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Thread: Photographing dogs

  1. #1

    Default Photographing dogs

    Hi i dunno if this is the right place to open this thread but I did a search and couldn't find what I was looking for.

    I'm holding on to a Canon S80 now (for about 3 days) and wish to take photos of my dogs. However they move like nobody's business and anyone knows how unprofessional dog models can be. hmpf.

    I've tried maxing the shutter speed but still it results in terrible photos. I keep trying for bokeh(i'm crazy abt this) but I can't get it and the only way I can achieve minimal success is when I use macro mode on my dogs when they're sleeping...

    I see some really good photos of cats and dogs around but i reckon the photographer is no newbie and is probably shooting with a dslr.

    But still, can someone give me some tips? I'd appreciate anything.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by somnobulant View Post
    Hi i dunno if this is the right place to open this thread but I did a search and couldn't find what I was looking for.

    I'm holding on to a Canon S80 now (for about 3 days) and wish to take photos of my dogs. However they move like nobody's business and anyone knows how unprofessional dog models can be. hmpf.

    I've tried maxing the shutter speed but still it results in terrible photos. I keep trying for bokeh(i'm crazy abt this) but I can't get it and the only way I can achieve minimal success is when I use macro mode on my dogs when they're sleeping...

    I see some really good photos of cats and dogs around but i reckon the photographer is no newbie and is probably shooting with a dslr.

    But still, can someone give me some tips? I'd appreciate anything.
    I think raptor84 is the best person to answer your questions. Look up his thread here and drop him a PM:

    http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthread.php?t=230585

    Since I haven't photographed dogs extensively I can't comment in detail, but I'll try to help with some bits.

    I don't believe there are such things as professional dog models. In most instances animals will move as they please and position themselves as they like. Some will willingly sit around for a photo though.

    I wouldn't consider using an advanced P&S to be a handicap, but you are at a slight disadvantage compared to SLR users because of shutter lag. That is, it takes time for the camera to take the photo as you press the shutter button halfway to meter and focus and then all the way down. With SLRs the delay is much less pronounced and can be non-existent depending on the camera, lens and lighting conditions...and also the distance. In this sense you'll have to anticipate action to a greater degree.

    Regardless of what you use, make a habit of changing your composition by zooming or using your legs as the animal moves. Observe it through your viewfinder or the LCD screen and try to predict what its next course of action will be. It's difficult to photograph animals in fast motion, but if you want portraits, then it's all about waiting for the moment when they keep still to catch their breath.

    Even at a fast shutter speed that would typically freeze a fast-moving dog (eg. 1/250s), bear in mind that you'll need to pan the camera smoothly, following the motion of the dog, then quickly focus and take the photo, while continuing to pan the camera until after the shot is taken. Assuming you do it correctly you'll get a relatively sharp running dog against a blurred, streaked background. If your camera has predictive focus that follows the moving subject, use it.

    Bokeh is definitely nice to have, but in compact cameras the lens is usually so small that the depth of field will be very large anyway regardless of the aperture used, and the subject distance, or the distance between the subject and the background. Using the macro mode as you mentioned definitely helps a fair deal, and it does give a little bokeh because your subject distance has shortened a lot. Put another way, longer, bigger lenses are more likely to give you bokeh, assuming the other factors remain the same.

    With the digital camera it is possible to shoot first and then erase if it doesn't go well, so feel free to experiment and maybe even shoot from the hip level, or position the camera close to the ground and photograph your dog without looking through the LCD. If you get it right the results can be quite satisfying. Dogs are naturally inquisitive and will approach your camera, so get your shots while they are at it. But if you can distract them with your free hand, they might actually keep still enough for a split second so that you can get your photo as well.

    Both these photos (one of a dog and one of a cow) were taken without looking through the viewfinder. No cropping was needed because I got lucky and the composition felt 'correct' to me to a large extent. Notice that in the dog photo which was done indoors, I used a flash to help. This can definitely 'freeze' a degree of motion in itself if used outdoors as well, but the lighting is of course unflattering and may give you red/ green eye.

    http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/...e+-in%3Ascraps

    http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/...e+-in%3Ascraps

    So while a DSLR is not crucial to obtaining such pictures, it will help a lot because it is more responsive, and produces clean images if you're shooting in dim light and need increased ISO to get a sharp picture. Remember that the prices of DSLRs are also falling rapidly and some are reaching the point where they fetch only as much as some second-hand compact cameras. In such an instance I would definitely take the SLR instead. But you'll need to set aside even more money for lenses after which.

    Failing all that, see if you can train your dogs to sit, or lie down on command by using repetition and treats/ rewards. Check out Dog Training for Dummies, for example.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Hi!

