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10 Lockdown Photography Projects

Looking for some inspiration and ideas on what to do with the camera during Covid-19 lockdown? Whilst most of the Nation (& planet!) are locked in their own homes, what can the photo enthusiast do to feed their craving? Quite a challenge you may think, but there is plenty to keep our cameras busy in home and garden. Challenge accepted!


1. Wildlife

We are fortunate to receive lots of visitors to the garden (wildlife). With a bit of planning, patience and luck it is possible to capture some fab wildlife images from behind windows and patio doors. Spring is an excellent time for seeing wildlife as birds start preparing to nest and fill their nests with food for the evolving family. Leave your camera and best zoom lens sitting on a tripod by your window/patio. Wildlife will become familiar with objects that sit in buildings and garden after a short while. Play the waiting game and when the visitors arrive snap away. To improve your success rate install a feeding station in the garden. Birds will become regular visitors, taking advantage of the sustained food supply. You will also attract many other visitors too such as squirrels, pheasants and hens, to name a few.

Wildlife photos


2. Macro

Shooting macro can be fun and pointing the camera at pretty much any subject, close up, works. It allows you to get creative, whether still life objects or the natural world. Personally, I love the challenge of capturing insects and smaller live critters. When you see a fly or spider up close they are actually quite beautiful and have stunning features. As we enter the season of insects, arachnids, butterflies, ladybirds, bugs and other critters there is no better time to have a go at macro photography. You don't always need a special macro lens. Many cameras have in-built macro facilities nowadays, including smartphones. All my macro images below were actually captured with the Olympus Tough TG-5 hand held camera, using microscope mode. So get busy shooting macro.

Macro Photos

  • Ladybird

    Close up of ladybird.

  • Spider on chair

    Look at those eyes and hairs/spikes on the legs. Fascinating.

  • House fly

    Like you have never seen before!

  • Fly eyes

    Look at those eyes! Like something out of a Hollywood movie!


3. Pets

OK most of us have pets right? Dogs, cats, birds (I even have a donkey and horse!). They make comical subjects for the camera. Whether Indoors or outdoors in the garden, whether chilling, lying upside down, scratching or playing there are many situations that arise for the camera. Animals, by their nature, can be difficult to work with. Try to catch them in their own space and moods and do concentrate on the lighting. Toys and ball throwing works well for capturing expression and action shots. Sunlight can be your natural flashlight. As with wildlife keep the camera and lens on a tripod in a convenient position.

Pet Photos

  • Gus close up

    Get the zoom lens and get close. Strong composition opportunities.

  • Sid

    Right time, right place. Opportune capture.

  • Gus & Aurora

    My husky Aurora with neighbour's American bulldog Gus.

  • Harry the donkey

    I know, not everyone has a donkey for a pet, but I do and he's a miniature and a great camera subject. Birds love him too!

  • Aurora, husky

    Taking a break, after exercise is a good opportunity.

  • Gus, Americam bulldog

    Majestic dog and so photogenic. Making the sunlight work.


4. Moon

The moon is a fantastic night (or even day) sky subject. It is always in the sky in some form of different phase. Excluding new moon when you can't see any phase that leaves opportunities most of the month to capture crescent, half moon or even full moon, subject to clear skies.

An instant short exposure will suffice, no need for long exposures. Whilst the sky may be dark the moon is very bright (sunlight causes it to shine) and therefore leaving the camera in Aperture mode (F4/F5) will suffice and the camera will auto choose the exposure time (which will be generally fast due to the moon's brightness). I normally use a tripod to ensure a steady camera (the moon appears to move very slowly - It is not, Earth is rotating), but again it's not always necessary.

I would suggest a good dslr and a mix of zoom and wider lenses to capture a variety of moon phases, although a decent smartphone can bag a good capture nowadays. Have a go at capturing different phases of the moon. One project I undertook involved capturing all phases of the moon and combining on a single composite with software (easy to do). Another involved using different phases of the moon as a font to create words. Very creative and the end product looks very cool. Example below. Both well worth a go. Enjoy the moon and get creative.

Moon Photos

  • Lunar Font

    Getting creative combining moon phases to make words. They look great framed!

  • Half moon

    Lovely clear features/craters on this zoom capture.

  • Full moon

    Full moon captured on eve of Lunar Eclipse. No telescope, Olympus camera and zoom lens.

