“Your Digital Cameras have amazing pre-installed auto settings that you can use, you just have to tell it when to use them!”
Here are my top tips on improving your pet photography and which auto settings to try and when.
Don’t let your camera guess what you are trying to photograph by leaving it on Auto Mode . Your digital camera has amazing pre-installed auto settings that you can use, you just have to tell it when to use them!
This diagram shows you the common camera settings and what they are programmed to do.
1. Use Natural Light:
If possible always use natural light when taking your pet’s picture.
Avoid flash, as flash burst can not only cause red-eye, but also frightens the animal. Instead try to go outside, or if it is not possible, work in a room well lit by a large window.
Make sure you have your “Auto Flash” setting Off.
2. Get rid of clutter first:
Before you even pull your camera out of your bag, take a look around at your shooting location and get rid of clutter and distracting objects first. Do you really want to see that empty Starbucks cup on your coffee table in the photos of your cat? Is the garden hose snaking through the grass where you are photographing your dog?
If an element in your background doesn’t serve to enhance your images in some way, either remove it first or move to a different location.
3. Go to Them:
It is very important that your pet feels comfortable and at ease, so instead of forcing him to come to you, go to him. It is most important to get down to his level, to show us the way he sees the world! Sit on the floor or lie on your belly and remember to shoot from HIS eye level or below.
Most of the time I would have your camera on the Child setting as it has a slightly faster shutter speed, so if your subject decides to move, you might still be able to avoid image blur.
Add something that will provide contrast like a pretty collar that can help add interest to the image and break up all of the fur colour from the background.
Of course we all know that every little piece of lint shows on our black clothes, well it is the same for fur! Keep an eye out for dirt in the eyes and treat crumbs.
6. Change Your Perspective:
Utilize your spacious memory cards by taking as many photos as you want BUT for variety, try shooting from different angles. Aside from taking shots from above and at eye level, try shooting from way down below, from the side, and even from behind.
Make use of your creativity and try taking close up shots of the face, paws, or even the tail.
7. Focus on eyes:
The eyes are the most expressive part of an animal’s face, so if you want to create really engaging portraits, focus on the eyes and facial expressions.
This is when you want to use your “Close Up” setting on your camera. Get nice and close to your subject and see what you can fill the frame with.
8. Use a fast shutter speed, continuous focus, and burst mode:
Since many pets have a hard time sitting still, when you want to freeze motion while playing or running around, use a fast shutter speed.
Set your camera to Sports setting and your cellphone to burst mode.
9. Reward Your Pet:
Don’t forget to pay your model! Throughout the shoot, offer them something that they really like, to keep them motivated and to encourage them to cooperate.
The reward is up to you. It can be anything from treats and toys, to belly rubs and other forms of affection.
10. Be Relaxed:
Animals are like little emotional sponges, and if you are stressed and anxious, they will sense it and become stressed and anxious too. A stressed animal will give you ‘ears flattened’, ‘concerned eyes’ looks, which does not translate well on film.
Take a deep breath and remember to have fun with it.
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