Change Your Point of View To Change Your Photographs For Ever.


Change Your Point of View To Change Your Photographs For Ever.

There are few things that will define your photographs, make them unique, than your Point Of View selection. Or POV as it is commonly called.

You see startling examples of POV in movies and TV shows. While rarely over done, they keep your interest.

For example rather than setting the camera at waist height the movie cameraman drops to the ground, angles up from a mouse perspective of a woman entering the door from a darkened alley way. The sense of danger and mystery is now ratcheted up.

What a point of view is is simple to explain. It is the viewpoint the photographer has chosen for the end photo viewer to see the scene or subject.

Getting one that tickles the mind of the viewer is the trickier part.

The vast majority of photographs are taken from a standing viewpoint, 4.5 feet to 5.8 feet up with a standard lens set for an average F-stop, (most stuff is in focus) with an average shutter speed. (most stuff is frozen) Unless the viewer recognizes someone/thing of interest in the image, they just skim over it. No mental tickles.


Compounding that is the subject, if they are people or animals they are usually standing too.  The whole image seems mundane because it is how we see things in our everyday observance.

Changing that a little suddenly makes your image pop, becoming a little more interesting, Change it a lot and the image becomes WOW. Of course the POV must make some sort of sense to your story and subject. Just titling a camera for a crazy angle shot, no other reason, is just annoying.

Your interesting point of view can include more changes than just your camera height. There is a wide range of things you can do.

If you are changing your vantage point, go a little over the top. Get a ladder; lay on your belly. I saw a photo of an ant carrying a leaf. The bottom of the lens was level with the ant’s feet.

Change your depth of field dramatically, go super shallow depth of field.


Change your lens choice. Use a long lens for a close up portrait; pick a background that magnifies the distance compression. I saw the work of a photographer who does beach portraits. She only uses a very wide-angle lens moving in close to her subjects but getting this dramatic sky water and sand effect that feels panoramic. Then she picks the time of day when the sunset works with the blue sky, it is novel.

Change your time of day or your light placement.

Change your processing approach. It does not need to be natural colours. You can push saturation; work with tonal palettes like they do in the movies.

It also does not need to be over the top. You can use subtle changes that feel different.

It comes down to what story you are telling? What can you do that makes that more impactful? That pushes the story line?

Of all the tools you have to make your images great, considering and changing your Point of View will be the most dramatic. In most cases it carries no extra cost, just a little more thought. Once you get in the practice of finding that unique POV it will become your habit, then your style then what you are sought after for.



Camera depth of field VS Photoshop Blurring.


Camera depth of field VS Photoshop Blurring.

Photoshop is masterful at mimicking photographic effects, plus all the add-on actions and filter sets do some impressive things. So much so that some new photographers start to feel if they get the image on the card, they can make any effect in the computer.

We see so much of the Photoshop effects we sometimes see it as the norm. Yet when you see a lens doing its designed for thing, it will take your breath away.

The lens depth of field, most noticeable in the shallow depth of field, has characteristics that imaging programs can’t quite replicate all the time. Using it will make you stand out from the crowd as they say.

To get the full effect of the camera depth of field, set your camera to its lowest F-stop. While a F1.4 and F2.8 are the most striking, F4 and F5.6 will work too, just not as strongly. Set your focus to its minimum focal length. That is the shortest distance the lens can be to an object or subject while still remaining in focus.

Move in on your subject until the critical element is in focus. You should instantly see the effect. You will see the background turn into blurred and blooming elements. The focus rapidly falls away.

It happens more to the background of course but the same effect works in reverse, forward of the subject. Here the effect is stronger the closer you get to the focus point, the more the planes of focus come into focus. The effect is most pronounced in macro lenses and long focal length lenses, which come with the bonus of compressing the background forward.

That is why if photographing a face you need to be careful of nose placement since it can be an inch or more out from the eyes, making it a large distracting element.

You can see the effect of the depth of field control in this image with the boat tie-off rings on a dock I took in Paris.


If there is a broad horizon behind your subject you won’t see too much of a difference. The Photoshop user has to apply one level of blur to the nearby subject then a different blur to the far subjects.

