Puppy Pictures, Getting Better Puppy Pics

We have a new puppy and it is both a challenge and lots of fun. I really enjoy working with her as she is growing everyday. Now I am no expert dog trainer but I have raised some well rounded, very social pups in the past. Each puppy is different with their own individual personalities. One thing I swore I would do with this pup that I had not done with our others was to take lots of photographs. To me there is no better model (never been involved with a swimsuit shoot but it probably would not make any difference). We have very few puppy shots of our other dogs I am determined not to let the first few months pass by without plenty of puppy pictures. Here are some tips for getting the best photographs you can with your new buddy.

I shoot digital which I absolutely love for the simple fact that you can shoot a bunch and have them immediately ready for viewing afterward. No need to go get anything developed, although developing with an image processing software like Photoshop is part of the process to the end image. I also shoot with and highly recommend a digital SLR camera as your tool of choice. The point and shoot cameras are very good now but in order to learn photography it is essential to have a camera you can have complete control over. The SLR allows you to use different lenses for different effects also. There is a difference between a picture and a photograph. I take photographs and you should strive to do same.

Cost of a new digital SLR has come down drastically in the last couple of years and the 'prosumer' line of cameras is great and very reasonably priced. If you do not mind used equipment you can get a great buy on cameras a year or so old. Right now this technology is changing yearly and those that can afford it want to be on the cutting edge which leaves their still rather new camera equipment from last year available and reasonable (I just sold a Nikon D100 body that I bought for 1400 dollars for 200, in great shape). I will be referring to shooting with a digital SLR in this article and touching on some more advanced features of these types of cameras.

Digital film comes in all sizes. I shoot with an 8 gig card, which if I shoot in the highest resolution for my camera, means I can capture around 500 photographs, more if I only want to shoot in a slightly lower resolution (nothing wrong with that).

That leads to the first tip. Shoot LOTS of photos. Puppies are fast and do not sit still to pose for anything. You will have a mix of out of focus photographs and there is nothing you can do about it other than shoot lots of them and statistics are in your favor that more will be great than if you only shoot a few and risk problems. The little screen on the back of the camera, no matter how big it is, does not show focus well. I only use it to see if my exposure was correct and my composition is good. If your camera has a continuous shooting mode, use it. You can click off five or six shots in succession and almost guarantee some great photos. Take lots of photographs and you can get rid of the trash (out of focus, under/over exposed, etc.) without loosing precious memories. In addition pups grow quickly you do not want to miss those puppy memories later.

Run your pup before shooting. Get him tired a bit and he will be more cooperative when you get down to photographing. If he's running and full of chaotic puppy energy you had better have your shutter speed on 500 or better to freeze the action. Faster shutter speed means less light available for exposure. I like to do portraits so I run the pup then get down on the ground and get some nice facial shots while they rest.

Shoot on overcast days or in the shade. Light is essential in making your photograph and you need good light to shoot at a higher shutter speed, but harsh light that casts hard shadows does not look good in the final photograph.

Check out your auto focus modes on your camera. Some cameras come with a mode that you can lock on a subject and even when that subject moves the lens will adjust to keep in focus. Great for when that rascal is moving around.

Work with the ISO settings on your camera to be able to take faster shutter speeds in less light. Do not go up too far or you will wind up with digital noise which can be seen if you enlarge a photograph on the computer and you can see color dot that are separated, kind of like a color fuzz. I try to shoot with ISO 100 (lower the better) but have successfully shot up to around 400 for small prints or web photos.

Do not use the flash on your camera. The positioning of the pop-up flash is horrible and produces less than quality photographs. If you can afford it buy a hot shoe flash which is a separate flash unit that fits on your cameras hot shoe which is a metal plate with contacts on top of the camera. You can use a flash to keep that shutter speed high while having enough light to get proper exposure. Also makes for some very interesting and creative photos.

All the basic tips from my article on dog photography work well with your pup (fill the frame with your subject, get down to the dog’s level or below, and get close without distorting).

Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Your pup will be a dog before you know it. Get rid of the out of focus photos. Pros only show their best work and you should too. Get rid of that puppy energy before you pull out the camera. Above all have fun with your new best pal.


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