All posts by jon

Travel Photography Tech Talk

By Jay Dickman, Olympus Visionary. Source: GetOlympus.com
 

In my work, select images end up with National Geographic Image Collection. Their requirements are extremely high for those images selected. My Olympus equipment meets those requirements. I often print up to 50” on the long side, and the prints are spectacular. Try pushing the envelope with your camera. Getting out of your comfort zone can often open new visual doors for you: 

 
1. EXPOSURE IS CRITICAL

I often hear the expression, “I’ll fix it in post,” which is like hearing fingernails on a blackboard. You may be able to “fix” an image that suffers from extreme over or underexposure, but you pay a price.  On your histogram, which displays important exposure details, the photo should be slightly towards the right or bright side, of the histogram.
Many think that under-exposed image will give them more exposure information. What you sacrifice with this can be accentuated noise. Photos are made of three channels: Red (R) Green (G) and Blue (B). When underexposing an image, the photographer actually exacerbates noise issues as noise comes from that B channel, and brightening a dramatically underexposed image really can enhance the “grain” of noise. 

Photographed on the grounds of the Taj Mahal, fog had rolled in from the Yamuna River, pretty much obscuring everything. Finally, it started lifting, exposing this beautiful scene of the sun shining on top of the western mosque, the foreground still in the fog. This created an exposure difference in foreground/background. I used a “Neutral density graduated filter” to darken the sky while allowing the exposure on the foreground to stay the same. The more you shoot, the more you understand exposure and its potential, the more you’ll know when to use filters such as this.


Photographed on the grounds of the Taj Mahal, fog had rolled in from the Yamuna River, pretty much obscuring everything. Finally, it started lifting,
exposing this beautiful scene of the sun shining on top of the western mosque, the foreground still in the fog. This created an exposure difference in foreground/background. I used a “Neutral density graduated filter” to darken the sky while allowing the exposure on the foreground to stay the same.
The more you shoot, the more you understand exposure and its potential, the more you’ll know when to use filters such as this.

 
2. AUTO ISO

I use Auto ISO a lot. The trinity of exposure is shutter, aperture, and ISO. By going to Auto ISO, you allow the camera to do the “heavy lifting” of determining ISO. The Auto ISO setting will default to the lowest ISO for your preferred aperture or shutter speed, allowing you to shoot more successfully. This also eliminates the frustration of walking into a dark environment with the camera set on a low ISO, and you see a great moment, but the shutter speed is so low your file is unusable due to shake.
Plus, today’s Olympus camera handles noise really well, so why not let the camera deal with that component of exposure? I’d rather have a great moment of a scene with higher ISO than no photo at all. This craft of photography is all about moment. 


Shot with an E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko ED 17mm F1.2 PRO Lens. F1.2, 1/80 sec. ISO-1000

 
3. RAW IS YOUR FRIEND

I’ll often see the aspiring photographer shoot jpeg as their file of choice. Your Olympus does a fantastic job of applying those elements of White Balance, sharpness, and contrast in the jpeg. But, I want all the data the camera can provide so when I work on final image, I have all that information to draw upon. A RAW file gives you almost two stops more dynamic range (that ability of the camera to capture the range from light to dark).
A lot of photographers early in their digital career also are a bit scared off of RAW as they’ve heard that the file takes an extensive amount of work. When one sees an image in Olympus Viewer, Photoshop, or Lightroom, they are usually amazed in seeing how user friendly those RAW converters are. Plus, if you “tweak” your jpegs regularly, come on over to the RAW side, as you’ll see very little difference in the interface. 


Shot with an E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO Lens. 1/500 sec, F9, ISO-200, Shutter Priority

 
4. FREEZING MOTION

Shutter speed is a powerful creative tool for the photographer, allowing huge amounts of control to impact the final image. I shot NFL football for over 15 years in my newspaper days, and I learned an important rule in sports photography which translates to the world of wildlife photography and other areas where you are capturing a moving subject: when trying to “freeze” motion, it usually takes a shutter setting of 1/500th of a second to really start to stop motion. 1/500th of a second is great for photographing someone running.

If trying to stop the wings of a bird in flight, try ramping up that shutter speed 3 to 5 times higher – i.e.1/2500th of a second is a good shutter speed to stop the wings of an eagle. Conversely, you can use a slow shutter speed to enhance the feeling of motion.


Shot with an E-M1 and M.Zuiko ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO Lens. 1/2000 sec, F6.3, ISO-640, Shutter Priority

 

Another example of freezing motion. Shot in Mongolia with an E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO Lens. 1/640 sec, F7.1, ISO-200, Shutter Priority

 
5. PANNING

If trying “panning” (shooting a slow shutter speed to impart the feeling of motion), start at 1/50th of a second, and if photographing people walking by, use a focus point in the viewfinder to “hold” on the subject that is moving. This enhances the chances of getting some sharpness on the subject, while the background blurs from that slow shutter speed.


Shot with an E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO Lens. 1/25 sec, F14, ISO-200, Shutter Priority

 
6. SLOW EXPOSURE

Try Slow Exposures in situations in which you thought it wouldn’t be applicable. This can add an energy to your photographs, producing a photograph that can further engage your viewer. 


Shot with an E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko ED 12-100 F4.0 IS PRO Lens. 1/4 sec, F13, ISO-200, Shutter Priority

 
7. AVOIDING STAR TRAILS

A good rule-of-thumb: when photographing the night sky, the “500 rule” comes in handy. Take the length of your lens, divide it into 500, and the resulting number is the maximum number of seconds you can effectively use, with that lens, before you start noticing star trails.
If I want star trails, it’s usually a full sweep of them, not an abbreviated version. It’s kind of either or: a full circle or stars, or a sky full of points of light, with sharpness of the stars being a driving consideration. So, if using my M.Zuiko ED 8mm F1.8 FISHEYE PRO lens for a starscape, I’ll divide that 8 into 500, with the resulting 62+ seconds being the maximum exposure length, in seconds, I can use before I start to see a bit of star trail.

Digital has a wonderful ability to “open up” exposure by utilizing long exposures. This photo of Deadvlei in the Namib Naukluft Park in Namibia is a great example of that. Shot at 30 seconds, ISO 640 at F2.8, allowing the slight amount of moonlight available (about a 40% waxing moon) to capture this ethereal scene.


Shot with an E-M1 Mark II and M.Zuiko ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO Lens.

 
BONUS

Not really a tip, this is more of a statement of “wow,” in terms of Olympus’ images stabilization, especially in the M.Zuiko ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO and M.Zuiko ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO lenses. The Internal Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) works almost surrealistically. Enabling the IBIS by pressing half-way down on the shutter dampens movement so well on the camera, it almost looks fake! 
 
