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Real Rural Photo Shoot

7 Building Blocks of Photography


This photoshoot is all about being able to think on your feet and act quickly to combine light, composition, the look you want and the camera settings needed to get it. And this one is such good fun too.

I thought it'd be fun to film this shoot because I knew it would be fast and un-predictable, as anything is when animals are involved. So I'm sorry if I didn't explain every last detail, but had I done so for each image the shot would have been lost.

As with all photography, you have to begin with an idea or pre-visualisation of the kind of images you want. Are they to be representational? Or maybe arty? Do you want them to be dramatic? These are all powerful questions a photographer has to ask him or herself because the answers will tell you what you need to do to achieve them.

Luckily my brief was simple. All I had been asked to do was get some 'nice pictures of the cows please'. I love jobs like this because it gives me freedom to be creative. My first thoughts were to go for animals in ones and twos grazing lush green grass in the sunshine.

What will I need to do that? For me it says long lens from far away, lots of negative space in the composition so there's a feel of open space. But as you'll see in the video, my subjects were far too inquisitive to let me just get on with photographing candid images of them! (OK I did manage a few as I'd planned, but not as many as I would have liked.)

So I had to change my plan accordingly - or go home with images I wasn't happy with. Thinking on your feet is the key to photography. It's not lenses or kit or expensive bodies - it's us the photographers.

As my subjects crowded round me the only way to go was shoot dramatic looking images with a wide angle lens. The lighting was hard sunlight and I didn't want deep black shadows. The only way to go was to back-light the cows and be very careful with exposure so there'd be detail in both highlights and shade.

Some of those highlights can be blocked out by aligning a cow against the sun which I did as much as possible. This meant they'd have a bright area right behind them to make them stand out against a blue sky either side. Dark cow blocking the sun = more even tones and easier exposure.

I hope you can see how it's the blending of human thought with the technical of the camera that make for great images. Neither one can do it alone.  Once you have mastered the techniques of photography such as depth of field, exposure etc and learnt how to apply them, all you need do is string them together appropriately and PRESTO! You can shoot great images of anything.

Everyone has to start somewhere. I was totally bemused and confused by ISO's and apertures and shutters etc when I was starting so i know what it's like.

Now 20 years later, I can help you fast track through them with my Ultimate Beginners Course.  Then show you how to join it all together with The 7 Building Blocks of Photography.

Lots of people say they love both. Check out the testimonials up to the right on these pages...

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