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Pet Photography 101: Tips for taking better photos of your dog or cat Paperback – October 8, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0240812151 ISBN-10: 0240812158 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (October 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240812158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240812151
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com Review

Product Description

Selected Tips from Pet Photography 101 by Andrew Darlow:

Tip #1 Should you buy a DSLR, or a high-end Point and Shoot (a.k.a. a compact camera) to photograph your pets and other family members? What about a camera that can do both stills and video? Andrew gives an overview of what's out there and how to find just the right camera (or cameras) for you and your family. He also covers tips for taking better photos with your camera phone/smartphone.

Tip #24 Learn how to find inexpensive, yet powerful handheld reflectors around the house, in your local hardware store or at another retailer, and find out what specific light stands and accessories you can use to hold them in place. Also learn techniques for using the sun as a "lightbulb in the sky."

Tip #49 Valuable tips for getting your pets to stand still so that you can get great photographs of them (this is the pet photography question Andrew is most frequently asked!). Other suggestions in this tip include ways to get your pets moving around in interesting ways for better still photos or video clips.

Tip #83 This tip covers an important yet often overlooked topic-organizing your photos. Andrew introduces the process and links to an online step-by-step tutorial with downloadable folders for keeping your images organized (whether you use Mac or Windows).

Tip #99 This tip covers the reasons why continuous-tone photo prints from a photo lab or retail store are a great option. It also includes additional resources, including a link to a 4 x 6-inch calibration file on the companion site to help make sure you are getting proper color, density and sharpness.

The book's companion site: www.PhotoPetTips.com, contains additional links, tips and information as well as free excerpts-including all of Chapter 2 as a free downloadable PDF.

* Professional results with easy and fun techniques for posing pets, lighting, post production and more!
* Loaded with adorable and inspirational photographs of pets
* Quirky and inviting tips showing you how to make your photos better!

Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Andrew Darlow, Author of Pet Photography 101

Dear Amazon Readers,

I love photography. And I love photographing dogs, cats and the people who love them. Photography has enabled me to capture so many of the memories of my own life and family members. It has also allowed me to photograph many of the people and pets I've had the opportunity to meet over the years, as well as the places I've been fortunate to visit. I've also photographed hundreds of other families and their pets, and the bonds I've observed between them always warms my heart and keeps me waiting anxiously for the next photo opportunity.

Being able to share my images and suggestions about how others can get better photos of their dogs, cats and other family members is a privilege, and my primary goal with this book is to help you capture the spirit and personality of your entire family in ways that you may not have thought about previously. If you take even one photo that is influenced by what you read in the book, and if that photograph brings a tear to your eye, a smile to your face, or helps you to remember a loved one for years to come in a special way, then I’ve done my job (hopefully, you’ll be creating many more than just one memorable photo after reading the book!).

All the best,
Andrew Darlow

A Look at Tip Excerpts from Pet Photography 101
(Photos © Andrew Darlow-www.photopettips.com)

Tip #14 Lower Your Perspective and Make Your Subject the Hero

To create what is known as a “hero shot” (so named because it often makes the subject look more majestic), all you need to do is lower your perspective so that you are a bit lower than the pet’s eye level (how low will depend on the pet, and experimentation is key). In this photo of a Weimaraner, photographed in a park on a partly cloudy day at about 1 p.m. in late December, his owner was right next to him when I took the shot. I cropped it to a square because I liked that look much more in this case. That’s a bonus tip that will be covered again in Tip 20 and other places throughout the book—use cropping to your advantage!

Tip #34 Include a Large Window or French Doors for Some Dramatic Looks

If you have a distinctive-looking picture window or French doors, try including them in your photos. If the light is not much brighter outside compared with inside, you can get a very nice overall look without losing detail on your subject. For this photo of a client’s Dalmatian, which I captured handheld at a beautiful home on a snowy day with a wide-angle lens, I just followed the dog around until she stopped to take a peek outside. I took at least 10 photos as she adjusted her tail here and there. Within just a few moments, she was on to her next adventure, which is common with pets, so it’s important to be prepared and shoot a lot when the moment is right.

Tip #36: Photograph Your Loved Ones Relaxing in Bed or on a Sofa Lit by Window Light

One of the best times to photograph furry friends and other family members is while they are relaxing on a sofa, the floor, or a bed. The window light found in many bedrooms and living rooms is beautiful. For this photo of a client and her four dogs (three Maltese and a mixed breed), the sun was streaming through a nearly wall-sized window (camera left), and provided most of the light. Some warm lightbulbs in the bedroom provided the rest of the light, and added to the warm look and feel. I placed my camera on a tripod so that I could focus manually and get the framing I liked. It wasn’t easy to get good expressions on all the dogs in just one photo, so I ended up borrowing from a few images and assembled them in Adobe Photoshop to get the results you see.

