This week’s pet theme is “Sun Flare”, a unique technique where the subject has the sun behind them and the camera is pointing into the sun. This is a technique I have used within my landscape photography, but not with pet photography. The technical aspect of creating sun flare is based on controlling the aperture of your camera lens. Use a narrow aperture such as f/22 (or one of the smallest apertures your camera lens allows). The blades inside your lens will close down to create a very small opening for the light to pass through. Lenses have different numbers of blades, so this effect will be different depending on the number of blades your lens has - the more blades the lens has, the higher the number of points on the sun flare. If you're using the sun (as opposed to another light source such as a light), consider using a UV filter on your lens to protect the camera sensor.
For this weeks pet photography, I choose to use the sun and shoot in the later afternoon - just a couple of hours before sunset. The sun is lower in the sky and not as bright at this time. It's not 'winter' here in Florida, but being mid November, the sun is lower in the sky than in summer time.
These photographs of Petie were taken with a Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G. This particular lens has 7 blades (referring to the sun flare/star burst as mentioned above). I choose this lens because Petie is a small dog and I did not have an assistant for this photo shoot. It allowed me to stay close to Petie while still getting some great photographs of him.
The first photograph I took using the sun flare effect is using f/19, ISO 200, 1/180 sec (and 35mm since it is a prime lens with only one focal length). In this photograph, the sun is positioned just above Petie's ear and has the star burst and sun flare coming across his face and body.
In the next photograph, the sun is positioned directly above Petie providing some nice back lighting against his fur. The photograph is almost a silhouette as Petie is deep in the shadows. A small sun flare spot shows in front of Petie caused by the bending of the light in the camera. ISO 200, f/4.8, 1/8000. The star burst effect on the sun is almost non-existent due to the shallow aperture.
Moving a little further away from Petie, changing the camera settings to f/22, 1/250 sec - the sun star burst comes more alive and still have the sun flare spots of rainbow colors just in front of Petie.
The last photograph of Petie shows the sun's rays shining through the sky towards his head.
When I finally told Petie that we were done for the day he gave me a cute look - I guess he enjoyed his 'alone' time from the larger dogs he shares his home with.
There are many different ways this type of photography can be done. In some cases, placing the sun itself behind an object and having just the sun burst showing can create an interesting effect. Another option is to have the sun at the edge of a building/tree/object and have it partially obsured. We didn't have the opportunity to try some of the other ideas but perhaps in the future.
For more 'sun flare' pet photographs head over to visit Kim with BARKography at a dog photography retreat in southern California and then head around the rest of the blog circle until you end up back here.
If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).