Professional Outdoor & Nature Photography 3: Natural Light | Charlie Borland | Skillshare

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Professional Outdoor & Nature Photography 3: Natural Light

teacher avatar Charlie Borland, Professional photographer for over 35 years

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (57m)
    • 1. Intro to Lighting

    • 2. Understanding Light Quality

    • 3. Understanding Lighting Angle

    • 4. Understanding Lighting Techniques

    • 5. Developing Your Vision

    • 6. Field Techniques

    • 7. Photographying Wildlife

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About This Class

Lighting is crucial to successful images and especially images that sell. In this course we will look at varieties of natural life and how to apply them to landscape photography. Then finish with an overview of wildlife photography. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlie Borland

Professional photographer for over 35 years


Charlie Borland has been a commercial and stock photographer for over 35 years. Based in Oregon, his clients include Xerox, NW Airlines, Fujitsu, Tektronix, Nike, Blue Cross, Nationsbank, Precision Castpart's Corp., Mentor Graphics, Texas Instruments, Pacificorp, Cellular One, Sequent Computer, Early Winters, Cascade Bancorp, and AGC. He has won numerous awards for his photography and received recognition for annual reports he has photographed.

His imagery has been used thousands of times worldwide, including National Geographic Adventure and Traveler, Outside, Women's Sport and Fitness, Newsweek, TV Guide, CIO, Sports Illustrated for Women, Time, Backpacker, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Eco Traveler, Southern Bell, to name a few.