MORE FROM JAY DICKMAN:

Web: jaydickman.net

Blog: firstlightworkshop.com/wheres-jay/

As a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and National Geographic photographer, Jay Dickman is one of the most traveled, experienced and celebrated photographers in the program.

How to Photograph Fireworks


Source: Canon
 
With the 4th of July just around the corner, there are lots of opportunities to capture fireworks, and this article from Canon will show you how to capture them. And, if your camera has “Bulb Mode,” your photos can be even more impressive. For terrific fireworks photographs, consider the quick tips below:
 

 
1) Turn your Flash off

The first key thing to do, whichever device you’re using, is to turn your flash off.
 

2) Use a mode that allows control

If possible, change your camera or smartphone to a mode that allows you some control over settings.
 

3) Underexpose

As the scene in front of you is dark, you will need to tell the camera to underexpose, otherwise you’ll get a photo that is too bright for a night-time scene. To do this apply ‘negative exposure compensation’. This option can appear as a -/+ on the screen and you need to set around -1 to -2 to begin experimenting with under exposure.
 

4) Use continuous shooting mode

Try using continuous shooting mode as it will help you get the right shot, even if the fireworks go off a moment before or after you expect.
 

5) Experiment with Manual Mode

If you own a camera which makes it possible to take full control, you can experiment with the Manual Mode.
 

6) Shutter speed, aperture and focus

Using Manual Mode, select a shutter speed of around 1/10th of a second and an aperture of f/8. Manually set your focus at the distance the fireworks are at.
 

7) Set a low ISO

Set your ISO low to begin with by finding the ISO setting in the menu and selecting ISO 200.
 

8) Keep it steady and use Image Stabilizer

It is best to use a tripod to keep the camera steady, but if you are holding the camera without one make sure you have turned on the Image Stabilizer on your lens if you have it – this will help to steady your shots.
 

9) Check your results and adjust

Take photos as the fireworks begin and check whether the results are bright enough. If they are too dark you can increase your ISO setting and if you want to capture longer light trails make your shutter speed longer but beware that this increases the risk of camera shake entering your photos. If the photos are too bright you can either decrease your ISO to 100 or set your lens aperture to f/11.
 

10) Get your fireworks pictures looking really impressive –using the bulb mode

Bulb mode enables you to control exactly when the shutter opens and closes, so you can create a long exposure that captures in detail events like firework displays or lightning strikes. To find “bulb” mode make sure you are in manual mode, then adjust the shutter speed – after the 30 second setting you will see “bulb”- other cameras have the bulb mode available on the mode dial. Watch the video about Fireworks- Bulb photography below.
 

 
For long exposures you will need to keep the camera very still, so a tripod is required. Using a cable release or a remote control is very helpful too, as it helps remove extra camera shake. Instead of a cable release or remote control, if you have a Wi-Fi enabled camera you can also try our Camera Connect App which enables you to take the picture from your phone.

With a long exposure try an aperture of f/8 to f/16. Then set the lens to manual focus and focus according to how far the fireworks are away from you.

Try to capture either one or several bursts of fireworks in one shot and compare the difference.

How To Plan For Summer Travel Photography

All Photos and Words by Sony Artisan Me Ra Koh. (source: https://alphauniverse.com/)
 

To come home from a trip with great photos, plan ahead. This goes for everything from landscape and nature photography to street and general travel photography. We spend a lot of time and energy scouting for our workshops because that’s our business. Before we lead a group to a new destination, Brian and I spend several months doing research. A lot of what we’ve learned about photography scouting can also apply to a casual or family traveler who wants to come back with meaningful images that are more than just snapshots.

Scouting locations for beautiful photography is like working on a puzzle. There are a number of different ways to do a puzzle. Some people like finding all the border pieces first. Others like to focus on a specific object. There is no right or wrong way to start. The key is to have a plan and do as much location scouting research before you even leave while allowing time for unexpected left turns when you’re there.
 
RESEARCH
Our research happens in two stages. First, we do pre-research before leaving. This can take a few months. We create Pinterest boards of images that stick out to us. Then we dialogue about why certain images draw us in. For example, when researching areas for our Portrait of a Winter Wonderland workshop in Sundance, Utah, we created a Pinterest board of beautiful winter landscapes from all over the world. Then we started to look for consistencies in what draws us in to certain images. Brian and I found that we like images with repetitive patterns like an aspen grove or an element in the midst of landscape; barn, winding path, ski lights at night, lake with reflection, etc. These elements act like a visual anchor to the landscape. Creating the Pinterest board helped us narrow our location scouting down to specific areas that had these elements.
 


Utah. Sony α7R III, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens. 2.5-sec, f/16, ISO 100

 
Websites like Flickr are great for finding the exact location of shots by their longitude and latitude. We research time of day and year certain shots were taken. Photo Pills is an amazing app that Sony Artisan, Chris Burkhard, told us about. The app shows you where the sun, moon and stars will be when you’re there and when to expect golden and blue hour.
 

Sunrise in Greece. Sony α7R II, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens. 1/80-sec., f/6.3, ISO 400

 
Community is key to pre-research. I’ve been a Sony Artisan of Imagery since 2007, and I continue to learn from my colleagues. If one of them has photographed an area we’re researching, I’ll ask them for advice on what they learned. Sometimes I email professional photographers that live in the area we’re going to visit and ask them for advice. Some never respond but others do and even become friends or guides for when we arrive. Being able to help each other save time and money is one of the many benefits to having a creative community.
 
TAP INTO LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
The second half of research happens when we arrive. Dialoguing with locals is our favorite way to start this next step of location scouting. Upon arrival, we’ll buy a handful of iconic postcards from local vendors. Postcards are a great tool if there is a communication barrier. We’ll walk through a village holding up the postcard in one hand and camera in the other. That gesture often does the trick, and locals will either give us advice on where to go or find a friend who can help us. The unexpected friendships we’ve developed through this process is one of my favorite parts of travel.
 

Local guide in Egypt. Sony α99, Sony 85mm f/1.4 ZA lens. 1/800-sec., f/1.4, ISO 160

 
The one thing you must always keep in mind is that unless the local is a photographer, they’re not thinking like a professional photographer. They may give you advice on where to go, what time to be there, but they’re coming from the mindset of someone who will take the photo with their phone. If they’re taking you, they will often expect you to get out of the car, take the shot and be on your way. It’s important to let them know how much time you’ll want to spend at a location and to tip them well or offer to buy them dinner after.