The challenge to the effect is how each device, the lens and the software, see the background. The lens sees it all as a multi-planed element. Every inch is slightly blurrier than the previous. If there are objects between the subject and the far horizon, in irregular distances and shapes, each will be blurred differently. The lens does not see the distance between the focused part of the subject and the far focusable point as one plane.

Which is how Photoshop and all imaging programs, see it. For these programs the surface is just one plane, a flat surface. If you are making a simple subject pop off of a background on one plane, like a wall 10 feet behind the subject, then a pretty seamless result will happen.

When those pesky in-between objects exist it gets challenging. This is especially true if the object has some front to back distance as well. Your mind knows that it cannot be equally in focus front to back, that a gradation of focus needs to exist.

So the image editor has to figure out what the blur amount would be for each object in the distance. Mask it. Blur it.

Lots of objects, lots of work, lots of room for error.

Then you get into the other out-of-focus effects a lens delivers. The natural Brokah effect that reacts to bright out of focus objects turning them into the aperture shape of the lens. The effect varies with the distance away from the focus point, the size of the out of focus bright points combined with brightness and color of the whole scene.


These are challenges for the software because again, it only sees the image as a single plane.

The effect works in reverse. Getting the distance subjects in focus too. You might have noticed the infinity symbol on your lens. This works at keeping everything, from the focus point to infinity, in focus. It works best or most effectively when you are at smaller apertures, which is the larger aperture numbers, like F-16, F-22 and even F-32.

The lens has the advantage because it is working in a dimensional space.

Software works its magic by affecting the contrast around the elements in the image. It tries to give the appearance of being sharp with that manipulation. It does not really sharpen anything. The more out-of-focus the receding planes are in the image, the more challenging it is for the software.

Mastering these physics of your lens will enable you to get your creative intent done in camera. It will stand out from the software creations becoming a more powerful image. Which is always the goal; powerful, storytelling images.

The bonus is, it is way quicker to do it in lens that it is in the software.


Are You Ready For a Nude with Tarantula Photo Shoot?

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Are You Ready For a Nude with Tarantula Photo Shoot?

The model search for a woman to pose nude with a Chilean Rose tarantula was interesting. It was only the 4th client I asked that was thrilled to do it.

Freya is a large 12-year-old Tarantula. She will fill the palm of your hand. Freya is a rescue pet owned by Krista. Desirea is my enthused client turned model; she also brought a friend who joined in for a few shots at the end.

We warmed up the studio for Freya then turned off all of the fans. Moving air makes her wary and uncomfortable. Tarantulas are very fragile, and they know they are. So they are cautious, we had to be too.

My original idea was to create some shadowy black and white studies. Seeing Freya’s pink coloring I did not want to lose that in the BW.

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We only had a two hour window for our session.  So the studio was set up pretty much ready to go before the talent arrived.

I assembled a platform with a black plexi surface for posing on. Black fabric hung about 8 feet from the platform. For light I had a 6 foot Profoto softbox suspended by a boom over the platform. This gave us a soft directional light. I really enjoy the quality of this light. At the other end of the studio a Profoto was set up with a white reflective umbrella to give us a delicate fill light.

Krista took Freya out of her traveling home and she put her on a bright towel so she would be easy to see. Our spider model was content to just rest there. No Diva demands from her!

Desirea arrived just abuzz with excitement. She is one of the leanest, fittest women I have ever photographed; power yoga with clean eating does have its results.

We started with Desirea stretched out on her back. We placed Freya in different places. She made delicate slow movements that slightly tickled our model.


We found the one spot Freya was not happy was on Desirea’s tummy. We think it was her breathing, the gentle rise and fall of her abs, that was unsettling.

I worked with different lenses; one of my favorites for this was the Canon 100 macro lens. The wide-angle lens created some very unusual effects. Raised up in the palm of her hands, so it was close to the lens Freya got really big. In some of the images, the camera angle give a slight illusion that Desirea’s limbs were a bit spidery as the lens elongated her.

When you are working with such delicate pets the model needs to be very calm, move slowly and cautiously. Getting  a woman who is completely comfortable with no apprehension is critical. They also need to be patient since searching for angles, gently nudging our spider model into place takes time.

I love the long lens landscapes of her figure with Freya perched on her bum or legs or shoulder. The light really made each hair on Freya stand out, bringing out her delicate coloring. These images don’t come into their own until they get up to wall size.


