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Pet Photography Tips – Photographing Pets for Portraits

If you have the opportunity, it’s best to take some pet photos with the needs of a portrait specially in mind. For some pets, a beautiful photograph capturing their best qualities is very easy, while for others it is frustratingly elusive. Many choose a professional pet photography studio for this reason, and while this can be a good solution, with a little preparation and plenty of patience you should still be able to achieve similar results yourself. After all…who else knows your pet better?

Above all, remember to have fun and don’t be in a rush. Patience is most definitely a virtue when it comes to photographing pets! Be ready to click away and take plenty of shots. Here are a few simple yet effective tips I’ve found can give the best results…

LIGHTING:

The best possible lighting is achieved outside in natural light. Try to do this even if your pet is an indoor only pet – though of course safety comes first and this may not always be possible. Having your pet close to a large window, with plenty of natural light coming from behind or slightly to the side of you as you face your pet, is the next best option.

Avoid direct sunlight, as it can alter natural colouring and increase the contrast between shadow and light, hiding some features. A bright but overcast day is perfect.

Don’t use a flash, as this can cause red-eye and distort the true colouring & shading of your pet. An exception to this is if your pet has a black coat, in which case a flash or bright sunlight can actually bring out shading and texture which may be lost in photos taken under other lighting conditions.

POSITIONING:

Photograph your pet on their level. Don’t have them looking up at you unless this is how you wish the portrait to appear. Don’t make them come to you. Instead, go to where they are most comfortable and see the world from their point of view. Sit on the grass, lie on the floor, whatever it takes. This is especially important for full body shots, which look best from the side rather than above.

Take plenty of facial photographs with a zoom lense if possible, and have their face fill the frame while still in sharp focus. Try taking some three-quarter views as well as from the front, as a slightly angled pose can sometimes make a beautiful portrait photograph.

If your pet will not sit still, have someone hold them in position. If these pictures are solely for the portrait, then hands and arms in the frame do not matter and are easily removed as long as they do not cover important markings.

PERSONALITY:

Keep your pet as comfortable and at ease as possible. Cameras can be distracting for some animals, so if you cannot get your pet to behave normally, try having someone else present to divert their attention and keep them engaged.

Capture the most characteristic expression & pose of your pet. If they are generally happy, try to catch them doing their version of a smile.

A good idea is to have favourite treats or toys at the ready. Hold them up near the camera to catch (and hopefully hold) interest in the right direction. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be silly. Try making funny and unusual noises or movements to get their attention.

via Pet Photography Tips – Photographing Pets for Portraits.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Portraiture, Worth a Look

 

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It’s a Snap: How to Pick a Digital Camera

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

by Tech News Daily

It’s hard to keep track of all the digital cameras and high-tech features out on the market, but according to experts, shoppers should be wary of all the bells and whistles offered with new devices that don’t actually enhance the quality of the photographs.

Tom Cavalieri, a student adviser at the New York Institute of Photography who works with aspiring photographers, believes digital cameras often include fancy-sounding features at higher prices that aren’t essential for taking great pictures.

“There are tons of high-quality models out there that aren’t too expensive, so people shouldn’t fall into traps of paying more for features they don’t need,” he said.

For example, Cavalieri said selecting a device that has the ability to take very high-resolution images isn’t as important as one would think.

“If you can save a couple of dollars deciding between a 10-megapixel camera and a 18-megapixel cheaper, go for the cheaper one,” Cavalieri said. “You don’t need 24 megapixels to take decent pictures, especially when so many images today are just being viewed online.”

High definition video capabilities are also making its way onto more digital cameras: “If all you want to do is take pictures, you don’t need a built-in microphone and video technology that will just add more dollars to the overall bill.”

As for picking the best one to fit your needs, Cavalieri advises avid travelers to seek out digital cameras that take batteries instead of those that rely on a plug-in charger.

“The last thing you want to worry about when traveling is finding a place to recharge your camera,” he said. “You can buy batteries almost anywhere or pack more ahead of time, so you never have to wait on your camera to be ready to go.”

Although the Internet is a key tool for researching and finding information about digital cameras, Cavalieri also suggests shoppers go into retail stores and test out different devices before making a purchase.

“Some digital cameras are heavier than people think and if it’s not comfortable and easy to hold, they might not get used,” Cavalieri said.

