Cultivate Good Photography Habits to Capture the Funny Moments!

Cultivate Good Photography Habits to Capture the Funny Moments!

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Cultivate Good Photography Habits to Capture the Funny Moments!

To All Pet Lovers: A Photography Lesson from Pet Photographer Cass

You probably won’t be surprising if I tell you that a good pet photo needs to be taken at the right time, the right place with the right person and the right mood of your pets. Indeed, it’s never easy to press the shutter at the right moment when all elements in the frame are perfect. Being a pet owner, you don’t have to be a photography master. It’s more important that you establish good photography attitude and habits, and get on top of those you can control, such as the ambient lighting, the catch-lights, the framing angle, the background, the mood, facial expression and action of your pet etc.
  • The Difference in Vision
  • Good Habit #1: Keep Your Pets in a Good Mood so They Smile Happily
  • Good Habit #2: Make Good Use of the Props Around You
  • Good Habit #3: Increase the Controllable Elements
  • Good Habit #4: Try Different Ways to Get Their Attention
  • Good Habit #5: Plan Ahead and Be Skillful to Get a Good Shot in One Go
  • Good Habit #6: Predict What Your Dog Will Do Next
  • Good Habit #7: Be Agile and Complete the Impossible Mission
 
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM 1/180 f/4 ISO800

The Difference in Vision Between Human and Dogs

The “vision” I’m referring here means more than the “angle of view”. To take a good photo, we need to “be one of them”, using their senses and emotions to feel and observe the world. When taking photos of pets, I usually try to connect with them using senses such as olfaction and hearing. The easiest way to start with is the “angle of view” (i.e. the angle we use to observe things). For example, the home a dog sees when he’s lying on the ground is much different from the home you see from your computer desk. For more impressive photo result, changing the shooting angle is one of the most effective ways. You can do a simple exercise with your pet. Spend some time lying beside him, observe what he sees and listens, and imagine what is inside his mind. Don’t be lazy. Remind yourselves to view the world from the pet’s angle before pressing the shutter. This is a good photography habit that is worth adopting.
 

Books become some camping toys in the eyes of the puppy!
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50mm f/1.4 USM 1/180 f/4 ISO100
 

Good Habit #1: Keep Your Pets in a Good Mood so They Smile Happily

 
Observation and communication are important when taking photos of pets, but it’s also equally important that you respect them for having emotions and preferences. Forcing them to pose and scolding will only result in dull photos of your pets looking expressionless. Instead of guiding them, playing wholeheartedly with them is considered more important. Forget about acting graceful and forget about the time when you play. That’s when the funny moments happen! Caption: A crazily happy dog
 

A crazily happy dog
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50mm f/1.4 USM 1/350 f/4.5 ISO400
 

Good Habit #2: Make Good Use of the Props Around You

 
Heartwarming photos are usually those capturing the everyday moments. Using “props” doesn’t necessarily mean nicely designed headgear or scarf collar. Taking photos of your pets is sometimes a process to re-discover the relationship between your pets and the stuff around them. Most of the time we don’t have to search for or create the funny moments. Just feel it with your heart. You’ll find so many to shoot in everyday life.
 

Pay more attention and you can capture the adorable moments from everyday life
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 28mm f/1.8 USM 1/250 f/3.5 ISO400

Good Habit #3: Increase the Controllable Elements

 
It’s of course good if your dog follows orders. But if he is too active to stay put and won’t listen to you when he is playing too hard, you have to put some barriers to restrict his movement or limit the direction he can go. For example, you can put your dog in a basket, surround him with a pile of cushions or cover up the way he escapes. If your pet is always avoiding the camera, you can make a rotating platform for him to sit on using floor mat or cushions. By doing so you can manually turn him to face the camera when the decisive moment comes.  
 

See how happy Chalky is when he is in the bath. By turning the basin carefully, you can adjust to the best angle
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50mm f/1.8 USM 1/180 f/1.8 ISO400
 

Good Habit #4: Try Different Ways to Get Their Attention

 

If you use snack all the time to get your pets photographed, you will only get one expression – gluttonous. Explore what strange sound you can make with your mouth and is not heard before, as this will make them look at you curiously. Animal sounds, ultra-high pitch sounds and blowing sounds can be very effective in getting their attention. Another way is to move an object swiftly around the camera lens, as dogs and cats are innate hunters and will not miss out on unknown moving objects. These several seconds of attention you get can greatly increase your chance of getting a good shot!

 

When dogs lay down to rest, a gentle sound or swift motion can help you take photos of them looking curiously
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 28mm f/1.8 USM 1/180 f/3.5 ISO100
 

Good Habit #5: Plan Ahead and Be Skillful to Get a Good Shot in One Go

 

To capture a good motion, you need to plan ahead well. Otherwise there is no guarantee for a good shot even if you press the shutter for a thousand times. The biggest challenges here are focusing and getting the face to look at the right direction. To be successful, you need to have the composition and route of movement in mind, and ask your family to help out on rehearsal and guiding. For example, by moving a toy from left to right and stop at an optimal preset location, you can be more certain about the focusing point and timing.

 

Plan the route of movement, the throwing direction and estimate the landing spot
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 70-200mm f/4 IS USM 1/1500 f/5.6 ISO400
 

Good Habit #6: Predict What Your Dog Will Do Next

 

Dogs move fast, and they change their mind even quicker. The moment you see your dog stretching and take out the camera, he is already by the window enjoying the streetscape. And when you chase after him to the window, he is no longer there but somewhere else. Our equipment takes time to response, so are we. If you think your photo is always “a second late” that you are missing out on the best timing, you can try pressing the shutter “half second earlier”.

 

I can anticipate the dog to lay down and tear the toy up when he finds out the toy. This allows me to plan ahead on the framing
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 50mm f/1.8 USM 1/180 f/4 ISO400
   

Good Habit #7: Be Agile and Complete the Impossible Mission

 

It takes effort to take a good shot. No matter how messy the scene is, how frustrated you feel, you have to keep your patience and continue to observe. Be agile, be wily and act fast.

 

The owner wants to take photo of two round faces staying close to each other. But the two don’t like it. So I ask the owner to hold them and lean forward. The result is this adorable photo with two noses and four staring eyes
EOS 5D Mark II | EF 28mm f/1.8 USM 1/180 f/6.7 ISO200
 

Taking photos of your pets every day is a lovely journey. We as human can learn from them how to enjoy life to its fullest!

 
 
 
About the Author Cass Shing-Biegala
With experience and sensitivity, she captures the valuable moments in each family. TV and Magazine interview her about the unique photography approach and the touching stories behind the scenes. Cass is now living in Poland building her own Casmati Village for city people to reconnect to nature and inner wisdom. Every year she make pet photography trips to HK and she loves to engage in private photo class at pet owner’s home
Website of her works :www.shingcass.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/shingcass/
 
 
 
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