Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to Get Great Photos of Your Ducks & Dogs

I get several questions from people asking what type of camera I use to take pictures.
  Having a good camera helps for taking good pictures, but a super expensive professional camera isn't necessary, I see lots of people that take amazing pictures with their cell phone cameras.   I use a Sony NEX 5R, it's a good camera but definitely not the most expensive camera out there (my camera is a few years old, so it is probably even less expensive now to buy).  There are lots of  factors that play into getting great pictures of your Ducks and Dogs. 

Disclosure:  I am not a professional photographer.  I have attended a couple trainings on taking pictures of shelter dogs, but have had no official photography training.  I continue to learn on my own as I go.

Lighting:  Unless you have special lighting set up inside, it can be difficult to get great pictures indoors, this is why most of my pictures are taken outside.  You just can't beat the natural lighting outside.  When I do take pictures indoors, I try to take pictures near a big window that lets in lots of natural light.

Background:  Another reason that outdoor pictures are so great, you end up with beautiful backgrounds.  Nice, uncluttered backgrounds work well and nature is gorgeous.  

Zoom:  Make sure to have a camera with a zoom.  I doesn't have to be an extreme zoom, but it helps to be able to be a little distance from the animals so they aren't distracted by you taking the picture.  I know when I get too close to my dogs, they just end up stopping what they are doing to come over and be next to me.   

Get on their level:  Pictures look great when you are at eye level with the duck or dog.  I often find myself sitting or squatting outside to take pictures.  

Wing Shots:  Each Wednesday I do a Wing Wednesday photo on the facebook page.  The secret to getting great wing photos...

Follow all of the above suggestions and know that ducks often stretch their wings after they play in the water.  I make sure and have my camera ready right after I fill up the puddle with water or put fresh water in their pool.  They all get excited and get in the water and then they all get out and stretch their wings, so I end up getting lots of wing pictures.

Dogs:  Follow all of the tips above, plus focus on their eyes, they are the windows to their souls.  I know Tobey doesn't have eyes, but I still focus on where his eyes would be and try to get that area in focus, plus he is just so darn adorable, he doesn't need eyes.  Having their eyes clear, focused and looking directly at the camera, makes you feel a connection to the dog.  If you want action shots, it is good to have a camera with a quick shutter speed and shootting rate (fps). 

Take LOTS of pictures:  I often take hundreds of pictures just to get a handful that I really like.  So make sure and take LOTS of pictures.  If you take lots of pictures, you may end up with some great pictures that you didn't even notice when you were taking them.  In the photo above of the feather floating by Daisy, I didn't notice the feather until I downloaded the photos.

Editing Photos:  I use iPhoto or Preview for basic editing, such as cropping photos or adding text. For more specialized editing I use GIMP.  GIMP is similar to Photoshop, but it is a free program that you can download online.  To learn to use the GIMP program, there are websites online with instructions or you can buy or check out a book at the library.  The photo of Poppy above originally had two other ducks in the photo but I edited them out.

Good luck with your future photos!  Ducks and Dogs are so cute, that no matter what you do, you are bound to get some great photos!

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