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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Children and pets

Admittedly children and pets are the most challenging subjects to photograph but they are also the most fulfilling once captured. 
So here are some tips for you folks that want to take great pictures of your kids and pets this holiday season.
I would love to hear from you on how you made these tips work for you so don't be shy and leave me some comments.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Be patient
Don't expect to get the perfect shot immediately. Sit back and wait for the right moment, then shoot quickly.

Shoot at eye level
Eye-to-eye contact is as engaging in a picture as in real life. So try sitting on the ground and snapping some photos from the child's perspective. Expressions will look more natural, your flash photos will be more evenly lit from nose to toe, and the background will probably look a lot better, too. This also works great for pets!

Take candid pictures
Ignore the impulse to force your subjects to always pose staring at the camera. Variety is important. Take candid pictures to show them working, playing, leaning against a banister chatting, or relaxing.

Include friends
Don't forget to include your kids' friends in some of your pictures. In years to come, these pictures will remind them of happy times and the bonds that were so strong. "Look! That was right after Carrie tried to cut her own hair!" "Whatever happened to Sara?" "I wonder what we were giggling about."

Get close
Fill the camera's viewfinder or LCD display with your subject to create pictures with greater impact. Step in close or use your camera's zoom to emphasize what is important and exclude the rest. Check the manual for your camera's closest focusing distance.

Lock the focus
A picture of several people can come out blurry because most auto-focus cameras focus on the area in the center of the viewfinder. When photographing two people, this can spell disaster—the tree in the background will be in perfect focus, and your subjects blurry. To remedy this, lock the focus on the subject. Usually you do this by centering the subject in the viewfinder and then pressing the shutter button halfway down. Continue holding the button halfway down while you move the camera until your subject is where you want it in the viewfinder. When you are satisfied, press the button all the way down to take the picture.

Let kids record their world
It's a whole new world when seen through a child's eyes. One-time-use cameras and digital cameras provide easy ways to let kids take pictures of each other and to capture what's important to them. You might just be surprised!

Place your subject off-center
Placing your subject to one side of the frame can make the composition more interesting and dynamic. But if your camera is an auto-focus model, the picture may turn out blurry because those cameras focus on whatever is in the center of the viewfinder. Check your camera manual for how to use the focus lock feature to prefocus on the subject. Usually it is done by pressing the shutter button halfway down and then recomposing the picture while still holding the button halfway down.

Try pointing your camera at a cat or dog. Their inquisitive nature will drive them to come right up to the camera and sniff the lens. You move away and they'll follow. Sit them in a convenient spot and they'll bounce back. Frustrated? You will be!

Pet Tip 1 give the dog a bone
Give your pet something to take their mind of the camera. The only problem now is they will be chewing or playing around and are highly unlikely to look at you, let alone the camera.

Pet Tip 2 Squeaky toy
Use a squeaky toy to attract their attention. Place it behind the camera so they look in the right direction. The bone they're chewing will be more interesting, but at least they will look up long enough for you to fire the shutter. (act quickly and make sure you get the shot in the first or second take). They'll soon get wise or bored of your attention seeking activity.

Pet Tip 3 Wait until the right moment
Cats and dogs are easy to catch out when they are sleepy. Time for the squeaky toy again. Just as they're nodding off squeak the toy and you'll get a moment of alertness shot and relax.

Pet Tip 4 Get help
You could ask someone else to entertain the pet while you walk around taking the photos. Try to keep the person out of the frame and the shots will be more natural. Digital photographers could get the person to hold the animal in place and then erase them later, this is time consuming but good if you want great pet portraits.

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