Natural light

One benefit in taking part of the 52 week photography challenge is pushing myself to try new angles, new ideas, and new locations. I didn't realize until this week's theme that it would challenge me by taking me BACK to where I started - and it's not easy!

This week we're featuring dogs in natural light. I spent the first year with my camera taking photos of anything I could in natural light, whether it was my own pup, a child, or a family. One reason it's so difficult now is that I typically use flash for everything and I can control for any kind of light in any kind of scene. I have super bright strobes, low-power speedlights, and every kind of modifier I can think of to prepare for all kinds of lighting situations. Natural light is its own beast because it's a lot of accounting for the right time of day, the right amount of shade, the perfect angle of subject, or the right quality of light.

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My secret when I have to photograph in natural light is getting close to the largest softbox I can find - a window! Here's Colby looking like a diva. She is a friendly, sweet, happy, goofy, clingy dog 99% of the time...until the camera comes out. Then she develops an attitude with me. She doesn't like to work! This look reminds me of the model who said she wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000 or something like that. Colby looks like she won't get out of bed for fewer than 10,000 bones.

We're in the 52-week dog photography challenge, so you can see more natural light photos from Jessica Wasik with Bark & Gold Photography, celebrating the joy and love between Pittsburgh pets and their people. Keep clicking through everyone's blog entries and you'll make your way back here. Thanks for reading!

Christmas tree paw prints

I've had this in my head for a while and was waiting for the right moment to take this portrait of Colby. I've seen this idea done at Valentine's Day with heart-shaped bokeh (bokeh is the blur in the background in photographs when the subject is sharp and the blur makes the subject really stand out) and even St. Patrick's Day with shamrocks. While we set up our Christmas tree I couldn't wait to try a special bokeh for Colby's holiday portrait - paw prints!

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It's not the easiest technique and required a lot of preparation. The challenge was getting Colby in focus but getting the tree nicely blurred and adding my paw print filter over the lens. I had to shoot in manual focus (where I was physically turning the lens) instead of auto because auto focus doesn't work in the dark! It was very very dark in the room until the flash fired, so I had to get it in focus manually. Also I had to worry about lighting just my pup and not having any spillover lighting on the tree. Finally, the hardest part is getting Colby Bear to sit still for more than one second so I could do all of the above at the same time! Yikes!

This took two nights to pull off just the one photograph. It's cute and a unique look but so challenging and time-consuming that I don't anticipate doing this often!

This is my first week participating in a dog photography blog circle. It ran all of 2016 and was appropriately called the 52 Weeks Project. Leave it to me to start the last week of the year - I'll be sure to do more weekly themed challenges in 2017! At the end of each blog entry in our blog circle the author links to the next person in line, so eventually one of the entries will circle back to my blog. The theme for week 52 was simply 'Holiday' so there will probably be lots of different approaches to pet portraits this week.

You can see more holiday photos with dogs around the country by clicking through this link - I Got the Shot photography - which will take you to an awesome dog photographer, Elaine Mueller Tweedy, in northeast Pennsylvania. It's always fun to see the imaginative ideas that other creative professionals come up with!