This happened when we were in Greece. A friend in Italy introduced us to her friend in Greece, an enthusiastic local who offered to show us around. The first two days, Nicolas showed us several off-the-beaten path locations on the island he grew up on. Even though the spots were beautiful, they weren’t what we were looking for. On day three, our family decided to rent our own jeep and off-road the island to explore. We ended up finding several spots we had envisioned from our research.
 


Scouting in Greece. Sony α7R II, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens. 1/60-sec., f/10, ISO 50

 
Do we regret those first two days with Nicolas? No way. Nicolas is a character that our family will never forget. But it was also important to keep our own expectations in check. When you have limited time to scout an area, you can easily get stressed about finding the best spots and lose sight of the people.
 

Sunrise in Greece. Sony α7R II, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens. 1/160-sec., f/9, ISO 100

 
YOU MADE A PLAN…DON’T BE AFRAID TO DITCH IT
Any time you travel with a camera, try not to be too wrapped up in getting a perfect shot. Planning and preparation helps stack the odds in your favor, but sometimes things just don’t work out like you planned. We’ve found that by keeping an open mind and not being too focused on our original plan, incredible unforeseen opportunities can come up. If your anticipation is to learn something new, make new friends, and take a few left turns that may lead to somewhere even better, you’ll never be disappointed.
 

Sony α7R III, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master lens. 1/100-sec., f/4, ISO 500.

 
There is always an element of risk involved because no matter how much you prep, you never know if the time and finances you’ve invested are going to pay off. This is one of the reasons why people love our Portrait of the World workshops; we’ve already done the work of making sure each spot is amazing for both adventure and photography.
 
You can see more from Me Ra Koh and sign up for her workshops at her website.

Find Leading Lines

SOURCE: GetOlympus.com


Have you ever noticed that roads, paths, and trails tend to grab your attention while you shoot? These natural and man-made elements, known as leading lines, add depth and dimension to your photos. They’re one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your composition. Here are some cool ways to use them to your advantage.
 
WHAT ARE LEADING LINES?

Leading lines are features that guide your viewers’ eyes. They also create structure, balance, and movement.
Check out some of the most common uses of leading lines:

  • To lead a viewer into your photo
  • To guide a viewer to the main subject
  • To draw a connection from one part of your photo to another
  • To tie the foreground and background together
  • To create specific perspective 






Shot by John LaGuardia with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera | M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Lens | 1/125 sec | F8.0 | ISO200

 
FINDING LEADING LINES

Anything that creates a definitive path is a leading line. This can be in both nature and in cities. A photographer’s job is to locate them. Hard, straight lines are easy to spot, but leading lines can also be curved, winding, or even incomplete. They can go any direction and be narrow, thick, or changing in size throughout the image. Some of the most effective lines are implied, like a sightline.


Olympus User Gallery Contributor, David Booth | Shot with an Olympus OM-D Camera |M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO Lens

 
Leading lines to look out for in nature are anything from rivers, cliffs, and waterfalls to sun rays and rows of trees.


Olympus User Gallery Contributor, Lara Andra | Shot with an Olympus OM-D Camera |M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO Lens

 
And don’t forget about man-made structures. Roads, bridges, and train tracks make great leading lines, as do smaller structures such as window panes and doorways.

Shooting a pattern from the right angle or capturing multiple of the same item in a row can also create leading lines. Once you spot them, they’re hard to ignore.
 


Olympus User Gallery Contributor, Michael Radcliffe | Shot with an Olympus OM-D Camera | M.Zuiko 17mm F1.8 Lens

 
HOW TO USE LEADING LINES CORRECTLY

After you’ve found the strongest lines in your scene, you’ll need to decide how to use them for maximum impact. When framing your shot, ask yourself, “Where are the leading lines taking me?” Usually, the answer is a point of interest or tension but sometimes, the line can be a subject itself. Just make sure they don’t accidentally lead viewers out of the frame or away from core elements in your scene.

The most dynamic images usually combine leading lines with the rule of thirds. They often start at the bottom of the frame and bring a viewer upwards and inwards, from the foreground of an image to the subject. This immerses viewers in a three-dimensional scene. The further the lines go and the smaller they get, the greater depth you can add. Don’t be afraid to lead your viewers to a vanishing point.
 


Olympus User Gallery Contributor, Nam Ing | Shot with an Olympus OM-D Camera | M.Zuiko 75mm F1.8 Lens

 
MAKE LEADING LINES WORK FOR YOU

Stay loose while you’re shooting. If your leading lines aren’t aligning with your subject, move yourself or adjust the camera angle. For example, if a line is leading out of frame toward the left but you want your viewer to notice something on the right, move to the other side of the line so the subject is properly framed.

Don’t feel limited by a single leading line. If there are multiple sources of tension in a scene, take advantage. You can place your subject at the intersection of several lines or create a cyclical composition if your lines are different shapes. Just don’t overcomplicate things to the point where a viewer can’t locate focal points.
 


Olympus User Gallery Contributor, Tom Robert Strande | Shot with an Olympus OM-D Camera | M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO Lens

 
For something different, try an interchangeable lens camera so you can play around with different lenses. To capture width and depth, add a wide-angle lens. This can exaggerate the length and shape of the leading lines, placing viewers directly into the frame. Also shoot in a narrow aperture to get a deeper depth of field so the line is in focus right to the back of the frame.

Of course, not every image has or needs leading lines. Sometimes, you’ll find a leading line actually detracts from the statement you want to make. If you can’t find any natural or man-made lines, let your creative eye be your guide.
 


Shot by John LaGuardia with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera | M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Lens | 1/60 sec | F4 | ISO500

11 Tips for Photographing Spring

By Olympus Visionary Larry Price. (source: GetOlympus.com)
 


With spring officially upon us, it’s time to get the cameras out and explore the beauty of the changing season. Unlike the stark contrasts that winter landscapes present, burgeoning new life is more subtle and challenging to capture, particularly if you’re in a northern clime where spring comes slowly in fits and starts.

 
Whether you’re going for that perfect panorama of mountain dogwoods or a close-up of a single crocus struggling to bloom through the snow, a few tips can help you get the most from your spring photo shoots.

 
ASSEMBLE YOUR SPRING GEAR

For me, the shapes and splashes of color of the early spring flowers are irresistible, so I think about close ups of flowers and animals as they begin to come out into the warmth. Before you go out to shoot close up shots of flowers find out how close your camera will focus. To make sure you don’t get too close simply cut a piece of string to the close focus length and hold it at the front of your camera to the subject.

If you want to explore the abundance of animal life that emerges after the long, dark days of winter, you’ll need to use the long telephoto end of your zoom lens.

If your camera takes a flash, a small flash with an extension cord is good in case I need a touch of fill flash. But honestly, the flash usually stays in the bag. If you enjoy the vibrant look of fill-in flash with close-ups, a tiny handheld unit will often make the difference between getting the shot or not.

