Occasionally, folks ask me to critique their images; one of the most common problems I encounter is Virtual Amputation.
When we photograph people, unless we are specifically looking to achieve a certain focus, it is generally a poor idea to cut off the person in the middle of their limbs. We have all seen the wedding photos taken by amateurs that have everyone's face in the middle of the image but the lower legs are cut off at the knees.
Pretty much, the same unwritten rules apply to animals. If you are doing a full body shot, it is usually best not to cut them off at the knees. So, what is virtual amputation? Virtual amputation is cutting off limbs that you do not see.
Many animals like to feed in the water. Long leg birds like Herons and Egrets; Moose, Hippos, etc all like to spend time hunting for food in the water. Typically, the lower half of the legs will be covered by water; sometimes even more will be covered by water. When you frame your image, you need to leave enough room in your image for these virtual (hidden) legs.
Like all rules, there are times it is appropriate to not follow them. I believe the Great Blue Heron with the open beak at the top of this blog is effective without legs because the entire focus is on the perceived action or noise from him.
Enjoy your comments, let me know your thoughts!