Anyone who has ever said that diamonds are a girl's best friend has never met me and my little dogs. I adore them (I have two) and they are most certainly my dearest and closest friends.
But as much as I love them, they can hardly be counted on to be patient and cooperative subjects when it comes to snapping their photos. Pet photography can be a real challenge!
Here are some hints for helping you capture your favorite furry friend on (digital) film:
If the only flash available is your camera's onboard unit, forgo it and opt for working with existing light only. The harsh, direct light of an onboard flash unit not only causes funky eye effects in animals, it can also startle the little guys. If that's your option, alternatively work with natural light by shooting outdoors or indoors near a large, bright window. But if you have access to an external flash unit, use it to fill in the shadows and freeze the subject's movements. Just be sure to avoid pointing the flash directly at the animal and instead bounce the light off of the ceiling or walls.
We all know that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Well that applies to our furry friends too. So focus especially on the eyes and keep them tack sharp in all of your photos.
Get down on their level. If at all possible, try to shoot your images at your subject's eye level or below to add a level of intimacy and capture a view of the world from your pet's perspective.
Don't overlook the power of bribery! A cookie or other treat may be just the trick for eliciting a bit of cooperation from your furry friend. Most dogs especially are prone to food fixation. Use that to your advantage by putting the treat just out of the animals reach. I've actually been known to put a cookie or two—my dogs love animals crackers—on the top of my head to keep my dog's gaze fixed for an intimate portrait style photo.
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We've seen how managing the ISO setting allows you to control the amount of grain that shows in your photos. But it does more than that. Understanding and working with the ISO setting gives us added flexibility in terms of setting the other two exposure settings–aperture and shutter speed.
The bottom line is that ISO is an important and useful tool, and one that you will want to be comfortable with if you are looking to take creative control of your exposure.