Here in Florida, the majority of the year - it's hot. No way around it. So, this leaves us with a few choices on when to do outdoor pet photography - either early morning or early evening. Well, in Florida - at least on the west coast, it rains a lot in the late afternoon so it's hard to predict if the weather will cooperate so it's best to do a lot of the outdoor pet photography in the early to mid-morning. Another plus is - a lot of people are heading to work or still in bed.
I am fortunate - I live a couple of blocks from a beautiful park. The park includes trees, boardwalk, gazebo, playground, boat dock, and river. In the early morning, especially during the week, it's pretty quiet. There might be a few dog walkers or boaters heading out but often times we might be the only ones in the park. This is my favorite time to photograph our dogs (or your dog(s) ) in this park. It's beautiful at this time of day. Usually, the sun doesn't reach into these trees and park until about 2 hours after the sun rises which often works better with the human schedules.
Oh, did I mention the weather here in Florida? Well, we may be known as the "Sunshine State" but I will tell you that we have a lot of overcast days. And while I wanted to capture some of that beautiful golden hour either in early morning or late evening, it's been a choice of rain or overcast skies. So, the golden hour wasn't golden.
There is a special place for those overcast skies - you won't have harsh shadows, you won't have the dogs over heating as fast - but you'll have some beautiful even light to photograph. My best tip if the sky is overcast - enjoy it and if you can eliminate the sky from your photographs they will come out very nice.
Dark eyes - both Rue and Ollie (Rue is in this photograph) have very dark eyes - if you can't catch light in their eyes, it looks pretty dark in there! Whether you have something white that reflects in their eyes (overcast sky, flash, or perhaps a white object of some size), it's going to look a little lifeless. In post processing, I was able to get a little life in those dark eyes (next time I need to use some artificial light).
Abby hanging out on the boat ramp - due to the drought, early morning hour and recent rains - there was only one other person in the park. So, Abby had the boat ramp to herself to hang and wait for a few photographs to be taken. The curious look - I missed what she saw, but she was nice enough to stay posed.
These photographs were taken with 'just a camera'. Notice how the overcast skies provide a catch light in Abby's eyes. The blur of the background allows Abby to stand out from all the things in the park. I will say, that in 2020 my Abby definitely went 'gray'. She celebrated her 5th birthday in February - but now seems to have the facial characteristics of a much older dog. Perhaps this is proof that COVID was hard on the animals as well.
Having a mostly black dog has taught me some basic things about how to photograph black dogs. First, you have to make sure they don't become black blobs - you want to be able to see those beautiful details and texture. Second, I often reduce the saturation or at least the blue saturation to remove the blue cast that is very common on black fur when photographing outdoors. The empty boardwalk at this early hour of 7:20am is just about 30 minutes after sunrise.
So there you have it - early morning is my favorite time to photograph. It's my favorite time to be out walking the dogs. It's peaceful before the day really gets started rolling. But - when those beautiful sunsets are available, I will never turn one down if I have the opportunity to photograph a beautiful bundle of fur!
In memory of Jimbo - he loved this park and walked there almost every day of his life - watching the sunset - they can be beautiful at this park if you're looking for a great place to watch the sun set.
This is a personal project that I try to participate in each week (as much as possible). This post is part of a 'blog circle' which is with several other Professional Pet Photographers around the world. Each week a different theme is provided to the group and we, as pet photographers, interpret the theme in our own way. Follow the link provided at the end of each of my blogs to the next pet photographer's blog - and when you arrive back at my blog - you've completed the entire circle of blogs for this theme. For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Angela of Big White Dog Photography, creating light for great dog portraits in Spokane, WA.
Interested in a Pet Photography Session?
If you would like to discuss or book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to [email protected] or give us a call/text Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough/Pinellas/Pasco/Polk counties in Florida). We have flexible rates and packages to fit most everyone’s budget as we believe that having wonderful photographs of your pet is important to so many people.