Photography Is All About Location

ruleofthirdsPeople may find themselves in a situation in which they aren’t entirely sure why a given photograph looks better than many other photographs, even though the subject is the same. In some cases, it may simply be due to the technique of the photographer, which is often going to be the case. However, part of the technique of any photographer involves selecting the right location for a photograph, and the location in which a photo is shot really can make all the difference in terms of whether or not the picture is successful.

Lighting is going to make all the difference when it comes to photography, and different locations will produce different plays of shadows. In some types of lighting, something that looks fantastic can look downright frightening. Maybe that’s what you want, if you’re going for horror photography in one way or another. If you’re not trying to shoot something that’s Halloween-worthy, you’re probably going to want to shoot your subject in a given location.

You might think that it would be really hard to make a given subject scary. I have a hard time imagining Taylor looking scary, since I think he just looks adorable even when he’s trying to look all scary and menacing. The thing is, to other people, he probably will look like just another angry dog in those circumstances. They’ll have different associations compared to me. You have to anticipate how your audience is going to feel about a particular subject, especially if we’re talking about a subject that you know really well and which has lots of different connotations for you. Trust me, your adorable pet dog can look scary to someone. I know that from experience.

The contents of a location are going to make a huge difference. A gentle pastoral field always creates a different impression than a vacant lot, and a clean and majestic urban landscape will change the nature of any photograph that is set there. Plenty of people seem to be under the impression that people will only focus upon the subject of a photograph when they look at the photograph, and a picture of a dog in a field and a picture of that same dog on a staircase will create the same effect. The subject is only part of the overall artwork of the picture.

Pet Photography is Here to Stay

One of the most common subjects for any photograph is a person’s pet. People love taking pictures of their pets at the best of times, documenting their lives, as well as all of the times where their pets are doing something extremely cute. As any dog owner knows, your dog is going to be doing something that you consider cute all the time, and something other people will consider cute part of the time. You need to make sure that you capture all of your dog’s cute moments, which are definitely the memories that you want to share with other people and your future self.

Some people have complained about just how many pet photos there are on the Internet these days. Complaining about pet videos is even more popular. You might get a few million hits with the video of your adorable cat, but you’ve also become a person who makes cat videos, which can make you a target for the people who like to complain about the most obvious things that they can. When it comes to cat videos and cat pictures, I say go for it. When it comes to dog videos and dog pictures, I also say go for it. We need to try to out-compete all of the cat videos and cat pictures anyway, so I say bring in the cavalry.

People have always liked pet photography, even before the days of the Internet. The explosion of pet photography online happened because people have new mechanisms through which to share all of their pictures. People also have more cameras these days. Sure, the cameras that people have on their phones aren’t the best cameras in the world, but they’re there, and they will get the job done if you don’t happen to be lugging around a professional camera at a given time. It isn’t surprising that people would produce lots of new photos under circumstances like that. Since people already have lots of pet pictures and love their pet pictures, you’re going to see an explosion of pet pictures.

Pet pictures will go out of style when pets go out of style. People have been cooing over their adorable dogs and cats for thousands of years, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Dogs and cats basically co-evolved with humans because we like them so much, largely because of how cute their are. Their extreme cuteness has given them a privileged position for all of these years, and this is a privileged position that has managed to outlast entire dynasties. Pets have only become more beloved today, and people are only more committed to making sure that they take care of their pets and love them.

Lots of people are interested in documenting every moment of the lives of their pets in the manner of someone trying to make sure that they document the lives of their kids. I would definitely include myself in that category. You want to be able to save everything for posterity. There is going to be a time when your pets are no longer with you, since we all outlive our pets by a wide margin. Having some memories that you can access instantly on your phone will make all the difference in those days. Having grown up with several dogs, I know the feeling.

