Thursday, February 20, 2014

Portrait photography assignment

click photo to enlarge
In this blog I've always stressed my enjoyment of the fact that I can photograph what I want, when I want and how I want. In other words, that I am an enthusiast and not a professional photographer. However, I am not blind to the fact that the imperative of getting a good shot because you must, can be a strong driver in achieving high standards.

The other day, as I picked up my DSLR and lenses and set off on a portraiture assignment, I had an inkling (though only a tiny one) of what it might be like to work as a pro. I was on my way to secure some images to accompany a magazine article. What made this assignation somewhat different from that of the average professional was that it was for a small, not-for-profit, community magazine. Moreover, the subjects, despite their rather glamorous sounding names of Miss Hunny, Miss Nimbus and Miss Lemon, weren't models, starlets, celebrities or even, thank heavens, civic worthies; they were three hens. Rather fetching hens with striking plumage, but hens nonetheless. My task was to photograph each of the "ladies" so that their portraits could accompany a magazine article by their owner. It was entitled, "Tales from Cluckingham Palace", this being the very grand and delightfully silly name of their hen house.

There are predictable problems when it comes to photographing hens. The first is that they don't respond well to instruction; in fact, they don't respond at all. Then there's the heads that rarely stop jerking backwards and forwards. In fact, even when the body is still the head moves! And finally there is their size - small - and the type of abode in which they live - muddy - with "deposits" liberally scattered about in the environment in which you have to crouch with your camera. However, like a true pro I went about my task determinedly, fired off a dozen or so shots, and was pleased that I was using a relatively high megapixel count camera so that I could crop out the intruding tail feathers, wire netting, wooden ramp etc. I went away confident that I'd got what I needed for the article. Miss Nimbus is for me, the best of this avian bunch photographically speaking, so I'll only inflict her on you as evidence of my travails and my success.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon 5DMk2
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 282mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On