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1. Intro to Lighting: Hi, I'm Charlie Borland, and I want to tell you about my short course on natural lighting for outdoor and nature photography. It's part of my Siris of short courses on how to be a professional outdoor and nature photographer, and this is Part three. If you plan to sell your photography, there are many things you need to consider in one is that many photographs that sell well have phenomenal outdoor lighting. In this course, I'm going to show you many examples of lighting in varying forms, demonstrating light that it's soft, hard, flat, contrast, warm and more. What you will gain by the end of the course is a solid understanding of natural light in varying forms to help you. When you're in the field, you would be able to see light that affects your subjects. And what tougher light shows the subject the best? Hopefully, it will help you create images that make you a lot of money, so let's get started 2. Understanding Light Quality: think about this without light. There's no photography where there's really no life as we know it today. Light is the very essence of photography. It can be magical and is often unpredictable, and the right light is crucial to successful and remarkable photography. Light is a key ingredient to making beautiful photographs as it shapes our subjects and provides us the information about the subject, like whether it was rough or shiny or Matt how it might feel, whether it's tasty or not like in food photography, There are basically three properties toe light, color, quality and quantity, and all three are relative to every single subject. We photograph quantity describes how much light is available, and it's usually measured in brightness. A large quantity of light is brighter than a small quantity of light. We deal with quantity of light by using our exposure settings to accurately capture the scene. Lack of quantity means longer exposures, while an abundant quantity results in shorter exposures. And here we rely on our cameras to deliver what we would consider a normal or accurate exposure. From there, we can manipulate what the camera recommends into what we think is a better capture by changing our exposure to allow in mawr. Quantity or less Quantity of light quality of light includes several characteristics, such as the direction, the color of the light and the contrast of the light. Here are camera does not have the ability to define the best quality of life. That determination is made solely by our brain as we photograph in the field with our brains focused on finding subjects worthy of composing in our camera. What we really are doing is looking for the light and for ways to photograph the light as it illuminates the scene. Mastering light is about understanding how light works and how it will affect different subjects. Good like compliments are subjects by emphasizing the tonal values that are within the scene, which consists of highlights, mid tones shadows, and these bring out important details like color, mood, texture and shape. The time of day has a lot to do with the color of light morning light at sunrise and on a clear day is often golden light, warm and color that skims across the surface of the landscape. As the sun rises, the light will begin to get bluer and more contrast, this is early light, and it's perfect for this coastal scene. It adds to the success of the image, and without the light shaping the rocks, the image would not have near the impact that it does. Big landscapes at sunrise benefit from directional light that sweeps across the scene, emphasizing the texture and shape and the land. Like this photo from Oregon's high desert, the warm, golden light is creating highlights and shadows that show the rugged shape of the land around an hour after sunrise. The sun leaves the thicker atmospheric conditions that make the light so golden warm and it begins to turn bluer in color. This is still a fabulous time to photograph, as indicated by this image from White Sands, New Mexico. The shapes of each ripple in the sand showed the detail and the patterns and are hitting the areas of the scene that did not get light at the time of the sun rose. As the sun continues to rise, it can nicely light other subjects that did not receive any light right around some rice. Here in the tattoo sh range of Mount Rainier National Park, the sun rose a little behind the range. But as mid morning comes around, the light has topped the ridge and is nicely accentuating the forest and the features of the mountain range. So this brings up an important point that you might have heard regarding the best time of the day to photograph. Some photographers argue that sunrise and sunset is the only time the light is good, and that's wrong. All light is good like it just depends on how it's used. And that is a quote by noted photographer Andreas Fine. Injure a photographer from the very early days of the medium. Lighting consistent. Be good at midday and works for some subjects like this. Photo taken in early winner around 2 p.m. These swirled and eroded features of Macro Sheikha State Park in Montana make a nice image because the sun is still low during midday and in the northern areas of the United States and can create enough angle of light to emphasize thes textures. As the sun begins to lower in the sky in late afternoon, the shadows begin to get longer, as seen in this Death Valley photo, the cracks in the mud or being emphasized. Mawr as the shadows in the cracks get longer, the lower the sun goes. When the sun is close to sunset, the color of light warms up dramatically. As it did. It's sunrise, and the shadows get much longer. This is sweet light, as it's known and is a wonderful time to photograph. When the sun drops over the horizon, the light hitting the foreground goes away, but it can still cover the higher reaches of scenes like these rocks near Sedona, Arizona. The light at this time is even warmer in color. Some scenes air great after the sun has completely set, like this mountain and its colorful Halpin glow, all light has contrast, which is the range between highlights and shadows. And the greater the range, the higher the contrast, while the shorter the range, the flatter were softer quality of light. Some subjects worked much better and flat low contrast light, while others are better, in contrast, delight. The main consideration is that the subject and the lighting conditions in relation to that subject, the big landscape might not have the impact with an overcast white sky. While photographing within an old growth forest is great on overcast days, I will usually photograph in all weather and just adapt to the conditions of the time. Here are some examples of subjects in flat lighting and contrast the lighting, the flowers in the sun and you can see the contrast in lighting is not that appealing. Here's another flower