Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to photograph puppies

Our latest puppies...
taking puppy pictures is fun but it is a lot of work!

I  have a few tips for my fellow amateur photographers.
All of them have been learned in the school of hard knocks!
(And for the record these tips work with kids too...)

1) Make sure the puppies have eaten.  Hungry puppies wiggle a. lot. When they get a bit older we let them nurse then take them out to the bathroom before we get started.  

2) Have two people.  At least.  It takes one quick puppy wrangler to get the pups in position and then dart out of the picture.  Fonda is an awesome wrangler!  

3) Keep them warm.  A heating pad is crucial to good sleeping puppy pictures. We place the puppies in position one at a time and then warm them up to put them back to sleep.  We use a long heating pad under the puppies and then another warm heating pad on top of them to put them to sleep once they are in position. This requires a lot of patience with a big litter!

But they are so cute!

4) Don't try to zoom in with the lens.  Use photo editing.  Clear crisp photos that are zoomed in require that the subject hold still for at least a mili-second.  Puppies (and kids) don't always cooperate... I have found it easiest to use a basic 25-75 mm lens and then crop the pictures to get the right framing. I have ruined lots of awesome shots when I had the lens zoomed in really close for the perfect adorable expression and the puppy lurched forward and ruined the focus.   

5) Try to have the light come in from the side.  

Here is a photo that just had ambient room light...

And then with light from the side.  
I love the soft glow...

But I wanted christmas lights in the background so I turned to photoshop. I cut and pasted the evergreen lights from another picture into the background.   This is a great You Tube tutorial for background switches.  In the blue wall picture below I just used the clone stamp tool to extend the background.  I love clone stamp... 

6) I generally like the Picasa editing software.  It is pretty simple and easy for an amateur.  I always crop then add fill light.  I usually add just a touch of boost as well.  Just enough to saturate the colors a little bit.  I almost always add a frame.  It is easier for me to pick out the photos I have edited when they are framed.  After I'm done editing I delete the photos that didn't make the cut. 

 If a photo is slightly out of focus then the sharpen tool can help correct that.  
Or sometimes I use the soften tool and make a just slightly out of focus picture look just right. 

Before editing...


7) Take a lot of pictures but organize them.  Just like with kids you never know when that perfect yawn will present itself so you need a thousand shots.  I'll easily have several hundred from one shoot.  Once you see the pictures delete away. Seriously.  Just delete anything that you don't LOVE.  It is time consuming and exhausting to sort through 200 pictures to find that one shot... 

I usually organize on Picasa.  I have a folder named for the specific litter I am shooting instead of by the date I took the pictures (I do pictures every week) and then I do an album inside the folder for the separate weeks of that litter.   That way I can find what I'm looking for and my family pictures aren't swamped with puppies.  If anyone has a better method I am all ears! 
I'm still learning my new Mac...

8) My most used tip is to get on the same level as the puppies.  I have taken a million pictures laying flat on the ground.  

And the most important thing is to remember that puppies are cute no matter what you do.  
That's what makes it easy!

1 comment:

beck said...

You're kind of a pro.