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The August 'Pets at Play' Final 50

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  September 15, 2010 05:32 PM

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A little curveball today, folks: Barry Chin was unable to judge the contest after all, but we were lucky to get another Globe photo veteran: David L. Ryan, well-known around here for his daredevil willingness to take photos from any heights, anywhere, anytime.

You can see his fascination with heights in some of the photos in his portfolio here.

Even after many years taking all sorts of photos under all sorts of circumstances, David hasn't lost one iota of enthusiasm for the business.

"I loved them all!" he said of your photos after judging them.

Some of the photos weren't action shots; they were lovely portraits, but not quite right for this theme. David had a few other thoughts that might help you:

"The biggest thing I saw from reviewing all of the photos was that I think many of the photographers needed help with cropping," he said. "Focus in a little tighter on the action, get rid of extraneous elements in the background that don’t enhance the photo -- aim for a more compelling composition."

He got a kick out of all the dogs who were either going in to, coming out of, jumping into, or swimming in water, and all the dogs with balls in their mouths. "That's a dog, right?" he said. He also lamented that there weren't more cat action shots: "Where are all the cat people?" he said.

He had two more pieces of advice: "Photographing animals is like photographing kids: You should leave them alone, but stick with it - sit and watch like you would with kids, and they'll do something that could make a great photo. You have to have patience (although I have none!)."

He also suggested using faster shutter speeds to capture action. "A lot of people worry about getting a good depth of field in a picture, whereas we as photojournalists rely at lot more on shutter speed. That's what will get your subject sharp. People want to get everything in the frame sharp, so they use a wide focus field, but that forces a slower shutter speed. But forget about making the foreground and background sharp unless it's integral to the photo.

"If an animal or a child does something fast but your photo comes out blurry because of a too-slow shutter speed, that's a shame. You don't want to miss those shots."

Here, then, are David's choices for the Final 50 Pets at Play photos.

We'll post his Top 10 finishers on Monday morning.

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