shot, photographed in soft, flat light on an overcast day, but you can also shoot in the shade for the same effect. So which lighting do you prefer? This is from Capitol Reef National Park, and there's a cloud over the sun creating flat, light and soft shadows. I think it's OK, but this next image is better. When the cloud moved, the lighting drama was much better. The light is warm, and the shadows and highlights sculpt the landscape much better on the rock and the foreground. Sometimes you're gonna want flat light, and you can actually wait for it to come. And I'm not talking hours but instead waiting for a cloud to come over the sun or, in this case, waiting for about 10 minutes for the sun to drop behind the hill. The spotlight effect is not what I wanted and waiting briefly brought soft light which for me was perfect for the scene. This image is from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it was captured on a very overcast day where light was dark and muddy. But with the help of photo shop, the raw file was enhanced tomb or brilliance by setting the black and white points, a slight S curve adjustment to bump up contrast and a hue and saturation adjustment to enhance the color. Subjects like the forest or wildflowers often work better in flat or overcast lighting due to less shadows and less lighting. Contrast. The reason is the light quality and the type of highlight that is created either by a harsh quality of light or a soft quality of light. For example, Hard Son is a point light source, and it creates harsh and contrast in lighting. And many of the highlights are what's called speculate highlights. Overcast is a large, soft light source, and this creates more diffused highlights. This is in the forest just a couple of miles from the rim of the Grand Canyon, and it is the soft light that makes the colors more obvious. And with a little bit of processing, I made them pop out even more. If you photograph a hillside of fall foil ege and the sun is out, the speculator highlights that appear on every single leaf in your seen create a subject with contrast. And because this is a big scene, it helps overall. On an overcast day, the soft light source in the sky creates a large diffused highlight on every single leaf, and the result is lower contrast. This happens to be the same location as the previous photo with a slightly different framing. And here cloud, cover the sun, simulating the soft, light oven overcast sky. Once you move into the forest, things could be better or worse, depending on whether you have direct sunlight in that forest or not. Here it's overcast, and the flat lighting is working well. The sun is filtering in here, and things can get a little more challenging. As you can see with the sun backlighting the trees, this increases the contrast. The lighting still works well for this scene, due primarily to being zoomed in and looking at mostly the shadow side of the trees, which minimizes the highlight and reduces the amount of lighting. Contrast that seem here. The scene is wider and covering more territory, and the sun is out, and this is creating a lot of contrast. And it does not work that well due to the scene. Contrast. So what I've just covered here is basically soft versus contrast delight. And of course, these air just guidelines because, as we know, there are no rules. What I really want to do is stimulate your awareness of light and lighting, contrast and get you started looking at your scenes in determining whether the light is great or not. Based on that lighting contrast, since we have no choice on the available light conditions we encounter, we have two. Instead, decide how to photograph with seen that has the best light at the time were there or in cases like these forest images, we can change position and sometimes make the bad light work a little bit better. 3. Understanding Lighting Angle: angle of light is another ingredient in regards to the quality of light. When the light is behind the camera, we call it front light, and it creates a very flat light, made mostly of highlights with few shadows. Remember, though, all light is good light, and it just depends on how you use it. So front lighting can work for some subjects. And, of course, it's going to depend on that subject. This sawara cactuses totally front lit and you can tell because there is mostly highlight with little shadow, and that's okay. The lack of lighting contrast is made up for with a strong visual effect. This famous location is popular with photographers, and it's called Schwab Ocher Landing in Grand Teton National Park. It is a must get for most landscape photographers, and you when you arrive there to photograph sunrise, you will get front lighting more or less. But it does depend on the time of year your their mid summer. The light will be pretty flat, but late fall through winter will have a lot more shape to the light, since the sun is further north and that will create more shadows and highlights on the mountain. This is Mount Hood, Oregon, and the photograph was taken about an hour after sunrise. The camera is facing west and the sun rises in the east, and you can see that the light is pretty flat, with very little shadows anywhere and mostly highlights. But as I say, it is what it is. This photo's from Oregon and it's broken Top Mountain. The sun is right behind the camera, creating a very flat lighting. This photo, however, proves another point that all images can sell even when they're not technically perfect. This has been published numerous times, including a calendar. So even with less than great light, there is still hope. But of course, that's my opinion. The photo editor thought it was a great image great enough to publish, so maybe I'm a little too picky on my own photography. This photo is from Badlands in South Dakota, and it's been a very good selling photo over the years. It's not totally front light. Instead, the sun is halfway between front light and sidelight, and it works very well to show the shape of the eroded badlands. This angle of light creates more highlights than shadows and it's perfect for subjects that need good light across large sections of the scene. The light here comes from the same location in this photo of a farm in Pennsylvania and does a great job of shaping the land Skype as it skims across the there's more highlight than shadow, and it works because there's just enough shadow to shape the foreground that's closest to the camera. When the sun is positioned more to the side of the subject, the light becomes more balanced between highlights and shadows. Many subjects benefit from light that a split between highlights and shadows like this image from Death Valley. The shadows come close to equaling the highlights, and it adds a lot of shape and drama. One point I want to make is that shadows and highlights can be equal in size when the sun is in other positions or higher. So