A few weeks ago I ran my first workshop here in the US. Different than my safaris and photo tours, in Africa, where we are racing from one location to the next, I wanted to offer a workshop with an emphasis on dramatic lighting. When I started developing my tribal work in Africa, I began studying photojournalist, humanitarian, and fashion photographers. I studied the trends, but mostly their use of light. This is when I started using reflectors, modifiers, and off camera flash. It opened up a whole new exciting creative world. What I also noticed is that I began seeking out this more dramatic lighting when shooting wildlife. I would take the safe shot but then wanted something more over the top; golden light on a subject just wasn’t enough anymore.
I have always enjoyed photographing horses and a real working cattle ranch with cowboys/girls seem to fit my brand; mixing animals and people. I wanted to help photographers think differently about the subjects there were shooting, by thinking more about how they were using the light. From the very first shoot we worked on side lighting and rim lighting. We continued to up it by adding moody elements like dust and water and by the end of the workshop it was so exciting to see everyone stretch themselves trying to capture more dynamic images.
Here are a few images from the participants. We would take a few images in normal golden light but then take a risk by shooting into the light. The first two images both show the wranglers galloping horses through water, but the second is shot with the sun at a 45 degree angle from the subject.
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Piper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.
Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.
She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.
Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.
Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.