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Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by baabaamilker, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. baabaamilker

    baabaamilker TPF Noob!

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    Hi I'm new to the forum. I've been attempting to take pictures for many years now. My favorite things to take pictures of are my children and my animals. I have a Canon Rebel 10 MP that I bought at the beginning of the year. It was my dream camera, and my dream finally came true. I'm looking into starting a small business breeding Cocker Spaniels. One thing I've noticed about others who are selling puppies is that if they take good photos it's the first selling point.

    I still use mostly automatic settings on my camera, because, lets face it children and animals don't stay still long. I haven't invested in a photo editor as of yet. I've been reading up on the different types from the library, but haven't made a choice yet. Could someone recommend one for a beginner?

    Also, any advice that can be given about the photography of pets, particularly dogs would be very helpful. Is it difficult to learn how to photograph children and animals using the manual settings? Or is this just something I need to experiment with? Here's a couple of photos that I've taken recently.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Nice pix! I particularly like the first. Welcome to TPF
     
  3. baabaamilker

    baabaamilker TPF Noob!

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    Here's a couple more of one of our Cocker Spaniel puppies.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome! Let's see: Photo-editors. That really depends on your budget. The industry standard of course is Adobe Photoshop (Current ver CS3) which will do far more than you will ever need and weighs in at $750+. More reasonably priced are the two primary consumer applications, Adobe Photoshop Elements (Current ver 6) and PaintShop Pro (Current ver X2/12). Both of these are very good, and will likely do everything you will need for a very long time and are priced in the $75 - $125 range. I recommend PaintShop Pro because I believe that it's a little more user-friendly and full-featured than Photoshop Elements, but I suggest you download trial versions of each and experiment. If you are especially budget constrained there's The Gimp (www.gimp.org) a very-full featured freeware editor, but it has a fairly steep learning curve.

    You're right, a good picture is worth a thousand words (or if you're selling purebred puppies, a thousand dollars). Really, photographing people and animals is very similar. Things to keep in mind are: Always, always, ALWAYS make sure the eyes are tack sharp. Pick an apprpriate setting with as few visual distractions as possible. You almost always want the animal looking toward the camera; not always right into the lens, but toward you. Have a helper to whom the animal will respond behind you attracting the dogs attention. Try and have the animal looking/moving into the frame rather than out. Generally, use a large apeture to minimize DoF and keep the dog as the main subject. If the animal isn't cooperating, leave it and come back later.

    While you've not asked, I'll comment on your photos as a supplementary illustration to the points I've raised above.

    1. A nice composition, the exposure is good, although the skin tones of the older girl are slightly warm (too red). This is a case where having them look toward the camera would have improved the picture; avoid the sun to your back which will make the subjects squint. Lastly, background. Even though you've made good use of selective focus to isolate the subject, the background is still focused enough to be a distraction.

    2. Cute; good exposure image left, but a deep shadow area on the goat's chest. A small fill light or reflector should have been used to provide additional illumination. Always avoid, if you can, parts of elements in the image, in this case the disembodied arm.

    3. Nice, but image right side of the dog's face is soft. Good exposure/lighting.

    4. Again soft in the face, and his right ear is cropped as well as his butt. Always avoid cropping off little bits of things. It's fine to crop a leg or arm if you need to, but do it in the middle, never at a joint (looks like an amputation).

    Lastly, applicable to all your images, they need to be leveled. Always ensure your camera is level when you take the picture; if it's not, this can be corrected in post with a good image-editor, but it's always better to get it right in the camera.

    Hope this helps.

    Just my $00.02 worth - your milage may vary.

    ~John
     
  5. baabaamilker

    baabaamilker TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all of the information, it was very helpful. I'll log it away with other advice I've been given. Here are some other things I've been told. Place the animal up on a table, make sure you are on the same level as the animal, take pictures of them in the evening using the natural soft light.

    I think that's about all.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That's an excellent point. With respect to the time of day, both early morning and evening work well, I prefer early morning, but a lot will depend on the geography in your area and the way the light falls at a given time.
     
  7. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to ThePhotoForum, baabaamilker (is that in reference to the goat without ears we see in one photo or do you also have sheep?).
    Once tirediron has said what there is to say about photos, there's little left for any of us to add, for he usually rounds it all up perfectly.
    The "focus-on-the-EYES-thing" is very, very important in animal photography, but also the "get-down-to-their-height"-advice! You may either plop flat onto your belly and photograph from there, or - in case of puppies, maybe - lift them onto a table, yes. Good idea. Then they can't move as freely as they maybe would on the lawn.
    Soft evening light is good, too! Always :D.
     

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