How to Take Pictures of Pets
How do you take pictures of pets without driving yourself and the pets crazy? While some pets seem extremely camera shy, others appear to delight in sabotaging pet photos. If you take the time to prepare, taking pictures of pets can be extremely rewarding.
Film Speed and Pet Photos
How do you take pictures of pets that move quickly and without warning? Pet photos of cats, dogs, rabbits and other fast-moving critters often produce blurs of speed and fur. Even if you sneak up on your pets, those that were sleeping, cuddling or cleaning start catapulting off the walls as soon as they see the camera.
You can waste a lot of film trying to take pictures of pets unless you select your film and shutter speeds ahead of time. Film speed should be at ISO 400 for outside pet pictures. If you’re taking pictures of pets inside, ISO 800 will compensate for limited lighting.
Set your shutter speed to 1/125 for pet photos to reduce the chance of “pet blur.”
Owners of digital cameras have a distinct advantage when taking pet pictures: They can snap away, instantly check pet photos and delete unwanted ones. If you’re using a film camera, you may have to use several rolls of film to get the shot you want.
Another option for taking pictures of unruly pets is to use a camera’s burst or sequence-shot setting, which takes several photos over the course of a few seconds. If your kitten is leaping at a fly or toy, you might get lucky and catch the leap as a series of photos.
Flashes and Pictures of Pets
Why does Fido turn his back as soon as you pull out the camera? If you’re using a flash, chances are he’s learned to associate the camera with the sudden flash of light. His reaction to run away may just be his attempt to avoid the flashing light.
Cats are especially perverse when it comes to flashes. Many a feline has learned to close his or her eyes just before the flash, tricking you into thinking you got the shot until you review the pet photos.
How do you learn to take pictures of pets that shun the flash? The most obvious answer is to avoid using the flash whenever possible.
If you do use a flash, don’t take pet photos with the animal staring straight into the camera: The flash is often too bright for the pet’s eyes. Besides, if you think human red eye ruins a picture, wait until you see pet red eye. Pets often have a larger eye-size-to-face ratio than humans, making red eye even more obvious.
Catching the Moment
The best pet photos are rarely carefully posed portraits. Instead, the clearest, cutest pictures of pets are usually spur of the moment photos. For example, you may treasure that picture of your kitten climbing into the cereal box or a child and dog are sitting together quietly. The best pet photos, like photos of people, reveal something of the personality of a pet or tell a story.
This isn’t to say that you can’t pose pet photos. It’s just a little more difficult than posing people. While you can’t tell a cat to turn and look to the left, you can have someone off camera attract the cat’s attention.
Treats and bribes work well when you’re trying to take pictures of pets in specific circumstances. Although your cats may clean each other, will they do so when you’ve got the camera? Rub a treat behind each of their ears and they’ll be more likely to lick each other when you take the picture.
Small animals can be held and cuddled while you take pet photos: A picture of the pet interacting with a family member can be emotionally engaging.
Cute Pictures of Pets
People tend to treat pets like people, which may explain why many photographers want to know techniques for taking pictures of pets dressed up, wearing hats or doing “human” things.
Whether you choose to dress up your pet is up to you. Keep in mind that if your pet doesn’t enjoy being dressed up, he will likely rebel when you add a camera to the mix.
Props can improve many pet photos. Put a bit of catnip in a coffee cup and your cat’s almost certain to check it out, allowing you to take a photo of your cat “drinking” coffee.
The use of props in pet photos is limited only by your imagination: You could put a blanket over your sleeping pet or let the parrot “read” a book by carefully placing treats inside its pages. Try to use props that you can afford to lose.
Pet Photos and Personality
While some people spend money to have professional pet photos taken, you know your pet better than anyone else. You’re the one who knows when the cat is most playful or which window it favors for afternoon naps. You’re the one who knows the dog can’t resist playing with a special toy or eating a certain food.
Most people know how to take pet photos they just don’t realize it. Knowing your pet produces the best pet photos of all.
Panoramic Photography Panoramic photography refers to the area of photography dedicated to taking pictures with a wide field of view or a wide aspect ratio (i.e., a longer horizontal reach than vertical ...