Monday, August 31, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Been There, Dune That

Photo by Russ Burden

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.

Been There Dune That
Sand dune photography requires care to keep your gear clean, stamina to make your way through soft sand, a flexible schedule to shoot at sunrise and sunset, and research to know what the dunes offer at the time of year you intend to shoot. Dune photography provides the photographer with opportunities to capture grand scenics, intimate abstractions of ripples and dune curves, wildlife potential, and macro possibilities of animal tracks, vegetation, and wind blown patterns. With the myriad of subjects you’ll encounter, you’re bound to walk away with some winners.

Sunrise and Sunset: The best times to shoot the dunes is within the first fifteen minutes of sunrise and the last fifteen minutes before sunset. With the sun at an optimum angle, you need to work quickly as the light on the dunes constantly changes so you need to get the shot and move on to another to maximize your time. Look for strong areas of shadows and highlights to give your images a three dimensional effect and to emphasize the patterns of the sand.

Walking: Walking through sand is much more difficult than on flat surfaces. As you begin to ascend a dune, you’ll find that for every forward step you take, you slide back a half. Make sure you’re in good shape and in the mindset to do some strenuous walking. Be prepared with snacks and lots of water as you’ll easily become dehydrated. You can pack light as most of your shooting will be done with a wide angle zoom.

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.

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