Behind The Shot

Happy Trails

Canon 6D, Canon 24-105mm lens @ F4, 1/60s, ISO 800, 66mm

with Dianne Whitehead

Tell us about yourself and your journey into photography so far…

I have always loved taking photos, but it was not until I got my first DSLR (about 10 years ago) that I realized photography was much more than just recording events. I have a cousin who is also keen on getting out with her camera, and we did a photography beginners course together. I found it exciting but, at the same time, rather daunting as there seemed to be so much to learn.

Then I began a 365 project, putting an image up every day on the 365 Project website for a year… nine years later and I’m still participating! I find it makes me look for things to photograph each day and serves as a photographic diary too. I have seen a huge improvement in my photography over this time. I am also a member of The Waiuku Camera Club and enjoy the company and challenge of taking images for their competitions.

How would you describe your photography? Is there a genre you’re most passionate about?

For me, photography is a form of recreation that brings me peace and puts the world into perspective. I find myself drawn to the landscape and nature genres as these take me to places where I can slow down, observe, wait for the light and give myself some space in a busy world.

I don’t really have a specific style, except to say that I prefer ‘real’ looking images and don’t spend a lot of time on the computer editing and manipulating my photos.

What are you shooting with?

I generally shoot with a Canon 6D. To go with that, I have a 70-200mm, 100mm, and a wide-angle lens (which I admit to not using as often as I thought I would). I also have a Manfrotto 190 tripod.

I also shoot with a Sony alpha 6000, which is a nice light option. I am seldom without a camera, so I carry a Lumix TZ220 in my handbag, and of course, my phone is never far away either.

Tell us about your photo

For a long time, I have wanted to try to get a nice silhouette image of someone's face and decided a child's face would look nicest.

It is always nice to try something different, so when my 22-month-old grandson was staying at the end of August, and we had a lovely sunrise, I tried a silhouette shot, and this is the result.

Rudy had just woken up, so I quickly gathered him up and stood him outside against the gorgeous sunrise sky. He was still somewhat sleepy and stood looking at the cows over the fence, so stood nicely and didn’t move. I love the messy wispy hair and especially the bit sticking out at the back; this photo was taken before he’d had his first haircut making it a great image to look back on when he’s older, and his hair is not so wispy. His cute wee face looked so nice against the colours, and to me, this image represents the innocence of childhood.

His parents were delighted with this photo, and it made a nice framed print to give to them. My daughter has shown it to friends with children of a similar age, and now they all want one!

What was happening behind the camera?

We live in a rural setting and have wide views to the east, which means we see some fabulous sunrises. The sunrise on this particular morning was beautiful and so suitable for a silhouette image. The cows over the fence were being nosy and served as a great distraction for my cute wee subject, meaning he stood nicely. I had to stand him on the outside table to get a better angle to remove trees and buildings, which would have made the image too busy.

All photographers realise how quickly the colour can change at sunrise and sunset, so there was a bit of urgency to take the image.

I used Av for this shot so I could get the photo without any hesitation. I had the ISO at 800 because I knew my subject wasn't likely to stand still for long and that the colours wouldn’t last either - another couple of minutes and the image would have been very bland.

What editing did you do to this photo?

Very little editing was done to this image. I just tweaked the colours and contrast a little in Photoshop Elements. Taking the image is the fun part of photography, not spending ages on the computer; however, learning Photoshop properly is one of my next learning goals!

What tips can you share with readers for achieving a similar silhouette portrait?

I think it is important to keep silhouette images simple and uncluttered whilst capturing strong colours. Composition is important in silhouettes too, so that the image looks balanced.

A good strong silhouette image needs to be taken with the subject between the photographer and the light. Focus on the edge of the subject, where it is against the light because the camera will have difficulty focussing on the dark subject.

On a final note, the winter months are good times for sunrise silhouette images, as you don't have to get out of your cosy bed so early!

What else should we know about you, this photo, or your photography in general?

I continue to learn about photography, reading lots and looking at videos for inspiration. We have a camper van, and photography is a great hobby while my husband is happily fishing. Taking photos makes me slow down and appreciate all the wonderful things around me.