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Thread: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

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    Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    This first picture is of two of my liver-colored Field Spaniels. Each has a different grade of fur due to age. Their coats are actually darker than shown in the pic. I can never seem to get the coat color correct, while NOT getting red eye. And when I have two or more in a pic, the one on the edge seems distorted. I've tried burst settings for the red eye and it does help. I've also had to learn to "paint" in eyes with photoshop, but I don't think it looks realistic enough. Thisi is an uncropped version of the picture. I appreciate your input.

    Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    This picture of the old man dog is a better composition with a layer mask to improve the background.

    Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics
    Last edited by ggt; 23rd July 2012 at 08:40 PM. Reason: wanted to add pic

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    TheArcane's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    The main problem is that your lighting is very harsh. Try reading this tutorial as a start.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...hotography.htm

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    In the first image, I think you're trying to accomplish a nice image in an extraordinarily difficult setting. There is a bright light coming from the rear and side through the draperies. You are rightfully trying to balance it with a flash, though probably using a pop-up flash and at least a flash mounted to the top of your camera. Either situation will create the red eye. To top off the list of difficult situations, one dog is closer to you than the other one, which means one will be more brightly lit than the other one.

    If it's possible to control the setting, arrange the dogs in an area where you can use natural, diffused light. That's because using flash effectively requires a lot of experience. I'm guessing from your images and comments that you understandably haven't taken the time to seriously study and master the use of flash.

    You mentioned that the dogs' hair is darker than in the image. I'll explain why I doubt that's true: Imagine shining very bright, white lights such as studio lights on your dog. That's essentially what is happening when you're using flash. The difference is that studio lights would produce sustained light that would give you time to realize how their hair looks in that situation. Not only does the flash occur in a blip of time, it's being lit only when you're looking through the viewfinder. That doesn't give you enough time to appreciate how their hair appears under such bright light.

    The reason at least one of the two dogs appears distorted when you photograph them together is for both a good reason and a bad reason. The good reason is that you have the smart sense to move in close to fill the frame with your subject. The bad reason is that when you get that close, you are forced to use a very short focal length. The result is a wide-angle focal length and all such lengths do indeed distort atleast at the edges in that situation. The solution is to photograph your dogs in an area that allows you to create a bit more distance between them and you. Fill the frame using anything other than a wide-angle focal length. If you have to use a wide-angle focal length, don't fill the dogs in the frame; leave unimportant space around them that you can crop out of the image during postprocessing.

    Hope this helps!

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    In the first image, I think you're trying to accomplish a nice image in an extraordinarily difficult setting. There is a bright light coming from the rear and side through the draperies. You are rightfully trying to balance it with a flash, though probably using a pop-up flash and at least a flash mounted to the top of your camera. Either situation will create the red eye. To top off the list of difficult situations, one dog is closer to you than the other one, which means one will be more brightly lit than the other one.

    If it's possible to control the setting, arrange the dogs in an area where you can use natural, diffused light. That's because using flash effectively requires a lot of experience. I'm guessing from your images and comments that you understandably haven't taken the time to seriously study and master the use of flash.

    You mentioned that the dogs' hair is darker than in the image. I'll explain why I doubt that's true: Imagine shining very bright, white lights such as studio lights on your dog. That's essentially what is happening when you're using flash. The difference is that studio lights would produce sustained light that would give you time to realize how their hair looks in that situation. Not only does the flash occur in a blip of time, it's being lit only when you're looking through the viewfinder. That doesn't give you enough time to appreciate how their hair appears under such bright light.

    The reason at least one of the two dogs appears distorted when you photograph them together is for both a good reason and a bad reason. The good reason is that you have the smart sense to move in close to fill the frame with your subject. The bad reason is that when you get that close, you are forced to use a very short focal length. The result is a wide-angle focal length and all such lengths do indeed distort atleast at the edges in that situation. The solution is to photograph your dogs in an area that allows you to create a bit more distance between them and you. Fill the frame using anything other than a wide-angle focal length. If you have to use a wide-angle focal length, don't fill the dogs in the frame; leave unimportant space around them that you can crop out of the image during postprocessing.

    Hope this helps!
    Mike Thanks!

    For some reason, my very well behaved show dogs will not pose for me! Also, I get tired of the "spaniel" shots and want to catch them in action. Which means I don't have time to fiddle with the camera. I do get better images in the sunlight. I'll go thru the flash tutorials again. I seem have a hard time applying what I learn to my camera. I have a friend helping me, but I may have to take the "class" offered at the camera shop.

    Tonite at the training center, I tried to get some of the dog on the left while working the agility course and the lighting was wrong in every shot. I'm going to have to "play" a lot with this to master it.

