Archive for the ‘Principles of Photography’ Category

Texture and Patterns in Photography

Adding Design Elements to your Portrait Photography

Texture is a key player in creating beautifully designed photos, and will give your photography that artistic edge you’re looking for. If you’re feeling uninspired or struggling to capture drama in your photography, start seeking out some textural elements. This is one of the design elements we cover in our class The Art & Design of Photography.

A common challenge for an emerging photographer is learning how to see the world through an artistic lens. If you find yourself looking at award winning photos on Instagram and wonder where these amazing photographers find their inspiration, you’re not alone! One thing these noteworthy photos have in common is they contain artistic design elements that bring the photo to life and tell the story.

To take your photography to the next level, start by looking around for patterns, textures or a point of interest and use that as the foundation for your photo.

edmonton-photography-composition-class-add-texture-to-photographyIn this shoot, the couple wanted some interesting street photos to highlight the local flavour of their tropical destination wedding. This wall was perfect because it is an interesting background for the photo and the perfect contrast color for this couple.

Here is another example of how a combination of pattern and color, can really bring a photo life- for this photo to work, the bride and the groom needed to be placed within the pattern (between the windows):

edmonton-composition-photography-class

Sometimes, especially in the case of candid street photography, you can grab the perfect shot of your subjects but wind up with someone bombing your photo in a loud plaid shirt- LOL. When this happens, you can either learn how to remove people, we cover this in our Adobe Photoshop CC class, or you can try turning your photo to black and white- In this case, the result is amazing- I love this photo, the fence is a great design element and I think the cyclist definitely adds to feel of it.

calgary-photography-design-composition-class

Now, granted not all of us have the advantage of a beautiful destination like Cuba to shoot our photos, but it’s really all about learning to see the beauty in the seemingly ordinary. This next photo may look like an adorable two year old playing in a picturesque park, with lush grass and wildflowers blooming but that couldn’t be further from the reality! This photo is actually captured in an untended field, surrounded by warehouses, bordering a really busy street in Edmonton. WHAT? It’s true. The photographer, Susan Temme, wanted to take some photos of her daughter but had little time to do it, so she drove to the nearest field and made it work! With overgrown grass and weeds as her inspiration (and the textural component of this photo) she got a beautiful shot of her daughter and cropped the photo to make it look like a girl in a Spring garden- no one needs to know otherwise 😉

calgary-photography-design-and-composition-class

If you’re struggling with the “nothing to shoot” blues or perhaps you need help uncovering your artistic side, our Art & Design of Photography class is the place for you!


Mixing White Balances

In this post we’ll discuss the problems of mixing white balances in one shot.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR Camera at the CPLC.

White Balance

In a perfect world, all light sources would only shine ‘pure white light’, without any colour cast or hue added. If this were true, than we would never need to white balance or colour correct any images or videos we took.

In the real world, we are faced with the reality that every single light source that can light our scene–be it natural sunlight, indoor light bulbs, or flashes or strobes, shine their white light with a certain colour hue or cast to it. In some cases, such as ‘yellow light bulbs’, the cast is so saturated that the light even appears to us to be yellow, and not just white with a yellow hue. In other cases, like fluorescents or flash bulbs, the light appears white (but isn’t) in ideal situations, but in reality has a blue cast to it.

When two light sources with different colour casts illuminate one scene, photographers are inevitably faced with the reality that the two different colour casts will not match, and the resulting photo will have, usually, an ugly colour cast in one part of its picture. (Sometimes, we get lucky and the two colours complement each other).

In the below images, you see in a dimly hit house how the halogen (yellow) bulbs were turned on. In truth, the house was too dark without them turned on for people to walk through. However, it was also too dark for photography, so the photographer had to supplement the ambient lighting with flash light in order to produce a bright enough image. The resulting image reveals what happens to the ‘yellow’ halogen lighting when the image is colour corrected to the dominant–blue–flash lighting.

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

In the top picture, the women are backlit by the halogen lighting, making the back room look like a sickly yellow light, and also backlighting their hair with that same glow. Their faces and the wall next to them, though, are lit by the more natural flash light. The bottom picture has one of the girls lit by the flash light, and the two girls in the background lit by the yellow halogen lighting. Here the two colours are separated on the subjects themselves, but the overall image still has this jarring distinction in two different light sources.

