Kevin Laspa, Photographer
Based in the Northern Great Lakes area.
Shooting with a Canon EOS-R.
Probably lost in the woods.
Hello! My name is Kevin, and I am a very amateur photography. I say very amateur, because I have only recently been dipping my toes back into the waters. Since I’ve been little my dream has always been to be a National Geographic photographer. There has always been something extremely rewarding about capturing an image and letting it tell a story. Life comes at you fast, and I realized my chances of making it as a photography were slim, so I put it into the hobby category, and focused on how I could make an impact in the world. But since this is called Lazy Creativity and not the Lazy Pharmacy student, I’ll move forward.
Keep in mind with all of this, I am not even close to an expert. Photography is all about manipulation of light. You can line up the perfect subject through the viewfinder, and if the lighting is off, you’re going to be shaking your fists at the sky. Your camera has 3 ways you can adjust your lighting to make sure the photo turns out the way you want.
First is aperture opening, also known as a f-stop. This is how large of a diameter your lens has open to expose the sensor to light. These are typically expressed as f10 or f2. Pretty easy right? Small opening less light, large opening equals more light. Just because nothing in life is ever easy, and I think there’s a technical definition, the f-stops run wonky. The larger the number the smaller the opening, and the smaller the number, the larger the opening. I like to think of it like wire gauging, but not everyone has used wire in their life, so you do you to remember it.
I know what you’re thinking, “Well Kev, you just said I need lighting, so I am gonna crank that bad ride wide open and BATHE in the glorious rays of light.” How cavalier of you! Cavalier but wrong. There are trade-offs when tinkering with the f-stop, BUT you can use them to your advantage. See when the f-stop is low, you will have one thing in focus, and the background/foreground is blurred out. This is called the depth of field. Have you ever focused on something up close to your face, and everything else blurs out, it’s same concept. There’s hard science behind it, but I’m in medicine and not physics, so save the lasers and protractors and take my word for it.
Next big one is shutter speed. In a DSLR (digital single lens reflex), there is a series of cameras that move the image of what’s in front of the lens, up through the viewfinder. When you press the shutter-release button, the first mirror flips out of the way, exposes the image to the light, and flips back. This is what the “click click” is of a camera.
Shutter speeds look like 1/100 or 1/2000. One over some number. That means that you are exposing the sensor to light for 1/100 of a second. If you keep spinning the dial you will notice the fractions start going away. Rejoice, no one likes math. The numbers start to say “3 and “15. This means that instead of a portion of a second, you are exposing the camera for the listed number of seconds.
The faster the shutter speed, the smaller amount of light you let in. So here you go again, saying “Ill bring those quotations out, drop the speed down, and make the sensor tan, Ill expose it to so much light.” Cool, I hope you brought a tripod. Despite a raging caffeine my hands are fairly steady. Even with rock steady hands, you’re bound to shimmy a bit. The second you shake the camera; the photo is going to blur. The longer you expose the sensor, the greater the chance of blur. Great if you’re trying to make every photo look like when you drank too much Kessler on your 21st. Not so great if you want crisp photos.
The third is ISO. This is the sensitivity of the sensor itself to the light. Higher ISO can make nighttime photography a breeze, but again, nothing in life is perfect. If you crank up the ISO, you get a really grainy photo, when you try to enlarge the print. So if you aren’t going to put your photos into print, here’s your crutch. However, sooner or later you’ll take a shot that you want to hang in your bathroom so everyone can admire your work while they do theirs. Just know that it’s a useful tool.
These are just some things I picked up while running around in the woods:
1. There is this rule of thirds in photography. So, if you divide what you see into thirds vertically and horizontally. At the intersection is where you are supposed to put the subject to make it show movement.
2. No one likes the center of attention. Putting your subject right in the center seems like a really good idea. You’ve found this cool thing, and you want to present it to the viewer, so you slap in right in the middle of everything. This isn’t a middle school yearbook photo.
3. Angles are your best friend. Angles will guide the viewers eyes to certain areas in the photos. In my humble opinion, I told you not to put the most interesting at the center, and this is how you do it. Use the foreground to bring the viewers eyes up or use the angle of the tree line to bring your viewer to the sunset.
4. Frame in the photo, so you will want to frame your photo. Framing means to outline something. So, if you are taking a shot of a lake, try to frame it with the tree line.
5. If you’re shooting sports, move with the subject with a high shutter speed. This will create a blurred background, and they will be in focus.
6. Angles of lights can change the mood, and photo. I know, angles and light are all you’re reading about, but that’s what photography basics boils down to. The biggest light source you’ll ever have is the sun. Always consider the shadows that are being cast, and how they impact the photo.
7. Take more than one picture of the same thing, adjusting the settings. There is no single perfect picture. All photographers take numerous photos of the same thing and sort through them later.
My Creative Process
For me, photography is all about getting off the trail. We have all seen the pictures online or in a magazine. A week later, we see the same photo of the same subject, at the same angle, with the same lighting. Lather, rinse, repeat. I like to try to find angles of things people typically don’t see it at. Take the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Have you seen the photo someone took of all the tourists in the field pretending to hold up the tower? Get off the trail, and find a new angle, a new time to take shots, or a different place to shoot it from.
Another thing that I love to do is look up new places. AllTrails is one of my most used apps. I typically shoot landscape shots. Finding a new area always to shoot excites me. Look for tourist attractions around you and go see them. You’d be amazed at the beauty you can find in a half hour drive from your location. I like to find a spot that really interests me, and study all about it. It makes me appreciate the time and want to explore the area fully. Here are a few creative takeaways:
1. Nothing in life is perfect. Even the statue of David, which millions have flocked to see, isn’t perfect. The big fellas hands are way to big for his body. Don’t get down on yourself if a shot didn’t turn out, even Michelangelo has his faults.
2. Use color! Everyone had an angsty middle school phase, and in some of us it never died. Black and white is great, but the use of color really helps your photo be unique and stand out.
3. Be patient. One time I was planning on shooting a sunrise by a bridge in my city. The sunrise was just about done, and I decided, time to pack it up. For some reason I stuck around a little longer and got a 1000-foot ship leaving the harbor by sunrise. If I had left, I would have never had one of my favorite shots.
4. Turn around. I get hyper focused in on certain things and tend to block out my surroundings. If you take the time to turn around and see everything, you will find so many new shots available.
5. Find a groove, a mojo, or anything that makes it fun. You’re out there to have fun. My go to is throw the airpods in, turn up some music that links with my surroundings, and get after it. Catch me out snapping pictures of sunrises with the best of the Backstreet Boys bumping in my ears.
So that wraps it up. I can’t express how grateful I am for you taking the time to read me ramble on about photography. Get out there, experiment, and happy shooting!