Desirea brought along some jewelry, my favorite was a gold chain piece that looked like a web, worn over her shoulders. It seemed really fitting. With the jewelry in place, we moved the light to vertical, up close. Freya took up her perch on the web-covered shoulders.

With spiders, like other pets, you want their heads facing towards the light. As we moved Desirea in different angles to the light, Freya would be nudged into position. Krista would gently nudge her around, speaking softly. With no reluctance, Freya would move to where I needed her.

In the last half hour Desirea’s friend appeared. She was as excited as Desirea. With the light setup on the side, time ticking down, we stayed with the standing poses. She had some very slinky looks for the camera.


I liked the nonchalant way the girls posed with Freya. It gives the image a very natural look. Freya just settled in wherever Krista put her.

Working with spiders is on the fringe of things. While spiders are not popular they have a place in the scheme of things. They are delightful to photograph. The contrast with a landscape of skin makes for very interesting imagery.

These images will become part of our fine art collection. Rare opportunities come along with more frequency than most photographers notice. Take advantage of them. At the very least you will have a conversation piece while exercising your photographic eye.

Then again, you might get something as cool as a pink tarantula on a naked woman.

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How To Take Great Spring Flower Photographs

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How To Take Great Spring Flower Photographs

Springtime flowers are the most vibrant and alive. Fresh from hiding through a cold winter they bring so much color and life back into our world. These vibrant subjects are just outside your door.

I love photographing flowers. Wherever I go, I always take some time to photograph them. Here are some fresh cut ideas on how you can get great flower photographs.

  • Time of Day. Early morning is the best. Not only is the light at its most generous angle; being low and soft it brings up delicate textures with rich colors. Dew and raindrops can often be found, adding uniqueness to your image. The bonus is small insects are moving slow or not all, spending the night on the flower’s petals. Or bees are crawling all over the flower searching for nectar.


  • Macro or close focus lenses are the best. You get in close for the point of view the average person who stops to smell the flowers cannot see. The patterns, the delicate features of the flower can be showcased up close. Along with a close perspective comes a very shallow depth of field. Your messy backgrounds become soft shapes. Fields of flowers, when focusing close on one flower, become a complimentary color palette.Wider-angle lenses are not to be left behind. Photographing a field of blue flowers can be startling. Working with long lenses you can still work that out-of-focus effect using shallow depth of field while getting a wonderful compression effect as you move close to your flowering subject.
  • Especially if you are working up close with a macro lens. Your depth of field is often so shallow that a fraction of a movement places your key focus point out of focus. Tripods also slow you down, give you time to compose; to ponder your design.X0995A-153VF
  • Reflectors and Subtractors. This is the spice that will elevate your image above the masses. The control of light and contrast. Bring along small reflectors, soft white or contrasty silver. I have used crumpled tin foil; it adds sparkle to the flower’s textures.Subtractors may be new to you. It is based on the idea of subtracting light. This increases drama and shape to your subject. I often use black tinfoil but dark cards work too. The world is full of things that reflect the light, including the big blue sky. By bringing a black card in from the side it increases the shadow strength on that side, modeling the light for you.You can even put the card above the flower forcing the light to come in on the flower at a much lower angle.
  • The use of flash is a bit trickier than with usual subjects. It is easy to over do it. To the rescue are special ring flashes designed just for close-up photography. You can even control which side of the ring flash fires.Flashes can add a creative element to your image. You can make the flower go brighter than the background by working with your shutter speeds and aperture. You can do the fun trick of adding a colored filter to the flash, using a white card to set that color to white balance then have the real world colors shift to accommodate. This is spectacular when you incorporate a sunset into your image.
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  • Fake Backgrounds. My friend Vance Hanna taught me this. He would go out and photograph wilderness backgrounds, some out-of-focus, some with soft pastel colors. These would be enlarged and mounted. He would bring these prints with him on his flower shoots. Setting them up behind the flower, far enough behind so the print texture would not give it away, adjusting for the light hitting it, essentially he brought a portable forest with him.
  • Shade and harsh light. If you just focused on soft morning light you will be missing out on some bold options. Open shade or overcast days provide a wonderful soft light, nearly shadowless light on the flower. Working with a large scrim diffuser high noon can transform the harsh light into delicate open light.Harsh light does not need to be avoided. With the right creative camera angles you can create powerful, unique images. Black and white becomes a great choice for this since it is a study in contrast and character.
  • Not Just Flowers. Springtime brings fresh buds. You can consider setting up a time lapse shot to transform a several day coming out event into a few seconds. There are unique plants filled with design, still new and fresh to photograph. Mushrooms and spider webs. Lots can be found around the flower world for photography.X0995E-096FF
  • POV – Point of View. Most people just stand or at best kneel for that flower shot. Get down to the flower, shoot up at it, explore it from different angles, different depths of field; focus on different elements of the flower. Make it interesting.
  • Be careful. Don’t crush flowers and plants around your subject to get your shot, especially in alpine areas. Be respectful of the life around the plants and flowers. When you leave it should be as if you were never there.