    I like taking photos of my dog too Before I got a DSLR I had a S40, and you are right getting a photo of a dog in motion is difficult. I'm very much still new to all this photography thing but I think you need a fast lens in order to shoot crisp photos of your dog in motion. Below is a photo of my dog I took recently...



    It was taken at f/2.8 and 1/320 sec with a 35mmm f/1.4 lens. Is this the bokeh(background blur)you want? My dog was stationary so I assume I can create the same effect at maybe 1/100sec. However if my dog is moving, I would go up to 1/500 to 1/1250sec. To shoot a moving dog, it's almost akin to sports photography if they are bundles of energy. Just as an example I took a photo of a moving car(maybe 50-60km/h) recently. This was taken at f/3.5 and 1/1250 sec, you might have to go that fast to capture your dogs hehe...

    Last edited by bigu2fan; 25th October 2006 at 07:05 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Can anyone clarify....

    If you point your lens at dogs who are unfamilar with you....will they turn aggressive??cuz its like staring eye to eye with them...

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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by JediForce4ever View Post
    Can anyone clarify....

    If you point your lens at dogs who are unfamilar with you....will they turn aggressive??cuz its like staring eye to eye with them...
    Ah...that's a very good question, from a behavioral point of view. From my experience, the dogs that are out for walks in the park are generally even-tempered and I never had a dog turn aggressive on me before. But I've seen dogs completely shy away when I raise the camera to my face. Perhaps they're camera-shy, but that's a human trait.

    I read that, more often than not, pointing a lens at almost any animal will draw you some attention from it because it looks so much like a big, unblinking eye.

    Animals are funny things. I have a photo of a dog in my vet pharmacy that every dog ignores. Then along comes this old springer spaniel that stares at it, growls and gets really aggressive. He even attempts to pounce on the table top to get hold of the photo. In most cases, dogs that I've seen do not respond to photos of other dogs because it just doesn't have the same 3D appearence, and there's no smell to speak of either. But THAT photo worked really well on THAT dog.

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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Different dogs, different traits...

    some are ok, some are not.. just like humans.

    But my gf's dog is my favourite... I can even place him inside a light tent and he'll just sit quietly there for me to shoot him.

    Here's one pic of him in the light tent..



    Happy shooting....
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by fWord View Post
    Ah...that's a very good question, from a behavioral point of view. From my experience, the dogs that are out for walks in the park are generally even-tempered and I never had a dog turn aggressive on me before. But I've seen dogs completely shy away when I raise the camera to my face. Perhaps they're camera-shy, but that's a human trait.

    I read that, more often than not, pointing a lens at almost any animal will draw you some attention from it because it looks so much like a big, unblinking eye.

    Animals are funny things. I have a photo of a dog in my vet pharmacy that every dog ignores. Then along comes this old springer spaniel that stares at it, growls and gets really aggressive. He even attempts to pounce on the table top to get hold of the photo. In most cases, dogs that I've seen do not respond to photos of other dogs because it just doesn't have the same 3D appearence, and there's no smell to speak of either. But THAT photo worked really well on THAT dog.
    thanks for the clarification!!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    fWord, thanks for ur advice. I guess the main point is that a prosumer just doesn't cut it and i'd have to settle for lower quality pictures.
    But i'd keep in mind the tips u've given me... I wanted to take more natural shots of my dogs in action and not in stationary (i'm not really interested in those posed studio shots).

    The S80 i'm holding on to is a borrowed camera and i just wanted to try out a more manual cam before deciding if I really wanted to go into photography and investing in some quality equipment. Was looking at the sony h5 or a canon 3sis, but the only thing holding me back from a dSLR is the size and weight of it... i can't imagine a pint-sized gal like me lugging it all ard (but i guess that's the price one pays for good photos).

    Will take a look at the thread u linked. Thanks!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    bigu2fan, yep that's about something i was aiming for... not just close-ups per se but also action shots... like of my dog running or playing. sigh... SLR really makes a difference. cute ms btw...

    zac08, nice dog... but as i've mentioned, i can get decent shots of them when they're still and sleeping, but not when they're playing. It's the action or quirky shots that i want to achieve.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by somnobulant View Post
    Was looking at the sony h5 or a canon 3sis, but the only thing holding me back from a dSLR is the size and weight of it... i can't imagine a pint-sized gal like me lugging it all ard (but i guess that's the price one pays for good photos).
    If the size of the Canon S3 IS or Sony H5 is okay for you, then the Canon EOS 350D/400D may still suit you. Just depends on the lens you choose to fit on.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Fword has basically got it right. But the digital compact is a great tool for learning how to work with limitations. Bokeh and bad low light performace being the 2 main reasons why i decided to upgrade form my old LC-33. The good thing about it is the live preview LCD and light weight with makes getting low angle shots while the dog is moviing much easier..

