Dear all, I will be interviewing photographer Ashleigh Scully this coming Sunday 1pm Eastern Time. Look forward to seeing you here! Please register at https://now.tinmanlee.com/ashleigh_interview42885169 I have admired Ashleigh's work for a long time (she's the youth photographer of the year of Nature's Best Photography, and have various awards in Wildlife Photographer of the Year etc) and we will have a deep dive into her photography world, and her work in conservation!
Hello everyone, my talk at Cambridge Live is available now. Please click on the photo below to watch. Titled “How to take wildlife photos that tells a story”. Enjoy!
I shared 3 tips on how to take great photos for more “common” species where you can find in your neighborhood. I also shared some beautiful works by Melissa and Bob, both my clients.
(If you need help with wildlife and bird photography, be sure to check out my one-hour training by clicking HERE.)
It is very good to see you. And so today what we are going to talk about is a very interesting topic very perfect is actually perfect for the time right now because we all can't we travel much and so what can we do as photographers? Like what can we do as a bird and Wildlife photographers? We are kind of stuck we can only drive probably not too far from us. So I'm going to talk about really just one thing very quickly. We try to get this Live really quick is is it possible to get good shots without traveling far right? So I remember back in when I first started Wildlife photography. I don't know if you guys share the the same thing as me if you do let me know so I would be like, I just got into bird photography and Wildlife photography and I would be Driving on the freeway or just driving on local roads and all and what I would do is I would look at in you every single telephone pole and then on top of the pole, I will see if there is any birds there. Anyway, I see the red-tailed Hawk and I got really excited and say yes, and then if there's some really cool stuff I would even stop my car and then just I have my camera right next to my chair. I have my 100 to 400 and I would just go out and then I'll just keep shooting right at shooting up. The telephone pole and if they take flight and yeah, and then I just got a few pictures and really quick in here I so I just like just just shoot out like this and then I can't get a few shots and but the problem what is the problem guys? The problem is those photos are not going to be any good. Why because you really shooting up and then you just getting the underbody and the light is usually harsh and sometimes you see them riding the thermal and You think that as long as they are not too high up you get good shots, right? But at the end it is not as easy, right? Because right now especially now in Facebook and Instagram every day. How many photos do you see it tons and tons of photos, right? And I read a survey they said in the 80s people's attention span was 7 minutes or 9 minutes and up until you two three years ago. There is the attention span is still eight or nine seconds. But but now we've Instagram and Facebook attention span is probably less than one second. Like if you are talking to people and within one second like you’d be like browsing Instagram, like right now, I know you are already distracted and as I don't know what this Tin Man is talking about. Let me just go to Instagram and see what what are the nice posts it is right. So so that's a problem and I went somewhere that they do a teaching about how to write a novel. They said if you write as good as Shakespeare now, it's not going to work because people just change right with technology and everything. Our attention span is no longer like back in the day. So I so you have to really change to a new style in order for people to even stop to take a look at your photo. So so I hope that you also agree that Our photography needs to be changed right back in the days when people were taking films and they would not a lot of access right for for people who go to Wild places and all these so I mean, we don't get to we don't have our own camera to take our own photos, but nowadays everybody have that so we have to change it right. So how do we change it? I remember one time. I took some photos right and then I went to an expert and photography expert and I said hey, I want to ask you like take a look at your my photo. I how do I improve the background the background looks really distracting and some branches sticking out of the head of the animal is behind it and it just didn't look good. Right and the expert look at me and said Why do you even take a photo to get that? Well, the reason was we photographers to change our perception when we take photos right back in the days when I first started I see an animal I got super excited and then I just go out and Chase and try to get it get a picture of an animal and you know, when we have this is called a tunnel vision, right? The tunnel vision is we only see the animals and then we now a lot of shots in. Yeah. Yeah, I got the eye contact. I'm so excited right super Behavior. Like I just saw this red tail hawk. Just snap a snake right right there and then look at my beautiful photos, right all we were looking at we're just the action and all and the expert said that for photographers. We really have to change this mindset because why because every time when we got back home, we look at the photos when we saw this still coming out from the head of the hawk and all this distraction in the back. I'm going to say it's impossible when I was there taking the photos. I was sure that that Branch was not there. And the reason was we had this when we got excited when adrenaline rush and everything, we would not be able to see those things. So we really have to so the number one tip is really we have to step back and calm down just a little bit. I remember I was talking to one of my photography idols. Paul McKenzie. I don't know if he's in the on the live today. He sometimes he stopped by on this group and post some photos and I remember one of his recent posts was talking about background. He talked about how important background is and and then just yesterday. I'll post a link here later. I was just browsing on the internet and you remember yesterday when I talked about one of the famous National Geographic photographers about how important the light and everything was I mentioned that one of the Big names was Jose as a Tory right? So I just came across this tutorial on photography and he actually really talked about it. Like he described it perfectly. He said as a photographer we should we should start with the background first and then I look back into the last 10 years really I as I evolve as a photographer right now whenever I went