Merced Camera Club, Getting The Picture
Getting The Picture

This is a monthly (or so) feature of our site, in which Merced Camera Club members provide their thoughts
about the creation of some of our favorite images.

July, 2010

"Stark Existence" -Jim Cunningham

How itís done:

When taking wildlife images it is important that the image tell a story. Whether it be the animals' environment, habitat, or just a portrait, it is essential that the viewer knows what you are trying to portray without a title. The image should have impact and hold your attention while you absorb the story of the image.

In taking close-up images of wildlife the eyes are essential. If the animal is walking away or their face turned away there is not nearly the impact. Always leave room in front of the animal to allow room for the subject to move into. If the nose is stuck against one side of the image it does not project the story that you want. Also, don't cut off the tips of the animals toes, ear, tail, etc. If you are going to crop part of the animal make sure that you crop enough so that the viewer (or judge) knows that you did it on purpose. Always, always look around the border of your images and make sure there are no intrusions, hot spots or amputations of animal parts (I call it the "Border Patrol").

If it is an environmental shot, showing the animal in its surroundings, be sure that "the environment" adds something to the nature story of the image. Sometimes "the environment" is cluttered, distracting or just plain not attractive, in that case minimize its use. If "the environment" adds to the story be sure to use it as it will help tell the nature story of the image.

The image shown above "Stark Existence" was taken in the Svalbard Islands north of Norway and above the Arctic Circle. We were aboard our small ship the "Professor Molchanov" and parked against the ice watching this Polar Bear approach the ship and then walk away. I took many images as the bear was approaching but when he started to leave and he turned to look back at the ship I thought I saw a great nature story. To see these magnificient creatures in this stark environment and able to stay healthy and survive tells a wonderful nature story. Their main source of food is seals, and obviously this one has found a few, as he/she appears to be very healthy.

This image was taken with a Canon 5D with a Canon 100-400 IS lens, hand held.

The Birdie

Getting The Picture Archives


"Patriotism," Tom Frazier


"Baby Blue Eyes," Robert Dayton

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