April 24, 2011

Allen Afield: Contest entries highlight common photo mistakes


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This photo, taken at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, does two things right. First, the two subjects – the moose and the woman – are both offset. Second, they are interacting.

2006 file photo

5. When shooting photos of people, animals and fish, focus on an eye and make sure to get a little glint of light reflecting from the eye. That brings the person or critter to life.

6. When shooting people or wildlife such as deer, make sure to shoot the photo when the subject has an animated look -- some expression, so to speak. An exception to the rule might be photos of venomous snakes or dangerous game animals. In short, looking coldly sinister might be good.

7. When shooting photos of people or even wildlife, interaction between the subjects works well -- say two folks talking or animals looking at one another. (I once shot a photo of a river otter "kissing" its companion otter, a successful image.) A hero shot of an angler with a fish should have the person looking at the fish rather than the camera.

8. A huge and common error at the photography contest was camera movement, which creates slightly out-of-focus lines. A faster shutter speed or a tripod or monopod sharpens photos.

9. Using a smaller f-stop such as f-16 creates more depth of field than a large opening. For example, a photographer might be doing a scenic with an old fence in the foreground and a pond in the background. The fence should be as sharp as the horizon, which requires depth of field.

10. Rules are meant to be broken artfully.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:



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