Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Behind-the-Blog: Taking Pictures

Since we've been getting a lot of questions about our photos, we thought we would 'pull back the curtain' to show what really goes behind taking the photos we post.

Taking Photos While Walking Two Dogs
Most of the outside photos are taken while I am walking at least one dog. Sometimes two! Sometimes with the angles of the leashes, and a random photobombing ear, you can tell that I am handling both dogs while photographing. Can you tell this post, , this post and many photos in this post were taken while I was walking both dogs?
Since we use a DSLR camera, I've learned wider lenses help photograph the dogs even while I have them close to me on the leash. We used to use the 35mm which is good for photographing the one dog I'm walking, while also taking good portrait shots. I also like the wider angle lenses to get both dogs and scenery. I usually use the 24-70 which lets me fit both of them in the photo using the 24 low end while still being able to take closer photos with the other end. We also have a superwide Tokina 11-16 that will fit both of them in the photo and takes a cartoon-like, bobble-head photo, like this one:

Holding a Camera with Dogs:
Our DSLR is a bigger camera which can be difficult to handle while walking both dogs and handing their stuff.
For most of the walks I bring their city dog essentials bag to carry the things we need, and carry the camera if I need to. Things can get tricky when holding both dogs and leaning down to pick up poo; I always have to be careful the bag or the camera don't swing forward into the poo (luckily...it hasn't happened!). It has become a bit of a balancing act, but the pups have also been practicing a reliable sit-stay while I pick-up poo so I have never been lurched forward.

Teaching our Dogs to Model:
We have learned an extra reason to teach sit-stays and down-stays are to help the pups stay still for photos. We practiced conditioning the word 'camera' to make them look at the camera when I'm holding it in front of my face. It was similar to teaching 'look at me', using a treat near the camera and rewarding them each time their eyes flick in that direction.
The pups are actually this funny in real life, and they give us a lot of material to work with. I will usually wait to get the expression I want from them, and I will usually take a couple of photos of the some pose so one will turn out good. I've also noticed taking photos after giving them treats also gives us a lot of funny photos.

Planning Ahead
During the winter, when it's dark when we leave in the morning and by the time we come home, it can be really, really hard to get photos to use for our posts. It takes a lot of planning ahead trying to find time to take photos on the weekend. We will also work to take extra photos (we call them 'stock footage') that we may not post for a bit, just to make sure we do have enough pictures when we write.
This part has actually become a lot of work, so we do really appreciate hearing all the comments and knowing people are out there.

I'm definitely still learning, but can answer any other questions about what we've done so far.
Also, what are some other things you've learned about successfully photographing your pup?

The faux pas question we're always being asked.
Coming out from behind the blog


Sebastian said...

Love the photos on the blog (jealous of some of the shots as well)! Great discussion on why you choose to use wide angle lenses. Keep up the good work!!

Hannah@Eriesistibull said...

Thanks for the info! I have a (higher end) point and shoot, but am looking to get into the DSLR world in the near future, so these are great tips!!

I never thought to teach them to get a photo taken like a command! Brilliant!

We know all too well the delicate balance of bag, camera, and poop - we haven't dropped anything into it yet, either (thank goodness!)

Debra@Peaceabull said...

It never occured to me to teach a "look" type of command for the camera...or as is usually the case with me...phone. I'm planning a DSLR purchase in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

There can never be too many photos of your dogs!!! When I had Melvin photographed a few years ago I was shocked how his face changed when the photographer made random noises to get him to look or to perk up his expression for camera. Now when I take their photos I do the same thing and people in the vicinity just think I'm insane!

Rachel said...

I love your photos! Ms. M and Mr. B are hilarious and thank you so much for sharing so much of them with us. I know it must be a crazy amount of work to write such awesome posts and take such great photos but lots and lots of people are definitely out here following along. I know I read your post first thing in the morning - it makes my time right before work happy and starts the day right. Thanks again!

Unknown said...

One look at your pooches can turn my whole day around. Thank you for all your time and hard work. And much love to Miss M and Mr B for being such wonderful photo subjects.

Ashley Williams said...
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Pitlandia Pooch said...

You guys were definitely our inspiration for branching out into the world of DSLR! We're so glad we did though, because the quality of photos from a DSLR are wonderful.

I LOVE that you trained the "camera" command! I'm going to try that! Athena always has a hard time keeping her eyes on the camera =)

Kiira said...

I love your pictures. You were my inspiration for improving my camera skills! I'm not sure I could juggle a camera and two leashes, so most of our photoshoots happen indoors, but I'm lucky that the two places that the dogs love to hang out, the kitchen and the bedroom, are white and bright.
What's your go-to f-stop setting?

My Two Pitties said...
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My Two Pitties said...

Your photos are always great! I agree that a solid sit/stay or down/stay really pays off for photo taking. I try to get those down on their level shots which can be cool. I tell them to stay, position myself awkwardly on the ground and then say come. I'd love to get a better camera for close-ups and action shots though...I was just talking about it today on my blog!

Norman is easily confused so I get lots of great head-tilt pictures of him. And if I have Kaya's ball I can focus her attention anywhere I put it. It's pretty entertaining!

How Sam Sees It said...

I tend to bonk the pups in the head with my camera when I pick up poop. If I am only handling one dog I take the Canon (larger camera). If I have multiple I take the smaller camera or rely on my iPhone.


Two French Bulldogs said...

You always take great photos of the pups. Those expressions always crack us up. You should see mom, us and the camera!
Benny & Lily

Lagomorphmom said...

Haven't swung the camera into poop, but have swung it onto concrete bending over to pick something up. Fortunately the lens filter took the hit. Another good reason to have a UV-haze filter on at all times. Makes poop seem not so bad, eh?

Two Pitties in the City said...

Thanks everyone! Kiira: I set my camera on Aperature priority mode, and I typically shoot at a lower aperature to get the fuzzy background. I was using the fixed lenses before (the 50mm and our wide angle), but we have since switched to the 24-70 as a type of catch-all to get both the dogs in the wide angle lens, but still have the option of the 50+ when I can't get closer (mainly for SociaBulls walks). I'm still learning how to use this lens, as I think I need a larger aperature than I used to use, around 5.6 when I used to do 2.8 on the fixed lenses. I also use a single focus point which I focus just on their eye. Sometimes I have to wait a bit or readjust, but I like getting the eye really sharp. My summer project is working more with my camera!

Dobermom said...

I have no clue about cameras. I just keep clicking away on my 6 year old camera and hope to get at least a couple clear pictures. :)
You always have such beautiful pictures!

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