Here’s part 2 of our two-part article on how to get more interesting photos when you’re stuck with an icky shooting environment. Keeping your focus on your subject is what counts–whether you are taking photographs of the kids, family or your pets. Size up the situation and take a few suggestions for making the most of a dull landscape.

First step: take test shots and start fine tuning. Fire off a few. Adjust the settings and then get into a groove. You know the term ‘to chimp?’ In photo lingo that means take a look at each shot on the LCD panel to be sure your shots are AOK.

If the landscape is dull, it could be the best oppertunity for portraits, experiment with depth-of-field

Each style of shot below will likely require a re-jiggering of settings: exposure, depth of field, maybe angle and definitely point of focus should be considered.

  1. Tuck into texture
    So maybe you’re outdoors with a variety of vegetation. Nothing seems harmonious and the branches keep getting in the way on every attempt of a family portrait. Bring Mother Nature into the shot and have subjects mix and mingle with the trees. Even if there’s just one tree in your forest the viewer has no idea this is the case. Shoot close to your subjects and maybe even place the camera overhead and angle it down. Experiment and have faces look upward, and try some looking away from the camera. You never know what will work best. If you are shooting in a shadowed area remember to check settings and exposure. Also be mindful of under eye shadows. Oh, and those branches that seem to sprout out of a head—watch those too.
  2. Solar flare
    Used to be that images with sun flares and hot spots were considering bad, but these days they are in vogue. You can position your subjects with their backs to the sun, then angle your camera toward or into the sun. What you get is an ultra blast-out background; sometimes you can position things such that there are rays emanating from the sides of your subject. Things to know: much of your subject will be thrown into shadowy areas so details may be hard to see. That light will also likely soften the overall vibe and shift the color palette. Since this can be a rather extreme technique to try, think artsy experimental. Use caution—the sun’s powerful rays can damage a digital camera sensor so do not point the lens directly into the sun.

Black and white photos are a great way to hide an ugly photo location

  1. Tried and True: convert to B&W
    By converting to black and white you can tone down a distracting panoply of tones and patterns. The eye is naturally attracted to the lightest parts of an image, so map out how light falls within the frame. Simplicity rules for classic black and white shots. Add a little noise when editing to give your image timeless film look. Not going to edit? If your camera has an ISO control start bumping it up higher and higher (maybe you start at 200 and dialing to 800 or higher). Did you know that most cameras and smartphones have in-camera B&W conversions? Shoot a photo then do a quick filter or retouch to see what you have.

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