Since many of the point and shoot cameras are f 3.5 to f8 apertures a tripod will come in handy for sharper images as shutter speeds may be slower. Don’t forget to use the image stabilization of your camera to prevent camera blur. If I’m traveling by air, I’ll pack only a tiny tabletop tripod unit which adds minimal weight to my outfit.

OM-D E-M5 Mark II, M.Zuiko ED 8mm F1.8 FISHEYE PRO. F20, 1/125 sec, ISO 200

 
WORK THE LIGHT

For spring photography the light is especially important — and beguiling. With the lengthening days, you’ll have more magic hours in the morning and evening, as the sun lingers low on the horizon. In March and early April, the light is gentle light throughout most of the day, particularly in the northern latitudes. How you use this light is key. If you’re photographing blossoms, particularly the pale dogwoods or frothy lilacs, you’ll want to use backlight to illuminate the petals, rather than reflected light. In reflected light, your flowers will look flat and one-dimensional whereas with the right backlighting, the petals, young leaves and bursting buds will be bright and vibrant. You’ll also want to use a lens shade to avoid glare with a backlit subject. While light sculpts every photograph, during the spring it also makes a wonderful subject itself. Pay attention to the way the light moves. Watch the ebb and flow of exotic light against the surface of a pond or a rippling stream. In the desert southwest, a rising sun on a crystalline morning transforms red rock formations into otherworldly monuments.


F2.0, 1/180 sec, ISO 400

 
THINK NEW LIFE

The animals, like us, are throwing off their winter blues. Playful and frisky, squirrels are busy now from sunup to sundown. Chipmunks, moles and voles scurry from their winter bunkers. Watch quietly and you’ll see foxes and deer in the hours near sunrise or sunset. Break out the long lenses to focus on birds and mammals. They’re curious too and you’ll be surprised how approachable many urban animals are.

 
GET THE LOW DOWN

Put yourself at plant level on the ground to shoot crocuses bursting through black earth. Use the macro or close-up setting of your camera and you’ll see new and unique angles. A single green shoot becomes an obelisk, a cluster of daffodil leaves a dense forest. Think architecture and modern art. From this bug’s eye view, you’ll also see insects at work — always good subjects.


F4.5, 1/180 sec, ISO 200

 
LOOK UP

The shapes and forms of forest trees change subtly as new growth tints the branches and bud coats expand and burst. Take advantage of a blue sky or interesting cloud patterns to work in among the shapes the tree limbs present. Capture these scenes early though — once trees leaf out, these images are harder to find.

 
WALK IN THE RAIN

Use the reflections from a puddle of fresh water to accentuate color and texture. Get really close to capture tiny rain droplets clinging to new leaves, flowers and vines.


F4.0, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400

 
CONTROL THE CHAOS

The best springs are a riot of color, scents and sounds. A few years ago, we had a late spring in Ohio when everything bloomed at once — forsythia next to lilacs, roses in bud while the daffodils were still waiving their yellow heads. It was amazing. One of my amateur photographer friends went out with her digital camera to capture glorious streetscapes but came home disappointed. Her pictures were cluttered and flat, a common problem. In a park or arboretum surrounded by beauty, our eyes move from sky to blossom to ground while our other senses are registering the bird songs and perfume of the flowers. Our brain puts it all together and we perceive the brilliant bits as a whole. The camera is more discriminating. So, to bring that magnificent medium view to life, you’ll want to use foreground-background composition techniques. Put a big splash of color near the camera and then use receding color in the background to re-create the sensation your brain perceives in nature. Concentrate on crisp compositions with a specific focal point in the foreground, even when you’re going for the big picture.


f4.0, 1/400 sec, ISO 200

 
USE WIDE APERTURES

Always, always, simplify your background. I don’t use a tripod so much because I often shoot at a wide aperture with my Olympus macro lens. I can use a reasonable Exposure Index of 200 or 400 and still have a shutter speed that will allow me to shoot handheld. Enable your camera’s image stabilization mode and you’ll be set. Of course, for a once in a lifetime shot or if I’m in no particular hurry, I’ll use a tripod.

 
HOLD ON

If you don’t have a tripod or the light is too low to use a high shutter speed, experiment with using long shutter speeds hand held. You don’t always have to shoot with a high shutter speed to have sharp images. Consider also experimenting with motion blur in low light. With a little controlled movement, you can interject an element of mystery.


F11, 1/1000 sec, ISO 100

 
PACK FOR THE ROAD

You’ll get your best shots on foot, so whatever you assemble, you’ll have to carry. I use a shoulder bag to carry one body and two lenses, my flash, cord and extra batteries. That’s it. If I can’t walk a mile in comfort with all my gear, I’ll remove items until I can.

 
DRESS FOR THE SEASON
And I don’t mean shorts and flip-flops. Early spring mornings and late evenings are still very cool if not downright cold. You’ll want to layer (I like polypro long johns under sturdy wind-resistant pants and a fleece top). You’ll also want waterproof boots or shoes for squishing through boggy patches or walking the streams.

And remember, spring is fleeting, so get going now to get those great pictures.


F4.0, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400

 
ABOUT LARRY C. PRICE

Blog: http://www.larrycprice.com/category/blog

Over his storied career, Larry has worked for some of North America’s largest newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Baltimore Sun, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Denver Post. He is currently at work on a longterm project about global pollution with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington, D.C.

How To Take Macro Photos

By Jenn Gidman. Images by David Guy Maynard. (source: Tamron-usa.com)
 

 


David Guy Maynard doesn’t mind traveling—in fact, he often appreciates the change of scenery, whether he’s working for a few weeks in Germany or leading a workshop somewhere closer to home in the States. But while his travel, nature, and street photography gets an ample workout via these far-flung locales, there’s one type of photography he especially enjoys, and he doesn’t even have to leave his backyard.

“Macro photography is the only genre where you can always find something in the tiniest of spaces,” David explains. “I happen to be lucky in that I live in Florida, so there’s always something for me to take pictures of, whether it’s an exotic cactus, bug, bird, or lizard. Plus, unlike most other genres, I can sometimes photograph a dozen different subjects, all with their own unique look and feel, by moving just 4 feet.”

Even people in colder climates can find something to put in front of their lens. “Maybe there’s too much snow on the ground to document any type of wildlife or plant life, but you can capture the details in a patch of ice,” David says. “Or you can find stuff inside your home to shoot if the weather is really inclement: One rainy day I took the back off of a watch and spent an hour photographing the minuscule gears inside. It was a fascinating world I never really paid attention to.”

