43 NIKON PROJECTS
Original landscapes Colourful portraits Extreme close-ups Creative Abstracts
At the peak of summer, there can be so much to photograph it can feel overwhelming. How do you know which subject to focus on? What if it’s raining? Can you shoot in midday sun? Well, allow us to remove any photographer’s block you might be experiencing. Here are 43 summer photo projects for you to choose from. Whether you have a drizzly British summer or a dazzling Californian heatwave, there’ll be at least one to keep you busy. You could pick a single project and focus on that all summer, or you could try to shoot all 43. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, they are all designed to get you out in the world, Nikon in hand. Don’t forget to share your shots with us online (www.facebook.com/ nphotomag) or on Twitter at @nphotomag. So, let’s start our first project…
01 Fill up with flowers
Faced with a beautiful floral display, the temptation is always to reach for a wide-angle lens to fit as many as possible in the frame – but zoom in with a telephoto instead and the blooms will appear more densely packed, for a photo that’s absolutely blooming with colour. You won’t be able to get every flower sharp this way, so pick one to focus on, choose a widish aperture (your choices may be limited by bright light on a particularly sunny day) and let the rest become an impressionistic blur. The flowers will move in the slightest breeze, so set a fast shutter speed and shoot handheld.
02 Sprinkle lips
There are hundreds and thousands of ways to shoot summer, and this is one of them. This is an easy project that you could do anywhere and still get that summery vibe. Get some hundreds and thousands (sprinkles) and lick your lips. Pucker up and coat your lips in the sprinkles. Pick away any excess bits that don’t conform to your lip shape, then take a shot in a well-lit area. The more colourful the sprinkles, the better the shot will look. Boost the colours in post-production using Photoshop’s Vibrance slider.
03 Silky shores
You need a tripod for this one. You’re going to photograph the sea with a focal point in the distance – we suggest a lighthouse. Put your Nikon on the tripod, and attach a variable neutral density filter on the end of the lens. Now twist the filter until the scene is much darker. Aim to get around 30 seconds of exposure time. This will give you a glassy sheen on the water, and if you have some fast-moving clouds overhead the long shutter speed will brush out the movement in those as well.
04 Brolly good show
Repetition is beautiful in photography. Colour, shapes, patterns – they can all coalesce to create works of art. When you’re at the beach, find a long stretch of sand with beach umbrellas/parasols. Stand back and shoot long with a telephoto lens to capture 10, 20 or even more in a single frame.
05 Cool in the shade
If you can’t find a line of matching beach umbrellas, you can come in close with a 50mm or even a wide-angle lens to get the detail of the pattern on a single one. Fill the frame with it, and make sure it has striking lines or vibrant colours for that uplifting, summery vibe.
06 There’s always one…
…That child that gets his hands on an ice cream and proceeds to plaster it all over his face. Instead of wiping it up straight away, grab your Nikon and capture the innocence of youth. If you can combine this with a winsome expression – you’re made. Because children move so quickly put your Nikon in Continuous AF mode and switch to Continuous high burst drive mode to take multiple photos quickly while holding down the shutter button.
07 Up, up and away
Try a fantastical take on the levitation photo. Make a surreal composite by photographing different sections of your photograph separately: first, shoot your model jumping in the air, the balloons on a tether and the background separately, but take all three photos in the same location so the lighting is identical in each. Then it’s just a matter of cutting them out in your favourite image editing software and putting them in the right place. In Photoshop go to File>Scripts>Load files into stack, then select your images. Once you’ve clicked on OK, add a layer mask and, with the Brush tool, paint out everything you don’t want on that layer. Then with the Move tool, move the pieces around until it all fits together.
08 A splash of colour
You can get this shot in a splash. All you need is a cheap fish tank, some water and some fruit. With your Nikon in hand, drop the fruit in the water and press the shutter button just after the fruit drops into the tank. If you time it right you’ll end up with a splash on the water line, some bubbles and a clear view of the fruit. To make sure you’re getting the fruit absolutely pin-sharp, put a Speedlight to one side of the tank (or both sides, if you have two of them). Choose a 1/200 sec shutter speed (the maximum sync speed of flash) and shoot away. Turn the power of your flash up (or down) and try again if the scene is too dark (or bright).
09 Man’s best friend
A dog is only one of man’s best friends; the other is your Nikon. Take both to the beach (or find a willing dog when you’re there) and get down low, so your camera is at the dog’s eye level. Throw a ball, and when the dog bounds back to you, fire away. Use Continuous burst to take lots of photos quickly.
10 The blue moment
The sun’s gone down, it’s the end of the day, but don’t pack away your Nikon just yet! Wait for the ‘blue moment’, that special blue glow after sunset where everything around is almost the same exposure value. Set a narrow aperture and a long shutter speed (one or two minutes is good) and blur the water and clouds into a painterly blur.
11 Make your own postcard
In Photoshop, the Horizontal and Vertical Type tools make adding simple text to your landscapes, just like you see on holiday postcards, a cinch. Hold down Shift and tap T to cycle through the four versions of the Type tool. To make two-dimensional text look like solid, three-dimensional shapes, go to the fx menu below the Layers panel and add a Bevel and Emboss layer style. This made our design’s text look like it was carved from marble.
12 Text on the beach
Carefully lit three-dimensional-looking text doesn’t merely sit on the surface of an image, it looks like it’s within the scene, and it’s easy to add in Photoshop CC. First you create the text by typing in a slogan in a blocky font, then going to 3D> New 3D Extrusion From Selected Layer. Highlight the background layer and choose Filter> Vanishing Point, then match your text’s vanishing point to that of your image so it has the same perspective as the scene. Finish off by adding colours and materials (selectable in the Properties panel), light from the same direction as the lighting in the image (via Infinite Light in the 3D panel) and a reflection in any water (Environment> Properties> Ground Plane).
13 Frozen summer
Here’s one you can do whatever the weather. Take a plastic tray and fill it with 1cm of water. Freeze it for eight hours, then place the head of a flower on top and pour more water over it. Freeze for a further eight hours and then take it out of the tray. With your Nikon, focus closely (use a macro lens if you have one, or the minimum focusing distance of your lens). Now you’ll have an icy textured macro flower shot.
14 Long-exposure seascapes
The haze has set in over the beach and it’s low tide. There are no waves, and a featureless grey sky. Surely there’s nothing you can photograph now? But there is. If you find just one focal point and put your minimalist hat on, you can shoot even in the most uninspiring conditions. Derelict piers, groynes, or structures reaching out into the sea, like The Cobb at Lyme Regis in this image, all make good focal points for minimalist seascapes.
If you want to reduce detail even further, use a 10-stop neutral density filter plus a long shutter speed to blur ripples in the water and any clouds passing across the sky. (If you’re in a busy area, it will also remove any people walking through the scene.) A shutter speed of 30 seconds is a good starting point, but if the water is quite rough increase this to a minute, or even ten minutes. You’ll need an external intervalometer for anything over 30 seconds, though, and you’ll need to put your Nikon into Bulb mode. A tripod will be essential too, as there’s no way you’ll be able to hold a camera in your hands for that long without causing severe blur.
15 Long-term documentary
Why not shoot a story that’s going to last for weeks, months or even years? It’s best to pick something physically close to home as well as close to your heart.
16 Old and new
Start with an old photo of your favourite place, then head there with your Nikon and photograph the same location, from the same angle. Blend them together on the computer to reveal just how much has changed since the original picture was taken. Just lay the two images atop one another in Photoshop and mask out one side of one layer by adding a vector mask, then use the Brush tool to fine-tune the blend.