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Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 14 of 21

Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A


Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 14 of 21

Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A


Lesson Info

Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A

So again, we're going to go back to to some of the beginning of this segment a lot of people were wondering for not just the leopard but also some of the birds if the flash was ever distracting for those different animals I haven't photographed many kinds of animals with flash and at the very most they will react to it once or twice and then they will ignore it the flashes no brighter than the sun shine sunlight that's there because of you exposed for the sunlight flash goes off it's at the same level I have been within three or four feet of black bears and fired the flash and they never even looked at me fortunately, even though I was that area was then made a non flash area at a later point because the biologists said that it was bothering the animals even though I had never witnessed any bothering him so there's some thought the one animal in all the times that I've shot that really was bothered by flash was a big silverback gorilla at the miami zoo and I photographed him with that ...

projected flash in the six hundred millimeter lens and he looks at me and he turned his back to me and he would not look at me again so he was not like that flash going off I've been on many nests where I've had flashes up and are like a hummingbird nest of the first time that the hummingbird landed and the flashes went off it would jump back possibly come back down in the next time it would not react to the flash whatsoever and if it does react to the flash you pull it and you move out your presence is going to be much more of a problem than the flash itself that makes sense thank you I'm so another question about flash of this from photo maker do you ever use rear curtain sink flashes with wildlife like bombing birds with the person is asking for is you have a choice of the flash going off at the beginning of the even if the flashes going off a two fiftieth of a second that's still appear to time the flash maybe a duration of a ten thousand of a second and sometimes what'll happen is that the flash of go off and then you have this ambien exposure afterward and you get kind of a trailing of of unfocused stuff happening afterward because there's movement going on to there and if it's first curtain sink the sharp animal has something that continues after it if you second curtain sink you have a little bit of movement and then at the end of it is the sharp image and that's always the best, so I have my kurt I have my flat almost all my pictures are taken with second curtain sink uh the other new thing that's out there is allowing you to photograph of any shutter speed of high speeds think is what we call it and I use that quite often because sometimes you I want to go to a faster shutter speed even though that will cut back on how much flash will reach your subject because chopping off the amount of flash that's out there when you do that but I'll do that because I don't want that movement that's that's coming after the flash or before the flash and something like that but second curtain sink is a way that I almost always work with animals that's great thank you so another flash question this is from sherry berry when using flash with animals how do you avoid the green I think the green eye or the blue eye or the white eye there's different animals have different colors that reflected and it has to do with the structure within the I and the only answer to that is to move the flash away from the lens itself so that the angle of the flashes not the same angle as the lends itself and usually it takes three the four feet when you've got a long telephoto lens for that flash not to give you the return of color you saw in the hummingbird shots because the hummingbird shots the strobe is up at the top of the camera so it's really in an angle with lends itself so I'm getting these little white eyes on some of my hummingbirds which I don't care for and not natural and I will get a few shots with either the strobe off or without the strobe on and I will actually transplant eyes sometimes from one to the other because it's the same bird and it's the same angle except that it doesn't have the internal reflection coming back because that's not natural and I prefer not to be there but there's sometimes you just can't avoided well that's a good tip and a half three feet at least for when you're using a long lens brain okay, so more bird questions do you sure shoot birds in manual or aperture priority or in cheddar priority and burst mode or not and they know we talk a little bit and I like to use the word photograph versus shoot but I think you just just think um I don't use burst boat I will sometimes have a exhilarate battery pack hooked up so my recycle time is much, much faster and I've gotten some in some cases where I'm using like a one sixty fourth power or something where I'm just using a very little bit of flash to try to stop the action or something I will be able to go off at six and eight friends for second is almost like having a burst and there are places where I think you could do a creative thing with leaving the shutter open for a while and doing a burst and getting a whole series of images. So there's all kinds of ideas that come into my mind even though I haven't I haven't done it that way. Oh, I use aperture. I quite often use aperture priority. The question was, do I use aperture priority? I do that on occasion because I'm trying to work with the ambient light that's already there, and then I will control my flash with a minus or a plus in order to whether I need more of the flash or I needed to be a fill flash, I'll go a minus one or a minus two for the phil flynn for for it to be a fill flash, so app but the priority will work find there there are other times when I will go completely manual with with the flash, the hummingbirds we're at a sixty one, sixty fourth power and that was completely manual in all ways because I wanted to control both speed of the the duration of the flash, along with the output that was there and I controlled it by the so was I wasn't controlling shutter speed, I wasn't controlling the aperture anything, I was controlling it all by how much light was going out there. George, is it best to turn off image stabilization if we're doing a ton? I'm sorry, a long run of high speed, continuous shots does the ice being on slow down the frames per second? Uh, I don't believe it's it's slowing anything down it's, a continuous what's what's going on there, one of the things to get the full ten or twelve frames per second there's a few things that you turn off, and I'm not remembering off the top my head right now, which things will slow it down? One of the things I mentioned earlier was to make sure that you're not on mode one of the live you mode drive the thing because that will slow slow the system down. Generally, I try to have only auto focus, and I don't have aperture priority or something like that on if I'm trying to make sure everything because I'm going, if I'm doing that, I want all the exposures to be pretty much the same example of that was the cranes flying across everything was basically set to manual so that every image the white balance was manual, the exposure was manual so that everything would match as I'm as I'm going down the down the line ok sounds good any of their questions in the studio audience? Make sure that you don't have your camera set to a whether you can on ly fire, if it's in focus, you have a setting where your camera can be set, so that will keep you from getting out of focus. Pope pictures. You try to push the button, but because it's not in focus, it won't fire. I want a picture. If I pushed down the button, I wanted the fire, whether I'm right or wrong, or whatever, and sometimes I get mad pictures. But that's, the prevent that I don't ever want to have it. Tell me no.