Here, with accompanying photos, are some of David’s tips for plumbing the macro depths in your own domain:
 

USE A LIGHT TENT

When I find a frog in the wild, I’ll often move it to a different location—you just have to be gentle and respectful so it doesn’t get hurt. There are times when I’ll find a nocturnal tree frog here in Florida, but maybe it’s sitting on an ugly stone walkway or a beat-up fence and I don’t like the background. I’ll take it and move it a few feet to where there’s some greenery, gently set it down, then let it get settled in against that better background before I take a photo.

This red-eyed tree frog you see here is an exotic, but I happened to photograph it in front of a live audience at a macro workshop while I was demonstrating how to set a scene up. He was perched on a little piece of driftwood made for a fish tank. The greenery you see in the background is also an aquarium accessory, not a real plant.

When I’m not out in the wild, I really like using tiny light tents for my macro work. They’re very handy and distribute the light nicely. With that pinpointed light coming in from two or three sides, it literally broadcasts the light everywhere and still allows you to capture that deep depth-of-field at a higher aperture. This frog was in one of those light tents with an inserted background inside, and with two lights (one from each side) illuminating the tank.


© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/16, 1/60th sec.
 

The peacock tree frog you see in the second image belongs to my assistant, Sammi, and he’s a real loudmouth: He actually meows like a cat. When it expands, the pouch you see under his chin is almost as big as his entire body. You’ll notice there are two catchlights visible in each eye. Normally I don’t like having two catchlights like this, but in this case I didn’t mind it—it gives a great gleam. I had him inside the same light tent, and I was hitting him from both sides with the light. It’s worth noting his texture as well. If you look at his face, you can see how wet and reflective it is, which can be a challenge for picture-taking. That’s another reason I love the light tents. Putting the frog inside one deadens a lot of that glare because your lights are off to the sides—you’re not getting a direct reflection like you would if your light were on-camera, which would cause glare and make you lose much of the detail in its body.


© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/22, 1/80th sec.
 

CONTROL YOUR BACKGROUNDS

Here in Florida we have lizards all over the place known as anoles. We have green southern anoles, which you won’t see as frequently, and brown Cuban knight anoles, which tend to eat the green ones. They’re voracious and vicious, whether they’re fighting or mating.

This anole I photographed was in a cactus patch, so I had to shimmy in very carefully, because it’s very painful if you get pricked by a cactus, and I was wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops. The cactuses are gorgeous, but the gravel underneath this one was made up of dull, gray pebbles, and I didn’t like the looks of it.

The beauty of shooting the way that I do is that I don’t have to follow the rules we used to have to follow. In other words, if I have a subject that’s composed nicely and on a branch or a leaf where the background doesn’t suit me, I can just use high-speed sync with my flash, which lets me use the flash at higher shutter speeds than my camera’s maximum. By jamming it up to, say, 1/2000th of a second and filling in with the flash in high-speed sync, I can knock out any distracting background that’s 2 or 3 inches behind my subject and turn it into complete darkness.

Sometimes that technique doesn’t work, however, like when the background is very close. One other trick I use is to carry around a little pop-out reflector kit. I have ones with sleeves, in black, white, gold, and silver versions, as well as a diffusing panel. If you use the black side, a lot of times you can tuck it behind your subject and create a black backdrop right in the wild. It’s an invaluable tool out in the field. As for the diffuser panel, if you have really intense sunlight hitting your subject from above, that diffusion panel held over your subject cuts the sunlight enough that it mellows everything out and gives you an even exposure.


© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/32, 1/250th sec.
 

SEEK OUT EYE-CATCHING LINES & PATTERNS

I’m a huge fan of architecture. I love the lines and angles you can find when photographing unique buildings. I find similar geometry in nature. With this cactus plant, it looks so organic, with the rounded edges of the green and flowing lines leading right into the soft middle. You can see a shimmer where the ringlight is hitting. And at the upper edges you get a sheen, because of the plant’s moisture. Finally, you have these spires poking out, almost like antenna towers. I find it fascinating to think about how organic and yet how stringent nature can be all on its own—it’s sacred math at work.


© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/32, 1/200th sec.
 
The same applied for the flowers on this native Southern plant. The image is actually inverted: The flowers were hanging downward, then I flipped it when I brought it into Photoshop. It’s an absolutely beautiful plant, with long, thick green leaves. Photographing plants like this, where you’re really taking a closer look at it, gives you a deeper appreciation for every tiny cell you look at, every organism, every creature.


© David Guy Maynard. Lens: 90mm, F/16, 1/250th sec.
 

LIGHT FOLIAGE FROM BEHIND

When I shoot leaves, I love to backlight them, either with an off-camera flash that I can trigger from my camera or with a ringlight. I do this because while leaves are pretty, they’re not exactly that captivating—until you get up really close and see their organic architecture and what that leaf is really about: all of its veins, its arteries, how it works. It’s the true story of that living object. It’s discovery. I imagine it’s largely how Charles Darwin felt when he spent all those months in the Galapagos Islands—that wonder, that sense of being a child in the world, marking every detail.


© David Guy Maynard

We live our lives every single day with what we’ve been trained to see, whether it’s visually or politically or esoterically. We learn not to notice new things. Photography helps us look all around us and notice, whether you’re gazing up into deep space or examining the details of the tiniest things on this planet. Knowing I’ve been in my own bubble and never noticed something before allows me to understand my place in this place—at least a little better than I did before.”
 
To see more of David Guy Maynard’s work, click here.

David Loves His Nikon D7500

OPINION: the Nikon D7500
 
From time to time, we like to post about gear that has captured our attention. This time around, it’s the Nikon D7500 DSLR that has captured us.

Looking Glass Photo’s David Weitz owns the D7500, and he’s learned firsthand what makes this camera great. On his weekly photography outings, he has had a chance to shoot the camera in a variety of settings and conditions. Below, David shares his thoughts in a short Q&A as well as some of his fave photos captured with the D7500.
 

Let’s start with a little background. How did you get into photography and do you have a favorite subject to shoot?

“It started way back in 1988 or ’89. I had been given a Ricoh ME Super 35mm film camera with a zoom lens and I started shooting with it as a hobby. In ’89 I took a B&W film class at Berkeley High School and learned the basics of developing and printing B&W. From then on I approached photography as a hobby until I was hired by Adolf Gassers in 1997. From there, I was introduced to digital photography and my interest in it just took off. As to my favorite subject matter, I always seem to go back to macro photography and landscape and more recently, night photography.”

 

We’re psyched that you’ve been loving your Nikon D7500. How has the camera helped with your pursuit of photography?

