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Young French Bulldog

By annatefkah2    
I took this at a dog show that I'd been asked to cover. I used a plain green background and a couple of strobe lights with silver umbrellas.

Tags: Pets and captive animals

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banehawi Plus
16 2.3k 4169 Canada
22 Nov 2014 12:24PM
Hi Graham, welcome to the critique gallery.

I really like your Pharaoh Hound btw, gorgeous.

This is an attentive French Bulldog, looking at the camera, giving that nice alert eye contact.

The settings look fine.

I wonder about white balance as youve set it manually; you've set it to 4700k, and +1. which is quite cool for the situation. It will render a slightly blue appearance, with a strong green. It might be a personal preference? Ive tried it warmer in the mods so you can compare.

Thats the primary tweak Ive done; some contrast adjustments and a slight sharpening.

The background colour is a personal preference, though Im not sure its complementary in this case. Mods 3 and three Ive uploaded have the background colour hue altered, so you can see what difference that makes.
In mod 3 Ive also altered the position of the catchlight on the camera right eye, a very small detail, and that also makes some difference in the expression I think.

Take a look and see what you think.


dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1716 England
22 Nov 2014 12:39PM
Welcome back to the Critique Gallery, Graham!

You've been a member for a few years (including a first post here in 2010), so I assume that you know how this gallery works - post here, and you get input...

Looking at your portfolio, you are clearly both very experienced and very capable in shooting pictures of dogs, reflecting a deep knowledge and love of them, I suspect.

And this is a perfectly good (and pretty perfect) dog portrait. Excellent exposure, exemplary sharpness: most owners would love to have a shot like this.

And I have two suggestions: one about lighting, and the other about composition.

Lighting: this is well lit, and the soft even light allows a very complete descriptive picture. This may well be what most doglovers want: but for photographers, some variation can be a big, big plus.

I think you used two brolly flashes for this, one on each side - and then cloned out the reflection of one brolly from each eye. The evenness of light is a tell, though, as is the way that the reflections are on the outer side of each eye.

I suggest trying a shot or two either with one light turned off, or with one of the flashes turned right down to minimum power. In human picture terms, this is the difference between a brochure shot and a moody portrait: between Page 3 and an art nude.

Compositionally, the dog is very central: a mugshot sort of look. I have done two mods - one widening the frame (and cloning in imaginary and very tatty background and dog), and one cropping really tight.

The aim, in both cases, is to get an eye onto the point a third from the side and a third from the top. Every frame has four "Thirds" areas, and they are the strongest places to put a major compositional element. In a portrait, it's often an eye.

You may not want to pursue either idea, and that's fine: in any specialist area, there are always people who want a perfect record shot, and not more. I hope, though, that my suggestions open up some alternatives for you, and suggest lines of experimentation...
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1716 England
22 Nov 2014 1:02PM
An addendum: as Willie has pointed out to me, realistic cloning requires a soft-edged brush. I didn't do this, as I didn't want to risk my version looking as if it was anything but a bolt-together to suggest a compositional variation...
paulbroad 13 131 1289 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 4:40PM
What a lot of comments. I will be briefer.

Excellent. Superb quality. Who is rpto say exactly what the colours were. These are good enough for me and the very nature of the image says central composition to me.

A lot of other users of this section need to look at this and learn what sharp abd correct exposure is all about.

annatefkah2 10 14 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 5:59PM
Many thanks for your comments all of you.

I shot this in the market hall at Maidstone where the dog show was held. I was taking it for the dog owner and even though I'd turned the power of the right hand light down slightly, I could have gone a bit further. In the particular hall there are skylights plus very strong powerful sodium lights beamed downwards which play havoc with trying to get a good white balance and even affect flash lit shots slightly. I shot using RAW and put the photos through DXO Optics Pro 9 first to try and adjust the colour temperature to what I thought looked about right. I also put the picture through Topaz detail on a fairly strong setting to try and enhance the detail of the dog's hair. I don't consider myself an expert at using the various softwares.

With this shot, I wanted to crop in fairly tight to the head but that meant that I could not get an eye on an intersection of thirds without chopping off the top of the ears. I have some others with more space to play around with but the dog isn't so attentive in the other shots. I find that taking dogs shots, you have to take lots and just hope you get that right expression, pose, movement, moment etc.

Some of you have said you have made modifications but I don't know how I go about viewing these.

I recently put this image in my local club open competition where it scored 20/20 and received 2nd place so was well pleased with the result. I didn't have competition in mind when I took it.

Thanks for your comments. I always take critiques on board, it is the best way to learn how to improve, especially if you have them in mind on futre shooting occasions. Smile
paulbroad 13 131 1289 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 9:31PM
What did the winner score? I had many years as a PAGB circuit judge and marking is very difficult. You gi e one full mRks, then get one even bdtter!

annatefkah2 10 14 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2014 9:43PM
Paul, the judge went through all the pictures making his comments first and then went through giving his marks. He awarded 20/20 to all the first three. and then his placing of first to third was just down to his personal choice. Not an easy task.

Anyway, I'm happy with the composition and the colouring. Smile

I appreciate all the comments though.
Davesumner 13 28 300 Australia
23 Nov 2014 1:47AM

Quote:Some of you have said you have made modifications but I don't know how I go about viewing these.

Top of this page in the modifications tab right above your original description Grin

annatefkah2 10 14 United Kingdom
23 Nov 2014 8:50AM
Thank you DaVeS. (Y)
dudler Plus
17 1.3k 1716 England
23 Nov 2014 6:54PM
Modifications - see the tabs below your picture on the left: click on "Modifications", and then click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.
Robert51 11 7 107 United Kingdom
25 Nov 2014 5:08PM
Super image, hope you like the mod.
annatefkah2 10 14 United Kingdom
26 Nov 2014 1:04PM
Thanks, Robert51. I do have a B&W version very similar to yours. Grin

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