Wildlife Photogrpahy

Quick Digital Imaging Tip 32/101: Keep It Level

This is tip #32 of 101 digital imaging tips I plan to post here over the next few months. Stay tuned.

Today's tip: Keep it Level.

Not keeping the horizon line level is of the biggest mistakes novice still photographers make.

Keeping the horizon line level, and the entire scene level for that matter, is even more important when shooting video . . . but not always, as recently pointed out by an astute reader.

I've found, by watching Juan Pons in action, that the easiest way to keep the scene level is to use the Manfrotto Ball Leveller (438).

I just got mine. Juan was using his when we were at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas shooting videos for our upcoming Wiley Publishing DVD: Canon DSLR Video Master Class.

The new holiday classic, The Christmas Cheetah, was shot at Fossil Rim with the Canon EOS 7D and Canon 70-200mm IS f/4 lens. The camera/lens set-up was mounted on the rig you see at the opening of this post.

For all my video gear, click here.

Explore the light,

Crop My Pictures and You Are a Dead Man

“Crop my picture and you’re a dead man.” That’s what David Page, one of the contributors to my books, Digital Photography Secrets, said to me in an email when he submitted one of his pictures for publication. After his demand was a happy face!

Basically, David, a heck of a nice guy and former fine art photographer and teacher at Duke University, was asking, in a nice way, that his image not be cropped.

David’s comment was the inspiration for a column that I wrote for Layers magazine.

I agree 100 percent with David's philosophy. To me, and to most of my photographer friends, cropping in-camera and in the digital darkroom is one of the keys to a good image – a good exposure and an interesting subject being among the other key ingredients that make a good photograph.

In fact, when I work with publishers, including my friends at Layers magazine, the only request I have is to please not crop my pictures. It’s a request that surely makes the art director’s job more difficult, and I appreciate their extra effort.

Cropping goes hand-in-hand with composition, because if you have an expertly composed photograph and then it’s cropped poorly, the composition goes down the tubes, or maybe to Davy Jones’ Locker, according the David Page.

Explore the Light,