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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Be A Photography Rebel

10 tips to create unique and powerful images

This Article Features Photo Zoom

be a photography rebel
2 Blowing ferns, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Go With The Flow
2 Rebels always are cool as cucumbers, no matter what’s happening, so even when the world is spinning out of control, they just shrug their shoulders and go with the flow. Try the same with your photography! Don’t always create a static representation of the world around you.

Instead, “go with the flow” by experimenting with long shutter speeds. Motion blur can create a sense of action and power, and add a dynamic quality—crashing waves on the shore or birds exploding into flight from the water all become abstract studies in motion and time when you slow things down a bit. Use low ISO settings, small apertures and polarizing and neutral-density filters to achieve the longer exposure times necessary for this effect. When shooting motion-blurred subjects, it’s often best to have some critical element of the scene “grounded in reality” by being in sharp focus, such as stationary tree trunks in a forest of swaying foliage.

Remember that when using long exposures, you usually won’t be able to predict what’s going to happen. Luckily, the ability to instantly review images on a digital camera can tell you right away whether your experiment worked or whether you need to try again.

be a photography rebel
3 Coots at night, Potomac River, Virginia
Embrace The Surreal
3 Sometimes the only way to capture the essence of your subject is to move beyond a mere literal representation. Challenge people’s perceptions and force them to view subjects in a new light by making images that are abstract studies of shape, color, contrast or motion.

be a photography rebel
4 Swirling water, Difficult Run, Virginia
Experiment with the techniques discussed above, such as use of motion blur or flash, to transform familiar subjects into something surreal. Try taking your camera off the tripod and pan or zoom during a long exposure, or play with selective focus or purposeful defocus. Intentionally overexpose images every now and then—you may find the high-key results to your liking. With wildlife, study distinctive behaviors and seek to create an image that captures the essence of that behavior in a way that goes beyond a mere snapshot. For example, a long exposure of a restless flock of birds will render many of the birds blurred as they move, directing the viewer to the activity rather than to the birds themselves.

Look For Extreme Angles

4 Get a fresh perspective by taking a rebellious “in-your-face” approach with your subjects. Stick a wide-angle lens close to a foreground element to create a dynamic image. Get creative with your lens choices and your angles; just for kicks, use a wide-angle when you’d otherwise use a telephoto, and vice versa. Try a fish-eye lens for creative effect. Instead of composing everything using the rule of thirds, experiment with unbalanced compositions by pushing elements of your image into the extreme edges. Challenge yourself to avoid shooting everything at eye level; get low to the ground or find ways to (safely) get higher than normal.

I’ve tried just about everything to find unique perspectives, including chimney-climbing up narrow slot canyon walls, wading chest-deep into slimy ponds and even slithering into a pelican colony to get an up-close view of chicks on the nest. Quite often, you end up merely filthy or embarrassed—or harassed by hungry pelican chicks who think you’re dad with a fish in his bill—but sometimes your fortitude pays off.


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