Get yourself a Christmas gift

Christmas giftsThey say it’s better to give than receive, and that’s true … to a point. But sometimes Santa doesn’t have a solid feel for what a nature photographer needs as a Christmas gift (and it’s hard to expect a lot in the way of giving from people who don’t really understand nature photography). So here are some Christmas gifts that you can put under the Christmas tree for yourself, or treat yourself to once the holidays are over.

Software

This might be a good time to think about any software needs or upgrades that you’ve been dreaming of. Adobe Lightroom is a great way to process and organize your photos, while Adobe Photoshop is the classic solution for image editing and manipulation. They’re not inexpensive – Lightroom retails for around $300, while Photoshop retails for more than $600, though upgrade prices are much less – which is all the more reason you may have to get the programs for yourself, rather than wait for some generous Christmas gift-giver.

Hardware

It may be a little early, but you might want to start looking at the role an Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy, or some other tablet device may have in your future. It’s a great way to showcase your photography, especially if you want to impress a colleague or a potential client. Each device has its pluses and minuses, but one thing is for sure: tablet technology is here to stay. If you’re an early adopter, now is the time.

Magazines

You can break this into two categories. First, think about any magazines that would help you understand nature photography, and provide excellent ideas for photos – or just a chance to learn from the professionals. There’s always the tried-and-true National Geographic, but also keep Outdoor Photographer in mind. It not only has great examples of nature photography, but news, tips, locations and other information that will make you a better shooter.

If you’re really ambitious, there’s also Nature Photographer, Nature’s Best Photography, Shutterbug, and a dozen other print and online magazines that will serve as excellent resources.

Reference and reading

A number of books will be helpful to nature photographers of any skill level, but here are some good places to start:

Buying a Camera for Christmas (Part 2)

By now, you’ve got a good feel for the needs of the nature photographer you’re buying a camera for, and you’ve had a chance to look in your wallet (or purse) to see what’s realistic. You’re bound to run into a lot of different opinions, ideas and “sales-speak.” Here are some things to think about while you’re looking for the perfect camera.

More megapixels don’t necessarily mean a better camera.

Megapixels affect picture size, not image quality. It would take several paragraphs to adequately explain why, and even then the information would probably make your eyes glaze over.  So, boiled down to a basic concept, a 10-megapixel camera will take a high quality nature photo that can easily be printed at 13 by 17 inches, provided that every other factor (lighting, focus, steadiness, etc.) is also accounted for.

So if your prospective nature photographer is going to be taking photos for printing at 8 by 10 inches, or 13 by 17 inches, then 10 megapixels should work nicely. If they’re going to be shooting poster-quality nature photos, you’ll want to search for a professional grade camera with 14 megapixels or more. That’s really all you need to know. If a salesperson tells you anything different, run.

More megapixels don’t necessarily mean a more expensive camera.

You can spend less than $150 on a quality 12.1-megapixel point-and-shoot camera, or you can spend $400 or more. The extra money will be for the bells and whistles.

Image stabilization” is one of those important bells and whistles.

There are three primary factors that influence camera blur:

  • Shooting in low-light conditions, necessitating a slower shutter speed that will allow more light to come in.
  • Shooting with a long zoom lens, which also requires a slower shutter speed.
  • Shooting when you’ve had a little too much caffeine.

Virtually every top quality camera offers some sort of image stabilization technology, which is particularly important for nature photography. That means it utilizes either software or hardware inside the camera to help mitigate the factors that cause blur. It doesn’t mean you’ll never have a blurry photo (stuff happens), but it does allow more room for error.

The most desirable type of image stabilization is “optical,” or OIS, which utilizes hardware to minimize camera shake. Usually, it’s a sensor inside the camera that measures any movement by the photographer while the photo is being shot, and tells the camera what to do in order to compensate.

The alternative is “digital image stabilization, which refers to software built into the camera that tries to minimize the blur after the photo is taken, rather than while it’s being taken. This isn’t a lot different than what you can do with image-editing software, and it’s vastly inferior to optical stabilization. Fortunately, digital image stabilization is becoming increasingly rare in today’s digital cameras.

Different manufacturers have different names for their stabilization technology, and not all stabilization technology is created equal. Regardless of the name, just remember optical vs. digital. Optical … good. Digital … not good. And if you don’t get the answer you want, or get some salesperson’s tap dance about why it doesn’t matter, then it’s time to move along.

