Leaving Room for Words, Huge Bighorn Ram in Badlands National Park

Do you leave room for words?

Leaving room for words is a great excuse to pull out when focal length limited, so be sure to keep that answer ready for when the situation dictates. However, many uses for photos, especially paid uses, involve adding words.

If the subject fills the frame, overlaid words can appear awkward, with subject lines and details competing with the message. Leaving space, especially strongly blurred space, permits aesthetic message presentation.

I create invitation cards for an annual sportsman's banquet. While wildlife portrait images are plentiful in my collection, message-ready images are less so, and I've been working on changing that balance.

For this bighorn ram image, a relatively long subject distance, very distant background, long focal length, wide aperture, and low shooting position combine to provide adequate smoothly blurred space for inclusion of a message.

It is usually easier to be farther away from an animal but don't let the distance lower the quality bar. Many of the same factors important to close portraits still apply. Look for good light and body position — and spectacularly large horns are advantageous.

We encountered this big boy in Badlands National Park. Observation showed that he was eating the yellow flowers. Moving into position for the next flower patch made preparation easy.

Heatwave distortion is frequently encountered when shooting at long subject distances in direct sunlight. The solution here was to shoot many images at a fast frame rate. Periodically, a photo with a sharp sheep head was captured.

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