43 NIKON PROJECTS

Orig­i­nal land­scapes Colour­ful por­traits Ex­treme close-ups Creative Ab­stracts

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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.

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