View Full Version : Photographing farm animals !!

25th March 2010, 07:46 PM
Just looking for some tips and advice please.

I have been asked to take some pics for a friend who has a good number of farm and smaller animals on a small petting zoo. The pics might well end up on the web and perhaps on a promotional brochure.

I have the E510, 14-42, 40-150mk1 and an om 50mm f1.8(new purchase so unfamiliar as yet). I am thinking the 40-150 and 14-42 for the majority of shots and perhaps if I am confident enough the om 50mm.

Am I thinking in the right direction or should I look to using the hire facility and use something else?

All advice on lenses welcome as would be any tips on composition.

Thanks in advance


25th March 2010, 07:59 PM
Hi Greg

I would use the 40-150mm at around the 100mm end (hiring something like the 14-54, 12-60, 50-200mm would be better, if possible) and treat the shots like any other portraits, lowish f stop to throw out the background, iso 100 if light allows and one important thing, doesnt matter if its people or animals always focus for the eyes and then re-compose.

Hope this helps and look forward to seeing the shots *chr

25th March 2010, 09:38 PM
Thanks Steve,

just the thought of doing this is making me nervous:eek: Give me a beach to myself and I am fine but people watching *crap

No matter it will be good experience and character building:o

The price of the 14-54 looks nice on hire terms:)

25th March 2010, 09:45 PM
I suppose lots of ways of doing this, but for me, I'd stick to one lens at a time and concentrate on the capabilities of that lens and how it best works with the animals. If need be then have a second shoot with a different lens to capture the animals in a different way.

Away from that, get used to the animals and their idiosyncratic ways - for example, watch the ears of donkys/horses to see if they are at ease or not, watch how the animals are reacting to you and the camera and whether they get 'nervous', and watch if the animals react to certain situations (i.e. does having food to hand make them more amenable and easier to photograph close too with a wide angle zoom, or if they are nervous are you better using a telephoto zoom to capture them at a greater distance?)

If the photos are for promotion of a petting zoo then some of the composition may need to include children or other users of the zoo, and obviously asking first, explaining usage and getting permissions may be a major part of the shoot - or otherwise take along your family or use the owner's family. And this can be fine or it can be a minefield!


25th March 2010, 09:58 PM
Some great advice there from Chris and the point about permission is a major thing to keep in mind these days, if you photograph anyone these days esp children you need a signed consent form for the images to be used commercially ie websites, leaflets etc.

If you need a consent form PM me and I'll email you forms I use

But just remember photography is something you love doing and all your doing is photographying a different subject, sounds to me like a great project and im sure you will have fun capturing the day ;)


Yes I'd recommend the 14-54mm, I use it for everything, I shouldnt really in some cases, but I just love the images it takes, so if you can squeeze it into your budget, go for it

25th March 2010, 10:17 PM
Thanks Chris and Steve for some great advice.

I fully intend to take my own family along as subjects but of course there may be others present so thanks for the advice re permission. The owners will be there too so hopefully the animals will be relaxed, although there are some new spring arrivals so their mums might need some careful handling.

It will be great fun though as long as I don't let nerves get the better of me :p

Thanks again


25th March 2010, 10:35 PM
I suggest you use a monopod rather than a tripod.....if you have one.

Even with shoft focal lengths, it can help. See my baby cow images from last week.

I also suggest tring to get down to the level of the animal if they are small. It can give a better image, just dont get too close or you may scare them.

As already stated, enjoy relax and yourself.

Also, dont forget to take more than one set of batteries and memory cards.....you never know when you may run out.

25th March 2010, 10:53 PM
Cheers John,

two great images of the fluffy moos. If I get close to your standard I will be well chuffed.*yes

I had not even thought about using any camera support but that is food for thought. I will take my tripod along.

Many thanks


25th March 2010, 11:02 PM
If there is a lot of light, and if you have one, try adding a PL filter. It may help with contast.

What do you use to process your images?

25th March 2010, 11:17 PM
I have a cpl and hopefully we will have sunshine over the weekend.

I had been using picasa but have just purchased elements 8. Another steep learning curve but great fun.

25th March 2010, 11:25 PM
If you have not yet done so, I suggest downloading the Adobe RAW update for Elements 8.


The auto-updater does not download the RAW updates (well, it did not on my system)

26th March 2010, 12:01 AM
Thanks again John. I have never shot in raw before....the learning curve just got steeper.

Nick Temple-Fry
26th March 2010, 12:40 AM
Regardless of whether you shoot raw (though I'd recommend it), take 'test' shots and watch the histogram - animal hair can be surprisingly reflective to natural light.

Enjoy yourself, photographs are much the same regardless of the subject, they need shape/symmetry and order.


26th March 2010, 01:26 AM
Cheers Nick,

the histogram is a great tool and one I tend to overlook all too often.

It will be fun working with kids and animals:)



26th March 2010, 07:44 AM
Hi Greg, don't sweat it you will do fine with your talent with a camera, just use the the long end of the 40-150 for head/portrait shots and the 14mm end of the 14-42 for the fun whacky shots and inbetween for the rest.:)

Thanks for the flickr comment on the farmyard anima portrait, I have just added another one which might give you some idea for a humourous wide angle type shot.:)

By the way you do not need to update PSE 8 raw converter for the E-510.

26th March 2010, 09:17 AM
Thanks Paul,

I think you must have left some magic in the e510:)

Great examples in your flickr pages. The wide angle shot of the cow is one I will definitely try*chr

Just need the rain to ease off and the sun to stick its nose out over the weekend.



26th March 2010, 05:51 PM
Hi Greg,
A million apologies if this seems like dumb advice, but if, like me, you're used to shooting on aperture priority, you might want to switch to shutter priority for animals etc, as they have the annoying habit of moving just when you've composed the shot. I have both the 14-42 and the 14-54 and would use the latter not because of better image quality, but because the wider max aperture would help me keep the shutter speed at at least 1/250th, whilst retaining the ISO as low as possible.

Sorry if this seems all too obvious, but I know I sometimes I forget the basics when put on the spot...


26th March 2010, 10:49 PM
Simon thank you for your input. All advice is very welcome:)

Locally our forecast is for some sunshine over the weekend so that should help with getting decent shutter speeds.

I am actually quite looking forward to doing it now thanks to all the help and encouragement of the forum members*yes

Huge thanks to everyone and I will of course post some pics.