  • Lunar Composite

    All the moon phases put together in one single image. Getting creative.

  • Wide angle moon through trees

    You don't always need a zoom lens. Frame the moon through trees.

  • Quarter moon

    Ask a child to draw the moon and this is what it will look like! A stunning phase to capture.

  • Moon rising

    Capture the moon as it rises over the horizon. Watch it change colour as it passes through pollution.

  • Moon in colour

    An interesting perspective of a normal monochrome subject. If you observe some features on the moon there are tiny differences in the hues of the various greys of the surface, as there are many different geological formations composed of different minerals. These mineral colours can be represented and enhanced afterwords by digital processing which allow us to see it. This nearish full phase was captured with the Olympus E3, 90-250mm lens & x2 TC (1000mm effective focal). Colours were added via layers/saturation in PS.


5. Water

Water is all around us (especially in the UK!). Whether it's rain (and boy we get plenty of that!) dew or frost (frozen). There are lots of opportunities to capture water from inside the house and in the garden. Once again a good project to get creative. Capturing can be as easy as using your smartphone, dslr or a point & shoot camera. Even macro works well. From inside the house try capturing rain or water dripping down a glass window, these make great wide angle shots. See below pics. Outside in the garden grass, plants and flowers are mostly covered in dew on mornings. Also normal objects covered in water look really cool when you focus on the drops.  The best part is not getting wet! Enjoy watery subjects.

Water Photos

  • Wet day

    Captured from inside house looking outside at car. Bring colour to the shot, it is effective!

  • Wet Camera

    Objects covered in rain. Close up of the wet drops looks cool on the camera. PS the camera is waterproof sealed!

  • Garden frost

    Spring mornings bring occasional frosts. Get low on the ground for a grass eye view.

  • Wet car

    Focus on a wet object outside. Simple yet effective.


6. Clouds

Following on from the water project, Clouds (water vapour) are an easy and fascinating subject to capture on camera or smartphone from home or garden. No two clouds are the same and the sky is a river in motion full of camera opportunity. High level wispy clouds such as cirrus, bubbly convective clouds such as cumulus or storm clouds provides plenty of subjects to capture from the bedroom window or garden. You don't always need a foreground scene, focus on the clouds alone for composition. Useful tips are to look out for rays (as clouds pass in front of the sun), falling rain from showers and of course rainbows. Some clouds even resemble everyday objects or animals so always worth looking up! Remember the clouds in our sky are the signs on our roads, they provide you with a warning of the hazards ahead (as used by weather forecasters). So look up and go get some  cloud shots.

Cloud Photos

  • Dark skies

    Mean looking storm clouds. No foreground necessary.

  • Clouds with sun rays

    Wait for clouds to pass in front of the sun for spectacular Crepuscular shots like this.

  • Cirrus trails

    Lovely wispy cirrus clouds taken from the back door at home.

  • Bubbling cloud

    Convective Cumulus clouds bursting into life.


7. Sky at Night

There is so much to see and capture in our skies at night. Whether it is stars, star trails, satellites, the International Space Station (ISS), or meteors. Some of these subjects do require more technical skills and knowledge but this is where you are lucky :-) as I have put together guides on capturing a few of these (ISS and Star Trails). They can be found here - 'How to' Guides. There are many apps out there which inform you exactly when and where to look in the night sky for the ISS, satellites and metro showers ( Heavens-Above is one good example).

All of the below sky at night photos were captured from home.

Capturing photos of the sky at night is so simple to do in our own gardens so get out, look up and have fun. Clear skies!

Sky at Night Photos

  • Tree pointing to Stars

    This star trail was framed around a back garden tree.

