Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tips on photographing your dog, part two

Photo taken indoors with natural light.

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.)

13 comments:

Caroline said...

Thank you for all your tips Kathleen - I don't have a dog but do have a black cat!! Oh and I totally agree about flash - I steer well clear of it if I can! You must really enjoy taking shots of Cloud - he is so photogenic!

K. T. Sparks said...

Thank you for the tips! It seems that I have trouble with those shadows and dark faces.

Kelly said...

Wonderful tips! You have such great subject matter to work with.

lucky kachina dancer said...

Thanks for the tips! I'll have to experiment with Cash.

Nikki said...

Great tips! I'll experiment this weekend and see what I can come up with. I hope Bella's ready for it! :-)

Melody Lea Lamb said...

Great tips!! Wow, I am going to refer to these and give photographing my little pooch a whirl. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Edward Burton said...

Thanks for the GREAT tips, Kathleen!

Tammie said...

Hi Kathleen,

Thanks for the informative tips. I will try to refrain from using the flash. I have too many photos of Bijou with red eyes! I find morning and early evening light are best for picture taking. But unfortunately, it seems I never think to get the camera out at those times. LOL

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Wonderful tips Kathleen! Thank you so much for sharing!

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

You have been given an award which I feel you greatly deserve! Please stop by my blog and pick it up. You are under no obiligation!

moonbindery said...

Thanks for the tips, Kathleen. My dog has black fur, and usually looks like a dark blob in photos. I'll try out some of your suggestions.

Your dog does a wonderful job of posing -- wish mine were as patient. :)

arcobaleno said...

What a lovely dogs!!!!

Dean Grey said...

I love the way Cloud runs, Kathleen!

Thanks for the tips!

I think these can be applied when shooting other subject matter too.

I'll be giving them a try!

-Dean