Animal Photography Photo Critique
by Kathleen Reeder
Category: Animal Photography
Exposure time: 1/800 ,
Description: Nikon D3s camera. I was on assignment at Out of Africa Wildlife Park. They wanted a see all >
Nikon D3s camera. I was on assignment at Out of Africa Wildlife Park. They wanted a close up of the Gaboon Viper with the background blurred. I wanted to highlight the eyes and markings, and show the motion with the tongue out.
Subject of photo
Composition & Perspective
Use of camera, exposure & speed
Color & Lighting
Depth of field
Scary and dramatic and caught in a spot with no distracting foreground or background material. The tongue action is a bonus and demonstrates that you have patience and timing.
The colors in the foreground and background create a great harmony in this image: not too contrasted and not so similar as to make the subject blend in. I realize you might not get too much choice with a snake, but an angle slightly more to the 3/4 profile would have taken this up a notch. At 3/4 profile you would see separation between the "nose horns" for more scary drama. The tongue is a great addition to the shot. I like the crop just to the head as it highlights the arrow shape of the head and forced to concentrate on the details like scales and color patches.
I like the drop off of focus in the background (blurred background) and the detail of the scales that thus pops out. The tongue does not look fully in focus to me which is disappointing. Your shutter was fast but maybe not fast enough as it seems other details in the same plane like the far "horn" are in focus.
Good anticipation to catch the tongue at full extension! I wonder if an even faster shutter would have got the tongue full in focus - you would probably have to do this with a tripod as well.
Beautiful nature color pallet and sharpness of the scales. There is one band of sheen on the cheek that could be toned down in post production - it is a tiny bit distracting. The overall lighting conveys information about the snakes habitat: warm and dry.
If you could have had a tiny bit more focus on the left eye (background eye) it would enhance the visual description of this snakes head and its odd and large shape. I like the blur to the background and the fact that it is clean of distracting detail.
A sharp, startling, and detailed image that seems to fulfill your mission. A few details can take this image further but as is it demonstrates skill and planning. The eye level perspective was a good choice.
How to improve your photo
Try an angled profile to try to get as many eyes in full or partial as possible. Always focus on the eyes and use dodge and burn techniques to enhance them in post production
Take many shots and experiment with setting, in this case shutter speed to freeze the action
Adjust your depth of field to include all of the details of the animal. For me in this photo, the back eye was important and I feel it should have been a little more in focus. This would also pull the snake out from the background color as well.
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