Squirrel Photography

City parks and gardens are perfect places to have a family photo session. You can get away from never-slowing city and enjoy pretty views and architecture. Also, you may encounter some lovely furry animals – squirrels! If you want your kids to charge up for a few photographs, then be sure to grab some treats for these nut-loving creatures. This surely guarantees a good time during photo session. Squirrels know city dwellers for a long long time, and they simply love to get crunchy presents. Here are some tips for Squirrel Photography!

You will need some amount of nuts with you if you want to lure some squirrels close enough for a picture. And be sure to pack some patience too. Squirrels are easily scared, and only when they are brave enough, they will come close to grab a precious nut from your hand. 

It is hard to believe, but one squirrel hides up to ten thousand nuts every year! Without any navigation system, it might seem that finding them all could be an impossible task. 

Have you ever wondered how squirrels find their hidden gems? Let us take a quick tour and learn how.

Squirrel Photography

You can find squirrels everywhere from harsh deserts of Africa to Amazonian jungles, and coniferous forests of Canada. They have sharp sturdy claws for gripping and climbing, and strong back paws that help them jump as far as 23 feet. These little heroes love nuts, so they store a whole bunch of different ones across the forest: acorns, hazelnuts, walnuts and others. 

Specialists from the University of California found out what squirrels do before they store nuts for the winter. It turns out squirrels don’t just grab a nut and run away. The nut goes through a sort of “squirrel’s quality control”. First, squirrel smells the nut to check if it is fresh. Then this furry creature does a thorough visual examination. If the nut was cracked, then it will rot in the ground. Finally, squirrel shakes the nut and listens to the sound. If the nut doesn’t rattle inside, then it is empty. Cracked nuts get eaten straight away. Nuts that pass quality control get stored. 

After this thorough examination, squirrel should find a hiding place. This furry bun stashes its precious nuts within an area that is as large as five football fields. These creatures remember where they stashed their nuts, and when the time comes they find up to 90% of hidden nuts. I can’t even remember where I put my car keys sometimes! If you grabbed some nuts alongside for a photo session, then you can enjoy this process on sight, and take cool pictures to boast online. 

Squirrels in the Park

If you find curious squirrels in a park, then you’re in for a treat as a family photographer. This is great opportunity to take many awesome pictures. These fuzzy friends are all in for some human interaction. Be ready to capture the moment, when this happens with family member you brought to the park!

There are several ways to do that. If you’re shooting on a sunny day, you may want to try to use the sun as the back light. This will make squirrel’s outline of fur to light up in a picture, which can be incredibly beautiful. Also, you have to be sure, about the background of any picture. For example, let’s view a moment where a squirrel is about to take a nut from kid’s hand. We have to be sure that this squirrel has a solid background behind her in a picture. It should allow the squirrel not to be blended with the background. You can try to widen the aperture on your camera, to get more light and get a nice bokeh.

The squirrel on a picture will feel detached from the background, and picture itself will feel more professional. For that kind of picture I’d highly recommend to use a telephoto lens such as 70-200mm, 135mm or 85 mm. I’d say the range between 135 and 200mm is perfect to make a shot that will be like a picture from National Geographic magazine. But remember that shooting at 200mm will require steady hands, at least 1/250 shutter speed and good lightening conditions. 

Family and Squirrels

When you got a good moment with a squirrel, then move on to shoot scenes with your main models – the family. You will certainly get a full spectrum of emotions out of every family member, when they’ll be feeding their newly acquired furry friends! Try to capture as many different shots as you can: long shot, medium shot, close-ups. You may wonder why I use movie terminology here. It is effective in any family photo series you make. Every photo shoot is like a little story, like a short film about a family during their most happy times together. 

Whenever I try to capture different moments with different shots, I use my zoom lens Nikon 24-120mm, at aperture f4 I am able to fast-focus on objects more easily.

This was a wonderful photoshoot, squirrels weren’t afraid of us and appeared in my viewfinder quite often alongside the family members. This was a nice present from squirrels for the nutty treats we brought for them. And as a result I took a very memorable picture for the whole family. 

Suitable Presets and Edits

What I like about Rockshutter presets that they are versatile. If you apply some Photoshop skills to them, then you’ll have an awesome result! The picture you see below was grey and dark. I had to shoot it underexposed to preserve the details in shadows. To make it warm and to keep the feeling of the fall, I had to use both my PS skills and Rockshutter presets. First, I reduced highlights on people’s face using Image – Adjustments – Shadows/Highlights. Remember to play with tone dial for better result. Then I applied wonderful Prism Effect 05 from Rockshutter. And here comes the magic.

Change preset’s folder blending mode to Overlay and play with Opacity for a better result. After that, I created 2 adjustment layer Curves and reduced contrast with a bit by dragging a point from shadows up and a point at  highlights down, this is a sort of revere S-line you commonly use for adding contrast. Then I added new Curves layer and boosted shadows and exposure for the area, where right squirrel is. Finally, girls’ faces were still a bit overexposed.

I’m going to tell you a neat trick to deal with slightly overexposed faces. You can color them! Create a solid color layer. Choose with picker a light tone of skin. Inverse white mask and use brush to paint over exposed areas on faces, and modify opacity to your liking. Picture’s ready!