out to to take photos, I It's really interesting. I I think I had this talk with Paul McKinsie the other day too. Now how I don't look at the animals anymore. When I go into the field. The first thing I was looking at all actually the whole the whole time. I knew the animal that I was looking at all the bird I was looking at was right there, but what I'm looking at what I can see really was just I was just looking at the background constantly and if the background was not perfect meaning that if the background couldn't evoke an emotion you all remember yesterday when I talked about how if a guy proposed to a girl I how different is it if he proposed in front of a dumpster right in the back row or on top of a mountain with backlit at the last Moment of sunset right how different is is so what I would do is I would only look for backgrounds with unique colors or even like black or unique colors and and I just I would just walk around and if I didn't see any of those background, I would just enjoy my time. I know that it's not going to be a good photo and Joel Satore proof that in his video. He said we have to build our photos from the ground up and the first Fundamental is we actually we shouldn't even talk about clicking the shutter if the background is not really really perfect. So so so that's why when I ask the expert like, how can I improve my background? He was shocked because if the background was not even perfect. He would not even take a photo because it's not never gonna work, which is really never gonna work. So that's that's the number one lesson that I talked about is I learned that I should never We think about how I can use my editing or other techniques to like maybe improve the background. If I don't even have a nice background. I wouldn't even shoot. So how do we connect this with with if our neighborhood birds and animals, right? So that's the key thing. So I remember I told you to write down a list of like like we have like herons, egrets and a red tail hawk and some of you have red foxes in the neighborhoods to Think about over that area like what kind of background can you get? Like if you really couldn't get a super nice background I is still going to be good to look at the animals. I mean, I love animals, right but enjoy the moment but it's not going to be a really really good shot. So that's the the reverse kind of thinking right. So that's number one. Okay. So the number two is instead of driving around and looking for an animal. Or birds and then just get ready. Right? We all develop those perfect system where we have the lens right next to our seats and we've all the settings and then we just pull over the car grab the lens and then go and shoot right? Well what I learned later was if the light so first first secret is the the background layer and the background is super important and you a second thing is if the light is not really dramatic it is very difficult and especially Really and now especially with the the animals nearby because you do you guys all know about my UTD method did I mention do any of you here? Like if you have watched my webinar before, you know, I talk about the UTD method so so why is all these famous you see and yyyy all these, you know like Breaking Bad in all these TV So why are they so powerful nowadays? Why are they so successful instead of the back in the days Shakespere… We really have to have something that is completely different. So the key thing for the success of the art form nowadays is that they all have to have the UTD method UTD factor that UTD is U is unexpectedness T is the twist D is the drama. So if your photo didn't have those it just is very difficult and even if you have a Italy executed photo it's going to be the same as 500 other photos on Instagram and Facebook. So you really have to have that twist and how do you have that twist? It has to be just like what I talked about yesterday. When when the National Geographic photographer failed his first assignment, right? He's possibly threw away. Oh, oh his photos after he spent a lot of time is if you couldn't get a drum you couldn't even get this dramatic light into the It is very difficult. And and for for him it was for animals that is already very difficult to see right but for animals like like for example, what would be a common wildlife in your neighborhood? Right? I know Bob mentioned that like deer right? Like if we are already at a disadvantage that it is a common species, right? If it is a polar bear if it is a wolverine if it is a lynx right or red fox and Red Fox Pups, kits, it already had a intrinsic is it called intrinsic intrinsic and expectedness there? Right it just people just love to see them right but in terms of a deer in order for a picture like that to evoke emotion, you have to add something and expected in it. But if this is just a year walking by how do you add this unexpectedness? Well, the only way is you To include some dramatic light and some really unique background into the photo, right? Otherwise, you just can't it's not a competition. But in terms of evoking emotion, it is very difficult to compare with a photo with like a black wolf. looking at you close up and all so so so the second tip I can give you is be more selective in choosing the light and you may say but Tin Man I I spent a whole day and I don't get a lot of good light. Well, well just go out during sunrise and sunset and be brave like even though a lot of the experts will say, oh the light is not going to be enough and and all try it go and give it a try and I remember some of you say that well Tin Man when I try to go to the those places in sunrise and sunset. Oh I got was just a blob of super underexposed birds and animals, right? So that really got into the communication of your camera. So your camera is a machine the camera do the metering based on what you tell the camera. Like for example that the camera was actually very scared like every time when you press the shutter, they didn't know what to do. You have to give them reference. I for example, if you were shooting something that is really really bright. Right, the camera would be zero. So it seems to be so so bright and maybe I should just turn that tone down the exposure like and then they take a test photo and then they ask you if this is okay, right and if it's really dark and the camera would guess that oh, maybe the owner my master one to have a Brighter Image so they told me about right so so for example, if you're shooting backlit it you're shooting right to the price guy right there that your camera is kind of think that oh, this is so bright. I gotta talk in the The environment right? So that's why they darken everything except the perfect sky right there, right? So you the bird automatically becomes much