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Thread: Help with wiggly dogs

  1. #1
    Flurry's Avatar
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    Ginny King

    Help with wiggly dogs

    I am a beginner and want to take special shots of my dogs. Any suggestions on how to improve these photos keeping in mind the moving target?

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    Last edited by Donald; 15th February 2012 at 06:50 AM. Reason: Images posted inline

  2. #2
    Flurry's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    More specific questions. What camera settings would you use for an indoor shot, no natural light, with only a small slave and fill flash? I realized too late that I could not make any adjustments because he kept running by. (I refuse to use automatic because I am new and don't feel I will learn by doing that) Second, would it have been better if I place the lighting somewhere else? And third, I don't know too much about photoshop, but I found it hard to adjust the colors in a white dog, either goes too bright and lose the detail in his coat or too dark and brings out the yellow and pink tones in his fur. I would really any suggestions. Thanks!

  3. #3
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    1
    Hello and welcome to CiC. Great to have you here and I hope you enjoy being involved. So that you don't continue to get people asking you what your proper name is, because most us use that on here, you can go to Edit Profile and enter your proper name under 'Real Name'. Then it will appear underneath your Username in all your posts. You can also enter your location so that it does the same, just as in my details alongside this message. Then we all know where everyone is in the world.

    2
    You'll see I've placed your images into your post, rather than having them sitting a Thumbnails that were too small to see properly. You've almost got all the steps for posting images. Most folks struggle to get it right at first, so don't worry. If you haven't done so, please read through the help thread 'How do I post images?' that you can get from the HELP/Rules menu tab above. If you still have problems, let us know.

    3
    White dog on a black background = Big exposure challenge. This comes into the same category as wedding shoots when the bride is in white and the groom is in black. Maybe one of the best places to start would be by looking at the tutorials on exposure here on CiC. So, getting those tones right is not so much about mastering post-processing software such as photoshop, but by having a good command of the principles of exposure. Getting it as right as possible in camera is much more preferable to just firing off a shot and relying on software to correct it later.

    And, by the way, congratulations for refusing to resort to auto setting. Stick with what you're doing. it will take lots of practice and you'll need to make lots of errors in order to learn how to do it correctly. But it's worth it.

    One other suggestion about taking pictures of your dog - Get down to dog height. These seem as if you've been standing up looking down on the dog. You'll get much better images if you get down low so that the camera is at the height of the dog.

  4. #4
    Flurry's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Thanks Donald for the suggestions. I will re-read the help thread on how to upload images. I kept getting an error message that "cambridgeincolour" was not responding and I never could get past that. I will also go through the tutorials on exposure. I actually was on the floor at dog level (which added the extra complication of dog slobber on the lens:-) I think I was trying to bite off more than I can chew trying to capture a reflection of a white dog with a black background, especially with my limited experience. But you have to start somewhere, right?

    I do love this web site and appreciate the advice

  5. #5
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Flurry View Post
    But you have to start somewhere, right?
    That is so right, Ginny.

    Don't knock yourself for trying this. That's what it's about. You'll never experience (and master) the challenges of shooting a white dog on a black background unless you try it. You can read all you want and look at images from other people. But the real way to learn is just to do it. And you've been brave enough to do that. Well done. Don't stop challenging yourself.

    Great to have you here and I'm glad you're enjoying CiC.

  6. #6
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    I use two setups to shoot my dogs...

    One is the formal setup using three studio strobes (two of which are White Lightning WL-5000 units that I bought used for $50 (USD) each 20-years ago. This prorates to something like one cent a week per unit). For my main light, I use a shoot through umbrella and for fill and hair lights, I shoot into umbrellas. The overhead umbrella is usually silver. The specular light of the silver umbrella helps bring out the texture of the dog's coat. Here is what my set up generally looks like.

    Help with wiggly dogs

    I use a white animal statue (or a suffed animal) to tweak my exposure for white dogs and would use a different color animal if I were shooting dogs of a different shade coat. IMO, it is important to have the exposure down pat before you begin shooting the dog. Additionally, when shooting white dogs, it is critical to view the image on a calibrated monitor. Neither the LCD monitor of the camera nor the histogram display helps me very much. Of course, I use manual exposure control.

