Monday, February 23, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Long Lens Photography

I hope you enjoy this week's "Instructor's Tip" by one of my favorite instructors, award winning nature photographer Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Long Lens Photography
Magnification is essential when photographing wildlife for a number of reasons. The most obvious is it allows the subject to appear larger in the picture. Unless you’re creating an environmental portrait, bigger is usually better. A second reason is you can keep your distance which allows the animal to go about its regular business. This is a large plus in that it increases the likelihood of capturing behavior it wouldn't perform if it’s in flight or fight mode. An additional reason magnification is beneficial is it provides a cleaner background. There’s a narrower angle of view which reduces the amount of information which in turn reduces potential background distractions. It also helps throw the background out of focus due to the narrow depth of field.

BEEFY TRIPOD: Big telephoto lenses are long, heavy and expensive. An investment in one also dictates an investment in a heavy duty tripod for two key reasons. There’s no sense mounting a super telephoto on an inferior tripod as the end result will be a blurry photo as the tripod is not adequate enough to dampen the extreme magnification of the lens. Secondly, saving a few bucks by not investing in a proper tripod could cost you big bucks because it’s not beefy enough to support the set up and it winds up toppling to the ground. With your rig mounted on a good tripod, a good technique to incorporate into your shooting is to lay your left hand on the barrel of the lens and slightly push down while you press the shutter. This technique steadies the set up as pressing the shutter creates an upward movement which is countered by the left hand resting on the barrel.

To learn more about this subject, join Russ on one of his photo tours. Please visit to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

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