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Saturday, April 1, 2006

Photo Guarantees


Use these tips to get immediate results for better, more interesting landscape, close-up and wildlife photographs


Some photographers resist tripods because using one takes away the compositional freedom of the handheld camera. But there's a simple solution for that: Compose handheld, then use the tripod to hold the camera in the desired spot. The tripod locks in your composition so you can study it carefully, and it ensures that you don't accidentally change the composition as you squeeze off the shot. You'll have fewer mis-cropped images if you use a tripod when you shoot.

Tripod Tips

1 For added steadiness, especially important at shutter speeds in the 1/2 to 1/30 sec. range, trip the shutter with a cable release, or the camera's two-second self-timer setting. Use the camera's mirror lockup, if it has this feature.

2 Extend the legs to set the camera height, then fine-tune the height using the center column (three legs are more stable than one column).

3 On windy days, hang your camera bag from the centerpost to weight the tripod for added stability.
Some photographers resist tripods because using one takes away the compositional freedom of the handheld camera. But there's a simple solution for that: Compose handheld, then use the tripod to hold the camera in the desired spot. The tripod locks in your composition so you can study it carefully, and it ensures that you don't accidentally change the composition as you squeeze off the shot. You'll have fewer mis-cropped images if you use a tripod when you shoot.


2. Focus On The Eyes For More Intimate Wildlife Photos

There's a place for wildlife photos that emphasize teeth, antlers, fur and feathers, but you'll get the most intimate animal portraits when focus is on the eyes. Here's how:

  • If the subject has a long snout or bill, try to frame its head at an angle instead of straight on to minimize depth-of-field requirements.
  • When you must shoot straight on, stop down the lens to increase depth of field. Wide-open, selective-focus portraits, where only the eyes are sharp, can be effective, but the average viewer is more comfortable with images where most of the face is sharp.
  • Focus manually for eye shots because AF systems most likely focus on the nose or beak instead of the eyes, that being closer to the camera. You can use single-point AF and select a point that falls over an eye, but that takes time, and wild critters seldom hold a pose while you fumble with the camera.
  • Avoid "bull's-eye" compositions, where the eyes of the animal are always dead center in the image.
  • Like portraits of people, animal headshots work best when done from near the subject's eye level.
Consider these points when photographing:
  • Shooting from human eye level gives photos a "snapshot" look. Novices almost always shoot from there.
  • Shooting down on a smaller subject lessens its importance. You're literally "looking down" on it.
  • Shooting up at a subject gives it an imposing appearance, which can be effective with imposing subjects, but you tend to lose eye contact.
  • Shooting from the subject's eye level provides that "looking 'em straight in the eye" impact.
You can get tight shots of animals by using a long lens or by moving closer. With wild animals, we usually use a long lens—moving closer is often impossible and sometimes dangerous.


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