    BTW, I ended-up cropping the above picture, posterizing it in photoshop and turning it into a T-shirt for my husband for Father's Day! So, it wasn't a total loss. Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    I appreciate everyone here! Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post.
    Gretchen

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    The number one reason professional photographers take better photos than most people, is they seek the right lighting. There are certain situations where you can utilize mid day lighting, but it usually doesn't happen by accident. My suggestion would be to try and take some shots in late afternoon lighting, and see how it goes. Try taking photographs at a 90 degree angle to the sun in order to get some interesting side lighting. You may also want to try some nice back lighting as well (Though a little more advanced) to get a nice glow around the edges of the dogs fur. Just some food for thought.

    What camera are you using?

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Nice tee-shirt, Gretchen!

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    A basic compact --sony cybershot. I can't justify the expense right now for a better camera. I think I'd better learn to take decent pics with what I have first.

    I'm beginning to think I might be better at studio photography. I used to draw a lot, but my hands don't cooperate anymore. Photography is so frustrating for me right now because I know exactly how I would draw what I want. Still I want to take decent pics of my dogs. I did take some outside today in the late afternoon. I set the camera on Intelligent Auto with the Burst setting. Again, the dogs weren't terribly cooperative, but I got a couple that made me smile. Here is one: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    There is a weird blurring in the lower right???

    Thanks again for your input.

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Nice tee-shirt, Gretchen!
    Thanks, I have a lot of fun in photoshop!

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    That blurring really is strange. Check your lens to make sure there's no oil such as from your fingers or moisture on it. Other than that, I'm stumped about what could cause it and look forward to somebody explaining it.

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Hi Gretchen,
    You have some very lovely dogs... One thing I do with my dogs is get the treats out... I usually put them in a sit-stay or lay-stay and then give them the watch me command or just wave the treat around a bit and they pay attention to that lol...and not the camera in my hands. Another idea is get down on their level...now with the springer I have, that can be a bit of a problem because he is still pretty young and to him it means play time:> Try one shooting up at their face from below getting the blue sky in...My best pictures have always been outside early morning or later afternoon/evening.. The more you shoot the more they will get used to the camera lol.. I also take several pictures at a time just because one or both dogs will do something like lick their nose or blink... and I have a better chance of getting a good shot...
    That would not be a nose print perhaps blurring a spot on your lens? In my house that would be a very real possibility:>

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    The colors in your latest picture are easier on the eyes. The strange blur mark does appear to be something on your lens though.

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Quote Originally Posted by Trina View Post
    Hi Gretchen,
    You have some very lovely dogs... One thing I do with my dogs is get the treats out... I usually put them in a sit-stay or lay-stay and then give them the watch me command or just wave the treat around a bit and they pay attention to that lol...and not the camera in my hands. Another idea is get down on their level...now with the springer I have, that can be a bit of a problem because he is still pretty young and to him it means play time:> Try one shooting up at their face from below getting the blue sky in...My best pictures have always been outside early morning or later afternoon/evening.. The more you shoot the more they will get used to the camera lol.. I also take several pictures at a time just because one or both dogs will do something like lick their nose or blink... and I have a better chance of getting a good shot...
    That would not be a nose print perhaps blurring a spot on your lens? In my house that would be a very real possibility:>
    Yes, I think you are right, I've had to clean the lens before because the dogs thought it would be a nice thing to smell. Thanks for reminding me!

    I sometimes use treats, but I am usually trying to get pictures of them unposed. I have a nice one of my old girl (Who has since passed over the Rainbow Bridge) from her level (below). Lighting seems to be my big issues in the candid shots. I get so tired of the standard spaniel dog show poses, or hunting poses. At least with digital, you don't have to waste tons of film and $$ getting that one nice candid shot. I'll keep working on the lighting . .Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    THANKS SO much for your input. EVERYONE, really! It's so nice to have feedback from people who are serious about the media and can give candid opinions.

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Hi Gretchen... IMO one of the best ways to light a dog is to use bounce flash with a diffuser/reflector. I don't know which Cybershot camera you have but, it doesn't appear that they are equipped with hotshoes. The lack of a hotshoe would prevent you from bouncing flash because most built-in flashes do not have bounce capability.

    Here are some pointers which may help and which I believe can be accomplished with your present camera...

    Try to locate a background which is not busy. I like to shoot at a dog's eye level for most of my shots but, often shooting from above will minimize the distraction of a busy background...

    Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Try to shoot from a relatively longer distance and use a longer lens as opposed to shooting from close up and needing a wide lens to cover the dog or dogs. Longer focal lengths prevent distortion (which often makes the dog's nose look quite long).

    It is easier to shoot a dog that is well trained but, often having another person available to help pose the dog is beneficial.

    Shooting more than one dog is geometrically more difficult than shooting an individual dog.

    Have treats or a squeeker available to attract the dog's attention. I often use small plastic squeekers that are designed to be sewn inside suffed toys. They are small and quite cheap. I pay twenty or twenty-five cents for the units. I hold the squeeker between my teeth and bite down to cause the noise. That way, when looking toward the squeeker, the dog is looking at the camera.

