Monday, September 7, 2009

Instructor's Tip: Wildlife

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.

Wildlife photography is an art, a sport, a pursuit, patience challenger, persistence tester, an effort in research, a bit of luck, and many other concepts all bundled together. Some days offer a plethora of image making while others end with the camera never raised to the eye. Weather, animal activity, time of day, right place right time, and more all help determine the success of the shoot. Lots of variables with which to deal. This is what makes coming home with a trophy shot worth the hunt. The difference of as little as one second can take an image from being a winner to a run of the mill animal photo. Found below are some ideas to help you capture a great wildlife shot.

SHOW THE BEHAVIOR: To separate your wildlife images from the majority of most animal photos, wait for the animal to display some sort of behavior. If the animal is not doing anything, the image becomes a record shot. This type of image is not as exciting. It lacks impact, action and intrigue.

STOLEN MOMENTS: Whether you’re shooting animals, people, sports, dramatic light, etc., there’s always going to be a decisive moment where the action, expression, or gesture reaches a peak. It may be the glance of an eye, a compelling smile, or a run in full stride, but at some point, a specific moment reaches its climax.

TELL A STORY: Rather than simply document what the animal looks like, tell a story about how it lives, what it does, how it hunts, its mating behavior, etc. The challenge is to do this in a single frame. All aspects must come together to depict the behavior you choose to portray.

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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