    I don't have any problems with the black background (I use either black velvet or a black foam blanket) because I don't have to keep any detail in the background. In fact, I don't want any detail in the background.

    I measure the light with a meter, making sure I have no ambient light sources to influence the exposure. The nice thing about using studio strobes is that I can work with just the modeling lights on and don't need any ambient light to see what I am doing. The meter puts me in the ballpark as far as exposure goes but, I view my images on a notebook computer to ensure that I have them tweaked exactly as I want them...

    Here are two results from this setup...

    Help with wiggly dogs

    Help with wiggly dogs

    Another way I usually shoot our rescue dogs is quick and easy. I use a single flash, on-camera or on a bracket with the flash bounced directly up off the ceiling. I modify the flash with a Joe Demb Flash Diffuser Pro ( www.dembflashproducts.com ). I will place the dog in a Lazyboy chair and may or may not cover the chair with some material like velvet or my black blanket.

    Help with wiggly dogs

    Help with wiggly dogs

    I wll also use a bounced flash and Demb Flash Diffuser Pro for off-the-cuff pictures. I never use available light alone for my dog pictures. I always have my camera setup with flash (usually my 430EX but, ocasionally, my 550EX) and diffuser in case I see the dog in an interesting position. Even my wife, who rivals a Marine Corps Sergeant Major for neatness, realizes that the place for the camera is set up and ready to shoot; not packed away neatly in a case.

    I will use flash outdoors also because I think that the fill helps and because it provides catchlights in the dog's eyes which makes them look more alert and alive...

    Help with wiggly dogs

    Except for grab shots like the one above, I always have help in shooting the dogs. My wife is usually my helper. We use a very thin show lead to keep the dog in place and I usually clone out that lead.

    However, sometimes it takes more than one helper to accomplish the mission...

    Help with wiggly dogs

    Help with wiggly dogs

    One thing I will never do is use a red background for my dog pictures. I did once, thinking that the white dog would stand out beautifully. The problem was that the red reflected onto the dogs coat and I had a Devil of a time retaining the coat as white. I don't have that problem using a black background...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 15th February 2012 at 10:04 PM.

  7. #7
    Flurry's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Wow! Thank you so much for the help!

    I will never be a pro like you, but I want to be able to volunteer to take photos of dogs and cats at the local shelter for them to post on their adoption sites. Shots that will better reflect the beauty and personality of the rescues better than the "jail" shots that are typically used. I figured I would practice on mine first (I have four rescues, but only one that will sit still for the camera).

    The detail that you were willing to share with me is truly appreciated.

  8. #8
    jjbacoomba's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Richard, thats rocked! So much helpful information. Thanks forsharing. I will give it a go with my 3 yr. old Jack Russel rescue,"Layla".

  9. #9
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Flurry View Post
    Wow! Thank you so much for the help!

    I will never be a pro like you, but I want to be able to volunteer to take photos of dogs and cats at the local shelter for them to post on their adoption sites. Shots that will better reflect the beauty and personality of the rescues better than the "jail" shots that are typically used. I figured I would practice on mine first (I have four rescues, but only one that will sit still for the camera).

    The detail that you were willing to share with me is truly appreciated.
    Ginny,

    Providing decent pictures of shelter dogs (and cats) can mean literally a life and death for these animals!

    The primary way that shelters and rescue organizations advertise their available dogs in the USA is through Petfinder. This site ( www.petfinder.com ) is only available for rescue organizations and shelters to post their adoptable dogs. It is not available to breeders or puppy mills. We can post our dogs on the site without charge and the site gets a lot of traffic. The two main avenues we use to find homes for our rescue dogs are word of mouth and petfinder.com. The PETCO CEO actually adopted one of our dogs from petfinder.com; Sophie the Labradoodle:

    Help with wiggly dogs

    There are many many dogs of all breeds listed on petfinder.com. You can search by breed and by location...

    http://www.petfinder.com/pet-search?...tsearch=Search

    Since there are so many dogs available, dogs who are groomed decently and who have decent images posted get the most interest. Most shelters are overburdened by just providing a safe, warm place for their dogs and do not spend any time grooming or getting good photos to post.