    These tow were taken while holding down the camera at knee level. You need to estimate what your camera is gonan see and press form there. the good thing bout having a large DOF is that you can miss the AF range by quite a margin..


    and



    Are 2 examples


    Quirky shots would depend on how well you know the animal. Nost of the time I am only able to get the standard kinda shots but for those dogs that I know more of the personality its easier for me to get more intresting angles. For new dogs i tend not to pick up the camera instantly but to play around a little first if possible.

    This shot can be possible on a digital compact but the hard part is wating for the right moement. You need to watch your backgorund as well as seeing where the dog is as well and that is something learnt form expereince and lots of shooting.



    The best way is just to keep practinceing until your camera becomes a part of you so you dont miss that moment (thats very short for animals) once it comes.

    Most of my SPCA set on flickr is taken with a digital compact. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.


    To fWord:
    Yes there are professional dog models I have met a quite a few. Below is oe such model hehe..
    Last edited by raptor84; 24th October 2006 at 10:48 AM.
    Furry Photos - Photography for the Modern Pet

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    What Fireframe mentioned is true. The 350D or 400D are not all that big. Together with perhaps the Pentax *ist D, these are some of the smallest DSLRs on the market and weigh in at around 500grams with the lens, if I remember correctly. Again, depending on the lens the weight will vary quite a lot. If you're willing to put in the extra money to get a tele lens that will allow you to stay further away from the dog plus get more chance at obtaining bokeh, then you'll still need to cope with the weight. Moreover, tele lenses generally have a steeper learning curve than standard or wide angle lenses.

    All that said, get the best you can afford, keeping your interests in mind. If the passion is great enough, nothing is too difficult. The compact P&S can get very interesting and quirky pictures as you've seen, if you experiment with height and angles.

  13. #13
    Senior Member zac08's Avatar
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    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by somnobulant View Post
    zac08, nice dog... but as i've mentioned, i can get decent shots of them when they're still and sleeping, but not when they're playing. It's the action or quirky shots that i want to achieve.
    Playing... then you'd need good light. Else a decent SLR, do look at the D50 or D80 from Nikon also. they are simple, uses SD cards and are aimed at the photogs who progressed from the PnS cams... A high shutter speed of about 1/125 should get you decent images. Practise more and you'll get the hang of it...
    Michael Lim
    My Flickr Site

  14. #14

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    raptor84, really really nice photos u take! I've seen ur threads and all the animals u photograph just turn out lookin so nice... I think i've also seen another member... titan?? who's posted on dog forums before... and the pictures taken were what inspired me.

    I guess lighting is very important for taking nice shots, but why is it even though i up the shutter speed to 1/2000s on the canon s80, it still takes blurred pictures... and yet u guys are all suggesting that 1/125s on an SLR is gd enough?

    And my friend told me his s80 is a prosumer, why do you guys refer to it as a PnS? I was considering the lighter dSLRs but then looking at the prosumers, I thot I cld get something that could perform well & still be mobile (considering most don't have add-on lenses). Afterall, my main aim was just to view photos online and not to have large prints.

    fWord i've not even mastered the manual settings in the s80... i'm scared i'd be overwhelmed by an SLR, let alone the various lens u mentioned. Speaking of which, I had gone to the Sony gallery to try their latest dSLR and it was far too big & heavy for me, & i didn't know how to even take a shot with it -- explaining my lack of confidence in purchasing an SLR.

    Here's some shots i've taken... no PS. Pardon the amatuerishness...


    The sleepy pics are usually easier but I'm quite sick of only photographing them when they're sleeping.


    It's next to impossible to snap a jack & i've only managed to snap something like this ONCE. I'm looking for that clarity. I dunno if it's because i've not tweaked to the right settings since.


    It's shots like this that really sadden me. The shutter speed is max, i turned on the lights, but i get blurry animals. How do I capture the action between 2 or more dogs? 1 twist of their heads & the shot is destroyed.

    PS: Sorry if i'm asking really stupid questions. I've actually just progressed from a loser Olympus 3.2 mp PnS.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    #1 I think it would have been better if the eyes were closer to the right a little more. Background and lighting dont appeal much to me as well.

    #2 Eye contact is good but the chopped off ears kinda mar the composition. Its hard to achieve above eye level shots i agree especially with hyperacitive dogs. Patience is the key.

    #3 Indoor lights will never match the power of sunlight. It may look bright enough for you but its still inadequate to capture fast motion. Your only options are to push up the ISO for faster shutter speeds or use the flash.

    The trade-offs for flash are harsh lighting (unless you use external flashes and bounce it) or grainy images at high ISO's (less of a problem with digital cams with larger sensors)..

    As for capturing 2 dogs at once its definitely not easy..



