Monday, June 29, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Hold Your Head Up

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 the above image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

Encountering wildlife is always exciting. Even in a place like Yellowstone where its expected, excitement is constantly evidenced by the number of elk and bison jams that occur on a daily basis. Having an animal gain my trust and carry on its normal behavior is special. It’s as if a silently communicated agreement occurs wherein the animal lets me take pictures provided I don’t invade its space. Having said this, I strongly encourage you to not become a suicidal, injury defying photographer who attempts to have his or her kids stand next to a bull moose while using a 28mm lens to capture the moment. This is a tragic accident waiting to happen. Use a long lens to keep you and your loved ones alive and safe.

As I said above, encountering wildlife is exciting but just because the animal is in your viewfinder, the situation doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a good shot. Large mammals often have their heads in the grass as a good part of the day is spent feeding. A better photo can be had when the animal lifts its head and provides you with a regal, alert, or some sort of comical glance. Images of grazing bison, deer, or elk, are very common. This is why you want to wait until it holds its head up so a stronger image can be made. It takes patience, but in the end you’ll be rewarded with better pictures.

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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