As such, for some of the shots the photographer asked for the yellow light bulbs to be turned off. While this was too dark for the girls to finish getting ready, it allowed the photographer brief moments of control over the quality of the photography. Simply by turning off a conflicting colour source, the images look better–even if in practical terms the photographer can’t ask the subjects to work in these dark circumstances for too long. While the images are bright, in person, the house is quite dark with the yellow lights off.

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

Mixing white balances - colour problems - white balance problems - Calgary photography classes

Clearly, the color/lighting in the second set of shots are more pleasing to the eye. Even in situations where you can’t command complete control of the lighting at all times, it’s still nice to take control for brief moments to give yourself the opportunity to elevate the photography to the next level.

 

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR Camera at the CPLC.


Using Levels in Posing

In this post we’ll discuss the use of levels in photographing portraits.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take The Art and Design of Photography at the CPLC.

 

Levels in Portraiture

One of the simplest tricks to make your photos look more professional requires only a one-step stool or small ladder.  A common theme through most people’s photos of themselves and their families is that they’re all taken at your eye-height.  Occasionally we will crouch down to take photos of our kids, but even here most often people will take these shots from their adult-standing-height.

levels-posing-tips-calgary-photography-classes

Hollywood movies (at least the mediocre majority) used to largely hold to this as well.  Steven Spielberg, in his film E.T., turned this concept on its head and brought his cameras down so that most every shot in the movie is shot from a 8-year-old’s eye-height, most famously pointed out in the opening shot which is just a set of car keys hanging out of an adult’s hip pocket.

This same concept has been used for years by photographers to add interest to their groups of shots.  Even if nothing else changed, simply having some of your shots at eye-height, some from a crouching or laying position, and some shooting down from a one or two-step ladder, immediately makes your session more engaging and interesting to look at.

The first shot in this series is taken from the photographer’s eye-height.  The next, directly below, is taken at a downward angle, on a step ladder and positioning the subject lower down the hill.

levels-posing-tips-calgary-photography-classes

Next, we have a picture taken from ground-height, while the pose is also brought down to add a new dynamic to the shoot.

levels-posing-tips-calgary-photography-classes

In addition to the photographer’s height-perspective shifting, a similar effect can be achieved by altering the height of your subjects in portraiture, as seen in the below photo.

levels-posing-tips-calgary-photography-classes

Try to keep the level of your lens as well as the levels (sitting, standing, lying, crouching) of your subjects constantly shifting to make your session of photos more dynamic and interesting.

 

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take The Art and Design of Photography at the CPLC.


Can you bokeh?

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Season’s greetings! A mini Holiday Bokeh tutorial

In this festive season of last minute gift buying, endless Christmas carols, and overindulging in delicious food, we at CPLC would like to remind you that this is also the perfect time of year to pull out your cameras and flex your photographic muscles as a way to combat that tryptophan induced turkey coma. Yes, you can take beautiful portraits of your friends and family, but don’t forget to take advantage of all the stunning Christmas lights/displays to create some unique and creative photos of Christmas Bokeh.

“Holiday Bokeh” – Say What?!

Without delving into sciencey jargon, “bokeh” can be described as the way your lens depicts out of focus areas/points of light, or even more simply, the background blur. Have you seen photos where lights in the background are out of focus, and instead of just being a point, they take on these creamy, soft, and defocused circular shapes? Those out of focus shapes are an example of light bokeh, that you can easily achieve in your photos.

Calgary photography classes

Calgary photography classes

In the above examples, the subjects in focus are the pepsi bottles and a branch in the foreground, while the lights peeking through the trees in the background are out focus, so they get rendered as bokeh. Points of light that are not in focus will take generally on the shape of your lens’ aperture (usually circular). The larger your aperture (or the smaller your f/ number) is set to while taking these photos, the larger the bokeh shapes will be.

Your turn to try!

A couple points to note – in order to make lights on the Christmas tree appear as bokeh circles, they should be

1) out of focus, and
2) photographed with a large aperture.