this again is just a guideline to get you understand how light works here. The light works perfectly to highlight thes Petra cliffs, as the lighting also comes from the side, and it works perfectly as the sun sets to the west, which is the left side on this coastal scene in Carmel, California This is a perfect sidelight on these rocks from Grand Staircase Escalon E National Monument in Utah. The light places a nice edge light on the rocks, which really helps in defining how rugged they are as the light moose further past the side lighting either on the left side or the right side. We get into an area that I call 10 and two, and that means the sun is no longer to the site and is now halfway between sidelight and backlight. Imagine a clock, and the subject you're photographing is in the middle of the clock and your cameras positioned at six o'clock, so sidelight on the left side would be nine o'clock and sidelight on the right side would be three o'clock. So now you know what I mean. When I say 10 o'clock in two oclock, it's becoming backlighting here. The lighting is about two o'clock in this photo from Sorrow National Park in Arizona. You can see that the leaves and the branches have a nice edge of light on them, and that really makes them nice and crisp, and they stand out so much more because it's partially overcast The contrast was just not bad. Bad for backlighting. This was captured right after sunrise and the sun is about two o'clock and you can see again how the back lighting is working very well. If you look at the bottom of the photograph out by the trees, you can see how the sun's placing a nice edge. A light on top of the willows and the grass is this is a great example of the sun showing the shape of the landscape. Do you see, however, one not so great aspect of this photo when you photographed where the sun is anywhere close to backlighting, haze and smog will be emphasized and that is the case With that blue haze on top, the final angle is backlighting, and this is where the sun is close to being almost directly behind your subject. It can create a really nice quality of light because it creates dramatic highlights and dramatic shadows. And, of course, lots of contrast. When you're photographing backlighting, you may or may not have the sun in your photo like a sunset photograph. If you compose a scene that has the sun and then you have the challenges of dealing with that much higher contrast. But if you can leave the sun out of your composition, you can get some amazing quality of light that places highlights along the edges of your subjects. This desert scene is from Phoenix, Arizona, and it's a perfect example of backlighting where the landscape benefits greatly from the rear angle of light because it makes everything have a nice glow to it. But the sun's not in the photograph, and so that's a good thing, because I don't have to deal with the lighting contrast as a result of that. This is from Arizona's Petrified Force, and it's also backlighting where the sun is just high enough to not be seen in my camera. Nor is it causing any lens flare. And again it's creating wonderful highlights on the edges of the eroding formations. In this example, it's 1 30 in the afternoon, which is not the best time to photograph as we hear all the time. But the lighting works pretty well here because the sun is up high and it's adding nice highlights along the edges of each Ridgeline. Within this scene notice, however, that blue cast in the background from the haze on a warm, sunny day. Fortunately, we can correct this in Photoshop and similar programs. Backlighting is what really makes this photograph interesting, and it's from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Interestingly, I shot this on film long before digital photography and film had a shorter, dynamic range. So here you can see the sun is blowing out the sky on the left due to that lighting contrast. But the image still works fine and was published in a calendar one time today. With our digital tools, we can reduce that brightness in the sky. The Grand Canyon is one of my favorite places for sunrise due to the drama of the landscape . Here, there's a warm quality of light that is low in contrast. And that is another thing to point out when the sun is low and the air is hazy. The color of the light is a lot warmer, and for the first few minutes, the contrast is much lower, allowing you to capture a full dynamic range even though you're shooting towards the sun. I used the equivalent of a graduated filter in photo shop called the Grady Int Tool to darken the sky some and again, I'll show you how to do this type of stuff later on. It's pretty common toe also include the sun in a composition when the sun rises or sets. I just mentioned that contrast is an issue in some scenes, but adding the son in some cases adds a lot of contrast and require some post production to balance out the photo. This photo is from the same location as the other Grand Canyon photos we've been looking at , and this time I included the sun in the frame. Notice the increase in contrast, like the wider sky and, worst of all, the lens flare. This is very common, and it's hard to avoid. So I just used Photoshopped to remove these flare spots. I'll go ahead and show you the same image after postproduction, using photo shop where I dark in the sky and remove the flare from the sun. This is one of the reasons we must process are photographs so we can remove issues that can come with in perfect digital files. One way to deal with lens flare is to place the sun behind something like a tree or a rock wall or anything that you can hide the sun partially behind. You want a little bit of the sun to peek around the subject, And if you also use your smallest aperture in the range of O F. 16 F 32 you can get what we call a sunburst effect with shafts of light branching out from the sun. Here's another example of letting the sun peak over the horizon, and several things have happened here. The first is when the sun is behind the tree branch, or like here, the horizon. The lighting contrast is reduced some, and you're able to capture mawr of the dynamic range. So instead of having a blown out sky, there's enough detail in color that you can then darken it in post production. And this also helps reduce lens flare, making it even more easy to retouch. This is Death Valley, and I'm shooting straight into the sun. You can see the bright sun has resulted any slightly darker image due to the bright sun fooling the meter. Since it's a raw file, I can adjust for the darkness. Interestingly, there's very little lens flare, and that's a good thing. This sunset photo was shot with a four by five You camera and the lens is that go with four by five are completely different makeup over a lens that comes with a 35 millimeters system . I'm showing you this because the lens flare is minimal and I chalk it up to a