So you want to capture that perfect sunset at an idyllic location but you don't have a tripod or a cable release, what do you do? There are many ways to overcome the lack of gear and use what you have on hand.
A recent trip to Milford Sound gave me an opportunity to make do with the gear I had at the time and improvise. I didn't have a tripod, a cable release or anything to help me set up a long exposure shot. The sun was going down fast and I had a very small window of light.
I improvised and used things that had worked in the past. Whenever I am faced with these opportunities to get a sunset shot, but I don't have all my gear on me, these are the steps I follow to get that magical shot.
Go about finding objects that can act as stabilisers. A bench, railing, rock, piece of driftwood, your camera bag or something fairly flat that will keep your camera stable. Eliminate camera shake even without a cable release and your shots have the potential to be amazing.
Put your camera on bulb or use a long exposure to let more light into your photo. This will lessen the digital noise in your shot, especially if you lower your ISO and lengthen your shutter speed time.
Take a number of shots at different settings on Manual so you can work out the optimal shutter speed and aperture. If you keep your camera on Program then you will either get a dark photo as your camera will be trying to compensate for a bright sky. Or you will get a bright photo as your camera will compensate for the dark foreground. Either way, it probably won't result in an optimal shot.
When you use exposure compensation you can set your camera to take shots at different exposures which will enable you to either stack your photos together in another editing programme or you can pick the optimal photo from a group of shots. To do this you need to find your exposure compensation menu on your camera and set it to take around 3-5 photos at different exposure intervals.
For example, you can set the camera to take a photo at the camera’s recommended setting, then go up 1/3 of a stop (overexpose) and go down 1/3 stop (underexpose). Then you will have 3 photos that you can stack together to get an image with more dynamic range. You can choose any amount of over and underexposure, within reason, to get your desired result.
Set your camera’s timer for 3-10 seconds and then you will get a stable shot and you will eliminate camera shake. You will want to do a long exposure for your sunset shots to allow more light in the shot, so the best way to eliminate a blurry shot is to not touch your camera while it is taking a shot. Any small wobble will produce some movement so set up your timer for a blur-free shot.
Whenever you are faced with the opportunity of getting a beautiful sunset, don't think you can't take a shot. Make do with what you have on hand and improvise. You can always get a shot if you think outside the square. I'm sure there are more good improvising methods out there. Please comment if you have some.
Why does it seem that we need to move mountains just to get things achieved when we are un-motivated? Some days I struggle with staying motivated and others I am right onto it.
How do we maintain motivation to keep us focused and aiming towards our goals or dreams? You know what you want but you have to figure out a way to get there. I think a good place to start is to look ahead and realise what the end goal is. Know that you want to get there and set plans or strategies in place to make that goal.
I am in favour of making lists as it gives me bite-sized chunks to tick off. Bullet points work as they aren’t too overwhelming but they keep you on track. A large list that you stick on your fridge or on a wall can help too. This way you get to see it daily and you are reminded of what you need to get done. Plus you can’t walk past your fridge without seeing it.
Research has proven that writing down your goals, no matter how insignificant or unrealistic they are, you’ll have a greater chance of achieving them.
Assign times to get things done. If you have Google Calendar this can be a handy tool to make your schedule in. Block out sections of time to get things done. Use timers or reminders to keep you on track.
Tell someone about your intentions. I find this one of the best tools as being accountable holds you to your plan or goal. I remember telling people I was going to run 10k in the Christchurch Marathon so I had to follow this through. How bad would it have looked if I’d told people and I’d pulled out?! Becoming accountable stops you procrastinating and keeps you on track.
Find a friend or work colleague you can work with when you want to get motivated. Having a supporter and confidant will help you work towards your goals. It is like having a coach who will make sure you keep on the ball and follow through with your goals.
Often friends will be in the same boat as you and they can’t motivate themselves either. You can help a friend out and support them to achieve their goals and they can pay you back by helping you do the same. If you both help each other out it will be a win-win situation.
You might be feeling like you just can’t get the motivation to finish or start something so how about you treat yourself after you have achieved your goal. Something simple like a coffee or going to see a movie might be what you need to get your motivation going.
Make sure you don’t have massive goals to achieve as this is sure to stop your motivation. Taking on too much at once will stop you in your tracks fast. Break things down into small achievable goals that you know you can get done. This way you know they are achievable and you will be able to stay motivated for these mini or micro-tasks.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve what you want to and your lack of motivation stops you. If you beat yourself up about not being motivated enough you will fall further into that un-motivated black hole.
Just give yourself time and get the help of others to keep you motivated. Having friends and others keep you accountable will really keep you on track. If you really struggle one day, just put it behind you and move onto your tasks a day later. Sometimes a break can refresh you and make you look at your goals and re-analyse them.
Remember not to be hard on yourself if you can’t complete something. Make up for your downtime by doing extra the next day and get your buddy to help you for extra support. Pat yourself on the back for what you have achieved to date and not what you haven’t achieved.Give yourself treats and rewards and tick off your achievements. You can do this, you just have to remind yourself what the end goal is and that it's achievable if you stay motivated.