    Rescue organizations usually have volunteers who clean up their dogs and sometimes groom them. However many rescue organizations are not able (for one reason or another) to obtain good pictures of their foster dogs.

    Some rescue organizations or shelters will welcome the assistance of a competent photographer.

    Here is a kit that I recommend for a person who wants to help shelters and rescue. This kit is aimed at getting the best pictures with the least expense and to get the photo session done quickly.

    Camera/Lens: Virtually any digital camera is suitable. I like to shoot with a longer focal length lens because: I can stay away from the dog and because, just like in human portraiture, a longer focal length is more flattering. This is especially true for long nosed dogs. Shooting with a shorter focal length lens from close up exagerates the length of the nose. If you are shooting with the 18-55mm kit lens, try to shoot at the longer end. The Canon 55-250mm kit lens is an inexpensive lens that is great for just about any portrait work. On the high end of the price range, I love my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens for any type of portrait work, animal or human.

    NOTE: Using a P&S camera or using live-view with a DSLR often results in a shutter lag that is too slow to get a good shot. I switched from a P&S to a DSLR many years ago because I was sick of pressing the shutter button and then waiting a long time for the camera to acquire the picture. This often resulted in puppy-tail images after the puppy had moved out of the frame.

    Lighting: The on-camera flash is not really suited to dog (or human for that matter) portraiture. You can do very well with a camera mounted single hotshoe flash bounced off the ceiling. I use a Joe Demb Flash Difuser Pro to modify my flash but, you can fabricate an acceptable diffuser/reflector from cardboard or foamboard ( http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/ ). I don't like the STOFEN type of diffuser.

    Background: Never shoot through the bars or mesh of a shelter pen. Additionally, if possible, use a neutral background, You can get an inexpensive muslin background on eBay or you can use a foam type blanket (which can be purchased inexpensively at Walmart). Try not to have the industrial kennel background. You can fabricate a BG holder from PVC piping at a very low price or purchase an inexpensive background set from eBay. This is not the very best BG holder but it is cheap and will work: http://www.ebay.com/itm/10Ft-Adjusta...item3cc238b1bd

    Show leads are very thin and are easy to clone out. I use a squeeker to get the dogs attention. Holding the squeeker between my teeth leaves my hands free and when the dog hears the squeek will normally look to the camera. It is best to have a helper.

    If you have some greenery available, that always makes a good background; lawn is OK like in Sophie the Labradoodle's picture above. I have a retaining wall around my yard that has evergreen shrubs above it. I use this as a background for many of my rescue pictures..

    Help with wiggly dogs

    I always use fill flash in outdoor shots.

    I try to fill the frame with the dog and also get a tight head shot or two.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 16th February 2012 at 03:43 PM.

  10. #10
    Flurry's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Richard,

    Two of my four dogs were found using Petfinder. A great organization. I am sitting here feeling very emotional that you have spent so much time sharing with me how to get these shots. I am new to the forum and am amazed at the generosity. I can't thank you enough!

  11. #11
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Ginny,

    This is the most friendly site I have ever been involved with. We all try to assist each other. Many of us have some very specific talents. I am quite experienced with dog photography, Colin is a great portrait photographer and Donald does excepllent work with B&W landscapes there are other very skilled photographers and some new photographers.

    We all learn from each other. One thing that I have found on some other photo sites is that some experienced members try to pontificate. This doesn't seem to be tha case on CiC.

    I have been the recipient of a lot of needed help from many members and I like to return that help whenever I can...

    Good luck with your dog photos...

  12. #12
    Flurry's Avatar
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    Re: Help with wiggly dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    Ginny,
    We all learn from each other. One thing that I have found on some other photo sites is that some experienced members try to pontificate. This doesn't seem to be tha case on CiC.
    I have only had my camera for a month and have already run into this problem. It can be discouraging, especially when are wanting to learn. This site is awesome! Hopefully one day I can return the favor.

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