darker, right? So how do you get rid of that problem by one of them is to really master your metering but the second thing is if you're shooting backlit just don't shoot into the light. Just don't shoot into the sky. Try to look for something darker in the background so that everything you should is still kind of dark except like the back. Lit of the animal and all then your camera will know that. Okay. So the whole scene is still kind of balanced, right? It doesn't have this super bright sky, so I don't need to suddenly get to tone down the the metering and some of you may may use manual exposure which is ok. But the problem there is doing sunrise and sunset the light just kept changing Non-Stop and if the animals action is also not Stop, it might be problematic because every 10 seconds maybe the light will drop by half of a stop and how do you know when you do it, right? So you got to be very careful on that. So that's number two. I choose the light very wisely. And if you want me to elaborate more I can do that later. But today is more about the mindset right? So number three number three is actually the most important thing is Really you have to have an open mind and you also have to have your goal oriented. So instead of going passively into okay like so today I heard like I was just talking to my good friend Salah. And he said hey Tin Man why don't you come join me to to shoot somewhere. near Huntington Beach and some of those places right and a lot back in the days. I would just say okay. Yeah, let me my lens and then I'll go but now I would think about let me think about the direction of the light. Let me think about what kind of background can I get and when I go there I would pick my spot and even if everybody else. Well, this is actually very important is a lot of the photographer they would stick at one place. Right? And typically what we do is we say, oh these must be really really good photographers. I better stick with them – so that I don't miss out but later what I find out is if I Of my own plan to go to a place and then I just go there and wait, sometimes I'll get much better shots in there. So so today I actually want to show you one of my clients Bob's photos and Melissa’s photo on how they how they do it. So I was talking to Bob Bob you're here, right? So so so I talked to him and he recently got a really really nice photo of a Kestrel and and I asked I'm like, wow, like how long did it take you to get it and he said well, he said he was just listening to me talking and then the next day he just went into his neighborhood and then he got a photo like this. Let me let me share with you this photo so and see it here this one. Okay. So so this one is a so What can you see right here? What you can see right here is do you still remember my three tips? The number one tip is what a perfect background. So this is a perfect background. There's absolutely no distractions. I can you can anybody tell me if they can find any distraction if it is completely black. So by the way, a lot of you actually asked me like, oh did he just like use Photoshop to clone away everything in the background? No. No, actually, it's not really have to understand the light and the shadow and everything to to really make this. So it seems to be simple. You just find a black background is not as trivial, but Bob was able to find that perfect background, right and then the second thing what is the second tips that I gave you? The second tip is only go at sunrise and sunset and when 90% of the photographer's arrived 30 minutes after sunrise and if you can get there 30 minutes before Sunrise you have what an hour more time to play with your shots to be more creative and I mentioned to you in Instagram and Facebook when you see that a thousandfold. Those that are all similar and if you can have a photo that is much more unique in terms of the light. Then you can be you can create much power more powerful shots.
So anyway, so so what is photo also the perch is also very beautiful as is what Bob got and then he even got the eye contact with the bill opened which is I don't know how he got it. So he is super talented. And so the thing is I always ask my clients to what they can try is instead of posting in one group. Like for example, if you pose it on a forum photography forum and sometimes even if your photo is really good, but because of the timing Because of whatever people are busy with a good photo may not get anybody to see it. Right. So I always ask them to post in multiple groups at the same time and then try to analyze the do the the comments and see what your photos make people feel. So Bob posted the photo into several groups and surprisingly. Well not surprisingly. The result was very consistent. For example, let me show you here. So sit here and here so he Posted this in I think it was in NANPA, North American nature photography Association and within a few hours, he got more than 600 lies and like tons of comments and all and and also in the other groups too and it just very efficiently evoked the emotion right there. Right and it is just not a one time thing. So so so let me let me let me just stop for a second and and then so so I mentioned to you that what is the most common species that a lot of people will see as a wildlife is d right? So you would think that for dear it is just very difficult you to get a shot and so Bob got a photo and I asked him. So how far did you drive this time to you to get this photo and he said well it was it was it was it in his in your backyard, right? So let me let me share that photo right here. okay this one right here. So yes, so he posted a photo this one and can you believe that so this do you have the link them maybe you can pose it here. I don't have the full resolution photo. I think I have but no, but if you look at that photo again, you see that the background also pure black. There are some information about the background some some light glow of the the back but most of all it is the antler and all these and let me let me show you another one. He he posted this one right here. And again, I mean both of these I look if you look at This one it has a thousand likes and this one has a thousand likes hundred a hundred forty-seven shares and let me show you that photo of his. So is this photo right here? So you see that the photo is actually very simple, but you know that we've the the backlit and everything and then with the eye contact and then all the other is it called the hair or the the fur here or have catching that so it becomes a very unique photo and one Is it is unique one. Once the photo has the UTD Factor the unexpectedness The Twist, you know, and the twist is where this antlers right? Bob was able to see that look at these two the antlers