Apr 30, 2011

May 2011 Cover

Cover Image by Claudine Kosier of Simply Dog Photography

Tips for Great Pet Photography

by Claudine Kosier of Simply Dog

Anyone that knows me, knows I'm completely over the top when it comes to dogs! Any animal really, but especially dogs! I adore those sloppy dog kisses, cute wiggly butts, their silly ridiculous habits that define their personalities and I believe there is even something special and endearing about their "naughty" little habits!
It was only natural when I started photographing again that my main focus would be pets. I love being able to provide a unique experience and capture images that reflect a pets natural essence and individual personality in beautiful natural light and surroundings. Modern simplistic images, yet expressive and playful.
While I can say I've tried many different ways of photographing pets, it has only been in the last year that my own personal style has started to develop. My best suggestion is to try a variety of different things, but in the end define and embrace your own style. If you are willing to be patient and ready for anything, it will be so worth the wait and you will have some incredible images to show for it. These are just a few things I have found that work for me.
1. Make sure to have plenty of treats on hand along with squeak toy or other noisemaker. Animals have short attention spans, and get bored easily, therefore I use these sparingly, just to get attention and a great look!

2. Photograph the pet where it is most natural for them. Although I never suggest for pets to be taken off leash, if they are truly well trained to be off leash, take advantage. Visit a nearby park, scenic location or take a hike. I prefer to shoot in natural light whenever possible and with a wide open aperture. Shooting wide open with dogs will take a lot of practice getting sharp focus. 

3. If the animal is more comfortable at home, scope out nice a backdrop right in the backyard. As shown in the cover image, a tree in bloom with very shallow depth of field worked perfectly. Compose your shot before you actually start shooting. Just like any portrait, make sure to remove any clutter or anything that will deter from the subject.

4. If indoors, find a nice window to photograph near. Soft window light produces such beautiful catch lights in their eyes. 

5. My style is to capture pets in their natural element that show their playful personalities. Not every image has to have the subject looking into the camera in order for it to become a stunning photograph.

6. Try unique compositions or try adding some kind of unexpected element.

7. Don’t forget the owner. I like to shoot some images that will capture the relationship with the pets person but I also like to shoot with the owner in the background, keeping the animal as the main focus.

8. Try shooting from different angles or perspectives. This is one of my favorite images taken from the perspective of the dog overlooking this canyon. I love the serenity of the image along with capturing all of her beautiful markings. 

9. Get down on their level and fill the frame. Focus on their eyes and every detail. 

10. Most important---have fun with it, dogs have some crazy antics, let them be silly, and then capture it!

What's in my bag--
My camera body is a Nikon D700 and I always prefer to shoot in manual. I keep my lenses minimal and at the moment, my favorite and most used is the 50mm/1.8. My other favorite is the 105mm/2.8 (macro). When I'm shooting environmental portraits, I go for my 35mm/2.0. My post edit is done mainly in Lightroom with a minimal amount in Photoshop.
Simply Dog Photography


Location Location Location

To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.” - Ansel Adams

by Brittany Meng

As photographers, I believe we love to be inspired just as much as we love to inspire others. We set goals, read inspirational quotes, listen to music, watch documentaries, all to inspire us to do more, be better, and live a fulfilling, happy life. This is what I feel we all seek in our life, and in our work, to be inspired.

Having a location that overwhelms you with possibilities and gets you excited because of all that you could do, is what I want to talk about.

One of the first things after setting a date with a client is, “Do you have a location in mind where you would like to have your pictures taken?”

Ah, the daunting task of narrowing it down. Here in Vegas, I feel like we tend to all show up at the same places;

Red Rock

Nelson’s Landing, Ghost town

Lake Las Vegas

Jean Dry Lake Bed

Don’t get me wrong; these are all excellent locations that I often visit. I love the tall green grass at Red Rock this time of year, and Nelson’s Landing has great textures and colors but these places are the hot spots. Because they are used over and over, what was once enjoyable becomes tedious and uninspiring.  I may have not even shot there before but because it has been used so many times I feel there is nothing unique about the location that I am offering to my client. I feel uninspired because this location is exhausted.

So here are some tips to mix it up.

Drive with the intention of looking for new ideas for locations.

Look at the light, look and the smaller details, not just the overall spot.

When I find myself getting bored with what I have been doing, I pack things up, drag my kids out to the car and go hunting for new spots.

I say hunting, yes, because it is not easy; you really need to look.

Take back roads instead of freeways and main streets. Get your GPS so you don’t get lost, and start driving. Keep these ideas in mind as you search out new locations:

Look for locations at the same time of day you want to be shooting at them. You might go right past a spot that during midday is boring but at sunset has magnificent lighting.

Look for variety in textures and colors. This will be more enjoyable to the clients when looking through their photos.

Get off the beaten path. But also make sure it is practical enough to get there again when taking clients.

Just get out and shoot. You never know until you try. Make sure to have your camera ready and don’t pass the opportunity when you see something to stop; get out and take a picture.

Check out the grounds around hospitals, hotels, and libraries. As a whole it might not be exactly what you are looking for, but often times these types of places have interesting walls and architecture. Don’t be shy about getting back in the car and go to several locations to be able to give your best.

Driving around I found this gem. You can’t see it from the road; you have to walk down into it. But I was thrilled when I happened upon this spot. It has great color awesome lighting, and it gave the city look I wanted, perfect for this recent senior session.

This abandoned house provided great texture for a backdrop. (I talked with a neighbor about the property to get permission.)

This is just an empty lot across the street from a high school with developed trees. The funny thing is that I drove past this location so many times coming home from a friend’s house, never giving a second thought about it. Now it is one of my favorite places.


This is at a school. They have colorful door and trim. I loved it for senior pictures.


I just kept driving till I ran out of road and came into this. You feel as if you are alone in the desert and really it is only minutes away from a shopping center.

My husband is a law student at UNLV so I have to put in my disclaimer about trespassing. Just because there isn’t a sign, it doesn’t mean it is legal. Though sometimes I wish it was that easy. Take the time to find out. Be careful and have fun. Get out there and lets show what Vegas has to offer!

Correcting White Balance : Tutorial

by: Amy Leavitt

We've all been there. You come home from a great session to discover that some of the photos have a color cast. You open up Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom and fiddle with the temperature and tint sliders, but it just doesn't look right. Now it looks too green. You fiddle some more and settle for "close" instead of "correct" white balance. You go on to edit the session, to find that your processing makes the photo's color problems even worse...

There is a better solution for those problem photos with color casts. Plus, it's really simple.

Here's my example. My daughter's birthday cake. With an obvious color cast. I get this a lot when shooting indoors. This is SOOC- Straight Out Of Camera.

If you're like me, it's not always easy to see what color the actual cast is. Which is what makes it so difficult to fix. Go ahead and guess what specific color you think this particular cast is.

1. The first thing you'll need to do is duplicate the image. Press CMD J (Mac) or CTRL J (PC).

2. While the duplicate layer is selected, go to the Filter Menu, choose Blur, then Average.

You'll see the actual color of the color cast now. Kind of a pink/orange-y thing.

3. Next, invert the color. This will change the color to the exact opposite of the current color. Press CMD i (Mac) or CTRL i (PC).

As many photographers know, the best way to fix color issues in a photograph is to ADD another color, and this is the basis of this technique.

4. Change the blending mode for the duplicate layer to "Color". (You can also play around with other blending modes, such as Vivid Light).

This is the result:

5. The last thing is to reduce the opacity of the layer until you find the perfect balance. On this photo, I reduced to 30%.

That's it, you're done! Once you do this technique a few times, it will become second nature.