different style of lens. 4. Understanding Lighting Techniques: So now we're going to finish up on lighting by just looking at a few more examples of light quality that works very well for the subjects. And some of these photos I'm about to present have sold more than one time. So this 1st 1 here, this is the fruit orchard in Capitol Reef National Park, and I photographed this at least 25 years ago, and it's been published in quite a few different places. Unfortunately, it's no longer available because a lot of other trees have grown up and sort of blocked the view out here. But it you know, it's one of those lucky finds. I got it when I got it. What works very well here is it's not overcast. It's just that the sun hasn't reached it into the canyon. Where Matt So you've got these trees turning color in the fall. They happen to be apple tree. Part of them happen to be apple trees, and then you got a sandstone wall behind. So this is perfect for a cover. I actually sold it in a calendar, but it would work well for a magazine cover and that sort of thing because of all the room that's there. This next images from Alaska and I was on assignment up there, photographing a rafting trip. This is about 11 o'clock at night, and, as you know up in the northern areas, it doesn't get totally dark in the summer. And so this was about a 32nd exposure, if I remember correctly, and even that iceberg in the foreground is blurring a little bit as it's slowly floating across the lake. But the light quality is phenomenal. It's just got this sort of what we used to call or what was technically called reciprocity failure. When we're using film, the longer the exposure there would be sort of a failure within the film, and the color would be just what I call Purple E, which is purple and blue or purple e So again wonderful life. This next images in Arkansas Buffalo River National Scenic Area and I was just hiking and found this waterfall and again the flat lighting is really, really crucial to the success here keeps the contrast low if you can imagine the sun coming down through these leaves and making them very hotly backlit and then having the darker rocks around the waterfall. The contrast would just be too much. And here is the wave in the coyote buttes area of Arizona with that place that you have to get the permit to go into again. It's an overcast day, and it helped a lot with keeping the contrast low in here. The thing about the wave area, though, is it's gonna work very well in any kind of light because so much of it can be exposed. Two different light qualities so doesn't so. I'm not saying by any means that the flatter light is necessarily a better situation now. These aspen trees, they're lit completely with back lighting, and as a result, there's a nice glow to it. But there's a lot of contrast is well, so this is an interesting one to process to try to maintain brightness without getting too much contrast going on. This is from Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona as well, and I waited to shoot this stuff till the sun was gone. I didn't want the contrast that I was gonna get in each of these little cracks in the settlement that I would going to get from the from the sun and all the speculator highlights and that sort of thing that come with it. The flat light allowed me to concentrate on adding contrast rather than trying to figure out how to reduce contrast and make those colors really pop. This is Fort Rock in Oregon, and this is absolutely right when the sun pops over the horizon because it's hitting just the tops of the sage brush in the foreground and creating a very, very golden warm amber color and works very well. This image here is the Alvord Desert in Oregon. You've already seen some of my cracked mud pictures. And again the sun has just come over the horizon, and you have to be ready to capture it when it does that, because that's what's creating the texture on the cracked mud in the foreground. It only gonna take probably 10 more minutes, and the sun's going to be high enough that all that light quality really flattens out, meaning the shadows start going away because it's such a flat landscape. This is Utah, and not long before the sun was going to drop below the horizon. And so it's perfect as it skims across the landscape and in particular the dunes, really emphasizing a lot of the texture that is there. This is Colorado, and again it is flat lighting. It's not real late in the day, but the sun's dropped behind one of the mountains because it's a very mountainous region, giving me sort of overcast light. But what's interesting is the sun is still hitting the landscape not very far to my left, and it's bringing light in bounce light in, which is creating the highlights on the side of those aspens. And that is what we call reflected or bounce light. It's a really nice quality of light. This image is from the badlands in South Dakota, and the sun has set. But there's still a wonderful quality of light right after the sunset, still creating some highlights on top of the darker areas where the shadows air sitting. And so I say you don't stop shooting until you camera won't take a picture anymore. We all know this photo Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, and here the sun rises on the right side, and it's coming through the archway, and some of the light is bouncing up off the ground or off the lower parts and reflecting on the inside of the arch. This is very, very magical lighting. And so hopefully these photographs have showed you what Mr Feininger was talking about when he said that all light is good light. It's not all about sunrise or sunset. Rather, it's about working a subject in the best light for that subject, or how you can approach any subject and make the light. That's their work for you. If front light is bad on the subject, moved to the other side or see how backlighting might work or, if you have the option, come back later when the light is better. Mastering light is the key to creating photography that's going to sell. And if you are a full time photographer, selling your photographs will be your bottom line. So hopefully you understand. By now it's just a Zim Porton to master your subject as it is to master your lighting 5. Developing Your Vision: Have you ever heard about the pursuit of finding your vision? How do you know when you found your vision? There's a lot of talk among photographers about finding your vision, and there's so many tips and tutorials offering strategies to help you find your own. I have wondered if this means that when you don't find your vision, you will never graduate from mediocre two. Magnificent. So what exactly is finding your vision? Is it when you have the ability to observe light and a composition better? Is it the ability to pre visualize so you know exactly how you will capture a subject and then once done, the photograph is magical. Maybe