Time for my rant about ears in photographs and how important it is to have them up when you make animal photographs.
So what does that have to do with Halloween?
Stick with me here…I’m about to tell you.
First, let’s look at two photographs and decide which one is worth keeping.
Does this look like a happy horse?
How about this one?
Ok. This was sort of a no-brainer, but it’s an important no-brainer. If you decided that the second photo was the way to go, you get an A+.
Having the ears up when you photograph animals is like taking photographs of a person with a smile. You wouldn’t take a photograph of a person who was scowling, would you? Hope not. Well then, don’t do it with animals either.
To get those ears up, you need good props. Halloween is the perfect time to find them. The stores are full of tiny little thingies that go bump in the night.
Here’s my favorite prop of all time. When you turn on the battery, the wings move and it makes a ghoulish noise. Depending on what you are photographing, this is a great prop!
But be careful. Horses are skittish, so a prop like this might send them off over the fence running from witches. Fun as this prop is, hand puppets or mirrors seem to work best for horses.
Dogs and cats love this prop. They’re curious, so when the wings start to flap, up go the ears.
You never know with llamas and alpacas. Sometimes this prop works, sometimes it doesn’t. There’s a fine line between too much stimulation from the prop (ears go back), and just the right amount (ears go forward as the animal watches the prop).
The point is, you have to have a lot of different props and you have to experiment with them to find out which ones work best. The above prop might be my favorite, but that doesn’t mean it will work well with every animal.
So get a cloth bag and stuff it with all sorts of props. Why the bag? So you can carry it around in the field, barn or house without the animal being able to see the props ahead of time. The attention span of animals is short. Keep them hidden, then keep bringing out new props as you work to make a perfect image.
The bottom line is doing whatever it takes to get those ears up. An animal with its ears up also has a good arch to the neck. See how the whole demeanor of this alpaca changes when the ears are up?
Got the picture? Hope so! Find some ghoulish props and get to work.