This is easily done by setting your lens’ aperture to it’s smallest f/number (ie: f/ 3.5, or lower if your lens is able). Then take a photo where you focus on something (the cat, a gift wrapped present, grandma, etc) in the foreground, while the christmas lights are further away in the background. The farther apart your subject is from the background, the more pronounced the bokeh will be.

Calgary photography classes

Even if you don’t have a willing foreground subject because they are all passed out from the Turkey induced coma, you can still take bokeh Christmas lights photos easily. Try setting your lens to manual focus, and intentionally focussing to where a foreground subject would be, while leaving the lights of the Christmas tree in the background out of focus.

Calgary photography classes

Calgary photography classes

In the above examples, neither the lights on the Christmas tree or the reindeer display are in focus, and because they were shot with a large aperture, they become large circular bokeh shapes. Try it out for yourself, it’s very simple to do, and takes little set up.

We hope this mini tutorial helps kickstart your Christmas creativity, and we would love to hear from you in the comments how your adventures with holiday bokeh turn out. From all of us at the CPLC, wishing you and yours a happy holiday season filled with fun, food, and photos!

To learn more about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.


Blacks and Whites in Histograms

In this post we’ll discuss the ambiguous position on editing blacks and whites in histograms. There is a subjective element here, so we won’t have ‘bad and good’ versions. Though it is likely you yourself will think one is bad and the other good, the person next to you might disagree. So rather than say you should do it one way here, we’ll just present both options.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC at the CPLC.

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

The Classical Approach

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

In the classical approach, we could say that it is proper for blacks in B&W photography to be in the ‘true blacks’ section of the histogram, or 0-10% luminance. Likewise, whites in B&W photography should be in the ‘true whites’ section of the histogram, or 90-100% luminance. In the above picture, this is achieved through editing the whites and blacks sliders in Lightroom. As seen in the pictures below, the mouse positioned over the black jacket reveals 7% blacks, and over the white snow, produces 98% whites. (The numbers are visible just under the histogram when you roll your mouse over a part of the picture in the Develop module in Lightroom).

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

A Modern Approach

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

While we can’t speak of ‘the modern approach’, because modern photography is as pluralistic as there are modern photographers, we can say that many modern photographers would prefer what classicists would call ‘bad photography’, namely weak blacks and weak whites. Ideally, classicists say, in B&W photography your darkest shade should be a true black and your brightest shade should be a true white. In this modern take on the same photo, however, a more medium-contrast approach is taken. As seen in the pictures below, the same area of blacks is now 14.5%, and the whites are now 89%. Technically speaking, the ‘blacks’ are actually dark greys, and the ‘whites’ are actually bright greys. Hence, they are seen as mistakes from a classical perspective. Nevertheless, perhaps you like this version better than the classical one.

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

B&W histograms, Calgary photography classes

While subjective opinion ultimately triumphs in photography (and this should be recognized), it is wise to know when you are breaking classical rules that you are in fact breaking them. As the universal cliche in the arts holds true for photography, “you need to learn the rules BEFORE you break them”. Whichever way you go, it is wise to know that the ‘breakable rule’ in B&W photography is that you should have some parts of your image be true blacks, and some parts true whites.

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC at the CPLC.


Capturing Autumn in Portrait Photography

We’re back from the summer hiatus, so let’s dig in this fall with an autumn topic: making the ‘autumn look’ look good in photography.

The principles are very basic, but easy to forget, and since they look so much better in the autumn, let’s quickly explore why. The principles we’ll talk about here are depth of field (DOF) and bokeh.

Unfamiliar with any terms we use in this article? Take the “Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera” and “Getting Proper Exposures” classes to get a practical education with your own camera in-class, including in-class exercises and homework, to familiarize yourself with these terms.