you have found your vision when you win a photo contest or you license an image or you're simply producing a higher number of stunning images than many others. And then who decides when you found your vision, you or the viewer of your images? In the world of photography, how good we are as photographers is often tied to our creative self esteem. Like much in life, photographers as well self imposed a rating system on themselves as a way to measure their photographic worthiness. does this mean? Then if we love our images and no one else does, we've failed it, finding our vision. I once had a student who took a one year commercial photography course for me. And while I thought her work was typical for any student at that point in the course about halfway through, I got an email from her where she stated, Obviously, I'm not cut out to be a photographer. You can tell by my work, and she quit the course. She never answered another email for me, so I really don't know what happened. But her decision was not based on the fact that she was no good and never would be. It was, in my opinion, her false idea that she could create the images used in the lesson examples by pointing the camera the same direction and placing the lights in the same position and clicking the shutter. She had again, in my opinion, lost patience with the journey required to find her vision. She wanted instant perfection by following a formula for camera, angle and lighting position and was unwilling to experiment and learn to create. Great photography is not created by a recipe where necessary elements are precise couples of all the required ingredients. For me, I'm happy with my vision, very happy while I most enjoy my working life when I'm out in the wilds. My vision also thrives on the computer. In creating images and expanding, the ones have captured while I'm in the field, I have been asked by others who are also visiting the area. What do you photographing? Because they wonder why my camera is pointed at nothing as they see it when I show them the responses often similar to Wow, I did not see that rather than comparing our success to other photographers, take a moment and look at non photographers. Many watched the world pass by, and they're oblivious to the fine details of the natural world around them. Photographers have chosen a path that puts themselves more in tune with the world and the earth. As they stop and take time to look, listen, smell and touch. This connection is driven by our desire to search, discover, capture and share. The simple fact that a nature photographer see something that the average person does not see means some degree of vision has been found early in my career, I enjoyed simply taking pictures, but at some point I became an imaging junkie. I've never been able to slow my brain from coming up with ideas for images all the time and at any time. I think for me I have found my vision. But it did not happen overnight. It's been a very long journey. Vision is never 100% perfect. Otherwise, every picture we took would be perfect. We all want to be great photographers, but here again, there's no such thing is perfect. While a photograph that brings me great joy and I feel is perfect may not elicit the same response from another viewer. So perfection is on Lee a state of mind. I don't think finding your vision is about discovering a way to create perfect photos every time it is instead the process of mastering visualization that drives us in the direction we want to go. Sometimes finding your vision means letting go of something like the rules or those guidelines or listening to too many experts. The search to finding our vision is what drives us forward helps guide us on the path to discovery for this journey in professional nature photography, you won't know where you're going if you don't remember where you've been. The goal to find your vision is not like reaching some destination and crossing the finish line. Rather, it's more about the journey to originality. It's about discovering where your creative spirit lies, and it starts with commitment. Commitment helps us find our path. Having a vision helps us follow that path. Commitment allows you to focus on your vision, and this is how you become unique. Vision is what defines you and makes you uniquely different from others. So here's another question. Is it the journey that drives the vision, or is it the vision that drives the journey? The answer will be different for each of us. But here, some thoughts on finding your vision. You must embrace originality, not just shoot what's in front of you. While emulating other photographers is a great learning tool, you cannot really claim to have found your vision. If you go to the same locations and capture the same work that others have already done, photograph what you really care about. Visualizing the end result provides guidance during the capture. The camera is your partner telling you how to technically record the scene, but you have to tell the camera what to capture. You must believe you are creative, and if you do not believe that, then you never will be. Finding your vision comes from perseverance and practice. When you feel you hit the wall, start again by turning left or turning right and continuing the journey. Remember, great photographs are not waiting for the next photographer to stumble along and capture them like it's a product on a store shelf waiting to be purchased. Great photographs don't exist until a photographer sees them and creates them. 6. Field Techniques: as a landscape of nature photographer. There are several shooting strategies you want to be aware of. That will increase your chances of producing marketable images. One technique is to make sure some of your images have room allotted for the placement of text, like a magazine header. You generally will not get a magazine cover if there's no room for the headlines in the sidebars. If you think about that and you look at the magazines and calendars, you will notice there's a difference between a beautiful calendar image and a beautiful scenic conceptual stock photo. The calendar image uses the entire composition to arrange the elements that make for a strong photograph. The conceptual image, while also beautiful, often has a simpler composition that allows for text placement. The stock photo can also be a calendar image, but usually not the other way around. One of my favorite magazines is Islands magazine, because the travel and nature photography is superb, but also because I would not mind being stranded on a deserted island every once in a while . Many of their photographs used on the cover are composed with obvious room for the header and other text a vertical image with a tiny island in the middle of lots of sky and lots of beautiful water that's clearly composed to fit the cover format perfectly, but not in a manner that a calendar would use. Generally