Tuesday, November 24, 2015


In Part 1 it was all about natural light portraits outside—nothing better—and with horses and the guy with his car and dog it’s pretty much the only way; not many of us have studios that large! However, if you want to make a living in photography you must be able to go inside when the weather forces you or when the client requests a studio session. That being said, going inside does not mean being limited to studio flash. You can opt for natural light here as well. 

So, I’ll break down INSIDE into two parts:

Inside Portraits — Studio Flash

Using studio flash is very useful for pet photography for two important reasons: 
  1. Action: Studio flash will freeze the action of the most excitable animal and still maintain a nice low ISO.
  2. Depth-of-Field: Because of the power you have with a studio flash (as opposed to wimpy speed lights) you can use f11.0 or more for the depth-of-field you may want when photographing large animals or groups of animals with or without their owners.

f11.0 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 200
In the portrait above we had a very “antsy” cat. You can tell by the woman’s hair that there was some action here as she tried to control her Large cat! 

 f11.0 @ 1/160 sec., ISO 200
With small excitable dogs we like to place then on something, off the ground.  That way I get at least one image before they figure it’s OK to jump down!

 f9.0 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 200
Big black labs can be challenging to photograph.  First, I don’t have anything I can put them on so we do a sit and down pose, and if they will stay well we’d do this standing pose.

Second, I’ve seen many photographers have trouble pulling detail out of portraits of black labs. I don’t have much of a problem with them because I’m using a large 7 foot Photoflex, Octadome, as my main, that requires NO Fill Light. I added a 42” silver reflector, on the right, opposite the main. In addition there is a strip box (hair light) mounted to the ceiling and two background lights.

Inside Portraits — Natural Light

The only problem with doing natural light portraits indoors is that you will need to bump-up your ISO to get a usable shutter speed—especially if you’re hand holding the camera as I am. In addition with window light indoors you won’t be able to stop down as much as in the studio, so you’ll be giving up some depth-of-field. You can always use an even higher ISO, but at the expense of more noise; can your camera produce wall prints at ISO’s over 800?

f4.0 @ 1/800 sec., ISO 800, lens at 200mm
In this image of our Gadget, when she was a puppy, I needed a high shutter speed because; First, this little quadruped was quick! Second, to back-off and fill the frame @ 200mm and hand hold that lens required that shutter speed.  Her light was a very large 6x12 foot window about twelve feet away that was illuminated by clear blue sky, NOT direct sunlight. I don’t generally allow direct sunlight on my subjects. Still the light here is very hard and she’s got very small catch lights because, even with the very large window, at that distance window light becomes very hard. That’s why when we do people portraits by window light we place them within a couple feet of the window, giving us a large, soft, source.

f8.0 @ 1.200 sec., ISO 400, lens @85mm
One of my favorite ways to light people with their horses is by “barn light”! This is the light created by a large barn door open to sky light. Again NO direct sun!  The directional source you get with this large open door is very dramatic. Because of the volume of light coming through this large opening I was able to use my usual outdoor ISO of 400 and still use f8.0 of good depth-of-field.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions…’Till next week…

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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