Creative Storytelling with the Canon G5 X

New Year's Eve 2015 – It was the last day of a wonderfully rewarding year for photography. In the past 12 months I had worked super hard – leading 12 photo workshops, recording three new on-line classes, giving 13 seminars, recording 24 podcasts, publishing my 36th book, and photographing in Iceland, Provence, the Palouse, Bosque del Apache, Alaska, Telluride, South Beach, Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, Old Car City and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

So, I thought I'd celebrate by spending a few hours of personal – and very quiet – time by shooting with my new Canon Powershot G5 X. My goal was to tell the story – in still photographs – of one of my favorite local places to photograph.

The location: The nearby Chuang Yen Monastery, where I take the photographers who join my yearly Rick's Backyard Photo Workshop, which is listed on my Photo Workshops page.

In this post I'll share with you some of my favorite images from the shoot, along with a few quick tips.

Technically, a basic storytelling tip is to take a variety of photographs, indoors and outdoors, at wide-angle, telephoto and close-up settings. Emotionally, the idea is to capture the mood and feeling of a location – which can be captured with creative composition and creative exposures.

Click images to enlarge.

Opening image: The temple at the monastery is one of the largest Buddhist temples in the United States. To capture the temple and the two adjacent bell towers, I set the G5 X's zoom lens to the 24mm setting. One of the reasons I like the GX5 is the zoom range (24-100mm equivalent), which is close to the zoom range of my favorite DSLR lens, the Canon 24-105mm IS zoom (which I use on my Canon 5DS).

Above: An almost floor-to-ceiling statue of Buddha is the centerpiece of the Great Buddha Hall. It is surrounded by thousands of smaller Buddha statues. Photographically, the woman in this photograph adds a sense of scale to the hall and the statue. That's the storytelling part. Technically, I like the relatively low noise in low light situations that the one-inch image sensor offers.

Above: To get this shot, I mounted the G5X on my tripod, set the self-timer to 10 seconds, and then held the tripod by the legs high above my head for an eye-to-eye view. I composed the scene by tilting the flip-out screen down so I could see what the camera was seeing. Talk about a sharp lens! Check out the detail in this image. Oh yeah, the camera's image stabilization feature also added to the sharpness of this high-above-my-head, hand-held shot.

Above: For a brief moment, the sun peeked though a large glass window and cast a beam of light on a section of the small statues. Thanks to the camera's +/- Exposure Compensation feature (a pro feature that I use all the time on my Canon 5DS) I was able to get a perfect exposure (top) in a high-contrast scene. The lower image of the same scene shows what happened when I did not use (to illustrate the point) the Exposure Compensation feature.

Above: I went to the monastery to have fun (and to take some seriously good images). Adding to my fun was the camera's Scene mode, which offers several in-camera enhancements. Left – straight shot in the AV mode, middle – Monochromatic setting, right - Toy Camera setting.

Above: My goal here was to create an image with a good sense of depth. Shooting at an angle is one way to accomplish that goal. Including layers (here the colorful statue in the foreground, the three-dimensional carvings the middle of the frame, and the small statures in the background) also adds a sense of depth to an image. This photograph and all the photographs in this post except for the two Scene mode photographs were taken in the Av mode, which is the mode I use most often on my Canon 5DS.

Above: This is my favorite photograph from my personal New Year's Eve photo celebration. It demonstrates creative composition, which I teach on all my photo workshops. For this photograph I composed the scene using the camera's electronic viewfinder, which is a useful feature when shooting in bright light.

Happy New Year everyone – and have fun storytelling with your camera!

Explore the light,

Want to learn more about creative composition and exposure, with a little bit of image processing tossed in? Check out my latest book, Creative Visualization for Photographers.