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Photographers squat, bend, twist, and turn to capture that look or feel they want.  Basically, they move their body into all kinds of positions if necessary to get that one shot that will make their fortune! Those days are pretty much behind me, although I do try!  And, since I am not planning on making any kind of fortune with my camera and shoot because I love trying to capture the moment, my head tends to be on the swivel and my body, well, it creaks and groans if I insist it do something it doesn’t want to do!

The thrill for me is when I download my images and actually have ONE that is exactly what I was looking for; I am always excited and blown away!  Yep, I’m one of those…  Love it when everything just seems to go right!

Shot this image at the zoo!

Shot this image at the zoo!

With Halloween around the corner, I headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago recently to see if the animals might be into the Halloween spirit.  Imagine my dismay when I found the illusive and rare pumpkin hidden in the gorilla cage.  It didn’t move and did have an expression of shock as if it didn’t think anyone would find it there (this is my story and I’m sticking to it!).

Since this shot was indoors, I set my Canon 6D on manual and the ISO to 1600 so I wouldn’t have to use a flash.  My speed was set at 50 and the f/stop was 5.6.  These settings allowed me to capture the natural light coming in through the roof skylight, darkened the background a bit, and made the focal point stand out from its setting.  It did take quite a few pictures ’til I finally had one that I liked.  Some were too dark, others were too light, some had the fence in focus (not sure how I did that!) and others just weren’t the right angle.  As I have mentioned before, don’t be afraid to take a lot of shots.  Just make sure you move around to get different views of your subject.  My focus was as sharp as I could get it by focusing through the fencing and on the “face” of the pumpkin.  You can actually see the blurred fencing in the man-made pond in the lower right corner.

This was my thought process:  Step 1.  Locate pumpkins at the zoo (didn’t expect to find them in the cages, tho).  Step 2.  Using natural light, give the image a bit of a Halloween “eerie” look.  Step 3.  Using the area around it, give a sense of location (in this case, I kept the blurred fencing in as well as the cement pond in the lower right corner).  Step 4.  Keep the background blurry and dark (that’s why the f/5.6 (aperture) and Shutter speed at 50.  Step 5.  Adjust the image after downloading

The finished product up above has little post work done.  Since I shot in in RAW and not jpeg, I had to adjust the contrast and hue just a little bit and added a bit more saturation to the pumpkin to liven up the color a bit.  This is standard type of post-work when using RAW imaging.  The original image comes out kind of blah but has captured all the data you need to work with it.   Can you get a good image with jpeg?  Yes you can. I just prefer to use RAW.  In a later blog, we’ll go over the differences between jpeg and RAW.

One thing to remember if you are going to adjust your Shutter speed.  Having a slow one tends to pick up any shake that might happen.  Even if you are a steady hand, if you use any setting lower than Shutter speed 40, odds are there will a bit of blurring of your subject unless you use a tripod.  I was very fortunate to be able to steady my camera with my body and the fencing for the 50 shutter speed.  More about this later.

So grab your camera and go find something that strikes your imagination.  Think about how you want to present it.  What mood do you want to convey?  What type of light (natural or flash) do you wish to use to bring out that idea in your head?  Where do you want your subject? (I put my pumpkin in the “jungle” by placing it father back in the image, blurring the foreground and what was behind the pumpkin.)  These are just some thought processes that you should have going on in your head before clicking that picture.  And you will see a great improvement in your final image.

Happy shooting until next time!  If you have questions, feel free to drop me a line.  I may not know all the answers but I have fun finding them!