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Thread: Dog portraits

  1. #1
    DH59's Avatar
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    Dog portraits

    Here's my first attempt at taking photos of dogs. My sister has a friend who breeds Norfolk and Norwich Terriers, and wanted some images for her website. As I'd thought of trying pet photography, I thought I would use this opportunity to test my skills in this field.

    Unfortunately, once they were out of their pens, they went crazy in the garden, so I was lucky to get any shots, really. She wanted natural images of them having fun, not posed shots. A couple of them are going to Crufts in a few weeks. I hope they behave a bit better in the show ring!

    Dog portraits

    Dog portraits

  2. #2

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    Re: Dog portraits

    2 nice pictures of this dog. I suggest you for next pictures to shoot at the dog level

  3. #3
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Hi Dianne,

    I agree with Thierry about getting down a bit more, although I can see you've made an effort already, but a) wet grass isn't appealing, and b) it probably brings a lot more distracting items into shot (at least, it does in my garden).

    Never-the-less, not bad pictuires, definitiely better than average.

    In #2, I would be tempted, given the position of dog and camera, and direction of his/her stare, to crop a little more off the right hand side, and include a bit more on left if possible.

    Cheers,

  4. #4
    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Thank you for the comments.

    I was crouching down as far as I could without getting my knees wet - it had been raining heavily the day before. If I'd thought more clearly, I could have taken a roll-up camping mat to put down on the grass, or a plastic rubbish bag. As it was, I had to keep following them around to get any photos at all - they were all over the place, and it's a huge garden. I tried using the servo focus, but it wasn't that successful. As soon as I crouched down, they headed towards me ready to play.

    I may have to go again, as we got more images of certain dogs and not enough of some others. I think I will suggest taking them outside one-by-one so they are not distracted by the others. I may also try my 70-200 - I stuck with my 24-105 on this occasion - and keep a bit further away.

  5. #5
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    Re: Dog portraits

    A couple things I've learned when trying to get photos of my dogs, maybe you know these things already, but it if not perhaps it will help.
    I see you're trying to get some outside shots. Can you tire them out a little first? Let them run and sniff and do some business for a good 10 - 15 minutes, work off some of that excitedness, play with them, play ball, bring a tug toy, get them interested in you from the get go.
    Treats...have some really good treats, above and beyond their normal, I use hot dogs or real meat. I also use picture taking time as a great opportunity for some training, practicing 'sit/stays' or 'down/stays'.
    I have 2 dogs chances are rare that I can ever get both of them sitting next to each other and still for a photo, so another trick I have used is to combine multiple pictures into one good one.

    If you're trying to get inside shots, make sure the spot where they hang out, whether its a dog bed, chair or couch, I like to make sure that area isn't cluttered and has a nice blanket, so if they are sleeping or lounging and you want to get a picture, you're ready.

    Just some thoughts. Good luck. They look like fun, happy little dogs.

  6. #6

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    Re: Dog portraits

    like the picture, but dont like the crop

  7. #7
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Debbie: Thank you for commenting. Tiring them out seemed to be almost impossible. We were out there one and a half hours and they never stopped. The owner had toys and treats, but they just ran around like crazy things. Didn't seem to have any obedience, which is strange for show dogs - I would have thought they would at least take some commands. Strangely, when we went back in the house, they all knew which pens they had to go in, and when she opened the door, in they went. She said that in the show ring, on a lead, they are OK, but that this breed are not trainable in everyday commands. I don't think that is entirely the case. She wanted outdoor shots of them having fun, but that didn't help my task.

    Vandenberg: Any particular one, or both?

  8. #8
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by DH59 View Post
    Debbie: Thank you for commenting. Tiring them out seemed to be almost impossible. We were out there one and a half hours and they never stopped. The owner had toys and treats, but they just ran around like crazy things. Didn't seem to have any obedience, which is strange for show dogs - I would have thought they would at least take some commands. Strangely, when we went back in the house, they all knew which pens they had to go in, and when she opened the door, in they went. She said that in the show ring, on a lead, they are OK, but that this breed are not trainable in everyday commands. I don't think that is entirely the case. She wanted outdoor shots of them having fun, but that didn't help my task.
    Wow. Interesting. An untrainable dog breed, says your client .

    Best if I exercise some obedience and stop there, except for to say, don't forget to protect your reputation, as you mentioned you'd like to get into pet photography.

  9. #9
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    Re: Dog portraits

    You need to take the dogs out of their normal environments. Elevate them onto a platform and you'll find they behave a bit better. Try to concentrate on the head/face to capture the character of the dog, unless you want action shots. You must shoot mainly at eye level or really get up much higher than the dog so it has to look up at you. Keep the backgrounds as plain as possible and get the flash off the camera.

