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Photographing a black dog...i need help
Old 01-01-2013, 09:48 AM   #1
Tuss
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Photographing a black dog...i need help

So Gemma had her New years bath and because it's so cold here I had to blowdry her completely (she hates the blowdryer so sometimes we shortcut it and let her airdry). I love how she looks when she's been blown dry, so I decided to get out my good camera and try and get some good photos. After about a hundred photos and got a few good ones, but not as good as I'd like. Once again I'm so frustrated that I can't capture her silky black fur and pick up her facial expressions in the same photo. If i can get her eyes then the fur color is washed out and if i get her glossy black fur then her facial features disappear and her white blends into the background. I tried experimenting with different light, flashes, no flashes and camera settings. Here's what I got, but if anyone is an experience photographer and could give me some help I would really appreciate it!

So far it seems the indoor ones with indirect natural light and no flash works the best, but that takes a longer exposure so they end up a little blurry if she doesn't stay still (and keeping a 1 year old havanese still is a bit of a challenge).
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:49 AM   #2
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And here are the outside ones, the white snow didn't make as good of a background as I had hoped.
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:05 AM   #3
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And, in case anyone is wondering, one shake of her head and she's back sporting the "cousin it" look. Having a bath and then posing for photos is such hard work she had to curl up by the fire for a snooze as soon as we were done.
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:24 AM   #4
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Cute pictures. Otis is mostly black, cept for a very small spot on chin and chest. I have never been able to get a good picture of him. He is either so dark, you cant see him, or if I use the flash, he doesnt look black. Grrrr
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:58 AM   #5
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I think your pictures are beautiful.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:04 AM   #6
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still great pictures. I painted Molly white., it was easier.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:05 AM   #7
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still great pictures. I painted Molly white., it was easier.
Hahaha. With my muddy yard a white dog wouldn't stay white for very long!
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:17 AM   #8
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Black and white dogs are very difficult for a camera sensor to handle. (I would know!!!) It depends somewhat on what kind of equipment you are using what your options are. The best result can be obtained with a DSLR with spot metering, and then use good image processing software, like PS Elements or Lightroom. (Photoshop works great too, but unless you're a photography fanatic, you probably don't want to spend the big bucks for it OR learn to use it... Both the other programs are less than $100 and relatively easy to learn)

If you have a DSLR, expose for the white, since, if you blow that out, you can't recover it) and then pull the details out of the dark in you processing software. You can do "spot" adjustments in both of these programs to pull detail out specifically in the eyes if you need to)

You can use a low power "fill flash", preferably off-camera, to get some like into their eyes indoors or out. Sometimes this actually looks best OUTDOORS, where the flash can't out compete the sunlight. If you have a P&S, the built-in flash is low enough powered that if you aren't too close, it can be useful too. If you need to tone down the one on a P&S, you can play around with taping a few layers of tissue paper over the flash until you get the effect you like. (You can do this with the built-in flash on a DSLR too)

Just as bright, indirect light is best indoors, bright overcast days are much better than strong sun shine outdoors. The overcast acts as a diffuser, and reduces the tonal range to something the camera sensor can handle. A small pop of flash can still add a nice catch light to the eye and make them "pop" more. Another EXCELLENT way to throw light into a dark face is to set the dog up facing a white wall... house, garage, etc. You shoot toward the dog (away from the white wall) allowing the wall to act like a big reflector, bouncing light into the dog's face. This photo of Kodi was taken exactly that way... no after capture adjustments were made to this other than a tiny bit of vibrance and clarity added. Actually, there is a TON more detail in the image than shows here on the forum... the forum, for some reason, makes all my images appear darker and not as sharp. If I am adjusting something specifically for the forum, I take this into consideration and lighten/sharpen it a but more. But in this case, I wanted to show you the file close to how it came out of the camera.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:26 AM   #9
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Thanks Karen, I have a DSLR (Canon Rebel). It's a few years old but works fairly well. I have photoshop, but whenever I try to use it my photo ends up looking "photoshopped". I'll try the white wall trick for sure and will beak out the photoshop software again to see if i can make it work.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:02 PM   #10
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Thanks Karen, I have a DSLR (Canon Rebel). It's a few years old but works fairly well. I have photoshop, but whenever I try to use it my photo ends up looking "photoshopped". I'll try the white wall trick for sure and will beak out the photoshop software again to see if i can make it work.
Are you shooting RAW or JPG? You lose a LOT of information if you're shooting JPG, that is recoverable in a RAW file. Also, are you using the most recent version of PS? If not, the algorithims have changed quite a bit,making subtle adjustments much easier, especially when processing a RAW file in Bridge. (Lightroom is basically a "prettier" version of Bridge, taken out of PS)

If you don't have the newest version of PS, it's probably cheaper to buy LR as a stand-alone than it is to upgrade.
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