Monday, January 25, 2010

Instructor's Tip: Earth, Water and Sky

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.

As a former teacher, I stressed to my students to always make connections. Whether I was teaching math, writing, or science, I wanted my students to be able to take their thinking to higher levels by making connections either between subject areas or within given concepts. As I practice what I preach, I try to do this with my photography. For instance, I apply the same principles of lighting that I use when I photograph a person to when I take a shot of an animal in the wild. Is the face turned the right way? Is the angle of the light flattering? If I were to challenge you to make a list of commonalities between earth, water and sky, what would you come up with? PAUSE TO THINK...... How many of you came up with color? impact? nature? drama? combining all 3? There are no right or wrong answers. The idea is to get you to think photographically to create the best possible image.

EARTH: The earth has a myriad of colors. From the fall foliage of autumn to the deep greens of the rain forest, every color in the universe can be found. Learning how colors play off each other is important in order to create striking images.

WATER: If you reduce water to its basics, it’s colorless. The reason we see color in water is dependent upon what’s reflected upon it, what’s underneath it, and what’s in it. When photographing water, a strategically chosen shutter speed is important to its overall look. Fast shutter speeds stop the movement while slow ones emphasize it.
SKY: Sky and dramatic color are a marriage made, forgive the pun, in heaven. When the sky goes electric, it often becomes the focal point of the image. A clear horizon with clouds above it create great opportunities for color. But the sky can also be dramatic when there’s an impending or clearing storm. This is true especially when the sky in front of the sun opens up spotlighting the landscape.

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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