I spent Thanksgiving with friends in Summerville South Carolina, my third visit since they moved from Connecticut. It’s located about 45 minutes outside Charleston and is one of the more popular communities near Charleston. I brought my camera gear, but choose not to get a car rental and drive to different photo locations as I have done on previous trips. My decision not to get a car rental was in part due to my short stay only through the weekend and my effort to find images that are readily around Summerville instead of driving to popular photographic locations at one of the great beaches in the state.
In doing so I wanted to improve my skills in finding different compositions. I also wanted to take photos of the Thanksgiving dinner itself, the preparation of the food, the table settings, and other images to capture one of my favorite holidays. I wanted the photos of Thanksgiving to be creative rather than your typical snapshot. It would also get me out of my comfort zone of taking landscapes that I typically capture.
For Thanksgiving, I used my two workhorse lenses a 24-70 mm f/2.8 to capture the dining room and kitchen and my 70-200 mm f/2.8 telephoto lens to isolate subjects within the dining room and to take close-up images of the food. For the dining room shoots, I used a shorter focal length to provide a sense of size and openness within the dining room. Being indoors with both strong light and shadows I was frequently changing my manual settings, particularly my ISO settings to ensure a proper shutter speed to get sharp images. I took photos in both portrait and landscape format to give me different perspectives of my subject. When working with the telephoto lens I wanted to isolate and compress my subject, selecting longer focal lengths with larger aperture settings.
Taking photos of the food was a new experience for me, which I actually enjoyed and upon reviewing my results may consider taking more photos of food. My telephoto lens was my obvious selection as I wanted a tightly cropped and compressed image of the food. I also wanted to use the light and shadows to add ambiance to my images and help emphasize the subject. Section of a larger aperture to create a shallow depth of field also helped draw attention to the subject by creating separation from the background.
The next day was Black Friday and instead of navigating through crowded box stores and malls we decided to browse the smaller stores in the historic district of Summerville. As my wife and our friends were going in and out of the local shops I set off on my own to find some photos. Walking around the shops and side streets I searched for compositions opening my mind and eyes to potential subjects. Looking for unique items, patterns, and visualizing smaller compositions within larger subjects. It was partially sunny providing some challenges in setting my manual settings depending on the presence of the sun. This provided different images such as back lighting of trees hanging onto their autumn colors or diffused lighting to capture the tonal quality of an image. All my photos were captured with my 70-200 mm telephoto lens.
For the first 30 minutes, I did not press the shutter release but soon started to capture images especially those zoomed in close to focus on certain elements within a subject. Perhaps it was different location and subjects that presented themselves to me that took time for me to visualize. It’s easier to visualize sweeping landscape photos or as I like to call them National Geographic photos. Finding beautiful photos in the smaller details of our surroundings can be more difficult, but we just need to look around because they’re all around us.
Also finding beautiful images in places where we live or work may not be easy or seem ordinary compared to images posted on Instagram of exotic locations around the world, but again we just need to open our eyes and mind to the beautiful images around us. This experience of looking around and finding pleasing photos was very rewarding and I encourage those new to photography to do the same. Where ever you are there’s a photo to take and as they say the best camera you have is the one with you, including your phone, which I use myself. All images posted were taken with my Nikon DSLR camera, except the first photo of the American flag taken with my iPhone, which is my favorite photo.