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Dog Photography Tips

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Category: Animals / Wildlife

Tips On Photographing Dogs - 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.

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The world famous Crufts Dog Show is underway and later in the year, you can go along to one of the many canine events that take place around the country to capture some action imagery.

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.
In terms of kit, all you need is a camera 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 as space can be a premium and leave the tripod at home. 

Having a trained dog that's used to being in front of a camera will make things easier. You don't want to get your camera out to find they either want to eat it or won't come near you because they're unsure about it. Some dog could not give two hoots; others will just scamper away.

Pet photography is a popular subject but most people tend to snap their dog when 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.

Try autofocus with continuous shooting 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.

You'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 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. Of course there are times when shooting from a higher angle works well such as in this shot taken by Daniel Bell:



Expose 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.

Natural 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.


For more information on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 visit the Olympus website. 

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