Shadow the rescue dog

Shadow is an amazing four-year-old black lab from the Franklin County Animal Shelter who found his people as a puppy. It was love at first sight. He's such a good boy that he retrieves his mom's daily newspaper for her so she can do her crossword puzzles. In fact, they don't get the Dispatch on Sundays so they re-wrap a previous newspaper and throw it in the yard for him to fetch so he never misses a day!

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I set up my lights in the living room and played with some black-on-black. Shadow knows "place" which is a pretty advanced dog command and executed it perfectly. What a good boy!

Look at this handsome boy! I can't get over how loving and happy he is all the time. The rest of the photos are with his family so I'm only sharing ONE here. Thanks for looking! If you'd like your sweet dog photographed, contact me now - I'd love to hear from you!

Franklin county rescue dog

Lev was a shelter dog who was rescued from the Franklin County Animal Shelter. He is two years old and his family wanted outdoor portraits to capture him "in the bloom of youth," as they put it.

dog photography Columbus ohio

Look at how well he did! His family was worried about him maybe running away when he was off leash so we kept the leash on and just took it out with the magic of Photoshop. Lev's human sister stood right behind me and helped grab his attention at the perfect moment. Great job, Lev! The rest of his photos are with his humans so I'm not sharing them on the internet. Just Lev, who clearly brought his A game to his portrait session. As the photos went on, he got more and more animated, and I got some priceless shots of him yawning right in the middle of his family's formal portraits, and licking his human sister's face. Those funny and sweet shots make for the most treasured portraits!

Want unique portraits of your beloved pet? Contact me now!

German shepherd puppy up for adoption

This handsome boy is up for adoption at the Franklin County Animal Shelter. What a winning grin! And look at those pearly white teeth! He's either very young or has been brushing and flossing diligently. I usually photograph more than a dozen dogs during an afternoon at the animal shelter and there are so many different looks and personalities that it's hard to feature just one pup! But for time's sake, here's this beautiful German shepherd.

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As anyone would expect, the personalities of the dogs at the animal shelter run the gamut - some are unsure, some are downright frightened, some are in pain recovering from surgery, some are suspicious of my camera or standing on a white plastic backdrop in front of a strange light. This handsome pup kept giving me the best smile, and when one ear went up at the sound of the squeaker, I knew it was going to be an awesome shot! I removed the person standing to his left (at the right of this photo) and his leash and the treats scattered around the mat in front of his paws. He had some eye goobers that got cleaned up in Photoshop, but that's standard treatment. The rest is just natural beauty. I doubt he will be in the shelter long because he is seriously loveable!

Adopt me

Each time I visit the Franklin County Animal Shelter to photograph the dogs there seems to be one who just grabs my heart and that I can't get out of my mind.

dog photography columbus ohio

This little black terrier was so frightened when he came in. He was pulling away from his handler and the rescue coordinator and slid on his belly into the room. He kept pushing himself on his belly right over to me. Then he stopped, curled up next to me for a second and let me rub his back, and then decided to climb up onto my lap. The rescue coordinator said he might need to go home with me. I can't tell you how much this dog instantly turned from scaredy cat to a loving and affectionate pup.

I can't stop thinking about him! If Colby would accept a second dog in her house (she won't - we've tried) I would have taken him with me right then. I hope he goes to a family who dotes on him and gives him all the attention and love he deserves. I hope that for all these dogs!

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Look at this happy boy! He looks like he has some husky in him. That one beautiful blue eye caught my attention. His other eye is half blue, half brown. He's certainly one of a kind. And that smile! He is going to be an active happy companion to some lucky family.

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I didn't get much time with this pup because he was too good at modeling! One shot with that big grin was all it took.

Please let me know if you adopt one of these pups -- I'd love to hear how they are doing!

Before and after editing

One of the most time-consuming parts of pet photography is retouching. I'm pretty type-A, must-have-everything-perfect before it leaves my computer. Whether it's stray dog hair on a person's sweater (by that I mean dog hair no longer attached to a dog, not necessarily hair from a stray dog), or eye goobers, or a distracting passerby in a park, I like to clean it up. Sometimes we're talking major Photoshop changes, and sometimes it's minor touch-ups on a pet's eyes to make them as beautiful in a photograph as they are in real life.

My husband always says that the best Photoshop is when you can't tell there's any Photoshop work done. Even without significant work, it takes me about 20-30 minutes per photo. One thing most people can't tell I do is remove any leashes - clients will even forget that we had their dogs completely restrained! There is one photo of a boxer in my dog portfolio with his leash on, but that was purposely left intact by request. He has a favorite leather leash and the photo of him in his front yard with the leash draped casually on the ground makes it look like he just got back from a walk, so it works! Typically, though, leashes come off and eyes get retouched and the texture of fur gets special treatment so darker dogs don't look like a black blob but rather have a beautiful rich coat. I have some magic I work on pet eyes to make them look wet and soulful, as the camera tends to flatten them and make them look dry, when we all know that animals have glossy, bright, moisture-rich eyes.

I thought I would post TWO examples of photographs before and after editing. First, our before picture - YIKES. Sorry, this is exactly why I don't usually show any before pictures!