Class Description


  • Create a variety of dramatic panoramas.

  • Capture rapid movements, such as the flapping of a bird’s wings.

  • Take close-up shots that depict the beauty and vibrant colors of flowers.

  • Capture images of snowflakes using specialized equipment and intricate techniques.

  • Photograph and take videos of lightning storms.

  • Use various types of additional lighting, including electronic flashes.


Are you a major gearhead who loves hearing about the latest and greatest photography equipment on the market today? Do you want to learn some amazing techniques that will take your outdoor photography game to the next level?

If you want to shoot like a pro and get an inside look at how one of the greatest outdoor photographers around makes his magic, then this is the course for you. Celebrated photographer George Lepp shares some of his best-known photographs and describes the techniques and equipment needed to capture images of wild animals, beautiful flowers, and awesome landscapes.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Paint with high-powered flashlights during long exposures.

  • Use special techniques and post-processing software programs to extend your depth of field.

  • Take macro photography shots using special lenses and extension tubes.

  • Utilize tele extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots.

  • Use HDR to get natural looking contrast control.

  • Perform time-lapse photography with movement and panning.

  • Discover a variety of DSLR video shooting techniques.

Experienced photographers interested in exploring the intricacies of outdoor photography will love hearing George’s thrilling stories about his great outdoor and travel photography shoots all over the world like Africa and his close calls with wild animals. By the end of this course, you’ll be inspired to challenge yourself and experiment with these truly incredible techniques.


  • Experienced photographers who want to learn about cutting-edge equipment and innovative techniques for outdoor photography.

  • Photographers looking to be inspired by one of the greats and wanting to hear about his personal experiences.

  • Those who are new to outdoor photography and want an inside look at what it’s like to be a professional in the field.


George D. Lepp is one of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers. His passions for natural beauty, technical precision, cutting-edge technology, and environmental responsibility are revealed in his beautiful and compelling photographic images. He is also widely recognized for his unique dedication to sharing his photographic and biological knowledge with other photographers through his seminars, writing, and inventions. George Lepp is a leader in the rapidly advancing field of outdoor photography and digital imaging. 

Lepp’s images have appeared in some of the world’s most widely viewed venues and on the covers of many books and magazines, including Natural History, Car and Driver, PC Photo, and Outdoor Photographer; at prestigious galleries and museums throughout the United States; and at the corporate headquarters of Canon USA, Eastman Kodak, and Epson America. He was chosen by Canon USA as one of the first members of its Explorers of Light program, which features the industry’s most influential photographers. He is known both for his sweeping panoramas that capture the magnificence of exotic locations and his stunning high-magnification macro renditions of subjects such as snowflakes and butterfly wings. His stock and assignment photography is represented by Getty, Corbis, and Photo Researchers. 

Lepp is regularly read in popular photographic magazines; he has contributed for thirty years as a field editor and columnist to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and more recently has published technical articles in Europe’s c’t Digital Photography Magazine. He is the author of many books, including Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field, Golden Poppies of California, and Beyond the Basics I and II: Innovative Techniques for Outdoor and Nature Photography, as well as hundreds of articles on photography. He has taught at Photoshop World, Santa Fe Workshops, Palm Beach Workshops, and founded the Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging. Lepp is a founding board member and a fellow of the North American Nature Photographers Association and winner of many awards for his work, including Photo Media’s Photography Person of the Year and the prestigious Progress Award, the highest given by the Photographic Society of America. 

First trained in wildlife and wildlands management, George Lepp later earned a BPA and honorary MS in Professional Photography from Brooks Institute. Contact him through his web site, www.GeorgeLepp.com.


  1. Class Overview

    Get an overview of what you’ll learn in this course on creative outdoor photography, including how to do panoramas, extending your depth of field, and time-lapse photography.

  2. Types of Panorama for Outdoor Photography

    There are many different panorama techniques, from composite to hand-held to multi-camera. You’ll learn about all of them and the basic techniques for creating them right here.