  • 7-14mm Star Trail

    Photo captured overnight 23rd/24th March 2020 in my back garden. South Leicestershire, East Midlands. Featured in UK daily newspapers 02 April 2020. The first time clear skies have presented a good opportunity to see the impact of airplane lockdown in the Covid-19 crisis. When I normally capture a long multi hour exposure like this the image is full of airplane trails. Not last night, very few indeed. Clear skies in more ways than one! 9 hours of Earth's spin as shown through the stars. Spinning around the North Pole star 'Polaris' this composite image comprises nearly 2000 exposures captured from sunset on the 23rd through to daylight on 24th March. BEHIND THE LENS To capture this scene I mounted the camera on a tripod and set up the composition such that the Oak tree was pointing towards the North star Polaris (This ensures the full star-spinning effect). Set the focus to manual and shoot a few test images to ensure subject fits & is level (using LCD screen). Once I was happy with the composition and using the remote cable (set to lock - which forces the camera to shoot continuous exposures) I set the camera off. This allowed the camera to shoot continuous for 9 hours (using battery pack). The tree was lit up using a technique called light painting. During the first few exposures I shone a strong torch over the tree and 'painted' with light. This helps bring daylight to a 'No Light' scene. I transferred all 2000 images to my MAC and imported in software which produces a single composite image. One thing you will get when shooting these multiple composite images is plane trails running across the image. It can spoil the final composite & with a sky pretty much clear of airplanes it makes for a true clear sky scene. The resulting image reveals 9 hrs of Earth spinning, as shown through the stars and which cannot be seen with the human eye at any moment.

  • 8mm wide angle ISS

    International Space Station (ISS) captured flying over UK skies. This was a very wide flyby and directly overhead so very challenging to capture it all on camera. The 8mm fisheye was a must tool. Captured in my back garden, it rose in the west and disappearing into Earth's shadow in the East. Captured 1940-1946hrs 27th March 2020. Camera: Olympus OM-D EM-5 (mk1) Lens: 8mm fisheye 14 image composite each 15s exposure time, ISO 320, F3.5. Tree and field lit with torch during exposure.

  • Wide Angle Star Trail

    Photo captured overnight 26th/27th March 2020 in my back garden. South Leicestershire, East Midlands. A week of clear skies and warm weather in the UK continue to present opportunity to get outside at night with the camera, during these unprecedented times amidst the Covid-19 crisis. Last night was limited to 8 hours of exposures (to fit around the NHS National clap and ISS flyover) once again showing Earth's spin as shown through the stars. Spinning around the North Pole star 'Polaris' this composite image comprises around 2000 exposures captured from sundown on the 26th through to daylight on 27th March. BEHIND THE LENS Camera:- Olympus OM-D EM-5 (mk1) Lens: 8mm To capture this scene I wanted to really stretch the wide angle of spin around Polaris (the North star). This ensures the full star-spinning effect, and use the fence line to lead the eye into the composition. I mounted the camera on a tripod and set up the composition, set the focus to manual and shot a few test images. After checking sample shots, using LCD screen, and using the remote cable (set to lock - which forces the camera to shoot continuous exposures) I set the camera off. This allowed the camera to shoot continuous for 8 hours. For power the camera with battery pack will give you about 5/6 hours so to get more I hooked up a power extension lead from the house. For more remote working I use a Deep cycle 12v battery (with inverter) which lasts all night easily! The fence, foreground and tree was lit up using a technique called light painting. During the first few exposures I shone a strong torch over the tree and 'painted' with light. This brings daylight to a 'No Light' scene. Post processing I transferred all images to MAC and imported in stacking software (Star Stax - free) to produce a single composite image. One thing you will get when shooting these multiple composite images is plane trails running across the image. It can spoil the final composite. However during this Covid-19 crisis skies are pretty much devoid of airplanes which makes life much easier. The resulting image reveals 8 hrs of Earth spinning, as shown through the stars and which cannot be seen with the human eye at any single moment. So go on, have a go :-)

  • Garden Star Trail

    Focusing on the south sky to achieve the reverse arcs of stars (centred on celestial equator).

  • Geminids Meteor shower

    Gemenids Meteor Shower 13/14th Dec 2013. This single composite image was captured with the Olympus E-M1 & 12mm lens over a period of 4-5 hrs. It shows numerous gemenid meteors shooting across the Eastern sky between approx midnight on 13th to 4/5am on 14th. How did I capture this? With camera & lens on tripod I set in manual mode and infinity focusing, ISO 320, F2.0, 10s exposure. Using the remote cable (set to lock) this forced the camera to take continuous exposures until the battery died (4-5hrs). I then transferred the 2000 or so images to MAC and inspected each image identifying those which had captured individual meteors. I then imported all the meteor images into editing software (Pixelmator) and stacked each image on top of each other. I chose a foreground image (trees lit up) as the main image. I then selected each meteor image and highlighted the meteor, inversed the image and cut. This retained the exact location of each meteor and removed all the stars. Otherwise the stacked composite would have shown repeated stars for each meteor (which makes for a messy image). Once all the meteors were added the final image was flattened as the composite you see. This is a b&w version.

