Iguana (I think) that I found in the ”Rain Forest”. Cal Academy rules!

There’s 2 parts about this photo that I want to bring up: 1) background distractions and 2) use of tripod in compositions.

In this photo there’s a nice set of contrasting colors: the green of the iguana, the yellow of the branch, and the red background. They all go pleasingly together, the lines from the iguana and the branch draw the eye into the photo and show some kind of movement, but that branch in the background is distracting. Keeping it in the scene provides more of a sense of environment and scenery, it also adds another line into the iguana but it can also draw the eye away from the subject. I tried getting rid of the branch in photoshop but things just seemed a bit *off* so I left it in. Still not sure if I want to go back and get rid of it.

The second, and real thing that I noticed in this photo, is how much I rely on my tripod for getting my composition right. In this photo I didn’t have the luxury of having a tripod with me and I had to handhold the photo (at ISO 3200). People were around me wanting to see the iguana so I also didn’t have much time to get everything right. I wanted to leave some room for the eye to follow the iguana, but this composition squished the iguana’s legs into the side of the photo. I also would have liked just a smidge more iguana in the photo. I didn’t notice any of this until I got home.

Anyone can bring their camera, point it at something pretty (like a nice sunset, a pretty place, or neat animals) and take a picture. What separates us (hobbyist/semi-pro/pro) photographers from just anyone is our ability to get the photo right. We’re the ones who think about where the light is best, what elements should be included, which angle will look the most pleasing, what Depth of Field (DoF) do I want, etc. On a tripod you have time to think about these elements and really sit back and take a look at the entire scene, tweak things a bit, and just get it right. Hand-holding offers many more challenges because by the time you’ve realized your composition has some flaws you’ve slipped slightly and a new problem is presented. It can take a lot of brain processing to realize all the little nuiances and like in this photo, we often miss something (like squishing the iguana too far to the right). This photo has reaffirmed, for me at least, that I’m not wasting time, energy, or my back when I lug my tripod everywhere. I invested in a carbon fiber tripod and a great ballhead for a reason and i’ll continue to bring it with me everywhere!

Nikon D700 w/Sigma 105mm EX DG Macro:
105mm, f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 3200, Handheld

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Aaron M Written by:

Aaron Meyers is a landscape and wedding photographer living in Silicon Valley, CA. His love of the outdoors makes for frequent forays into the Californian wilds, where he delights in the stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and the Pacific Coast.