This is the perfect time of year to stop and smell the roses, or tulips or blue bells or . . . find a different world as you get up close with Mother Earth’s spring time beauty.
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The Magic Of The Beauty Dish

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The Magic Of The Beauty Dish

Of all the light modifiers one of the most misused or misunderstood is the beauty dish. It frustrates a lot of photographers, yet once they “get it” it becomes a go to tool.

There are photographers that the Beauty Dish creates their signature look. Here is how to get to work for you.

With most light modifiers, soft boxes umbrellas and scrims the sweet light is on the edge. It creates the wonderful soft wrap around light.

Use the edge of the Beauty Dish you get a harsh unflattering light.

Always point the center of the light right at your subject that is the softest light.

Bring it in close; major users like Lindsay Adler like to keep it between 2 and 5 feet. 5 feet being at the extreme, when they need to light the whole body. Further out than that it becomes just another small specular light source with most of its desired design function lost.

Usually bring it up above the face so it shines down. As usual the magic angle is 45 degrees. You can tell by the butterfly shadow below the nose that it is in a perfect spot. The Shadow should not extend into the lips.

It is a bit of a balancing act. You also have to watch the eyebrows don’t cast a shadow over the eye. The model or subject’s head can tilt up slightly into the light for a more dramatic effect.

Of course the light does not have to be directly above, in the sample images you can see both by the catch light and the shadow in red haired Jamie’s image the light is just off center. In Adrienne’s you can see back lights have been added to the mix.

To soften the downward shadows, use a 20 inch or more reflector, most photographers use a 30 inch reflector, to bounce a soft light back up into the face. You will see a striking catch light in the bottom of the iris. Be careful though, you don’t want the reflector light to over power the Beauty Dish light. So a softer white reflector is the preference.

Place the reflector below their face; it will get the spill light from the Beauty Dish. As you work the angle you will see shadows go from soft to magically disappearing. The silver reflector can turn the reflector into the main light, be careful of that.

The Beauty Dish is available in polished silver or flat white. Most beauty photographers go with the matt white, it is softer thus more flattering.

Keep in mind that the beauty dish does create shadows. This tool is usually best with young models or older men. It can be pretty unforgiving for an older woman with lines, which it seems to make pop out.  For older men you get a kind of glamorous character study.

Once you have the dish in place, you can soften the light even more by bringing in two white reflectors from the sides. They work best if they overlap, creating a tent of light.

The images in this blog are the ones created by Lindsey Adler, one of the photographers with a mastery the art of Beauty Dish light. Adrienne is the gorgeous model.

With my first set of studio lights way back when, the Beauty Dish was one of my first lighting tools. It has been a joy to create with it.

When you do it right, the light of the Beauty Dish is amazing. Have fun with it.

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Start With The Light You Can’t Control.


Start With The Light You Can’t Control.

This is Rick Friedman’s mantra. “Start with the light you can not control.” It’s a good one, easy to remember yet so effective. Rick applies this thinking to his location lighting with speed lights.

The light you can’t control is pretty simple to spot. The sky, the light fixtures, a glare; a streetlight.

You look at that light then decide what you want to do with it. This sets the mood, your approach but mostly your other camera settings.

For example, the midday sun. You have a sky with a few clouds that you want to go to a rich blue.