Camera expert Ken Rockwell, who runs the photography tip site KenRockwell.com, also encourages people to get their hands on digital cameras to make sure they can find all of the features.

“Lenses, zoom rates and resolution are basically all the same, but if you can’t figure out where all of the features are, you’ll miss capturing what your kid is doing or what funny thing is happening at a party,’ Rockwell told TechNewsDaily.

Rockwell also said that compact digital cameras have reached a mature state over the years and haven’t actually gotten better.

“If you already have a digital camera, you most likely don’t need another one to take better pictures,” Rockwell said, adding that it’s more about being a good photographer than having a high-quality expensive camera. “A pianist will be able to play a toy piano much better than someone with limited piano experience playing on a top-quality piano model.

Cellphone cameras

Rockwell believes that digital cameras are expected to slow in the next five to ten years, as more people reach into their pockets for cellphone cameras to take pictures.

“In most cases, cellphone cameras are just as good as compact digital cameras you would buy at the store,” he said. “The iPhone has a very strong built-in camera, and coupled with apps that help you edit and fine-tune colors, you may not even need to buy a new camera.”

There are a few ways to optimize an iPhone to take better pictures, Rockwell said. For example, when taking a picture of someone’s face, tapping the device’s screen showing that area will tell the camera which part of the picture is the most important and what you want to see in detail.

Meanwhile, before taking a picture on the iPhone, users can also tap a button on the bottom of the screen to adjust the brightness level. However, one drawback to cellphone cameras is that they don’t take pictures very quickly.

“If you are trying to capture something such as a sporting event in real-time, it will be difficult on a cellphone,” Rockwell said. “But missing the shot also happens at times on compact cameras. Most people don’t realize you have to push the camera button halfway down at first to preset it for exposure, focus and other key reasons.”

Pushing down the button again a few seconds later will ensure that it will go off in time to get the shot you want, Rockwell said.

The bottom line: “It doesn’t matter if you are using a camera that costs thousands of dollars,” Rockwell said. “If you aren’t using your camera right and are a bad photographer, you will just keep taking bad photographs.”

Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at smurphy@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @SamMurphy_TMN

via It’s a Snap: How to Pick a Digital Camera | Tech News Daily.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Featured, Inspiration, Worth a Look

 

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For Photographers, It’s Not What You Look at — It’s What You See

April 18 | By Harrison McClary

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Henry David Thoreau

This is one of my favorite quotes. While Thoreau did not say this about photography, it’s about the best advice you can give to someone in our profession.

Photography is not about pressing a button on a camera. It is about telling a story — communicating what you see when you look at your subject.

Same Subject, Different Stories

Different photographers can photograph the same subject but tell a different story. This is true for all types of photography.

For example, let’s say you are a sports photographer covering a basketball game. The game is very close; there is a lot of excitement in the game and on the sidelines.

As the clock winds down, another photographer might focus all his attention on the court. But you spot a player on the sidelines, waving a towel to cheer on his team, that captures the emotion of the game even better.

Or let’s say you are hiking in the mountains and see a stream surrounded by lush vegetation.

Another photographer might go with a wide shot, but this seems boring to you. So you find an interesting rock formation to place in the foreground, providing contrast and giving a stronger feel for where you are.

Or perhaps you decide to go with a detail or macro shot instead. Why photograph a whole tree when a single leaf tells your story?

Training Yourself to Notice

We should always be looking for pretty light, interesting juxtapositions, leading lines and other visually stimulating subjects.

At the same time, we should always be looking for stories to tell.

Peer inside a building with unusual windows. See if someone is looking out, or reading a book, or painting.

Walk through an old cemetery. Maybe you’ll find someone pressure-washing the headstones.

Drive alongside a long, winding white fence. Perhaps you’ll come across a horse being fed by its owner.

Always be observing. Always be looking for interesting subjects, and thinking about what elements would make your photos even better.

The more you do this, the more often you will come across these elements — because you have trained yourself to notice them.

via For Photographers, It’s Not What You Look at — It’s What You See | Black Star Rising.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Featured, Inspiration, Worth a Look

 

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How to Properly Clean Your Camera Lens

by  Michael Zhang · Apr 14, 2011

Here’s a pretty lengthy video tutorial by the (unofficial) Nikon Help Hotline channel on YouTube teaching how to properly and thoroughly clean a camera lens.

