My thirst for creating beautiful and technically good photos increases day by day. The problem is that when I am suddenly face to face with the subject, many questions arise: What elements should I include in the composition? How much depth of field should I use? What is the most expressive way to portray the subject? What is the best point of view with regard to the sun? And I must answer each of those questions every time I want to make a beautiful picture.
"That's the reason I asked for some assistance from a friend who could take care of catching and then handling the lizard while I was photographing it."
The image "The Hunter" is the result of approximately three hours of teamwork; in order to shoot this photograph, I needed a friend's help. I left home knowing that I wanted to photograph a subject like this one; however, they're usually camouflaged and tucked away in the tall blades of grass, and they're extremely difficult to catch since they move very fast and hide quickly. That's the reason I asked for some assistance from a friend who could take care of catching and then handling the lizard while I was photographing it.
Not far from where I live there is a place that hosts tons of small creatures. This is where, after a long search, we managed to find and catch this lizard. Due to its size, we had to be very careful so we wouldn't hurt it. Once I had my subject, I found myself facing another issue: Which elements would I include in the composition to best complement the lizard? It was not exactly easy to make a final decision, but after many attempts, I decided to use a tall plant that would eliminate any disturbing elements in the frame, and at the same time, allow me to obtain a large depth of field.
Not surprising, my biggest problem was when I placed the lizard on the plant. It immediately jumped to hide from me. I eventually resolved this issue by wrapping my shirt around the plant, so if the lizard jumped again, it would have nowhere to go. This way it could easily be recaptured and reset on the plant for another attempt to photograph it while trying to jump.
"Right before it leaped onto my shirt, it took a few seconds to contemplate the big jump, and during this moment of indecision was when I shot this photo."
I repeated this procedure many times until I got the result I wanted. I took about 35 pictures of this subject with a Canon EOS 60D and a Tamron 17-50mm lens. The distance between the subject and the lens was about 10 inches (25 cm). The light was excellent. It was a warm light at the beginning of autumn, which illuminated my subject during the last moments of daylight. It allowed me portray the subject just as I had hoped, showing off all of its features. Yet, at the same time, the light had already lost its intensity, and this in turn required me to shoot with a long shutter speed. Consequently, I increased the ISO to 400 and opened the lens to a wide aperture of f/4, turning the exposure time into 1/25 second. With these settings, I managed to capture the subject in a moment of hesitation. Right before it leaped onto my shirt, it took a few seconds to contemplate the big jump, and during this moment of indecision was when I shot this photo.
It was not easy to obtain this image; in fact, I was really surprised that it was so difficult to photograph a subject of this kind. So when I saw the picture on my monitor, especially after the post-processing, I was happy that it turned out to be a good photograph.
This image was processed in Lightroom 5. It was pretty easy to process, mainly because the composition was fairly simple.
1) For more contrast, I made the following adjustments in the Basic panel: Highlights 62, Shadows +55, Whites 40 and Blacks +26.
2) In the Tone Curve panel: Highlights +44, Lights +11, Darks 0 and Shadows 20
3) I needed the colors to appear more realistic. This would enhance the elements in the composition as well as the beautiful sunset light. To do this, in the HSL/Color/B&W panel, I selected Color and made the following adjustments:
a) Orange Saturation +40 and Luminance +20
b) Yellow Saturation +56 and Luminance +31
c) Green Saturation +38
4) To give the subject more clarity, I needed to add a bit of sharpness. In the Details panel under Sharpening, I set Amount to 100, Radius to 1.5, Detail to 85 and Masking to 48.
5) Below Sharpening in the Details panel, under Noise Reduction, I set Luminance to 50, Detail to 100 and Contrast to 50.
6) Also, to direct the viewer's attention to the main subject and to accentuate the depth in the image, I selected the Effects panel. Under Post-Crop Vignetting: Style, I chose Highlight Priority and set Amount to 20 and Midpoint to 30.
1) From my point of view, the two key elements in photography are patience and perseverance. You don't need special techniques or expensive equipment.
2) This type of subject can be portrayed in many ways, depending on the location. An important rule that I learned from experience is to not try to overload the composition with elements. It's good to keep the image as simple and natural as possible.
3) The light is also very important in making a successful image. Choose to shoot during the first hours of morning or evening so the light gives a pleasant contrast to your composition.
I'm from Romania, and a few years ago, photography was just a hobby for me, but now it has increasingly become an occupation that is as important as my day job. Currently my greatest passion is photography. I invest a lot of time in it, and I try to evolve with every photograph I shoot. I enjoy cycling, hiking and mountain trips, especially in the winter and in extreme conditions, and I run a web store specialized in photography equipment. However, what I enjoy the most is macro photography.
I spend a lot of time studying photography by practice and theory, and it seems that I have chosen the best way to express myself. All I have to do is develop my skills, especially because I plan to make a living by drawing on my passion for photography.