That was the 1990’s, however, and we had some Polaroids and some family videos, but nothing compared to what people will take in one year of a pet’s life today. You actually had to wait to get your pictures developed back then: it was obscene. It cost extra money to just get pictures, which meant people were a lot more limited in terms of the pictures that they could take or the pictures that they were willing to take. Today, the idea that pictures need to be developed is as much of a weird curiosity as the idea that people should rent movies from video stores, or even the idea that something like a ‘video’ could exist. People can whip out their phones and take pictures of anything. Now, the lives of their pets are available on the Internet for everyone to see if they want and for no one to see if they want.

The people who criticize pet photography are certainly free to never look at pet pictures again for the rest of their lives and to scroll down on the page when someone posts them on Facebook. However, for the rest of us, the age of the pet photograph has only started to expand, and we will continue taking pictures of our pets and the pets of others with glee and with pride.

Having a Professional Camera Still Counts

We live in the age of cameras today. People walk around with miniature cameras on their phones now. The world is full of pictures because the world is full of cameras. Does that mean that everyone can be a photographer today and that we have finally obviated the need for the professional cameras that will take the best pictures? I think the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no.’

The camera on your phone will get the job done, but you’ve probably noticed by now that almost everything looks somewhat distorted in that camera. There’s a reason for that, and it isn’t entirely a function of your skill as an amateur photographer. It’s because you’re taking something that has different proportions in real life and trying to compress it all into this tiny space with the limited pixels of a cell phone image. You’re basically shrinking your subject and slightly distorting it. This is even worse for the images that you try to take up close.

People look weird is selfies for a lot of reasons. It’s really hard to take a good picture blindly, which is what you’re doing when you take a selfie in the first place. However, since you’re using this tiny lens that doesn’t have a good zoom function and you’re taking a picture of something up close like this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the version of you that you photograph in a selfie looks more like it belongs in a distorting mirror at a fun-house.

A professional camera is going to have the viewfinder that you need for the sake of getting the right composition for your pictures. You will be able to zoom in and focus on the most important parts of the picture and anything else that you want to emphasize. You will be able to adjust the lighting and the settings in a way that is difficult on a featureless amateurish camera.

The Best Pet Photos Ever

woman-dog-phoneI love pet photos as much as the next pet owner, but I think people can come up with better ideas that what are usually on the table. For one thing, taking a picture of your dog sleeping is pretty obvious. Yes, it’s true that this is when it’s going to be easiest to take the picture, but that’s why these pictures tend to be boring. There’s no learning curve and anyone can take pictures like these and make them look reasonably good.

There’s also the fact that someone sleeping is doing something that’s inherently boring anyway, and even photographing a boring subject in a pretty way isn’t going to make for a gripping photograph. Your dog or your cat may look adorable even when he or she is sleeping – I don’t deny that for a second. Taylor looks cute when he’s doing anything, even if it’s chewing on my shoes. Yeah, he somehow makes that cute. However, most people would prefer a photograph of him chewing on my shoes to a photo of him sleeping.

If you can actually catch your pet in the act of doing something really naughty, you definitely have a keeper when it comes to a picture. I mean, you may not actually want your dog to chew on your shoes or your cat to knock something over in an effort to get your attention, but all of those incidents will fade. The picture will last forever, and if you get something like that on film, it’s going to be funny to you rather than actively irritating. I actually did manage to get a picture of Taylor chewing on my shoes as well as a video, and I don’t even miss the shoes any more.

Naturally, you don’t need something on that level to make the picture funny. A picture of your pet playing in almost any way can be adorable and memorable. This does mean that you’re going to have to master the art of photographing subjects in motion, but plenty of other people have managed to do that over and over again, and you should be able to do the same thing. These kinds of pictures make for really dynamic photographs, which will make them more interesting to look at immediately.

However, the important thing to remember is that animals have emotions, too. We don’t photograph people all that often when their faces are completely expressionless and neutral. We tend to take pictures of them smiling when the pictures are positive, and we take pictures of them when they’re angry or afraid when we want more dramatic pictures.

