If you take a glance at the photos on my camera’s memory card, you’ll find a bazillion photos of my daughters and then a few thousand photos of our cows, pigs, horses, heck even our dog. (Ok, not really a bazillion or a thousand, but I think you catch my drift…)
I love shooting animals, and of course, I mean in the photography sense of the word. But animals can be a little tricky to capture on film, since they very often do not stand still and pose per se. But that’s just it, sponteneous moments make for some of the best photographs in my opinion. So next time you’re out about in your yard playing fetch with Fido, taking care of your livestock, fair projects or even visiting the zoo, here are a few tips to improve your photography of animals.
- Fill the frame with the animal – capture the beauty of an animal by photographing its most unique attributes such as this horse’s sweet fuzzy muzzle. The owner of this horse knows that is his horse because no other horse has a muzzle with those markings. Instead of photographing every pig in the pen, I honed in on this curious guy (below) with seemingly the biggest ears in the pen.
- Capture personality – animals have so much personality, why not capture that flair on camera. Below is my horse “Jack.” He is 26 years old in this photo, but always acted much younger than his actual age. This photo captures his spirit and his ageless beauty. Now that he has passed away, I love to look back on these photos (below) to remind me what a vibrant horse he was and how much he meant to me.
- Fast shutter speed is essential for most livestock photographs to avoid blur in an image from the subject’s movement. Shutter speed or exposure time is the effective length of time a camera’s shutter is open. If you have a point-and-shoot, increasing your shutter speed would be to select “Sports” mode.
- A long lens is needed to zoom in to subjects that are off in the distance. I just recently purchased a Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Standard Zoom lens for my Canon DSLR. I love it, it’s a great all-around lens, but the longer lens allows me to capture animals that I can’t quite get close enough to.
- Macro lens. With smaller animals, sometimes it’s hard to get the entire subject in focus. One way to effectively focus on your subject as opposed to the entire frame is to use a Macro lens. I love my 50 mm for my Canon DSLR for close up shots that allow the background of the image to blur and the foreground to appear in focus. It provides a unique close-up perspective of your subject. If you have a point-and-shoot, you would want to use the “Portrait” setting.
And one last photo … animals and kids! It’s none other than my daughter Little Miss RayRay at the farm in Ohio.