    Dogs squint from bright sun the same as humans do.

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Richard, is that your dog? The coat looks just beautiful! I love the purple flowers with the coat.

    I appreciate all your ideas. I don't think I can do the bounce flash, I'll have to investigate that more! I seem to have a long learning curve with this media . . .

    But, there may be hope for me yet. We've been having storms here and this evening I noticed the sky was a particularly pink shade of ominous, AND my first thought was, "I wonder how the dogs would look?". So here is what I got in the short time I had before the sun set: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Thanks again for taking the time to reply to my post.

    ggt

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    I know that it took me several years to figure out why my photos didn't look like the vision I saw before me, and furthermore what to do to change that.

    I have a point n' shoot myself for a hiking camera. My workhorse is the Canon 5DII and my primary lens is my 35mm f/2. So being able to compare the two in ability and quality is still good for me - and really keeps me appreciative of my full-frame baby.

    Does your point and shoot have any semi-manual modes, such as Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority? If you're able to set your aperture at the lowest possible number (which means the largest opening) that will be a start in the right direction. The most possible light hitting your sensor + decreased depth of field will give you that more 'polished' look that we're all after. Keep in mind that when you zoom your aperture will increase numerically, decreasing the physical size - not desirable, so avoid using zoom as much as possible; use your feet to zoom and don't be afraid of filling the frame with your subject.

    Force your flash off (should certainly be a option for this) and learn to 'see' the light around you. On-camera flash is NEVER flattering and the workarounds are numerous and too annoying to deal with (building reflectors for little point n' shoot flashes are a pain in the butt and not really recommended for newbies.) Something that would help is to buy some sturdy white posterboard at a craft store and use that to help bounce some light around, fill in shadows and try to provide some catchlights in your dogs' eyes.

    Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    This is a photo I took indoors with natural light from 2 opposite windows. The window on the right was about 3x farther away than the left window. The catchlights are provided from that far-away right window, which is also why they're so small. If I didn't have that window I would have grabbed some white paper or something reflective to get some light into those eyes, because eyes look simply lifeless without light. Additionally, this photo was at either f/2 or f/2.2 - so you can see what a small f-stop number does for your photos. It provides for really smooth bokeh (the nature of the out-of-focus areas) and really adds the impact you're looking for.

    The best hints I can give you is to get down on your dog's level (field spaniels ain't Yorkies so this won't be too bad on your knees) and get them to look up a bit. The more white of the eye you can capture, the better - it makes dogs look more attentive and 'bright'. Solid-colored dogs can be really hard to capture properly simply because of how camera sensors 'see' - as evidenced here - so just practice practice practice. One thing I'm very fond of is backlighting - done properly it makes for awesome, angelic photos.

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Joanna,

    First, I have to tell you how absolutely huggable your Labrador looks! The kitty, is wonderful as well. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I can change the settings for aperture, so I will try so more. I was reading some articles earlier on the web about flash bouncing and found DIY instructions for doing it with my point n' shoot, so I understand what you are saying about the white paper. I do things like that for posed family (mostly holiday) pictures, but I think I have to get my brain in order to be able to grab the camera and other props when the dogs are in a good position. My dogs have sagging lower eye-lids, like the Bassets that were combined with the old spaniels to create the Field Spaniel), it seems like there eyes are always red or pink from irritants that get into the lower eye area. I sometimes photoshop that area to make it a little less pink. Otherwise their pink noses, liver coat and often their pink tongues all blend together making it even harder for the camera to "see" them. I think that is why I've tended to take their pictures in such harsh light--I want to capture every possible shadow and highlight.

    Luckily my camera won't use the flash if it is on the burst setting, so I don't have to remember to turn the flash off! I've at least learned to use the burst setting with animals!

    So, I'm off to sort thru my stash of foamcore and matte boards. I think I might have a scrap of silver matte--that could produce some interesting shadows --which is probably the wrong way to think. I have to stop thinking like an artist and try to think more like an photographer, or maybe not. I'm probably getting too worked-up about the mechanics of the device and not using enough common sense.

    ANYWAY, thanks so much for your thoughts and scratch some pet ears for me.

    ggt

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Try not using the flash of your camera unless you've got those external flashes, it sometimes gives harsh light. Try what I did when I first started photography, Dont use the internal flash until you really need it or when you've got external flashes (e.g. SB400 etc). Use the settings a bit more. Go ISO, Shutter and Aperture. It gives better pictures. and find a better background. "My opinion, its your option to follow or not"

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    Re: Newbie--PLEASE help with solid color dog pics

    Thanks Raul or Gabriel: Yes, I'm learning ALOT about lighting! I know the composition is horrible. I purposely posted it because I wanted it showed some of the major problems I know I'm having and wanted the maximum feedback. I appreciate yours!

    ggt

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