines caused by perspective. Make sure they work with the composition, not against it. Several tricks will help keep you out of the photograph. Stand at an angle to the window so it isn’t reflecting things from your direction. Or get down low, so the reflection passes over you. Position yourself so that you line up with the frame of the window. Or stand so your reflection is in a dark part of the window. This can be achieved by standing so something dark (a shadow, for example, or a building) is behind you, or by lining yourself up with some dark object inside the window.
Experiment with these techniques and they’ll soon become automatic. (Note: It is acceptable, and often unavoidable, for part of you to be visible. Just try not to produce a photograph that looks like a self-portrait in a window.) It is perfectly acceptable for other people to be visible, either inside the window or reflected in it.
Photograph an object or person as a silhouette.
Goals to consider: Make sure that the silhouetted figure makes sense as a silhouette, that it’s clear and distinct. In addition, be very aware of negative space, especially if the figure is entirely within the frame of your photograph.
Tips: This project is difficult because you’ll be shooting an object against the sky. As a result, your light meter will get very confused. The “point of departure” setting is no help because you don’t want a normally exposed image: the figure should be black against a white sky. So, take a meter reading off the sky and then open your lens up two stops wider than indicated by the meter. For example, if the meter indicates f/16, shoot at f/8 instead. (Remember, the meter will want the sky to be gray, which is not what you want.) Bracket a few stops in both directions to see what effect that has. Try to clearly isolate your subject, unless other details work well with it. Good subjects include trees, people, playground equipment, machinery, and objects with holes in them that allow some light to show through. Avoid plain rectangular shapes like a building or door, since they don’t tend to produce interesting silhouettes.