Buying a Camera for Christmas (Part 1)

There’s only one thing that’s more painful than watching someone trying to shoot quality photos with inferior equipment, and that’s trying to shoot your own photos with inferior equipment. The rule for nature photographers is like the rule for carpenters: it’s generally easier to do good work if you have good tools.

Christmas is coming, and that means that there are bargains to be had. There are more choices than ever, at incredibly affordable prices, and you’d think that would make it easier to shop for a Christmas present. But more isn’t necessarily better, and the process can get confusing after awhile.

So here’s Part 1 of a series of tips designed to help you make the perfect Christmas purchase – whether it’s for you or for someone else. For our purposes, we’ll assume it’s going to be a present for someone else. We’re also going to assume that it’s a digital camera, and that you’ll leave the more sophisticated task of shopping for a film camera for another time.

You may already know some of this, so if that’s the case, consider this a refresher course in Christmas shopping for almost anything. Today we’ll start with the basics, before you even head out the door.

Consider their needs

Who’s going to be getting this camera? Is it Dad, who just wants to take simple pictures, but has a hard time even getting the TV remote to work? Is it your tech-savvy sister, who picks technology up very quickly, but just hasn’t had the time to go out and buy a decent camera? Or is it your younger brother, who is serious about nature photography as a hobby, but doesn’t have the right equipment to go to the next level?

For Dad, you’ll want to think about something that’s point-and-shoot, easy-to-use, and easy to download photos into a computer. For your sister, you can look for something that’s a little more sophisticated, and intuitive to learn (since quite a few tech-savvy people really don’t take time to Read the Frickin’ Manual). And your younger brother needs something that will take him well down the road from being a neophyte to being a true hobbyist, someone who’d be proud to show his best work once he has the tools to get there.

Bottom line: You can’t get what you want until you know what you want (or, in this case, what they need). Think carefully about who’s going to be using it and how they’re going to be using it. In fact, make sure that they even really want it as a Christmas present.

Consider your budget

Just about anywhere you go, prices range from somewhere around $125 for a reasonably well-equipped 10 megapixel point-and-shoot with optical zoom, image stabilization and face detection (more about all those later), that will also take halfway decent video; to upwards of $3,000 or more for a 21-megapixel, video-equipped, detachable-lens Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) model that’s dust and weather resistant with a self-cleaning sensor and a burst mode of 3.9 frames per second. In other words, it’ll do just about everything but cure a head cold.

Unfortunately (or thankfully, as the case may be), it’s not only likely to be a lot more than you can afford, but it’s also going to be overkill for just about anyone but the most seasoned photographer.

Bottom line: Finding the right gift is achieving a balance of what they need vs. what you want to spend. Don’t get them a Porsche if all they need is a Kia, even if you can afford to get the Porsche. And, equally as important, don’t get them a Kia when they really need a Porsche.

It doesn’t stop with the camera

Rather than fork out extra money for a camera they don’t need, think instead about setting them up with accessories that will come in handy:

  • Some cameras use proprietary batteries, so think about getting an extra battery that’s always ready and waiting in case the one they’re using runs out of juice. And if a camera takes AA batteries, look into a charger and two sets of rechargeable batteries. That way, one set is always ready to go in case the other set poops out.
  • The camera may come with a memory card, which is the internal storage media that holds the pictures once they’re taken, but many cameras don’t. In either case, make sure that there’s a memory card that will suit their needs. It’s not that expensive, ranging from around $12 for a 4GB memory card to around $25 for an 8GB card. There are a number of variables that determine how much room photos or video will take on a memory card, but 8GB is a solid bet. It’ll hold anywhere around 1,300 high-resolution photos, or about two hours of standard-quality video. It’s impossible to be too rich, too thin, or have a camera with too much memory.
  • Often a camera will come with only a basic carrying case. Check into getting a padded, bounce-resistant case that will hold some accessories as well.
  • If you really want to look generous (for not a lot more money) get a compact photo printer. Most are no bigger than 8 inches by 5 inches, lightweight, and easy to carry around. Best of all, you can usually find a good one for around $100.

