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A Very Tough Puppy Shoot #35439
06/10/11 09:57 PM
06/10/11 09:57 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Diane Offline OP
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Diane  Offline OP
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Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Hi all. I haven't been around for a long time, but I have been lurking a bit. It's time for some critique. I was recently hired to photograph some 6-week old poodle puppies for a friend of mine. Great, I thought. I'd love to. The shoot was at her house, and I had my traveling makeshift backdrop kit. The shoot took place entirely in the room where the eight puppies lived (a converted living room) with the rest of the 6 dogs running around like a predominantly uncontrolled pack. There was no table, and I didn't bring one, so I sat on the floor, a poorly mopped, puppy mess of a floor. It was disgusting. I only shot from one vantage point, and that was that. I wasn't going to slither around the floor chasing the puppies. The woman who "assisted" me, a friend of the puppies owner, was a total moron, and I had to tell her repeatedly to get out of the shot. I did get a few rather acceptable images, one of which I am posting here.

The hardest thing was getting the puppies to look up. They kept looking down to the floor to step away from the basket they were in to get out of it. Just getting an eye shot was considered a win.

Your thoughts on this image. Frankly, I'm kind of happy with it, but I wish I had both eyes, and I wish the puppy was looking up. Any and all advice and critique is hugely welcome. TIA.


Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35441
06/11/11 12:22 PM
06/11/11 12:22 PM
Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
Jim Poor Offline
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Jim Poor  Offline
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Virginia, USA
Wow, tough conditions.

I'd have insisted on a change in location or a clean up and that the other dogs be removed.

The puppy is cute and the composition is nice for the look. I don't care for the uneven background lighting or the shadow cast from the puppy onto the background.

Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35443
06/11/11 01:17 PM
06/11/11 01:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Well, it's easy to say "always go prepared" but sometimes you just can't. We have a friend who recently had a Rottie litter and whenever we're together, she expects me to shoot the pups. And the conditions are almost always as you described. So, I take them outside and let them play while I lay on the grass and eventually they come and play with me as well and we get some really cute stuff. The best advice I can offer is always have someone who can "bait" the puppies and whom the puppies will react to. Use anything you can to get their attention -- toys, rude mouth noises, whatever. And find someplace that is acceptable for being in your images. Oh, and clean the puppies up. I've washed my fair share of puppies that weren't mine (and all the ones that were) and that makes a huge difference especially with white dogs.

Good luck.


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35445
06/11/11 03:04 PM
06/11/11 03:04 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Diane Offline OP
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Diane  Offline OP
Journeyman

Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Thanks, Jims. It was a ridiculous situation, and one I will not get myself into again. I wanted to take the pups outside, but the owner said they were not vaccinated yet, so she wouldn't. The woman "helping" me, didn't understand that she was supposed to stay out of the freakin' shot. I got tired of telling her that. They kept putting the other dogs upstairs, but gee wiz!!! They kept screaming, "Who let the dogs back down??" Well, duh.......

Essentially, I just gave up, got a few shots that were acceptable, even if not by your standards, which admittedly I'm not there anyway, and blew out of there. The images are on my website, and she'll pay for those portraits. Whatever. I sure hope my next shoot will be better, and I will insist on some things. If not possible, then screw it.... I'll just leave.

Every time I do a shoot like this, I learn something new. I've also learned that aside from the great shots that you all get, which I hope to achieve some day, people don't seem to really care that much. They want shots of their beloved pets, and don't have the eye or knowledge to critique them in any meaningful way. Having said that, I refuse to make it a habit to shoot substandard images. I do have some self respect after all. :-)

Again, thanks.

Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Jim Poor] #35446
06/11/11 03:09 PM
06/11/11 03:09 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Diane Offline OP
Journeyman
Diane  Offline OP
Journeyman

Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: Jim Poor
Wow, tough conditions.

......

The puppy is cute and the composition is nice for the look. I don't care for the uneven background lighting or the shadow cast from the puppy onto the background.


Interesting. I didn't have a problem with the uneven background as much as with the shadow. I shot with a flash, and bounced it with a better bounce card arrangement. What are your suggestions for eliminating that shadow, absent studio lighting and using flash only? Is it even possible? I tried to shoot without the flash, and bump up the ISO, but I couldn't get enough shutter speed, and the pups were moving too fast.

As you can tell, I'm in deep learning mode......

Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35447
06/11/11 03:13 PM
06/11/11 03:13 PM
Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
Jim Poor Offline
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Jim Poor  Offline
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Joined: May 2008
Virginia, USA
You can move your flash off camera (assuming it's not a pop-up) and trigger it remotely.

You can also move your subject further from the background to get rid of the shadow.

Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35448
06/11/11 03:38 PM
06/11/11 03:38 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Jim Garvie  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2005
Florida
Diane,
it's more about your standards than those of the people you shoot for. But sometimes you just have to make do. As Jim Poor says, you can use flash off-camera, move your pups away from the background and a lot of other things but shooting puppies is best in either a totally controlled environment -- like your own studio -- or outdoors where you don't have to deal with lighting issues. How old are these pups? We do the first set of shots at 5 weeks of age and the second round just before they leave at 8 weeks. So, once the pups are weaned, they have been vaccinated and they go outside. Ironically, they probably have better immunity from their mom at 3 to 4 weeks but we don't take chances since Rotties have very weak immunity to Parvo.


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35457
06/12/11 06:27 PM
06/12/11 06:27 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Diane Offline OP
Journeyman
Diane  Offline OP
Journeyman

Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Yup, pretty simple answers. Off camera flash and moving away from the bg is obvious. I guess I was in this little room with no place to go. The pups were 6 weeks old, and probably would get their shots very soon. Outdoors would have been ideal. Needless to say, I'd demand a more controlled environment in the future. I struggled.

Having said all that, I hope my friend likes the shots. I hope they serve her well in finding homes for these guys. Anyone want a poodle puppy?

Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35458
06/12/11 06:32 PM
06/12/11 06:32 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
AR
W
Wagsmore Offline
Wanderer
Wagsmore  Offline
Wanderer
W

Joined: Mar 2011
AR
Puppies are tough. I always carry a few things with me to help. 1) Treats. Usually Nature's Balance sausage cut up into small pieces. 2) Baskets in different sizes. Putting the puppies in something to contain them makes it much easier. 3) Something colorful. Pillows, rugs, throws. Just something I can drop in to add a punch of color. 4) Off camera flash and soft box. I use the Doug Box < http://dougbox.com/shop/index.php?p=product&id=14 > but there are plenty of others out there.

Re: A Very Tough Puppy Shoot [Re: Diane] #35475
06/13/11 10:22 PM
06/13/11 10:22 PM
Joined: Jun 2005
TN
Julie Offline
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Julie  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2005
TN
My puppies go out in my yard starting at about 3.5w old. Not for long, as they don't really like it until about 4.5w. Its the same germs in the yard, from the same dogs that are in the house. I don't take them places as they can get sick. I don't start vaccinations until 8w, as maternal antibody interference is too high. Puppies are for sure immune to parvo/distemper until their third set of shots at 16w. Before then its a crapshoot whether the other shots have given immunity.

As far as the conditions, well, I dunno. I am pretty pushy and would have told them what I needed them to do and expected them to do it.

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