Fall Photo Pointers: Part 3 of 3 by Russ BurdenRuss Burden provides another round of tips and tricks for Fall photography It’s autumn - gone are the mornings of hazy white skies. Sunrise now greets us with a crisp blue and a chill in the air. The air is fresh and clean, a sense of change permeates the environment, and all living forms seem to sense the transformation that’s about to take place. For the photographer who loves color, it’s a glorious time. From the grand landscape to a lonely fallen red leaf to a child romping in a pile of freshly raked leaves, there’s a plethora of subject matter. Whether your passion lies in photographing nature, people, photo journalism, sports, etc., adding a background of fall color will make your images pop. There are so many tips I can share about taking fall photos that I’m dedicating the entire month of September’s weekly Tips to the subject. In this third installment of four, I will take you on a journey showing you how to improve your autumn photographs. Save or bookmark them and when the final installment is complete, you’ll have many tips to help you with your fall image making. Better yet, join me on one of my autumn nature photography tours so I can show you first hand my tips, tricks, and techniques - see last paragraph for info. Bring on the Backlight: Many photographers prefer a certain quality of light in which to photograph fall color. To me, whatever condition I’m bestowed on a particular day, I’ll exploit to its fullest. One of the conditions I’ll most certainly take advantage of is backlight. Autumn colored leaves take on a glow as if each has a built in spotlight that gets turned on to a varying intensity. Find a solitary tree in full fall color and do a 360 degree walk around. Watch what happens to the leaves as the quality of light changes from front light, to sidelight, to backlight. Front light is flat and dull while back light makes the tree come alive. Shield your lens to prevent flare and check your histogram to get the best exposure as shooting into the sun can cause the photo to be underexposed. © 2007 Russ Burden Bring on the Morning Mist: A warm autumn day followed by a chilly autumn night motivates me to get into the field early the next morning. The reason for this is these are the conditions that create ground fog and mist. Capturing this mood with fall color added in as a bonus is a nature photographer’s dream. Preserving the moment is technically not difficult. Most of the exposures are pretty much straight forward unless the fog is backlit. If so, check your histogram to see how you need to compensate as shooting into the sun tends to produce underexposure. Compositionally, shoot it wide, shoot it tight, isolate a detail, shoot vertically and shoot horizontally. In other words, as I’ve often said so many times, “exhaust all possibilities.” These are magical conditions and you want to make sure you capture the moment. © 2007 Russ Burden Bring on the Overcast: If the weather deals me an overcast hand, I’ll take advantage of it and concentrate on just the leaves as the reds, yellows and oranges saturate well in this condition. The reason for this is glare from the sun that would otherwise rob the foliage of its saturation doesn’t factor into the equation. Depending on how gray it is, it will be necessary to add warmth to the photo in the form of a warming filter or setting the white balance to cloudy. The yellow imparted by the filter or the warmth imparted by the cloudy white balance setting helps negate the dull color of the gray sky that is cast over the landscape. If you encounter overcast skies, look for branches that are low growing and zero in on a single leaf or a clump that has a nice composition. Look toward the ground for the intimate landscape that may often go unnoticed. Red leaves nestled in pine needles, the veining of a single oak leaf, or a fallen log surrounded by an autumn mosaic are all wonderful subjects that deserve more than just a few pixels worth of capture. © 2007 Russ Burden To learn more about this topic, join me on one of my Photographic Nature Tours. Visit www.russburdenphotography.com and click on the NATURE TOURS button for more information. Also, pick up a copy of my book, Amphoto’s Complete Book of Photography. You can purchase a signed copy directly from me or visit your local book store or Amazon. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your signed copy.