Meter for the sky, set your ISO to its lowest setting, that sky is bright. Then it is just a matter of tweaking the aperture and shutter speed choices to get the sky exposure you want.

Set your aperture, your f-stop to a low setting. f4 is good.

Now adjust your shutter speed to get the sky exposed to your goal. Your flash, set to ETTL will still give you all the light you need.

If sky or light source is to bright at the top of your camera’s flash speed sync, you can still beat it.

Flashes have a setting for hyper sync. Set the flash to this and you can go beyond the flash sync speed. There is a price. The flash power drops. To overcome the speed barrier the flash fires several short bursts. This reduces the effective power.

Still it is a great solution.

It is so wild to see this dramatic result.

Working with a different sky challenge, lets say the sky is plain or the sunset could use a boost. You wrap your flash head with a tungsten gel. Set your camera to tungsten light source. This will give you a nice clean light on your subject. It shifts the color spectrum over to create this. Naturally the sky and scene lit by daylight now become this amazing blue. Very powerful effect.

 If you want to get real funky, cover the flash with a purple gel or some other color. Photograph a white card with the gelled light hating it. Use your manual white balance setting to tell the camera that this is white.

Your camera will oblige but the wonky color adjustment makes the natural light, especially a sunset light, go incredibly wonderful.

This rule will guide you through so many situations. In a room with mixed light, daylight floods in through the large open windows. the rest of the room is light with bright tungsten light. Both you cannot control.

To avoid the mixed light, turn your subject back to the window or to the tungsten lights. Now they are working for you. The split light is now front to back. One color and exposure is backlighting the other, the one you white balance for, is front lighting.

By making the light you cannot control the base of your approach, everything else falls easily into place.

 PS:The image here is taken near high noon, with speed light set to hypersync, shutter speed 1/320, F11 and ISO100

Are you a photographer with Hue Discrimination?

cover- colorblind effectAre you a photographer with Hue Discrimination?

 Are you reading this because you are not sure what it means?  It is very useful information to know about, how good are your eyes for photography.

 The test results won’t stop you from becoming a photographer, even for becoming a great photographer. They will let you “see” your “blind” side though.

 Years ago you could only do these in a doctors office, a specialists office. They were blocks and papers. These new online tests are great for professional photographers to do because we all are fanatic about calibrated monitors.

 Here is the first test to take. It gets your feet wet. It’s called the Ishihara 38 Plates CVD Test. It is the original color blind test by Dr. Shinobu Ishihara. It checks for red-green color blindness.

 Run the test here: 38 Plates test 

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 How did you do?

 The next one is the Color Arrangement Test. This is also called the hue discrimination test. This test page also gives you a rating, if you have challenges, so you know what they are. I will predict that most of you will get flying colors.

 You can take that test here: Color Arrangement Test

2- color arrangement

 Now your warm ups are done, ready for the big one? This is the Farnsworth-Munsel 100 Hue Color Blindness test. There are 88 plates of hues arranged in 4 batches of 22 differently colored plates. It is fairly thorough yet takes little time to do.

 You will see references to colorblindness. That is what doctors use these tools for. For photographers it holds a whole different use, you might discover there are shades you are weak at seeing. You likely won’t fall into a colorblind category because of this, but you will get a better idea of you tonal hue range.

 You can take that test here: 100 Hue color vision test 

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  So now you have a sense of your color ability, here is a game. The process is fascinating and challenging. It is part of an online program to of tools, games and articles to help with design. It gets pretty tricky when you have to match Triadic and Triadic colors.

 You can access this skill game here:  Color matching game.

4- color match game

 For the last useful tool, a very practical one, how does partially and fully colorblind people see the world of art? An alarming number of people can’t see the full color spectrum. Your wonderfully color themed image can be totally lost on them.

 For example I had a client that brought in a colorful body suit. Each hue was the same density and brightness as the others, very clever designer. To her friend who was color blind, it was all one sold shade of grey. For these people you need to design your image color palette to their appreciation level.

 To get some insight on how they see the world, go here: The Color Deficiency page. 

5- colorblind effect

 It may surprise you, especially when you see what happens to the colorful hot air balloons.

 I hope you had no problem with the Hue Discrimination tests. When you next enjoy a stunning, color diverse and vibrant photograph, remember, not everyone sees it the same. Enjoy that you can.

