I’ve photographed my fair share of dogs. It’s all about speed when you work with canines. They are a lot like a two year old with a relatively short attention span. Dogs are easily affected by any distractions in their environment so I prefer to photograph them in the studio. I prefer head shots when I can get them and I seldom use props with dogs. I feel props take away form the portrait. Most dogs react to a sudden noise such as a a squeak sound or a dog toy with a squeaker. I elevate my subject on a carpeted box that can be rotated several ways to get the proper height. By elevating the dog they can’t move around as much and you can get your studio lights to light their eyes properly. Most larger dogs are a little leery of being placed on a box and they may jump off several times. The secret is to get their attention quickly and take the shots quickly. Quite often my best photo is taken on the first or second shutter click. I seldom work with a dog beyond 10 minutes. They lose interest very quickly.
I ran into a guy at the park who had 3 gorgeous white huskies. I asked him if I could get some photos of them and invited him to my studio. When he arrived I asked him to bring one dog at a time in for pictures. Trying to photograph all 3 at once would have been a real challenge. I told him to bring in the easiest one to work with first and we would take the toughest one for last.
I preferred a high key portrait so I used a white background and a white base. The secret is to try to get proper lighting on the background to get a pure white, while not getting flare from the background as it reflects light toward the camera. I may have erred a bit on the underexposure side of the background but I got reasonable results.
The above 3 photos were the selections I made for a composite of the 3 dogs. I had to blend and match the whites to get a decent composite which was a bit tricky.
I added vignettes to each photo to get a better blend.
I then added the individual images to the composite which I printed to a 20×24 for the client. He was thrilled with the photo.
I used a Photoshop add on filter called Lucis Art to produce a print that looked like an artist sketch. Below is a closeup of one dog using this filter.
Lucis Art – Husky
Images done in Lucis Art have considerable impact when printed 16×20 or larger.
Joslyn Castle Omaha
I’ve always been enamored by the false colors a photographer can get when shooting in infrared. Most modern digital cameras need modification in order to capture infrared.
The first thing you need to do is have a camera converted to infrared. The infrared filter in your camera is removed and a different filter is added. One company that is a leader in digital infrared conversions is LifePixel. I sent my Fuji S3 to LifePixel and a little over a week later I got my converted camera back.
Lake Wehrspann dog run
I chose the Fuji S3 because its a camera I no longer use and it was on the list of cameras that could be converted. In order to get infrared, the camera has to be color balanced using a custom balance against green grass. Unfortunately the Fuji s3 doesn’t allow color balancing in this manner.
When an image first comes out of a converted Fuji s3 it looks like this. The camera has to be set on raw. Then the raw file needs to be converted to a DNG file using Adobe DNG converter. The next step is to import the DNG file into Adobe DNG Profile Editor. There is a tab called “Color Matrixes” that you need to click on and slide the temperature slider to 0. Then you export the profile and give it your camera name.
Joslyn Castle Omaha
The DNG file needs to be opened in Adobe Photoshop in camera raw. Then you click on the camera calibration tab and go to camera profile and select the profile that you just saved. Then you go to the basic tab and click on white balance and select auto. If necessary other adjustments can be made in the basic mode. The above photo should be your result. Anything in blue or cyan is green foilage which reflects infrared.
Colors can be manipulated by going to adjust Hue and Saturation and sliding the Hue slider back and forth until you get the desired color.
Joslyn Castle Omaha
Joslyn Museum Omaha
Con Agra Park Omaha
Ideally photos should be taken on a sunny day near the middle of the day to achieve maximum infrared. The variations you can end up with are quite interesting.
Any color infrared can be changed to b&w by using the b&w adjustment in Photoshop. Using the color sliders you can determine how bright foilage will appear
During the last 30 days I’ve taken some photos of the dogs that frequent the dog run at Lake Wehrspann near Chalco Hills. These are quick snapshots taken with a Canon SL1. The dogs are there to run and have fun so you can imagine that they probably don’t stay still for portraits. The pictures are a record and not meant to be fancy photos. A good portrait of a dog needs to be taken in a studio where light control and the dogs position can be manipulated. It’s much easier to get a photo with the ears up when the canine has fewer distractions.
This dog is deaf
This dog is under one year old and responds well to hand signals. The dog vest with “deaf dog” is there in case the dog gets away from the owners.
13.5 year old Springer Spaniel
This is Cosmo. He is a 13 1/2 year old Springer Spaniel. He has an arthritic shoulder and limps because of it. He still enjoys his walks
The Brittany in this photo belongs to me. He is the “Forrest Gump” of Wehrspann since he get into lots of the photos. He feels compelled to greet every dog at the park and ends up in many of the photos.
Some people run their dogs on the dam. They are required to leash those animals. The dog run allows the dogs to run free.
This little guy is one of the most photogenic at the park and he is a real regular at the park.
Tbone is a Brittany. This breed needs a minimum of one hour of good exercise a day. He gets a morning walk and another one in the afternoon.