  • Moon Venus & Jupiter

    Venus (top), Jupiter and Crescent moon above an urban landscape. A magical rare moment in time with a super conjunction event, captured within 1 hr post sunset.

  • Bedroom Star Trail

    Photo captured overnight 4th/5th April from my bedroom window, South Leicestershire, East Midlands. It's amazing what night sky landscape you can capture from the simplicity of a bedroom window! This exposure shows how easy it can be for anyone to capture with a camera and tripod. This image captures 8 hours of exposures showing Earth's spin as shown through the stars, spinning around the North Pole star 'Polaris' . This composite image comprises just under 2000 exposures captured from the evening of 4th to the morning of 5th April. BEHIND THE LENS Camera:- Olympus OM-D EM-5 (mk1) Lens: 8mm Tripod - at bedroom window. 15s exposure time x 1800 images (stacked) F3.5 ISO 400 Something slightly different for this star trail, I wanted to show how easy it can be for anyone to do this, from their own home. I mounted the camera on a clamp attached to my bedroom window balcony rail (You could easily use a tripod behind the window!) and set up the composition using an 8mm wide angle fisheye lens (most go-pro type cams have a wide angle like this). Ensuring I got part house, part sky in the frame, set the focus to manual and using the remote cable (set to lock - which forces the camera to shoot continuous exposures) I let the camera shoot continuously all night. For power I simply plugged camera into wall power socket! Post processing I transferred all images to MAC and imported in stacking software (Star Stax - free) to produce a single composite image. The resulting image reveals 8 hrs of Earth spinning, as shown through my bedroom window. How cool and easy is that!


8. Flowers

Flowers in the home and flowers/plants in the garden. They are all around us, exploding into life in Spring, full of colour and a magnet for our birds, insects and animal world. Whilst I'm no green fingered expert, flowers do offer a very colourful subject matter. No real expertise or special camera is required. It can be hard to achieve a good composition so try to think about flower visitors and light. Flowers offer an abundance of colour and texture and good strong light can pick this up well.  Fill your cameras with colour.

Flower Photos

  • Colourful Rose

    Rainbow Rose. How do they do this?

  • Butterflies & Buddleia

    Butterflies are attracted to colour so these flowers are perfect for the camera. If you don't have them in your garden go get some!

  • Colourful bush

    Rainbow colour bush plant. Colour is everything as it also attracts life.

  • Bunch of flowers

    Nice texture and colour in this flower mix.


9. Filters

Most cameras and smartphones have built-in art or scene filters nowadays. By using these filters a normal looking photo/scene can be transformed. I use Olympus OM-D cameras and they include an array of art filters to choose from. My personal favourites are Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Diorama, and Watercolour. Filters allow expression of your creative side. So get creative and let's see your filter scenes. Let the camera do all the work!

Filter Photos

  • Rain with art filter

    Cold, rain & wet, wet, wet. A perfect day for the Olympus dramatic tone art filter.

  • Key Line art filter

    This Olympus art filter works great with building lines (especially when accentuated with a wide angle lens).

  • Dramatic Tone art filter

    Olympus art filter combined with a fisheye lens transforms a normal garden scene.

  • Key line art filter

    A normal home and garden scene transformed with an art filter.


10. Time Lapse

Finally, lets finish the Lockdown Projects with a movie. Many cameras and smartphones nowadays have a built in function to capture time lapse (a sequence of images saved as a movie). One of the most interesting time lapse example to watch is the weather world go by. By placing your camera or phone on a tripod and film a short sequence from the window or garden will allow you to watch the river of motion that explodes above our heads on a daily basis. If your camera does not have this function it is still possible to produce time lapse 'the old way'. This would require taking lots of images and dropping into software to output a movie sequence. More work but it produces the same results. Importing the time last movie into software, adding some music and commentary gives you a nice project to get stuck into and which are so rewarding to watch.

The time lapse show below is one I produced a few years ago from my old back garden. It shows some amazing weather and cloud motion. Watch out for the wind shear (air moving in different directions at different heights). It is stunning to watch this river in motion in the sky above us.

So go make your time lapse movie!

Time Lapse movie

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