  10. #10
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    Re: Dog portraits

    I have two cairn terriers, so share your problem. They do not tire easily and when they see you crouching down with your camera they tend to come too close, because they think you want to play. And they move all the time!
    What I do now and then is try to get some shots in the woods, when we go for a longer walk. They sniff around and I have time to crouch down and click off some shots when they are running towards me. A good zoom really helps a lot. I prefer the 18-200mm, so your 70-200mm should work fine. I also use the 12-24mm at 12mm, but they have to be real close to you, so that one is not always easy.
    Great fun though if the pictures work out.

    I have some recent shots here, not my all time favourites, but I was trying out the different lenses. For action the 18-200mm seems to work best.

    I would like a bit more background in your shots (bokeh or not), the grass is a bit too bland for me. By the way, use a fast shutter, but I guess you already found out about that.

  11. #11
    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Debbie: Yes, I couldn't quite believe it. My sister and I exchanged a glance when she said you can't train terriers.

    Mark: I don't think these dogs ever get taken out of the property's boundary. And the fact that they are in pens inside the house means that they just run riot once they're let out. Some are also in a fenced run outside, but that's not the same as being taken for a long walk. It is a huge garden and they just have the run of that for their exercise, I imagine. I did get a few headshots, but it was quite difficult. I will know better next time, and perhaps take a bit more control of the situation, but this was my first attempt and it was only done as a favour - not with a wish to get paid.

    Peter: Your images are lovely. I will try the 70-200 next time. I don't have a huge choice of focal lengths - I recently sold five Sigma lenses of varying focal lengths in order to get one new Canon lens, so I only have the 24-105 and the 70-200, plus the 50mm f/1.8. She has asked me back in a week or so when they have been trimmed and groomed (which they should have been before). I'll try the trick of taking them outside one at a time. I was trying to get something else for a background, but the dogs had other ideas, so I just had to take my chances. There is a lot of grass in her garden, but I will try and find something else when I go again. I did set a fast shutter, and I tried some diffused fill flash in the hope that it would freeze any movement. I learned from it though.

  12. #12
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    Re: Dog portraits

    I can relate to not being able to get down to the dogs level. I have arthritis (with two titanium knees) and have the devil's own time kneeling and then have a worse time getting up.

    When shooting dogs in my house, I like to place them on a elevated table and then sit on a roll around office chair for shooting. This puts me at the dogs level and also provides additional mobility. I have recently been using longer focal lengths to shoot my dogs which allows me plenty of room between the camera and the dogs I love my 70-200mm f/4L IS lens for these shots.

    Dog portraits

    Dog portraits

    Outdoors, I like (when possible) to put the dogs in an elevated position. I am lucky in that I have some brick planters and a brick retaining wall on which to place the dogs. i find that using a longer focal length lens from a greater distance, the angle at which I am viewing the dogs is not as noticeable as when shooting with a shorter focal length up closer. If possible, I use a folding camp stool to enable a lower shooting position. This works O.K. but I don't have the mobility I have when using the rolling office chair on my tile floors at home.

    Dog portraits

    I like to have someone besides the owner to hold the dog on a thin show lead which is easily Photoshopped out. I like the owner to stand right behind me so the dog will look towards me; not off at the owner. I always have treats available and sometimes have a feather attractor on a stick and string which will catch the dogs attention. Craft stores will sell little plastic sweekers designed to be sewn into stuffed toys. I hold one of these between my teeth and bite down to attract the dogs attention. BTW: shooting several dogs can be quite a project...

    Dog portraits

    But sometimes I get what I want...

    Dog portraits

    Finally, I will always use fill flash outdoors, quite often shooting the dog back-lit or side-lit which shows off the dog's coat. It also provides catch lights in the animal's eyes.

    Dog portraits

  13. #13
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Very nice job Richard. I really like the triple dog shot.

  14. #14
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Ditto. Well done.

  15. #15
    DH59's Avatar
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    Re: Dog portraits

    Richard: Thank you for taking the time to comment and show your images. They are really lovely.

    I also have the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens, and I agree it is a fine lens. I am going to try this lens next time I go. I think there is a low wall in the garden, but I think there is an old greenhouse behind it, so the background may not be suitable. I don't have any problems getting low down, and will remember to take my camping mat with me, just in case the grass is wet again. I can then lay out full length and try and get the owner to keep the dogs in front of me, rather than chasing round trying to keep up with them.

    I had thought about having them on a lead and then cloning it out. I will try your technique with that option. She did say they behave well when in the show ring, so being on the lead might just calm them down.

    I was using fill-flash, but it was on-camera and diffused with a Lightsphere, so may not have shown up enough. I think you can just about make out the catchlights.

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