This big guy is really laid back and a little easier to get a photo of. I used a Canon SL1 at the park with a Tamron 18-270 lens. This is a handy lens to photograph dogs. The autofocus is a little slow for fast moving animals however. I chose the camera because it is very light and I have a lens with a broad zoom range that fits on it. To get truly sharp photos with fast moving dogs one would probably need a pro body or at least a Canon 5d mark III combined with a stabilized Canon L glass lens such as a 70-200. Such a combo is quite heavy compared to the SL1 and would be tiring to carry around.
This is group one of the dogs I photographed. There will be more to come in future posts.
This a continuation of phototips for professional photographer wanabes
Get your basic business affairs taken care at the beginning. If you are running a business out of your home find out what the zoning laws are in your area. If you get busy, traffic can be a problem and neighbors may complain. Does your city require a business license? Apply for a state sales tax permit. Our county has a business property tax. Check with the country treasurer as to whether you need to file forms for this tax. Buy an accounting program such as quickbooks http://quickbooks.intuit.com/ and use it from the very beginning. Many community colleges will offer courses in quickbooks. I’d hire an accountant to do your taxes. A good accountant will call your attention to all possible expense write offs as well as any changes in the tax law and if you ever get audited you need an accountant to stand in for you at the audit. Make a point to show a profit within 3 years or the IRS will be checking you. Make equipment purchases based on your ability to turn a profit with them rather than just buying something because its the latest model with all the new bells and whistles. Business insurance is a must. If someone gets hurt on your property while picking up an order or during a photo session your home insurance will not cover the claim. I was in business for 25 years and had 2 claims from people falling on my property. Business coverage on your car is extremely important. If you have an accident while transporting equipment to a wedding your regular car insurance will not cover the accident. You must have a business policy for your car. If you have assets I would also suggest a business umbrella policy which will extend your liability to at least two million dollars. A spouse doing a part time photography business puts the whole family at a big liability risk without the proper insurance. Join PPA http://www.ppa.com/ because of their program that covers you if you screw up a wedding or have other legal issues. Over a 25 year period I dealt with PPA and their legal department twice on issues with senior pictures getting into the school yearbook. Have a lawyer write up a wedding contract for you if you do weddings. You can get samples of other photographers wedding contracts but it is a very good idea to have a lawyer look over any contract you are using. Better safe than sorry! Many studios also have portrait contracts which their clients sign. Model releases should be built into these contracts. Model releases would be required for any images going on your business website since they are being used in a commercial way. Taking care of business early in the game will prevent many headaches later. An example of a model release can be found at this link https://contribute.gettyimages.com/producer/documents/Model_Release_English_Dec_2008.pdf
Develop a business plan. You can find an example of a business plan at this link: http://www.bplans.com/photography_studio_business_plan/executive_summary_fc.php#.UW12arWsh8F Define where you are wanting to go with your business and how you are going to get there. Recently, I was mentoring a young lady from the San Diego area via the internet. I asked her how much she wanted to make the first year she was in business. She answered $35,000. I had her break that down by the week to see how many sessions she might have to do to clear that amount of income. Her work at that point was mediocre at best and she had no plan at all how she would reach such a goal. After several months it became very obvious that she wasn’t doing what she needed to because she made no progress at all. For many, a business in photography is a pipe dream. It takes a huge amount of effort and there will be many frustrating moments developing a business even if it is part time.
Not all digital cameras can shoot infrared unless they have modifications since most have various levels of infrared filtering. Fuji’s x100 is capable of capturing infrared with an R72 filter. First you need to do a custom color balance photographing green grass or other green foilage. For good depth of field it is recommended that you shoot at f/11 and try 3 too 4 second exposures. Obviously you will need a tripod and a cable release. You will be able to view the image area easily with the digital viewfinder or LCD on the back of the camera. (live view) The original image will appear very red, Here’s an example. The image below was exposed at f 2.8 at 1/20th of a second. I feel somewhat better results can be had with a smaller aperture which necessitates longer exposures.
Unprocessed infrared image taken with Fuji x100
When you convert the file to B&W it will appear real muddy. Adjust the levels to get proper contrast. You may also want to go into channels and make adjustments in the red channel.
Color Infrared shot converted to B&W with no adjustments
Infrared b&W for Fuji x100
The following images were exposed 4 secs at f/11.
Omaha Nebraska Infrared taken with Fuji x100
Omaha Nebraska Infrared taken with Fuji x100
This blog will introduce you to useful tips as well as listing links to forums and blogs that will be helpful in your quest for photographic knowledge. Also there will be a number of photo examples posted in galleries. The image below was taken near Gibbon Nebraska where 100,000’s of sandhill cranes congregate. I got plenty of crane pictures but all were against a gray sky.This image combines 2 layers using the overlay mode. The rising sun was produced in photoshop. Once the layering was completed and flattened I reopened the image in camera raw and increased the vibrance,saturation, and contrast. The first two images were the originals, the last is the combination of both files.
Sandhill Cranes over the Platte River