Pushing Two Extremes.

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Pushing Two Extremes.

 I was going to call this  “If You Step Off the Cliff – – – Will You Fly?

 Both work for my insights today. Besides creating images for some amazing clients, I enjoy pushing my skill levels. This time my two extremes came along at the same time. Both are self-projects; I am the client.

 That is what a good self project or shoot does to you. It’s not just shooting someone or something that is not paying you, although those can be fun too, it’s about doing it for a purpose.

 It’s about following a whim, challenging your self, daring your self out of your comfort zone. Being bold enough that you might just fail. I have to tell you, I fail a lot.


 For me, fail that is not quite the right word, or even point of view. You are learning, pushing and developing your skills. So, like when you started riding a bike, you might fall down a lot. Eventually you get it right. Then you might have moved on to doing advanced bike tricks.


We just did a full on Body Paint Jam. We have been doing Jams for a bit now, bring in some of my clients as models, pair them with talented body painters then photograph the results. It’s been a blast.

 But for this Jam we wanted to challenge the artists and ourselves. In addition, I wanted more practice at gathering a quality team then guiding them. Melding their art together while guiding them to a purpose.

 Like a whirlwind it came together; 6 painters with 6 client models, hairdresser and a movie team. I added an element of real flowers for the artists to blend into their art. That brought in a Florist.  The bodies totaled 18 people in my studio. Plus we had to have room for the movie gear- cranes, multiple tripods, sliders all working around my sets and lights while the creative created.


 I emptied my studio of props as well as unneeded gear. So glad it didn’t rain or snow!

 That project was guiding and creating in mayhem while collaborating with diverse creative. It was incredible, such energy. No drama, no ego; just a lot of creative collaboration. WOW, so happy it turned out that way.

 On the other hand, I am working on earning my Jewelry Accreditation. This is the other extreme.

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 Working quietly alone, for the most part. It’s tiny, close up, finicky work that demands unusual lighting control with in tight lens work. No interaction or feedback until the judges, well, pass judgment. The next collection of images for the Jewelry accreditation goes out in a few weeks.

 Neither of these projects reflects a new business direction. I don’t see a switch into commercial jewelry shoots or the running of events. These were taken on to grow as a photographer. The skills learned will work their way into the fabric of the art I create for clients.  Some unexpected doors have already opened.


 Both are exciting in different ways, both are challenging and rewarding. When you take on these self-created projects they break up your routine, your interactions. New connections are made, you get different perspectives; you grow. I love that.

 For me, it’s exhilarating to step off the cliff, to see if I can fly this time.


 Next up is to revisit photography nudes with fire and underwater work.

 Try your wings out some time. You will enjoy the surprises.


15 Insights To Photographing Felines


15 Insights To Photographing Felines

Photographing felines is not like photographing kids or dogs. Judging by the volume of Facebook and YouTube posts, they are popular, though! A lot of those pictures are pretty impressive; I will show you some approaches to getting that level of images.

A friend watching me photograph one of the kitties observed it was like the military slogan, “Hurry up to wait; then chaos ensues!”


There will always be, like any subject, moments of pure luck like my photo of Tenero on the Tuscan stairs. Tenero sat on that step as I photographed our model Consuelo. If your cat does something during the day and your camera happened to be in your hand or close by you will get an amazing shot. As a professional, we need to be ready, set things up, then have a plan.

These approaches are the ones I used in getting the images that earned the PPOC Feline Accreditation award.


Here are the insights and tips that will help you get great images every time out.

1) Get ready in advance. Set up your lights and environment before you bring your cat into it

2) If it’s a new place for them, like your studio, allow time for them to explore, to feel safe, there.

3) Have all your “distractions” handy: Treats, toys, laser pointers, balls of string and props. Have lots of creative props. Don’t forget the water dish.

4) Pick backgrounds that compliment them; that they won’t disappear in. Keep them simple, not distracting. All black or a high key seamless like Tasha our tiger cub makes them both pop while being timeless

5) Either get down to their level or bring them up to yours. We did that with our lion’s head shot.

6) Extreme camera angles, like shooting straight down from above with Lucy creates an unusual, unexpected point of view.

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7) Have patience, like the cat giving the camera a yawn.

