I’ve been remiss! I’ve done so many things and have been so many places that I hardly know where to start. Hiking season is obviously over in the Colorado Rockies. We trade in our hiking boots for skis or snowshoes to visit the backcountry at this time of year. I love snow photography, but haven’t had much time to be out in it since the Fall season. I also have a new puppy! I need to share some photos of him and talk a bit about pet photography.
Get down low, first of all. Try to be at eye level with your pet. A given is to either train your pet to stay put and call them for their attention, or have someone just behind or beside you wave a toy, a squeaker, or a treat while your pet is tethered to something behind him that is out-of-sight. In the photo, below, I had someone hold the leash, and then I cloned out the leash in photoshop. There was nowhere to tether the pup in the below shot:
As Spirit grew a bit, I was able to tether him and put a dog biscuit in my mouth as I took the photo. One thing I have noticed is that animals, wildlife or pets, don’t see your eyes when you put a camera up to your face, and they may lose interest in looking towards you. Calling, making noises, using a squeaker or treat, all help keeping the animal focused towards the camera.
It is SO helpful to have an assistant. In this photo, below, an assistant stood behind Spirit (believe it or not, there was safe room before the drop off….please do not do this unless it is safe, and you are secure in a situation like this!!!) and kept him safe and looking towards the photographer by tossing treats forward as the photographer also called his name.
Spirit is held in place by leash and by a non-acrophbic assistant above the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
Since I’m training Spirit to “stay”, I am higher than I’d like…..I had a treat in my mouth, and was quietly saying his name, so as to not have him bound towards me!I am working at teaching Spirit to “stay”, but it is a work in progress…….sometimes cloning out the leash is all that works, though in this photo I was able to get him to stay momentarily in front of the hearth tree. However, I had little opportunity to compose this shot. I really felt pretty pleased to get the photo at all!
Remember to set your aperture to a setting that isolates your subject. An open aperture gives you less depth of field so that the background blurs and the subject is in clear focus. That allows your eyes to take in the subject. When youwant to include the background and the subject is more a part of the photo as a whole, you will want to close your aperture down so that theentire photo is in focus (as in the shot of the Black Canyon of theGunnison, above).
When posing more than one dog, all the above is magnified! The final two shots are Avie, my older, female Samoyed, posing with Spirit, on Christmas Day at my sister’s. (New territory for Spirit, but familiar to Avie). In the first photo, the two dogs are tethered, and the tethering is cloned out. In the second photo, the tethering merely does not show in the photo (always preferable to cloning since it is hard work to clone out images in a photo).
In these photos I’ve isolated the subject by light, or by blurring the background with a wider aperture. I’ve also used different directions of light. The photo below, shows the use of backlight, where the light comes from behind the subject. This can be good to keep the subjects from squinting (as they are doing in the front lit shot, above). This is also something to remember when taking people shots! By shooting towards the light source, in this case the sun, the subject will be in shadow, with a pleasant look. You may have to open up your aperture a bit, or you may need to fuss with the exposure to lighten up your subject during post-processing with an editing program like Photoshop when using backlight. In the photo, below, the snow has reflected light back up into the subjects’ faces.
I hope some of these hints will help you take nice shots of your loving pets!