How Yorkies do Portraits

December 25, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Pet photography is a thing - just search with Google or Bing for pet photographers near you and you will surely find a few.  Pets are part of the family and it is important to capture the short time we have with them on this earth.

This may be to late for you this Christmas, but you can practice these shots any time of the year or you can use these tips for pet photography in general.  In my case, my young Yorkie is about 8 months and full of energy.  In his mind, this was all fun and games, and playing with the lights was on the agenda.   I took these photos by myself so I did some things to automate the picture taking.

I knew I was going to be battling to get my Yorkie to sit nicely for the lights and actually never got the "calm" shot I wanted.  Some tips for posing the dog that I have heard on some photography podcasts is to use a leash and to minimize the amount the leash overlaps with the dog.  You will be photoshopping the leash out later, so don't let the leash lay across the dog's back.  Instead, hold the leash so it is a vertical line going straight up.  Also, if you are going with the photoshopping to remove the leash, try to have a simple background.  Or, in my case, there was no control of my Yorkie with or without the leash so I relented and accepted that the "calm" photo was not meant to be.

I tried two different flash techniques and found my second to be better than my first choice.  My first choice was an on-camera canon flash and you will recognize them from the duller look of the photos.  My second choice was off-camera flash with my godox 200 pro and trigger.  Those with the off-camera flash are much more vibrant.  I did not do much post-processing so that you can see the difference.

I put my godox flash in a softbox as well, so the on-camera flash really didn't have a chance.  As energetic as my Yorkie was, I had to keep the softbox about 3 feet away so he would not knock it over.

My camera is a Canon 5D Mark IV and is on a platypod on the floor.  My camera has a built-in intervalometer that allows me to set the camera to take a series of photos at predetermined intervals.  It took me a while to figure this out and maybe this will help someone as well.  At first, I thought I had to define the number of photos to take with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 99.  While I did not need 99 for this shoot, it would be nice to have an option for greater than 99 if I ever need it.  I find it hard to know how many photos I want to take.  So, if you set the number of photos to zero it won't stop until you stop it.  The only way I have found to stop it is by shutting off the camera.  I set the number of photos to take to zero and set the interval to 5 seconds and began wrestling my dog.

The first two photos are an introduction of Zeus my Yorkie to the Christmas lights and using my on-camera flash.  These are the only two calm photos.

Yorkie and Christmas lightsIntroducing lightsIntroducing lights Yorkie and Christmas lightsIntroducing lightsIntroducing lights

The next two photos are also taken with an on-camera flash and I still was not impressed with the lighting.  Zeus was not impressed with anything and the battle began to get harder with me trying to get him to sit nicely and get a cool photo.   Zeus had other things in mind.

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It was time to get out my godox flash with trigger and my softbox to get better coverage with the flash.  Notice the difference with this flash on how well it not only makes the colors stand out but how it also provides much better coverage of the area.  Zeus was still not impressed and still was not cooperating.

I started with the Christmas lights draped over him and plugged in.  He began biting the lights and the chords and then rolled over as I fought to keep them out of his mouth.

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For both of our's safety, I unplugged the lights.  Now I only needed to keep the bulbs out of his mouth and not worry about the chord and getting electrocuted.  You can see here, Zeus appears to be settling down and may let me snap a few shots.  Maybe.

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Here, Zeus is still twisting and turning and biting and growling, but it is all in fun.  Just like his chew toys, he is playing tug-a-war with me.  Zeus broke free a couple of times and ran around the room avoiding my light stand with my godox flash with a softbox and my camera on the platypod.  Photos are happening every 5 seconds which the godox flash can handle that speed without any issue.

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The final photo is probably my favorite and shared on social media.  He looks like he is about to take a chunk out of my hand, but he is just playing and did not bite me even once during this ordeal.

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I am glad you found my blog.  I am a photographer with a passion for awesome shots.  I go to great lengths to capture many of my photos.  I will re-visit a location over and over knowing there is a spectacular photo just waiting to be had if I am there at the right time.   I also enjoy finding how to do some abstract projects (check out my time-lapse post) and will be writing about them.

Send me a note via my contact page for some projects you would like to see me try and write about.  I am not afraid to try almost any project.  Doing the obscure forces me to do things that I don't do with the typical photo shoot and helps me learn even more.