Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How to Photograph Your Dexter

(NOTE:  This is the second post in the series of How to Register Your Dexter.)

Take some GOOD photos of your animal for its online pedigree.  This is fun, but it does need to be done RIGHT!  

Siobhan's Photo Number 1 - It could be better because she's still growing and is rump-high.  One leg is not square.  Although this photo is acceptable, I've decided to wait until Siobhan sheds her winter coat and is nice and sleek before submitting a photo online.

The process for getting photos of your animal posted is explained in "Frequently Asked Questions" at the bottom of the ADCA "Online Pedigree" page.  The exact photo size that you may submit is clearly explained.

Let me give you a few tips concerning photo quality:
  • Use a good digital camera, not a cheap cell phone camera!
  • Choose a sunny or slightly overcast day instead of a cloudy day.  Sunlight will show up details that are especially hard to see on a black animal.  
    Photo taken in poor light
  • Halter the animal and tie it, if possible.  That makes it easier to get a photo with the animal's head up.  Grazing photos just aren't as professional-looking. You want your animal standing tall and proud!  
    Photo taken head down doesn't show the animal's conformation in its best light
  • Photograph the animal in the open with the light shining on the side towards you.  Photos taken under trees lead to confusing patches of light and dark on your animal.  Photos taken on the shaded side of the animal will appear more like silhouettes.  
    Photo taken in patchy shade
  • Photograph the animal straight on from the side.  If you stand towards the front of the animal you will get a photo that cuts off the hind end, making it look skimpier than it really is.  This is not a good idea, considering that most people want their Dexters beefy!  
    A photo taken too far toward the head cuts off hindquarters
  • Make sure the animal is standing as squarely as possible.  
    Animal standing every which way
  • Take another photo showing the animal's face.  A good shot is one from the side with the animal's face turned toward you.  That could be your second photo.  
    Siobhan's Photo Number 2 - She's not standing quite square, but she's close.  This photo is acceptable, but I'll retake one showing her sleek summer coat for her online pedigree.
  • Take a close-up of the animal's face, either from the front or side.  That could be your third photo.  
    Siobhan's Photo Number 3 - I edited out the slobber stringing down from her chin.  Again, this photo is acceptable, but I'll get a shiny summer one for her online pedigree.
  • Make sure your animal is CLEAN!  Try not to take your photos in the midst of the mud season with mud up to your animal's knees.  Remember:  This photo is going to permanently represent YOU as a breeder!  
    A muddy animal makes you look bad!
  • Consider waiting till the animal is mature to photograph it, especially for a bull.  Calves are cute, but baby photos don't accurately represent your animal.  And calves don't stay still for long in the ideal photo stance!  
    She's a cutie, but a photo like this gives no idea of the animal she will become.
  • If your animal has a runny nose or is slobbering, wipe it off or edit it out of the photo.  
Basic photo retouching can easily remove slobber.
  • Avoid cluttered backgrounds in your photo.  Make sure your animal is the star, not the environment.  Everyone knows a farm can have rusty equipment, brush piles and crooked fences, but they sure don't make your animal shine in a photo! 
    The ducks, the post, the feedbox and the corral panel all compete with Sara for attention.  
  • Crop your photo tight enough to cut out excess space around the animal, leaving just enough room in case further cropping is necessary on the website.   
    It's anyone's guess what the animal really looks like 'way out there!
  • Avoid strange angles, awkward poses and natural functions such as mooing or peeing.  You're trying to represent your animal at its best--not win a creative photo award! 
    While this shot of Sara is humorous, it certainly doesn't show her at her best.
  • Finally, wait to photograph your animal in its summer coat.  Short, glossy hair shows off your animal much better than a shaggy winter coat.  (Do as I say, not as I did!  I took Siobhan's photos for the purpose of this post, but I will NOT use them as her official pedigree photos.  I'll retake the same poses in a month or so when she's looking her best.)  Remember to use some fly spray before your photo session, too.  A cloud of flies distracts from your animal!
This photo of Siobhan and our steer won't work as a pedigree photo, but it does illustrate how much better she looks in her summer coat.

When I'm looking for bulls to breed to my cow, I want to know what they look like, so I've looked at lots of bull photos.  Some look practically professional and show proud, muscular bulls.  Others are just poor photos:  So dark you can hardly see the animal . . . or the bull is in grass up to his belly hiding his legs . . . or he's surrounded by barnyard junk . . . or he's so far away you can't even be sure he's a bull . . . or his photo shows a gangly youngster in the midst of an array of impressive bulls.

In case you are new to photo editing and aren't sure how to meet the requirements for the ADCA website, let me give you a few hints.  (I'm working on a Mac using iPhoto and Preview to edit, but most computers come with at least some basic photo editing capabilities.  If not, inform yourself at BestBuy!)

  • You need to start with a 4 x 6" photo.  If your photo software doesn't automatically do that, you can use your Crop function and choose 4 x 6.
  • Your main pedigree photo must be 360 x 240 pixels or 640 x 480 pixels (leaving enough room to crop).  I drag the photo I want onto my Desktop.  Then I double click on it, opening it in Preview.  In Preview I select "Tools" and choose "Adjust Size" from the drop down menu.  This opens a window with what might look like a math quiz to you.  Don't worry!  Where it says "Fit into 'Custom' pixels," click next to "Custom" and choose 360 x 240 or 640 x 480.  (The larger size will give a better photo, but there must be enough room around your animal to crop for the website.)  Click on "OK."  Then select "File" and click "Save" in the drop down menu.  Easy as pie!
  • Your second and third photos have to be very small, only 174 x 116 pixels.  Double click on your photo to open it in Preview.  Choose "Tools" and "Adjust Size" as above.  This time go straight to where it says "Width" and "Height."  Delete the larger of those numbers and type in "174."  The other number will automatically change to "116."  Click "OK" and go to "File" and click "Save."  Wasn't that easy?  
  • Note that you can also rotate photos and adjust color in Preview.  You can choose "Rotate Left" or "Rotate Right" as many times as it takes to get your photo upright.  I'm not going to explain how to adjust color; if you don't know how, you should probably just leave it alone! 
  • You can also crop in Preview, though it's not as straightforward.  Go to "Tools" and click on "Select Tool" in the drop down menu.  Put your cursor over the photo and you'll see a + sign.  Put it where you want the upper left corner of your cropped photo to be.  Click and hold with your mouse, and drag the + down toward where you want the lower right corner of your photo to be.  You'll see a dotted line frame the area to be cropped.  When the area inside the dotted frame looks like you want your photo to look, release your mouse.  Go back to "Tools" and click on "Crop" in the drop down menu.  Then go to "File" and save.  Congratulations!  You have cropped your photo!  Unfortunately, this does not enable you to crop to a 4 x 6" size; it's better to do that in your photo editing program like iPhoto, Windows Live Photo Gallery, HP Photosmart Studio, etc.

The photos we take of our animals represent us as breeders to the outside world and to interested inquirers who come looking at pedigrees.  The better our photos are, the better our Dexters look! 

Remember:  A picture is worth a thousand words!  Let yours speak volumes for you!

Save the cute and goofy photos--and write a blog!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I LOVE comments so please take a minute and let me know you were here! Sorry I have to use Captcha, but I hope you'll comment anyway! Comments make my day! :)