speaking, this other image shows more of a landscape. But again, the composition is split to make room for text, and this image might do well. It's a general stock photo or a calendar image due to the equally split composition. Here are some other images examples that could be published in the calendar card, picture book or related markets. Generally speaking, there's not enough room for text in these images as far as being cover images, although they could accommodate text in some way if the client really wanted them to. These images show how they were laid out for text. The Stream photo shows how the image was cropped and used as a magazine cover in a original vertical format. The Redwood forces perfect for cover because there's no visual impediments to laying text over the top. The text here covered the waterfall at the top, and that's because the falls air so small in the composition that nothing was lost. Also note the image and the concept in the title. Not all images will make it as covers, but they still need room for text. We just looked at this image, and here it's laid out with plenty of room for text. This photograph has room for textiles well, and they cropped it and inserted the photo, and it works very well. The same thing here with this fall color photo where they crop the original photo to fit the layout. In this case, the photo was the background, and it worked well for this technique because the photo was a pattern rather than a landscape or a similar type photograph where the viewer would wonder what was behind the text. Now that I mentioned the importance of leaving room for text, I also want to mention that photographing every scene and leaving room for text, hoping it makes more salable images. It's not a good strategy. You just saw examples where there was room for text and other examples where the client found room for text and some were shot with text in mine and others were not. Allowing room for text can make an image more salable But for this to work, the images have to be great images in the first place. Allowing room for text will not make a poor image a cover image. The magic must be in the photo in the first place, and if there's room for text, it's a bonus. Continue to compose your scenes for the best possible composition. And always remember, if a scene has a neutral area that you can work into your composition and it's going to allow for text, then there's a higher chance the image will work for a photo buyer. If anything, be mindful that a little extra room in your composition can help get you a cover. But never forget. The goal is to create spectacular images that stand on their own. I also want to mention a few shooting strategies that can make some of your images more appealing to publishers and photo buyers. And the 1st 1 I'll mention is motion Motion is a technique of allowing parts of your seem to blur, and this is most useful with water. By using a slow shutter speed, you can allow the water to flow, which blurs, and this makes water much more aesthetically pleasing in your photographs. Humans seem to respond with appreciation when water is nicely blurred in a frozen landscape . Here, the water has a nice blur, and it elicits a totally different emotion from the viewers who often think how beautiful it ISS. This waterfall is one of my best selling photographs ever. It's been in magazines, calendars, cards, advertisements and was once packaging for water filters. The water is flowing and blurry and very effective. I used one second as much as I can when I'm photographing water, and Matt seems to have the perfect blur while still having details in the white areas of the water. Other photographers air into using shutter speeds much longer than that and others a little shorter than that. So the decision will totally be yours. Other subjects that might benefit from blurring our wildlife, running as you pan with them or flowers blurring in the wind. Here, I chose to allow the ocean waves to beat against the cliff for a blurred effect, and the waterfall was captured at again, one second the optimum shutter speed, in my opinion for flowing water. Another good subject is silhouettes in nature and in people outdoors. We've all seen him. Those photos were the bright background and a subject that's defined as black and lacking interior detail. They often represent a shape in human or natural form in her backlit, creating a high contrast image that's dark against the lighter background, where the emphasis is on the outline itself over the detail. Within, silhouettes are widely used and tell a story about the subject based on the black shape in the scene. They often convey mystery and mood and can tell the full story without identifying details about the subject. A silhouette is created by basing your exposure on the background and not the subject that you want to be silhouette. And it usually helps to be doing this at sunrise or sunset, and that would be before the sun is up or after the sun has set. This is when the contrast is highest and allows for the shadows to lose their detail, and also there's no light hitting the subject, providing that detail to properly capture a silhouette. You should meet her the bright background on Lee and leave the subject itself out of the frame. If the contrast is not high enough and detail appears in the subject shape, it can compromise the effect and impact the photo. The technique is the first important point, but for those marketing images, the concept is equally or maybe even more important, the image needs to tell a story, and it needs to be explicit in that story. The best strategy is to always be alert to good storytelling silhouettes, but to also plan your own ideas and then implement them. Another aspect of effective photography is shooting at a position that benefits the subject . And sometimes that's lower than I level flowers, small animals bugs are often closer to the ground, and this requires you to get down to their level. My friend Ralph Clevinger, author of Photographing Nature, Calls it went belly photography because getting down on the ground is where he finds some of his best subjects. Here's an example. This plant is laying flat to the ground, and I shot it, looking down with a macro lens about 18 inches above the ground. While this has not sold yet, I hold out great promise because I really think it's a strong photograph. Here's a wheat field and I photographed from up high, making this a general landscape photograph. But then I got down low and showed the wheat against the blue sky. And now we have a photo that says Mawr. Like Heartland or breadbasket of America, this wheat field could have been captured anywhere while the previous image had enough identifying features to place where it was taken. Here's another example of a PSA Worrell cactus. While I was shooting across the landscape far and wide, showing lots of cactus and lots of gioia, I