    As you can see both of them were not moving at the time. Lighted with flash bounced off the ceiling.

    Hope this helps...
    Furry Photos - Photography for the Modern Pet

  16. #16

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Hi somnobulant

    Even with good gears, you still get lousy pics as dogs usually dont sit still and let you shoot them unless they are obedience trained. hehe.

    So, you got to capture the right moment at the right time.

    Shooting at home doesnt help neither. the lights are simply not enough. No matter whether you are using PnS or DSLR, the lighting will not be enough. Using a DSLR does help in the noise department though as I know some PnS have not that great noise control (except f30?)

    Bring the dogs outdoor, shoot more pics and select those better ones. action pics I think you will waste more shots then good ones. You have to pre-empt the scene and also, manually pre-focus and just snap when the action begins. auto-focus and PnS will lose out due to the time required to focus and also the lag time between shots.

    as mentioned, 350D and 400D or Pentax DistL are very handy camera. Coupled with the kit lens, I think you are almost done. Get a 50mm f1.8 or f1.4 for the low light shots at home...action cannot though..but you can get an external flash.

    Take a look at the shots of raptor84 man. hes good in this!

    Regards,
    tltan
    ps. your nick in DS?

  17. #17

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    raptor84, thanks for ur frank comments. I'd learn fr them...
    What kinda backgrounds wld be considered 'nice'? Perhaps cos i mostly shoot in my home, the backdrop is always rather pathetic and messy unlike planned studio shoots or grassy outdoorsy areas...
    'noisy' images when blown up are fine with me (because i'm not looking to print or blow up my pics) but yeah I realised that the photos turned out really grainy and even with PS, i cld only produce decent images when I downsized the pictures a great deal. I was hoping to take better shots cos it was my dog's 1st birthday. sigh.

    tltan, ok i'd try taking more shots outdoors... but i doubt i'd find much success with the dogs running amok. I dun really understand the different cameras and their lens available cos i wasn't considering dSLR...
    Anyway i've got the same nick in DS. I see most of your pics from the picture threads, really nice shots (even when u say u shot in haste).

  18. #18

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by somnobulant View Post
    raptor84, thanks for ur frank comments. I'd learn fr them...
    What kinda backgrounds wld be considered 'nice'? Perhaps cos i mostly shoot in my home, the backdrop is always rather pathetic and messy unlike planned studio shoots or grassy outdoorsy areas...
    'noisy' images when blown up are fine with me (because i'm not looking to print or blow up my pics) but yeah I realised that the photos turned out really grainy and even with PS, i cld only produce decent images when I downsized the pictures a great deal. I was hoping to take better shots cos it was my dog's 1st birthday. sigh.

    Just try to chose one with a relatively plain background that helps give some contrast to your subject. In that last pic i posted I got the owner to put a towel over the dog bed and line it up against a white wall. You can try pupping them on the couch if the pattern is not too loud or take an old bed sheet with plain colour and lay it against the wall/chair for an instant backdrop. I tend to be bad at noticing my backgrounds too as screw those up quite often...

    Outdoors with many dogs running amok can be a big challenge. The best i got was a group shot of 3 but that was when they were all quietly resting... that was the day i saw a yellow labrador turn to a chocolate one

    Then there was this SPCA dog that also almost killed off my lens with this shot..
    Furry Photos - Photography for the Modern Pet

  19. #19

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    Yeh. Like the pics raptor has posted. Use background that contrast and are 'clean'. hehe. Cluttered background will distract the attention from the subject which is the dog. first two pics you posted are ok. but the third one, the DVD caught my attention and makes me think, what brand? hehe.

    Anyway, if you are not looking at too much. Get a Canon 350D with kit lens and buy a 50mm f1.8 (probably the cheapest 'fast' prime lens to shoot portriats of the dogs). Thats more then enough. total price if you get second hand for the 350D is probably 1K plus 120 or so for the canon 50mm. that will be probably about 300-400 more then the good PNS cameras. But you will be able to achieve relatively noiseless pics then if you use it correctly.

    Then again, if you want to just get a PNS compact. They are good too. I would suggest getting those that allow you to do more then just shooting dogs. Look at a few such as Canon A640, S3IS etc. Those with IS allows better handheld shots due to image stabilization (IS). That said, I am a nikon user alll along and promoting canon stuff. hehe. and I currently am looking at purchasing a good compact as well. Another good one is fujifilm f30 if I am not wrong.

    Good luck!

  20. #20

    Default Re: Photographing dogs

    talking about dogs, I love dogs too. Generally you have to "play" with them a little, sayang a bit, then aim your camera slowly and keep talking to them, so that they feel they are still playing with them.

    Dogs get bored easily, if they feel you are no fun, then you'll have difficulties shooting.

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