Shop around

Check retail stores (Best Buy, Walmart, Fry’s and the rest of the usual suspects), but remember that you can also find great deals online at sites like Amazon, B&H or Crutchfield. The latter two are especially popular among photography enthusiasts, so you’re likely to get useful advice as well as decent prices. But whatever you do, shop around. Go to a local retailer and find what you want. Then go online and see what kind of price you can get.

Galen Rowell: Photojournalism
& nature photography

It’s one thing to be a nature photographer. It’s something entirely different to put yourself at risk, often in the most extreme conditions, to get the perfect photo. It’s a particular form of photography called “photojournalism,” which uses the powerful imagery of photos to take the reader closer to an event than words alone can describe. The photographer becomes a participant in the event, rather than just a spectator.

Photos have served to amplify the magnitude of events like World War II, the Vietnam War, Hurricane Katrina, the assassination of President Kennedy and hundreds of other events over the years. Thankfully, though, photojournalism has a more beautiful side as well.

Galen Rowell was one of the forefathers of nature photography as photojournalism. His work graced the pages of National Geographic, Life, Outdoor Photographer and numerous other magazines that became famous for the quality of photography in their pages. Galen Rowell’s photos are beautiful, but even more so considering two important factors: the fact that he was never formally trained as a photographer (though he would conduct hundreds of photography workshops in the years before his death in a plane crash in 2002), and the lengths he went to in order to take those photos.

Photographer and adventure

Rowell’s love of the outdoors meshed well with his skill as a photographer, but his natural athletic ability – as well as a well-honed sense of adventure – took him to places where other nature photographers wouldn’t stand a chance. Rowell was an accomplished mountain climber who began climbing in 1950, at age 10. Photography was originally a way for him to share his adventures with family and friends, but eventually it became a way of life.

As a result, mountains are the focal point for many of Rowell’s most famous photos. Some of his most famous photos were published in his 1977 book “In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods,” a history of the mountain K2 that included the story of his participation in a failed attempt by U.S. climbers to scale the mountain in 1975. K2, which is located on the mountainous border between China and Pakistan, is the second-tallest mountain in the world at 28,251 feet (behind Mount Everest at 29,029 feet), and is arguably the most difficult to climb because of its incredibly steep climbing paths. More than 2,700 climbers have reached the top of Mount Everest, with 208 deaths, while K2 has had slightly more than 300 successful ascents – and 77 fatalities at last count. In context, the ratio of deaths to successful ascents of Everest is a little less than 1 fatality for every 14 successful ascents, while K2’s ratio is 1 death for every 4 successful ascents.

Beyond K2

K2 is only part of Rowell’s photographic record of mountains around the world, including his one-day ascent of 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and a one-day climb of 20,000-foot Mount McKinley in Alaska. He was part of the first group to climb Cholatse, a 21,000-foot peak near Mount Everest. As if that wasn’t enough, he also is on record as being the oldest person to climb El Capitan (the 3,000-foot sheer-faced granite wall in Yosemite National Park) in a single day, at age 57.

“Throne Room” was one of 18 books of photos and text that Rowell authored. His 1986 book, “Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape,” combines 80 of Rowell’s favorite photographs with information about equipment, conditions and techniques connected to each one. It is considered a must-read for any nature photographer of any skill level.

Rowell shot a wide variety of landscapes, reaching from the Arctic to Antarctica, but he understood the importance of mountains to his legacy. “My mountaineering skills are not important to my best photographs,” he once admitted, “but they do add a component to my work that is definitely a bit different than that of most photographers.”

Despite his skill as a photographer, Galen Rowell also understood the importance of words to go along with beautiful images. “The combination of pictures and words together can be really effective, and I began to realize in my career that unless I wrote my own words, then my message was diluted,” he said. “There’s no question that photographs communicate more instantly and powerfully than words do, but if you want to communicate a complex concept clearly, you need words too.”

Ansel Adams: More than just black and white

The black-and-white images of Ansel Adams are certainly among the most recognizable examples of the best nature photography ever created. His images of the American west – from national parks to painted deserts, from mountain lakes to river valleys – hold a permanent place in the nation’s consciousness as the ultimate vision of the nation’s natural beauty.

Even before the age of digital photography, the use of black-and-white film fell gradually by the wayside as color technology improved. While even the average nature photographer can put take an outstanding shot of a beautiful landscape, it’s generally the color that gives the scenery its impact. Those landscapes would arguably lose their impact if shot instead in black and white.

