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Photographing Mammals

I’m very fortunate to be back at Photoshop World teaching again on the Expo floor. My class is Thursday and it covers a multitude of things including Wildlife, Landscape, Aviation and if there’s time a little bit more. Why so much in one class? Well I’ve done a lot and thus can talk about a lot and in reality each one of those areas has a lot in common. Understanding and applying those techniques is what makes it all come together.

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Now for me wildlife is mainly broken up into two main categories, mammals and birds. The main reason for this is I spend more time working with these two categories then any other wildlife species. Provided you exclude fish species. When it comes to Mammals there are far fewer species in North America then bird species. Most mammals in the United States are actually smaller then a house cat. Each one is unique and in each location is a little bit different. One of the key things to working with Mammals is knowing your biology. What do they eat, where do they live, what time of the day are they active, when do they mate, when do they sleep? All very important aspects that need to be addressed in order to get the best shot. The next key thing is watching the subjects behavior. Ears can tell you a lot. Ears are a gateway into knowing if a mammal is happy, scared, aggressive or relaxed. Sounds and body gesture are important also but ears can really say a lot.

when comes to the gear of photographing mammals you can use a lot. I’ve used everything from the 600f4 to a 24-70 f/2.8. Why? Well it’s all about controlling the background to tell the story. With the Chipmunk up above you can’t really tell what the background is because of the shallow depth of field of the subject being so close. With the Giraffe you can tell a lot because the Giraffe is a ways away. These elements change the story and thus the response your audience will have to the image.

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Now I know not everyone is going to be at Photoshop World and knowing this they did something really clever this year by having the instructors who are teaching on the Expo floor put their classes on their website. So if you go to the top under tips, classes, downloadable classes you will see a link where you can download a PDF of my class. Isn’t that handy!

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