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Shooting Pets

Discussion in 'Studio Equipment and Lighting' started by Catz, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. Hi all,

    Haven't been here for a while but need some help. I am trying to photograph pets and I need to know if I should lower the lights down to their level or do I keep them up and just point the lights down onto them?

    Thanks very much,
  2. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  3. Hi Melissa,
    I don't really shoot pets but I would think the answer to your question would be "it depends". To me, I think it would vary depending on the animal. I think it's important to be able to "see" the light and what effect it is having on the subject. Try it high, look, then adjust accordingly.

    There was a guy on dpr who shoots animals. I know he shoots Canon and posts a lot of his shots. At least he used to. I'm not positive but think it might be Ken Phillips. He's somewhere in Ohio, Cincy, maybe. Might be worthwhile checking there.

    I also recall there being many posts about lighting pets in the Lighting Forum there. There were many illustrations of dogs, cats, birds, etc. A quick search there for pets and lighting should yield many results.

    Generally speaking, lighting animals is different than lighting people due to the animal being covered in fur/feathers. There are tricks to setting your lights correctly to bring out the best results. I wished I would've paid more attention to those threads but I'm sure they're still there. Good luck! :) 
  4. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  5. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    I shoot pets. The position of the light depends on how you want the animal to appear. The lower the light, the more power they have in the photo. Here are a couple examples:

    Light is about 15 degrees above the animals' face level to the right:

    Light is about 45 degrees above and behind the animal:
  6. JCPhoto

    JCPhoto Guest

    Hi Catz
    What I do is try and keep the flash a little higher than their eyes to cut down on red or green eye. It keeps the light at a more direct angle to expose the fur properly. It is more of a trial and error setup with different types of animals. My problem is getting the proper exposure. My cats are all black or black and white. It's almost impossible to expose them right and balance the exposure for both ends of the spectrum. The shot I chose illustrates how hard it is to get it right with the limited exposure latitude of digital. What do you expose for the highlights or shadows. His forehead is overexposed and all the data is completely lost.

  7. twig


    May 23, 2005
    what are you shooting?
    If it;s not a candid, the animal should be raised off the ground on a posing table.
    As a photographer you should be at or below thier level.

    Fur detail looks best with side lighting, place your light to the side and a bit above your subject and shoot the key across one side of the face, with the fill so the ratio is 3:1

    A Hair light with a snoot above pointing down oin the top of the dogs head will bring out more detail.

    Add +1EV to black subjects to get detail out of the fur, and up to -1EV for white . Watch your histogram for exposure. Faster than 1/125 for large dogs and 1/200 for small fidgety dogs.

    If you have a large room and the aniaml is runnign around I have successfully used multiple flashes up high, just watch out for hard shadows, sometimes you can bounce the off the ceilings.
  8. Thanks everyone for the info and posts. Appreciate it very much.
  9. saturnine

    saturnine Guest

    I don't normally shoot pets as my main type of photography, but if a friend of mine has pets, I love to try and get some shots of them. If it's outdoors, I shoot in the shade, or if it's indoors, I just bounce the flash from the ceiling. If I need extra light, I just point the flash directly (me standing a bit higher than them).




    (bad framing, I know)
  10. Catz,
    About the only 'pet' photography I've done is of my bulldog Hannah. One of my favorite methods, with her, is to use 4x4 foot sections of foamcore board. One behind her, one on each side and usually one beneath her. Keep in mind that I use Photoshop to clone away distracting elements like the 'seams' between the panels, to brighten them if need be etc. The result is something like this..
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    Using this method contains her, more or less, and directs her attention toward the camera. It also fills in shadow areas nicely IF that is what is needed. With a white or very light colored animal this probably won't be necessary, not as much anyway.
    Other times I may use traditonally placed lighting and I keep it at a height that is anywhere from just above her head height to 3 or 4 feet higher. The main thing is to keep them low enough to fill in under the eyebrows etc.
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    The use of props can be a big plus as long as they're not overdone.. imho.
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    And other times I use flat out Photoshop trickery...
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    But in the end, I think pet photography is no different than the human kind. The key ingredients are good exposure, NO clutter or distracting elements, a good expression in the animals face (if at all possible), and the judicious use of props.
    I often make a sudden clicking noise to get an alert expression..
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    But that will usually work only once or twice so be ready for it. After the animal determines what the sound is they'll often not pay it any attention again.
    Trying the unportrait-looking portraits is good also, using your lights and coming in closer for a more dramatic look..
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    A big help here is a table that confines the animal and keeps them from leaving the studio ahead of time.. :) 
    So, I may have help you and I may not have. I guess the simple answer is it's not that much different than lighting humans but will vary a little more because our pets come in so many shades of brightness and so many sizes.
  11. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  12. Thank you Paul. I wish Hannah would 'pose' like she once did, but alas she won't. Maybe after she gets through the stage she's in at present, she will. It kinda reminds me of kids...., for a while they are camera hogs and then they come to the point that if you just pick UP a camera they either take off or run the other way.
    Go figure.
  13. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl

    It always puts a smile on my face to see these images. I go thru your gallery often to be refreshed :>))

    Good to see you..

    wish also that you would post that great model railroad and cars you have. That is always a pleasure to.

    Take care.
    Don't be to scarce :>)))
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