almost like the the okay sign of the hand, right? So it gives you kind of like a how do you say subtext when you look at a photo if it makes people think it is very powerful, right? So so that there's no surprise. That Bob’s photo was able to get it. Look at that right over a thousand likes and hundreds of comments and a hundred over a hundred shares and all and this is what what I mean by having these 3 secrets was when you carry this three secrets to go out to shoot you can get photos like this and and that's that's not it, right. So so Bob congrats for all this We will talk more about Bob later, but I want to share with you another photo which it was also by one of my clients. They were super talented Melissa a lot of you know her as she's super talented and she got a pjhoto like this look at that. So it's a burrowing owls. So how many of you have seen a burrowing owl so burrowing owls, we can see a lot of them in Southern California and like if you go to eBirds right there are a lot of reports that on that too. So it's a rather common species right? So, how do you and if you just Google it? You see a lot of during our photos, right? How do you make it unique? Right? That's the thing. Like if you don't have the UTD factor in your photo is never going to work no matter it is how perfectly you you will get a super shot photo on a beautiful perch beautiful branch of an owl there with eye contact and everything. It's not going to work why because they are just way too many of those good photos. And in order to evoke the demotion of you is you really have to go one extra step and here Melissa went this one extra step and if you look into this photo, right the motion the background is perfect. And and I remember Melissa was these mosquitoes or what is it? That that is looking like this little stars right here. So if it is as mosquitoes and flies and because Melissa understand that this little flies and all because they have this Translucent wings and if the backlit Shines on them and from a distance, it will almost look like this little stars, right? So from this one she was also able to create also another subtext it if I look into this photo more is almost like a composer by doing like, you know, the Disney anybody have been to Disneyland you watch that. What is the name of that show where they have the water function? And then the The Mickey Mouse was doing the composer thing and let's try the water was splashing. I mean, I mean, I don't know why but this photo reminded me of that. But anyway, so you guys can see that like one and two is number one is perfect perfect background with no distraction. You should start with that instead of the animals, right? I don't know Paul is not there Paul McKinsie, but I have him to confirm that second thing is great light for coming species. Sometimes can devote more emotion than boring light with a wolverine. Well, maybe not Wolverine but but a rare subject because we humans well, I actually read some books about that because like it is so I try to understand why this kind of dramatic light always evoke emotion and I talked about it yesterday too is deep into our brain in that our emotion, like easily caught back to all these sweet moment with our loved ones. In the sunrise and sunset, right? I don't know if any of you would remember that the first time when you see a sunrise and then you remember like who was who was that person next to you and you saw this first ray of light and so when you see something like this with the wild animals somehow your memory, we just dragged back into those moments and then you filled this emotion combined with with that and I don't know how how how it works and it is almost like when you Some very interesting shape in the photos of an Wildlife or portfolios any triangle or Circle actually look into that too. So the main reason why we want to have those cool beautiful like triangle and circle shapes into our photo is is because We all study geometry and everything right in the mathematics class. I don't know how many of you like those classes, but the thing is people always feel that nature is chaotic, right? We always want to find meaning kinda guy went just went into this deep philosophical thing. So but in the in the most bottom part of our heart, we always want to find meaning you want to find why we are here in this world. Is this all chaotic? What is this? Crap happening nowadays? Is it all just chaos and all we always want to find order in the chaos? So what is order order is some some kind of shapes that we are familiar with like a triangle in a circle and not so when we see nature showing this a I don't know if you can name some of the famous photographers who took beautiful landscape photos. I reflect sometimes when you see this pattern of the trees and everything just like lineup like beautiful and then you think they how can that be possible in nature, right? And Cuz of that feeling it is also the feeling of finding orders in chaos. It is almost like finding meaning so people love that. Anyways, if you want to go more into this philosophical thing I can talk 400 hours but not about this but here anyway, so I want to share keep on talking about Melissa, right? He's are you here? I think you are here. So so Melissa posted this photo. So before I talk about the how she was able to evoke emotion. I remember She was telling me like hey tin man, I'm gonna go try out this method tomorrow morning before Sunrise. I have this plan about this and that which is number three that I was talking to you just like Bob, these amazing photographers. They already have a mindset about the goal. Like they knew well, I don't want to say it as a goal. But so for wildlife photography, I think we should not have surprisingly we should not previous your lies. I was shot before we go to a place. What I want you to think about is you think about all the possibilities like you kind of understand the situation, but I know some of the famous photographers they would just lay have a notebook and and let me just show you my super handsome face first. I know you all miss me. So, you know some of the famous photographers they will say Okay. I want to have this iconic Animals in this iconic place and what they would do is they would go to a place and then they will have they use all kinds of methods to make sure that they will get the shot in their mind and then once they did it then they go home and I want to puke when I think about it. I mean like who here one still love to do assignments like back in the kindergarten days or Elementary days, like the teacher asked you to do an assignment and then you you finish all the math exam. Alms, I like 2 + 2 x 2 equals 4 and all this is so boring. Right? This is so boring. And when you have everything in