Monday, August 10, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Change the Cliche

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.

Change the Cliché
As a leader of photo tours to many of the classic natural destinations in the United States, I need to bring my participants to the photographic icons of each location. These locations have been shot tens of thousands of times yet we gravitate toward them because of their beauty. They are the post card shots we all want. As we stand elbow to elbow with many other photographers, I often wonder what we’re trying to accomplish unless something new or different is tried. But every time I go to one of these places, everyone is using the same focal length as the postcard and framing it the same way. I encourage you to try something different.

Look for Intriguing Light: I’ve been quoted as saying, “I’d rather shoot a mundane subject in great light than a great subject in dull light.” A shot of a grizzly bear in flat gray light nets a boring image but a simple rock formation on the prairie with storm clouds and a rainbow nets a winner. In essence, it’s all about the light. You know it all comes together when you’re at one of the iconic locations and the light is working for you.

Short List of Ideas: To make your images different from all the other iconic ones, try the following: look for the great light, experiment with the time of day, try a different focal length from the post card shot, shoot from a different angle, make a double exposure, zoom the lens while making the exposure, isolate a section of the whole, make it black and white, or try a combination of any of the above.

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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