Monday, September 14, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Step away from the car

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.


Over the years I’ve been photographing nature, I’ve accumulated my fair share of images made close to the car. The only problem is they look like everyone else’s shots. Unless the light is doing something very dramatic, these shots are a dime a dozen. There is satisfaction knowing I have them in my files, but past that, I don’t do much with them. To me, the real satisfaction is getting away from the road and capturing the gems that can only be had by walking, looking for, and finding the shot no one else has.

Getting away from your car ensures you’ll get pictures that are different from most other photographers. Even if you wander short distances, you’ll be amazed how the landscape changes. For instance, rather than shoot toward a fall colored stand of aspens, get inside it with a wide angle lens and shoot up toward a blue sky emphasizing the grandeur of the trunks and leaves. Find a roadside stream and then walk up or down it looking for mini rapids, wildlife, or a unique plant that my not be growing at the pullout.

A great tool to have if you wander far is a GPS especially if there are no trails and you need to find your way back to your vehicle in the dark. When I lead my photo tour to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, its use is indispensable. There are no trails and it’s very easy to get lost. Before we go out on a sunset shoot, I mark the car as a way point and we wander around the dunes looking for great ripples or classic yuccas. Once the sun sets behind the mountains, it’s essential we get back to the car with as much efficiency as possible in that the gates close at darkness and my clients wouldn’t appreciate getting locked in. By performing a GO TO on the GPS, a direct path back to the car is created allowing the group as much time as possible to shoot and still get back to the vehicle in time to exit the monument.

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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