Animal Brothers & Sisters – Photography Tips


This summer was full of interesting photography assignments including Chicken Run Rescue, Animal Humane Society, Minnesota State Fair 4H, Twin Cities Natural Food Co-Ops Farm Tour, Horse Farrier and Edible Twin Cities Magazine.  Photography is often a window into the world for me to get close to the things I love.

ANIMAL HUMANE SOCIETY SUMMER CAMP .  I taught their Animal Photography classes. What a great idea for kids during summer vacation.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Sometimes it’s fun to focus in on the most interesting characteristic of your subject like this dog’s perpetual smile.  Pay attention to the angle as well.  Rather than shooting everything from “human” height, get down where your animal subject is for a more “personal” insight.

Dog Smile

EAT LOCAL FARM TOUR sponsored by the Twin Cities Co-Op is an opportunity not to be missed.  It’s an annual event, so catch it next year for sure.  We have a chance to rub noses with our farmers and their animals in beautiful countryside.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Photojournalism oftens requires the photographer be patient and wait for that moment to happen.  I was aware the sheep and people were near the fence line together, but had to wait until the two actually communed like below.  I shoot on manual mostly so I had my camera settings correct and ready when this happened so I wouldn’t miss the one second opportunity when it happened.  On program, the foreground would have been underexposed because the camera would read for the very light sky behind.

sheperds way sheep with child

Child milking goat

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Professional Digital cameras offer two ways to view (viewfinder and preview screen).  Don’t hesitate to use the preview screen if you need to get up above or around to get the best angle.  Here I help my camera in the air as high as I could, using the preview screen, to get this shot of the Farmer talking with the visitors during farm tour.

Farm Tour

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  This idylic scene at Simple Harvest Farm Organics didn’t happen at once.  I apply fine art principles to my work.  Sometimes I find myself waiting for one element of the composition to move into place before the picture is right, or I move my position to make it so.  I waited for the geese to move right and the birds to fly overhead for about 45 minutes to make a triangular movement to the right.

Ducks and hay trailer

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Simple Harvest Chicken House was flooded in harsh sunlight.  A polarizing filter helps diffuse harsh light and bring out colors.

Simple Harvest Chicken House

CHICKEN RUN RESCUE:  I spent a day with the wonderful people and chickens here photographing the rescue facility at their home.  There’s a goldmine of chicken information on their site (link above).

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  When photographing animals, be sensitive to their needs and behavior.  Often rescue animals need special attention.  I sometimes spend 1/2 hour just sitting in the space with the animal before I bring my camera out.  The animal will usually come to me after they are comfortable.  It’s best not to shove the camera in any animals face.  The number one rule is be respectful.  This sweet full grown chicken lost the use of a leg, but with the loving care from Chicken Run, has a happy life and gets around just fine.

Chicken Run Rescue

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Chicken Run Rescue has indoor and outdoor accommodations.  This cutie prefers to be inside on a cushy nesting box, she’s broody.  It was dark in the room, so I adjusted my ISO to 1800.  The newer, better cameras can handle high ISO’s without too much grain, but not all can.  Also, I used flash, but bounced it off the ceiling so I didn’t freak my little friend out.  Later I adjusted the yellow cast out from the fluorescent lights in photoshop.

chicken run

chicken run rescue

STATE FAIR 4H ANIMAL HUSBANDRY:  I covered a couple days of 4H activities at the fair.  The scope of their offerings are endless from theatre to cow milking.  Most of these kids love their animals and learn through 4H how to be better with their animals.

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  In the 4H barns there’s a combination of fluorescent and daylight, so there’s a yellow cast usually.  I use my flash to fill in dark spaces, but usually bounce it if I can and utilize natural light as much as I can by opening up my aperture to 4.5 or less.

4H sheep

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  It’s best when the light filters through onto the subject as below.  This 4H kid is calming his cow before making their parade into the competition arena.  I used a little fill flash, which means, I manually turned down my flash to 1/2 power to fill in the dark parts.  And as usual, shot on Manual, to adjust for the light background.

4h cow with kid

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Life in a photo is everything, well, at least as important as light.  I love the joy of this woman holding the goat kid and the light that is streaming on her face.  Another good reason to be ready with your camera at any moment for “the shot”.  goat

MARTIN & ATINA DIFFLEY, TURN HERE SWEET CORN:  These two farmers fought the hard fight against big business to save their organic thriving farmland.  Now, they are dedicated to educating consumers and other farmers about the importance of DIRT FIRST and sustainability.  Atina’s book, Turn Here Sweet Corn, is an excellent read…fast, impelling and gives the behind the scene story of why organic farming works.  This was a photo assignment from Edible Twin Cities.

atina diffley

FARRIER . HORSESHOING, AN ANCIENT CRAFT:  Dale Bloomquist is a talented farrier.  Below he is evaluated Karin Winegar’s Thoroughbred for proper balance on each leg and foot.


PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Below, Dale is adjusting a horseshoe for a custom fit to the horse.   To capture tool sparks with some color and movement, I slowed the shutter down to ISO 50.


PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Knowing how much to include in the frame is a careful balance of showing enough to tell the story and discluding distracting extraneous stuff.  Below gives the right amount of information.


Cat scratching treeI hope you enjoyed the photo tips about animals.  Photography can open many doors.  I revel in the world around me with my camera on my hip.  There’s more out there than a girl has time to see and do.  Thanks for perusing my blog.  Please subscribe if you would like to be notified about posts which are every month or so.

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