I got a new camera as a gift for my birthday back in July, and have been dabbling in taking cattle pictures here on the farm. Here is a picture of a heifer calf we just weaned. I know a good catalog picture does not include having a green calf tied to the side of a trailer (lol) just wanted to see what some thought of the attempt I made at the contrast and whatnot. The picture was not altered at all other than tweeking the contrast/sharpness, and adding my name to the bottom.
PS: She is for sale.
I love taking cattle pics, too, and have "dabbled" a bit myself. Here are a couple of ideas for you:
1. Learn to resize the pics to fit the space you're displaying them. This one is a little large and cut off part of her head because of the size.
2. Try to "fill the frame" with the subject. You don't need a lot of background when the idea is to show off the heifer. If you 'must' have background, try to not have it be a trailer or a gate, or a truck or......well, you get the idea. It makes the picture way too busy and detracts from the heifer.
3. Either watch her when she's loose in a grassy area or a clean corral so you can get a cool, natural picture of her. Obviously, many catalog pics have been Photoshopped with backgrounds added, but having her look alert, head up, neck extended but not pulled up makes a very attractive picture. I love the catalog photos where the cattle are standing loose (or ps'd to look like they're loose!)
4. If she has to be tied or held when photographing her, wait 'til she leans a little into her shoulders before you snap the pic. When she's pulling back, like she is a little bit here, it distorts what is probably real nice extension and a nice laid back shoulder.
5. Feet and legs - pretty good in this pic. Having the ability to see, even if only slightly, all 4 legs is what you're aiming for. A little offset on the back legs and front legs square with the photographer positioning themselves to catch a slight view of both front legs.
Here are a couple show shots by Browarny, who I consider one of the best, along with a few in the pasture. If I had only a fence or a momma cow for a background, I cropped tight so the cow/calf is the "main attraction". The one in the not-so-clean corral is still, imo, an excellent picture of an older Lowline cow another breeder sent me to check out for someone who is looking for a flush cow. It has everything I want to see from a casual photo: all the legs placed well, good view of the topline/profile, shoulder/neck, etc. It interests me enough that I 'll ask for more pics from behind and front.
If you get someone to walk a dog (or a bicycle or whatever..) at a distance across in front of the cow, she'll look alert and show her best profile. Good cattle just stand naturally correct when loose.
For internet use you only need 72 dpi (dots per inch). For print media, like a printed catalog, you need a minimum of 200 dpi with 300 being best. For dimension sizing, try to stick to around 600 pixels across or less. Almost anyone can see a good image at that size. Much smaller is harder to really see the animal and much larger makes someone have to scroll back and forth to see the whole animal.
Good luck! You're off to a great start!