Practice making photos even when you don’t have a camera in your possession
When I first got bit by the photography bug, I was hooked for life. Although it was a long time from the day I took my first picture until the time I purchased an SLR, I was always aware of the bite’s power. As I got more and more into the art, I viewed the world as though I had a viewfinder glued to my eye. I used telephoto eyes to pick out small slices of the landscape, animals in the distance and sections of buildings that were architecturally gorgeous. I used my wide-angle eyes to incorporate entire skylines and envision what they’d look like as a print. To this day, I do the same. Whether I’m in my kitchen cooking dinner or leading a safari to Tanzania, my awareness of light, composition and color is heightened thanks to photography. For this, I’m grateful as it allows me to appreciate all I witness more than most non-photographers. So where am I going with this?
In your everyday life, utilize your photo eyes. Look at your surroundings as if you, too, have a viewfinder to your eye. If the light you view is gorgeous, capture images in your inner psyche. Think about the depth of field and come up with the proper aperture for the “photo.” What about the composition? Would you grab a wide or go with a tele zoom? Would it be a vertical or horizontal? How about going a step further—what would the composition be if you captured both a vertical and horizontal?
The more often you do this, the faster you’ll be able to capture images of a fleeting animal before it runs away. Think about the shots you missed in the past because you were five seconds too late. If you practice utilizing your photo eyes, you’ll be less likely to miss the shot next time you’re out in the field with your camera since you already created the composition in your head as you approach the subject. Therefore, you’ll have the correct lens in hand and the shot will be yours. Image
If the subject doesn’t flee, what else can you do to improve the image you just made? If you’re able to fire off a single image, that becomes your placeholder—it’s your only image of that subject you created, therefore it’s your best. Now, think about how you can make it better. What if you move a few feet to the left or right to eliminate the bright background? What if you use a different aperture to narrow the depth of field? What if you attach a flash to your camera to add fill light and a highlight to the eye? What if you got down lower so the background is more out of focus?
These are real-time questions to ponder when you’re out in the field. The key to take from this is to not restrict answering these variables to real-time scenarios. As you utilize your photo eyes with an imaginary viewfinder to your eye, answer these questions so they become innate. The more often you do, the more often you’ll come back with killer images when the real camera is in your hand and subjects are encountered.
To learn more about this subject, join me on a photo safari to Tanzania. Visit www.russburdenphotography.com to get more information.