Photo Tips to Make It Great

One of my greatest pleasures as a photo instructor is reviewing a student’s work. It is exciting to see what they see and learn how they solve their photographic problems. Share with me their vision and a discussion of why I feel these images work well.

Tip #1:
In this image Bill is illustrating the importance of adding interest to the foreground. The large rocks, made to seem even larger by using a wide angle lens for some distortion, echo the subject in the background. They lead the eye into the photograph and add a resting place for the eye at the end of the journey through the image. Discover how close you can be to an object and still be in focus.

LOCATION: Crescent Beach, Olympic Peninsula PHOTOGRAPHER: Bill Black, Washington

TIP: Find objects that will add foreground interest to your photographs. They lead your eye into the photograph and act as an anchor for the entire image.

Tip #2:
Carole used a ribbon of light and a silhouette to make a graphic statement. The use of lights and darks in an image can add magic and drama to the scene.

LOCATION: Alabama Hills, California PHOTOGRAPHER: Carole Black, Washington TIP: Learn to see the dramatic possibilities of a scene and then photograph it in such a way that heightens that vision. Keep it simple, keep it clean and keep your vision focused.

Tip #3:
When photographing flowers, be especially aware of the direction of light. Jerry wanted the vibrant color of the Iceland Poppy to catch your eye. He took a position that allowed the flower to be backlit. The exposure was spot metered from the flower petal. Depth of field was checked to be sure that the flower was in focus but the background was not. The background, in addition to being out of focus, was in shadow. This combination will produce a soft blended background that allows the subject to pop forward. A danger here is any stray spots of light or reflections from the background leaves that would make a distracting hot spot.

LOCATION: Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia, California PHOTOGRAPHER: Gerald Sanders, M.D., California TIP: Look for dramatic light to emphasize your subject. Remember that the most dramatic contrasts are light against dark or dark against light. Use your background to emphasize your dramatic lighting.

Tip #4:
Photographing wildlife at the zoo is an excellent way to practice animal photography, while at the same time, getting some very dynamic photos. One of the major obstacles can be the barriers that are in your way. If there is no sunlight on the mesh or bars, then use a long lens, focus on the animal and use a limited depth of field (large sized lens opening – aperture F4 – limits the width of the band of focus) to get the animal in focus and to make the barrier optically disappear. If the sunlight or your flash strikes the barrier, it will show up in the image regardless of the depth of field. In this photograph, Peggy had spent quite a bit of time waiting for the leopard to do something. For just an instant it slotted open its eyes. The look Peggy captured in this shot made it quite apparent that in spite of the relaxed position of the animal, the photographer was not unnoticed!

LOCATION: Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles, California PHOTOGRAPHER: Peggy Sanders, California TIP: Learn patience, but be ready to react when you see a special expression on the animal.

Tip #5:
Helen is a very unusual photographer because she sees the drama in things that are quite simple. Many of us who travel Highway 395 become complacent and fail to see the beauty in the ordinary. Helen stops and takes the time to plan and think about what the purpose of the photograph needs to be. She attempts to translate her vision in the simplest of terms. In this image of cattle on the range, she has used the trees at the very edge of the photograph to balance and contain the animals. The shadow ties the trees together and completes the visual “corral”. The trail leading to the cattle brings us into the photograph while the large bushy trees on the left prevent the eye from leaving. The subtlety of the monochromatic Inyo Mountains in the background focus your attention on the detail of the cattle.

LOCATION: Highway 395, Eastern Sierra Mts., California PHOTOGRAPHER: Helen Jacobs, California TIP: Give some thought to the purpose of the photograph, keep it simple and try to arrange all of the design element so that they compliment and emphasize your goal.

Tip #6:
Strong autumn color in the cottonwood trees as well as the bright yellow rabbit brush in the field creates a base that allows your eye to move around the photograph. The volcanic cinder cone also adds color. It is a simple scene that works because of the color, the lines and shapes. Audrey took command of the scene by taking the time to simplify the design. By doing this, her photographic statement created strong impact.

LOCATION: Eastern Sierra Mountains near Bishop, California PHOTOGRAPHER: Audrey Mead, California TIP: Eliminate everything in the photograph that doesn’t add to the image.

Tip #7:
Richard is an enthusiastic photographer who is learning to use his computer to enhance his photographs. In this image, he simplified the background by blurring it with the use an image editing program. In addition to the computer enhancement, the underlying photograph is simple and clean

LOCATION: Lancaster Poppy Fields, California PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Coskey, M.D., California

TIP: Keep your mind open to learning new techniques whether they are in the field of photography, art or computer technology. Strive to make the underlying photograph the strongest and best image you can. To achieve a “natural” look, keep your computer enhancements simple as well.

Tip #8:
This photograph of a 350 pound young grizzly bear was taken at the Triple D Game Farm in Kalispell, Montana. Working with animals, even in controlled situations, is difficult. You strive to capture the essence of the animal in as natural a setting as you can. The behavior should be as natural as possible. BJ was coming up a small hill foraging for tidbits. The ambling posture, the interest in his surroundings is typical of his behavior in the wild.

LOCATION: Triple D Game Farm, Kalispell, Montana PHOTOGRAPHER: Cliff Timbrook, Ohio

TIP: Regardless of which animal or critter you photograph, the most successful images are those that demonstrate natural behavior. Study your subjects.

Tip #9:
Regular visitors to Bodie can only look through the windows at the artifacts. With reservations, photographers are able to enter the buildings and create intimate still life images. Chris found this old table and bottles. We are not permitted to touch anything in the buildings but, by moving carefully around the table, he was able to compose this shot using the existing light coming through a window. The simplicity of design and light combine to make this a very successful image.

by Noella Ballenger

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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