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Old 8th of August 2011 (Mon)   #31
Jason L
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

If you are shooting a black dog outdoors, just meter off the blue sky. I have two black labs and this has always worked well for me, especially in the winter.
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Old 4th of December 2011 (Sun)   #32
mjordan
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

Dark and black dogs can be a real challenge. When I first started shooting black dogs, I kept trying to add more light thinking that would help, but usually all I got was a brighter black blob. Then I realized that black hair (or fur depending on the dog) is no different than shooting someone in a black tux or a dark skinned person. As it was mentioned earlier in this thread, it's not only exposure control but also light placement.

Black absorbs light, so you have to skim light across it to get detail to show up. Once I started putting my lights off to the side, I started getting a lot more detail out of the black haired dogs I was shooting.





Even with light colored objects in the scene as well:




With all of these I have a light at the camera position and one that is equal in strength angled to skim across the hair to provide detail. Outdoors, I try to get the sun light angled the same way, so that it skims across the dog, but with active dogs, I don't always have that choice, so I shoot for the shadows and let the highlights (background) do what it will and then I'll adjust if I can in Photoshop. This is why I always shoot in raw, so I have as much latitude as I can get. It can still be a challenge outdoors though if you are shooting active dogs and not posing them like indoors.

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Old 4th of December 2011 (Sun)   #33
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

The shadow / highlight tool in PS can be a real friend here. Turn the image into a smart object first as that will let you set the dynamic range for the adjustment.
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Old 4th of December 2011 (Sun)   #34
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

Nice images Mike

What you're saying fell on deaf ears early on in this thread.
Lighting black objects and skin and lighting white objects and skin require different methods. It's another lighting scenario that is so well covered in Light; Science and Magic.
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Old 4th of December 2011 (Sun)   #35
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

Very nice shots. The third one is great!

Seems to me those dogs aren't really black. There is a lot of light-colored hair in there and the hair doesn't seem very reflective. Still, I'm certainly not disagreeing with the approach. In fact, I'll try to take some shots of one of our cats using light from different angles and post comparisons.
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Old 4th of December 2011 (Sun)   #36
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

Windpig, Ive had that book for a lot of years and it does have some great information in it. I used it a lot when I started shooting glass a lot to work on controlling the reflections and hot spots.

Anton, yes, they have a grayish undercoat that shows through. It's actually part of their breeding so they would blend in with the Belgium fog (they are Belgium cattle herding dogs and were used a lot in WWI and WWII because they could sneak through enemy lines so well).

Thanks

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Old 15th of February 2012 (Wed)   #37
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

I have a black dog and most of the time I take one, adjust, take another etc etc.

I never use the flash on her, makes her look terrible. I hate the flash on anything.

These two were taken outside, with the afternoon sun behind me.
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Old 19th of February 2012 (Sun)   #38
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

This is what happens with flash on a wet Lab, lol.

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Old 30th of April 2012 (Mon)   #39
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

Black pets . . . that really is a challenge.

Here's my attempt with a black lab in the snow. Not blowing out his surroundings were tricky indeed!
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Old 4th of May 2012 (Fri)   #40
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

This one attempt with my black dog. I find that my camera has trouble focusing on her in low light, whereas it doesn't struggle at all with my golden. I try to focus on her eye, or her grey, and that seems to work. Any advice on that?

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Old 4th of May 2012 (Fri)   #41
Jason L
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

^^manual focus or keep doing what you are doing. The AF system needs contrast to focus, which there is very little of on a black dog. I usually just focus on the eyes since that is what you want to focus on anyways.
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Old 17th of May 2012 (Thu)   #42
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

I find that on a bright day, shooting in a shaded area seems to work. This isnt the greatest shot, but the color and detail of my dog is pretty good. I have decided that my next dog will be a golden retriever or a yellow lab though, because it really does suck trying to get a good shot of a black/white dog.

(before anyone says anything, I'm half teasing. I want a golden retriever for many good reasons, that just happens to fit in with it)

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Old 9th of December 2012 (Sun)   #43
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

IMG_6626.jpg
Dog: 1/250 sec at 5/9.0
ISO 200
Flash: Wireless Trigger, Speedlite 430EX II

IMG_4742.jpg
Cat: 1/50 sec at f/6.3
ISO 1600
Speedlite 430EX II on camera

Still improving but both have good detail of the black, just ignore the ugly background in the second photo.
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Old 31st of December 2012 (Mon)   #44
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

This is probably the best shot of my neighbour's dog I've ever managed... gotta love great sunshine... *grin*



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Old 31st of January 2013 (Thu)   #45
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Default Re: Photographing Black dogs (and cats)

Nice, Erik (?), the black coat just shines. You picked the direction of the sun just right. Happy dog too.

The ways to photograph black dogs and cats are bound only by our imagination, and the quality of the results are matter of personal taste. Here's an example of a black dog in snow. It was an unusually warm, foggy winter morning. Light had no direction, and contrast was minimal. I decided to try a shot of little Scarlett sitting on snow, with a foggy forest background. Catchlights in eyes from external flash on camera hotshoe in ETTL mode, flash exposure compensation around -1.5. RAW capture, manual exposure, aperture to blur the background somewhat, comfortable ISO. Took test shots of setting at various shutter speeds (not higher than camera sync speed, of course) until the snow just started to blow out by over-exposure. Sat the dog prettily and took a few shots. The first image below is straight from camera. Yechhh. But the pose was nice, so I cropped and fooled around with it in Photoshop, got the second image below. No directionality in the light, but I rather like it: Scarlett looks good.
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