Training a Photographic Eye: Photo Academy

Sophie stopped suddenly, dropped to the ground and aimed her camera at what looked like a manhole cover in the concrete floor. It was a photo moment only a trained photographer might notice.

“I just wanted to make it look bigger than it actually is and show pattern and texture…” she explained, “…and perspective.”

She moved and put her camera to the edge of a planter, catching the tiny detail around the edge.

Photo Academy students visited Como Zoo today to capture unique images and to practice their new skills.

The industrial silver metal of the manhole cover contrasted sharply with Sophie’s next subject: an exotic blue-tongued skink held by a naturalist nearby. Sophie leaned in close, so close the skink nearly licked her lenses with his darting blue tongue.

“I angled to the side a little bit for the rule of thirds,” she said.

Wyatt hovered his camera over the top of the skink. “I’m doing an overhead shot,” he said. Trying different angles was one of the tasks of the photographers today, in addition to capturing solids, lines, patterns, and perspectives, Wyatt said.

Disregarding the exotic animals around them, Sammie tried to get a shot of what she described as “the squirrel-rat thingy.” It was actually a scavenging chipmunk, the girls all laughed.

Sammie experimented with capturing texture on the horns of the caribou dozing in the sun. “I did a close up to show the texture and how it’s soft,” she said.

Another technique – macrophotography – inspired the students to take super close up shots. “We’re going to do a thing in class tomorrow where you put your camera really close to something and the class will have to figure out what it is,” Sammie explained.

Izzy got a head start on the macro lesson. She attempted a photo of the tiger that she hoped would fill up the entire screen. “It didn’t turn out how I wanted,” she said. “I could have zoomed in more.”

She used her new knowledge at the polar bear exhibit. She shoved her camera near my face to reveal a close up shot of a polar bear paw with long, curled claws. “Guess what this is!” she laughed.

SA Photographer Erinn offered some tips to the girls who were trying to take photos of animals behind double wire fences. “I put (the camera) right against the wire and zoomed in through it,” Hailey said. She moved her camera sideways to shoot through the opening in the second fence and ended up with a nice photo of a mountain goat with no distracting fence lines.

Sam was challenged to shoot not only through a wire fence, but also through a thick window at the polar bear enclosure. She was careful to stand back from the finger-smudged glass. “If you push the camera up against the glass it’ll pick up dirt or glare,” she said.

In the Pollinator tent, Emily and Teagan focused on shooting patterns. “I took pictures of leaves and how they pattern with each other all on the same plant, but going different ways,” Emily said.

Teagan experimented with different perspectives. “It looks better when you’re not always just looking at it standing up,” she said. “You can look at it from above or from the ground.”

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