  3. Gigapan and Action Pano for Outdoor Photography

    Learn to take a Gigapan panorama and get extremely big and detailed shots.

  4. Additional Lighting: Light Painting, Flash and Ambient

    George discusses options for additional outdoor photography lighting, including electronic flashes, the Better Beamer Flash Extender, and using high-powered flashlights to paint with light during long exposures.

  5. Extended Depth of Field

    Sometimes it’s important to have objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background all in sharp focus. Learn about various software programs and techniques to achieve extended depth of field photography.

  6. Macro Photography Techniques

    Learn about macro photography techniques, lenses, and extension tubes.

  7. Tele-extenders and Outdoor Photography

    Learn about using tele-extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots of things such as a butterfly’s wings.

  8. HDR as a Tool

    High dynamic range (HDR) allows you to take multiple exposures at once and achieve natural looking contrast control within your final image. George offers a variety of HDR photography tips.

  9. Time-lapse Outdoor Photography

    Learn how to shoot time lapse photography with movement and panning.

  10. DSLR HD Video

    Learn about DSLR video shooting techniques and the essential equipment you’ll need.

  11. Cinemagraphs for Outdoor Photography

    George talks about the cinemagraph for outdoor photography, which is a still image with an element that moves.

  12. Photographing Birds

    Digital photography allows you to take incredible shots of birds and their movements. Get some bird photography tips and learn about shutter speeds and the equipment you’ll need to take your best images.

  13. Photographing Mammals

    George discusses wildlife photography techniques and his experiences shooting mammals, including speedy cheetahs, angry elephants, and hungry hippos.

  14. Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A

    George offers some wildlife photography critiques and answers questions about his wildlife photography, including using a flash when taking pictures of birds and mammals.

  15. Macro Photography and Flowers

    George shares his flower photography techniques and confirms how he took glorious shots at Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.

  16. Photographing Butterflies

    Get some photo tips for photographing butterflies, including the importance of having a telephoto lens and a flash.

  17. Photographing Snowflakes

    Get the scoop on what you’ll need for snowflake macro photography, including special lighting, a copy stand, an adjustable base, and really cold equipment.

  18. Photographing Landscapes

    George offers some landscape photography tips for beginners and talks about some of his favorite places and landscape images.

  19. Photographing Lightning

    Learn how to photograph lightning and how to take video of lightning storms.

  20. HDR Landscapes and Time Lapse

    Learn about HDR landscape photography—compiling a series of pictures to capture various levels of light.

  21. Final Outdoor Photography Q&A

    Students get a chance to ask some final questions of George about outdoor photography ideas, including things such as panoramas, extenders, and white balance.


R. Hetrick

Amazing class! I particularly loved the macro and how to correctly take panoramic photos sections. George was not only a great teacher but he was super funny too. Would be happy to take any of his future classes.


I watched the entire class, and found it to be a very negative experience - in contrast to all of my other experiences with Creative Live, which had been very good. The problem with this class was the instructor. Mr. Lepp, rather than giving us practical, useful information, and techniques for approaching the subject of Outdoor Photography, instead used his time to show off his seemingly endless array of incredibly expensive and cutting edge gadgetry. For the first half hour or so, Mr. Lepp seemed pleasant and interesting, but it quickly became apparent that this class was NOT about anything relating to the art of outdoor photography. Instead, it was basically a seminar highlighting exotic equipment for the 1%. I have well over $25,000 of photographic equipment, but the arena in which Mr. Lepp plays begins somewhere around the $100,000 mark, and then requires a staggering ongoing budget for chartering helicopters, hiring guides, and constant upgrades to remain on the bleeding edge of gadgetry and accessories. From his gyroscopic mounts to his 40" printer, Mr. Lepp has it ALL and continues to spend, spend, spend. I admire his deep pockets, but I would have appreciated some real insight and technique and useful knowledge on actually getting great shots. (And I must say... Mr. Lepp's work... did not impress me to the degree that other teachers on CreativeLive have.) I believe those giving positive reviews here were more or less wowed by the sheer magnitude of his extensive, well-funded travels and his off-handed way of revealing the endless contraptions and combinations of gear he uses. The passion here is clearly about the gadgetry, and NOT about finding an original and creative voice in the arena of outdoor photography.


George really prepared a lot of information for his class. It is true, he does have a lot of expensive equipment and we may not be able to do some of the things he does with a smaller budget, but it is good incentive for us to plan for the future. He seemed to share new information constantly and stay focused and I was able to take a lot of notes. He talked about many kinds of equipment as well as software and websites he uses. I am pretty impressed that he is so up to date with recent technology. He especially loves macro/micro and stacking hundreds of images for minute focus on really large enlargements (for example, over 600 photos for one butterfly wing). That can get boring if you are not interested in doing that. I can take those tips and apply them to landscape photography though. I think it is more helpful for someone already doing outdoor photography and looking for new inspiration or new techniques as opposed to someone new to photography in general.