And by shooting, of course I mean, photographing :)
Animals have been a passion of mine ever since I can remember...I grew up with all manner of pets, including cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, frogs, fish, horses, lizards, pigeons, budgies...we even had pet eels and as a child I loved sitting by the pond, feeling them glide lazily through my fingers.
These days I continue to share my life with animals…my current whippet and I go to the local nursing home on a weekly basis to visit the elderly residents – and I know by the smiles and the cuddles he receives that he is a tremendous gift who puts a little ray of sunshine into the lives of these people – some of whom, sadly, never receive any visits from friends or family. When we deal with the failings and disappointments of humans, we can rejoice in the loyalty of animals.
So I suppose it's natural for me to want to capture these amazing creatures with my camera. Our world would be a very sad one if there were no animals in it.
I'd like to share some tips for animal photography for folks who are newcomers to this kind of subject matter
Most pets are smaller than us, and photographs taken from a standing position usually aren't all that interesting. If you can get down low, so you are at eye level with the animal, it can really change the dynamics of your picture, even for animals that are larger than us.
2. Focus on the eyes They say that eyes are the window to the soul...and when I look into the kind eyes of animals, I believe it applies to them too. Eyes are the first thing we look into, we rely a great deal on visual communication via the eyes. So, always, always make sure the eyes are in sharp focus.
3. Think about your background Sometimes, using a shallow depth of field is the best way to go, to remove distracting elements from your backgrounds. You want the animals to "pop" from the image, and a nice smooth bokeh background is perfect for this. A telephoto lens is ideal. But sometimes, the environmental elements are too good to leave out, and they form an important part of the image. If this is the case, be sure to try and capture it.
8. Be patient Working with animals is not easy, nor is it a quick process, and often you have to wait for the right moment, or, if the animal isn’t familiar with you, you’ll have to give them some time to get used to your presence.
9. Wide angle If you have a wide angle lens, try it out for some fun shots – sometimes the results are delightful!
10. Shoot lots of images The beauty of digital means that we can take as many shots as we like without wasting film. Use this to your advantage, and get out there with your camera and practice, practice, practice. Most of all, have fun – if you enjoy making your images, and if you can create something that stands out a little from the rest, you’re well on the way to shooting successful animal stock images! Good luck :)
Camera equipment: New and Old