Dog portraits - looking for insight!

Discussion in 'Photography' started by maxfox426, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. maxfox426

    maxfox426 My dog tickles my soul

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    Wow, I just found this section! Hoorah!

    I'm not sure if these pictures truly belong here, but I am more looking for photography insight than dog insight. If a mod feels that they belong better in "Dog Pictures", please feel free move it.

    Anyways, when I do overnight dog-sitting, I like to practice my photography, and will leave a few of my photos for the dog owners at the end of my stay. I was sitting for these two a few weeks ago, and got permission from the owners to post the photos of their dogs for a little bit of photography criticism.

    These are taken with just my Canon Rebel XTi DSLR and my only lens (Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM). I used the staircase to set up the photos. The dogs sat on the landing and I stood lower down so that I was looking about eye-level or a bit lower with them. As for lighting, well, I was completely dependant on the sunlight coming in from the big, decorative windows in the entry of the house (behind and above me from where I was taking the pictures).

    Let me know what you think! And please, if there is anything I could have done to make these better, I would LOVE to hear it! I am always trying to improve and it helps to get feedback. :)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Thanks for looking! :D
     
  2. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    Good !! Love the last one !
     
  3. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

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    I think they are really pretty. As for lighting, you might want to make/buy a reflector to bounce some of that sunlight back onto your pups face and front parts. I love the smiley faces :D
     
  4. maxfox426

    maxfox426 My dog tickles my soul

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    Thanks! I think that may be my fav. Both dogs were normally very smiley, but the other one just had to look so serious when the camera was up! (Morgan does the same thing, though, so I am used to it.)


    Ooooo... I googled in reflectors, and that is a great idea! I hadn't even thought of anything like that before. AND I bet I could make something myself that would work!

    Thank you!! :hail:
     
  5. MericoX

    MericoX Roos, Poos, & a Wog!

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    I like the 3rd picture.

    For critiqueing them, if the 1st dog I wish it had been looking straight at you, or zoom in and profile just the head and the "looking off in the distance look". The 2nd pic is good two, except for the wagging tail is out of focus (yeah I know it's a dog =P), and the last picture I wish you had gotten the whole body in.
     
  6. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    I like the first one best. It has the best lighting, and I personally like portraits better when the subject is NOT looking straight at the camera (only in specific shots does that work) A reflector is a good idea.. or you can try using your flash to fill flash your subjects. That can work well depending on your flash.
     
  7. skKi

    skKi woop

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    I agree that number 1 has the best lighting but I think number 2 takes it for me because of the motion blurred tail. It's one thing to get a stunning, perfect portrait, but that one captures some personality and I tend to favor photos that do so. It's more interesting and inviting.
     
  8. maxfox426

    maxfox426 My dog tickles my soul

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    I do have a bad habit of trying to "frame" the photo as I take it, and I often end up in too close. I have been working to remember to pull the image back a bit as I shoot, and then crop in when I edit later. :) I could definitely try cropping the first one to see what the effect would be. Overall, I am just bad about remembering that I CAN edit photos after they are taken. LOL! The editing is probably the next thing that I really need to start learning how to do, because I feel like I'm really bad at it.


    I only have the internal flash on my camera, and it was casting these HUGE ugly shadows on the wall behind the dogs. :/ I tried a couple flash-diffusing tricks that I've read here (tissue paper, index card), but they didn't seem to help. I can't afford to purchase an external flash with all the fancy attachments right now... are there any other flash tricks I could have tried that would have brightened up the dogs, yet reduced the shadows?


    I was trying to get some more "informal" pictures, but as I mentioned earlier, they just got so serious when I would get the camera out. I got the one smiling picture, and that was about it.

    Like I told Grammy, Morgan does the same thing. When I set him up to pose for the camera, he is very serious about it. It's not that he's nervous or uptight, he's just very focused... but it makes it hard to get a relaxed, happy looking picture of him when I try to do anything posed for portraits. Any thoughts on how I can help him (and others) open up for the camera?





    THANK YOU EVERYBODY for the input! It really helps to have several other sets of eyes to see the things that I miss. :D
     
  9. Lizmo

    Lizmo Water Junkie

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    I agree with those that said Picture #1 has the best lighting, but the backlight that you have on the wall is hard and distracting on the eyes.

    You also might want to zoom in more and eleminate the stairs as much as possible.
     
  10. Saje

    Saje Island dweller

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    While you are doing some reading look into the different colours of reflectors and the effects they can do. It's pretty cool

    If all you have is the internal flash then definitely continue doing what you are doing. IMO the photos above are far superior then anything you would get with the internal flash and they are better then a fancy speedlight that isn't used well. Natural lighting is wonderful and you can manipulate it quite a bit. Try to master that before throwing money into more equipment. WIth a flash you'd need to be able to use it off camera and diffuse it to make it worthwhile and tha'ts just more cost and effort. Of course, it all depends on what you are going for :)


    I don't mind the stairs. :) They just add to the story. If I had to choose favourites then I'd like photos 1 and 4 the best.
     
  11. Buckshot

    Buckshot Moderator

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    Everyone has different tastes. I like the first one for the expression and the third one for lighting. I have a hard time getting the lighting right and a white background gives me fits. A few things I have done taking indoor shots is diffusing light by hanging a sheet over the window if the light is too harsh, Using a slower shutter and a soft flash to freeze movement, Bracketing shutter speeds, aperture and flash power. I usually have to take about 20 shots to get a decent one, gotta love digital. I have started using a bit of bacon grease smeared on the dogs lips, it gives a large variety of facial expression and holds their focus.
     

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