Take your camera on a date and discover some heart-warming and creative ways to capture the essence of Valentine’s day.

Whether you’re planning to recreate a restaurant experience at home, get the gang together for a Gal-entines zoom party, or simply hang out with your dog and order in pizza (no judgment here), for us photographers, Valentine’s day brings with it an excuse to grab the camera and practice some themed pictures, and here are just a few of my favourites…

Love language

It may be one of the oldest tricks in the book but oh, so effective, and a firm favourite with wedding photographers. Take a ring and place it in the middle of an open book. How flat the book lays will affect the shape of the heart shadow. You’ll need a hard light source and could use a torch, the light on your phone, or even a candle. The further away the light source, the deeper the shadow. It can be tricky to manipulate the shadow, so try moving it around until you get the best look. The ring itself can also be a challenge to prop up, and I suggest having a teeny piece of blue-tac to help aid this. The M.Zuiko 60mm Macro, or 25mm F1.2 PRO lenses are ideal for this type of shot, and getting in nice and close. Use a wide aperture so that you keep focus on the heart, with just some of the text also sharp. I added candles to the background to add to the atmosphere. If you’re planning to use a photo like this to gift to a loved one, consider using a favourite book, poem or passage of theirs, and allowing the heart shadow to bring attention to this. I used a book on tuning old Ford Capri’s, because that’s something I happen to love!

Love’s alight

Turn those dark winter nights to your advantage and try a little light painting. If you’ve not used Live Time on your Olympus camera yet, buckle up! This fantastic feature sits with Live Bulb and Live Composite and allows you to see the exposure happening right before your eyes, allowing you to cut it off when you’re happy with how it looks, completely taking the guess work out. If you’re shooting on a model like the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, set up on a tripod and flip the screen towards you, selfie-style. Change to Manual or Shutter Priority, and stop your shutter speed all the way down past Bulb until you reach Live Time, then in a dark room or outside at night, grab a sparkler or any minimal source of light – coloured glow sticks are great for this – and press the shutter, before working your magic with some patterns! ISO can be nice and low, and aperture high, though it is also worth switching to manual focus, and pre-determining a spot. It’s likely the exposure for a shot like this will be around two seconds, depending on how fast you draw!

Rose-tinted glasses

There are plenty of filters available on various apps, and no doubt you’re familiar with some of the handy Art Filters included in your Olympus camera already. Try the Vintage series for a whimsical muted feel or Bleach Bypass for a high contrast effect. Click OK on the back of your camera to activate the Super Control Panel Menu and navigate across to the far right to select and scroll through the Art Filter options. If you’re feeling a little more creative, however, you can try using a drinking glass to shoot through. Much like using a prism, the light will distort and can pick up and cause some interesting colour and pattern effects. Cut glass or anything with a sheen works well. Using a lens with a nice wide aperture is essential for this trick, so you can hold the glass close to the lens, semi-obscuring it as you shoot partially through – take your time and keep moving the glass until you get something good. Rotating a light source around your subject will also further add interest. 

Naturally beautiful

Nature is always a wonderful source of photo-inspiration, and you only need to look around to find tiny little details that make a pleasing composition. If you’re lucky enough to own a Ceropegia – also known as the string of hearts – snapping a close shot is a decent nod to the day of love. You can also find heart patterns in common ivy and Philodendron. If you’re feeling a little more creative though, try capturing hearts with petals. I used some beautiful red tulip petals overlapped, placed together, and backlit. If you don’t have a lightbox you can use a tablet set to torch mode, then focus in on the patterns for a slightly abstract frame.

Date for your diary

This Saturday 13 February, join Gavin Hoey at 10:30am over on Facebook Live to learn how to capture bokeh hearts. In this live session, Gav will be getting creative with objects from around the home. Grab your paper and scissors and I’ll see you there! More info here.

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