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Photography Question 

How To Take Pictures of Animals and Landscapes

How do I take pictures of landscapes? How do I take pictures of animals?

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2/19/2002 8:16:24 PM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
Owner,, Inc.
  Hi Kati,

Those are two pretty big questions - I could write a novel (so to speak) about either.

Without doing that, I would recommend two things:

1) A good book or two. Check out my book, The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Great Photos, for a good basic introduction, Bryan Peterson's books, or any of the other books that you find appealing at our How-To books page:

2) A lot of thoughtful experimentation. There is nothing like taking many photos and thinking about what you like and don't like about the results.

Also check out Frans Lanting's book, Eye to Eye, if you need even more inspiration about photographing animals.

Best wishes to you as you embark on this path!

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2/19/2002 10:44:08 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001

As you look through the "how-to" books that discuss equipment and how they affect photographs, techniques and methods, also think about *making* a photograph instead of *taking* it. This is a different way of thinking about your images.

Work at "visualizing" what you want a photograph to look like before you make it. Nearly all outstanding photographs do not happen by accident. Certainly photographers occasionally sieze opportunity when it occurs. However, they at least must be able to "see" it as the situation unfolds, *before* it actually happens, and be practiced at being able to capitalize on it.

Much more often, particularly with landscapes, a finished photograph is envisioned in the mind of the photographer before the camera is taken out of the camera bag. It may be minutes beforehand, or it may be weeks or months (waiting for a particular season, weather and time of day). In some cases, I've visualized a photograph for a location I'm familiar with before leaving home to make it. Having a mental vision for it is not only the uniquely creative aspect of photography, it is what determines camera equipment, film, composition, focus and exposure techniques that will be used. With experience using various films, equipment (lenses), lighting and techniques, I know how these things will affect how a final print will look. It has made choices about what to use and how to use them much simpler.

Certainly you can "copy" what others have done. I've seen photographs that do this and to some extent it improves technique by "reverse engineering" how something was done. It's limited though in creating a good technician, not original works. Originality is the line that separates the "great" photographers from the rest; they create their own unique vision.

Having done both landscapes and animals, here are some specifics about both to think about:

Work at understanding perspectives and what helps create or diminish depth in a photograph; how weather, time of year, time of day or night, and sun angles change how a scene looks.

Work at understanding an animal's behaviors and the situations or conditions that trigger them. Photographing them is often "candid" work because you cannot pose them unless they're highly trained specifically for posing and other behaviors (Hollywood does this for its movies). If you know what they will tend to do beforehand, you can position yourself and be ready when what you desire does occur.

-- John

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2/24/2002 12:04:44 AM

Stanley C. Sims   I agree with a number of the answers to these two questions. I have the Bryan Peterson books and Understanding Exposure is one of the best for simplicity. I would suggest that you start with this one.

Art Wolfe has a nice video out, if you can find it. It's good for both animals and landscapes. It's called "Art Wolfe on Location". Read everything that you can, this is what I do. Good luck!!!!

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2/25/2002 5:44:58 PM

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