“Staycation” photos in your backyard

You can find plenty of perfect pictures within your property line

My backyard isn’t much to look at. It’s a bit overgrown, the grass consists of thick clumps surrounded by clay-like dirt, the fence is aging but not gracefully, and there’s this huge maple tree throwing the entire yard into deep shade. And yet, it is quite photogenic.

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We have an old trampoline, left by the former owners, that is a magnet for local children; all kinds of wildlife visit our deck (and we suspect a few critters have made the area underneath our deck their home), and we have just enough flowers planted to provide interesting subject matter for my macro rig.

While I have many photos shot in and around my backyard, these three reflect one approach.

First, we have an overview of the yard. I pointed the camera at one area; how many potential photographic settings do you see from this scene? The late afternoon sun shining through the leaves of the overwhelmingly large tree offer a creative challenge. How do you control the light?

In the first shot—a still life—I focused on the effect of the dappled sunlight on the trampouline's safety net and how it lit up the ball left on the bouncing surface. The composition uses the classic Rule of Thirds. I switched it to black and white in Adobe Photoshop Elements to emphasize the light and lines.

Just a few minutes later, my daughter started bouncing, and using on-camera flash to help freeze action and to compensate for the deepening shade cast by the tree. She kept bouncing, I kept shooting, for over 20 minutes. This one was a keeper. And yes, there are plenty more where that came from! Camera: Canon D40, 17-85mmmm f/4-5.6 stabilized lens, Canon Speedlite 430 EX TTL flash.


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