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How to photograph your dog - camera settings and composition tips

Taking digital photographs of your pet dog can bring with it a whole set of new challenges. For starters they normally don't sit and pose for a portrait long enough for you to work out camera settings before capturing the perfect image. Therefore fully knowing your digital SLR camera and its limitations is important so you can photograph your pet dog candid style.

What digital SLR camera settings are best to use for dog photography?

One of the main problems photographers have when taking photos of their pets (especially if they are running) is that they normally move around, during or after they focus on a specific area. This is where a digital camera setting called AI Servo AF comes is really handy. AI Servo AF will continuously re-focus on the subject as it moves. After setting your camera to AI Servo AF (check manual) you then focus on your moving dog by pressing the shutter button half way down. Keep the AF point (red dot you see when looking through the viewfinder) on the dog and the focus will remain continuous.

Many pet photographers also prefer to use shutter priory, set on a speed fast enough to capture a moving animal. While others prefer sports mode. In sports mode, your camera will decide what shutter speed is fast enough for the situation.

Don't use a flash. Your digital cameras flash can frighten an unsuspecting pet. Therefore setting your camera to fully automatic where the flash will load if needed, isn't a good idea.

Composition Tips

1. Getting down on the dogs level is a good alternative to taking the photograph from above. Most of the time, looking down on your pet will result in unwanted top of head shots. Getting down on your dogs level also allows you to fill your frame and doesn't leave you with an image that looks like it was taken too far away.

2. Choose your location carefully to capture your dogs character or personality traits. If your dog is active, photograph him/her at the local park or beach. If they have a lazy personality, then photograph them in their sleeping basket.

dog photography

Dog Day found on flickr and photographed by whoshotya

3. Don't forget to have fun and encourage the playfullness in your pet. Dogs especially can be very playful which makes for wonderful photo's as shown below.

photograph of a dog

Coco found on flickr and photographed by robferblue

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