One of the greatest aspects of photography is that there’s always something new to learn. The journey is lifelong and provides the desire to find new places, master new software, learn the ins and outs of your camera, alter the way you use a lens, read a new book, subscribe to a photography periodical, take a course, go on a photo tour or safari, or anything else to improve your skill. The pursuit will provide “ah ha” moments that you’ll incorporate into future field experiences. There’s nothing like returning from a trip knowing you captured wall hangers for your house. Once you step back and admire that new work of art on the wall, there’s no better feeling. If you’ve read this far, you obviously want to learn more about photography, so it’s with this thought I share three tips of information for your Lifelong Learning.
Carpe Diem: “Seize the Day”—take advantage of what you’re given. Treat every photo session like there may not be another for a long time. How is this done, you ask? If the light is fantastic for a grand scenic, work it like crazy, but don’t overlook the little details at your feet. Turn around and see what’s behind you. Shoot with a variety of lenses and use each of their characteristics to your advantage. Use a telephoto for a compressed look. Use a super wide to distort the foreground. Get low or high rather than simply stand tall and bring the camera to your eye. Incorporate scale and size into your images. Include people in your scenics to add human interest, show scale or increase stock sales potential. Wait for people to leave a busy city scene to show the starkness of concrete and glass. Basically, don’t leave until you covered all your bases and exhausted all possibilities.
Revisit Often: Regardless of the subject matter, a key to getting great images is to photograph it again and again. Must subjects work best at the edges of the day—sunrise and sunset. If you’ve photographed a subject at sunrise, try it with sunset light. If you’ve done both, go back again at both times as the light is different every day. Go again at different times of the year. The sun will be at a different angle, which results in different light. As a longtime leader of nature photo tours, I’ve lost track of the number of visits I’ve made to each tour location. I can honestly say that I’ve yet to remake the same image because everything was identical to previous years. On a small scale, if you go to a local duck pond, even though the same ducks will be there, you’ll never get the same shot since each one will behave differently each day. Maybe on the day you decide to blow it off because “you’ve been there so many times,” that may be the day something spectacular occurs, but you won’t be there to capture it.
Set The Stage: I liken the making of a great photograph to a movie set. The location director needs to do his job finding the perfect background. You, the photographer, are this person. The lighting director is Mother Nature and when she gets it right, all is good. Flash and reflectors help augment her work. All that’s left is the actor, so cue the actor. It’s serendipitous when the perfect species gets in the right spot of the frame. Sometimes, you have to move to make this happen. When all else fails, ask a travel companion to step into the photo to become the actor. Don’t be shy about asking a stranger. Be sure to carry a model release so you can use the photo for varied purposes. You may be after the perfect nature photo, but as in the Carpe Diem tip above, if it doesn’t happen, exhaust all possibilities.
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.