When I am out and about, there are a number of tings I hear continuously – one is ‘my dog will never sit still’, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago – and another is how do you get good images of pets with a dark coat and dark eyes. The problem most people face is that when they take a photo of their pet the eyes can get lost because they are similar in colour to the pets coat. This can happen with pets that have brown coast and brown eyes, or black coats with dark brown eyes and often the images may have been taken inside or in deep shade where there is not much light. t can also sometimes happen when the eyes are set back or their is a bit of hair over the eyes that may put them in some shade.
The easiest way to find your pets eyes is to get a ‘catch-light’ in their eyes, this just means a bit of light reflection that gives their eyes a bit of sparkle and makes them stand out. You can do this indoors with a flash, but the problem is that sometimes you cannot control your flash and you end up with ‘demon’ eyes, where they look like a lion being photographed at night with eyes peering out from the grass lands. The image to the right is taken in the studio with flash heads that are adjustable and set up with light boxes. An on camera flash will not allow the same type of adjustment.
The best way is to take your pet outside or close to a window that has plenty of light, have them facing the light and look at their eyes, and see if they have a bit of light there? If you do this outside, try to do it on a overcast day, as this will allow you to get a more even shot without harsh shadows. If it is a sunny day, try to find some nice light shade.
Many cameras have an automatic setting and this is great for everyday general photographing, however if you are trying to photograph things that are at the extreme end of colour such as something very light or something very dark, it may find it hard to give you a good image, the camera is not as good as your eyes as picking up little details. You can try using your cameras manual setting such as full manual, where you can adjust the shutter speed and aperture or use either aperture or shutter speed priority settings. These setting will allow you to dictate how light or dark you want your image, and the great thing about digital is that you can take a couple of shots to see if it is right and than make adjustments if it isn’t. Most cameras should also let you adjust your ISO, this is a term from film days that related to the speed of your film. A higher ISO, like 800, will give you more light in darker conditions and a smaller ISO of 100, less light. You need to remember that the higher your ISO the more ‘noise’ you will get in your images. Noise is like grain in film, and will be most noticeable if you plan to make enlargements of your images.
I have gotten a bit technical here and given a quick course on your digital camera. If you really want great images, it does pay to get to know your camera and how to make adjustments – in the end you will find you can get some beautiful shots of your dark fur-friend.