2. Lighting (These tips are great for black fur!)
Various times of day can make a huge difference to your pet photos. My absolute favorite lighting is outdoors in the early morning on a clear day. The light is soft and glowing. It lights up a black dog beautifully.
I took this photo around 7am this morning. Our back yard faces East. Cloud is in direct sunlight. Even this early in the morning, the direct sunlight is a little harsh, creating strong highlights on his fur. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)
I moved him over a few feet to where the light was filtered just a little through the trees. Perfect!
The soft, low sun really brightens up his eye color and creates beautiful catchlights.
Another early morning photo - you can see the rising sun reflected in his eye.
I took this photo at noon. Although it's a nice photo, notice the strong shadows and how his eyes look smaller and darker.
Here's some photos I took last February during a bright mid day. These illustrate how important the direction of the light is.
The sun is behind Cloud. A cute picture of him running, but you can hardly see his face.
Here is another example. Look how dark the shadows made his face.
Sitting in the same spot, he turns to face the sun. See the difference?
If it's an overcast day or you're in the shade, it's still a good idea to face towards the sun. Look at the gorgeous catchlight in his eye and how his face is lit up, but without deep shadows. His black fur glows without being too shiny.
These tips are specifically for black fur, but will work for any dog. In harsh sunlight, not only the dog, but the grass has strong highlights that can be distracting. Moving to the shade can make a world of difference. I love this shot of Benny in the shade. I sure miss the old man and really treasure photos like this...
If your house has a room with lots of natural light, you can take some really nice indoor portraits. Harsh sunlight can be filtered with curtains to make it softer. Depending on the color of your dog, you may need him to face the light to avoid dark shadows.
The dreaded Flash. It washes out the fur and creates red-eye or unnatural glare and highlights to the eyes. It can also make your dog dislike the camera. Believe me, I have plenty of pictures of my pets with a flash, and none of them are very good. Of course sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to capture a memory. I've pretty much weaned myself off of using it these days.
I hope you find these lighting tips are helpful. Experiment with different lighting situations to see how they affect your pet photos. And remember to have fun!
Part 3 will be Perspective, Patience, and Plenty (of photos.)