Shadows in Pet Photography

July 28, 2017  •  2 Comments

This week's word for pet photography is 'shadows' and I've given this one a good bit of thought to see what I wanted to blog about this week.  I've decided to share several different approaches to this particular theme this week.  For those of you that take photographs for fun, one thing that you need to watch when photographing your pets (children, family, etc) is how the light falls on your subject.  Your eyes are much better at looking at something that is in the sun & shade than the camera.  Sure, we can do some changes with software and make the photograph much better - but not everyone wants to do that - and sometimes it's just easier to get it the way you want to begin with.  

Getting a better photograph can be as simple as changing your position, changing your dog's position or a little of both.  After taking several photographs of Mary Kate, I knew the camera wasn't capturing the golden color of her fur and her deep brown eyes.  The shadows were making it a little difficult.  So, I moved and taking a little treat along with me to get her to move her head, I captured this photograph. A beautiful golden color across her entire face as she looks into the area the light is coming from. For those of you that are local - Mary Kate is looking for a home (just in case you might be interested or know someone that might be).

Mary KateMary Kate

Here's a classic example of photographing a dog with some sun on her face and some of her face in shadow.  This clearly demonstrates the 'shadow' on the side of her face that does not have the sunshine hitting it from the window.  This type of lighting is similar to what is called "rembrandt lighting" but doesn't have the classic triangle this type of lighting is known for.  There is a small catch light in the eye in shadow, but the shadows are really deep and dark.

Using a few little tricks with software, I can bring up the light on the shadowed version of Mary Kate's face.  In this case, bring up the shadows so they aren't so dark, decrease the highlights so the sunny side of her face is not so bright and try to get it a little more equal lighting.  The shadows are still there, but much less harsh.

Of course, this is one way to think about shadows but there are others - here's a few more examples.  This past week Abby went to the beach with us for some swimming and playing.  Notice that the sun is coming from the side as it is early morning.  Her shadow is falling to the right on the sand - and it also puts the left side of Abby's face in a bit more shadow as the sun is not hitting that side of her face.  In this photograph, I increased the detail in the shadows (using Adobe Lightroom software) so that her eye is more visible. Abby having black fur, you can see the difference between what black fur looks like in the sunshine and the shade by looking at the difference on her face.

The last type of shadows are what most people probably think of when they hear the word "shadow".  The morning sun was shining and cast a shadow on the sand (dirt?) at the dog park.

Have you thought about the shape of the shadow? Depending on how the dog is standing and where the sun is coming from - it might not look like a dog at all.  This photo shows just a little bit of Jimbo and then the shadow his body cast on the ground.  If I want a really great shadow, I need to try and get the leg spaces such that we see each one, the head up and the tail out - that I think would make the best dog shadow!  My dogs however, didn't really care to take part in that exercise - so I don't have one of those.

For more shadow photographs head over to visit Darlene with Pant the Town Pet Photography serving MA and NH 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 Linda at [email protected] or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).





Love your variety and explanations! Mary Kate is beautiful and so are the images you captured. Wishing her a forever home! Abby is looking gorgeous on that beach! I'd love to be there right now!
I really liked the variety of examples you used in this week's blog, and I love the image of Abby in the surf!
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