(via Lifehacker)

via How to Properly Clean Your Camera Lens at PetaPixel.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in General, Technique, Tutes & Tips

 

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Hints, Tips & Motivation

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. We have all the gear, all the enthusiasm but taking that first step out the door seems impossible. I mean, you want to take great shots, right? So suddenly the ‘right location’ becomes important, or waiting until you have completed a course, or purchased that essential piece of equipment.

The problem with this, is that you will be eternally waiting. And that means, you won’t be shooting. So I’ve gathered together a few of my favourite articles and rules that I use as my major Hints, Tips or Motivation to get out there and get photographing.

Fix the Shots You Already Have – In this article on Post Production, Camera House explain the basic things to look for when trying to make your shots look incredible. Post production is just as necessary in the digital world of photography as it was when we had analogue cameras. While this article doesn’t go into detail of the steps needed to achieve these effects, sometimes I just need to see the images looking good to feel inspired and motivated to take more shots!

Take a Photograph Right Now – Seriously, it can be hard to imagine taking photos right now. I’m in my house, there’s nothing decent to shoot. Right? Wrong! Read this fantastic Lightstalking article about your kitchen drawer and you will look at items in your house differently – creatively – and feel inspired to see if you can achieve the same drama from a few utensils.

Get Tactile – There’s nothing like the feel of 35mm film in your hands. You hold it up to the light and squint, trying to recall when that old photo was taken and how different it would be now you have digital. Sometimes inspiration needs a boost because everything we do these days is all in digital form. Email vs Snail Mail, Digital Cameras vs 35mm Film, Photoshop vs Artistic Creations. It can often improve your viewpoint by getting back to basics and creating something tactile that can be held in your fingers, and ignite your passions. I found this clever Poopscape article about creating a lamp that showcases old film and find that already I’m just itching to take more photographs!

Refresh the Composition – I found a fab article by PictureCorrect that gives some very handy hints and tips for composition and how to create dynamic, exciting images simply by changing your stance. While the article won’t make you want to grab your camera and run outside to experiment, it will sit in the back of your mind and ruminate… something that is fantastic for inspiration!

Find a Muse – I love this Pentax Body article for giving me reason to walk again, with a friend. Just a casual stroll down any street. And see if I can fulfill the criteria laid out in this article. Sometimes you just need a push in a general direction to feel the motivation and inspiration bubbling up. If the article doesn’t do it, and you’re mobile, then get yourself an app. There are plenty to choose from*, but have a look at Photographers Muse, Camera+ or read up on the top 100 apps for Photography.

No matter what works for you, the key is to stay motivated, stay inspired, and keep shooting! Post your pictures in the comments section!

* Please note that apps available differ from one store to another. Eg, the US apple store has a different range of apps available compared to the UK and Australian versions. Some apps may charge fees.
 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in General, Inspiration, Worth a Look

 

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Some Photographers are Magicians (yet not in a good way)

Some Photographers are Magicians (yet not in a good way)

GND Filter by Chris Mullins - all rights reserved

Ever seen exquisite photographs and wanted to see if you could create something similar but never known what settings to use? Photographers can sometimes be like magicians – they know all the tricks of the trade and dazzle you with their craft but refuse to share any of the secrets. For people new to the hobby, it’s increasingly frustrating trying to work out what to do and how to do it.

While I understand their hesitancy to reveal how they create beautiful images, for a beginner wanting to stretch their wings, it has become more and more difficult to gain simple and easy to understand articles that explain step by step what you need to do and why. Partly this is because photography is such an enormous subject that the moment you embark upon learning it, you are immediately overcome by the sheer enormity of information available and don’t know how to prioritise it. But another big reason is because professional photographers are struggling more now, than ever before. With so many cameras available cheaply, everybody is a photographer now and this eats into their already-saturated industry. However, recently I read a wonderful article about how to re-create a beautiful landscape image taken by New Zealand photographer Chris Gin. There are several reasons why this article is so important.

