While magical cameras remotely linked to secondary cameras via a protean charm are strongly suggested by Hogwarts (it is after all, the only way to photograph dragons from within the comfort and safety of your living room), there are some basic photo tips to help muggles wishing to embark upon the exciting challenge of photographing a dragon.
- Insure Your Camera and Yourself
As much as one would like to believe they are perfectly safe when photographing dragons, it is best to take out insurance on your camera gear and yourself before beginning your quest. This way your family can be assured of good fortunes even if you are not.
- Use a Sturdy Blind
A sturdy blind, similar to those used in bird photography, will help keep you out off of a dragon's menu and allow you to get much closer photos than without a blind.
- Lens Selection
Your primary dragon lens will be no larger than 50mm. This may seem contrary to common sense but dragons are so immensely huge that any larger lens will make it impossible to capture the full dragon in one frame. In the case of particularly large specimens, a fisheye lens is preferable. The only time a longer lens such as 300mm will be needed is when doing detailed studies of parts of the dragon such as wing scales or the teeth as the dragon attacks your blind. Longer lenses can also be used to momentarily prop open a dragon's mouth in your last ditch effort to escape.
- Remember Composition
No one wants to see another drab dragon stuck dead center of the frame. Remember your composition. Use the rule of thirds when appropriate and centering only when absolutely necessary. While centering is a powerful composition tool, it does not often work well with dragons. Natural framing, such as a dragon within the opening of its cave den, is another excellent technique for dragon photography composition.
Lighting is very tricky with dragons, especially if you hope to capture the breathing fire action photo. Dragon scales on some species reflect light easily while others readily absorb it. Setting up reflectors within the area you are planning on shooting and bracketing your shots are your best bet for a well-exposed photo. Setting up reflectors has the added effect of helping attract dragons as they love all things shiny.
As with any animal photography, static poses can be very good but action photos are your best bet for a truly phenomenal photograph. The most sought after dragon action poses are: fire breathing, take off, landing, sheep stealing, and of course a battle with a knight. The one exception to the preference for action photography is the static pose of a sleeping dragon upon its horde of treasure. Many a photographer has given his life attempting this shot.
There you have it. Six tips to photographing a dragon. I look forward to seeing your wonderful new dragon photographs posted in our forum!