Photographing Dogs

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Sorby, May 8, 2004.

  1. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Tomorrow I am photographing a dog-show.
    It's just a local, informal show which should be lots of fun - so I'm not
    expecting it to be a high-pressure affair - but I'd like to do the best job
    I can.

    However I've got a couple of questions :

    1) Do dogs mind flash-guns?

    2) Has anyone here had experience of photographing dogs & their owners? Any
    tips? What makes a good 'dog shot' (in the eyes of the owner)? Do I get down
    to their level, shoot from normal eye-level or ask the owner to crouch down
    to the dog's level and I get down to their level?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Sorby, May 8, 2004
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  2. In my limited experience, if you point a camera at a dog it will straight
    away turn around. You alway end up with a picture of a dogs bottom! This
    effect convinced my wife that an investment in digital photography was
    sensible since I could erase the dog's bottom and try again!!

    Roger, Aberystwyth
    Roger Matthews, May 8, 2004
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  3. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    LOL - thanks Roger.
    Perhaps I should aim my camera at the dogs' bottom to see if *that* does the
    Sorby, May 8, 2004
  4. Sorby

    Skip M Guest

    While I've never shot a dog show for clients, I have photographed a friend
    while she shows her dog, and there's a few things I learned:
    Shoot from low, otherwise the dog, no matter how tall, looks kinda like a
    Owners like to see shots of their dogs, in motion, in the show ring.
    They don't like to see shots of themselves, in motion, in the show ring.
    They like to see posed shots of their dog in a formal stance, shot from the
    level of the dog, with themselves behind, hopefully with a re-enactment of
    receiving an award.
    And they do like to see the shot of them, kneeling or crouching close to
    their dog, shot from dog level.
    Of course, "dog level" varies depending on whether it is a Great Dane or the
    aforementioned Dachshund
    Skip M, May 8, 2004
  5. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Thanks Skip - that's useful info - I hadn't thought about re-enacting the
    Sorby, May 8, 2004
  6. Sorby

    KenJr Guest

    Depends on the dog. My current dog, a lab, doesn't care one way or
    another. My previous dog, also a lab, was a ham. You'd pull out a camera
    and she'd put on a show. My grandmother had a miniature poodle that
    would let you pose him, even going so far as to let you dress him up.
    KenJr, May 9, 2004
  7. Sorby

    Annika1980 Guest

    From: "Sorby"
    I've never photographed a dog show, but I have hours and hours of experience
    shooting "in the field."

    Rule #1: Watch the background.
    This is true of all photography and might be difficult to do in a dog show, but
    try to situate yourself where the background will be uncluttered. Nothing
    distracts like distractions.

    Rule #2: Get low.
    You wouldn't shoot people from way above so why shoot animals that way? It
    isn't always easy to get as low as a dog, but try your best.

    Here's some shots I've taken over the past few years, mostly of The Mighty
    Annika1980, May 9, 2004
  8. Sorby

    Quaoar Guest

    Couple of suggestions: fur is generally recognized as very difficult for
    autofocus since it is not reflective, but absorbs the AF signal, so
    manual or fixed focus is best; indirect flash if possible (none if the
    lighting is good). If your camera will do sequential, sports action, or
    other multiple exposures (even bracketing), you can overcome "dog moves
    too fast to compose" problem.

    Quaoar, May 9, 2004
  9. Sorby

    Sherry Guest

    Sounds like my cats. I couldn't get Jenny to sit still for a "portrait"
    so decided to use the movie mode and then she wouldn't move!

    Sherry, May 9, 2004
  10. Sorby

    Tmax Guest

    Each to his own - but it might be kinder if you just described them as 'Less
    attractive women'....

    Many, er, less attractive women are grateful for any sort of flash...


    What makes a good 'dog shot' <<

    Oh, that's easy! - plenty of Tit, that always helps...

    No! - you must always ensure that the Dog goes down on you!. Never the
    other way around.
    Tmax, May 9, 2004
  11. --------

    Happy dog pix...

    * Dogs, especially show dogs, work for food... for full body portraits and
    close-ups show them the food and you can get their attention for a
    millisecond or so. If you want a different head position remember that their
    nose, in fact their whole head position, follows the location of the food -
    so a helper can stand in the best position to one side and in front of dog
    and show them the food while you snap their picci from a different position.
    Hint: Carry some tissue to swab up the drooling between stots.

    * Dogs are curious... Try a squeaky toy or soft noisemaker (e.g a baby
    rattle; or you could even rustle a piece of aluminium foil or crispy paper
    or cellophane) to get their attention...squeak! (or "rattle" or "rustle")
    and snap! But you got to be quick. Good for two or three shots... after that
    they will have caught on to what you are doing.

    * Some dogs love the camera...some don't. (the dog sometimes thinks: "...He
    sticks that thing in my face he's 'gonna get a leg full of teeth!...")

    * Dog tired dogs are useless for photographers... you need to get them on
    film before they are completely worn out by the day's activities.

    * Flash with dogs (and cats or other critters) produces iridescent eye red eye in people but usually much worse... plan on
    post-processing to get rid of it so note, when shot, what colour the dog's
    eyes really are and you can drop the correct colour back in via PS.

