Jul 182011
 

They say Britain is a nation of dog lovers, they also say never work with children or animals. Have you ever tried photographing your pet pooch only to be disappointed by the results. Here (in no particular order) are a handful of photography tips to help you achieve better results when you’re photographing mans best friend.

  1. First rule of all portrait photography is focus on the eyes. Most dogs have long snouts, so if you focus on the nose the eyes can be out of focus.
  2. Most humans are tall compared to a dog, so get down and shoot from their eye level see the world as they do.
  3. Have a hyperactive dog who just cant stay still? Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement when they are running and jumping.
  4. For the older or more sedate natured dog, try a wider aperture setting. This will help reduce distractions by throwing the background out of focus. Don’t forget “most dogs have long snouts”  if the aperture setting is too wide  your best friend could end up with a burred nose.
  5. Some dogs are natural posers, you can get good shots just by getting them to sit while holding their attention with a treat or toy. For most distraction is the key give them something to do or play with  that you know they love then you work around them.
  6. Don’t always work alone and do a little planning. Get another member of the family to hold your hound while you move some distance away. On a preprepared signal get your helper to let your pet pooch go and you grab some great action shots as the dog comes charging towards you. If your auto focus is slow or you dont have follow focus try pre focusing the camera on a fixed spot you the dog will run through and fire the shutter as they cross the focus point.
  7. Sticking with the theme of helpers why photograph your dog in isolation? Get someone you love and who the dog is relaxed with to interact and capture that on camera.
  8. Make it fun! Photography may be fun for you but most dogs are not the type who will happily perform on command for the camera. Make things fun for your pet and it will show up in your photographs through the dogs body language.
  9. Watch,  not the one on your wrist! Watch with your eyes. Your dog is genetically 80% wolf, so while walking with your dog and camera take time to watch and learn its instinctive behaviour and try to capture a more subtle side of  your pets character in your photography.
  10. Know your dog. Good photography can often come from to knowing your subject and being able to predict what’s going to happen.
  11. Sometimes all you need to make a photograph really work for you is a caption!

Right at the start I mentioned they say “never work with children or animals” well here is another tip – many of those tips work with kids too.

Have your own top tips for dog photography?

Feel free to add them below.

Want to give your dog an outdoor portrait session give me call

Sep 282010
 

I don’t mean in their suitcase I mean photography. Well here are a few holiday snaps from our holiday in Whitby North Yorkshire this September (2010) with what I hope you will find are some useful captions to inspire those who feel their “holiday snaps” are a bit of a let down.

We arrived in the afternoon and after settling in decided to take a walk up the hill to St Mary Church. As we wondered through the grave stones I looked up to spot this. The abbey with the Grave stones of the church in the foreground. I have never really been happy with shots of Whitby abbey from outside the walls until this one. Its shot on a wide angle to give the grave stones more emphasis and stop the abbeys boundary wall dominating the photo.

From the Church we walked down the 199 steps, headed to the harbour. The late sun was catching the the white tops of the waves and spray off the sea as you look west up the coast towards Sandsend from the Harbours west pier. The people and gulls on the beach help give sense of scale to the scene, while exposing for the highlights adds atmosphere bringing out the cloud formations, catches the spray over the distant waves and turns the figures into silhouettes.

Day two we headed up to the whalebone arch and Captain Cooks statue. Getting two landmarks of Whitby in  a single picture I used a telephoto zoom to get St Mary’s Church framed in the top of the Whalebone arch.

Walking along the top of the cliffs towards Sandsend and looking down on the beach you come to the multi coloured beach huts. Again shot on a telephoto zoom lens, this picture uses diagonal composition to add interest and, although you cant really see him on this small version, if you click through to the larger version you will see there is a lone figure stood close to the waves which gives the viewer an idea of the scale.

I got a little carried away on day three when we visited Whitby Abbey. The sun, an almost totally clear blue sky and the abbey almost empty of visitors was a little bit of a photographers dream come true.

