Although travel is possibly the greatest inspiration for photography, it is not always possible to get away. You may be on a tight schedule with work, bound by social commitments, or simply on a tight budget. Yet you have the bug! You want to take and make more photographs – so what, then?
Much as I would like to be off taking photos of exotic locales it is generally not possible. And taking photos locally all the time can get pretty boring, but there are things that you can do.
1. Weather: Take advantage of changes of weather. I always hear people complain about rain but I rarely do – it is a photographer's best friend. Rain brings out colors that are otherwise hidden. Overcast skies create an even light so everything is exposed equally. It looks great in black and white, too, and reflections off wet roads, buildings, cars, anything, have a particular sheen. If the sun comes out then it is great for high-key photos. Do not be afraid to shoot into the sun and get a bright overexposed shot because they can look very dramatic.
2. Choose a different time: just that. Take photos at a different time of day and get a different kind of light. The sun has just set and now you're doing night photography. Take advantage of the different conditions. Use the artificial lights to gain exposure, get in between the light and use the contrast between the dark of the night and the brightness of car headlights, shopfronts, etc.
3. Abstracts: We see our world every day and often do not notice all that much after the 100th time. But there are details that we can find that can make great photos in their own right – a rusty gate, peeling paint, a worn wooden fence or lichen growing on rocks. Some up-close abstracts can look like landscapes in their own right as we scale down our vision. There are whole worlds in the miniature.
4. Portraits: I have long been a bit funny about taking portraits and I should get over it. It's the personal nature of them that can be a little unnerving for me, yet they are a great opportunity for photography.
5. Home studio: 'I live in a small place and have no room for a studio', I hear you cry. (I've got excellent hearing.) But a little improvisation with a large sheet of paper can provide you with a mini-studio and any interesting artefacts will do – experimentation is the key. In this age of digital photography, there is no worry about running out of film. I take many shots that do not work out, but then one or two do very nicely and it is worth the small effort that it took to get them.
6. The ordinary: Not every shot has to be a blockbuster. Some of my favorite shots are also very ordinary and it is their ordinariness that makes them interesting to me. We live in the ordinary world and so why should not be celebrated?
7. Post processing: Go through your old shots and using whatever software you have, bought or free, play around with them. Be aware that special effects can be gaudy and unattractive, and the simplest effects (except you are a photoshop wiz) are usually the most effective. An ordinary shot can gain a special ambience simply by making it black and white, adjusting the white balance or adding a little soft focus. The image can be altered and recombined in layers with itself to create an enhanced image, as with the Orton Effect.
There is never any really good excuse away from sickness for not taking photos, if you want to. Restrictions can provide you with a challenge that is a joy to take up.