Better Pictures Project: The joys of a TNT photo location

This month’s Better Pictures Project homework is to find a spot less than 5 minutes from home – basically, a tried’n’true photo location where you know you can get decent shots quickly. Maybe it’s a neighbour’s fence, a hedge, a school or church, or a local park. Or frankly, maybe it’s your patio, your garden, your driveway, or your front hall! It doesn’t have to be fancy.

The great thing about a TNT photo location is that being somewhere familiar is more relaxing – taking pictures can be stressful enough! It also makes it easier to predict how the pictures will turn out, and you’ll get to know the time of day that works best in that spot. It’s easier to and faster to shoot, because you’ll develop a rhythm of where to set the camera, where to stand, and some basic poses that work with the space around you (lean on the wall, sit on a bench, twirl in the field, whatever feels right.) Most of all, a TNT spot means you don’t waste time wandering around wondering where to shoot!

Here are a few of my TNT locations, ranging from inside my ugly, dim apartment to out in public parks!

The Indoor Option: 

wall Collage

We live in a 1970’s apartment building, with every room crammed with boxes, piles of books, teaching stuff, CDs, comics, and so on. There is truly only one piece of wall that I can clear away and use as an indoor photo space over winter. I also use it for MMM, so that I can quickly take a picture at 7am before leaving for work. The radiator, electrical socket, and curled up linoleum aren’t the most photogenic, so I often hang fabric behind me. To change things up, sometimes I’ll use a chair or stool to sit on, or turn the camera 180 degrees to look down the hallway.

The photos I take here will never be amazing – but when I’d rather have pictures to post than not blog at all, this is my spot! I think we all need a spot like this – the one that gets the job done so we can get on with talking about the sewing we love. I can guarantee you’ll see this location again once winter comes!

Katie from What Katie Sews takes bee-you-tiful pictures inside – and she’s going to be my muse in January to give us all some tips!

My Balcony:

balcony Collage

One step up from the wall inside is my balcony. It faces a major road and is only 2m from where my neighbors in the next building are constantly smoking on their balcony, but I use it a lot anyway! Because it has a roof (aka. the floor upstairs) it actually has quite nice gentle light. I either shoot towards the brick wall, or put the camera inside the apartment and shoot through the doorway while I stand near the railing.

For a small space, I sometimes manage some quite nice photos here. As you can see, I use it all year round. (I don’t like to take the tripod out of the building when it’s snowy and icy, because one fall would mean the end of my camera, but on the balcony it feels quite safe.) The space is a bit small for my 50mm lens, so if I want a full-length shot, I have to switch to a different lens.

Meg from Cookin’ and Craftin’ always takes pics on her balcony, and they look great!

My Favourite Park:

downtown park Collage

I found this park downtown at the start of the summer, and I’ve used it again and again! It’s pretty quiet and offers a lot of variety in a really small space! All the pictures above were taken within 50m of each other. There’s a church, a bridge, a garden, a theatre, the river, and even a stone wall folly and a train track to explore. I like how this one location can give different vibes to pictures – urban or pastoral, architectural or natural. Because it’s in a valley, it gets shade relatively early in the evening so the light isn’t too harsh.

This is my favourite place to take pictures – they almost always turn out, and there are enough options that I can find somewhere else to shoot if it turns out the place I wanted has people already there!

My Newest Location

riverside Collage

Once I’d decided that September’s “homework” would be finding a new TNT location near home, I started looking at my area with whole new eyes. On my commute to work, I’d always seen joggers crossing a road then disappearing down into a forested valley – now I decided that public green space might be a good place for pictures. I looked it up online, and voila! Turns out there is a really big public park hiding right in the middle of my city. There are manicured gardens, gazebos, water features, the river, paths, forest, fields and even a bandstand which could all work for photos.

(I’ll admit I cheated and got a headstart on this one – all these pics were taken in August, with the Better Pictures Project in mind. September is a really stressful month for me so I wanted to make sure I had this homework taken care of!) 

The drawback with this location is that it’s BUSY. Lots of kids playing, families having BBQs, and retired people walking around. It’s definitely more stressful to take pictures in than the first park I mentioned above! It will take me more time to figure out the right time or day and days of the week for this place to be perfect, but I like knowing I’ve got another option in my repertoire.

Where are your TNT photo locations? Have you found a new one this month? 

This week Lauren from Lady Sewalot tried taking pics out and about with the help of her brother, and Making The Flame decided to reshoot some of her previous makes. My favourite thing about seeing people blog about the Better Pictures Project is how the make it fit their lives. We’re all just aiming for the best pics we can take, within our comfort level, with the time available. Perfection is not the goal! :) 


18 thoughts on “Better Pictures Project: The joys of a TNT photo location

  1. It’s no wonder you’re a teacher. You have a gift! Really good post, Gillian!

    At some point, I will put your tips into practice. I feel like I’m getting really close to being able to sew again. Still a few moving/unpacking chores up first, but I NEED CLOTHES DAMMIT so those may get pushed aside sooner than planned.

