Monday, December 27, 2010

Pet Photography

Taking pictures of pets can be challenging but it can also be a whole lot of fun. The first bit of good news is that when photographing people sometimes you need to tell them "just be yourself." When photographing pets, they're always being themselves and don't give a hoot about the camera.

One useful guideline is the same as when photographing children. That is that it's usually very effective to get down on their level. It personalizes them and puts the viewer in their world. As you can see in this picture of my cat Bart. Down on his level, you can capture what he's doing.

It also pays to get up close and personal. How can you resist this cute teddy bear face?
Of course, rules are meant to be broken from time to time. Sometimes a picture shot from on high seems appropriate. Particularly since this is usually the angle from which pets and their people look at each other. Or a certain setting calls for this approach. For example my other cat Lisa (yes, they are brother and sister) loves to play with my shoes. She wrestles with them, chews on them and generally has a good time and makes a mess. So I like to call this picture "Shoes? What shoes?"
It's also helpful to know a little about the behavior of the pet. For example a friend of mine was telling about when her dog is tired from playing ball, she'll lay down and rest the ball on top of her paws. I thought "That is so cool. I'll have to get a picture of that." And so I did.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dragging The Shutter

You know how when you use a flash on your camera how the background always turns fades out and turns black? That's one of the things that I dislike about using a flash. More often than not I prefer to shoot in natural light. However, there is a trick that you can use fix this problem and it's called dragging the shutter.

After setting up your camera to use the flash, you then switch it to manual mode and reduce the shutter speed. It may take a little experimenting so you might start at 1/15th of a second and then work up from there. The result is that the flash illuminates your subject but then the shutter stays open after the flash has fired, thus giving your sensor the chance to capture light from the background as well.

In this instance I was breaking in my new remote wire for my flash so that I could use the flash gun from the side. That creates some pretty dramatic shadows.Of course, slowing down the shutter opens up a whole new world of possibilities that I will explore in the future. This next picture takes a step in that direction. Here right after the flash fired, I stepped out of the picture while the shutter was still open. As a result, I'm all there during the flash but you can also see the background through my sweater. The wavy light that seems to be flowing from my lens was just a happy accident. Something you look to create when playing around with the slow shutter speeds.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Some Snowy HDR

We recently had a fantastic snow storm that dumped a bit more snow than we are used to around here. So naturally that was the perfect time take some pictures and play around with the HDR. One of the things that makes it challenging is all that white. It doesn't give you a lot of color to play with but at least it gives you a chance to make less strange looking pictures in HDR. Here in the patio picture, it looks fairly normal but was able to use HDR to bring in more of the details in the background and behind the chairs. I was also able to bring out more of the texture in the snow.Then for another picture of my back gate, I used the glow setting to really bring out some interesting highlights in the snow on the ground. After I made these adjustments, the picture struck me as being just a little bit creepy. Fun effect.