8 )Use a shallow depth of field. This isolates your cat’s expression.

9) Have someone to help you; getting your feline’s attention can be a challenge by your self.

10) Set up an entire theme set. We did that with Beans in the hayloft.

11) Doing subtle things like a mirror floor or contrasting colored toy, like the kitten with the ball of string creates some interaction, a story, with in the image.

12) Use a long lens, this helps with your depth of field but it gives you some distance from your cat. Makes them less nervous.


13) Give them lots of breaks, being photographed can be annoying for cats.

14) Most cats will do nearly anything for favorite treats. Hide the ones you are not using, only give out small morsels at a time.

15) Give your self some space, both in the set and in your camera cropping. It will make your postproduction composition much easier.

The biggest thing is to have fun, play with them, after all that is the whole point of photographing pets. You should see the joy in the subjects. Be ready for a few challenges and some surprises along with the rush of getting amazing images.Lucy

Tripods Still Save The Day.


Tripods Still Save The Day.

 Between high ISO settings and stabilization lenses is a tripod needed any more? Photographers today like to be fluid, traveling light; rapidly changing positions to get the “Shot”.

 There is merit to those comments. It is interesting though when you look at the high-end pros, the real quality craftsmen, they often quietly put their camera on a tripod.

 It is rarely a cheap one; quality counts here too.

 For pros, the tripod is a two-part purchase. The legs and the head, of which there is a baffling number of options.

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 When does a tripod come into play?

 1) Well, low light is always obvious. Usually the most dramatic scenic shots are early morning or late in the day. I know you can just pop up the ISO but it comes with a price. There is noise. The bigger the image is going to be, the more the noise  becomes visible. Saying it’s an artsy approach to your style does not cover the issue.

            2) You do have to remember to turn off those stabilizers though; they will create vibration as they struggle against the solid stance of the tripod.

 3) The longer the lens, the heavier the camera, or in some cases the camera can be too light to hold steady. Along with age creating less steady hands this creates the need for the tripod.

 4) Doing multiple exposures where, say, you plan to pose one person 5 times in an image or capture live fireworks.  There is also the panoramic image where a collection of shots are stitched together.  A tripod will save you a bundle of time in Photoshop.

 5) Tripods are great to just mark out your territory. A good tripod goes down and people respect the area around it. They do make a statement.

 When I started out I was looking for anything with three legs and a head. They were usually cheap, heavy, cumbersome and poorly designed, but I did not know the difference.

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 Here are some insights for you.

 1) Buy the tripod and the head separately; you might even need two or more heads to match your gear.

 2) For the tripod, stay away from the flip locks. They will fail. To get it tight enough to always lock they get very stiff. Clothing or camera straps easily snag them then accidents happen. Go for the twist style.

 3) Telescoping legs give you the height while keeping the tripod compact. In most cases you want a tripod that goes to your height.

 4) Check the feet, you should have both spikes for outside with pads for inside use.

 5) The screw pin on the top should be the thicker screw. It is more stable, screws better and fits the pro heads.


 6) Consider the weight. Generally the lighter you go, the more the cost. Carbon fiber and even lighter materials cost more. Twenty miles into the bush, they are a bargain. The savings in airline travel weight could pay their own way.

 7) Get a brand name. Look at reviews.

 8) For the head, consider your use. Video? Big heavy lenses, larger heavier camera?

 9) Most are rated by weight. Saving a $100 on the purchase price then having it collapse after a few uses is no savings. Becoming un-lockable because of the weight could cost you a shot.

 Tripod head makers will tell you the weight ratting. There are ball heads, which are popular now. Pan heads are great for video.

 The ball heads are not all equal. For example the high quality Right Stuff heads are well machined, release their grip slowly and constantly. Cheaper heads will stick. They will slowly give out over time too.

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 There are lots of accessories to consider for your tripod too. Tether tools, iPad leg holders; quick flips like Right Stuff’s L bracket lets you change your camera from vertical to horizontal while keeping the center point the same.

 I believe good photographers will have at least one tripod in their closet. In a long career you will keep turning to one for a great shot.

 The Tripod has not been as sexy to upgrade as that flashy camera yet there is a whole industry that has quietly been refining this mainstay tool. Get one; you will wonder how you got by without it.

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