DOF and Autumn

To read more about DOF, check out this post here. In terms of autumn, we are already looking at a beautiful landscape when we hit the right place at the right time, meaning enough leaves falling on the ground but there are still enough in the trees too before they become ‘too twiggy’. Once we’re in this setting, we’re surrounded by a beautiful landscape. Unknown to most of us, the DOF our eyes naturally see in (comparable to f/3.2-f/8.3) will naturally blur much of this scenery, giving it the dreamy look we associate with ideal autumn pictures. This is because we’ll always be focussing on something in the distance, and when we do, everything far enough in front of, and far enough behind that focus point, blurs outside our DOF.

edmonton photography school
ISO 320, f/4.5, 1/200 sec

The mistake that’s easy to make in autumn photography is to confuse specific backgrounds (trees) with this ‘autumn feel’, and set our subject in front of–and too close–to one of these pretty trees with its fall colours. When we do this, and when we don’t have enough space between our subject and the autumn background, we’ll end up capturing not only our subject but also the autumn trees inside our DOF, so that we won’t blur the background.

The solution is simply to stage the frame with the proper distances from lens to subject and lens to background. Ensure these steps are taken, and you’ll get a beautiful hazy autumn background:

1) Don’t get too close to the background, but instead get quite far from it–many dozens of feet depending on your lens.
2) Don’t place your subject near the tree, but instead bring them many dozens of feet in front of the tree.
3) Zoom in considerably (preferably 100 mm or more on your lens) on your portrait subject. This will likely mean you must be some distance away from them.
4) Shoot at a reasonably shallow DOF, for example f/4 or lower if possible.

edmonton photography school - autumn portraiture
ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/200 sec

Ensuring you are far from your subject, who in turn is far from the tree, helps to ensure a beautifully shallow DOF that will keep your portrait subject sharp, but blur your background into a haze of colour without the ‘twig and branches’ details that take away from the colour haze look we associate with autumn.

To learn how to manipulate your depth of field, take the “Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera” to learn the theory and gain practical experience, and for opportunities to practice in directed homework exercises and have your shots reviewed in class, take the “Getting Proper Exposures” class.


Using flash with glass

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Portrait Lighting Workshop and Accessory Flash Workshop at the CPLC.

The reflectance of glass

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
Source: http://www.rolith.com/applications/anti-reflective

Have you ever tried to take a photo of a subject that’s behind glass? You might have noticed that sometimes it works, and sometimes you just get a blinding glare of light, and reflection of what’s behind you, or even you yourself, in the glass, and that what’s behind the glass is erased and replaced by this reflection. The reason for this is that while glass does allow light to pass through it, the angle at which you look through it in relation to the angle at which the light source is lighting it matters (the technical term for this is ‘direct reflection’, which we cover the theory of and do exercises that circumvent the problem in our Portrait Lighting Workshop). So, in the following shot, where we are shooting toward the sun, we would be able to see through the glass of the front windshield because the sun isn’t behind us. However, if the sun was behind us, all’d we see would be white on the windshield, literally a reflection of the white sky, just like the in the first image in this post (because the upward angle of the windshield would act like a mirror, and it’s pointed at an angle toward the sky from the viewer’s vantage point).

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec

Here’s a close-up of the same shot:
Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca

Light the subject on the same side of the glass

It is the nature of glass, it’s nature of ‘direct reflection’ specifically, that disallows us from lighting a subject on the other side of glass from our flash (or ambient light source, for that matter). As such, the only way to light a subject that is too dark, as in this case, that is behind a pane of glass is to put the flash on the same side as the subject is. In this case, it meant putting the flash inside the car. Unfortunately, the opportunity for softening the light when the flash is inside a car is minimal, as the flash needs to light up their faces, and there is essentially no room to put the flash behind the glass, but in front of their faces, so that we can light up their faces but at the same time not see the flash. In this first example, we see an unsuccessful attempt which put the flash between the two subjects, pointed straight up at them. Notice the ‘Halloween lighting’ on her face, caused by being lit from below, a general ‘no-no’ in photographic lighting?

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, off-camera flash inside car, pointed straight up at subjects at 1/16 power.