mind and it is it, okay, and then they'll hire all the guys and they're just make sure this shot happens and then they take the shot and then they pose it as a look at these iconic photos. I don't like that. I want I want nature to guy me I want nature to surprise me. But what I want is I want to understand like what kind of light it is. What kind of background I can get. And once I have an idea then I let nature does his work. Right? Is that like just show me your Wonder? Show me your Miracle? I'm here, but I'm ready. I know exactly how to evoke emotion based on my own feeling and also you have this kind of different ingredients right like the number one and number two ingredients. Now you can all say that right. What is number one number one is background oriented you think about the background first before you even try to raise your camera. So a lot of the times I remember I went to a lot of places different tours and all people will like the guy we start me at a place and then they see the animals and then they will look back at me and said 10 man. Why are you not shooting right? This is a really great any like beautiful elusive animals right there and I will look at the animals and I will smile. I really I don't want anything to distract me from enjoying the moment with the animal, but I know that this photo is not going to work. Look because the background is not super so I would just like I would not even I mean I would still take a few photos just for for for the identification and I kind of like like I was here I kind of think but I know that it is there is nothing I can do in terms of creativity there unless I can see a potential and then I may ask them to move the vehicle or get me to other places. But otherwise everything should be started from the background and that expert really. Taught me that I should never ask people again about like, oh, how can I improve this this background? Because basically the first question is if it is not even a good background. Why do you even press the shutter? Because I mentioned that in my webinar. I don't know if you guys have remember that I gave the example of one time. I bought a really expensive too expensive tickets for me and my girlfriend ex-girlfriend. Going to shouldn't laugh actually. Okay. Well, so we went to Les Miserables switch was my favorite show. So we bought the tickets and I because I love the show. I watch it more than 10 times not with 10 ex-girlfriends got what I'm talking about. I shouldn't talk to you so I went there and I bought the best sit, right and everything was perfect and but right like right before the sound right and down his sound comes in. This big guy was late and somehow people allow them to to come in. I was surprised they should have closed the door. I locked the door whatever but he came in and then he was right in front of me standing and then he was like wishing for his phone and everything and then all the noise and all and you just ruined it ruined it completely and this can be totally connected with a distraction in the background no matter how careful no matter how beautiful the moment is if you have Any distractions in the background it is exactly like this big guy standing in front of you blocking like Jean Valjean singing the first song know, so if you did the show like hit me up if you drop a line if you like the show to you everytime I cry when I watch that show anyway, so let me show you another thing. So let's get back to Melissa's photo. So when Melissa show that photo posted that photo No. Here. Okay. So Melissa had a goal. She she had kind of like the semi pre-visualize you knew what what she's gonna get but I bet she didn't expect this moment to happen. Right Melissa, and I guess you did not previously realize that there would be some flies there right and some mosquitoes right you struggling for that but the thing is when you prepare everything perfect nature always award you with some wonder and just like like this photo Really beautiful and so she posted it in Nanpa. And and I know a lot of people will say that. Oh, I don't care about lights and I don't care about that. It's all about my self expression. But I think in terms of Photography what I always talk to my clients is that it is almost like learning violin or maybe even race car driving. Well 4 for PS4 for photography. It is different. And because why because everybody can just buy the most expensive camera and and then they can just use the index finger right to press on the shutter and then they become a photographer. They become the so-called photographer and a lot of the photographer's never really spend the time to master their craft and they would just use the instinct to to say, I just feel it and once I can feel it. I press it and then it's going to be a great shot and And and this is okay. This is definitely okay to get a few lucky shots. But I again I refer you back to Robert McKee's book on on story. I mentioned it this morning to all yesterday. I forgot story. I robbing the key. He mentioned that a lot of artists actually had this mindset and this is actually very dangerous because if they don't understand if they don't how you construct What are the ingredients that make the Arts speak to people and they were all only relying on the talents talents can only get you that far. But if you were willing to have an open mind and say okay. I know I'm talented but I also know that I need to learn more about this craft by looking back into hundreds of years of oil painting how the visual artists are doing and all and really break down about it. Look back into your most successful. For photos and think about what works what didn't and a lot of the gurus will teach you something different and mean it took me a long time to have the courage to even go in this low light situation because it is not taught by most of the guru's right because the thing was it's not that the grooves that the experts were wrong. The main reason why they didn't teach you that anybody know why they didn't teach you to go like like Before Sunrise or after sunset Well, the reason was a lot of these experts a lot of these even National Geographic experts. They got famous. Before digital camera happens and so they were shooting at Fuji velvia. Anybody knows Fuji velvia I asked that question all the time, ASA 50, right which is equivalent to ISO 50, or maybe they use Provia right the slides I all these films in their days with such a low ISO because if you go to ISO 400 will be so noisy, right and then they use manual focus camera and all It was just impossible to get good shots in those time unless they use Flash and I don't like to use artificial lights on while animals or person in that. I mean, I just want to maximize the the natural light on do that.
