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Photography 2013

Text of 20 Indispensable Photo Tips




  • 20 Indispensable Photo Tips

    by Ian Plant

    Copyright 2013

    All rights reserved. This book, and all of the photographs and written text contained therein, are the intellec-

    tual property of the author and are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. No part of this book

    may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the author.

    Author: Ian Plant

    Publisher: Dreamscapes

    Editor: Chris Flack

    reamscaped sian plant photography

  • My mission is to educate, inspire, and entertain others in the art of nature photography. So I make my

    books practical, informative, fun to read, and pack them with plenty of delicious eye candy.

    This eBook introduces you to many important concepts in nature photography. The ideas in this eBook are

    covered in greater depth on my blog and in other books and video tutorials for sale on my website; to

    delve deeper into how to improve your photography, visit the or my .

    Enjoy the bookyou'll be taking better photos in no time!

    Ian Plant

    blog online store

    Twenty photos. Twenty tips. Simple as that.

    World-renowned professional nature photographer and writer Ian Plant is a

    frequent contributor and blogger for Outdoor Photographer Magazine, a

    Contributing Editor to Popular Photography Magazine, and a monthly columnist

    for Landscape Photography Magazine. Ians work also appears in many other

    books, calendars, ad campaigns, and magazines available worldwide. Visit his

    for plenty of gorgeous images, and daily inspiration and education in

    the art of nature photography from top pros in the business.





  • We all love beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so it

    almost goes without saying that you should take

    photos at these timesbut Ill go ahead and say it

    anyway. When the skies light up with color, you

    should be taking photos! Sunsets and sunrises are

    usually most intense when partly to mostly cloudy

    skies prevail; as long as there is a large enough

    gap on the horizon where the sun is going up or

    down, youre likely to get colorful light striking

    the clouds, as is the case with the image to the left.

    Los CuernosTorres del Paine National Park, Chile.

    Canon 5DII, 45mm, polarizer filter, 2-stop graduated

    neutral density filter, ISO 200, f/11, 0.4 seconds.

    Quick Tip: A two- or three-stop graduated neutral

    density filter can come in handy when shooting

    sunrise or sunset, helping to balance bright skies

    with relatively dark foregrounds.

    1shoot stunning light

  • 2I was getting nasty lens flare from the setting sun just outside the image frame. My

    solution? Use the flare creatively. Selecting a small aperture, I created a radiating burst

    of light framing the lone tree in the meadow. Whenever a technical or artistic problem

    arises, find a way to turn it to your advantage. Light is LifeMt. Rainier National

    Park, USA. Canon 5DII, 37mm, ISO 100, f/16, 0.4 seconds.

    turn obstacles into opportunities

  • It is important to wait for the moment

    when your subject does something

    interesting; stretching its head, yawn-

    ing, bitingor as is the case with this

    sea turtle, surfacing for air. Becoming

    a master of the moment will greatly

    improve your photos. Ideally, the

    moment will tell a story about your

    subject. It may take some waiting, but

    when the right moment comes, youll

    be glad you were patient. Snorkel-

    ingGladden Spit and Silk Cayes

    Marine Reserve, Belize. Canon Powershot

    S100 with Fisheye Fix Underwater

    Housing and Fix UWL-28 Fisheye Wet

    Mount Conversion Lens, ISO 200, f/4,

    1/320 second.

    3wait for the decisive moment

  • Nothing demands our attention more than leading

    elements. Leading lines in particular can be very

    powerful, but leading elements can include other

    shapes, or even a progression of objects from fore-

    ground to background. Leading elements encour-

    age the viewer to travel deep into the composition,

    creating a high level of visual engagement. For the

    image to the right, I used a strong leading

    lineformed by the reflection of the sky in the

    water within a flooded slot canyonto direct the

    viewers eye from foreground to background.

    Into the West AwayGlen Canyon National

    Recreation Area, USA. Canon 5DIII, 14mm, ISO 100,

    f/11, 2.5 seconds.

    4 lead the eye

    Quick Tip: Lines provide an obvious visual cue

    pointing to what is important in an image. If you

    use a leading line, make sure it points somewhere

    interesting. If it points, for example, outside of the

    image frame, then youre not going to excite view-

    ers, but rather confuse them.