Here’s a close-up of the same shot:
Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca

Always soften light by bouncing or diffusing

So, in this last shot, we had to figure out a way to make the light come from in front of their faces, but still be on the same side of the glass as their faces. We did this by keeping the flash in the same spot in the car, but instead of pointing it straight up at the subjects, we pointed it forward and up, so that it flashed the dashboard of the car. By doing so, it spread out, became a larger light source, and then bounced back and lit them up more evenly. This worked, in this case, even though the dashboard was largely black, because we also increased the power of the flash 3 stops (from 1/16 to ½ power) to compensate for how much light would be lost to absorption from the black dashboard. You can see that the faces are now lit more evenly and widely, and that the ‘Halloween lighting’ is gone. In addition, since it comes from in front of them, you can see nice big catchlights in the subject’s eyes, popping her out from the dark background in the car even more.

Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, off-camera flash inside car, pointed straight toward dashboard at ½ power.

Here’s a close-up of the same shot:
Off-camera flash | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca


Getting Starburst Effects off of Points of Light

For more information and practical exercises on the topics in this blog post, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Noticing the potential

Sometimes you accidentally stumble on the potential for a better image than you originally conceived. Take this next shot as the starting point.

Getting Starburst Effects | Calgary photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/200 sec

After looking at the scene, the photographer noticed that there were several points off of the car where the light was hitting and bouncing as points. The fact that there points or ‘hits’ of reflection meant that with different camera settings, a cool effect could be added to the photo while maintaining the same exposure. In addition, the sun flare which was coming into the camera (caused by shooting toward the sun) had points of blurred colour that indicated potential for another effect.

Higher f/stops and starburst

To take advantage of both these potential effects, we need to increase our f/stops to one of the highest numbers it can go to. On this lens, that meant f/22. In order to keep the exposure consistent, this meant raising the ISO in tandem to keep the exposure consistent (4 stops darker in aperture, and 4 stops brighter in ISO).

Getting Starburst Effects | Calgary photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 1600, f/22, 1/200 sec

With the exposure the same, the effect of the higher f/stops allowed for two things. First, it turned the reflection points off of the car into a ‘starburst’ effect, a side-effect of having higher f/stops. Second, it brought the ‘haze’ of sun flare into the depth of field, so that the hazy colours were now rendered as more ‘3D’ like shapes of colours.

To learn more about these techniques and get hands-on practice with them, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.


Tips on Using a Diffuser & Ambient Light

For more information and practical exercises on the topics in this blog post, take Portrait Lighting Workshop and Ambient Portrait Lighting Workshop at the CPLC.

Sunlight causes hard shadows

One of the things that will start to bug you more and more as you take more photos are the hard lines of the edges of shadows that come from sunlight. What makes some lights cause hard edges and others not? The answer is ‘hard light’ causes hard shadows, and ‘soft light’ causes soft shadows. The definition of hard light is a light source that is small relative to the subject you are lighting. Even though the sun is, obviously, huge, it is so far away that relative to, say, a person that the sun is lighting, the sun is actually relatively small. As such, you will see hard shadows, visible in part by the hard lines between shade and sun, as in the lighting on the woman’s face below.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 50, f/3.2, 1/200 sec

And here’s a closeup for a better view of the dark vs. bright area on her face.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 50, f/3.2, 1/200 sec

While sometimes we can block this lighting by rotating the subject’s position so that their face is lit only by sun (although this will cast dark shadows in the eyes and off of the nose), or better, only by shade, in cases such as this one, doing so would change the angle on the fence, and background, to a worse one that would hurt the composition and lines in the photo.

Softening hard sunlight with a diffuser

As such, to preserve this vision for the photo, the next best move is most often to bring out a diffuser and put it between the sun and the subject.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 50, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

From the perspective of the person holding the diffuser, this will look like you are trying to cast the circular shadow of the diffuser over the subject, so that they are entirely in the shade of the diffuser. Once this is done, the resulting image erases the negative effect of hard lighting, by replacing it with even, soft lighting.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 50, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

Again, here’s a closeup to show the softer lighting.

Diffusing Ambient Light | Edmonton photography classes | cplc.ca
ISO 50, f/2.8, 1/200 sec

It is soft lighting because, relative to the subject, the light source is now larger than the subject. That is, the sun hits the diffuser, and because of the size of the diffuser (and not, as is commonly, and wrongly, taught, because it is passing through the white fabric), which is relatively larger than the subject’s head, the lighting is soft, and so no hard shadows are cast on the face.

