Animal photos are challenging because it's very difficult to get your subjects to do what you'd like them to do. A trained dog is more likely to sit or stay than your average Mountain Lion, but even Fido doesn't follow directions as well as an average human. By following just a few helpful tips, you can take animal photographs that say a lot more about your pictures than, "Gee, he must have moved just as I shot"
Say Cheese Please
For your information, most animals, whether they are pets or barnyard Horses, don't like cameras. Perhaps it's something to do with the size or the shape of the camera that frightens many animals. Add in the loud click of a shutter and the bright light of a flash, and you can seriously spook some animals. The end result is a blurry, out-of-focus shot.
Many household pets can be trained to get used to cameras. Let your pet sniff or smell the camera when you're not using it, and give them special treats every time you take their picture.
If you're taking photos of wild or barnyard animals, you can't really get them used to your camera. Because most animals are scared of motion and noise, move very slowly and carefully in order to get the best pictures without spooking them.
Know their personalities
Most pets have certain rituals, and the same is true for wildlife. They are sleepy part of the time, foraging for food at other times, and playing or fighting the rest of the time. If you know the moods of the animal, you'll be able to tell if they're about to do something playful, funny, or interesting.
Get information on their personalities
A good animal picture is not that different from a good person picture. You need to capture their personality in the picture or you'll just end up with a boring snapshot. If your cat likes to play, try to photograph it running around. If your dog has a sad face, try to take a close-up shot of his expression. If you're trying to photograph a lion at the zoo, aim for the big moment when she's doing something straight out of The Lion King instead of when she's taking a nap.
Another trick for good animal photos is getting close to the subject. Try to get as close as your camera will focus and see if your pet looks interesting from that angle. Often the textures of a pet’s fur or the detailed information in the wings of a parrot are very interesting subjects. (And no, we're not saying you should get close to a lion, but you could use zoom or a telephoto lens to make your picture appear closer.) Look at the detail and colors that make up your pet's fur, hair, feathers, or scales and see if those would be interesting to focus on. Or take photos that focus on their eyes, ears, paws, or snouts.
Clear out the clutter
Like a lot of pictures, shots of animals sometimes have really distracting backgrounds. A problem that's particular to animal photography is that animals are generally much shorter than people. As a result, a lot of photos are taken from above the animal, which isn't the best angle. If possible, try to get on the same level as the subject, by crouching or sitting down, to get a good photograph.
Freeze your subject
If you're taking a picture of an animal when it's moving quickly, it's good to use your camera's flash. Even if it's a bright day out, if the animal is moving quickly (and it's not something dangerous like our friend the lion), turning on your flash will help freeze the animal in motion. Take a Frisbee catching dog to the park and the little boost from your flash will help keep photos of Rover sharp, right down to his fur. It might be a little harder to get good pictures of animals, but using this information will get you some of the best animal photos of your furry, feathered, scaly, or curly-haired friends.
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