    * Select a moderately fast zoom lens (35-80 or 100, or so) with a good DOF
    capability - stand back a bit and shoot in bright(ish) ambient light with a
    small(ish) aperture (ca f11) for minimum DOF with a moderate shutter speed
    e.g. 1/125+ (and select your ISO film speed accordingly) as the dog may
    be...well...lets say active, and you want to avoid the blurries from them
    moving around or exiting the DOF. Certainly in the show ring they will be
    "moving targets". Remember, dogs even if they are not moving, may violently
    wag their tails - so, even then, stopping the tail action is a shitter speed

    * Try to get some shots in 3/4 profile with a pin sharp image of dog's
    head... owners seem to love disembodied dog head and shoulders portrait
    shots. With a few shots to work on you can often crop out a good head shot
    for an enlargement.

    * Dogs can look noble (mouth closed, ears alert, tail up or out - depending
    on the breed standard); dogs can look intelligent (mouth slightly open,
    tongue slightly out and straight ahead, ears alert, normal tail); dogs can
    look positively goofy (mouth open and tongue lolling out the side and half
    way to the ground, ears doing what ever they want - but usually down in dogs
    that shouldn't have them down or flat against the side of the head, tail
    limp and down - which all kind of makes them look like Bubba what works at
    the Circle-K gas station checking out the latest edition of Playboy.)

    * If you tower over the dog he will behave as if you are his master; if you
    are down at his level he will think you are his playmate... the mood, the
    expression and the head/body position changes accordingly.

    * Make friends with dogs first. Let them get a sniff of your hand or pants
    so they know you are not a threat to them or their master (handler). Give
    them a cursory pat on the head.... then step back a bit and shoot. If they
    think you are their friend they are more responsive to your presence.

    I have been a large breed dog owner for over 30 years (almost exclusively
    with Labradors and Dalmatians but also, from time to time, with Great Danes
    and Mastiffs)... but I have absolutely no advice for anyone shooting cats!
    So don't anyone even bother asking.

    Journalist-North, May 9, 2004
  12. Sorby

    Bugsy Guest

    However I've got a couple of questions :
    I took some pirctures of a friends Labradors and I used studio lighting and
    they didn't bat an eyelid. But that;s Laradors for you!.

    The one thing I would add is that Dogs don't suffer from Red-eye they have
    green eye - which is very weird!

    Bugsy, May 9, 2004
  13. Sorby

    George Kerby Guest

    You have to get down on their level to share the bottle. They may not want
    to be seen in public with you and will wear disguises:
    George Kerby, May 9, 2004
  14. My current dog seems to produce "blue eye" the effect is explained in the
    article -

    Roger, Aberystwyth
    Roger Matthews, May 9, 2004
  15. Sorby

    Sorby Guest


    Well, I hesitate to post the results but you were all so helpful I think
    it's only fair...

    The dog-show was *very* informal - in a tiny village hall - with barely any
    room to set shots up indoors - so I stuck to shooting candids with the
    occasional posed shot.
    The hall was quite dimly lit (I've lightened many of the shots in the
    gallery) - I used my 550EX with the Stofen diffuser at 45 degrees and, at
    first, the shots in the LCD were too dark so I increased the ISO to 400 and
    the results were better - but not great.

    I realised a problem with the flash right away - it was forcing me to shoot
    at 1/60th which was too slow for freezing excitable puppies - but when I
    went to shutter-priority mode and dialled in a faster shutter speed I wasn't
    confident what to expect - or how the flash would cope - so erred on the
    side of caution.

    The outdoor shots have a rather cool cast because I forgot to reset the
    white balance once I got outside - DUH!
    I'll be able to fix them to a large extent in PaintShopPro.

    Thanks everyone for your help.
    Sorby, May 9, 2004
  16. (snip)

    +++ Had a good chuckle about the shot of the blond girl and bulldog
    [183_8391 - bottom row second from the left], Just proves that people and
    their dogs tend to look alike

    Overall, not a bad result if you have never shot dogs before.
    +++ Better use "PetShop Pro" ;-)
    Journalist-North, May 9, 2004
  17. Sorby

    Frank ess Guest

    Thank you for the opportunity to see the photos. Some very expressive
    faces in there.

    Later on, when the weather comes warm, you'll have chances to learn
    avoidance of the phenomenon of Pink Tongue Syndrome: dogs tend to cool
    themselves and not respond to "Shet you mouf, Rover."

    I don't know of a sure-fire way to make a good picture of a black dog.

    Frank ess
    Frank ess, May 9, 2004
  18. Sorby

    Doug Guest

    Sorby, I looked at 2 of your pics and was So turned off by your blatant
    advertising placed right across the front of your photos that I stopped
    right there. There is a saying in the arts ' the size of the copyright
    notice is inversely proportional to the talent of the artist'. Okay, so I
    made that saying up. You may have some good shots , but I'll never see them
    and I dare say a lot of others will never see them.

    All the best

    Doug, May 10, 2004
  19. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Thanks for looking Doug.
    I appreciate your comments.
    I think you're right - a smaller copyright notice would still do the job and
    allow more of the photo to be seen.


    Sorby, May 10, 2004
  20. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    I suppose the answer is to over-expose? And not to shoot them with their
    black-trouser-wearing owner in the immediate background! :eek:)

    Thanks for your comments
    Sorby, May 10, 2004
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