BouviersÖ Itís not just a snap
Iíve been taking pictures of our
Bouviers since the first one, but Iíve found that it's not easy to
photograph a big, black, hairy dog so that the image doesn't come out looking
like a big, black, hairy blob.
When Chevelle, Mona and Sam came along about 6 years ago, I was still
using my trusty manual 35mm that I had bought back in 1974 when I was in the
Air Force. When outdoor pictures
started getting more and more underexposed, I realized that the built in light
meter was not functioning correctly anymore.
Iíd been considering getting a new camera for some time and that
seemed as good a reason as any. So
after looking over what was available I decided on the Canon Rebel G. The
Rebel is an auto focus and auto exposure camera that I hoped would make it
easier to take pictures. In a lot of
ways it does make it easier, but I found I was fighting the auto
features. With my manual camera,
I could focus, adjust the exposure, snap the picture and wind just as fast as
any auto everything availableÖ at least I felt I could. But with the Canon I found that I was missing a lot of shots
because of the small delay between when I pushed the shutter button and when
the camera actually snapped the picture.
In just those few micro seconds a picture can be lost, especially with
very active animals. This became
even more apparent when the first litter of puppies came along.
Once they start moving, you have to be fast on the trigger finger to
get the picture. I fought with
the Canon for almost 3 years, many times almost taking my old 35mm camera into
the repair shop to get it fixed. The
few times I did go back to my manual camera I found that the auto wind and
auto exposure features of the Canon had spoiled me.
With the manual camera I kept forgetting to wind until the shot was
passed. With a manual camera, it
doesnít matter how many times you press the button, itís only going to
click one time. <grin>
When the second litter came along I decided it was time to get serious
again. Also, I have been wanting to get into large format for a long
time and Sue happened to pick up an old, but usable, 4x5 camera at a garage
sale. It didnít have the film
backs, but it spurred my interest for large format again.
I now have two older 4x5 cameras that are mostly used to shoot Polaroid
to make tests of setups and lighting before I use the Canon.
I am in the process of setting up a black and white darkroom again and
plan to shoot black and white 4x5 film as well as 35mm film.
I've still not shot any 4x5 black and white, but I have done a few rolls of
35mm black and white. A couple of those pictures can be seen on the
With the second litter, I wanted to get better pictures than what I
could get with just a small flash. So
I bought a big studio mono light. Some
of my earlier attempts were not much better than the camera and flash had
been, but I saw I was on the right track.
By having a bigger light source, I was able to bring out some of
the detail in the hair of our Bouviers. They
actually started looking like dogs instead of black blobs. But it wasn't
consistent because there was still a number of things I didn't know about
taking pictures of black dogs.
I know most people are not interested in going to the lengths and the level that I am working towards. Most people just want to take better pictures of their dogs. A lot of what I've learned along the way can be used to improve the pictures that people take that are kept as memories of cherished pets for years to come.
On some of the following pages you will find examples of the pictures Iíve been taking. A lot of them will be of the same pose by the same dog with variations in the lighting, background or some other technical changes. Most of the pictures will have information on how I took them and what I was trying to do at the time and why the results either worked or didn't work. I have also put together a list of information on taking dog pictures. It isn't complete and it may not work in all situations, but some of the information should be useful to anyone interested in improving their pictures.