So back in the days when those experts were right, but it was in a different age. It’s the Shakespeare's age not to say bad things about them. I mean they are so many iconic photos by these and I admire them very much but it was also similar to like what Shakespeare was doing, right Shakespeare has great work Romeo and Juliet and all these things right? I mean, but then it has to be converted into a modern film to understand that if you're still reading those unless you are very good in literature, right, but you just couldn't…no longer can make people to look at it. And if your photos couldn't make people to stop— stop and look at it. Like if you didn't have the ingredients that they have to they cannot look away then what is the point right? I mean self-expression is good. But only if you are already Super Famous, then people will take you seriously. Then you can do all this self expression with very high-art kind of like really high-art. Of abstract and all these, but if your photo right now couldn't even make people to stop for a second to look at. It couldn't even get like like here 669 people and a hundred twenty-three like people who really respect your work. It is very difficult to get into another stage where you actually finally you understand all these ingredients. You can make people cry you can make people laugh, you know, exactly all these ingredients and then you can rise to the next level to really do self-expression and artistic stuff, which is what I was talking about because camera where everybody can press the button and call them a photographer. But if you play a violin, right, can you just grab a violin and then I'm talented it's all my it's just I can use my talent to play a Paganini (Caprice). Superfast thing and all, you can’t because you really have to break it down step by step and get to like… Level 8 or level 9 and whatever and then you can add into your your own self-expression and feelings of that so there anyway, so I have more photos to you to show. Oh, yeah, so I have so yeah. Congratulations Melissa and Bob for your successful for your great photos. They have a lot of great photos those so guys and girls check them out. Melissa and Bob. I think they are in the audience, but See, how do I do this? So yeah, my super handsome face again. So I wasn't want to show you another so so this one right here. So this one here like this, right? So this is a metal print. So anybody have tried a metal print before so it's beautiful. So look at look at the back, right? So they have like you can easily hang it up here. And then yeah, you can just make a print and it's just beautiful and the color So really good, I think it is a little bit Overexposed (in the video) and all but again, can you see what it is? So so here the background or not here here here here here. Yes some delay so, you know is a clean background eye level and and at first I didn't really like this part which was really bright, but somehow some people say that it almost look like the the owletwas coming out from The Time Tunnel into another space or something like that. So so so again, this one right the light sunrise and sunset time background very important. And also I have the plan to get this shot before I even go to the place.
(Need help with your bird and wildlife photography? Check out my free 1-hour training by clicking HERE.)
When I first started wildlife photography, I didn't know anything. I got excited when I saw a bird or wildlife, and I only had one goal, to nail a sharp shot. Turned out I was completely wrong.
In this video above, I shared with you a story I heard from a legendary wildlife photographer.
Since then, I followed this simple yet effective method and had great success. Hope you enjoy!
I'm Live. Okay, just trying to check.
Hey guys. Hello. Just trying to, well some of you asked me to go on live more often.
So here I am. I just got a new microphone.
So hopefully it works. Oh it works.
Okay. I'm just looking into the, into this thing… what else… so I was… Look at my back background.
So this is a fake brick wall backdrop.
Just trying to add a little bit more professional sense into into this living room kind of studio.
So anyways, so for those who don't know me,
I'm Tin Man Lee, I found this Facebook group where you are at few months ago
and looks like it's getting more and more popular.
Thanks for your support. And I’m seeing a lot of really
really beautiful photos that you guys shared.
So thank you. Thank you for your support.
So I see that somebody are coming in.
Okay. All right.
So April. Hey, Darcy. Hey,
oh Valerie. Hey, how you guys doing?
So anyway, so not not gonna waste your time here today.
I'm gonna share with you a story.
So from now on well, I shouldn't say that I shouldn't promise too much,
but I'm going to be coming in more often.
Okay. And so today I'm going to share with you.
Just one story just a very quick live to kick-start.
This whole series of fun stuff.
So hey Felix.
Hey Melissa, so what I'm going to talk to you today is about light.
So as some of you know,
I started Wildlife photography 20 years ago,
but I got really really serious about 10 years ago.
And and in these last 10 years I Always got asked … people asked me Hey Tin Man.
Like how do you get such good light in your photos?
So I wonder if like if you are beginning photographer if you are beginning photographer
or if you have any challenge of getting great light in your photos,
what is the secret to get that?
I'm going to share with you this story is but hey,
just so as you know, Please keep on asking me questions.
Well, yeah Melissa. Hey, how are you? I'm just yeah,
I just came in at random.
So from now on you have to prepare. So so anyways,
hey Sue, so the story was so many years ago.
I went to umm I think it was a photography conference, photography Summit and there at the keynote.
There was a very famous National Geographic photographe,r forgot his name though.
So I think it was Joel Satore and anybody heard of him like the famous,
you know, the famous project about endangered species and all, or it was Steve Winter.
I forgot which one so if you have heard of this story,
let me know who said that.
So anyway, so so this really really high caliber National Geographic photographer,
right? So he was on stage and he shared with us his first National Geographic assignment.
So he said at the time he was just assigned a boss
and the boss said that hey so-and-so go to this place and get me some nice photos of this Wildlife.
So he spent some time and then go to this place,
right and then he just, you know way
for a long time and then just wait for those good moments to take photos.
Just turn down the volume in here. Here. So yeah,
I don't believe is Joel Satore or Steve Winter.
Also another one. I've actually forgot the name.
Sorry about that anyway, so
so his boss asked him to go to this This Place Your First National Geographic
assignment get me the best photos of this species,
which I forgot what species with it was too.
So anyway, so he spent a lot of time waiting for the moment,
right? And then he collected thousands of photos.
He was so excited, right? He went he had all these back in the day was Films way
so he got all these films, developed and then he went to his boss and say hey,
these are my photos. right? at the time,
you know, he was already really good.