While this does take 2 people to accomplish, and might seem unrealistic to you, it is worth noting that the vast majority of photos you see in magazines, etc. are taken by teams of photographers working together, so this is by no means abnormal. Besides, it’s more fun shooting with a friend, and you can always take turns diffusing for the other person!

To put this skill into practice and get some hands-on experience, take Portrait Lighting Workshop and Ambient Portrait Lighting Workshop at the CPLC!


Pet Photography Tips!

Unfamiliar with the photography terms used in this post? Take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC and Accessory Flash Workshop to learn all of the skills covered here!

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
ISO 160, f/4.5, 1/160 sec

Capturing the personalities of our pets can be a very difficult thing, especially since the seem always aware of when we pull out the camera and point it in their direction. Here are two easy and basic tips that make all the difference in adding a ‘pro’ boost to images of your pets.

Adding catch-lights

Catch-lights is the name for the reflections of light sources in the pupils and sometimes irises of subjects–human or pet. The simplest way to get them is to have your pet look toward (not necessarily at) the sun, or if they’re inside, at a window that is lighting them, or finally a flash on your camera (preferably ‘bounced’, see our Accessory Flash Workshop to learn how to bounce flash effectively). Look at the two images below, the only difference between which is catch-lights are in the eyes in one of the shots, and absent from the other. Which do you prefer?

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/160 sec

Because the eyes, especially the darker pupil, are essentially spherical mirrors, any light source that is lighting the scene, and your pet, will show up in your pet’s eye, and since their eyes tend to be darker than people’s, it is all the more important in pet photography to ensure you get nice, bright, catch-lights. The basic rule is, the brighter the light source, the brighter the catch-light. Likewise, the bigger the light source relative to your pet, the bigger the catch-light in their eye. As an advanced tip, if you really want to ‘nail’ the look, try to get the catch-lights in the upper corner of your pet’s pupil (not in the center or below). You accomplish this by making sure the light is above and, while still in front of your pet, a bit to either side.

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/160 sec

Getting black blacks and white whites

Many of our pets have either some black, some white, or a bit of both in their colouring. One of the most common mistakes in taking photos of our pets is failing to capture the ‘blackness’ or ‘whiteness’ of our pet. We can err either on the side of making our black-furred cat too black, so we can’t even see any details of the fur at all, or too bright (grey), so that they lose their personality and don’t look like themselves. Another common mistake, especially on pets that have both black and white in them, is getting one of the two shades right, but not both. This too robs our pet of their appearance and, thus, personality.

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/160 sec

Unfortunately, our cameras are weakest, or worst, at precisely the extremes of dark blacks and bright whites. While more expensive cameras will help, ultimately the best solution for this inherent weakness in the technology of digital cameras is in the editing room. Pictured below is an example of settings we used in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, arguably the best (and most bang-for-the-buck) all-in-one photo editing software on the market.

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/160 sec

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Settings

Notice how much the ‘Blacks’ slider is turned down, to make the blacks darker in the edited image? Without this editing addition, Betty’s blacks in her fur were too weak, and looked brighter than black, even though the image was taken on a professional-grade camera. Notice too the histogram, showing that the whites of both the backdrop and the fur are close too, but not touching the right-hand side of the histogram? This means that they will look (and print) as bright white, but we’ll still get the details preserved in the white fur. Notice too that the left side of the histogram, while there is much less of it (simply because the backdrop in this shot is white) is approaching, but not ‘crawling up’ the left side of the histogram? Again, this means that while the blacks in the fur will show and print as ‘true black’, we will still preserve the details in the black fur.

It is by adjusting the ‘Blacks’ and ‘Whites’ slider in Photoshop Lightroom that we are able to tweak the blacks and whites in our image and end up with ‘true black’ and ‘true white’ in our final image–thus preserving the character and personality of our pets.

For more on how to get catch-lights or how to use histograms to edit exposures in Lightroom, take Accessory Flash Workshop and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC.

Thanks to Betty for modelling for us!

Pet Photography Tips - Edmonton Photography Classes
ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/160 sec