“For me, the camera is just the right balance of weight for my hand, and is far more comfortable to carry around than my Pentax. Ergonomics is more important in a camera than many people realize. If one has a camera that is awkward to handle, is it really going to be used a lot?”

“In addition, the camera’s Autofocus speed far exceeds any camera that I have had previously. I am now far likelier to get the shot I want in focus. The camera is also far more usable at night than previous models that I have had. The reduced color noise and faster Autofocus allows for handheld photos without flash on well lit streets.”

 

What do you like most about the D7500?

“That’s easy. The ergonomics. It fits my hand like a glove.”

 

When helping people find their perfect camera, who do you feel the D7500 is best suited for?

“An advanced amateur or enthusiast who wants a camera model that offers a great degree of versatility. The camera can do most types of photography very well, from portrait, action or landscape, even when compared with cameras out there that are more specialized in those specific areas.”

 

Thank you for sharing some favorite shots that you captured with the D7500. Would you tell us a little bit about them?

“I love this one of a hippo playing with a giant beachball at the San Francisco Zoo. The opened jaws look quite alien to me.”

 

“Here’s another, this time with a stoplight reflecting off the wet cement at night during heavy rains. I took this shot under a tree, to minimize the amount of rain hitting the lens. Weather sealing, which the D7500 has, comes in real handy!”

 

“And finally, a closeup of a flower after it had rained. I always love doing macro photography right after wet weather.”

 
 

In what areas do you think the D7500 particularly excels?

The Focusing System: I captured this image of a crow in flight using the D7500’s 3D focusing. While the focus system is not the same as the D500 (the DX format flagship DSLR), it is still very impressive.”

 

The 14-bit RAW File Capability: This shot of ‘The Palace’ is an example of maximizing the D7500’s capability at ISO 51,200. A little work in Lightroom can get the noise down even in these conditions.”

 

Live View: This was a 30-second shot of the Palace of Fine Arts. I used a nine stop neutral filter and a tripod. Normally, focusing and composing the image would be a real challenge, as I would be unable to see through the filter. However, the live view mode can…and I could use the touch shutter to focus where I wanted to! Super handy for these long exposures that I love capturing.”

 
 

What accessories and/or gear do you recommend for this camera and why?

  • A circular polarizer is a must for any landscape photography. The resultant saturation and glare reduction are easily worth the price.
  • A Hoya neutral density filter, 9 stops. Perfect for motion blur capture with a tripod during the day.
  • The Peak Design Clutch. The perfect wrist strap for the D7500 for users who intend to walk around with the camera in hand for long periods of time.
  • A Crystal Shield screen protector- Don’t let your LCD screen get scratched up.

 

Below are more images that David shared with us, that he captured using his Nikon D7500. (click image to enlarge)
 

How To Photograph the Wild of National Parks

By Jenn Gidman. Images by Cecil Holmes. (source: Tamron-usa.com)


At least twice a year, Cecil Holmes says farewell to home base in Huntsville, Alabama, and heads out to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. While he’s there, he also makes the four-hour drive to Yellowstone National Park, where he complements the wildlife and landscapes he photographed in the Tetons with the geysers and geothermal pools (and yes, more wildlife) found in Yellowstone.

While photographers can find different attractions to document in the parks depending on the season, Cecil enjoys the late spring for his national park adventures. “These images were all taken in June, when there’s still snow on the mountains, the temperature is warming up a bit, and the crowds haven’t built up yet,” he explains. “Plus, as the snow melts and it starts getting warmer, the wildflowers come out in full force.”

This time around, Cecil packed his Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 VC G2 and SP 150-600mm VC G2 lenses to ensure he could capture every photographic opportunity the parks threw his way. “In the Tetons, the 24-70 is the perfect landscape lens,” he says. “And the 150-600 is indispensable as a compact wildlife lens. I’ve got everything I need to document the entire trip with just these two tools.”

Here, Cecil walks us through seven images he took on his latest trip, as well as how he used the lenses to capture them.
 

IMAGE #1


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 150-600mm at 500mm, F/8, 1/500th sec., ISO 1400

Park regulations in Yellowstone mandate that visitors stay at least 25 yards away from most of the wildlife (it’s four times that for bears and wolves). But what’s fantastic about the 150-600 lens is that when you’re photographing an animal the size of an SUV, you don’t need to get terribly close to get a full-frame image of it.

In this case, we happened to see a group of bison on the side of the road and jumped out. I had my camera on auto ISO (and I usually shoot everything in Aperture Priority), so I set the aperture for F/8. The camera selects the shutter speed based on the auto ISO, so I set the auto ISO to a maximum range and then indicated to the camera I wanted a minimum shutter speed of 1/500th sec. It adjusted the ISO based on the light from that point. That’s really the best way if you’re doing a “run and gun” approach as you’re cruising along, because if you have too slow a shutter speed and the bison moves, it will ruin the shot with motion blur.
 

IMAGE #2


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 150-600mm at 550mm, F/8, 1/500th sec., ISO 500

In the late spring, the pronghorn, or American antelope, starts to shed its winter coat. That’s another reason I love taking pictures in the Tetons at this time of year, because you can track down a lot of these creatures hanging out with that ragged coat look. Some of them may have already shed most of their coats; others still have their coats hanging off the side of them. It makes for awesome images either way.

I tried to place some of the grass and reeds in front of the pronghorn in the frame as an appealing visual element. When people think of wildlife photography, they often think strictly of the animal in front of the camera. But for a more compelling photo, it’s important to incorporate as much of the animal’s environment as possible. I was able to blur out the foreground a bit, as well as the background, which gives the photo a bit of three-dimensionality and makes my subject pop.
 

IMAGE #3


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 150-600mm at 600mm, F/8, 1/250th sec., ISO 800

At the Teton Raptor Center near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, birds are brought in to be rehabilitated. People call from all over Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana to report injured birds, and the goal of the center is to eventually release them back into the wild, if they get better.

We attended a birds of prey show here, and it was a controlled environment where we could get fairly close to the raptors. They bring each bird out every two or three shows so it doesn’t get too stressed. I’d never been to a show like this, so I brought along my 150-600. I decided to put it to best use by stepping back a bit and capturing some tight headshots.

This photo was of a bald eagle named River, in what one could call its teenage years, before it had lost its brown feathers and morphed into the white eagle we’re used to seeing. It had just dipped into a bathing pool and was trying to dry off, which is why its feathers look so ruffled. The crisp sharpness of the 150-600 allowed me to capture every detail in every feather, and I blurred out the background to get that eye-catching color contrast of brown and green.
 