Adams took the same scenery and made color irrelevant. He is generally considered the master of lighting and its importance in landscape photography, waiting for the exact moment for the right conditions to shoot a photo. In most cases, it meant all the difference between a great photo and a legendary masterpiece.

Going beyond black and white

Adams began shooting photos as a teenager, with his first shots of Yosemite National Park in 1916. He devoted his life to the medium, and was actively shooting photos well into his 70s. He died on April 22, 1984, at the age of 82.

Most of Adams’ famous images are in black and white, and prints can be purchased in just about any shopping mall poster store. What isn’t widely known about Adams is that while black-and-white photos are his hallmark, he devoted quite a bit of time to shooting color photos as well. In fact, while he preferred the nuances of shooting in black-and-white, he understood that color photography would be the medium of the future and shot hundreds of photos in color. Many of them appear in a book called “Ansel Adams in Color,” first published in 1993 and revised in 2009.

Although he shot a huge number of photos in color, it frustrated him a great deal. According to one biography, Adams compared taking color photos to playing an “out-of-tune piano.” When Kodachrome was introduced in the mid-30s, it was complicated to master photo production using the negatives. In fact, even a meticulous technician like Adams – who pioneered a number of darkroom production techniques working with his own photos – thought it was so frustrating that he would often leave the color development of his photos to others.

Adams also was wary of the quality of color reproduction. Since the technology was new, reproductions in print or in magazines could be out of register and blurry, and not look the least bit true to life. In Adams’ view, though, black-and-white photography was more of an art form, and easier to mold to his high standards – especially since he had spent a lifetime dedicating himself to that form of photography.

Making money with the new medium

One of the main reasons Adams shot in color was for the commercial aspect. While his black-and-white photos were visually groundbreaking, they had limited possibilities for advertisers and corporations, who preferred to represent themselves in color. His clients included companies like AT&T, Fortune magazine and Eastman Kodak. So ultimately, his commercial work subsidized the part of the medium that he viewed as an art form.

Eventually, he dedicated himself to solving some of the early issues that affected color photography. For example, rather than complain about the limitations of color photography, he worked as a consultant for film and camera manufacturers, developing ways to improve quality of both color film and photo reproduction. He also wrote several articles on the subject of color photography, noting that the lack of quality reproduction usually had a negative effect on the emotional impact of the photos, muting their colors and deadening the relationship between various elements of any particular photo.

An early conservationist

Another lesser known aspect of Adams’ life was his devotion to environmental causes, particularly through the Sierra Club environmental organization. He originally had a job at age 17 as a custodian at the Sierra Club’s headquarters in Yosemite. He became more active in the organization very quickly, and became a member of the board of directors in 1934. During his 37-year tenure, the Sierra Club underwent a transformation from a small grass-roots movement into a powerful national organization that has become a powerful lobby for environmental interests.

Arguably, though, his biggest contribution to conservation came from his body of work that showed the beauty of natural landscapes and resources.

Early signs of Christmas

Every season offers unique settings for seeing nature at its finest, but winter photography presents a special opportunity for both professional and amateur photographers. Not only is the season rich with beautiful scenes of snow, ice, and frosty landscapes, but it also offers a huge range of possibilities for taking outdoor Christmas photos.

Christmas offers a unique type of “nature,” with scenes of bright lights, beautifully colored decorations, and other signs of the season. The potential for a beautiful photo is virtually around every corner.

High-quality digital cameras – along with rapid, computer-intensive printing technology — have added an entirely new dimension to Christmas imagery. Photos aren’t just for Christmas cards anymore; they’re for Christmas signs, banners, posters, clear window decorations, and a host of other decorative applications. Online sign printers like  signazon.com are a great resource for ideas.

The best Christmas photos can actually become part of the holiday celebration. Take a photo of a row of brightly lit houses on Monday, and it can be a true-to-life Merry Christmas banner for a party by Saturday. A softly lit photo of singers from the choir becomes a promotional church banner in plenty of time for the Christmas pageant.

