Project 52: Learn to Isolate

March 04, 2016  •  2 Comments

Next up for the 52 Week Project is "Isolate". Where last week was about using wide angles, this week (paraphrasing from David Duchemin's book the Visual Toolbox) is about "including what we want while carefully excluding the rest (of the environment) to not dilute the impact of the elements we were hoping would make the photograph what it is". In our chapter for this week Duchemin introduces us to  two different methods photographers can use to isolate, Point of View (POV) and Angle of View (AOV).

I was at a herding clinic last weekend with my boy Fionn, and used the opportunity to photograph some dogs on the perimeter watching, on the porch chilling out, or dogs that were working. Thanks to all the clinic participants at Alamar Farm for your patience as I wandered around with my camera, sometimes looking quite silly as I got into that perfect position to get the shot.

Point of View is about moving your feet, your body and your camera to get rid of elements and isolate your subject. "What appears and does not appear in front of, behind and around your subject has everything to do with where you stand (or sit, squirm, lie down, get on a ladder...) and where you put your camera". For this first image, I got on the ground just off the porch, balancing my camera on the porch, getting on the same level as the puppy allowing me to exclude most of the busy background of chairs and people.

A friend brought her new Shiba Inu puppy to the clinic. What, do you ask, is a Shiba doing at a herding clinic?? Linda knew the venue was great for socialization. For this shot, I stood and pointed the camera down at the dog to isolate that Shiba Inu foxy face. I just had to get a picture of their quirky tail that curls tightly over their back.

Where "a change of POV means a change of position of the photographer or camera relative to the subject, a change of angle of view is all about which lens you choose". Maybe there is something about the light, the area, the subject that would change drastically if you physically moved, so you choose a specific lens to get the story you want. 

In the next two shots I used different lenses to snap the subjects without me being an element that would disturb the moment. For this next dog I did not want to walk up on her and have her look at me. I wanted to keep the dog concentrating on what was happening in the ring as another dog was working. The change of lens allowed me to isolate what I wanted without disturbing her. 

When a dog is working, sometimes you can't really move around, as the dog and handler are in a specific area of the field. In this case I found standing over the fence, either with or without a ladder just did not give me the view I wanted. POV was not working, I really did not have the latitude to move. I wanted to focus on the dog behind some sheep, showing how the dog was working by having some stock just off camera. I don't usually photograph through a fence, but I was not getting the posture or intensity I wanted. I sat in front of the fence using a panel to frame the dog, catching it just as it entered the open section of the fence. In order to make all this work, I used one of my mid range prime lenses.

While trying to think about doing the various exercises in the book we are following this year, I am also trying to keep in mind the first lesson, know your vision. I like a more natural, photojournalistic style. It's been fun these past three weeks especially, as I could try some techniques, while staying close to my vision. It broadens your perspective on what you can do, taking you outside of your routine, to give you more creativity. Sometimes you just need to be challenged to look at your craft differently.

Remember this is a blog ring. Please continue on to the next Pet Photographer, Susannah Maynard at Pet Love Photography, serving the greater Cincinnati and San Francisco Bay areas.


Wonderful post. I absolutely love the curly tail image.
Such a well written post. Wonderful images as examples. :O)
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