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Russ Burden provides tips with the acronym I.M.P.A.C.T. to make your images really pop.

I = Isolate
M = Manual
P = Polarizer
A = Act
C = Color
T = Telephoto


I.M.P.A.C.T. by Russ Burden I.M.P.A.C.T. by Russ BurdenRuss Burden provides tips with the acronym I.M.P.A.C.T. to make your images really pop.

Images with impact grab you as soon as they’re seen. The raising of the flag over Iwo Jima and the similar shot of the firemen hoisting an American flag at the site of the World Trade Center are two that reflect this concept. There are so many more classic images that have impact but the focus of this article is not about the ones that are already out there. It’s about the ones I want you to go out and make. They may never win a Pulitzer, but that doesn’t detract from the fact the photo has impact. Think about when you′re at your local camera club on a competition night and an image pops up that makes you say WOW. This is an image with impact. The same can be said for when you’re looking through magazines, at a museum, or any other location where pictures are on display. If they have the WOW factor, they have impact.

impact russ burden photo tips techniques garden child color
© 2007 Russ Burden, Denver DPA Instructor

You may be asking yourself, why does the title of the article have periods in between the letters of the word? The answer is simple. I.M.P.A.C.T. is a word I came up with to get you to remember good photographic technique so you can create images with impact. I = Isolate; M = Manual; P = Polarizer; A = Act; C = Color; T = Telephoto. So why did I choose these words? In that the accompanying photos depict the words – Isolate, Act and Color, I’ll explain the other letters first.

The M for Manual relates to both shooting in manual mode and to get you to read your camera manual.  First off, take your camera off program to get to learn more about the interaction between shutter speeds and apertures. This can also be done by shooting in aperture or shutter priority, but manual will really get you to learn the basics. The other idea of manual is for you to read, and I mean really read your camera manual. If you haven’t, I’m sure there are settings on the camera you don’t even know about. My manual is highlighted and has sticky tabs so I can access the most important aspects in an instant. At least twice a year, I review the manual so all controls remain fresh in my head. The P represents a Polarizer and should remind you to always bring a polarizing filter to give your pictures more pop and color. It’s the one filter that digital optimizing has yet to find a way to mimic – this is a good thing as it will cause you to remember to use the filter. The T represents Telephoto and should remind you use not only your telephoto lenses more often, but to experiment with every lens you own when photographing every subject. Finding a unique angle will separate your photography from everyone else′s.

impact russ burden photo tips techniques eagle nature bird
© 2007 Russ Burden, Denver DPA Instructor

In the image I chose for Isolate, it’s very obvious what the subject is. The hawk against the clear blue sky allows the bird to easily stand out. It’s the only subject in the picture. There is nothing to act as a distraction. The Act should remind you to act when the action is peak, when the expression is optimum, or whenever the decisive moment needs to be captured. Finally, the C image represents Color. Look for striking colors and how they play off each other. Both color harmony and contrast work well. Use the techniques above to get you to create images with IMPACT.

impact russ burden photo tips techniques fall foliage trees leaves yellow red
© 2007 Russ Burden, Denver DPA Instructor

To learn more about this topic, join me on one of my Photographic Nature Tours. Visit and click on the NATURE TOURS button for more information. Also, pick up a copy of my new 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 to order your signed copy.


©2007-2018 Digital Photo Academy | How To Use Your Digital Camera
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