Pet Portraits As Seen by Janine!
Pet Portraiture is one of my favorite areas of photography. No better time than the holidays to have portraits made of your pet! Here are three samples of portraits I’ve taken of my own dog, Kiah, a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog).
This first is a simple outdoor portrait of Kiah:
This second portrait of Kiah is an outdoor adventure portrait, and if your dog is like mine, this will be their favorite type of portrait to have taken. What is more fun than outdoor adventure?
This third portrait of Kiah is an indoor holiday scene. This would make a great Christmas card!
For those who are photographers in addition to pet lovers, read on to learn how I did the lighting for these photographs.
The outdoor portrait of Kiah lying in the grass was made applying-off camera lighting effects learned from Dan Bailey’s “Going Fast With Light” eBook. No question, when photographing pets, you have to “go fast!”
This shot of Kiah was taken late day in the shade, which is great for avoiding harsh shadows, but that lighting has a flat tone to it lacking any punch to highlight the details in the dog’s fur and eyes.
To better illuminate the dog, I used two off-camera Canon 430EXII strobes triggered with a Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter at 2:1 relative power. The left strobe was diffused with a 16″ Cowboy Softbox and the right strobe was diffused with my new LumiQuest Softbox III.
Thanks Dan for helping me not only “catch” my dog in a portrait, but for helping me learn techniques to add off-camera lighting quickly enough to illuminate her beautifully before her patience ran out!
“Going Fast With Light” is an absolute requirement for pet portraits!
The outdoor adventure portrait of Kiah is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph. This is a technique for getting evenly illuminated photographs with a full tonal range from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows and beautifully striking colors. It is a good technique for times, like on this backpacking trip, when you don’t want to carry any extra lighting equipment. Most often HDR photos require a tripod in order to take three identical shots of the same image. Since I like to go light, and on this backpacking trip didn’t even bring a tripod, the photo was taken by bracing my camera against a tree in lieu of a tripod. Kiah held still just long enough for three exposures (-2 EV, 0 EV, +2 EV), which were merged into this beautiful HDR shot.
The holiday portrait of Kiah by the Christmas tree was the opposite of “Going Fast With Light” but adding any strobe lighting would have ruined the ambient mood of the photograph. Instead, this photograph was taken using only the ambient light provided by the Christmas tree lights.
I set the white balance on my Canon 55oD T2i to Tungsten and had no other lighting other than the tree’s lights. In fact, not only was this photo not “Going Fast with Light” but in fact, it was so tricky to capture this photo without the dog moving that my son bet me I would not succeed. He lost the bet!
The key to getting pet photographs like this is having your setup and camera settings all ready before posing the pet. It also helps to use a remote control trigger so you can remain near the animal to reassure and re-pose them as needed, and to be very, very patient! I wish I had a dollar for every time Kiah moved and my son bet me, yet again, that I would not succeed, buy my patience paid off!
If this all sounds like too much work to you, not to worry. Have your pet portraits taken “As Seen by Janine.” Contact me at email@example.com to make an appointment.