How to Photograph Your Cat or Dog
by Leonard Rego
"The only way you should shoot an animal is with a camera," a wise old animal lover once said, and I couldn't agree more. But have you ever thought of making your pet pose for a photograph? If you're like most pet owners, you probably already have loads of pictures of your pet, especially if that pet is a dog or cat. But wouldn't it be great if you knew how to take great pictures of your animal amigos, instead of just pointing and shooting aimlessly? Here's how you can take superb snapshots of Trigger or Tabby to keep for a good laugh later.
To be a good dog or cat photographer, you need to have a few things, which I must tell you are very important:
A camera with film, or a digital camera
A dog or cat
Getting it light
Yes, one of the things that have a big effect on your photos is the kind of light you're shooting in. The best light is natural sunlight, but you can get pretty good pictures even with streetlights and the lamps inside your home. Using the camera flash can sometimes make your pictures look 'washed out' and lifeless, so try and use other light sources whenever you can. Besides, your pet could also look like it has burning red eyes in the picture when you've used the flash, so that's another reason to avoid using it.
Be careful not to shoot when a strong light comes into the lens from behind your pet, because this will make it look like a 'silhouette' or dark form in the picture.
Composing the shot - getting Poochie to pose
One piece of advice - be wacky, and go down to your pet's level. Keep changing angles so you get an interesting picture. You can get kittens to prance about by throwing them a ball of wool, or you can make a dog stand up on two legs, or even get him to roll over and play dead. You can even stand on a table of chair and shoot your pet looking up at you - this always makes a cute picture, especially if your camera has a zoom lens. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can see the results instantly - if you didn't get a good shot, simply shoot again!
Captions that capture the moment
The most fun is when you think up captions for pictures like these:
- A dog digging in the mud - "If I dig deep enough, I just might find a dinosaur bone!"
- A dog fetching a newspaper - "Could you turn to the funnies and read 'Marmaduke' to me?"
- A cat lying lazily on a branch - "Don't disturb me. I've had a long, hard day."
- Your cat watching the news on TV - "Please let it be sunny outside, please let it be sunny outside!"
- A poodle strutting about - "Oh, you must visit my stylist Claude, dahling"
And while it's unlikely that kitty will give you the smile of the Cheshire cat from the story Alice in Wonderland, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to pose - even though it's hard to get her to stay in one place!
Doggone it, stay still!
If your pet is frisky and restless, you might want to do candid shots of it when it's going about its own business. Or you can try talking to it, especially if it's a dog - you're likely to get a quizzical look, as if he were saying, "What's he talking about now?" This would make a great picture, because dogs make all sorts of funny expressions.
You can try giving your pets little treats as rewards for staying still. Cats like to do their own thing, and don't usually stay put when you give them food, so you'll probably have to stick to the candid shots instead.
Point and shoot
If you're like me and don't know too much about using a camera, stick to the simple point-and-shoot types. Like I said before, digital cameras are great, and some of them are quite impressive, with all their functions to create special effects like black and white photos and yellowish sepia tints for that 'old' look. Almost all cameras nowadays have an auto-focus function, so that you don't have to focus on your pet manually.
Make 'em famous!
You can even submit the best pictures of your pets to websites like these:
Safari Pet Photo
Safari Pet Photo
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Copyright © 2004-2005 Leonard Rego. All rights reserved.