(including reptiles, insects and pets)

Many of us take photos of our pets or other animals, but the results can be disappointing unless we get in really close.

Hints and tips from Philip Grosset

Tomato frog
This Tomato Frog from Madagascar shows the advantage of getting in really close. So many beginners' photos are taken from much too far away. Also notice the use of a simple natural background, with no irrelevant items to distract the attention.
Surinam toad
Try to obtain really characteristic pictures that reveal something of animal life. Here the Surinam Toad is shown mimicking a dead leaf. The more you find out about your subject, the more revealing your photos can become.
Baby water dragon
This baby water dragon picture combines a big close-up with an apparently natural and highly appropriate background. In fact all three of these photos were taken in the The Palms Tropical Oasis at Stapely Water Gardens in Cheshire.
The photos above were all taken through protective glass. Hold your lens as close as to the glass as possible so as to avoid reflections and marks on the glass, and, of course, don't use flash. Try to photograph your subject when it is not moving, or you may get a blurred result.

Make sure that your subject clearly stands out from its background. Here it is a great help that the background has different colors and has also been thrown right out of focus. If your camera phone does not allow selective focusing, you can at least aim for contrasting colours. Photo sent to me by Karen of Colorado.
Wild animals often look best in natural surroundings. This dramatic photo, taken in Africa, was sent to me by Matthew Whitford. The low camera angle adds to the effect.
Kitten on grass
Domestic pets too are often best shown behaving naturally in natural surroundings. This kitten is just about to pounce on me, so I have left room in front for it to pounce into.
You'll probably also want to photograph pets in domestic situations. Again, try to obtain natural looking pictures like this - there's no need to dress pets up in funny clothes to make them amusing! Watch out that the eyes that bring pictures like this to life are not lost in shadow, and try to communicate, as here, why you find your pet attractive. This photo was sent me by Bonny Creevy.
A really appealing photo by June Rose Russell. It's often better not to position your subject right in the middle of the picture, but here it adds to the trapped-in effect. Keep your camera handy at all times so that you can grab opportunities like these.
If your camera will not allow you to get as close in as this, you can always try cropping the picture later.


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