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Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Dance On The Beach

Focus on the fundamentals to make great strides in your photography

Labels: On LandscapeColumn

While working on a completely different photo, these gulls offered up an unexpected sunrise opportunity. Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III, EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L USM, 8 sec. exposure at ƒ/27, ISO 100

I began teaching photography 33 years ago. So much has changed since then. Cameras. Software. Digital printing. It's such an exciting time for photographers, but it can be difficult to keep up with all the rapidly changing technology. After a couple of decades of using film, large-format cameras and darkroom printing, I've managed to adapt. I switched to digital printing 20 years ago, and put the use of film behind me in 2005. I have no regrets.

Recently, I began teaching private workshops in Yosemite again after a long break. It has been such a pleasure to share my enthusiasm for this great national park with my fellow photographers once again. In the process of teaching these sessions, I realized that although the tools have changed over the years, the lessons I'm teaching now are much the same as when I started. Here's a reader's digest of what I teach:

Compose precisely. Watch the edges of your composition. Eliminate any distractions. Draw the viewer's eye to your subject. Consider proportion and spacing of items within your frame.

Find great light. Get up early. Stay out late. Pick dynamic conditions for dynamic photographs. If the sky is boring, don't include it. Watch the weather, learn the light, wherever you are. Don't settle for "okay" light.

Be ready for inspiration. It will come if you have a sense of wonder about the world around you. Be ready to fail. Mistakes will happen—and become our greatest lessons. Practice is the process of being ready for it all to come together! Trust your vision; you have a unique point of view. Having faith in yourself is critical.

You'll become a better photographer by focusing on these fundamentals.
I often see photographers giving up too soon, or not moving from one spot, or only trying a few variations. Photography is a dance of possibilities! Experiment with everything from camera and light angles to shutter speeds to lens choice, and have fun with the process.


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