  • Although humans perceive the passage of time, help you capture a new perspective on reality,

    cameras can record time in ways our eyes can- and show the world in an unexpected way.

    not. Moving elements gradually lose distinct- MoonscapeAdirondack State Park, USA.

    ness and form, becoming abstract and artistic Canon 1DsII, 12mm, ISO 100, f/11, 17 minutes.

    blurs and brush strokes. Long exposures can

    5go with the flow with long exposures

  • Nature has an infinite variety of cool and interesting

    shapesuse them to your advantage! Look for swirls, cir-

    cles, triangles, curves, and other simple, powerful shapes to

    create boldly graphic and visually engaging imagessuch

    as this curve created by the interaction of shadow and light.

    Shadows and SandDeath Valley National Park, USA. Canon

    5DII, 50mm, ISO 50, f/11, 1/15 second.

    6focus on shapes

  • Reflections are a great way to add some extra style

    to your nature images. Still water often works best,

    although rippled or moving water can create

    abstract reflections. Reflection images often work

    well with a 50/50 split between the subject and its

    reflection; sometimes, however, other variations

    make more sense. Consider photographing only

    the reflection itself and add a hint of mystery. For

    the image to the left, my position was such that the

    reflection (at first glance, at least) doesnt quite

    seem to match the birds above, adding an eerie

    quality to this photograph. The GatheringDing

    Darling National Wildlife Refuge, USA. Canon 5DIII,

    500mm, ISO 800, f/9, 1/500 second.

    7make a statement with reflections

  • 8Radiating diagonal lines leading from the image corners to the center can be very

    effective at grabbing the viewers attention and holding interest over time. The key to

    success is to also have areas of off-center interest, creating a visual tug-of-war between

    the center and other parts of the composition. The Devils EyeApostle Islands

    National Lakeshore, USA. Canon 5DII, 14mm, polarizer filter, ISO 400, f/11, 0.5 seconds.

    draw attention to the center

  • The best photographs tell a story

    about their subjectsuch as a

    well-earned nap after a hard day

    of monkey business. The Politics

    of DistractionTambopata

    National Reserve, Peru. Canon

    5DIII, 500mm +1.4x, ISO 800, f/5.6,

    1/200 second.

    9 tell a story

  • 10use visual anchors

    Visual anchors are bold, eye-catching elements

    which help simplify an otherwise busy composi-

    tion by attracting the viewers attention. The

    visual anchor provides an obvious reference

    point, and a place for the viewer to start their

    visual journey. Other elements of the scene may

    attract the eye, but the visual anchor will always

    command attention. The best visual anchors lead

    the eye deeper into the scene, and then attract

    the eye back to the anchor, staring the process

    over (and hopefully over) againthe boulder in

    the foreground of the image to the right is a

    good example. The effect is a composition which

    captivates the viewer, making it hard to tear

    their eyes away. Virgin WatersChugach State

    Park, USA. Canon 5DII, 21mm, polarizer filter, ISO

    100, f/11, 0.8 seconds.

  • Flash is a vital, although often ignored,

    nature photography accessory. Flash has

    multiple uses: it can be used at low power to

    add an attractive catch light to a wildlife

    subjects eyes, it can provide fill light for a

    subject in shadow, or it can be used at night

    and during twilight to create surreal images

    (such as the one to the right). Start experi-

    menting with flash, and look for interesting

    ways to incorporate flash into your work

    flowit can open up many bold creative

    opportunities. Night HeronBlackwater

    National Wildlife Refuge, USA. Canon 20D,

    500mm, flash, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/4 second.

    11 light up the world with flash

    Quick Tip: A flash extenderbasically, a

    lightweight, portable device which focuses

    and concentrates the output of your flash

    through a magnifying filtercan help you

    illuminate distant subjects.

  • Dont just zoom in tightconsider taking a wider

    view to provide context and show your subjects

    interacting with their environment. For this

    image, I didnt just want a picture of elephants;

    rather, I wanted a picture that s

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