Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How to Take Photos of your Dog in the North East...

...Using flash, a Nikon 24-70mm lens and some Yongnuo 622n Triggers.

Well, today's plan was to head up to Roseberry Topping in North Yorkshire but at the very last minute, I changed my mind - mostly because the original hairy dog was doing his nut in the boot of the car ( it's an estate car, bought purely to transport the afore-mentioned mutt ).  Instead, we made a left turn and ended up at The Secret Garden in Sunderland.  Sunderland has some nice bits and some awful bits.  This is one of the nice bits.

In my bag was a Nikon SB-800 flashgun, an eBay beauty dish, an eBay reflector ( basically a bit of material with silver on one side and black on the other, with velcro all round - a bit like Neil van Niekerk's black foamy thing), an umbrella, a light stand and a bracket.  Lots of my dog photography sessions involve a loooong walk so weight is always a consideration.  I also took along a Nikon D700, the 24-70mm lens and a couple of Yuongno 622n triggers - the best in the business, so far, bar none.

My intention was to compare flash modifiers - bare flash, shoot through brolly, reflected brolly, beauty dish and a Sto-Fen diffuser.  Needless to say, I'm already very well aware that a BIG flash bounced off a brolly will give the softest light but I was interested to see what would happen using all of the above on a sunny day with a white dog.  This is what Google calls, "original research" and the good people at Google love that stuff.  Show me another blog with white dogs and modifiers.  I dare you.


Here's the reflected brolly shot.  I do understand that much of this is meaningless without the ISO, aperture, f-stop etc but I show these purely to advise on the quality of light, rather than the tech specs...

dog photography by hairy dog in sunderland, doxford

This is the shoot through brolly shot - notice that the light is a bit harder than above.

This is the eBay Beauty Dish - look at that harsh shadow.

And on to the silver reflector velcroed on to the flash gun.  Easily the lightest, most portable modifier.

Sunderland dog photographer, jamie emerson, hairy dog photography
Back to the shoot through brolly for the next few...

My first ever Hairy Dog photoshoot utilised this stump, so it's a special place, cheers Terry and Benson, R.I.P.

doxford park pet photography by hairy dog in the north east
At this point, a friendly chap showed up with two Chow-Chows.  My lights were already set up and he was pleased to have a few photos taken of mother and daughter.

secret garden portrait photography by hairy dog
Sadly, these Chow-Chows seemed incapable of keeping their eyes open for more than five seconds :-D

Artistic pet photographer and photographic portraits north east
This is what I do.  Fine art pet photography in the north east.  Thoughtful dog.

Do feel free to visit the site, leave a comment or just hold some of this info / these images in your head for a few hours.  When I set out this afternoon, I already knew that a big flash reflected off a big brolly would give the softest light.  I knew what settings on the camera would give a dark background, I knew what settings would allow the ambient light to permeate.  But it's always worth a quick round of experimentation, especially with new kit.  Every day's a school day :-D