Tip #98: Create a Hand-Colored Look in Your Images

Hand-colored black-and-white prints have been popular for over 100 years. The look can be very striking and nostalgic, but you don’t need special paints or a paintbrush to do it. Almost any image editor will allow you to produce great-looking hand-colored images. The key is to use layers or other nondestructive workflow options so that you can revisit the image to increase or decrease saturation, change the overall colors, and adjust the masking if you’ve "painted outside the lines."

For this photo of a friend's cat, I liked the look of the cat but didn't like some of the strong colors in the background. I decided to retain some color by reducing the overall saturation in the image. I then just selected the cat's eyes and made them a more aqua color tone using Adobe Photoshop's Replace Color tool (go to "Image > Adjustments > Replace Color").

Tip #23 For Better Portraits, Use Flash When Shooting Outdoors

Electronic flash has many uses when outside. On the topic of “raccoon eyes,” which can occur when taking photos when the sun is high in the sky, there are a number of ways to avoid the problem. One way is by using fill flash when outdoors. Fill flash can be enabled in several ways: by using the small flash found on many point-and-shoot cameras; by using a DSLR’s pop-up flash; with a detachable, on-camera flash unit; or with an off-camera flash unit. The icon on most point-and-shoot cameras to turn on fill flash is usually a lightning bolt—press the flash button until you see the lightning bolt stay on.

A removable flash unit that sits in your camera’s hot shoe, or an off-camera flash are best for fill flash (or for flash in general when outside). That’s because you can separate your camera lens from the flash, which reduces the chance of red-eye (or green-eye, as is the case with many pets), plus you can create larger catch lights in your subjects’ eyes by using a diffuser over the flash, such as the LumiQuest BigBounce diffuser. An off-camera flash has the added benefit of allowing you to light from any angle.

I photographed this little girl and her Pug on a sunny day at about 1 P.M. in late August. An off-camera compact flash unit (Vivitar 285HV) was placed slightly camera right with a large diffuser about two feet (.6 meters) from the subjects. I used manual mode on the flash and camera to find the right balance between the natural light and flash.


".With the aid of this handy guide, photographers of all skill levels can produce heartwarming shots that are certain to delight any pet parent. Andrew Darlow offers advice on composition, lighting, setting up fun shots, and printing the best quality images so you can produce top-quality work that will set you ahead of the pack." -Shutterbug Magazine

"At last, a photography book for our changing times and equipment. As uncomplicated or sophisticated as you desire, depending on your camera and curiosity. Whipped cream on the cake; for the best photos you want. Highly useful and most enjoyable." - Mordecai Siegal, author and photographer

"One of life's greatest joys is our pets. Dogs, cats, and other animals represent love, joy, and boundless fun. Bravo to Andrew for creating an inspiring book! Just follow his guidance and you're unleashed to creating works of art. As a celebrity pet photographer, I believe the book identifies great tips. Wishing you joy & wags!" - Lori A. Cheung & Flash, the chiweenie (chihuahua-dachshund), thePetPhotographer.com

"After the photo shoot, you can put the photos up on a site that helps photographers display and sell their prints and other products, but it's even better to meet with people in person if possible at your studio or their home."--ShutterMomBlog.com

Customer Reviews

I love this book and flip through it all the time to get new ideas for taking pictures of our pets.
Kimberly D. Gauthier
Having a companion website that provides additional information and resources for the beginner adds to the value of the book.
Thomas Hubbard
The book is easy to read, with great suggestions, technical details, photos that demonstrate each tip, and humor to boot.
Linda B

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Hubbard on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Obviously, we all look at books differently, and we all open a new book with a degree of preconceived expectations. I tried to place myself in the shoes of a beginning digital photographer who has a passion for pet photography. From this viewpoint, Pet Photography 101, works very well. The tips provided will certainly improve a beginner's Pet Photography and provide insights into the technical aspects of photography that impact the final image.

As a primer on Pet Photography, I did not expect this book to provide an in-depth explanation of all the concepts of composition or camera functions. Those are topics that are covered very well in other topic-specific, photo-educational books. This book does point out those topics so that beginners will be able to identify areas of photography that they need to focus more of their educational energies to master. For the beginner, this book provides an excellent starting point for immediately improving their pet photography and for furthering their photographic education.

Having a companion website that provides additional information and resources for the beginner adds to the value of the book. Photography can be complicated, but Andrew has done an excellent job of providing a Primer that can be easily read, understood and appreciated by anyone with a love for pets and photography. Pet Photography 101 by Andrew Darlow is definitely "book shelf worthy".
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Wussow VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was hoping that this book would be a primer which would help me to get better shots of my dogs and cats with my point-and-shoot digital camera. I needed information on altering depth of field to focus attention on the subject and not the background, advice on getting better action shots, and maybe some tips on setting up props or getting on different levels to capture unique angles. The "101" in the title led me to believe that such were the subjects of the book. Rather, it should have read: "Pet Photography: 101 Tips..." for that is what it contains - 101 tips on various, unrelated subjects. The book lacks cohesion, and jumps from simple subjects such as "Tip 16: Go For The Overhead View" to "Tip #86: Consider a RAW Processing and Workflow Application".

