Have you ever had a teacher who motivated you to perform better in school? If so, I’m sure your grades that year were among your best. As a former classroom teacher of 27 years, my teaching philosophy was centered around first motivating every student in my class and then sharing with them the facts the curriculum demanded. It almost didn’t matter what the subject was as long as the student was motivated to learn. My philosophy remains the same when I run a nature safari/photo tour or when I write my Tip of the Week. And Inspiring motivation is as simple as ABC: Arouse, Boost and Catalyst. Contemplate the words below and immerse yourself in your cognition—hopefully, you’ll want to pick up your camera and apply what’s suggested in this week’s tip.
Arouse: In the dictionary, the word arouse can be found close to the word arise. If you want to capture spectacular grand scenics, it’s imperative you arise from your bed when it’s dark so you can arrive at your destination at dawn—what unfolds before your eyes will get you aroused. Dawn light is soft, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to a grand alpenglow or, even better, an iconic sunrise. The sun paints high thin clouds in hues of yellow, orange, pink, magenta and red. Juxtaposed with a majestic landscape and you have the makings of an award winner. Will it always happen? Absolutely not, but are you willing to gamble and miss the opportunity? Weather determines how colorful the sky will be. When you’re bestowed with a great sky, be sure to “Exhaust All Possibilities.” Make verticals, horizontals and don’t forget about a panorama. Balance your composition with equally weighted subject matter in all sections of the image. Don’t overlook sunset light as it can be equally as dramatic as sunrise. If the contrast between the sky and foreground is too high, be sure to bracket and blend the layers or run the pictures through your favorite HDR software.
Boost: Each time you’re rewarded with fantastic conditions in the field, let it boost your spirit. Allow this to become contagious to motivate you to go out again and again and again. Each time a viewer looks at your images and says “Wow,” let it boost your ego—again, may it become contagious. Need to de-stress, clear the head and get back to enjoying life? Head out to your favorite scenic location with your camera, tripod and polarizer and snap away—this will certainly boost your spirits! Once again, let this become contagious. Conditions that provide a boost are skies that reveal mood and drama. Storm light fits the description, as does a colorful sunrise or sunset. When you encounter great color that separates a favorite wildlife subject from the background, it provides a lift. Let all these conditions be your motivator to continue your pursuit to capture great photos. As I stated above, are you willing to gamble missing that once-in-a-lifetime sky or amazing interaction with your favorite wildlife subjects?
Catalyst: Now that you’ve absorbed “arouse” and “boost,” take them both to heart and let them be your catalyst to go into the field as often as possible. Make that shot that arouses you and boosts your spirits, and have it be a catalyst to continue your pursuit to make another. Get one and go back for more. My favorite flavor ice cream is caramel vanilla, and I purchase it often. I found what I like and I go back for more. Do the same with your photography. As a matter of fact, after each field session, grab a scoop or two of your favorite flavor. Let the capture that boosted your spirit be a catalyst to go on a quest to a different location or find a different species to make a photo of the same caliber as the one that inspired you initially. If wildlife is the goal, raise your ISO to obtain a faster shutter speed to freeze the action. Invest in a fast telephoto lens—that will absolutely act as a catalyst to keep you in the field. Be cognizant of the background and set your camera to high-speed motor drive.
Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.