Fall Foliage Pointers: Part 2 of 3 by Russ Burden It’s autumn - the monochromatic green that dominated summer is giving way to nature’s magic as the environment is taking on a palette of warm tones and changing colors. For the photographer who loves color, it’s a glorious time. From the grand landscape to a lonely fallen red leaf to a child romping in a pile of freshly raked leaves, there’s a plethora of subject matter. Whether your passion lies in photographing nature, people, photo journalism, sports, etc., adding a background of fall color will make your images pop. There are so many tips I can share about taking fall photos that I’m dedicating the entire month of September’s weekly Tips to the subject. In this second installment of four, I will take you on a journey showing you how to improve your autumn photographs. Save or bookmark them and when the final installment is complete, you’ll have many tips to help you with your fall image making. Better yet, join me on one of my autumn nature photography tours so I can show you first hand my tips, tricks, and techniques - see last paragraph for info. Include Wildlife: If you’re a regular visitor to my Photo Tips and Techniques on Take Great Pictures, you’ve read something to the effect of, “the background is equally as important as the subject.” A fantastic subject shot against a busy background nets a busy image. A fantastic subject shot against a fantastic background produces a winner. I consider a good fall background to be fantastic. Including wildlife in a good autumn hued environment is special. Look for situations where the background can be thrown out of focus into a wash of color. Try to find the angle where the animal is surrounded with fall color. Look for a situation where you can have the coloring of the animal harmonize with the colors of fall. Be aware how the light on the animal plays against the light on the background. The best scenario is to have the primary light fall on the subject. © 2007 Russ Burden Control Depth Of Field: In some situations, as in the above example, it’s better to have an out of focus background that’s a wash of color that complements the subject. On the other hand, foreground to background sharpness is necessary when shooting the grand autumn landscape. The recipe for the out of focus scenario includes a long lens, a wide open aperture, and a subject that has separation from the background. All play into the mix and if one of the ingredients doesn’t fit, it impacts the “flavor” of the others. The recipe for the everything in focus image includes a wide angle lens, a small lens opening and the use of the hyperfocal setting on your lens. Given the amount of space, I don’t have the room to explain how to use this setting, but an internet search will net you many hits - type in Hyper Focal Distance. Better yet, join me on a nature tour and I’ll show you the process live. © 2007 Russ Burden Isolate Details: Most photographers tend to photograph the grand autumn landscape. A sweeping vista of maple covered New England mountains, a huge stands of aspens blanketing the Rockies, and the sprawling red tundra of the high country are fantastic subjects. If the conditions and light are right, I’d be right there filling many memory cards worth of pixels. But as you walk from composition to composition, rather than just look out onto the landscape, take a few steps and look down at the intimate details that await you on the ground. Look up at just a few majestically colored branches juxtaposed against a clear autumn blue sky. Quite often the quintessential fall photograph is above or below your line of vision. Don’t overlook the possibility of capturing an autumn slice of life image. So break out the macro or the long telephoto and fire away. © 2007 Russ Burden To learn more about this topic, join me on one of my Photographic Nature Tours. Visit www.russburdenphotography.com and click on the NATURE TOURS button for more information. Also, pick up a copy of my book, Amphoto’s Complete Book of Photography. You can purchase a signed copy directly from me or visit your local book store or Amazon. Contact me at email@example.com to order your signed copy.
Use your camera’s macro setting (the image of the little flower) for very close shots. Zooming in can often make even the most ordinary settings dramatic and beautiful. Natural light is often best for very close photos. Again, force your flash off and use a tripod or stable surface.
Take advantage of natural light. Natural lighting is soft, it creates dramatic and intimate settings. Force your camera’s flash off, and use a tripod or other stable surface to avoid camera shake. Use the ‘rule of thirds’ to create a more intriguing composition. Mentally (some cameras offer a display setting for this) divide the picture plane into thirds and place the subject in your photo at the intersection of a vertical and horizontal third.
