A Few Tips for Taking Great Quarantine Photos

If you’re like me, you probably envision great photography involving one’s ability to travel to exotic and fantastic places, meeting new exciting people. As I am sure you are well aware, this quarantine no doubt has put a damper on those dreams, and it probably has stifled your creative flow. However, why should that be the case? Here are three ideas to relieve that quarantine boredom and get some great photos, all while staying safe!

Tips For Taking Great Quarantine Photos

1. Backyard Beauty

That’s right; you don’t even have to look far to find great photos, they’re just a few steps away! Backyards are great, especially in the summertime. Summer is an excellent time for anyone interested in macrophotography. With a host of insects and flowers and a plethora of daylight, there certainly is a great photo opportunity around the bend!

If bugs and macrophotography isn’t your thing, outdoor activities offer a vast array of subject material to photograph. Or if you’re a parent (or a proud uncle like myself), then catching memorable moments in the sun with your young ones is a great photo opp! 

So, for instance, you do decide to photograph a flower, you can make it really stand out by making it into what is commonly called a Black and Bright photo. This is relatively simple to accomplish and reasonably inexpensive. When you’ve found a close-up photo of a bloom that you like, log on to Canva and subscribe to a premium account. This will allow you to remove the background of the image you desire and you can overlay it on a black backdrop. This will allow for the true vibrance of your photo to reach new levels of stunning.

You can turn your already stunning photographs into gorgeous wallpapers for your phone or desktop!

If you’re in the US or a country like Japan that has several summer festivals, summer is an excellent opportunity to get some stunning photographs of fireworks! It is unlikely that the firework portion of these festivals will not be taking place, so get in a safe place away from people and stay tuned for July, when I give you five tips for capturing fantastic firework photos! 

Capture the magic of the fireworks for all time!

2. Take Advantage of Light! 

Because we’re heading into summer, light is in no short supply! Light is the photographer’s best friend. The long hours means we have more time to be outside and have more events to photograph. The key is to know when light is on your side! I am sure everyone is familiar with the Golden Hour, one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. 

What about when the sun goes down? How can we take advantage of light and the pleasing nighttime air? I suggest light painting! What is light painting? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds, painting with light! Light painting only requires a light source, a standard DSLR camera, and a basic knowledge of Manual Mode. In my own light paintings, I tend to buy a line of steel-string and attach it to a piece of steel wool. Then I spin the wool around to test that it’ll stay connected to the string.  

When the sun goes down, I get my tripod, set the camera up. I recommend setting your ISO to 100, your shutter speed for 30 seconds, and your F -stop at f/14. This shutter speed should give you enough time to run into the frame if you’re going solo. Then light the steel wool on fire and spin it around. You will capture some fascinating and abstract photographs this way. As always, be safe when you’re doing this. I suggest finding an empty parking lot where there’s not a risk of setting something on fire. 

Taking great Quarantine Photos
Don’t be afraid to get creative with light painting, you can adjust colors on Adobe Lightroom!

If this seems like a lot of effort or money is an issue, there are other ways to get some great shots. Even the flashlight on your phone can create stunning and unique designs. If you’re in the United States and you have access to sparklers, those also act as an excellent paintbrush. But what if your phone does not have a flashlight and you can’t access sparklers? Worry not! An ordinary flashlight will do the trick! If you want crisp designs, it’s best to use a smaller light source where you have more control over the light and the shapes you want to capture.

Taking great Quarantine Photos
If you want to create a more concrete design, use a smaller instrument, and trace it once in the air.

3. Go for a drive! 

This tip might seem silly, but it has been a lifesaver for my Instagram. I have lived in the same town and the same house for twenty years, and until this quarantine, I never would have dreamed there were so many amazing places right outside my back door. There are so many amazing places that are a short distance away that don’t get much foot traffic! Where I live in particular, I recently discovered acres of farmland. I have been lucky to be able to photograph livestock and abandoned farm equipment. 

Taking great Quarantine Photos
All of these photos I took less than five miles from my home, you never know what you’ll find when you take to the streets in search of a story to tell!

Final Thoughts on Taking Great Quarantine Photos

The key is to get out and explore; you’ll never know what lies in your neighborhood that hasn’t been photographed, or at the very least, hasn’t been photographed in the way that you’re going to shoot it!

I can sit here and give my suggestions and my tips, but really, it’s up to you to capture the best of this world! All the technical knowledge in the world cannot give you a creative eye or help you see the world in a new way. For that, it takes practice, patience, and developing an artist’s mindset! Until next time, stay busy, stay sane, stay safe! 

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Graham Ohayon-O'Shaughnessy

I love to photograph the amazing world around me and tell stories through my work. I currently use a Canon 5D Mark ii and Lightroom CC to edit my shots! I hope that we can grow and learn together!