'Never work with animals or children.'
It's true and I would add insects to that list too!
But sometimes you have to.
So here are my tips on taking pictures of animals that look good.
Don't expect things to happen quickly, you can't rush animals they're in charge.
Plan in advance:
Once everything's set up, travel light.
Walk around slowly, stand still and observe the animals.
When you see something you want to photograph be ready to press the shutter, take several shots rapid fire, to ensure that you get one where the animal is in the perfect position. They just don't get, 'stand still and smile'.
So here goes, these are my favourite shots from this shoot.
Look for good groups to photograph
Zoom in for a really tight crop.
Look for patterns, odd numbers work best.
Look for great light and go for the emotional pull.
Put images in context.
Try and catch moments like this where there is a dialogue,
'Hold my hand, we can cross the road together'
And you don't always have to focus on the face
to take a great shot.
Do you get frustrated by images that load slowly on websites? I do. So I decided to do some research. I ploughed my way through Google Analytics and discovered that I should speed up file loading on my site by 17% *Grumpy expression* so I set about working out how to create the optimum size of image without breaking out into a sweat.
Not so straightforward it seems.
There's lots of research and new developments, new types of files and all sorts.
So I thought, before my head explodes with all this stuff I would reduce it down to the simplest way I could understand and use it sensibly.
And here it is:
It may not be EVERYTHING you could do.
It may not be PERFECT.
But it works.
And as I load m:ostly photographs I am saving images as jpegs
Jpegs are best for photographs
Gifs for moving images
PNG for graphics
Step-by-step instructions to resize and save your jpeg:
Open your file in Photoshop (I'm assuming that you have already adjusted for contrast, levels etc. then:
select Image > image size
The dialogue box shows the current size of this image the resolution and length in pixels. This is a large file around 10mg we need to get this down to 300-600k without losing quality! That's 3% of the original file size. Hmmm.
Reduce the resolution to 72 pixels/inch
The longest side to around 700-800 pixels
The image drops down to this size. Don't panic.
View the image as actual pixels and it's nearly the same size as the original and still looks pretty good - see like this...
view > actual pixels
Now save the file like this:
File > save to web and devices
You will see a dialogue box like this:
The left hand image is the original.
Tick the box called progressive which saves the image so it will load smoothly.
Save at about quality 40 (you can adjust this to gauge what difference it makes to your file size and quality) The aim is to retain as much crispness at the smallest file size around 300-500k. This image is now around 300k and still looks good for the web.
Add your watermark, copyright signal check out how to do this here
Adding text will add layers so flatten the image before you save again. But this time don't reduce the quality of the image when you save.
Save with a new file name.
Here is your final image. Once you get used to doing this it takes just a minute or two.
What is negative space?
Here are some examples....
A black and white photo shows negative and positive space (the subject) clearly.
There is negative space between them and around them. I placed them at the bottom right to create tension. Can you read a dialogue here?
The paving in this image is negative space.
The lines fall diagonally which, together with the shadow, and placing of the subjects creates balance and movement.
The image below is the same subject but not as good composition, can you see why?
The couple's shadow falls outside the frame of the shot.
The tension is lost, it seems unfinished, messy.
The vast expanse of paving criss-crossing over the canvas (negative space) draws your eye towards the skateboarder.
Draw a 3 x 3 grid over this image, the skateboarders chest is bisected by two of the lines.
This is the rule of thirds. Key parts of an overall image look best at the intersections of these lines.
Introducing another person changes the dynamic. What story is this now telling?
How does negative space work with colour images?
This photograph shows the flowering habit of this plant. Each flower is distinct from the other, created by negative space helped by using a blank background. This would be more difficult to achieve in a garden setting. But there are ways around this.
This image was published in The Garden (RHS).
The grass becomes the negative space here.
This photograph featured in The Simple Things.
This is the most technically tricky shot of the bunch. Negative space is created by setting a wide aperture rendering most of the foliage out of focus. Except the rose and also the leaf, which becomes part of the narrative of the image.
This photo appeared in Gardens Illustrated.
Whatever the reason it's good to go with a plan
To tell a story
Here are my tips for telling a story
This time last year I decided to visit The London Plant & Design Fair,
it's the first show in the RHS calander.
It isn't widely publicised and I'm not sure why.
Think of the timing, February, yuck.
The end of a long, cold Winter.
This is what greeted me.
The venue is amazing it has a high arched roof and is filled with soft light and the occasional shaft of sunlight.
The stands were filled with colour and lifted my spirits.
What follows is an edited selection of the shots I took that day (and why) to show you how I wanted to tell this story through my lens.
Get the wow factor straight off the bat with your opening shot. I took this portrait and landscape.
Portrait wins hands down, it shows off the venue, which for one of these shows is unusually interesting.
Pick out exhibitor stands to showcase
I photographed several but this one shows how you can make more of a story out of them by shooting over the top and seeing visitors in the background.
Which brings me to another important point,
They always bring these stories to life.
(only photograph children with the written permission of their parents though.)
Once you've captured plenty of wide shots, pick some beautiful, and unusual plants and take
Maybe pick a theme, such as new plants.
Look for more than just a shot sometimes, look for the narrative.
Illustrate the other events going such as lectures or practical demonstrations.
It's not just about plants, show the other products people can buy.
And, the people who make the show happen;
so passionate, so knowledgeable and so hard working!
...and the new kids on the block...
Work fast and pay attention
all the time to what's going on around you.
The light caught these Iris reticulata and made the shot.
So now you know about a rarely publicised RHS show.
This year it's called The London Plant and Potato Fair 20–21 February 2015
Not the sexiest name, but there will be colour, lots of it, oh and potatoes.
So if you have time, pop along and support the exhibitors.
And the next time you pick up your camera make a plan, you'll love the results.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.