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    1. Hehehe – I’m so glad that Teacher-Gillian comes through – hope it’s not patronising! ;P

      I”m so glad to hear you are gearing up to sew! I know it’s hard when you’ve been out of it for so long and everything else seems more important… but you can’t go naked, lady, and you deserve time to sew!

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  2. I tried a new spot right around the corner this week. Kind of by accident, as I wasn’t feeling energetic enough to go downtown to one of my usual spots. Very convenient! It is so nice to have a wide variety of photo spots that are comfortable. Thanks for the great motivation & ideas!

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  3. Great post Gillain! Finding a spot close to home (or work) is such a great tip. I found a new, more urban spot and it’s so nice to know that the pics will work out every time I go there. The only problem with my spot…it is right outside of a cafe. I can’t really see in but everyone inside gets a front row view of my “photo shoot” ! Husband took my last pis and pointed this out and I just said…” Oh well…let’s ignore it and just take the pictures” He was more embarrassed than I was. Teehee..

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    1. Hahaha – I can just picture you psing in front of the cafe! I dare you to go inside afterwards next time and see if you get people staring at you like a celebrity!
      You know, I only just figured out in one of your recent posts that your usual spot is on your lawn/driveway??? All this time I thought it was a park! Nice place!🙂

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  4. Wow Gillian! You have a lot of great TNT photo spots. I mostly stick to my yard, but I really need good place to take photos indoors. There is quite a bit of space in my house, but it’s hard to find good lighting. I think it will be interesting this winter.

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    1. Believe me, if I had a lawn or pretty places on my property, I’d take pics there too!😛 Maybe you can rearrange some furniture this winter to make a photo nook with lots of lamps nearby for extra light!

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  5. I have failed so far this month to find a new TNT spot near home. I live right near the highway and there isn’t a lot around. I also haven’t had any new makes to photograph so the motivation has been lacking. My TNT is basically just my backyard. Sometimes I use my fence and the jasmine bush then sometimes I use the back wall of our house which is plain white. Depends on what I am after! But I am still on the hunt for that new TNT close to home. Stay tuned! Hopefully I find it soon.

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    1. What about taking pics on the sidewalk or road in front of your house? Or maybe a park or school? (Personally I like going far enough afield my neighbours won’t see me, but then again, I don’t have a wee kid in tow!😉

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  6. I live near the ocean, and going to my local beach is my TNT photo spot. I also have a hillside spot nearby that I use from time to time. It’s kinda cool, but one can see the changing seasons in the landscape behind me. One of the things I’m striving for on my blog, is photos locations that highlight Vancouver and it’s surrounding communities. And that means….PEOPLE, LOL. I try to think of myself as a tourist just getting her photo taken like the rest of the people around me, but still, I find it hard.

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  7. This is brilliant. I have to confess that I haven’t had time yet to give this a go. I live in the kind of neighbourhood where my camera would be off if I stepped away from the tripod for 2 seconds so I am going to try a bit further afield. I am really finding these posts inspirational plus a bit hard kick in the @$$ to get motivated. Thank you! Xx

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    1. Remind me to do a post asking you urban people to share you picture ideas! My city is so small that I feel pretty safe using my tripod here… but I definitely wouldn’t in a bigger place!

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  8. I’m really enjoying this series, but this post in particular was helpful; I always do photos in the backyard (on our deck, mostly) because we have tons of space and a nice setting. Getting good photos is literally as easy as walking out the door! But I feel like I don’t know what to do for poses or composition, since I’m just loitering in my yard every. single. time. I do pictures, and that limits the variety significantly. I have resolved to take your advice and find a spot close to home that will make for good photos–we have a ravine/park nearby, and that’s #1 on my list! Even though my husband takes my photos for me (using a smartphone rather than a camera!), I’ve found a lot of interesting information in your photography posts, so thank you for sharing!

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  9. Ah, I am so desperate to break out of my TNT balcony spot, but the heat here just kills other more ambitious locations for me. As is, I run out to the balcony, take 10-20 pics, run back inside and stand under the AC unit for few minutes, run back outside, take 10-20 pics, rinse and repeat. Maybe Thai “winter” in December/January/February will treat me well and I can take some around town without melting my face off. Love this series, by the way! Planning to mess around with my DSLR settings to try different things- right now I just use auto/no-flash.

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  10. Wow! What great locations!! These are great pictures, too. You are encouraging me to try new ideas. I’ve located lots of great places in my own yard and neighborhood. I may even explore some parks nearby. This month, I finally finished an outfit (been on vacation) and took pictures in front of our fountain. This location definitely will be a TNT for me. Right now, I’m trying to learn how to load the pictures to Instagram. Naturally, I took the pictures with my camera and loaded them to my computer. I know that it is possible to load the pictures to my Iphone and to Instagram so that I can tag you. I’m waiting for updates to load – just don’t know how long it will be before I figure this out. Thanks again for doing this project.

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