Photographers Share How They Captured the Perfect Shot

photographer taking scenic shot
Photo: Chris Rutter/Digital Camera Magazine via Getty Images

A Dolphin Show in the Florida Keys

By Andrew Hetherington

How I Got the Shot
Andrew Hetherington

“This is at the Theater of the Sea, on Islamorada. The official photographer gave me a heads-up about what was going to happen. Basically, the dolphins come in under the performer and scoop her up—she’s not diving from a platform, she’s actually being pushed into the air by the dolphin. It’s all split-second, so I had to frame my camera to the correct side in the correct area and then be ready, even though I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what it was going to look like. I was also looking to show a little bit of the environment. I had to be aware of where the sun was as well. And I definitely used a high shutter speed to capture the action. You can see that I was shooting from above. Height is always a photographer’s friend! Even an eightfoot ladder can help.”

A Mardi Gras Indian in New Orleans

By Bryce Duffy

How I Got the Shot
Bryce Duffy

“Ronald Lewis, who runs the House of Dance and Feathers in New Orleans, told me about this Super Sunday parade the Mardi Gras Indians put on. The big chiefs have the most elaborate costumes, with phenomenally detailed beadwork. I took this picture in the middle of the day, when the light creates harder shadows and brighter highlights. My assistant was carrying a wireless strobe that we used to supplement the natural light. Because this was a parade, and the big chiefs were drumming and singing, I didn’t want to just do static pictures—I wanted it to feel like you were witnessing the moment. There were so many people around, just outside of the shot, pretty much touching the feathers. This composition came out of just wanting to focus on him, without the distraction of the other people.”

The Bolivian Night Sky

By Tom Parker

How I Got the Shot
Tom Parker

“This picture was taken at the Hacienda de Cayara in Potosí, a town on Cerro Rico Mountain. It’s almost 14,000 feet up and there’s little pollution in the air, which made it possible to see the Milky Way. The best time to photograph stars is when there’s no moon, so it’s important to check the lunar calendar beforehand. For this shot, we asked the hotel staff to turn off all of the exterior lights. The exposure was 30 seconds—more than that and you start getting star trails. We lit the foreground for about 10 seconds so the buildings wouldn’t come out dark. The ISO was 3200, but the latest DSLRs will allow you to go even higher than that. If you’re shooting with a modern camera, push the ISO as high as you can before you start to get noise, but keep the exposure at 30 seconds.”

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