The introduction was written by Karen Quigley, owner of Elwood, the winner of the 2007 World's Ugliest Dog Contest. Unfortunately, shots of Elwood abound in this book, and although I'm sure he is charming, looking at his disfigurement makes me uncomfortable. Other shots seem to be of friends' and neighbors' dogs, perhaps all shot on the same day in order to have material with which to publish the book? It seems mashed-together somehow, and the frequent references to "more information on the companion website" leads me to believe the book was culled from tips on the site, and published to direct traffic back TO the site, though I will not venture a guess at what benefit the author may receive from having hundreds of links published there...

Of the many photographs, there are perhaps two which I could not have taken myself... and many, many more which I would have taken better. It looks like a family snapshot album in places.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Grose VINE VOICE on December 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have to say, I was expecting better things from this book. I'm a fairly experienced photographer, and this book made me double-take.

The problem with this book is that it's not motivating at all. When I look at beautiful photographs, no matter what they are, I want to be moved in some way. I can't say that feeling took hold for any picture in this book. Some of the photos are just downright awful. Poorly composed, poorly shot, blurry. Heck, there's even a photo in this book taken with an iPhone that is just terrible.

In any case, unless you've never taken a photo before, don't bother with this book. It doesn't feel like a professional work, but rather just a collection of photos that random people sent in and were put in a book. Amusingly, there are a few studio-type shots in the collection, and when you see them they stand out SO much that it just makes the rest of the photos that much more amateurish and well... obviously bad in comparison!

Honestly, you'd be more inspired by buying a pet calendar with a different pet on each page....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ck TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With kids and pets and multiple cameras, I'm squarely in the crosshairs of Andrew Darlow and his latest book. "Pet Photography 101" begins with the premise that the dogs and cats with which we spend our days have distinctive and engaging personalities, and details ways of thinking and seeing moments in their lives that are worth preserving.

Darlow is a professional photographer who has devoted years to portraiture, capturing moments of whimsy and conveying subjects' personalities. It just so happens that his sitters tend to have four feet and tails. Darlow explains that his goal is to capture the spirit of each subject, and thus his work -- and his tips -- definitely are applicable not just to making photographs of pets but of people, as well.

I field-tested this book with the help of my daughter and multiple cameras. She used a pocket digital camera, the camera on her cell phone and occasionally a digital SLR. I worked with a pocket digital camera I use for snaps and record-keeping, as well as two digital SLRs, one of them an older camera with a lens that pivots 90 degrees, which helped immensely with "candid" shots.

My daughter's approach to photography had been so carefree that she often was disappointed with the resulting images. Therefore, I had been working with her about "seeing" more clearly; in other words, on thinking and feeling composition and reflecting on the stories she wanted her photographs to tell. Thanks to Darlow's words, field notes and images, she was motivated to "see" as an artist and a chronicler. We attribute this to the information Darlow provides, as well as the personality that permeates the book. I am an old-school shutterbug, from the days of buying 35mm film in bulk and loading, developing and printing my own.
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More About the Author

Andrew Darlow is a photographer, author and digital imaging consultant. He has lectured and conducted seminars and workshops around the world at photo-related conferences, and for photography organizations, including the Advertising Photographers of America (APA), The Center for Fine Art Photography, the Arles Photo Festival and the International Center of Photography (ICP). His editorial and fine-art work have been featured in numerous magazines, including Photo District News, PDN Gear Guide, Popular Photography, Professional Photographer, Rangefinder and Woman's World. His work has been widely exhibited and his prints are held in many private collections.

Darlow is editor of The Imaging Buffet (www.imagingbuffet.com), an online resource with news, reviews, and interviews covering the subjects of photography, printing, and new media. His book, "301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques: An Essential Printing Resource for Photographers" (Course Technology, PTR) was chosen as the winner in the "Photography: Instructional/How-To" category of The National Best Books Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. For more information, visit the book's companion site at http://www.inkjettips.com.

Darlow's love of cats and dogs began at a very young age, and his photographs of canines and felines have played an important role in his career. His pet photography has been featured in many publications, including Animal Fair magazine, The Home News Tribune (New Jersey), and The AKC Gazette, the official publication of the American Kennel Club. In his newest book, "Biscuit for Your Thoughts," his dog portraits are paired with canine-inspired photographs from more than 15 years as a professional photographer.

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