Creating cute pet photos at Get Wild Studios in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Let’s talk about camera gear to start with.
Before we get started on how I capture my cute pet photos, I want to mention the purpose of this blog on pet photography is to be fun, informative and get you on track to taking better photos. I don’t want to go into too much of the technical side because this is not going to be of interest to a lot of readers who are simply looking for some guidance in certain areas. OK, lets begin!
Is a good camera the answer?
Some people think that it is just about buying a good camera and that is how you take great pictures. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Firstly lighting is one of the biggest factors. To start with I am going to say I am not a fan of natural light by itself unless you are using light reflectors. This is just my honest, personal preference. Photographers generally back light their subjects where possible. This leaves the problem of flat and dull looking subjects caused by having no light hitting the front side of them. By using a reflector you can bounce light back onto your pet. This gives the image depth by creating highlights and shadows producing a nice 3d image. The results are a bunch of stunning backlit and front lit cute pet photos.
Using flashes and strobes.
The next option is using your on camera flash. This is an option I would never recommend unless you have a light modifier like a soft box over the top of it. Direct flash is a big no as it causes a harsh transition between shadows and high lights. An off camera softbox or octabox is what I use to create beautiful, soft light. A soft box is a box built around a light source (speedlight, strobe or on camera flash), it has a reflective interior and a translucent cloth that goes over the front of the box. The light emanating from the strobe or speedlight gets bounced around inside the box with the point of exit being the cloth. The translucent cloth diffuses the light and creates wonderful soft light onto your subject. This is a huge part of achieving high quality, cute pet photos.
Onto camera and lens selection! Can you use anything to take a beautiful pet pictures?
The short answer is Yes. The long answer from a professional perspective is somewhere in between yes and no. Lets talk about the key differences between beautiful pet pictures and professional pet pictures. Camera equipment is expensive and does relate to picture quality.
Sensor size and capturing the fine detail in your pet photos.
Sensor size on a camera is very important when it comes to picking up the fine details. Sensors are extremely expensive to produce and full frame cameras which are used at Get Wild Studios are starting around the $2000 mark just for the body without a lens. Don’t fret, all modern DSLR cameras take great images. Lenses for your pet pictures are going to be your most important factor and we will get onto that soon.
Megapixels! What are they and when do the count?
Now megapixels, what are they? Every picture you take, is made up of millions of tiny, tile-like picture elements. One megapixel is equal to one million pixels. Now we understand what megapixels are, how important are they? Well, megapixels come into play when you start printing large prints. Think of it this way, when you print a image, it is stretched over the top of the photo paper or canvas. The bigger the photo paper or canvas the more you image is stretched to cover it. The more stretch means your detail is being pulled apart. This is where megapixels really count.
Lenses, your sensors portal to collecting data.
When you press your shutter button, your shutter opens, light hits your sensor and your sensor collects data. The shutter then closes and an image is produced. For your sensor to collect the data as accurately as possible, you want high quality optics. The general high quality lenses the majority of people will use will be between $1000 to $3000 depending on what focal length you are wanting and if you want a zoom. One thing to note is lenses will hold their value highly and in some instance may go up in price in the years to come. Now in saying all of that, this is looking from a professional’s perspective. A camera that shoots raw format, with a kit lens is still a very capable camera! With a little editing your pet photos will look top notch!
If you are on budget, first you have to choose what sort of photography you will be doing. Will you be doing portraits or action shots outside? Then go for a better lens and a lesser camera. Just be sure to check compatibility before purchasing anything.
Next lets talk about a special focusing technique that will help you take super sharp, cute pet photos.
It really doesn’t matter if you are taking pictures of dogs, cats or any animal. This focus technique called back button focusing is your button to success in getting more of your portrait style pet pictures in focus. This separates the focus and shutter button. In the world of professional photography, having the eyes perfectly in focus of your subject (dog, cat, bird etc) is what counts. As William Shakespeare once said, “The eyes are windows to the soul”. In photography the eyes are so important because they show life!
What is focus recompose?
Focus recompose is used to remove wasted space in the frame. OK so you want to take a full body shot of your pet in the sitting position. You lock focus on your pets closest eye but you realise that it is cutting off your boy or girls legs so you then tilt the camera down carefully without moving back or forwards as you don’t want to change your distance from you and your pet after locking focus. Next you frame the shot with your cute pets whole body in the image, you press the shutter button and snap! You have captured your cute pet photo!
Now you are probably thinking I can do that right now with my current camera setup……
You are correct you can focus and recompose by half pressing your shutter button. The problem with the focus and shutter being attached to the same button is there is a chance it will refocus while recomposing, before you push the the shutter button all the way down, leaving your pets body perfectly in focus and the eye no longer sharp. Remember amazing cute pet photos do start with the eye in focus.
If you don’t know how to set up back button focusing there is a number of guides you can find online or you can consult your manual.
Shoot in RAW format for the maximum editing potential to achieve cute pet photos.
Always shoot in RAW format. Raw is a file format that saves all data provided from the sensor allowing you to produce higher quality images and or fix any problems that occur through photo editing software. This will give you the ability to bring your pet photography up to a new level.
Photo editing programs. Do you need them?
Yes, you do need them if your goal is to produce amazing, cute pet photos. Adobe Lightroom is the program I would suggest starting with for your pet photography. With a huge selection of tools to play with in the form of sliders and brushes, it is a great program. Photoshop I would recommend to more advanced users of Lightroom. It has some great features to fine tune your images more. It can help your cat or dog photos pop just that little bit more but does require a lot more learning to understand how to get the most of it. Don’t let that turn you off the idea of becoming a photoshop wizard thought! We all have the ability to learn! I just want to make sure you enjoy your time editing and take a nice progressive course through to getting some picture perfect, pet pictures.
We offer pet photography services in the Brisbane and the Gold Coast region. If you book in for a session with us, I would love to help you out by answering any of your photography questions you may have!
If pet photography is something that interests you and you would like to book a shoot, not only will we provide a high quality professional service, we will answer any of your questions on gear and how to’s on anything you would like to know. we are passionate about photography and pets in general so if we can help you on your photography journey of capturing cute pet photos by sharing what we know on the day, I am more than happy to do so! For any additional information, please don’t hesitate to call for a friendly consultation, you can alternatively<ahref=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”> contact me via email and I will respond to you soon. I look forward to hearing from you!