A couple of weeks before New Pokemon Snap launched I asked a couple of professional nature photographers – Iona Haines, the coordinator of conservation organisation Ape Alliance, and Jocelyn Anderson, a bird photographer – for their opinions on the trailers, and how the world of Pokemon adapted to photography. It turned out they both thought the trailer did a decent job of highlighting the best bits of professional nature photography, and that the ‘mons seemed to be behaving in fairly realistic ways.
Since we’ve all been playing at being proper nature photographers recently by sinking hour after hour into New Pokemon Snap, I reached out to Haines and Anderson again, to get their thoughts on some pics from me, as well as from two of our other editors – Cian Maher and Sergio Solórzano.
The first image I showed them was one of Sergio’s, with Octillery chasing down Sandygast. It’s worth noting that Anderson admitted to knowing very little about Pokemon, meaning she had no idea of most of the creatures’ names. “How funny! The octopus beastie looks like be giving a toot at the angry sandblob with a shovel in its head, and the sandblob is being chased. A photo that tells a story and keeps you looking is a great photo!”
Haines, however, was a bit less impressed. Sorry, Sergio. “I think if the camera zoomed out a bit to include the Pokémon at the front in the frame it would improve. I also think it could also be improved with some more interesting light as the picture is a bit dark.” Agreed. Bit rubbish, Sergio.
When I showed them one of my Murkrow shots, things flipped – Haines was on board, but Anderson was not. If you ask Haines, “it’s really nice to get two Pokémon in the same picture – it gives it something a bit extra. Getting a picture of a bird flying is often quite challenging so well done for that,” she said, while adding that it fits the rule of thirds well.
Anderson, on the other hand, liked the ‘spooky birds’, but said her eye was distractingly drawn towards the fluffruit because “it’s the brightest thing in the photo and it’s round,” and human eyes are naturally drawn to circles. Ah, she’s only a professional bird photographer, what would she know?
One place where the fluffruit in the frame was popular was in Cian’s Alolan Vulpix, where the red fluffruit is the only splash of colour against the snowy backdrop. “I mentioned in the first photo about the color and the roundness of the fruit drawing the eye,” Anderson says, reminding me of my own apparent ineptitude. “But it works out in this snap as the fruit is placed right in front of the Pokemon and the Pokemon looks ready to interact with it.”
Haines meanwhile says, “I like that the red apple stands out from the blue tones of the rest of the picture,” and praised Cian for the framing, but pointed out that there wasn’t very much action in the shot, which is a crucial part of nature photography. Translation – again, a bit rubbish.
Next up was Sergio’s shot of a Hoothoot hoot-hooting at the moon, which got a pretty good reception, especially from Haines. “I like the halo of light around the Pokémon as it frames the picture really nicely. It looks like the Pokémon is looking up at the moon which creates a really nice mood in the picture.”
She also added that while only seeing half of the Pokemon would usually be a negative – a stance the game also holds – this time it worked out for the best because of the side profile.
Anderson said the angle was “interesting”, but I think she was just being nice. She also said it would be better with a bit more scenery so we could see what was going on, and I couldn’t agree more. Poor photography from Sergio if you ask me.
As a palette cleanser from Sergio, I showed them an excellent Luvdisc shot from myself, and the photographers went mild for it. “I like how space is given on the left side, giving it some space to move,” Anderson says. “If an animal is in motion, it’s good to give some space for it to move to.” I definitely framed it this way on purpose, and didn’t just mistime my photo thinking it was in the middle.
Haines was also intrigued by the colours and detail, saying “I like the bright colours in this picture as they make it very eye-catching. I also like that the darker blue around the picture frames it,” although she pointed out that it was a little overexposed. I didn’t point out that I was underwater at the time and was trying my best.
Following on from one underwater shot, I let them take a look at Cian’s Illumina Wishiwashi, although I didn’t tell them that’s what it was, because those words would sound like nonsense to someone like Anderson who doesn’t play Pokemon. Nevertheless, she was full of praise for the shot. “It reminds me of looking at the teeny tiny creatures under a microscope. Makes for an interesting photo with so many things to look at.”
I wishiwashiwish Wishiwashi was microscopic, seeing as it’s the worst Pokemon in New Pokemon Snap and has no business being a huge Illumina Pokemon, but I have to admit she’s right on the money here. Haines, meanwhile, liked the action within the shot, something that was missing in the Alolan Vulpix portrait. “I like the angle this picture was taken at, as it looks like the Pokémon is moving past the photographer, which makes the shot seem more dynamic. The phosphorescent glow draws your eye into the subject of the picture.”
I also showed them a handful more, and of course, after showing off my, Cian’s, and Sergio’s portfolio, I had to ask “which shot is your favourite?”, and you’ll be pleased to know both Anderson and Haines have excellent taste – they both chose one of mine. Anderson liked an Octillery shot with the ink spray the best – a shot the game absolutely hates, by the way – while Haines chose a Morelull shot with the glow against the black background. Apparently it uses the rule of thirds (again deliberately, of course) and “portrays a really strong calming vibe,” according to Haines. “The back lighting frames the subject really nicely and the sparks are also a nice touch.”
Anderson didn’t like the leaf intruding into the Morelull shot, but I’ll let her off since she chose my Octillery pic as her favourite.
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