Photographing animals is not as easy as it seems. A person can be asked to pose as required in order to create the intended photo, while, for example, dogs are usually much more interested in food, toys, or some squirrels nearby.
Most pet owners ignore this obvious logic and try to take photos of their pets foolishly hoping they will pose.
That is why a pre-planned photo session represents half of the success. Start by looking for a location: if it’s a studio, make sure pets are allowed in first. For shooting outdoors, a park or forest is suitable, where nothing would distract the pet.
Moreover, never opt for popular or crowded parks: the animal may get frightened by the number of people, and the process will surely not bring him (or you) pleasure.
Before shooting, take care of the appearance of the main character. Tidy up your pet and pick up a nice collar and leash. Don’t forget to bring their favorite treats and toys!
You might be able to learn to photograph animals with any camera, but you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of money on lenses. If you do not have special equipment, there’s always the option of using your smartphone. Most phones now shoot at a sufficient level.
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Animals are usually not fond of cameras or any other incomprehensible gadget getting too close, but this does not mean that they do not like to be photographed – they simply do not know what it is that you’re doing. They get scared by the incomprehensible object and the click of the shutter, similar to a shot.
Of course, they will be scared, any person who has never seen a camera would be scared too.
Let the pet sniff the camera or phone, praise and show with your whole appearance that there is nothing to be afraid of. And if you use your smartphone, first turn off the click sound when shooting. Be calm and friendly: pets subtly feel the mood and easily adopt it from their owner.
It is better to photograph animals sitting or lying down – at eye level. Thus, the proportions will be preserved, and the frame will look harmonious. The bigger the animal, the higher the camera should be.
Get your pet’s attention. Dogs can’t talk, but they can communicate. If the model does not pay any attention to you, use special sounds (squeak, whistle), or call them with words (“Let’s go for a walk?”), movement (for example, throwing their favorite toy in the air). Animalistics can often be caught barking, meowing, and throwing objects – all for the final masterpiece!
When you master the art of attracting attention, you will notice how beautiful and nice dogs look with pricked ears. Their muzzle becomes curious and interested, while pressed or relaxed ears give the impression of a sad, tired, or frightened dog.
As for shooting somewhere on the street, you should also choose the right time. Surprisingly wonderful shots will turn out in the morning or in the evening when the sun gives a soft light. It is better not to photograph animals in harsh sunlight: the fur will lose its texture.
We recommend that you organize the photo shooting session on a cloudy day. The clouds act like a softbox, scattering the sun’s rays. These are the best conditions to shoot during the daytime
Now let’s start taking pictures.
But first, we’d like to answer these popular questions:
What makes a pet picture nice and attractive for an album? How to take pictures of animals in general?
To begin with, a nice photo of an animal should reflect its character. The photo should convey the energy of an active dog and the royalty of a lazy cat as accurately as possible.
Staged, studio shots of animals work, but they look a little strange. Why? What kind of dog will be lying around in a perfect white room by his own will? Usually, we rather see them leaving dirty paw prints on all carpets.
Therefore, it is better to shoot animals in their usual place. Photograph a dog, horse, or any other animal outside. Film your cat, rat or hamster at your favorite vacation spot.
Photographing animals must be fast
Even if the pet was dozing, the sweet expression of the muzzle can be missed in the blink of an eye, so you should choose one of the automatic modes. For example, with aperture priority, you’ll have better control over the depth of the picture – great for portraits or close-ups. If there is enough lighting for the photo, you can work with the exposure by yourself.
For static photo closeups, opening up to f/5.6 helps maintain balance by making the background blurred and directing the attention on an exact point.
Camera shutter speed
In case of static photos of animals, the shutter speed should be long enough to eliminate handheld camera shake. If you have, for example, an image-stabilized lens or you are using a monopod, the shutter speed may be slow (1/15s). To slow down motion in a frame, try using less than 1/250s as a starting point.
The fur of animals can sometimes be hard to catch in a picture. Darker coats greatly absorb light, and light fur, on the contrary, reflects it more strongly. Not to mention that if the model is black & white, then the built-in metering sensor will get confused. If you’re photographing a dark animal, such as a black fluffy dog, the camera will try to highlight any gaps in the shadows and turn the dark fur gray. In this case, negative compensation will have to be applied. The reverse situation is applicable, for example, when taking pictures of a light-colored cat or a domestic rat. In this case, you’ll have to stop the exposure compensation so you’d avoid underexposure.
Difficulties can lurk even when you shoot, say, a black dog running along a bright sunny beach. Such photographs are not uncommon, so they need to be given due attention.
The flash meter built into the camera will work in such a way that, with the general correctness of the light scheme, a black object in the photo will look like a dark spot without details. It is necessary to take control shots, follow the histogram and take pictures in RAW format in order to ensure more options for processing the image and bringing the entire exposure to the final.
What to do with camera focus?
To capture motion, you have to select continuous autofocus. This means that the camera will constantly focus and track a moving pet. Very importantly, this allows the photographer to take pictures regardless of whether the lens is in focus or not. In single focusing, the shutter will not fire if the lens is not focused on the animal.
All in all, these are the main details that you have to remember in order to make your pet’s photo session much easier and more productive.
And if you’ve decided to invest into a pet photoshoot, maybe you’ll also be into the idea of ordering a cat breed dna test for your beloved kitty. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something that links them to a royal ancestor!
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