Your pets express emotions as well. You can tell when your dog is happy because he’ll start wagging his tail. Your cat will do the opposite to express her dissatisfaction with whatever it is you’re doing. Their entire body language will change under circumstances like these. Pets in general tend to communicate a lot with their bodies, since they do not tend to have much in the way of facial expressions. Photographing them when you can tell that they’re in a non-neutral emotional state can make all the difference.

Pros and Cons of Detachable Showerheads

Dog-washingLeo is my dog and my ever-present companion. You may have seen photos as he is my favorite subject. In any case, from time to time Leo needs a good bath after frolicking in the yard, especially in the mud. Why he likes the outdoors after it rains, who knows? Why he loves to runaround in the sprinklers, don’t ask why. I suppose there is something irresistible about water, even if it does not apply to a bath. That is not his favorite pastime.

No, Leo is not thrilled about getting doused in the house. So I have often resorted to a shampooing on the patio with the garden hose. That suits him just fine, but he doesn’t always have a choice. When it is too cold out there for me, I move the entire enterprise inside. If my hands are frozen, they can’t give him that gentle massage that it is cleaning ritual specialty. If I am shivering, it does him no good.

So indoors is the place to be on bath day. I don’t really welcome them either. Getting Leo to agree to a washing is a chore. You have to work at it. There is a lot of coddling and coaxing going on plus a dog treat or two. When he finally gets settled in the guest room tub, I am ready to proceed. You can never really get a dog rinsed thoroughly with a normal faucet so I have installed a detachable handheld shower head. It is that European style fixture that is a bit odd in construction, but does the job just fine.

There are pros and cons with this method however. Let’s have a look. First of all there is less control over the flailing thing since it does not have a permanent mounting. It hooks onto a receptacle of sorts (not the sturdiest), and sometimes when finished, you miss and it falls to the bottom of the tub. If Leo positions himself just right, the neck will stretch and the showerhead will reach the pup straight on. If he goes to the far end of the tub, it will not. You have to deal with it! One other little problem is flyaway spray if the head is not cleaned often.

On the good side, the device is great for rinsing soap from his fur and it is adjustable for degree of spray and amount of water flow. You can get these detachable devices in different finishes to match your other fixtures for the appropriate degree of décor. They also come in styles from modern to old world to suit your fancy. They can cost as little or as much as you want to spend. For Leo, I will fork over any amount to give him a nice experience.

If you want to enjoy bath time with your pet, I recommend detachable showerheads since they can be installed easily and also removed when they are no longer needed. You obviously can’t put a pooch in an actual shower, so going this route will ensure optimum cleanliness and a pretty good time.

The Characteristics of a Great Photograph

composition05Lots of people will be able to recognize a great photograph when they see one, but they won’t always know why it’s a great photograph until someone like me points it out in the most boring way possible. You’re welcome!

Anyway, one of the most important characteristics of a great photograph is composition. The balance of elements of the photograph is important. Photos with the subject smack dab in the middle of the picture are ugly to look at, even if the subject itself has any visual appeal. The subject may be nice to look at in this case, but the picture itself isn’t going to be.

A better composition involves having the subject in the right or the left side of the photograph, with enough negative space surrounding it that it creates a certain degree of balance. The subject is still going to dominate the photograph as long as the photographer emphasizes its size or its lighting in the right way. However, this sort of composition overall makes for a vastly better photograph.

Getting a good contrast of light and shadow makes all the difference. The photographs that are visually compelling are the ones that really draw your focus in when it comes to the darker areas of the picture. Photographs that have flat lighting where everything looks exactly the same and there seems to be no shadow in the implied world of the photograph are not as interesting to look at as the photographs that are striking.

The photograph can’t be too empty and it can’t be too busy, either. Too much business is going to distract from the subject that you are trying to capture. If the subject is the only thing in the picture functionally, then the picture is going to look to flat and even too fake.

Establishing the balance of all of these elements is going to make photography sound hard and it is. However, it will eventually become intuitive for all people to balance all of these elements, and they will soon be able to recognize good and bad photographs instantly, for better and for worse.