Dog Photography Tips
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|Category:||Animals / Wildlife|
Photograph Man's Best Friend - Dogs can make great subjects but they can be tricky to capture and work with. Here are a few tips to help you perfect your canine photography technique.
Dog owners, though, can start today. Some people put their pets before family and have images of their favourite dog sat alongside their wedding, holiday and children's pictures. This might be you too!
Of course, you are stuck if you do not have a dog, but the odds are you know someone with one so if you are really keen, finding a subject is not an issue.
GearIn terms of kit, all you need is a DSLR with a lens or two. Or you could try something like using a Lens Baby for a different effect. If you're heading to a dog show consider taking a smaller camera bag such as those available in Vanguard's Vojo or 2GO range as space can be a premium, plus some of the 2GO models have side access meaning you can twist the bag around from back to front and grab your gear without having to put the bag down on what can be a busy floor.
TrainingHaving a trained dog helps and it helps if they are used to being in front of a camera. You don't want to get your DSLR out to find they either want to eat it or won't come near you or it because they're unsure about it. Some dog could not give two hoots; others will just scamper away.
ActivePet photography is a popular subject but most people tend to snap their dog is sitting, rather than capturing the active moments dogs are well known for.
Shots of your pet running and chasing around are far more interesting than a static shot of them sat on a rug in-front of the fire. But to capture them it takes some planning and dogs running around are fast and they can be unpredictable. Having someone with you (your partner? Kids?) definitely will be a help because you can ask them to call for the dog while you concentrate on shooting.
FocusTry autofocus in its continuous and see if it can track the subject. It might cope well but as dogs move quickly and their coats are low contrast, autofocus can be tricky so try manually prefocusing on a particular spot and when your dog runs to it press the shutter.
Shutter SpeedYou'll need a reasonably fast shutter but not so fast that the dog is frozen in the image. Having a mix of sharpness and blur can work well, or just use an even slower shutter speed for more blur to exaggerate its movement.
We're used to standing and looking down on dogs so a shot from this height is nothing special. So instead try getting get down to your dog's eye level or even lower. Kneel, lie (but there's no need to roll over!) to produce a much more dynamic and interesting shot. With features like LiveView getting a composition from ground-level is easy enough. That can be even more dramatic. Of course there are times when shooting from a higher angle works well such as in this shot taken by Daniel Bell:
ExposureExpose for the dog and not the surroundings. If you have a particularly dark or light dog you may find exposure compensation helps the camera meter correctly. As with human portraiture it's also important for the eyes to be sharp but again, due to the speed they move, this can be difficult to perfect.
LightNatural light is good but as with humans, dogs look less good in contrasty light. For maximum detail in the coat, a bright sky when the sun is gently diffused by high cloud can work well. If the day is quite dull, try fitting the flashgun to lighten the shadows. Or try underexposing the daylight so your lit subject stands out proudly from a darker sky. It can be a great look.
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