Right and his boss.
Look at the photos like thousands of them.
Just just look at them one by one just throw them on the on the floor
and said these are all rubbish.
Is that oh my God, like this is just such an embarrassment
and the boss asked him to like go back and get me the best photos,
right? And then so he went back
and then he spent a lot of time to take another set of really good photos.
Right and he went back to the boss
and the Boss look at all these photos and said these are all rubbish and just throw it all away.
And this time he couldn't hold it is it?
Hey, come on, right? I already spent so many days,
right waiting for the Moments, getting all the good shots,
you know nice background, you know,
and the boss at How come you never go there at sunrise or sunset?
Look at this light, these lights are not acceptable these lights are trash lights
and it is not acceptable.
And so this photographer talk to his boss and that well,
you know, the place was gated I couldn't even get in Before Sunrise or or after Sunset.
It is closed. They how do I get it?
I was already the first one lining up there every time when the gate opens and the boss said that,
you know to become a National Geographic photographer I don't care how what you are doing,
but you have to get the best light
so he thought for a long time
and eventually is that he I don't know what he did but he made it happen.
He was able to get in before the gate opened.
And finally he was able to capture photos that is right at sunrise
and sunset and the reason why this kind of photos with the light at sunrise and sunset works,
I thought for that. For a long time and actually,
you know, I don't know if you have been to Photo Tours or photo trips gotta keep talking.
I forgot to look at your comments, right? So,
oh Yaron is there. Hey Amber and yeah welcome everybody.
So what was I going to say is yes,
I remember that. I went to a lot of Tours, trips and everyone anything before and you know,
a lot of professional photographers would tell you okay if sunrise time is at 6 a.m.
They’d ask you to arrive at the spot at maybe 6:30 when the light is you have enough light,
right and then you may shoot for an hour or two and then the lights get harsh right?
And then you go back to the hotel or whatever go for lunch.
And then you come back probably two hours before Sunset
and then you shoot maybe 30 minutes before Sunset
and then you go home and have your dinner
and all but when I look back into my photos in the last 10 years.
Surprisingly, the photos that I like it the most were the photos that were not in those
timeframe that the professional photographers asked me to do
and indeed the photos that I liked the most was something like this.
Look at this. I have something prepared for you.
So if you look into here,
so these are some of my favorite photos like for example,
this one this one is two red foxes.
Dancing I call them the Last Dance Before Sunset
and and and and then and this one an
owl as short-eared owl incoming backlit
and and also this one so the this is a burrowingowl, they are
super tiny bit bigger than my iPhone maybe
or maybe even smaller.
And also this one right here this one
so all of these photos of my favorite photos were all taken at the critical moment either
as right as sunrise or Sunset and so I thought for a long time like what happens right?
How come all these professional photographers asked me to go 30 minutes after sunrise
and 30 minutes before Sunset
and and not this time because these are all the most emotional photos and I remember a quote by Robert
McKee any of you read his book The Story even though he was talking about screenplay.
How do you tell stories but I is one of my all-time favorite book books.
If you haven't bought it in Amazon, I highly recommend you to right now the audio
book is also available is called Story by Robert McKee.
So in it, he talked there is a famous quote.
He mentioned that so imagine if a guy is Proposing to a girl.
Well, I think about it right there. The guy was kneeling down with the diamond ring
and then proposing to the girl
and if the the moment was happening in a dumpster at night with like rats coming out
and really smelly right the whole situation, think about that moment
for a bit right and then compared with if the guy was proposing at the top of a mountain.
Tonight when you look down is a sea of clouds
and then backlit right here with all these dramatic light
and all and everybody's was shined with all this saturated Golden Lights and all right.
And in those moments, the guy would have a higher chance to succeed, I mean.
I mean, I mean if it's true love it doesn't really matter.
But what I mean is it is so much more romantic in those moment,
right? And Robert McKee said that this is called the mood, right
and for Photography you really have to think about almost like a screenplay andall these ingredients.
This is really this not designed
but you have to discover those moments to put into your photos by all these ingredients building up.
So so anyway, so back to the story.
So how come all these photos right with the most emotional
when put it back to my my face not there's not too nice as those photos,
right? But think about it.
So those moments were exactly what Robert McKee was saying the mood right in Sunrise and sunsets.
I think it always can help people to reconnect with some of their
memories right there the most beautiful memories.
I look at this beautiful sunrise and sunset probably with their loved ones,
right? So when we look at photos of wildlife or birds, also at those moments,
you will kind of you know, yeah how our brain works right like all these
happy moments with moment combining with those
and they will create emotion like that.
So so anyway, so so yeah,
so this is the story of this National Geographic photographer found that it is very critical to
go at sunrise and sunset and indeed.
I tell some of my students are actually I tell all of my students you try to go before sunrise
and stay after Sunset because those were the moments we've all the ever changing light
and you can really play with a lot of mood and all into that so,
So so I hope that helps with you on on how to get the good light right? photographers.
They don't get lucky. It didn't get lucky to have great light in your photos.
It's all because we only go to the places
when the best light is happening
and and I expand it a little bit more instead of going little bit after sunrise
and Before Sunset with this nice sweet light go even further go to those those moments.
