March 13th, 2015
Since my introductory post, I've been taking even more pet portraits. There's a definite challenge in terms of getting good posing (like newborn photography), since you can't talk to the subject. I like this challenge though, mostly because I love animals. If you start to get frustrated though, it's kind of game over. Pets sense your stress, and will get more skittish (which will just exacerbate the problem).
It's actually kind of fun just to play around with the dogs and cats, to get them comfortable enough with you to not be scared of the camera. Once you get there, posing is just a matter of cueing. With dogs and cats alike, treats are great, and by making the motion of having one, you can guide the gaze (which in turn guides the head).
Unlike normal portraits, shutter speed isn't limited by camera shake (1/focal length or higher). Instead, pets normally move around, and so higher shutter speeds are necessary unless you're looking for a purposefully blurry action shot. I generally don't go below 1/200sec for stationary pet portraits, and anything involving action stays at 1/1000sec or above.
This necessitates a fast lens, generally speaking. So, I either use a 50mm f/1.8 for very low light or fast movement, or a 100mm f/2.8 for reasonable light with minimal movement. In certain situations, I can get away with an f/4 like my 24-105mm or 70-200mm. In all of these, though, I'm trying to stay below ISO 1600 or so if possible (the minimum for noticeable noise on the 5D Mark III's sensor).
Have pets, or take pet portraits? Take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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Hope to see you back next time!