My own hound helping me in the studio.

My own hound helping me in the studio.
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2 Comments | Report
kiaragraves April 22, 2019
The orange background really sets it off
stigfagerli PRO+
stigfagerli May 08, 2019
Woww this is a nice foto
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Behind The Lens

This is our dog Mash and was taken in the 'Rudio', a small studio I had built in my garden about 6 years ago. I've shot portraits and some product in there over those last 6 years.
I'd been shooting against black, for a few weeks, with my dog models. It's neutral and gives great subject isolation but I fancied trying something a little more dramatic. I ordered 3 different colours; 'cherry', 'royal blue' and this 'Sunflower' yellow. I could shoot this any time of day, all the studio windows are north facing. On purpose.
The big thing for me in these dog action portraits is catch light. Seeing the modifier reflected in the dogs eyes is crucial. I used a Bowen 500XMT with a large Luminair Octabox set on a c-stand boom at 45 degrees that floats above me as I sit on the floor. I tried using a beauty dish but the narrow coverage limited the light pool and the dog could move into shadow if one of my throws was off target! I did try with a continuous LED panel but that shrunk the pupil too much so a strobe was the perfect choice to get nice dilated pupils. Strobe is set to half power for faster recycle times.
I shoot with a Sony A7III with a 16-35 f/2.8 GM. Handheld, with a Bowens trigger for the strobe.
Christian Veiler, a German photographer, is the creator of this style. His work is wonderful so I thought I'd try it out with my dog. I figured out the camera settings pretty fast, it was the snack throwing technique that took a while to master! I sit on the floor, camera in one hand, back button focus, and throw from under the camera with my other hand. Practice, lots of practice.
I process all my work in Lightroom. I tend to shoot pretty wide so cropping is always involved. I keep the ISO below 2000 to avoid excess noise. I then apply a heavy vignette and a radial filter around the dogs head. I mess around with the feathering, depending on how dramatic I want to make the halo. The good thing about dogs is they can handle noise reduction in post, it can give you a painting-like effect. With this shot I don't think I used any.
In my camera bag
I de-cluttered about a year ago when I moved from Canon to Sony. I went from 6 lenses to 3. I like to travel light so I use 2 bags, one big, one small, depending on what job I'm on. I shoot weddings, real estate, street and pets. I have 2 Sony A7III's with the Sigma Art 135 f/1.8, the Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM when I shoot weddings and events and the Sony 24-105 f/4 for all my street photography. I use a Godoz AD 200 if I need any key light, ambient is always my fill. Oh, yes, my first street photography book is being published this Christmas, very excited!
You need speed and power! And good glass too, obvs! HSS is vital; dogs jaws move fast. And don't forget to check your front element often; dog spit sure does fly! Shutter needs to be around 1/2000! Set AF to centre and close down to f/11-f/13, no more than that - the AF will be less accurate at smaller apertures. And back button focus is crucial. Try and keep your ISO below 2000. If your strobes are powerful enough you should be fine. Some people have expressed concern when using strobe lighting with animals. All the research says that it's perfectly safe. But do stick to manual flash and you'll be rocking it!

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