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Studio Lighting and Pet Photography

Danielle Stolman - Atherton (SF Bay area), CA , Dec 15, 2005; 02:55 p.m.

Hi everyone. A friend has asked me to take "a few snaps" of his dog for his holiday card. The dog is a huge white standard poodle and is a little hyper, but she usually calms down around me after an hour or so. I know I could just take a few pics of her outside and my friend will be happy, but being a photojournalist student I'd like to try to do better than that. (I'm not telling my friend that the dog is going to a studio, if the shots come out great, I'll present him with them, if not, he'll get the "few snaps" he asked for).

I will have access on Monday to our school's studio for five hours. (I already have the ok to bring the dog in.) There are a few lights available, one overhead, one small and two large ones for putting in front or in back of a subject (as I haven't taken the lighting class yet, just was shown a quick demonstration of them in one of my classes I don't know what to call them). We have a black, white, brown and blue background available, but I think the white would give way to much contrast.

Any helpful hints would be appreciated, also if you have any dog shots done in studio particularly of white dogs, please post.



the dog in question, not one of my shots


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Eric Friedemann , Dec 15, 2005; 03:30 p.m.

For dogs with a limited ability to keep still, like my Wheaten Terriers:

1. I like to keep the lighting simple, so that when the dogs finally settle down, there is less to go wrong. This image is of my dogs on my couch lit by one 750ws Calumet Travelite with a large soft box just over my head.

2. Take dogs on long walks before shooting and wear them out. You don't want the dog panting and drooling, but within reason, tired dogs are less hyper.

3. Be patient. I took more than 40 images to get this one useable shot.

Winnie and Wheaties

Robert Cirillo , Dec 15, 2005; 06:08 p.m.

I took this shot with a 105mm lens and a hot-shoe flash. You probably don't need to get too exotic.

my sister's shi-tsu

Tom Meyer , Dec 15, 2005; 06:09 p.m.

Here's my little dog. Later tonight, I'll post one of some greyhounds. I do pro-bono portrait work for animal rescue organizations.

This photo was done with one 30x40 softbox on the right of my camera (near enough to show a catchlight) and a reflector, not too close on the left, that adds a less brilliant and broader catchlight in the other eye. Little Dog sat at the rear of the softbox's pool of light, which kept the background relatively dark... t


Christopher Appoldt , Dec 15, 2005; 06:43 p.m.

I've tried a variety of lighting setups with softboxes for pets. For dogs, I'd recc one above camera-left, facing downward of course, to place the catchlight in the eye well, and one right rear/side to rim light - though I haven't gotten that perfect yet (though am happy with the bird's results).

I shot a few white dogs last month, and can suggest a brown or other neutral color for the backdrop, perhaps too with a spot on it for depth. If it's for Xmas, get a few props in there - a Santa hat, a smal tree, sleigh bells, anything - or shoot with and without propos, so that the results offer choices in application. Good luck!

Attachment: pets.jpg

Tom Meyer , Dec 16, 2005; 12:02 a.m.

Okay, Greyhound Grrl on location with her rescue greyhounds (yep, they're all hers and her husband's), under a bridge in Piedmont Park. Overcast sky as main light from our right, my hand held Lumedyne HAHM auto module on "auto" (believe it, it's great) held at arms length to my left (see the shadows of the dog's legs)... t (I know, they're not white, and they're not in the studio. Sorry)


Giampi . , Dec 16, 2005; 01:37 a.m.

If you are doing the studio thibng, I'd put the dog against a darker background.

I took this quick shot of a friend's dog in my studio. Two lights and a black paper background. I had a pillow laying around wich provided a soft spot for the pooch to relax. The whole thing took less than 30 min. from start to finish. They just came by, we shot a decent number of images and that's it.

Dolly - Canon 10D - two strobes...

Christopher Appoldt , Dec 16, 2005; 11:06 a.m.

Whoop, found a white one for you. Black backdrop, hit with a flash with a red gel on it.

Attachment: Mike2.jpg

Kent Southwell , Dec 16, 2005; 11:53 a.m.

I always shoot the dogs in natural light. Go outside, and take some cool black and white shots. Have a look at my samples...

http://www.dogphoto.ca http://www.kentphoto.ca

Attachment: batdog.jpg

Danielle Stolman - Atherton (SF Bay area), CA , Dec 20, 2005; 01:52 p.m.

Thanks again for all the help, suggestions and most of all the pictures. When the equipment room guy (a good friend of mine) saw how limited my exeperience with lighting really was, all he would sign out to me was two floodlights. He did, however, give me some great advice on placing them and even helped me calm the dog down. I took a lot of photos, here is my favorite, and her owner likes it, too.

Riley with Santa hat

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