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I could have just sent you a PM but I thought this might be something other people are interested in, I just have a chi photography question and am hoping you could give me an answe if you have time.

The question is this, how do I get the right light for photographing Ruby? The direct sunlight is always so glary and doesnt really capture her true looks properly because the light makes her squint her eyes. and of course you know what happens when the sun's coming from behind, lol. I cant take her outside for photos coz all she wants to do then is run off and play, lol. And then in most inside situations even in front of our huge windows in more dull light the flash always pops up which washes out her colour, and if I turn it off 50% of the time gets a blurry pic coz of the slow shutter speed and a frisky puppy, lol.

I know you've had heaps of experience perfecting your art, and a lot of the great lighting in your pics is due to your great lenses etc. But can you give me any ideas for getting the best out of my coolpix 8700 when it comes to lighting (LOVE the camera btw, most situations I find it wonderful I'd just like to get the most out of what I have and get my photos up that step higher)

Thanks SO much for your time, long question I know
 

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Ruby's Ma, from what I've seen you get Ruby in some really good light at times. What is the biggest killer for a good picture is what you've been experiencing - the hard contrasty bright light/dark shadow lighting that is the result of direct light.

There's 3 different kinds of lighting you are analyzing when trying to make the right picture: (i've included examples shot with these techniques)

1. Main lighting: a few choices here-
-natural sunlight light coming from an angle between 45-60 degrees from horizontal, it provides some nice texture without blowing out the face and not casting too much shadow.

-Having bounced flash also works great (I'm pretty sure you can buy an external flash for the 8700), and by all means avoid direct fill flash unless the only way you can get rid of harsh shadows is to use some (then in this case, diffuse it and turn it down a few stops).

-if you are forced to use direct sunlight indoors, put a cloth or translucent drape over the window to diffuse some of the light and make it less harsh



2. Backlight: depends on your creativity
-dark backgrounds work great with light colored dogs like Ruby, Sadie, and Ritz, to do this you have to start with low light situation, and make sure your light source is focused on the dog, whether it be flash or natural light

-properly exposed backgrounds are really the hardest to achieve, they require multiple light sources, and really good knowledge of metering, I often avoid being meticulous about it

-creative backlighting - adds a little bit of halo effect to the subject to give that "glamour kind of look"

-high-key lighting- Start out with a lighter than dog color background, and overexpose, add more light to the background to trick your metering into making the back lighter. This is also a "glamour technique"

-low-key lighting- metering the brightest portion of the image will make anything darker, near black. This requires you to use some knowledge of metering, and your camera must have a spot metering mode. This creates images that are really moody, and I rarely use it except for sunset shots, but usually not with dogs.


3. Catchlight: this is the most important for portrait photography, it refers to the light in the subject's eyes. Without it, even the best pictures can look dull, and with it, even the worst pictures can look interesting. You can get this from natural light if you are shooting at the right angle to a window, you often get the reflection of the window as catchlight in your dog's eyes, or if you are shooting artificial lighting, you can use either a second flash or use a card to bounce some light from a bounced flash back towards the subject.



Really having good lighting as nothing to do with cameras or lenses, those things just give you greater control over what you are going to do, and the quality of the image that is captured. Lighting is more of an aesthetic thing and really requires a lot of luck and practice, and in my experience has a lot to do with being "in the right time at the right place".

My favorite time to photograph anything, anywhere is between 8-11am. The sun is low in the sky, it's the "golden hour" and the lighting opportunities are abundant to create nicely exposed images as well as use the contrast from the partial lighting situation to be creative.

I do highly recommend turning your flash off entirely switching your camera to Manual or A or S mode, and learning to play about with your ISO, Aperature (f), Shutter Speeds, White Balance settings. Having the basics in those areas will greatly improve both your technical and artistic skills.

The basics of the "numbers" are"
ISO - the higher the number, the faster the film, but the grainier the image (allows you to shoot faster shutter speeds, but adds noise to the image)

Aperature (f) - the smaller the number, the more light is let in, as a result the shutter speeds are faster, and depth of field is smaller.

Shutter speed - the faster the shutter spped, the less light is let in, and the less likely you will get motion blur in the photo.

White Balance - provides the "tone" to the image, higher number Kelvin means warmer, redder images, lower number means cooler, bluer images. I like to find the perfect white balance, and then warm it up a little. If this is confusing, stick to Auto White Balance.

Hopefully this will help you get started in getting some good lighting. Start by trying the natural light in the morning, or on a cloudy day outdoors. Those are the best times for natural light shooters.
If you are going to buy a flash, make sure you can tilt the head up and down, so that you can do some real "bounce flashing". The only time I will ever use direct fill-flash is when shooting outdoor against a bright background or on cloudy days when contrast is too low.

-Nate
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much for the AWESOME in depth advice. I'm gonna print it all out, along with the great illusrations and go over it when I need to. Theres so much to think about when it comes to taking good photos! I'm gonna have a go with some of that when I have a chance and the lighting's right. Again, thanks so much, you've helped me a lot, and hopefully that great info will help out some others that are interested!
 

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Hehe...that was way to technical for me, I just went through all the photos. Ritz and Sadie are sooooooooooooo cute!!! :lol:
 

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Seiah Bobo said:
Hehe...that was way to technical for me, I just went through all the photos. Ritz and Sadie are sooooooooooooo cute!!! :lol:
I agree, but the pictures and the doggies are gorgeous, and all of those nice outfits....
 

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the pics are stunning !!! i've noticed my flash on my camera takes really bad pics !! when i take a pic of cosmo with a flash ,he looks entirely different :roll:
so i try to use light from windows now. i'm trying to convince my bf to get a new camera too :D

wich camera for home-use .....but professional pics would you suggest
price range say....500-1000usd what's the best i can buy for this money ??

kisses nat
 

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For that price range, I would start looking at the Nikon D50/70 or Canon Rebel XT which are entry level Digital SLR's that take amazing pictures. They both have "kits" that come with lenses, and have pop up flash, so are pretty versatile. All 3 are pretty much around the $800-$1000 range, so they fit the bill!
 
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