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Photographing Domestic Animals

( Originally Published 1902 )

HERE we have a most delightful and thoroughly satisfactory branch of work ; the difficulties are not great and the possibilities almost unlimited. Here it is that the photographer shows whether or not he is an artist. Having more or less complete control of the animal, he can arrange his subject so that the lighting will be effective, and the surroundings are, of course, at his disposal. All domestic animals are fit subjects for pictures, from the fat sow and her litter of pink sucklings, to the soft, velvet-coated Angora cat. Whether the animal is the entire subject of the picture or only incidental, he is an equally fit object and deserves the same consideration. Beautiful pictures may be made of animals' heads, but, curiously enough, this is not done as commonly as might be expected. A fine horse's head is in itself a splendid subject for a picture; the same may be said of a dog's or of almost any animal's head.

All that has been said about lenses applies here, but in the way of a camera it is perhaps best to have both a focussing hand-camera and one of large size to be used on the tripod when short-time exposures are possible. There is every advantage to be gained by using isochromatic plates of both medium and great rapidity according to the subject, though for animals whose colour is gray or any neutral colour ordinary plates will answer. For dogs, horses, or other animals in rapid motion the focussing hand-camera fitted with the focal plane-shutter is indispensable. Such pictures are, however, seldom beautiful, even though they may be interesting. The rapid action of an animal looks grotesque when caught with the camera; its attitudes never appear to be natural or correct, and as a matter of fact the positions are not correct as our eyes see them. We see rather the effect of movement than the actual positions assumed by the different parts of the body. All the most beautiful animal photographs are of animals in repose. Such pictures have been .given sufficient exposure, and should be soft and delicate, lacking the strong, hard black-and-white effect of the instantaneous photograph.

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