Learn From the Young At Heart & Break the Rules

January 21, 2010

Photo Tips


Note from Rick: I first met Randy Jay Braun (while he was barefoot) at the 2009 Maui Photo Festival. Immediately, I knew we’d be friends – because I realized that we both share a passion for  for photography and for living life to the fullest (and we both like to be barefoot). Here is one of Randy’s images, along with some good advice.

I had photographed these energetic two hula dancers for about 90 minutes during the golden sunset hour on a south Maui beach. I have a good relationship with these Hawaiian girls, which is very important – especially when you step into a culture different than your own.

For this shoot, I brought a younger photographer along with me as an apprentice, because I always learn as much from the younger pros as they can learn from me.

Our shoot was pretty much over, but the sunset began to develop into something “above average.”  We knew we had to continue the shoot. We found a drainage ditch near the back of the beach, where water generally  runs out after a storm. We needed to be low to the ground in order to get the silhouettes high enough. We laid flat on our bellies. My camera was practically buried in the sand. (BAD for camera, yet good for the image). I needed the dancers to silhouetted by the sky, because a silhouette turns mostly “blah” in front of dark ocean water. (In this setting ocean water turns pretty much gray, and I would not get this crisp color , or clouds if I was standing higher up on my feet.)

I asked them to dance. I work with “real” hula dancers, and so they went into action. I was loving the results, yet my apprentice and I were mumbling our camera settings out loud to each other as we shot, because the lighting was changing so quickly.

Here you see my favorite image. I had to do a bit of digital finalizing with Adobe Camera RAW & Photoshop. I brought out the orange sky , but was very careful to protect the blue/cyan hues. Why? Because I didn’t want this to appear like I just threw a sunset-orange filter in front of the lens, which I admittedly used to do in the “olden days.”

I also had some issues with the girls’ silhouettes. Hmmmm… not even sure I should admit to this, but I stole the face from the tall girl, and pasted it onto the short girl. Then I stole the hand of the short girl and pasted it onto the arm of the tall girl. I used the transform tool to rotate and resize in both exchanges just to try to make them look like it wasn’t a “clone job.”

Finally, the composition I selected breaks “the rules.” I obeyed to the “rule of thirds” pretty well, yet both subjects are moving right out of the frame! I was feeling fairly unsettled inside about this at first, but then it grew on me the more I looked at it. The fact that the hula dancers are leaving the frame was an accident by me because I was just attempting to get the sun in the image. The resulting image seems to tell a better “story,” as a result.

Wow, I love this image! I know it will create income for me in several venues.

And, quite honestly, as a professional shooter, I need to create a steady income!  Woohoo!  What a wonderful world!

Oh! By the way, I arrange several of my favorite hula dancers to perform like this at the annual Maui Photo Festival. Such a wonderful gig for both pros and attendees.


For more of Randy’s wonderful images, please check out his site. Also, DPE will be podcating from the Maui PhotoFestival in 2010!

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This post was written by:

- who has written 171 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Canon Explorer of Light Rick Sammon has published 36 books, including Exploring the Light and Digital Photography Secrets.

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, “My specialty is not specializing.”

You can follow Rick on twitter at http://twitter.com/RickSammon and visit his website at http://www.ricksammon.com

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3 Responses to “Learn From the Young At Heart & Break the Rules”

  1. Radek Says:

    It’s the result that matters i think. And in this case it’s AWESOME image Rick ! If You hadn’t confess i wouldn’t even thought that there was some kind of PS job after all :)

    Bottom line -> Great result


  2. Darrin Says:

    I have done a few silhouette photos with the sunset in the background. It sure adds a new dimension to a regular photo. Thank you for bringing back the memory of my last silhouette photo. It was of my two oldest children pulling a handcart in Wyoming with a nice sunset behind them.


  3. Dan Says:

    My wife and I attended workshops by both Rick and Randy at the 2009 Maui Photo Festival. What a treat it was to hone our skills from the best in the business. The sunset shoot on the beach with hula dancers was a special treat. Randy took time to help each one of us get a shot that we could be proud of. Any time you get a chance to be in the presence of either of these guy……do it!


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