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Tips for the Perfect Outdoor Shot

Thursday, January 26, 2012

We all know the feeling of a breathtaking sunset but sometimes it's a challenge to bring even a part of this beauty home with us. Discover Outdoors photography instructor Laura Casner has a few tips that will help us all become better outdoor photographers.

1. Always have a subject.

Outdoor photography can often be cluttered. When you approach a landscape try to find one thing (person, tree, rock, etc) and figure out how to frame your shot so that the eye is drawn to that object first.

2. Check your white balance.

Landscape photography is all about color and you want to make sure it's accurate. By adjusting your white balance you can quite literally warm up your winter photos.


3. Be quick and concise.

Many of my students have expressed feeling uncomfortable "street shooting" which, is often involved in outdoor photography. When taking photos that involve a stranger as your subject, have your camera set ahead of time and poised by your side so you can lift, snap, and move on.

4. Don't use large range zoom lenses.

Many people feel comfortable with long range zooms because they can snap a shot of an extensive landscape, a portrait of a stranger, and catch a deer in action without moving an inch.

But, that's exactly the problem with long range zooms; they limit your perspective. Moving around and zooming with your feet gives you a totally different perspective on a scene. Next time you head out, take a fixed lens, or 18-55, and force yourself to think outside of the zoom.


5. Pack light.

Just like when you're heading out on the trail, you want to make sure you're only bringing the essentials. The more comfortable you are, the more fun you'll have, and the better your shots will be. When I head out to shoot I never have more than two lenses, and the only time I bring a tripod is if I plan to do a long exposure. If you're lugging around a ton of gear and fumbling to change lenses 100 times you'll get frustrated and lose motivation.

I find that I hardly ever zoom. I shoot mostly at my widest lens capability so I only ever pack one zoom. Prime fixed lenses are often significantly lighter, and sometimes sharper than zooms. If I'm not on a job and just shooting around I'll only take one lens, usually a 50mm 1.4 or 17-35mm 2.8.

Laura Casner is a professional photographer based in New York. She is known for her use of color and her keen eye for the unusual. She specializes in teaching, weddings, and simply creating beautiful images.