IMAGE #4


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/8, 25 sec., ISO 100

This photo of Moose Falls along Crawfish Creek wasn’t a planned shot at all. We were just driving down the road right before sunset when I saw the sign for it; we didn’t have a lot of time to capture the remaining light. I said, “OK, if we get out of the car and hear water, we’ll grab our gear and run down; if we can’t hear the water, that means it’s too far and we won’t make it.” We got out and heard the water, and it turned out the falls were only about a tenth of a mile from where we parked. It was flowing really nicely, as the park had had a huge amount of snowfall this winter—meaning lots of corresponding snow melt creating lots of full rivers and streams.

Typically when you’re shooting waterfalls, light is your enemy—you don’t want very much of it, because you want a longer shutter speed to get that smooth, creamy effect in the water. The light was really starting to fade at this point, so I used a 25-second exposure at F/8. If I’m photographing a waterfall in the daytime, I’ll shoot at F/16 to get a lower shutter speed, but in this case I didn’t need that low shutter speed— I needed to get my aperture open enough to get a shutter speed that wasn’t going to be minutes long. The 24-70 really came through for me in this low-light situation.
 

IMAGE #5


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/16, 1/80th sec., ISO 100

The Grand Prismatic hot spring is one of the most photographed geothermal attractions in Yellowstone. Many photos of it that you see from above are taken from either a helicopter or plane, or by people who hike the trail that overlooks it. But when you’re right down there with it, it’s challenging to shoot—it’s not nearly as impressive as when you’re seeing it from up high. Plus, if you’re photographing it on a nonwindy day, the steam emanating from it will just rise and hang in the air. You want a little wind to blow the steam around a bit.

Luckily, I had just enough breeze so that the steam was moving. I was standing right on the boardwalk next to it, and I got down and put my camera as low and close to the pool as I could get it without actually touching anything—you don’t want to scald your equipment! I was trying to capture a sunstar (you can see the sun poking out from behind the cloud in the upper right), but I wasn’t able to get it. Because of that, and because the light wasn’t great, I decided to see what would happen if I turned it into a black-and-white photo. That changed everything. It created a mood I wasn’t seeing in color, and it brought out the textures, patterns, and contrasts of the pool and surrounding area.
 

IMAGE #6


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/8, 1/200th sec., ISO 100

The Morning Glory hot spring is one of my favorite pools to visit in Yellowstone. It’s not very big, maybe about 20 feet wide, and the boardwalk there puts you right along the edge of it. I took about three or four shots at 24mm vertically and then created a panoramic composite. I was finally able to capture that elusive sunstar, and the clouds in that vibrant blue sky added to the overall effect as well.

It’s essential to use a polarizer for an image like this. If you don’t, you’re going to get reflections off the water and won’t be able to see all of those colors and details beneath the surface.
 

IMAGE #7


© Cecil Holmes. Tamron 24-70mm at 24mm, F/16, 0.3 sec., ISO 100

While the shot of the Morning Glory Pool was my favorite photo from Yellowstone, this photo of the John Moulton Homestead was my favorite from the Grand Tetons. The morning I took this photo was horrible. It was raining when I woke up, but I figured I was already awake, so I went out anyway to see if I could get anything. I thought maybe, at the very least, I’d get some lightning shots over the mountains.

Right at sunrise, sunlight started to peek out and hit the barn. And then, for about three minutes, this amazing double rainbow appeared that stretched from the John Moulton Homestead to the T.A. Moulton Barn about a quarter-mile down Mormon Row. After that, the sun disappeared and it was gloomy for the rest of the day. Only about 10 photographers were out that morning to witness it, as opposed to the 30 or 40 who might usually be out and about. For someone like me who doesn’t live in the area, this was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

To see more of Cecil Holmes’ work, go to www.cecilsphotos.com.

An Eye For Birds

Words & photos by Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne and Birdwatching Magazine. (source: getolympus.com)


Join Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne and Bird Watching Magazine on a photographic journey – learn pro tips, techniques, styles and tools. Take your bird photography skills to the next level and download this multi-part series.
 
PART 1: CREATING EXCEPTIONAL PORTRAITS

You will learn:

  • Why it’s important to shoot at eye-level
  • The one part of the bird that must be in focus
  • The best backgrounds for portraits for birds
  • Why studying bird behavior is a critical skill for bird photographers

Click to read the tips!


Shot with an OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800.

 

PART 2: MASTERING FLIGHT SHOTS

You will learn:

  • Behaviors to watch for that signal a bird is about to fly
  • Why you should shoot with the sun and wind at your back
  • The benefits of shooting in manual mode
  • How to get your lens to focus faster

Click to read the tips!


Shot with an OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. 1/1500 sec, f/11, ISO 200.

 
PART 3: PHOTOGRAPHING OWLS

You will learn:

  • Why you should not look for owls but listen for them
  • How to approach an owl once you find it
  • Where to go to photograph owls when you’re just starting out
  • Why you’ll need a flash
  • The best settings for your camera
  • A top-notch camera and lens for shooting owl photos

Click to read the tips!
 


Shot with an OM-D E-M1 Mark II, M.Zuiko 40-150mm F2.8 PRO. 1/1000 sec., f/5.6, ISO 200.

 
 
ABOUT SCOTT BOURNE

Olympus Visionary Scott Bourne is professional wildlife photographer, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He was one of the founders of This Week In Photo, Founded Photofocus.com and is co-founder of the new Photo Podcast Network


 

 

Pet Rescue Photography

Words & photos by Olympus Gallery Moderator, Amanda Strozeski. (source: getolympus.com)
 

Are you passionate about photography? Do you love dogs, cats, or bunnies? There are many shelters and resuces throughout the country who would jump at the opportunity to have a photographer donate time to help photograph animals looking for their forever home.
 
PHOTOS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Many times when you see an animal at a shelter, the photos are blurry and the animal looks sad. It can be hard to picture their true personality and imagine them in your home, as part of your family.



When you see these photos, they tend to be “intake photos.” These are photos taken when a new animal comes in as part of the intake process, along with other paperwork, and is used to help identify them. If a shelter does not have a relationship with a photographer, these can be the only photos available to promote them online. In the visual world we live in, social media and smartphone apps are the main way these animals are promoted to potential adopers: PetFinder, Adopt A Pet, Facebook, Instagram, and shelter websites are king!



Below is an example of an intake photo of a sweet Chihuahua, and a photo I took of her a few days after her intake. While her inake photo is blurry and shows her “behind bars,” her rescue portrait shows her clearly – she pulls you in with her large, reflective eyes and the beautiful bokeh created by an F1.2 prime lens helps blur out any background distractions.

 


Left Image: Smartphone photo taken at time of intake; Right image: OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO | 1/400sec | F2.5 | ISO200


Below is a real life example of dogs on the website Adopt A Pet. 



