Learn tips and tricks for capturing your pet pooch’s best angle
Choosing the right lens, shooting mode and surroundings are essential to taking a good portrait picture, even if it’s of your canine best friend. The eyes are the key to the photo, so you’ll need to get down to their level and use a long lens so you don’t distract them. By following the steps below, you can come up with spot on dog shots.
What gear will you need?
A long lens above 80mm is good for not distracting them, and brilliant for whole body portraits. For tighter shots, a zoom lens that covers between 70-200mm is perfect. Don’t forget to pack a wide-angle lens for more daring shots.
Flash is a good option, whether in-built or hotshoe-mounted, it will not only lift the shadows and give a sparkling catchlight to the eyes, but also make them look at the camera.
Shoot using Aperture Priority or Manual mode and aim for apertures between f/4 to f/8. This will keep the background from taking prominence, while retaining sharpness around the features. Don‘t be afraid to whack up the ISO to around 400 – dogs move fairly quickly and without warning. Aim for /500 sec and shoot no slower that /250 sec for super-sharp results.
The facial expressions of a dog will tell you about its mood. Their ears are pricked when they‘re alert and flattened when they‘re expressing pleasure or submission.
Fortunately for us Whiskey was in full alert mode, as dog portraits look much better when their ears are pricked. They look more commanding and regal.
Whistle or click your fingers to grab their attention. If that fails, rattle off a few shots – we guarantee they‘ll love the sound of a shutter!
Like their human owners, dog portraits suit an upright format when photographed head-on. It‘s much more flattering and you don‘t end up with dead space either side of their face. It will avoid lopping off the tips of their ears when focusing on their eyes and recomposing to take the shot.
Whiskey‘s very well behaved and loves nothing more than sitting down and sticking his tongue out for the camera. Shooting on a long lens and keeping the background clean produces a great portrait that reflects his true personality.
Turn your camera on its side and zoom in until it‘s composed from just below the shoulders up to and beyond the ears.
Recompose to focus on the eyes using the central focus sensor, lock it by pressing the shutter halfway then return to the original composition before pressing the shutter fully.
It‘s a natural temptation to shoot with the camera in the default ‘landscape‘ orientation. Twist it round 90 degrees to for a tighter portrait.
Extreme wide-angle lenses take in lots of information and produce plenty of impact. They‘re excellent for accentuating and distorting images and great fun to use. They do require a different approach to a traditional portrait focal length of 50mm as you can afford to experiment with some funkier angles.
Focal lengths from 2 to 8mm allow you to not only focus close but also have a deep depth of field. This helps when shooting without looking through the viewfinder as focusing on the eyes isn‘t as crucial.
Keep Autofocus activated and shoot using Aperture or Shutter Priority for better exposures. Activate your camera‘s pop-up – flash to provide some fill light as we did for this shot of Whiskey.
Ditch the viewfinder for extreme angles and have fun with some cool compositions.