This week is officially BEATLES WEEK, I’ve decided, as the Beatles are one of my absolute FAVORITES, and I believe they deserve at least an entire week dedicated to their wonderful songs.
So here’s the first one, I Feel Fine. Doesn’t it put a bounce in your step even on a Monday morning? It did for me…
After my somewhat unsuccessful foray into banana bread making, my friend Alina sent me her foolproof recipe (adapted from James Beard’s Beard on Bread. I haven’t tried it yet, but I consider Alina a baking guru of sorts, and will definitely turn to this recipe the next time I get a hankering for banana bread…
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas (3 heavy ones should do it)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teasp baking soda
1/2 teasp salt
cream butter, add sugar, beat till creamy and light. add eggs, one at a time, then thoroughly mix in the bananas. Sift together flour, salt, soda and blend thoroughly into the mixture.
Butter a loaf tin and pour in the batter.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean
Ever since I bought my Nikon digital SLR camera, I get tons of emails about ways in which to shoot your kids while frolicking in a field or how to take the best wedding announcement photos. I’m not sure who has been choosing the genre for photo tips in the past couple months. However, a change seems to have been made and I coulnd’t be happier about this since wedding announcements or frolicking children don’t seem to be frequent occurrences in my life. No, lately, the tips and techniques have centered upon wildlife photography, how to shoot the best quality images in winter landscapes, etc. Today’s email was similar to these newer, much more intriguing topics; how to photograph animals at the zoo to make them look as if you went on safari. Albeit, this is a promotional email so there are references to zoom lenses and such that…conveniently… you can buy on Nikon’s site. But, I thought there were some interesting tips none the less and so I am sharing them here. Looks like I’m going to the zoo.
Best, LaurenTaking Better Pictures of Animals at the Zoo
If you like animals, there’s no place to get closer to these beautiful and interesting creatures than at your local zoo. With a little patience and planning, you can make great animal pictures.
Learn what to avoid. Consider where the animals are. Most will be in cages, some behind glass enclosures and others outdoors behind a fence. The best photos look like the animal is in its natural, wild habitat. So you’ll want to stay away from scenes that show bricks, concrete, wire or fences. If it’s not possible to keep the enclosure out of the shots, try framing very tight.
The longer telephoto lens you use (200 or 300mm) and the closer you get, the less the background will be recognizable. Also, when you use a telephoto lens, with the aperture wide open, and focus tightly on the animal, the bars of the cage tend to defocus, and blend into the scene, allowing you to make photographs that seem like there is no barrier between you and the animal.
Some of the things you want to look for, when photographing animals are the same things you look for when photographing people. Pictures are almost always better if you can see the subject’s eyes. So watch the animal as you frame it the way you want, and wait to take the picture until you can see at least one of its eyes. If it’s looking right at you, all the better. That helps create engagement between the viewer of the photo and the subject.
Look out for bright backgrounds. If the area behind the animal is brighter than the animal, the photo may end up being a silhouette because the camera’s meter will be reading that there’s a lot of light in the scene. In such an instance you may have to meter manually if you’re using a Nikon D-SLR. You could also try to move to another position, where the background is darker than your subject.
Also look for interaction among the animals. They can be playing, fighting over food or grooming each other. Those kinds of pictures give a feel for what the animal’s life is like.
Try to avoid using flash. While it’s sometimes necessary to be able to see your subject, it will also reduce some of the shadows that natural light gives. That in turn can make the picture look “flat” and less interesting. Make it a rule to use flash only if you absolutely have to, to get the picture. You may be surprised at how slow a shutter speed you can shoot at if your subject is still, you’re using good technique and gently pressing the shutter.
If you’re shooting through glass, remember to get very close to the glass and photograph straight into the glass window, to avoid reflections. Don’t use flash; otherwise you are likely to get flare from the flash in your photo.
And as always, keep an eye on your camera’s settings. Outdoors you often can leave the camera in full Automatic mode (if your model has that) and get good pictures. If it gets cloudy, or you’re indoors, you may need to raise the ISO (up to 800 or higher) to get a faster shutter speed (try for 1/200 or above). And if you’re indoors, and the light is predominantly artificial (instead of daylight through windows), try some of the different white balance settings, like fluorescent or incandescent, to see whether that helps the color.
Be patient and observant when photographing the animals at the zoo and you’ll capture some great photographs.