Picture your pet

By Karen Rorie

For many people, pets are members of the family, so including them on holiday cards or in the family album is only natural. Here are some tips for capturing your pet’s personality on film:

• Turn off your flash: Light from a flash can cause pets’ eyes to glow. Natural lighting can prevent this problem. "Get them near window light so you don’t have to use the flash and you can see their pretty eyes," says Kelly Schoeberl of Olive Juice Studios. Schoeberl and her husband, Scott, include pets as one of the specialties at their Rochester studio.

• Get down to their level: Photographing pets is like photographing kids. Be prepared to crawl on the floor whether you’re getting pictures of your two-legged kids or your four-legged ones, Schoeberl says.


• Let your pet choose the setting: People tend to have an idea of the perfect photo, particularly for their holiday cards, but actually getting that photo may prove impossible. "Go where your animal is most comfortable," Schoeberl says. That may be the cushion where she naps rather than sitting by the fireplace. You can still include every family member, even if you can’t get that fairy tale group shot. "You just design your card to have a photo of each of them on separate sides or flaps," she says.

• Anticipate the action: If you want a shot of your pet in action, anticipate his movement. "Before he even jumps, start pressing the shutter release," Schoeberl says. Cameras have a delay, so starting to shoot before the dog leaves the ground lets you catch the action at its peak.

• Don’t be afraid of digital: "The more you shoot, the better your chances are of getting the photo that you want," Schoeberl says. It may take 25 or 30 tries to get the perfect shot. If you use film, you’ll pay to process every shot. With digital, you can instantly view shots and delete the ones you don’t like.

People have the idea that digital photos aren’t as good as film, but with a little know-how, your digital photos can be great. "There’s a lot of after-processing that the photo lab used to do for you," Schoeberl says. You have to do the color correction yourself with photo editing software to make the final prints look their best.

Editing software can also help with composition of the photo. You can use cropping to highlight your pet’s favorite feature — his nose, beard or tail, for example. With any camera, if you get too close, photos will be out of focus. To work around your camera’s limitation, take a wider shot and crop it to create a close up.

Make sure your camera is set at the largest file size or resolution possible. This will give you a higher-quality print. You may have to break out the manual, but the results will be worth it, Schoeberl says.

Karen Rorie is a Rochester freelance writer.

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