Rockies Insider Guide to outdoor photography with Larry Stanley

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Monday, July 12th, 2010

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Subject placement is a big tool to get creative with, says Stanley.

Larry Stanley has been a professional shutterbug for almost 30 years, capturing everything from weddings to giant grizzly bears. Apart from snapping his home surroundings of Montana, Stanley has taught amateur photographers tricks of the trade and counts as not only a Insider with nature photography but also a well-rounded and thoughtful photographer.

Tip for amateurs: Lighting

Amateur photographers can learn a lot from a photo guru like Stanley, and we at got the inside scoop on some important tidbits every photographer should know.

“For both amateurs and professionals it’s all about getting good with light,” says Stanley, who recommends shooting during morning and sunset instead of mid day.

While sunlight during the day creates off-putting shadows, one or two hours before sunset offers warm and colorful lights and causes subjects to be more vivid and beautiful.

For night shots, it’s important to rely on self timers and tripods to avoid photos being blurred, too dark or pixelated.

“I’ve seen a lot of amateurs take their camera out at night, set it on a high ISO and hand hold when taking photos. That’s rarely successful,” says Stanley. “Learn how to use the things around you as a tripod. Don’t be fooled into a high ISO, set at 200 so you can get the best quality.

It might sound silly, Stanley says, but the easiest way to figure lighting on your camera is to read the manual.

“A camera is a sophisticated computer. If you want to utilize it to its highest potential you have to read about it,” Stanley says.

Tip for amateurs: Subject placement

Another important tip for amateur photographers to remember is subject placement. The biggest cliche shot amateurs should avoid is placing its subject, whether it be a mountain or person, smack dab in the middle of a shot. Stanley agrees it’s a dead give away for an amateur, and to instead give more thought to what’s going on in the pictures, and cropping.

“See what it’s like to frame a mountain on the left side and see the stretch of the horizon,” Stanley says. “Great amateurs have learned to look with their eyes first and see what the most outstanding feature is and how to accent it with trees and space.”

Bottom line, Stanley says, is to refrain from always framing something in the center.

Though amateurs have a lot to learn, Stanley admits the biggest advantage on being a newbie to photography is their blank slate. Amateurs usually concern themselves more with creativity than technique and technology use.

“They’re more intuitive in their image taking. And as a professional for so many years I get to a point where I want to get away and find more in my pictures.”

Itching to get out there and shoot some of the beautiful outdoors now? Thought so. Check in soon for another post on Stanley’s words of wisdom here at

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