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The tricky part of this shot is that I'm working with one light but I'm exposing for three different settings - the dogs, the sky, and the background and sides of the bridge. I tend to underexpose a little on shots like this so I can bring up the shadows and save some detail. Photographing both a light-colored dog and a dark-colored dog is a little tricky too - kind of like photographing a bride in her white gown next to the groom in his black tuxedo. It takes some practice!

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And voila! Color temperature adjustments, lighting and shadows adjusted, bringing out texture of fur and brightness in the eyes. I even had to go around some of the trees with a tiny brush to get between the delicate branches. Look at the before and after of those trees nearest the dogs - they were completely black at first glance in that original photo but thankfully I could salvage the detail and color in them. I knew there was a diamond under all that, it just took a lot of scrubbing and a little magic from modern digital processing!

This next photograph was from the Franklin County Animal Shelter. This big boy has been there for over three months, which is a long time for a dog there, so we gave him some extra special attention. He got a colorful jester-like scarf around his neck and some extra time with me in front of the camera to make sure we got the best photos possible. The animal shelter has each dog's portrait on its website so potential families can see the dogs from their own home - sometimes it feels a little like photographing someone for an online dating profile! I haven't done portraits for online dating but I feel this hopefulness from the session like "Maybe this will help you find The One!"

pet photography columbus ohio

We photograph dogs on a white sheet and every dog has a handler. This before photo shows our helper holding the leash. First things first, the leash has to go. Then the handler has to go as well. The tricky part is removing people, legs, and shoes from a photo without harming the natural shadows that occurred from my lighting set up and give the photo that beautiful, naturally occurring dimension. And it's not as easy as grabbing as brush in Photoshop, setting it to white, and starting to paint everything into white oblivion.

And here is our after shot. Notice the shadows, the leash, the nubby fur left intact around the crown of the head where the leash had intersected, and obviously a human removed!

before and after editing

It's tough to see on a small image but along with the leash and handler removal, background extension and shadow work, I also touched up his eyes by making them glossier, taking down some redness in the whites of his eyes, and removing a couple small eye goobers. Not a quick fix by any means but so worth it if it helps him get adopted!!

Check out more before-and-after blog posts of pets in our 52-week-challenge! Up next is Judy of Dog Biscuit Photos - keep clicking through everyone's entries and you'll wind up back here. Thanks for reading!

Franklin County animal shelter photography

Today was one of the most perfect days I can remember in a long time. Despite icy sleet and a general malaise in the air, it was a great day. I started before dawn with an hour at the gym, took my baby to a fun music class, and then spent a few hours this afternoon with homeless dogs at the Franklin County Animal Shelter, in Columbus Ohio. I had never been there, and I am certain that I will be going back. It was so fast-paced and fun and the volunteers were so appreciative of having the portraits taken of the dogs. It felt wonderful to play with dogs and do some good on a very dreary winter day.

pet photography columbus ohio

This black lab puppy against the white background seemed perfect for the 52 Week challenge. The theme this week is black and white, so it wasn't hard turning this photo into a black and white portrait. Those eyes! I love him. The toughest thing was not taking each dog home with me. If Colby was dog-friendly I'd have a house full of canines. These puppy's eyes keep speaking out to me. It takes all my willpower not to go back and load up my car with every one of them! The rest of the photos I took (in color) are up on the Franklin County Animal Shelter website.

Check out Kim Hollis of BARKography in Charlotte, North Carolina for the next entry in the 52 week challenge. Click through each blog post and eventually you'll be back here!

Max the Rottweiler puppy

I spent the evening with a dog in need. Max is a 9-month-old Rottweiler and was just days away from being put down at the shelter when a rescue stepped in and got him into foster care. Max has a pocket of fluid on his spine and needs surgery. Other than a bit of an odd gait, you wouldn't know that Max has these health issues. He is a happy goofy boy who LOVES sticks and branches in his foster family's yard. Look at this funny face!

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He runs and plays and sniffs and licks and brings over his ball like any other puppy. I am happy to share his lovely photographs. What a neat pup and I hope he heals quickly and gets into a forever home soon.

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Max is such an obedient dog. Even though he doesn't know stay or lie down yet, he knows sit and he automatically listened very well. So even though he didn't know what we were saying, it seemed he picked up on the tenor of our voices to stay or play or whatever we told him.

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He's such a happy soul. He does have a bit of a struggle walking regularly, but boy that doesn't stop his sweet little pup from running and chasing toys. Usually I find that dogs are very food-motivated, so treats are the best things ever to them. Max is stick-motivated! He just loved the small branches in the yard. Even when I would hold up his toy and tease him with it next to my camera lens, he would stay until I said he could have it. He may not know the words yet but he's well on his way to being fully obedience-trained.

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These eyes. Those are truly puppy dog eyes. That's the face of a sweet boy who wants his forever home.

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Max can't stop smiling!

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I certainly enjoyed our evening of fun together, Max. I hope someone sees your handsome face and adds you to their family right away.

If anyone wants to help Max, please check out The Dog Loft. He is being fostered by the family that owns this grooming company in southwest Columbus. Their website is here.