Photographing Animals at Work
This at work photography theme leads one to truly appreciate things a bit more since you are exposed to a variety of labors and you can therefore start to realize that things don't get done by themselves, especially in the natural kingdom,and even the most insignificant of things take effort.
One gets to really appreciate the work and the complexity with which things get done and the key role that animals play in our lives and the well being of the planet, something we often take for granted. Then perhaps later you can begin to focus on work performed by people.
This theme has an unending supply of subjects but consider focusing on the work of nature; in other words the work done by animals for themselves and for us. We are not referring to the gathering of food or the act of hunting for it. Our efforts should be aimed at the work that many species of animals do, such as that done by bumble bees, ants, birds, mules and so on.
You will have to do some detective work in order to locate suitable subjects and even when you locate suitable subjects you will have to do a little scouting and research.
For example if you are able to locate a nest of bumble bees, you will need to observe them for some time in order to see what the best times to photographing them will be, at what time are the bees more active, how often do they return to the nest, what are the best vantage points from where to record images.
You will also have to decide upon which lens to use in order to keep safe and to avoid disturbing them. This will also likely take you on a safari as it were to capture images of the bee's foraging locations.
Ants are another very industrious species, here your scouting will lead you to their nest building process but can also encompass their gathering efforts. Many ant species have been known to have the ability of carrying twice their body weight. Record images of them carrying things such as large leaves.
Capture single specimens as they perform their labors as well as multiple subjects all involved in the same process. Nest building is another area to focus upon.
Capture images of birds as they gather the nest building materials and if possible capture the nest building stages. Animals that perform work for people such as horses, elephants mules and guard dogs should also be included in this project.
Again, try to capture single specimens as they do their work. Carnivals and zoos can provide samples of the more difficult species to find depending on what part of the world you happen to reside in.
Many species of wildlife routinely do "housework", record images of them while they spruce up their abode or fix any broken parts.
People also work, but your emphasis should revolve around capturing images of people whilst involved with animals. Police dogs, blind guide dogs, rescue dogs are just some of the few. Keep in mind that you may have to secure permission to photograph some of these subjects as many are offered the same regulatory protection to which their human counterparts are entitled.
Be sensitive when photographing animal workers and their interaction with humans. If there are doubts that the animals are being neglected or abused, it is better not to take their photos unless your intentions include reporting such neglect which in itself is a noble endeavor
There are other species that while they perform some sort of beneficial labor, don't appear to be actually working and efforts to record their images must in some way relate to the audience as to what it is that they do, such as the common spider; they consume large quantities of insects thus they serve as a regulatory vehicle to control the insect population, frogs perform a similar function and so does the common dragonfly which consumes a huge number of mosquitoes every single night.
Nature is full of situations and examples like these and there should never be a lack of subjects. research into habits and patience thus become the key to obtaining good photographs.
If however you find yourself unable to locate subjects, remember that most butterflies and many other insects serve as plant pollinators transferring from flower to flower the much needed pollen required by plants and fruit trees in their propagation process and they are rather abundant and not too hard to photograph.
Even house pests perform their work too. Common house mice are just one of the many trash collectors of the natural world.
Did you also know that termites are in charge of consuming dead trees in the forest? Without them nature would have a more difficult time in its recycling efforts.
It's just too easy to put our needs before those of nature, but when one stops and analyzes everything and puts it into perspective an entire world opens up and becomes clear and it is often at this time that one becomes aware of how nature in its infinite wisdom does everything with a purpose.
Focus your efforts not on capturing pretty images, instead dedicate yourself to the recording of animal labor from the smallest to the biggest, from the most seemingly mundane to the more complicated.
Almost every single nature photography publications will be approachable to samples of this work and submitting your images to them should not prove to be very difficult, provided that your images are technically sound and appealing.
This theme will not only provide you with good subject selection, but can also open up an entire new photographic avenue, one which can lead you to fall in love with nature and lead to a life long relationship, which can often prove to be very rewarding.
Besides nature photographic publications, general photography publications and specialized publications, these images are widely used by greeting card manufacturers, advertisers, and many others.
Remember to capture images from various angles such as high and low, including close ups, macro, telephoto and wide angle shots.
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez
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