So so I hope that helps for today's Live
and Let me see if you have any any problems and then everything so okay.
Oh, I got some really nice comments and also,
okay. So so that's it for today
and you may ask so if you go into those super early morning or late night,
the light is going to be pretty low.
Right? And so the exposure is going to be challenging right?
Some of you may have to get really high ISO and noise comes in.
Well, that's why last time I asked you guys if you want you to give a webinar on backlit
or low light photography,
which I'm actually preparing. So if you have any questions about backlit and and all these things,
what are your challenges right? Do you have any problem during autofocus?
Do you have any problems of Avoiding High noise and and and like getting colors and any questions.
They're definitely type it in the comments here
and I'll look at it and that will really help me to prepare for my upcoming webinar.
But for some of you who are new who want to learn more I actually had a
webinar available where you can look at it.
It's just a very quick one hour training on some of the how do
you Do exposure how do you do metering?
And how do you look for background and all this stuff?
I share some of the stories are not so you can after after the Live.
You can go to tinmanlee.com /webinar , WEBINAR
I you guys know tinmanlee.com/webinar and I'm going to type it in here.
So that would really help you to understand more about how we have to
squeeze the last ounce of light to play with the mood
and everything like that.
So how long have I talked?
Oh, I talked for 30 minutes. I was trying to get it within five.
So anyway, so I'll try to improve on that make it more concise tomorrow.
And what else well,
I hope you have a nice evening and I will talk to you.
I’ll try to talk to you tomorrow. Okay, and type in.
Any of the questions you might have and I'll try to answer them.
So very good to see you guys. I hope you like my new microphone setup
and my beautiful fake brick wall in the back.
And yeah, my my hair is a mess. So I'm wearing my cap anyway,
I actually got a lot of questions from you
guys. So I have quite a lot of very exciting topics coming out actually,
but definitely type in here and let me know what you want me to talk about. and if you have time, you have an hour
or something, go to tinmanlee.com/webinar and check out some of the stories.
Okay? All right. I'll see you guys later.
Do you remember this quote from the movie Matrix?
Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheus: You've never used them before.
Morpheus: What is real? How do you define ‘real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Human perception is very interesting. If you just purchased a new car, the moment you drove onto the street from the dealership, you suddenly found out the same model of car all over the place, which you never realized before.
The same applies to photography. I used to be so attached to my photos. I thought they were perfect. And I felt a bit disappointed (or more, much more) when others didn't connect with them.
It went on for 10 years. I kept taking similar photos. Instead of looking inside myself, I blamed others.
“Soon they'd know.” I told myself.
Only when I finally took the “red pill”, to have an open mind, to accept that there's something missing, I became a sponge. I soaked up the wisdom of the world's best visual artists and storytellers.
I made changes on the way I took photos, full of fear and uncertainty, because these were forbidden by the gurus.
Sometimes it's just very subtle, minor change but instantly the photos evoked strong emotion in others.
What had happened? My photos looked almost the same, yet they were so different.
And when I looked back at my old photos, those I used to hang onto, I saw so many mistakes and weaknesses. It was so obvious. How could I not see it before?
Then I came across some old photos I never paid attention to, and did some minor change on composition, etc, and I couldn't stop smiling. How could I not see it before? How could I not see this background, this line, curve, shape, texture, pattern and color?
When I posted the photo, people felt the same too.
I love it. Nature, art and human perception are amazing.
One of the key concept in my program is to teach students to learn to see what's the truth. Time and again, students didn't need to go out to take new pics, they were able to find gems in their archive that they never paid attention to. And they thanked me afterwards.
And seeing their joy means the world to me. One of my clients sent this to me today. Her photo just got into the semi-finalist round of Nature's Best Photography, which has over 30,000 entries this year. She said, “the information that you shared with us on processing and picking a good image to submit was priceless”
Another client sent this to me. She said, “thanks for all your help so far.” Two of her photos got to the semi finalists as well in Nature's Best.
Here's another one from my client. He said, “the techniques and fresh ways of looking at images have been more than phenomenal… completely changed my outlook for the rest of my career… Had it not been your course and what I've learned so far, it wouldn't have advanced.” He was talking about his photo that has advanced to the semi-finalist as well.
And yet another one of my clients. She just entered the first time.
And I received messages like these from clients consistently. “I had two photos published in Wildlife Photographic, three photos selected Top 100 in annual NANPA photo contest…”
With all these results, do you think it's just a coincidence?
I'm super happy for them because they have taken the red pill, and now they see differently. And the world is never gonna be the same.
It's a great journey. It took me 20 years. Now you don't need to spend 20 years to find it. That's why I created this amazing community, with hundreds of students, all using our photos to move as many people as possible so that they all fall in love with the birds and wildlife like we do.
Register now. FREE.
Very excited to interview my photography idol Federico Veronesi this coming Sunday June 9, at 1pm Eastern Standard Time! We will talk about his very exciting new book “ONE LIFE“, the art of backlit, B&W, wildlife small in grand landscape, how to evoke emotion, etc. Make sure to register! See you there!