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Old Wednesday 8th February 2006, 07:31   #1
Timberdoodler
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Absolute Newbie

I know little to nothing about photography, but I recently attained a Sony FD Mavica digital camera for practically nothing. Photos as references are essential as an illustrator, so I'm hoping to eventually become a better photographer so I have better references.

In any scenario, what would you equip a newbie like me with to get me started?

Attached are a few photos I took of some domestic ducks on a local pond. Any input, critical or otherwise would be greatly appriciated. Please mind the fact that I'm new at this.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2006, 13:13   #2
normjackson
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As the Wimbledon umpire said to the linesman "Are you sure?" That is, are you sure you want to take on photographing wildlife? Had a look through your previous posts and seems like you have your lap pretty full at the moment Even if you're only looking at a rather casual approach to photography (which perhaps would not give results that would satisfy you particularly in such a demanding genre), couldn't this still distract your focus in some way from your artwork and observations? The photography side of things would require extra time, effort, money and an extra piece of kit to drag around. Maybe good bins, scope and sketchpad are more the tools in trade of a wildlife artist than a camera these days? These are all speculations by me of course and perhaps some amount of paranoia

Even if as you say photos as references are essential to an illustrator, do they have to be your photos? I realise there might some sort of breach of copyright if you were to do a direct copy of someone elses photo into a drawing but presumably that isn't how you envisaged using your own photos anyway.

Having said this, at the size posted those duck pictures look really good. I guess photos like these would be a help in making sketches and designing a composition. For a more reliable record of colours and particularly feather detail you would probably need a better camera and lots of practice with it. Or perhaps do as you already do (?) and observe the live animals (or perhaps the taxidermist's art ) and review good quality pictures on interent (plenty here at BirdForum).

Mind you, it would be great if you could produce some good reproductions of your pictures in the gallery. Is the Mavica up to this?
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Old Friday 10th February 2006, 08:18   #3
Timberdoodler
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Thank you for your input Norm, it is much appriciated.

The primary reason I have even considered photography is because the majority of illustrators I've talked to are also moderately talented "picture-takers". (I'll refrain from calling them photographers as photography is not a profession in most of their cases!) Wildlife illustrators often have files upon files of photos they've taken, alongside those taken by others, and I've been STRONGLY adviced to get a decent camera and learn how to take pictures.

Thankfully, I have a taxidermist friend, and I frequent his office regularly, studying the details of the animals. All this in addition to observing live animals.

Do you feel my photos are quality enough to submit to the site gallery, or did I miss understand? And also, what do you mean by "reproductions" of my pictures?

Sorry...it's been a long day. I thought it was basically a *click* and *submit* type thing where the photos were accepted or declined on entry. I'll have to investigate tomorrow when my eyelids don't weigh 20 tons!
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Old Friday 10th February 2006, 15:30   #4
normjackson
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Hi Michael. First up, I think you have to explicitly put your pictures into the gallery. You need to select the right category (birds of particular continent, or separate artwork gallery) and put some details in which could help interested parties find them by keyword. No doubt the photographs of ducks you posted would fit fine into the mix there. A bit bigger would be better.

By "good reproductions of pictures" (sorry I wasn't clear) I meant I'd like to see better (or maybe just bigger) photos in the galleries of your drawings as posted by you in an earlier thread. Perhaps need to formalise a workflow including always scanning or photographing your artwork before framing behind glass to make sure you get best quality.

If you see your interest in photography as photographing things that are, lets say, animal size and are not necessarily up close then you will want good magnification in your lens. Maybe the Mavica camera you have is one of the big zoom ones that helped you get those duck photos. You could replace this with a more modern version such as cameras in the '10-12X Optical "Super" Zoom' section here :
http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html
They'd be quicker to use, generally less bulky and be capable of higher quality results. For results of a higher quality still, particularly with moving objects, you'd need to consider a DSLR. That's certainly a lot more bulk and weight as well as cash.

If the critters you want to photograph are substantially smaller and/or shyer than ducks and you already have at least a reasonable scope and tripod, you might be tempted to get a more compact camera with less zoom and have a go at digiscoping. Plenty of advice available in the "Digiscoping" forum here on the latter route.

Difficult to advise when so much depends on what you hope to achieve in your photos, how committed you expect to be (or from the other end how "intrusive" you are prepared to let the photography become), what kit you already have and of course how much you are prepared to spend. Maybe the best thing would be to absorb all the info you can from BirdForum.
Hope you've shed a few pounds from your eyelids overnight
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