Among travel photographers such as myself, camera maintenance falls into two categories, daily and location specific prep. Daily maintenance during a shoot is the usual: battery check, blow or brush dust off the sensor, wipe down the body to keep it clean, clean the lenses and filters etc. I perform these chores each day, no matter what the conditions. Specific environmental conditions will also dictate how I handle my equipment. If I am working in a humid, tropical area like the Yucatan Peninsula, photographing Mayan Ruins, I take heavy plastic bags and silica gel canisters. Moisture building up around circuits is a fast way to short out the camera’s electronics and humidity inside a lens can cause the elements to fog. Over time, moisture will allow fungus to grow inside the lens as well. © 2007 Chuck Place Each night, all my camera bodies and lenses go into a tightly sealed bag with a silica canister. Silica gel has an affinity for moisture and will absorb much of the moisture in the bag. These canisters are now built with an attached electrical plug. Each morning I merely plug the canister into a wall socket and a built-in heating element cooks off the absorbed moisture, drying the silica for the next night’s use. The second environmental condition with which I am very careful is condensation. This creates the same camera and lens problems as humidity, but is a very sudden phenomenon that needs to be anticipated by the photographer. © 2007 Chuck Place Condensation occurs when a cold surface comes into contact with humid air. Stepping out of an air conditioned room into a warm, muggy morning will always cause condensation to form on a camera and lens and, depending on the quality of the seals, even inside the equipment. I try to use air conditioning as little as possible, get out of the room a good hour before sunrise and leave my camera in the bag for the first 30 minutes. This gives my gear time to warm to air temperature, avoiding the problem. © 2007 Chuck Place The same problem can occur if you are stepping into a warm building on a cold winter day, maybe after photographing ice skaters. Your gear is cold from being outside all day and when you pull out the camera to download images, the relatively high moisture of a warm room will condense on the cold equipment. I merely leave my camera gear in the bag for an hour or two to let it warm up. In both cases, the cure is simple, but the photographer must anticipate the problem. Cleaning your gear after condensation forms can be a time consuming, and occasionally, expensive process.
Photograph in low light on purpose! To get the people silhouetted I exposed for the highlights on the water and opened up one f-stop; in-camera meters tend to want to expose whites as gray. Image was color tinted and vignetted to emphasize the mood of a dreamy summer day. It could be done with an orange filter on the (telephoto) lens, or in post-production in Photoshop, as was done with this image. A deep blue filter could make the image have a terrific moonlit feeling. Brisbane, Australia. © Chris Michaels, San Diego DPA Instructor
Southwest Arizona: Composed using a tripod, flash, and colored gel filters. First, I taped a green gel filter onto a camera flash unit. Then, I manually fired the flash into the cactus while exposing for the background cactus and lights. Throwing colored light onto the same colored object will make that object super-saturated. The hardest part here was stringing those Christmas lights on the background cactus! © Chris Michaels, San Diego DPA Instructor
1. Use a larger aperture to blur the background and create a stronger focus on the athlete in motion. 2. Extra-colorful uniforms are more brightly featured when the background is a complimentary color. 3. A telephoto lens is a must when photographing sports! If you have a point-and-shoot camera, your zoom lens should suffice for good sports images of the kids (some models even have an extra ′Digital Zoom′ feature that enables you to get even closer, like the Panasonic-LUMIX FX07). If you own a Digital SLR camera, we suggest a zoom lens from 70-200mm for the best results from the audience stands. 4. An abstract shot of the ball can be a great way to metaphorically immortalize the event, even make a card that will mean something to the whole team. 5. If you wait it out by the goal or basket, inevitably the action will show itself for you to capture! Photographs by Tony Schreck, Minneapolis DPA Instructor
1. Shoot late in the day because sunset light combines beautifully with the colors of Fall leaves. 2. Pick your subjects′ clothing so that everyone is wearing "autumnal colors". 3. Find open areas (like state parks in the mountains) so that wide expanses of fall leaves can be seen. Photographs © Joel Silverman, Atlanta DPA Instructor
Get down to your subject’s eye level to give your photo more impact. Also, as in this case, a wide angle lens makes the pumpkins look even larger compared to the small girl. I was originally drawn to this subject because her jacket matched the pumpkins so well. Expose your pumpkin photo to take advantage of the warm candlelight, giving the image a more dramatic look. In this case, I exposed two stops under the suggested exposure. Photographs © Jon Canfield, Seattle DPA Instructor