What Inspired this Red Squirrel Image with an Abstract Thought Bubble?
Read on to gain ideas for your photography...

**Published: June 7, 2016**     **Updated: February 15, 2017**

“Behind-the-Scenes” Interview By: Daisey, the "Paws-itive" Beagle

What is this squirrel thinking?

Catherine would type in this Thought Bubble: “I hope I find an acorn!”

What might you type?

This is a fun stock image that is ideal for wildlife blogs.

I’m interviewing Catherine today to find out more about this photo – so you can get “paws-itively” inspired and think more creatively on your next photo shoot.

For example, Catherine's red squirrel photo had a clump of bright spots that drew the eye away from her main subject: the squirrel. What to do? Certainly there is the option to crop an image. And Catherine did crop the photo.

But she loved the colourful blur of the bright spots. She wanted to do something creative with those bright spots. So she turned it into an abstract thought bubble and placed it above the squirrel. You'll find out how she did it in this interview, plus learn other great insights, too!

Daisey: What inspired you to take this red squirrel photo with an abstract thought bubble?

Catherine: I love red squirrels. I was sitting outside one summer afternoon enjoying a cup of coffee. I also brought my Nikon camera with my zoom lens outside, intending to get good wildlife photos.

I took so many photos that afternoon! Some of the photos will end up in our personal memories, but a few, including this one, turned out really well for stock photography.

As for the abstract thought bubble, I'll share more on that soon.

Daisey: What makes the difference between a “personal memory” photo and a “stock image?”

Catherine: One requirement stock photo agencies have is that photographers obtain excellent focus on the main subject. The focus must look sharp when the image is zoomed in at 100%. In this example, the focus is very good on the red squirrel when I zoomed in at 100%.

There are other photos I took that did not have sharp focus at 100% but I love the memories and I want to keep them. 

Here’s an example:

I love that image. I was so sure this photo was a winning stock image until I zoomed in at 100% on my laptop and saw that it was blurry. Because it looks fine when it’s not zoomed in, it’s definitely one I’ll keep for our “personal memories” but I can’t sell it to stock photo agencies because of the blur.

Here's evidence of the blur when I zoomed in at 100 percent:

Daisey: Why did you add an Abstract Thought Bubble to your red squirrel photo?

Catherine: There was a problem area in my image -- a clump of bright spots. The bright spots were distracting because they drew the eye away from the main subject (the squirrel).

One option was to crop the image. But cropping an image reduces the quality and stock photo agencies want the best quality possible.

I didn’t want to lose this stock image. I wondered how I could solve this challenge. I ended up doing some cropping, but I was careful to not overdo it. Even with the cropping, I wanted to make this image more unique.

So, what helped me achieve my photo goal was my experimentation with the Photomerge® Compose tool. The Photomerge® Compose tool allows you to “extract an object from one photo and compose it into another.” It’s a tool found in Photoshop Elements 14.

That generally means you use two “different” images. But in my case, I wanted to “extract” the green bright spots and put them above the squirrel – in the same image. So, I had to make a duplicate copy of my squirrel image. Then I basically copied and pasted the “green bright spots” into a duplicate copy of my red squirrel image.

Now, that’s a very simplified explanation. There’s more to it than that and it took numerous attempts and much persistence to get the look I wanted to achieve.

Matt, my husband, encouraged me to keep trying to get it just right. I am grateful for my husband’s encouragement and insight to help me be even more creative with my images.

Thanks to my husband's encouragement, and the Photomerge® Compose tool, I achieved the look I wanted. Here’s a snapshot showing how my squirrel photo evolved:

Daisey: If readers wanted to learn how to use the Photomerge® Compose tool, what would you recommend?

Catherine: I recommend searching on Google and YouTube for help on using the Photomerge® Compose tool. You may discover other photographers that can explain how to use it to assist you with your creativity. I just started researching, investigating and persisting; eventually, I liked the end result.

