Let There Be Light!

As photographers, to us, light can be what spinach is to Popeye as easily as what Kryptonite is to Superman.

We shoot at it, with it, bend, reflect and diffuse it. Learn to utilise light and your creative spark can flourish.

A quick guide around your camera.

Before starting, a brief look around your camera may give you a better understanding of what all the numbers mean.

Modern cameras make 'light' work; sorry, I couldn’t help myself, of the huge array of conditions we face. By using settings to suit, we can even capture photos in the darkest depths of the Forbidden Forest (Harry Potter fans can relate).

ISO – Your cameras light sensor, the higher the number, the brighter your photo will be.

In an ideal world, we would only shoot at ISO 100, giving the highest possible image quality, however, the world is often less than ideal. Modern cameras can handle huge ISO numbers, even 50,000+ so you don't need to worry.

Aperture – Represented by an 'f' number, this determines your depth of field as well as controls light entering the camera.

The lower the number, the wider open your lens is and the shallower the depth of field, the higher the number, less light will pass and the depth of field will be greater.

Don’t worry if that was a little brief, all will be revealed in a dedicated blog, if it was too heavy then I apologise!

Backlit Goldens in London's Whippendell Wood.


What lights!? A catchlight is a twinkle in the eye, literally. Take a look in a mirror whilst standing in front of a window and see a glint in your eye? That’s it. The eyes are just reflecting whatever is around us, be it a window, the sky or artificial lighting, photographing them with a light source behind you will create this.

Eye contact draws us in, shares emotion and tells a story. A shot can be wonderful yet missing something, so small you may not even notice yet having a catchlight in your model's eye can bring them to life.

Taken in a dimly lit London department store, we used to shop lighting to add a little pop to Gizmo’s already impressive Magnum stare. (Note: catchlight was removed by editing to show an example.)

@Gizmo_uk the Chi posing in Liberty London.

Try - taking a photo of your ever-obliging model with a window behind you, then repeat wide on. You will see how this creates a catchlight and add a little extra to a photo.

Backlit Floof

Create something straight off the cover of a Madonna album and add backlight!

Textbooks may tell you to always have the sun or light source behind you, but have they tried creating the ultimate backlit tail floof? It will give a halo around your model that not only draws the eye but also adds a dramatic edge to your shots.

Photographing a backlit dog model.  @the_daxie_trouble
Canon 1Dx, 70-20 f/2.8L II. 1/250, f2.8 @ 70mm. ISO 250 @the_daxie_trouble

Monty, Barney and Benji, pictured, are wonderful models in their own right. Having the low winters sun behind them, we were able to add drama whilst highlighting the outer edges of their fur.

Camera setting for photographing black dogs. @pedro.the.cocker.spaniel
Canon 1DX ii, 70-200 f/2.8 L II. 1/800 f/2.8 @ 70mm. ISO 250

Black Dogs

Notoriously tricky yet oh so beautiful, black woofers shouldn’t make you cower and wince at the mere thought of photographing them. Get it right and no longer will you end up with a black, featureless blob; and yes, that is coming from experience!

Black dogs can be a joy to work with, taking on a majestic elegance without even trying. Being so dark however, often you may find taking photos on a bright day is a little tricky.

Your camera or phone can struggle with the contrast between light and dark, with either the shadows being too dark; under-exposed, or the highlights being blown out; over-exposed.

Photo of @pedro.the.cocker.spaniel

I aim to slightly under-expose by -1 stop, this will be shown on your camera light meter as pictured. I can then lift the shadows during editing.

Try - shooting with light behind you, with a backdrop of relative cover. You will have the best chance of their features being evenly lit whilst not losing detail.

Photographing dogs using light
Pickle the Doodle - 1DX ii, 16-36mm f/2.8L II, 1/200 f/2.8 @ 17mm. ISO 100

Light may be a hurdle but as a photographer, it is our biggest ally. We use it every single time the camera or your phone comes out so make sure you embrace it!

I loved seeing your portraits following the last blog so if you feel like treating your fur babies to another photoshoot (silly question) then pease send over the results.

As always, thank you for reading, stay safe and give your floof a belly rub from me.


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