Firstly, it explains in layperson’s terms exactly how this shot was taken. Even down to standing in the water and keeping the lens clean between shoots. Secondly, it outlines precisely the list of equipment you need to take this type of photo. And finally, it details specific techniques used in Photoshop to perfect the image.By showing us the Photoshop techniques used, Chris has also emphasised the importance of completing an image with post processing. In the days of film, every photograph was individually processed in a dark room. Nowadays people tend to forget about the importance of post processing but it is still vital that you do it. Photoshop and Lightroom are now considered our digital darkroom.

The equipment list in Chris’ article mentions is particularly useful. Every photographers bag  holds the arsenal they need to capture the perfect shot. As a beginner photographer, it can be confusing trying to work out what is a ‘must-have’ and what is just a ‘want-it’.  It is so easy to spend a fortune on camera paraphenalia that you may never use, so knowing the essential items is crucial. Chris uses GND filters. GND means Graduated Neutral Density. These are attachable filters that you place in front of the lens and can make a remarkable difference to your images, particularly landscape photography. You can see an example of the difference GND filters can make to your photos above, because they reduce the light difference from sky to ground. There are three main type of GND filters available, but the 0.6 hard grad (2 stop) is considered the better choice for your first filter purchase due to price point and scene flexibility. Some filters will screw into your existing lens whilst others slide into a frame. It is generally accepted that the ones the slide into a frame are more reliable because they won’t twist as you focus your lens. Whenever you use a GND filter, it is really important that you have your camera on a tripod to ensure the filter is positioned correctly.

Chris also mentions the 10-20 Sigma lens. This is a wide angle lens, which helps to create stunning landscapes, although Flickr has a group showing this lens being used for just about everything, from the paws of a cat to a car interior! However, traditionally, this 2005 lens is considered a lens important to those who love landscapes. The lens size is also available in other brands like Canon, Nikon and Tokina but the Sigma often receives high praise because of its price, reliability and precision.

I’d like to congratulate Chris on lifting the veil of secrecy for how photos are composed and taken. When you read the article he has written, you realise that he has taken many shots to achieve that perfect one, and even then it involved blending two almost identical shots together to make one “just right”. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so impossible to achieve. Also, he details the process involved in composing the shot and how long it took before he was able to find a scene that he liked. This is important for beginner photographers to know. Getting the right composition takes time. It takes effort. And it takes practice. Photography is a learning curve and so long as we keep the information simple, and flowing, just like in Chris’ article, we can continue to learn and grow in our skill and passion.

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Image by Chris Mullins. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Composition, Software

 

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Maintaining Focus

Maintaining Focus

Images by December Medland. Licensed under CC: BY-NC-ND

It’s strange how we take photographs. As a species we’ve been doing it for several hundred years, and our love affair with photography has continued ever since the first camera was invented.  Back in the old days, camera equipment was only available for the elite, whereas today it seems like everybody is a photographer. There are cameras in just about everything: MP3 players, mobile phones, laptops, and the iPad 2.0; even in your car. So we’ve all become photographers: all capable of snapping every moment as it happens. And that’s what a lot of people do, certainly. They snap and click and shoot. Then they look on the back of their camera and delete what they don’t like and go back to snapping, clicking and shooting.  And this style of photography suits them well!

On the other hand, some shooters prefer to be professional and get paid for their photographs. There’s a range of industry sectors for paid professional photographers: commissioned works, wedding photographers, commercial photographers, artistic photographers. They’re all out there, fighting to stay alive and competitive in a photog-eat-photog market filled with the bulk of the people out-snapping, out-clicking and out-shooting them.

And then there are people like you. Interesting people. Exciting people. Passionate people. People who may never be able to define why they photograph things but love to do it. People who want to frame before they shoot. Explore modes before they click. Compose before they snap. People who have a perspective on photography quite unlike the other two groups above.

Nobody can tell you why you have the passion to be a photographer (though some will try). And there are plenty of lengthy articles explaining how to reignite your enthusiasm for it. But truth be told, you are what you do. And if you photograph things because you love to photograph things… then you have a photographer’s soul.

So, don’t question whether or not you have what it takes. Don’t fret over knobs and buttons – these will take care of themselves as we use this blog to expand your horizons. Just give in to the need to snap, to click and to shoot. Focus on your photography and your photographs will soon blossom with you!

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Images by December Medland. Licensed under CC: BY-NC-ND

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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Featured, Musings

 

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