As a pet photographer, one of my goals, especially for my shelter pictures, is to get the dog (and sometimes a cat) to give the cute, adorable, all-appealing head tilt. No one can resist that, and that’s what we want to see an adoptable animal be – irresistible!
I can usually achieve a great head tilt with an interesting noise; however, not all dogs react. At the shelter, I have a couple of favorite noise makers and if I can’t get attention and, hopefully, a head tilt, with them, I usually move on as the dog is probably a bit timid and fearful. But sometimes you can get some great ones.
Below are what I call decent head tilts:
Below is what I call an extreme head tilt – love it!:
With cats, I don’t usually use noise makers as cats are more visual and will react to some type of movement. At the shelter, I have a great assistant and she knows what to do. But, sometimes, even though I may not use a noise maker, I do get an occasional kitty head tilt.
Below is what I would call a decent kitty head tilt:
If you are into food and what’s happening out there, epicurean-wise, have you ever heard of Dr. Terry Shintani? Well, in Hawaii, he started his popular “Hawaii Diet” in the late ’90s. He developed this diet especially for native Hawaiians who, unlike their ancestors, were obese (many morbidly), had high cholesterol and blood pressure. He feels that people spend too much money fighting the results of a poor diet. He looks on proper food as the best medicine and he promotes that medicine. You can go to Amazon to check out his books, shown below (click on each one)
What I want to share here is, not the philosophy or science behind his diet which you can check out on your own, but one of the recipes (shown below) that I re-discovered. You will notice that he doesn’t cook with oil or high-fats. While getting used to this may take time, both my husband and I enjoyed this one from the get-go. Try it…. it’s ONO-licious!
POTATO ZUCCHINI STEW (from the “Eat More, Weigh Less” Cookbook)
1-1/4 C Onion, chopped
1 stalk Celery, chopped
2 C Potatoes, cubed
¼ C Carrots, sliced
½ C Broccoli
½ C Zucchini, sliced
½ C Kale
¾ C Vegetable broth
1 clove Garlic, minced
½ tsp Salt, or to taste
½ tsp Paprika
½ tsp Dill
¼ C Red Wine
1-1/2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Spray nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat. Saute onions for 5 minutes in 3 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 10 more minutes or until done to taste. Makes 2 portions (1 portion – 338.9 calories, 1.4 grams fat, 12% protein, 79% carbohydrates, 4% fat)
This week’s topic is Catchlights. I never realized it until recently, but I am obsessed with making sure the pets I photograph have catchlights, even if I have to add them myself. Just a little light can add so much personality into the shot.
Below are two photos… one without catchlights and one with. Sweet 11-year old Oscar has very dark eyes and they just don’t grab the light easily. My own dog is the same. I learned in a workshop I attended last year that you can further enhance existing catchlights (very subtly) by using the history brush tool in Photoshop. We were actually in a church and a flash would have added those needed catchlights, but Oscar’s caretaker told me that he doesn’t like flash. So, what I did was use the clone tool and grabbed something light (either the white in his fur or the tile) and just dropped it lightly on his eyes. I think he has much more appeal with them.
One of the tenets of photography that can make a photograph compelling is leading lines… moving the viewer’s eyes toward the subject so as to spotlight the subject. Leading lines can be anything… train tracks, an architectural design, buildings, roads, trees, or, a pier on a body of water. This first photo has no pets, but it’s a great example of leading lines. I attended a polo match that was raising money for the shelter where my camera volunteers, and took this photo of the entrance. Believe it or not, this is private property, and it’s only the entrance!
The next photo is of Buddy, a recent client whose companions live on the Gulf of Mexico. It was a beautiful day – one of so few these past several months – so putting him near or on the pier seemed natural. I really wanted to place him in the center of the pier, but his owners said he didn’t like to go on the pier. While the lines may not be “leading” by the strict definition, they do help to spotlight the dog.
This week’s theme is “Framed”. By definition, “framing is the technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene.” I was photographying this gorgeous Great Dane, Reagan, at her parents’ home. They had a lot of pine trees around the house and I saw these two close enough together to think they could frame this beauty. The client loved it!
This week’s theme is Low Key. Of my five animals, my black cat, Momi (mo-me.. means “pearl” in Hawaiian) is my most cooperative model. She will stand where I place her while I attempt to get the shot. This time, because she was black, I wanted to capture her black on black. I placed a piece of black seamless paper on one of my walls, turned off the lights, and placed my TD6 light stand to the left of the set-up. I turned off 5 of the lights, and placed the softbox so that the light kind of skimmed in front of her, not aimed directly on her. Below are two results of that session.