The stories behind the images

Rick Sammon

My name is Rick Sammon and it’s an honor to be a Lexar Elite Photographer. I’m an award-winning photographer and a Canon Explorer of Light based out of the state of New York. When I’m not creating images, I can be found leading photo workshops, speaking at seminars, and authoring photography books. I’ve recently published my 37th book Evolution of an Image, and every picture in the book was shot on Lexar memory. I am excited to share some of my favorite images, along with some quick tips!

Morning Glory Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Five-shot pano. When you can’t get enough in a scene even at the widest setting on your wide-angle lens, shoot a pano. Processing tip: Try Tonal Contrast in Nik Color Efex Pro to enhance the color and contrast in a scene. Camera info: Canon 5DS, Canon 17mm‑40mm f/4, ISO 160, f/4. 1/160th second.

I’m big on knowing the rules of composition, because I feel as though you need to know the rules before you can break them – which is good thing, indeed. This picture of running Camargue horses, taken in Provence, France, illustrates an important rule of composition: the rule of odds - that is, including an odd number of subjects in a frame. To focus the fast-moving subjects, I set my camera to AI focus. When photographing subjects and their reflections, make sure to look at the bottom of your viewfinder to make sure the reflections are not cut off. Like all the photographs in my books, this picture was shot on Lexar memory. Camera info: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 70-200mm IS f/4, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1600th second.

Look for separation when composing a scene. I took this picture of the U Bein Bridge in Mandalay, Myanmar at sunset. Notice how the people on the bridge are separated. Also, notice how the trees in the background are separated from the pilings. Separation helps to “cut the clutter” in our two dimensional images. You’ll find this image in my 36th book, Creative Visualization for Photographers. Camera Info: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm IS, ISO 320, f/5, 1/800th second.

Analyze your images. When trying to choose your best images, ask yourself, ‘How many photographic techniques does the picture illustrate?’ Usually, but of course not always, the more the merrier. This picture, taken just after sunrise in Death Valley, illustrates several techniques: creative composition, separation, and the importance of light in a photograph (especially on the model’s face), along with the importance of props and posing. Most importantly, I chose the location for this model shoot because the sand dunes in the background created a beautiful ‘S’ curve. Camera info: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm IS, ISO 200, f/8, 1/400th second.

In wildlife photography, and in most people photography, I feel that if the eyes are not in focus, I’ve missed the shot. Same goes for having the eyes well lit, again in most cases. To get a super-sharp shot when photographing a fast-moving animal, I set my camera on the AI Servo (focus tracking) mode. I don’t shoot with my lens wide open, which gives me a bit more depth of field than if I were to shoot at the maximum aperture. Camera info: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS, ISO 640, f/6, 1/2000th second.

Getting a good exposure when shooting into the sun can be tricky, due to the high contrast range. To get a good exposure of these stick fishermen in Sri Lanka, I set my Canon 5D Mark IV to HDR and chose these settings: EV 0, EV -2, EV +2. I set the HDR mode to Art Vivid. For good composition, look for separation in your photographs. Notice how all the fishermen are separated in the image evenly? Camera info: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-105mm IS, ISO 160, f/8, 1/400th second.

MAKE pictures, don’t just take pictures. It took a bit of doing to make this hand-held, HDR photograph of a cowboy in a barn near Spearfish, South Dakota. First I selected a part of the barn that had a nice background. Next I posed the cowboy with his saddle – and got down low so I could shoot eye-to-eye – a technique that lets the viewer relate to the subject. The light coming through the windows was nice, but kind of flat. So I asked one of my workshop participants to stir up the dust on the floor behind the cowboy, because I knew the dust would create nice light streaks in the photograph. It’s easy and fun to make pictures. Try it, you will like it. Camera info: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm IS, ISO 4000, f/5, 1/60th second.