There’s a less practical side, too. Put a set of fake reindeer antlers on your dog (provided she’ll sit still long enough), and turn the photo into a life-sized static-cling image for the front window of your house. Unfortunately for the dog, you’ll be able to use it over again for at least the next few Christmases.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your Christmas photos, especially if they’re going to be reproduced digitally at a larger size:

  • If you’re shooting in a low-light situation, such as nighttime in front of a home with beautiful Christmas lights, use a tripod to cut down on any shakiness that might blur the image. It’s often a good idea to shoot at dusk, since the lighting emphasizes the colors while adding a natural glow.
  • When selecting which photos you want to use, consider the shape of the finished product. For example, an extremely horizontal-shaped photo would work better as part of a long Christmas banner, rather than a vertical size. You don’t want the image to be so small that it gets lost.
  • If possible, “frame” the image in your mind as you take the photo. Imagine how it would look as a 2-foot by 3-foot one-way view store window poster, or as a series of much smaller window decals.
  • Resolution is more important than actual size. An image doesn’t have to have super-high resolution, but it should be no smaller than 300 dpi. If the resolution is too high, it makes the file too large for a digital print shop to easily handle; too low, and it will be hard for the printer to reproduce and still make it look good. A good print shop should be able to reproduce an image in a high enough resolution to make it look sharp.
  • One advantage of digital technology is that a short time frame generally isn’t an issue. A digital image can make the transition from camera to computer, from printer to signage, and then shipped back in as little as two or three days.
  • Another advantage of digital technology is the ability to easily add words to the image, which is especially important for Christmas banners and Christmas-themed promotional signs.
  • It’s actually possible to make your hobby profitable. Approach a local merchant with a photo you think might be appropriate to use for outdoor Christmas signs or store window graphics, or offer to take a custom photo for them. Get a price quote from an online print shop beforehand, and gauge their interest.

One final tip: When you go out to shoot Christmas photos, no amount of digital manipulation will correct blurring caused by too much eggnog for the photographer.

Christmas photography

No other time of the year lends itself to photo opportunities – and lasting memories – more than Christmas. For celebrations at home, everyone likes photos of families, presents, lights, food, or children trying to figure out how to chase the cat with a new remote-control truck. As for workplace parties, nothing says “Merry Christmas” quite like catching your boss with a mouthful of food.

Regardless of the setting, you don’t need to be a professional to take great Christmas photos. Just start with the basics and build from there. Many of these tips assume you’ll be using a digital camera, but they’ll also work for film-type devices as well.

Make a list, check it twice

Above all, don’t forget the camera. You can have a state-of-the-art camera that does everything except make everybody say “cheese,” but it’s no good if you leave it on the counter on your way out the door to Grandma’s house, or when you’re packing for a vacation. Ditto for batteries, chargers, memory cards and the operations manual.

For workplace Christmas parties, find someone who has a good camera and knows how to use it. Or better yet, talk your boss into making room in the budget for a reasonably priced camera that is easy to use and takes quality pictures. It’s easy to find a full-featured top-quality camera for around $100, either in-store or online, so it won’t be a budget buster.

Whether at home or in the workplace, it’s usually a good idea for someone to be the designated “picture-taker.” Even though there may be more than one camera, there are too many distractions to make sure that the moments don’t slip away. The presence of one dedicated photographer can make all the difference.

A common occurrence is having multiple people with multiple cameras, all trying to stage the same picture over and over again. It’s hard enough to get people to pose once, let alone three or four times, and spontaneous photos are priceless because they are exactly that – spontaneous. With that in mind, though, it’s never a bad idea to have a backup camera, just in case. But having too many photographers just adds to the level of chaos.

And remember: If you can’t take good photos, take a lot of photos. Typically, memory cards will hold hundreds of high-resolution images, so don’t be shy. There are bound to be several winners in the bunch.

Know your environment

Assuming that you get to be the designated photographer, a little bit of preparation can help you make the most out of Christmas picture-taking.

Both at home and in the workplace, lighting can present a real challenge. Most digital cameras will correct for lighting conditions, but it’s never a bad idea to be sure. Take some test photos with the available lighting, particularly if Christmas lights will be dominant. Don’t just trust the images you see on the camera viewfinder; download the test images to your computer and see how they look on the “big screen.”

Particularly in the workplace, find ways to make the environment festive beforehand. Customized Christmas banners, holiday-themed stickers and other decorations can add warmth to any holiday environment, and they don’t have to break the bank. Also, attractive, durable holiday decorations can be re-used every year.

