This blog post was written by Susan Gibbs of Juniper Moon Farm and originally
appeared on her blog. She has kindly given us permission to
re-post it here, and we hope it will inspire our readers to get out
there and take some photos for the Farm Stay U.S. 2011 photo
Let me start me start with a disclaimer: as a photographer, I
make a very good shepherd. I have almost no training whatsoever in
photography and everything you're about to read is based on nothing
more than years of trial and error and figuring out what works for
my own pictures.
I do, however, get asked all the time how I get the shots of my
flock that I post on the blog. I'm happy to share my secrets, if
you can call them that. BTW, all of the photos in this post are
unedited because I want to show you what you can do no matter what
kind of camera or software you have.
1. Take more pictures. Lots more. The more you shoot, the
greater the odds are that you'll get one good one. It isn't unusual
at all for me to take 300 or 400 shots in an afternoon and, if I'm
lucky, I'll have three or four photos I consider worth posting on
the blog. If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, your odds will
be a bit longer because most point-and-shoots don't work as quickly
as animals move. It was the frustration with that lag time that led
me to buy my first digital SLR and I would never consider shooting
animals with anything else.
2. Get down on your subjects level. This is the easiest way to
improve your photos of animals and probably children. I see so many
pictures of lambs on other peoples blog that are clearly taken
standing above the animal, and, cute though the lamb may be, the
pictures just aren't very compelling.
This isn't always easy to do. Some times I have to lay flat on
the ground in the barnyard or on the floor of the barn to get good
shots. Sometimes I pick the animal up and bring him/her up to my
level. It definitely helps to wear clothes that you don't mind
getting dirty in.
Here are a couple of examples of what I'm talking about:
shot from above
shot from the goats' eye level
chicks from above
In both of the first pictures you can tell that the animals are
cute but the in the second pictures you can
really see them.
3. Get closer. Then get closer still. You really want to fill up
the frame with the subject.
See the difference? And while we're on the subject, unless
you're shooting man-eating tigers, zoom with your feet, not your
close, but not close enough
4. It's all about the eyes. Okay so now you're on the animals
level and your really, really close. Start shooting and look for
moments when the animal is looking at you full on, where both eyes
are on you.
This is an okay shot but…
this one is orders of magnitude better.
There is no way to get these kind of shots without taking many,
many, many pictures. Here's another example:
Very close. I probably would have gone with this pic had I not
gotten a better one.
This. This is exactly what I wanted this picture to do. You can
really see this lamb's personality in this photo.
One more example:
Of course, not every picture has to have the animal looking
directly into the camera, but if he's not, then it should be
deliberately so, as in this pic:
If you have never read a farm blog, now is the time to start.
There are a legion of bloggers who write about their lives in often
hilariously funny or wise or insightful or heart-warming (or all of
these together) prose.
I am sure there have always been farm diaries written late at
night when the chores are done and the kids are in bed, even when
the only light was from an oil lamp and not the computer screen. I
am also sure we write our stories as a way to exhale from the day's
unexpected events, because life on a farm has more than its share
of unexpected events.
Photos are the side benefit of many of the stories. We have
become photo-journalists in our own right. I almost hate to go out
to the barn without a camera in my pocket.
So, here are a few of the farm blogs I have found entertaining.
They are great for reading alone or aloud. Great for a laugh or a
cry. Great to know we are not alone in the vagaries of farm
life! (Disclaimer: I have included my own farm blog in this
list. I hope to look back on it in 20 years for a good laugh and a
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