Home Photography Ideas: Soggy Dog Portraits!

Watch Video: Home Photography Ideas – Take Soggy Dog Portraits

When wet dogs start shaking their coats, people usually dive in for cover, but it’s a fun time filled with both action and character. In this project, we’ll look at how to capture that moment – we’ll explain how to light our soggy subject and set up a camera to freeze the action in crystal clarity.

We used Rotolight LED panels to light our subject here (you can use some speed lights), which have 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 scale the exposure accordingly with a higher ISO setting.

LEDs have their advantages, however – longer battery life, near instant recycle time in flash mode, color temperature control and the convenience of exposure results what you see is what you get .

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

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 didn’t feel like staying in the spot we had set up, preferring to run to another part of the garden to shake off.

It took a few tries to get her to stay put and get the pose and focus on the spot, so you’ll probably shoot a few misses before you get a usable shot – but that’s part of the fun! And what better way to spend a warm day in the garden than with your camera and your furry friend?

Best Online Photography Courses

A Dog Spray Afternoon

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

01 Dark background
A dark background is ideal, as water drops won’t show up as well on a lighter background. We’ve used the dark side of a large pop-up reflector here.

02 Lights
The Rotolight LEDs used here have a high-speed synchronized flash mode, in which the light emits a continuous burst and allows the use of very fast shutter speeds. However, speed lights could also be used.

03 Water
We kept a tub of water handy to sprinkle our pup on. Spinning outdoors like this means there’s no need to worry about spills either.

04 Camera settings
A fast shutter speed helps freeze the motion of a shaking dog. Here, the shutter speed is set to 1/2000 sec, with the camera in manual exposure mode.

Get your hit soggy

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

01 Develop an exhibition

We shoot outdoors, but we don’t want natural light to play too big a role in our exposure. So to start, leave the lights off and find an exposure that gives a dark image as above – we’re using 1/2000 sec, f/4, ISO800. Use manual mode to lock exposure.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

02 Install lights

We can now use the lights to choose our subject. By placing a light behind the subject, angled towards the camera, the light shines through the drops and gives us a nice reflection along the dog’s nose, helping to separate it from the dark background.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

03 Trigger the flash

We need to trigger our off-camera flash with a trigger – compatibility is important when using high-speed sync. The Elinchrom Skyport 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.

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

04 Bringing it all together and balancing

Now we turn on the key and fill the lights, then measure the exposure again and take a picture. Fill light lifts deep shadows and gives us balanced lighting. The ratio of overlay to fill is pretty even, so our contrast is subtle. We could reduce the padding for more contrast.

Composite rain for even wetter shots

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

01 Select the drops

You might find that you have a great dog pose in one photo, but the drops look better in 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).

(Image credit: James Paterson/Digital Camera World)

02 Stick and mix

Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform and move the blobs wherever you want, then go to the Layers panel, click the Blending Mode drop-down menu and choose Lighten. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+L for levels, then drag the black dot to fine-tune the blend.

Read more:

Rotolight AEOS Review
The best photo lighting kits: for studio, outdoor and video
The best LED light panels: portable lighting for photography and video

Comments are closed.