Monday, March 2, 2009

Instructor's Tip: KISS Method, Part 1

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.

KISS Method: Keep It Sweet And Simple PART 1
Like a good stone or wood sculptor, a photographer must meticulously chip away at what it is that confronts him or her and chisel away at the scene until only the absolute essentials remain. With the camera readied on the tripod and randomly aimed at what it is that awaits to be recorded, it’s time to sort out the chaos and whittle away at the negative to remove the clutter. These are the beginning steps of creating a successful image.

In photography, I’m a stout proponent of less is more. By judiciously choosing a more beneficial camera angle or being more selective about what lens with which to shoot, you’ll learn to create images with more impact by having them stand out from the background with no distractions tearing your eye away from the main subject.

By moving in close or by using a wide open aperture and/or using longer lenses, you create less depth of field to offset your subject from the background. The use of artificial backgrounds while out in the field along with the creative use of flash are more techniques you can incorporate into your repertoire of ways to utilize the KISS Method.

Other means of incorporating the KISS Method into your photography are to silhouette your subject against a neutral background, to pan at slow shutter speeds to keep the main image sharp while blurring out the background, to use sidelight and /or back light to offset your subject against a dark background and to use flash as a main light to create a black background to have your main subject stand out. By no means are these the only ways of achieving simplicity in an image. It’s also quite often that I include two or more of the techniques into a single shot.


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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