So the Photomerge® Compose tool is worth experimenting with. It’s very cool and helped me turn a problem area into a unique photo opportunity. There’s an abundance of squirrel images in stock photo agencies; however, this Abstract Thought Bubble made my squirrel photo more unique so it stands out.

Daisey: What camera settings did you use? 

Catherine: Please keep in mind I’m always learning and improving but here’s a look at my camera settings for that particular day...

Daisey: How can this idea of creating an Abstract Thought Bubble inspire other photographers?

Catherine: If you go to a stock photo agency, such as iStock, and type in Thought Bubble, you’ll see there’s quite a collection of photos with Thought Bubbles.

I created a Thought Bubble from bright spots within a photo. What else might you create Thought Bubbles with? Let your imagination soar.

One idea that’s springing to my mind is this: the clouds could be re-shaped into Thought Bubbles.

Also, stay open to possibilities. Is there is a problem area in your image, such as my “bright spots” in my red squirrel photo? Is there a way to turn it around and make it work for you? Photo editing tools are amazing and can help you change problems into creative opportunities.

Daisey: What other photo lessons can you share?

Catherine: I have a keyword and description lesson to share. I noticed my red squirrel with the Abstract Thought Bubble wasn’t approved with Can Stock Photo. It wasn’t in the “pending” file and it wasn’t in the “rejected” folder either. What happened?

It turned out that Can Stock Photo returned my image to the “Unfinished” file. I had an error with my keywords, description, and/or title.

I went through everything thoroughly and removed words that I felt might be causing a challenge. For example, I had included herbivore and herbivorous in my keywords. I did a Google search and learned that squirrels are not necessarily herbivores, which was new to me. So I removed those keywords: herbivore and herbivorous.

I re-submitted it and Can Stock Photo approved the image – literally later that afternoon. I’m very grateful they gave me a second chance to correct and resubmit it.

One thing that I’ve learned in working with Can Stock Photo is to keep the description short. One sentence is good. Two sentences should be the maximum. Other agencies, however, will permit a more detailed description about your image so it’s always best to verify the requirements.

Daisey: Once you learned a keyword like “herbivore” wasn’t accurate, what did you do for the other agencies that were to review your image?

Catherine: I returned to each of the stock photo agencies that still had this image “pending.” I updated the keywords (for the agencies that would allow edits; however, some don’t allow edits once you submit a photo for review).

Daisey: How does this red squirrel photo fill a customer need?

Catherine: I think this is a fun image for wildlife bloggers. A blogger can add their own text inside the Abstract Word Bubble. Of course, I hope anyone that needs a red squirrel image and likes using word bubbles will find this image helpful.

Daisey: What title, description, and keywords did you use for this red squirrel stock image?

Catherine: Here they are...

Title: Real Red Squirrel with Thought Bubble

Description: Concept image of a female red squirrel thinking. The thought bubble is shaped and edited from bright spots of a blurred background within the original photo. Photo taken in Ontario, Canada.

Keywords: Abstract; Abstract Thought Bubble; Alert; Animal; Blur; Blurred Effect; Blurred Forest Background; Canadian; Close-Up; Copy Space; Communicate; Communication; Concept; Creative; Cute; Green; Furry; Ideas; Mammal; Message; Nature; North American; Ontario Wildlife; Outdoors; Perched; Red Squirrel; Rodent; ‎Rodentia; Sciuridae; Selective Focus; Shapes; Summer; Squirrel; Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus; Thinking; Thought Bubble; Thoughts; Wild; Wildlife

Daisey: Which stock photo agencies accepted this squirrel photo with an Abstract Thought Bubble?

Catherine: Here are the agencies that now offer a commercial license to use this image:

Daisey: Thanks Catherine!

I hope that you are now “paws-itively” inspired too!


Daisey, the “Paws-itive” Beagle

PS: If you liked this interview, please return to our wildlife stock image page for more “paws-itively” inspiring ideas.