Almost half of planet Earth’s population is currently under some sort of travel restriction, with many of us following strict social distancing rules to try and combat the spread of COVID-19.
This has left huge sections of the population stuck at home for much longer periods than they’re used to, sensibly avoiding any unnecessary travel.
Unfortunately, the effect on us photographers has been profound.
No longer can we head out for sunrise shoots among the bluebells. Street photography is out of the question as cities go into lockdown. Wedding photographers are lamenting a summer of cancelled weddings.
Lockdown doesn’t have to spell the end of your photography, though.
We all know how cathartic and therapeutic photography can be. Hell, that’s probably the reason most of us took it up in the first place!
There is no time more important than now to look after your mental well being, so dust off that camera and inject some creativity into your home life with these photography ideas to try at home.
This is a new obsession of mine ever since I came across some very talented photographers on Twitter (one of which is below).
You can really take this in any direction you want, but my personal approach is to try and create lifelike scenes and landscapes using Lego by placing the figures in miniature landscapes created using natural materials.
So yes, my office is now slowly filling up with Lego Star Wars models, sand, more than a few rocks and a smattering of plant life.
The Lego Star Wars sets are my personal favorite and, while some are obscenely expensive (over $1,000 for this Super Destroyer!) you can get some reasonable deals, such as the one below.
- Includes Anakin Skywalker in special snow gear and Talz Chieftain with spear minifigures
- Freeco Speeder with opening cockpit and rear cargo compartment
I’ve set my little ‘studio’ up by a window which, in combination with the blind and a flashlight, can be used to create all manner of lighting effects.
It’s still a work in progress but the opportunities are endless and it’s a great way to pass a few hours, first by constructing the Lego and then by setting up the scenes to photograph. For reference, here’s one of my favorites from a very talented photographer:
Macro photography in the garden
It’s currently springtime in the northern hemisphere, and that means just one thing: Nature is coming back to life.
Flowers are blooming, leaves are growing and gardens are becoming more vibrant by the day. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, strap on a macro lens (or use one of our budget friendly macro photography hacks) and spend some time getting lost in the minutiae of your garden.
- Use a tripod to make fine focus adjustments easier.
- If depth of field is a problem, try focus stacking.
- Look past the obvious – photos of flowers are pretty, but get really creative by exploring individual petals, patterns and the relationship between different plants.
- Always pay attention to the background. Nothing ruins a macro image like an errant twig.
Don’t have a garden? Buy a bunch of flowers and bring the outdoors in (and get some brownie points in the process).
Make use of household items
There are tons of interesting things you can do with generic household items, and the only real limit is your imagination.
Combining oil and other liquids is a common stepping stone into the world of household abstract photography, with the interactions between different liquids making some very interesting patterns and formations.
- Experiment with different surfaces and backgrounds. Try using a glass-bottomed dish for your mixture and use colored card or paper as a background.
- Likewise, experiment with lighting. One of my favorite methods is to place a pane of glass between two chairs, put my clear dish on top of that and then play with the lighting (make the room dark and use a flashlight).
- Use food coloring. You won’t regret it.
The tried and tested oil and water approach is a great way to stretch the limits of your creativity, but don’t stop there. Soap bubbles are interesting subjects, and I’ve even seen talented photographers create entire series of images out of seemingly mundane items such as doormats and towels using techniques like Intentional Camera Movement (you can find more information on ICM here) and multiple exposures.
Even something as simple as photographing a rain-soaked window using selective focusing can produce some wonderfully melancholic images.
Practise your portraits
I’ll be the first to admit it – I’m not a great portrait photographer.
I just find it very difficult to take portraits creatively, beyond the bog standard Facebook photo. That being said, now is a great opportunity for me to improve on those weaknesses.
In the weeks of social distancing I’ve found myself taking more and more portrait photos of my family, with my daughter being the most willing subject.
I’m still not there yet, but the worst that can happen is that I end up with a large back catalog of precious memories, which is certainly no bad thing!
Unfortunately my lack of skill in this particular area means I can’t provide any meaningful tips, but I will say what I always say: Experiment.
Experiment with dark rooms, flash, natural light, backgrounds and pretty much any other variable you can think of.
Water droplet photography
Water droplet photography has grown into an entire sub-genre of photography, with the most creative and experiences boasting a dedicated water droplet setup to make the most of their attempts.
Of course, you can go and buy yourself a full dripper setup and some fancy gadgets and end up with your kitchen looking like a chemistry lab, but you certainly don’t need to.
In fact, all you need to give water droplet photography a go is:
- A macro lens (or one of our budget friendly macro photography hacks)
- A speedlight (even your on-camera flash will do the trick)
- A ‘dripper’ (a plastic bag with a hole cut in it can a surprisingly good job)
- A container for the water to drip into
After that it’s just a case of practise, experimentation and patience. It will be frustrating at first, but eventually you’ll find a method that works for you and you can spend hours upon hours in an almost meditative state photographing water droplets.
Reprocess your old images
If you’re anything like me, you have a huge library of unprocessed images sitting on your hard drive just waiting for your love and attention.
Now that you have a bit more spare time, why not improve your editing skills? Get to grips with Lightroom and start working your way through some of those old photos, and maybe reprocess some of your favorites and see if you can make them even better.
It’s the perfect time to learn some new processing techniques and feel like you’re still advancing your photography skillset. This could be anything from simply learning about Lightroom presets to speed up your workflow or going in depth into a Photoshop tutorial.
Speaking of which, we’ll be doing an article on the best post-processing YouTube channels in the near future!
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.