I love taking animal photos: the four-legged, the six-legged, the winged. (Yes, I’m counting insects as animals, just go with it.)
But the biggest challenge is taking photos of my own pets. How best to capture the wriggliness, the silliness of a puppy? How do you convey the loving trust they have in you, licking your face or lying across your feet whenever they’re given the chance?
I don’t think I ever really satisfactorily managed to get Zooey’s personality on film. He was just too much dog for two-dimensions. And also, his black fur was impossible for the camera to focus on. I just lacked the technical skill to coax the camera into doing him justice. And it makes me sad, that I don’t have any really great shots for us to remember him with.
I have the same issues with Karma. Her eyes just sort of meld into her black face mask and I can’t quite record how much she loves those kids. How mournful she is every morning as she watches them walk to their school bus. It’s a little piece of heartbreak every morning.
I’m an OK photographer; I think I have a good eye. I’ve become pretty good at guessing how light will translate to the screen, and the zen of sitting with a subject and interacting with it through a lens is one of my happier pastimes.
If you don’t know what’s in Jimmy’s mouth you probably should read the deer heart story.
I don’t have the technical skills to get a great shot every time, though. If I’m not blessed with the light I love (mid-day? night? Rainy? I’m screwed) I’ve forgotten how to compensate. I’m the biggest cheater ever when it comes to depth of field (I just switch to my telephoto. That is, presuming I’m not just using my iPhone, which I confess I do way more than I should).
I’m not a good photographer. To be a good photographer takes skill, a good eye, a bit of luck and the patience to take and sift through lots of pictures.
The quality of your results can be directly measured by the breadth and depth of your knowledge of the technical workings of photography.
– Jamie Pflughoeft, Beautiful Beasties
In other words, luck, patience and a good eye can only take you so far. At some point you gotta do the homework.
What I do know about the technical tricks and rules of photography I learned from reading photography books, behind the counter of Lincoln Camera during breaks and lunch hours. I looooove photography books, such a gratifying blend of tech geekiness and eye candy.
Beautiful Beasties is a photography book dedicated entirely to the visual capture of our furry and feathered friends. It’s a lovely book, as photography books should be: a feast of heartwarming, funny, breathtaking, wonderfully expressive animal portraits. And it’s full of practical tips to get the best shots of your animals— not just the digital photography techniques about aperture, lighting, ISO noise and shooting in the RAW, but also how to read an animal’s body language and evoke facial expression. Special difficulties (like how to photograph a black dog) are helpfully included, and there are great sections on post-production, photo organization and advice for those who are considering photography as a profession.
It’s geared, obviously, to the unique challenges that pet photography poses, but it’s a solid tutorial on the mechanics of photography in general. There’s always something new to learn.
If you could use a refresher on your photog technical skills (or learn them for the first time), or want to take your animal photos from ok to good (or great!) it’s a great read.
And here’s your chance to win a copy 🙂
Just follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget (may have to click through if reading in RSS). Up to 10 entries possible if you’re into upping the odds!