Top left: Is taken on a wide angle lens,  I hid the sun behind the abbeys walls exposed for the brightest parts of the pictures turning the walls and shadows black.

Top right: Its Always worth grabbing a shot of a sign when visiting somewhere if you later decide to put together a slide show or a screen saver you can use them like the titles in a film. Don’t just photograph them straight on try a few angles and see what you come up with.

Bottom left: Sometimes even when you have a wide angle lens you just cant get everything in. This is two pictures “stitched” together. Stand in one spot, look at what you want in the photo and just turn (on the spot) to the left or right. The trick is not to move from where you are stood keep the camera level and make sure the edges of the pictures have some overlap.  Use computer software to merge the photos into a single image with a wider view than your original lens. This option can be found built into some compact cameras making it even easier.

Bottom right: Ever tried taking a picture of a tall building only to find it looks like it falling over backwards when you look at the photo? You either have to get further away or buy a really expensive camera, like specialist architectural photographers use, or try to fix the problem on the computer in a program like Photoshop or Googles Picassa. There is another alternative though, you can really go for the converging verticals and strange angles to create your own very striking images.

This is Whitby photographed photographed around 5:00pm, exposing to keep the detail in the sunlight white painted buildings darkens the shadows and brings out the reflection of the buildings on the water. This is another two photograph joiner or stitched together shot which has been cropped into a long thin panoramic images. Keep in mind that just because a camera produces a particular shaped photo doesn’t mean it has to stay that shape, you can crop them when when you get home.

So you have photographed to local tourist attractions and the scenery don’t forget the wild life. Whitby isn’t exactly know for big game or exotic animals but it does have its fair share of Seagulls in this case  Herring Gulls. Keep your eyes open for the common everyday things and shoot more than one frame at worst you improve your chances of getting a good image at best you get more than one good one.

What about getting the family in the pictures? Well day four was trip out to Robin Hoods Bay.

Top left: Aileen and Wallace, if you decide to pose the family up with a sign showing where you have been don’t always go for the obvious  sign above their head style shot, sometimes there are other options if you keep you eyes open. This sculpture had Robin Hoods Bay 2000 carved into it so posing them up on it tells us where it was taken even if the date is somewhat misleading.

Top Right: The best family shots aren’t always the posed ones sometimes action and sometimes candid is where the real photos are to be found. Wallace heard the first click of the shutter and decided that was enough of the posing this one is the second frame as he took off to play so always be ready and never shoot one frame where two will do a better job.

Day Five found us back in Whitby. We decided it would be a good idea to take the 25 minute trip around the bay on the replica of  Captain Cooks Bark Endeavour.  While waiting on the quayside we were passed by the Haven Seajack One, a jack up barge, being pushed out to sea by tug work boat VOE Service and guided by the pilot boat St Hilda. It was on its way to start work on Whitby Harbours East pier.  Remember wherever in the world you go on holiday is where someone else lives and the day to day things in their everyday lives can give you a photo opportunity a chance of something a little different.

Bottom left: The Seajack one being Navigated through Whitbys open swing bridge, a prime camera angle had anything gone wrong while making her way through.

Bottom right: It would have been nice to get this  shot from the other side, with Whitby in the background but that means we would have needed to already be on the Endeavour, so as you see professionals don’t get exactly what they want every single time.

Day six was a day trip to Scarborough where we wandered around the shops and amusements unusually I didn’t take a single picture and so on to day seven which answers the question what to photograph if the weather is bad on holiday? The answer is the weather!

High winds and high tide combine as a rough sea crashes against Whitbys outer harbour making for some quite spectacular waves at times

If you spotted this and wanted to know what I packed well camera kit was a Full frame Nikon Body, with 24mm wide angle lens, 50mm Standard lens and 70-200mm zoom lens. nothing that couldn’t really be covered by a good quality amateur compact.

If you want to see more images from the week check the slide show below.