Be innovative

Here are some ideas that can make Christmas photos unique:

  • Begin taking photos before the celebration starts. Decorating, cooking, or wrapping gifts provide perfect opportunities for candid shots that everyone will love. Also, be sure to take photos as people arrive. Handshakes and hugs are always popular.
  • Whether at home or at work, set up a special area dedicated specifically for photos. For example, a Christmas-themed backdrop is a great place to have people come and sit for a moment, and have their pictures taken in peace. Even a red velvet sheet tacked to the wall provides a great setting for Christmas photos that will last. Consider taking these photos early in the celebration, so you can catch everyone while they’re fresh, and before they tear their hair out.
  • With a little extra effort, you can get really creative. Virtually every digital camera has a timer, so attach the camera to a tripod during Christmas dinner at home, with a clear view of the entire table. Then set the timer to go off at regular intervals during dinner. With any luck, you’ll get shots of a holiday food fight.
  • Be aware of any “special” presents that might be unwrapped, or any planned “surprises” that might take place. If your boss makes an appearance as Santa, it’s good to be ready.

Make the most of technology

Take advantage of inexpensive (and sometimes free) programs and online applications that will allow basic photo editing to crop or resize photos, or to correct common flaws such as red-eye. They’re typically easy to learn and easy to use, and they’re a great way to improve photo quality.

It’s certain that there will be no shortage of requests for Christmas photos. Fortunately, there also is no shortage of ways to share photos, whether it’s through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace; or through free online photo sharing sites like Flickr or Picasa. Other sites, such as Shutterfly or Snapfish, not only allow uploading of photos, but also offer prints, cards, stationery, calendars, magnets, mugs or other items.

You’ll need a way to let everyone know where the photos are, so circulate a notepad that allows everyone to share their e-mail address so they can be contacted easily once photos are uploaded.

Be sensitive – and use common sense – about which photos are made available online. It might look hilarious, but your boss might not appreciate the photo of her wearing reindeer antlers being available for everyone to see. If there’s any doubt, and if you want to make sure you keep your job, share the photo privately via e-mail.

What is “nature photography?”

On the surface, it should be relatively easy to come up with a working definition of the term “nature” as it applies to photography. Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary uses the broader picture: “the external world in its entirety.” Dictionary.com puts a finer point on it: “the elements of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers.”

But Webster’s dictionary (a different resource than Merriam-Webster), uses a much wider perspective: “the existing system of things; the world of matter, or of matter and mind; the creation; the universe.” That’s a much larger playing field for a photographer.

Maybe it’s best to use a definition that doesn’t appear in any dictionary, but comes instead from the U.S. Supreme Court. In a decision regarding the legal threshold for publication of obscene materials, Justice Potter Stewart said a true definition is hard to determine, “but I know it when I see it.”

The same standard can be applied to nature photography:

  • Is it a car driving down a city street? Or is it a sleek automobile headed down a long stretch of desert highway, with the sun setting in the background?
  • Is it a shark swimming inside an enclosed tank at the aquarium? Or is it a Great White shark navigating its way along the ocean floor?
  • Is it a young child playing with a toy in the driveway? Or is it a toddler wrestling with a little of eight-week old puppies in the lush green grass of the backyard?

The answer always seems to come up the same. Whether it’s animal, vegetable, mineral, mountain, ocean, stream, desert or any of a thousand other settings and subjects, one thing’s for certain: You’ll know it when you see it.

Tips for novices

If you’re just getting started as a “nature photographer,” here are some easy ways to get ahead of the game:

  • Search online to find examples of work from amateur and professional photographers. Nobody says an idea has to be original, especially if it’s just for your own gratification. You’ll also pick up valuable pointers along the way, since photographers are usually generous with sharing advice and tricks.
  • Keep an eye out for uncommon opportunities in common situations. A day at the beach can be an excuse to work on your tan, or an opportunity to wander around looking for photo opportunities. There might be a bird’s nest in a tree outside your office. Maybe your neighbor’s cat just had kittens. Great photo opportunities are everywhere.
  • Use a variety of angles. A photo of a newborn kitten might look common when shot from a typical point-of-view, but might look special if you’re willing to get down on the floor to shoot head-on.
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot a lot of photos. Digital memory cards will typically hold hundreds of photos, so click away. The boring ones are easy enough to erase, and even if only one or two photos are special, that’s a good start to your portfolio.