“Wild West” Photography Tips

Last week I was in Casper, Wyoming assisting Rick Sammon and Dinty Miller, owner of Wyoming Camera Outfitters, host a six-day workshop.  We had a packed schedule with opportunities to take photos of models in a bar and distillery, junk yards, horses, and gorgeous landscapes.  Although I didn’t get to take my daily walks, I achieved 10,000 steps a day on most days.

Stormy Skies

Stormy Skies

I learned quite a bit on this trip, so I thought I would share some tips that could be used while out Camera Walking.

Tip # 1:  Find and express emotion through your photos; tell the story.  We had several opportunities to take photos of people during our trip.  The first evening we took photos of four men who rode horses to re-enact the Calvary at Fort Casper, an important fort along the Oregon Trail.  They charged us on their horses, and then allowed us to take portraits. This action shot shows real determination.

Charge!

Charge!

While one of the soldiers was taking a break from the heat, I was able to capture this shot. His face and hands tell a story, I think.

Deep in Thought

Deep in Thought

Tip #2:  Look for the unusual.  The second day we went to the College National Finals Rodeo held annually in Casper.  What a treat!  I have never been to a rodeo, and the photo opportunities were in abundance.  I took a ton of photos with my  Canon 70-200mm lens so that I could get a close up of the action.

Full Action

Full Action

I think that the above photo tells the story of the challenge and danger in riding bulls.  I was quite impressed with the skills of the riders and the support team that kept them safe.

One Cowboy

One Cowboy

While I was looking around for other photos I spotted this guy in a cowboy hat.  There were hundreds of people there, most with cowboy hats, but I love this shot because it made the rodeo more personal.

Tip #3: Look for both the environmental and detail shots.  Rick encouraged us to take both shots to tell the story.  Our trip to a junk yard really brought that home.

Ford

Ford

Junkyard Art

Junkyard View

Abstract Art

Abstract Art

Tip #4:  Find a picture within a picture.  This was a fun discovery – finding other pictures within one shot.  One day we went to the Backwards Distillery and had fun taking photos of models.  The distillery bottles have a circus theme, so the models embraced this in their costumes.

Contorsinest

Amazing Flexibility

Now here is the picture within – look at the beautiful catch light in her eyes.

Focus

Photo within

Another example of this came from one of our shots in the Fremont Canyon.  I took this photo of the canyon reflection during an early morning ride down the river.

Early Morning Reflections

Early Morning Reflections

It was only when we were in our last editing session, when Rick rotated the photo, that I saw the other picture.

Sitting on a Rock

Sitting on a Rock

To me it looks like a woman sitting on a rock with a head-dress on.  If you rotate it the other direction it looks completely different.  This has opened my eyes to look more closely at my photos to see the other pictures within the shot.

Tip #5:   Be prepared for all kinds of weather.  The weather in Casper was warm, but we experienced a storm with hail the size of small golf balls and a tornado warning.  The worst though was enduring the mosquitos that swarmed the ranch during our final shot.  I didn’t have bug spray, but fortunately the ranchers did and they were willing to share.  The photo below tells a wonderful story of ranch life, and if you look very closely you will see the swarm of mosquitos that surrounded us that evening.

Ranch Connections

Ranch Connections

The final thought I will leave you with is one that Rick emphasized throughout the workshop:  photography is 50% capturing the shot and 50% processing the photo.  I was reinforced in my commitment to improve my composition and technical photography skills, as well as to continue enhancing my processing skills using Lightroom, Photoshop, and the many plugins I use.

I think all of these tips will help me take and process better photos from my walks.  I hope you find them useful as well.  If you are interested, take a look at Rick Sammon’s blog post about our workshop.  Let us know what questions you have or share your tips with us by commenting below, posting on our Facebook page, or send us an email at getmoving@camerawalking.com.

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