Watch the video: Home Photography Ideas – Take Soggy Doggy Style Portraits
When wet dogs start to shake their coats, people usually dive for cover, but it’s a fun time filled with both action and character. In this project, we’ll see how to capture that moment – we’ll explain how to light up our soggy subject and set up a camera to freeze the action with crystal-clear clarity.
We used Rotolight LED panels to illuminate our subject here (you can use some speed lights), which has a high speed sync flash mode that helps freeze motion. However, as is the case with all LEDs, the maximum output does not come close to the most basic flash, so we have to adjust the exposure accordingly with a higher ISO setting.
LEDs do have their advantages, however – greater battery life, near-instant recycle time in flash mode, color temperature control, and the convenience of exposure results from what you see is what. you obtain.
While the lighting isn’t easy, you might find that the trickiest part of this whole project is actually handling the dog! Our wet pooch was more than happy to be soaked in water, but did not want to stay where we had set up, preferring to run away to another part of the garden to shake off.
It took a few tries to get it to stay put and the pose and focus to be perfect, so you’ll probably shoot a few hiccups before you get a usable shot – but that’s all part of the fun! And what better way to spend a warm day in the garden than with your camera and your furry friend?
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An afternoon of dog spray
01 Dark backdrop
A dark background is ideal, as water drops will not appear as well on a lighter background. Here we have used the dark side of a large retractable reflector.
The Rotolight LEDs used here have a high speed synchro flash mode, in which the light emits a continuous burst and allows very fast shutter speeds to be used. However, speed lights could also be used.
We kept a water tray handy to sprinkle our puppy on. Photographing outdoors like this means there’s no need to worry about spills, either.
04 Camera settings
A fast shutter speed can freeze the movement of a trembling dog. Here the shutter speed is set to 1/2000 sec, with the camera in manual exposure mode.
Get your shot soggy
01 Develop an exhibition
We shoot outdoors, but we don’t want natural light to play too much of a role in our exposure. So to start, leave the lights off and find an exposure that gives a dark image like above – we’re using 1/2000 sec, f / 4, ISO800. Use manual mode to lock exposure.
02 Install lights
Now we can use the lights to choose our subject. By placing a light behind the subject, tilted towards the camera, the light shines through the drops and gives us a nice outline along the dog’s nose, which helps separate it from the dark background.
03 Trigger the flash
We need to trigger our flash off camera with a trigger – compatibility is important when using high speed sync. The Skyport Elinchrom that we used to communicate between the Rotolights and the camera allows us to manipulate both the power and the color temperature of the lights.
04 Put it all together and balance
Now we turn on the key and fill in the lights, then measure the exposure again and take a picture. Fill light lifts deep shadows and gives us balanced lighting. The ratio of key to fill is pretty even, so our contrast is subtle. We could turn off the fill for more contrast.
Composite rain for even wetter shots
01 Select the drops
You might find that you have a great dog position in one photo, but the drops look better on another. If so, we can compose them in Photoshop; use the Lasso tool to select the drops, then copy (Cmd / Ctrl + C), switch to the other image and paste (Cmd / Ctrl + V).
02 Paste and mix
Press Cmd / Ctrl + T to transform and move the drops wherever you want, then go to the Layers panel, click the Blending Mode drop-down menu, and choose Lighten. Press Cmd / Ctrl + L for levels, then drag the black point to fine-tune the blend.
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