decided to go up to this one and just put on my wedding lens and shoot straight up at it . And this is kind of a different approach. The idea here is Look up, Look down, Get down low, Get up high in this image from Answer Borrego in California, I'm laying on the ground. And then I slid back to put my head in the camera to my eye, sort of within these flowers and then shoot up through them, and I purposely positioned myself so the sun would be behind a flower. Same approach here with this image from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During fall, we were there a little earlier that year. And this Bush are shrub was the only thing that was really fully vibrant in bright red. So I got down on the ground and shot up through it again, trying to position as many of the leaves against the overcast sky as possible. So, to recap, what you really want to do is look for shots of every single subject you're gonna photograph and decide whether you are better off going a pie. We're getting down low or staying at tripod or eye level height. You want to look for storytelling silhouettes and work very hard for the best possible composition and the best possible lighting. 7. Photographying Wildlife: wildlife photography is very exciting. For many photographers, there's a photographic rush when close to wildlife, and especially if they're large or even dangerous animals. If wildlife is of interest to you, remember that wildlife photography takes a lot of dedication and patience to do it right and to capture the great images that are going to sell. It's a specialty that require substantial investment in time and research to build a large photo file and compete with the other well established photographers in that sector of the business. This is not much different than nature and landscape photography, which also requires dedication and perseverance. But wildlife photography can be a little bit more challenging. It's important to know your subject for one and their habits and behaviors. If you want to photograph grizzly bears, it's not hard to learn where to find them in Alaska. But what is more important is to understand Grizzlies and their habits and how you can photograph them without well, I guess getting yourself killed. More than one photographer has been killed by a grizzly or gotten too close to bison and Yellowstone, and been run over and severely injured if not killed. It's extremely important to understand these animals and know the limits for your own safety as well as theirs. Because in some cases, approaching or harassing wildlife is a federal crime. Your research will tell you where to find them and the best seasons to photograph. I have never been a completely dedicated wildlife photographer, but have had decent success at it, more due to being in the right place at the right time. And as an example, I purposely went to Yellowstone one year to photograph the elk rut. I did the research to understand when the best time to capture this exciting event was and my efforts paid off, learning everything you can about wildlife, it's so important to be successful. And here are some points for you to ponder. Long lenses are almost always required unless you are photographing underwater the perfect lenses. Focal length varies by the animal and the distance, but I usually use my 72 200 lens as a start, but then attach my 300 when the subject warrants it. If I still need a longer lens, I will attach my 300 to my DX sensor camera, which provides a 460 millimeter perspective. I then switched the auto focus to ai servo, so it continually refocuses if the animal happens to be moving. Better yet, a tele converter can be very useful in, and if you need your lens to be yet again even longer, in my opinion, you should use a tripod when the lenses longer than 200 millimeters, because it will ensure a steady and sharp photograph, especially when using those very long and large telephoto lenses. When it comes to the animals, learn how close you can get to them in a safe manner and understand at what point they might decide to flee. Know where the wind is so the animal cannot smell you. How does the background look behind the animal if it is bad or competes with the animal than moving to another spot should be attempted like a bird in the shade with a bright background behind. It is not conducive to good balance between subject and background. House a light on the animal. Just like all subjects, wildlife need good lighting as well. You also need to be ready to shoot once you arrive in the field and start by having the lens on your camera that is required to fill the frame, because if you have to dig in your bag to get it, that is time lost, and that might result in losing the animal as they flee. Should you shoot horizontal or vertical or both, I always try to get both as long as the moment with the animal. It's not going to go away. Do your best to get the animal looking your direction. And if you can capture a couple friends with the animal, make making eye contact the better. Avoid shooting the rear end of the animal unless it is remarkable, for some reason, and also avoid the head turned away and looking somewhere else. Behavior shots are the best, showing the animal being themselves and acting as if they don't even know you exist or you aren't even around, meaning your presence is not disturbing them. Some photographers leave out food and water as bait to attract wildlife to them so they can photograph. There is controversy here is well, and some of it is well founded. We're leaving out food, attract wildlife and put them in a location where they become vulnerable to predators. Will leaving food out also make the wildlife reliant on that food source, which at any point might no longer be available to them? Leaving food out is a pretty common practice to attract wildlife. And I think most photographers agree, as long as the wildlife do not become dependent on the food source or in any way have their safety compromise, it's an acceptable practice. Wildlife are sensitive, and any disruption to their habits can be harmful. Never chase wildlife or harass them or disturb them in any way. It's unethical and in many ways illegal. Now there's one more thing I want to mention here that is a trend evolving in wildlife photography. And that is wireless cameras that are triggered remotely, like a GoPro camera or even a 35 millimeter digital SLR with a remote trigger. These air being put in places where the human can't really get. But when the animal comes by, they trip a sensor that makes the camera fire. And this is really a very cool way to capture wildlife in a natural setting and without any humans or other interruptions. You will get the best behavior shots when you work this way, so consider getting either a camera that could be remotely fired or a GoPro. You just might be surprised at what you can capture with these wireless remote cameras.