Take your photography to the next level and beyond...

  • NEWS
  • REVIEWS
  • INSPIRATION
  • COMMUNITY
  • COMPETITIONS

Why not join for free today?

Join for Free

Your total photography experience starts here


PRIZES GALORE! Enter The ePHOTOzine Exclusive Christmas Prize Draw; Over £10,000 Worth of Prizes! Plus A Gift For Everybody On Christmas Day!

How best to photograph Black dogs


25 Aug 2010 7:28PM
Hi guys
I've recently been asked to photograph a puppy, apperently its black, when i've photographed similar animals including my black cat i really have trouble with its fur there's very little definition to it and if i up the exposure it tends to look blown out, any idea's on how to boost the animals coat, or are we stuck with the outline and little definition. Many thanks in advance John. xx

Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

cameracat 11 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
25 Aug 2010 7:58PM
There are several things that help when taking photographs of " Black Hairy " things......Smile

First is background, I find a neutral background helps, Not white that just drives the cameras AWB mental.

Try " Gray or greyish " if possible an 18% grey, Or use a grey card for adjusting the WB.

Next is the lighting, Do not use direct flash, Do not use direct sunlight, Avoid light sources with strange tempratures like the so called ECO bulbs.

For best effect a natural daylight or bounced and maybe diffused flash/speedlight, Just make sure that whatever your bouncing off ( wall or ceiling ) it should be a matt white, Or you will get colour casts.

So here is a favourite of mine, A nice bright day, Out in the garden, But shaded from direct sunlight, With some greenery as the backdrop or flowers etc etc.

Certainly works for my kitty pics......Smile


Oh! Should add that I always shoot RAW, That way you have tons more control over the finished product......Wink
BigRick 9 2.1k 3 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2010 9:07PM
everything above.... and i use a 'latte' coloured background for this sort of thing (effectivley a sheet of material i bought from the local fabric shop)
stevie e2
11 1.2k 2 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2010 9:17PM
I had a black Scottie dog for years and he was very hard to photograph to be honest!
I agree about the RAW, you definitely need that control, particularly using varying contrast to get the detail you want.
Also there's black, greenish black, purplish black, reddish black and so on - RAW helps you get just the right black
Mind you, one of the most popular photos ever seen on this site was, as I recall, a black dog.......
BigRick 9 2.1k 3 United Kingdom
25 Aug 2010 10:18PM

Quote:I had a black Scottie dog for years and he was very hard to photograph to be honest!
I agree about the RAW, you definitely need that control, particularly using varying contrast to get the detail you want.
Also there's black, greenish black, purplish black, reddish black and so on - RAW helps you get just the right black
Mind you, one of the most popular photos ever seen on this site was, as I recall, a black dog.......



yes.... i seem to remember that one.... i think it even made the front of some book or another?? Wink
Nick_w e2
7 4.1k 99 England
26 Aug 2010 6:54AM
Yes take a look at Stevies pf you won't miss Max.

All above advice is first rate. If stuck for an 18% grey card skin approaches it, so the back of your hand! - you would need to spot meter. Some advice from a few years back from a pro. Also check the histogram to ensure the blacks are just touching the left hand end, but you are not getting any peaks there.
26 Aug 2010 9:35PM
Thanks guys really helpful advice i.ve a couple of studio 250w lights with softbox and unbrella, gonna practise your advice out if i can get the cat to pose for me. many thanks again, any more idea's welcome. John.
LensYews 6 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
26 Aug 2010 11:45PM

Quote:Yes take a look at Stevies pf you won't miss Max.

All above advice is first rate. If stuck for an 18% grey card skin approaches it, so the back of your hand!



That of course does vary with different skin colours, as a rough guide you'll want to dial in +2/3 for Caucasian or -2/3 for darker skin
8 Sep 2010 5:20PM
You should under-expose by about 1 stop. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if you allow the camera to expose for the dog then it will look for an 18% grey exposure and consider that to be the correct exposure. So you should under-expose deliberately to fool the camera. The flip side of this is to over-expose for a very white dog, or snow, or similar. However, if you want to shoot your black dog in snow, then I'd go for bracketing Grin

I have 2 jet black dogs, so I know it can be difficult!
Sus 10 3.2k 9 England
8 Sep 2010 6:19PM
I think I have read a dog photographer who suggested using direct flash, as it was harsher, to bring out the texture in the coat? Basically going against all the rules for providing a soft, diffused light to flatter female skin, you want harsh light that brings out texture and contrast.

Can't remember where I heard this though.
brian1208 e2
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
8 Sep 2010 7:24PM
I was asked to do this a couple of years ago - one black + one brown Labs against a black backdrop.

The most important equipment I had was a pair of large, stuffed hairy toys - one black and one brown, that I used as models to set up my simple lighting system before the real dogs arrived.

I fired my flash unit swiveled over my left shoulder, up at about 45 degrees to bounce off a large white mount board aimed down at the area where the dogs would be working. A large black velvet background + a black rug completed the set-up. (I was sat on the floor in the corner of my kitchen which was the shooting area - beware, the dogs think this is great fun and will insist on checking you out - (intimately Smile ) as well sniffing as all your camera gear)

It worked a treat and inside 3 hours I not only had the prints my client wanted but I had them printed, mounted and framed.

I made good friends with the client (and with the dogs! Wink ) as a result.

(There are some pics somwhere in my PF if you are interested)
9 Sep 2010 8:32PM
Hi Brian
What a great PF you have, i found the photo of the dogs, what a superb shot, well done if mine come out half as good i'll be pleased, been practising on the cat, when she allows me that is, actually found shooting its reflection in a mirror really seems to work well, maybe its the light from the window havnt worked it out yet, but im gonna give the black on black a go.
Many many thanks to all who replied, been most interesting, god bless, John. xx

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.