Dog Photography

‘How I Got the Shot’  by Janine Nimmo

Towards the end of the year, I decided to try out some dog photography with a low-key style of lighting. My aim was to be able to print and display them at home. This is how I did it…

Looking for Inspiration

I had an idea of how to create a low key image, but no idea about how to get started in dog photography!

I turned to YouTube and researched how other photographers create their pet portraits.

This is what I learned and how went on to create this portrait of Shebah.

dog photography by janine nimmo copyright 2020

Equipment Used

Canon 6D Mark II – Gold umbrella – stand – Altura flash.

I set the flash on the stand about a meter off the ground, at a 45-degree tilt. I didn’t open the umbrella all the way because I want to create a narrow beam of light. I used an elastic band on the umbrella stem to achieve this.

Camera Settings

Manual Mode (M)

Aperture: F/18  – ISO: 100

Shutter: 1/200sec

AWB – Spot Metering – Single-shot drive mode.

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Capturing the Shot

I enlisted my daughter Kirsty, who is Shebahs’ owner/ handler to help me with the shoot.

Shebah has been trained for a few years, part of her training was to be able to focus on an object, her nature is also to please which made her shoot a fairly easy one.

I asked Kirsty to walk her around and to position her as close to the open umbrella stand as possible, and then to command her to sit and focus.

Kirsty then stood in front of Shebah to hold her focus, I knelt down to the right to get the shot. We had to reposition Shebah a few times before I got the shot I wanted!

dog photography by janine nimmo copyright 2020

Dog Photography Tips

Take time to set everything up.

Use treats to encourage, reward, reposition, and refocus the dog during the shoot.

Get someone else to handle the dog – preferably the owner.

Use a collar and lead if it will help in positioning the dog, you can remove them in post-processing.

Walk the dog before the shoot. It helps to run off excess energy!

Give very clear instructions to the handler as to how you want the dog positioned.

Let the dog walk around and sniff the space. It’s a good idea to fire the flash as a rehearsal so they know it’s nothing scary. 

Toys are essential! Have fun! 

Editing Workflow

I shoot in RAW, so I opened the image in Adobe Camera Raw and checked and adjusted the exposure slightly, and upped the texture, clarity and dehaze. I also adjusted the vibrance slightly.

These are the steps I made in Photoshop CC:

dog photography by janine nimmo copyright 2020

1. Duplicate the layer.

3. Burn tool to darken some of the fur and the pink spot on her nose.

5. I then added a levels adjustment layer to darken the blacks, increase the mid-tones and highlights these were all minor adjustments.

2. Dodge tool to lighten the eyes and some of the white fur.

4. Added a new layer which I filled black, added a mask to the layer and brushed over the areas I wanted to expose.

iPhotography Tutors Say…

“Thank you so much to Janine for her brilliant insight on dog photography.

If Janine has inspired you to try out these simplistic, yet beautiful techniques then let us know and share your photos in the iPhotography gallery.”

If you would like to share your photography experiences, then why not consider writing a photo guide like Janine? Use our dedicated ‘Write for Us’ page to get started.

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