They are all from my resident shelter. Some of the dogs have had their portraits taken, but others were so new that I had not met with them yet. We will sometimes post dogs with their intake photos before their rescue sessions, so that we do not lose any time promoting them to potential adopters. 



If you were scrolling through – which dogs would catch your eye?
 


 
SETUP

A rescue shoot will most likely be different than other portrait shoots you may have done in the past. Shelters are very utilitarian spaces. They’re designed to house and care for animals – and a dedicated, clean space to take photos is not vital to the health and well being of their charges. 



If you’re photographing outside, especially in a more urban setting, there may not be many green spaces to be found. There are often fenced-in areas outside, where dogs can meet with potential adopters and get some exercise – these are good options for outdoor photographs. I find that creating bokeh with a prime lens can help you blur out a lot of the background distractions.



Remember to work with the sun! A dog, or other animal you’re photographing outside, will have different eyes than a person. If there is direct, unfiltered sun, their eyes have a tendency to go all black and you lose the emotional connection that will come through eye contact. Try positioning them under a tree or in shade.

When I’m doing an indoor shoot, I have some basic gear I take with me:

  • Backdrop Paper: I use Savage Seamless paper, and have a variety of colors. I use a very inexpensive backdrop stand for my rolls.
  • Lights: I use continuous lighting, a studio kit made by Savage Universal. Whether you use strobes or continuous lighting, you will need some light source. You can bounce an on-camera flash behind you, or using white posterboard as well. Be sure to bring a power strip, because you never know where the nearest outlet may be!
  • Small Rug: I have a very inexpensive white shaggy rug that I use to lay on the ground, since some dogs do not like the paper. Many rescue photographers have material that looks like a hardwood floor that they use as well.

 


My main shooting location is in the laundry room of the shelter.
First time assistants are surprised that the photos they see online were taken in this unconventional space!

 
The ideal setup for photographing dogs at a shelter is to have two assistants. These are almost always volunteers at the shelter. They have an understanding of the animals, and have built up personal relationships with them. One of the assistants will hold the leash and help position the animal. You will be able to edit the leash out when you’re making other edits to the photo later on. The second assistant should stand behind you, and get their attention over your shoulder. There are a few ways to get the dog’s attention, so that they will look at the camera:

  • Food: If you hold a treat, or shake or crinkle a bag of treats, a dog who is food motivated should look in the direction of the treat. Be sure to check if the dog has any food allergies before giving them the treat – some dogs you may meet experience grain allergies, and would get an upset stomach from a biscuit type treat.
  • Toys: If you squeak a toy and the dog is play motivated, you will be able to get them to look in the direction of the noise. Make sure they do not oversqueak the toy, and this can make it quickly lose its effect on the dog and can sometimes scare more timid subjects.
  • Attention: Some dogs, like my dog at home, just want praise and attention from their human friends. Just talking to some dogs will help get them to look in the right direction.

If you are photographing cats, they are often in free-roaming rooms. You can set up an area with a backdrop indoors, or you can follow them around for more candid photos. It is still helpful to have a volunteer standing behind you, to help draw their attention with a toy.
 


Captured with OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8 | 1/200sec | F5.6 | ISO200

 
SETTING UP YOUR SHOT

Think: Focus, focus, focus. Especially when working with dogs, but with cats as well, their noses and eyes are further apart than it would be for a person. You will always want to make their eyes the focus point, and not their nose. If you are shooting with a small aperture and a prime lens, this is vital. It’s always disappointing when you get a shot of a happy animal, but their eyes are blurred and their wet nose is in focus instead. 



With rescue portraits, good photographic composition is great. But it’s more important to create a photo where the dog is making an emotional connection with you and the camera.
 
WORKING WITH YOUR SUBJECT

My first step when photographing an animal for the first time is to let them get near my camera. They may smell it, because it is new and unfamiliar to them. Making them comfortable with the camera will help make this a more positive experience for them, since they will already be stressed from being in the shelter since it a new place, filled with many other animals.



There are many tricks of the trade I’ve picked up along the way – and some tricks that I’ve figured out with the help of my OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • Get on their level. Meet them and position yourself to photograph down where they are. This helps build trust with the animal you’re working with.
  • Give them a break. If they’re getting anxious or shutting down, or are too excted, have the volunteer walk them away and bring them back. Having a moment of playtime can also help them work off some excess energy and let them focus more on the task at hand.
  • Pro Capture Mode is your new best friend. If you have Pro Capture on your camera – use it! If you’re working with dogs, they are in their kennels most of the day. So when they come out, they don’t want to sit still and pose for a photo. They want to play and burn off some energy. So using a combinating of focus tracking and Pro Capture Mode will make sure that you never miss the moment you want.
  • Try out Silent Shutter Mode. If you are working with a dog that is scared, or is uneasy around new people, having a strange metal camera in their face will be intimidating. If they hear the “click, click, click” of your shutter, that will make it even more indimiating for them. By turning on a silent shutter, you’ll be able to photograph them without adding that extra stress.
  • Use your articulating LCD screen. This will let you get at different angles physically, but still be able to see if you’re getting the shot you want. And by using your LCD to pick a focus point and take your photo, your face won’t be disappearing behind the camera and breaking the connection you’re building with your subject.

 


Captured with OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2

 

THINK SEASONALLY

Since social is the lifeblood of adoption, one way to help get your photos noticed is to use seasonal theming.

For example, using red backdrops around Christmas can create a seasonal effect. I’ll use some inexpensive bags and boxes as decoration. Try pink for Valentine’s Day, green around St. Patrick’s Day, and black for New Year’s Eve. You can use overlays and text on your image to help as well.

 


Left Image: OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2 | 1/160sec | F1.6 | ISO200 ; Right image: OM-D E-M1 Mark II | M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2

 
HOW TO GET STARTED

So – you want to help! But how do you go about starting to donate your time for rescue portraits?

Just reach out – I find that email or a Facebook message can be the easiest way, or you can stop by on adoption days to speak to someone in person. Just a few short years ago, I did not own a camera and had never imagined spending my weekends working with shelter animals. It can be hard. You will see sad stories and meet many sweet boys and girls you’ll wish you could bring home with you. But when you look back on all of the lives you’ve affected – it’s all worth it!
 


These are some of the shelter animals I photographed in 2017!

 

ABOUT AMANDA STROZESKI

Amanda is a professional animal rescue photographer, Featured Photographer for Savage Universal, and a member of HeARTs Speak, a non-profit for rescue related artists. She moderates the Olympus User Photo Gallery and recently spoke on rescue photography at Imaging USA 2018. Amanda also also a social influencer for a variety of well known brands and runs the popular pet Instagram account @itsmisterbarclay.