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03-26-2009, 02:38 PM   #1
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Lens inputs on big dog portrait tomorrow

I was testing my Vivitar/Komine 200mm f/3.5 in K mount with Pentax F-1.7x . I shot flying planes and bokeh shots on flowers.


Vivitar/Komine 200mm f/3.5 with
Pentax F-1.7x AF TC
testing on bokeh




Test 1.7x TC on infinity objects
comparing with
Soligor 200mm f/2.8 + 2x Kiron multiplier
cropped



And I met a dog owner who requested me to help him with portraits on his dogs right on the spot. I obviously didn't have the right lens but the 340mm TC setup mounted on my camera. I scrambled for few test shots for him in both 340mm combo or the 200mm Komine lens alone and promised for a re-shoot tomorrow.





blur/off focus





I need suggestions for a retake of those dogs portraits, I have these to bring, please comment on the given lens choice and the tips for dogs' portaits
  • Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8
  • Tamron 28-75 f/2.8
  • Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8
  • Pentax FA 50 f/1.4

Environment is similar with gravel ground and very plain background with some grassy area




Thanks,
Hin


Last edited by hinman; 03-26-2009 at 04:05 PM.
03-26-2009, 03:11 PM   #2
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When I get a cool new fast prime, my first test photo is usually of one of my (small) dogs. Wide open usually makes for a less desirable photo, because the whole head won't be in focus. So adjust your depth of field for at least the whole dog head.

On my camera, a dark subject surrounded by lighter areas will always underexpose, from 0.5 to 1 stop.

A toy that squeaks is great for getting a good dog expression. Most dogs respond to that with interest and curiosity.

All those lenses should work but a zoom will give you greater flexibility. You might need that since they are dogs and not entirely predictable. The DA*50-135 would be my first choice.
03-26-2009, 04:18 PM   #3
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Thank you Dave for the suggestion and tips. At first I thought the 200mm is too long for the portraits but it seems quite alright to get a close up on the dogs facial expression. I would imagine the 70 to 135mm will do well tomorrow when I can get closer to them.

I will use my DA 50-135mm f/2.8 as the main lens, backup with a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 for group shot with a wider angle with the owner. The owner will bring 3 dogs tomorrow and he runs a business in farming and training K9 and Doberman. I took a shot of him and his big dogs and when he approaches me, I first thought I would be in some sort of trouble. He is a nice gentlemen that every photographer and animal lovers will love to make friends with.

The toy idea serves me well, I hope they don't bark at me. Those are big doggy.
03-26-2009, 10:57 PM   #4
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I would also take the 50-135 (if I had one).

My friend uses a laser pointer on his dog. It will chase that laser dot for hours. The small red dot is really easy to edit out in PP as well.

03-27-2009, 01:03 AM   #5
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Been doing animal portraits for the past year professionally, and with the gear I have, I found the most useful to be the 16-50. I tried the 50-135, but it was too long since I had to wave a toy or biscuit on top of the lens so the dog would look at me... I've been bitten once though, working at such a distance LOL... but as long as the owner is nearby, you're good...
03-27-2009, 03:04 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by edl Quote
I would also take the 50-135 (if I had one).

My friend uses a laser pointer on his dog. It will chase that laser dot for hours. The small red dot is really easy to edit out in PP as well.
Thanks for the comment. I did end up using Pentax DA* my 50-135mm f/2.8 as the main lens.

QuoteOriginally posted by leadbelly Quote
Been doing animal portraits for the past year professionally, and with the gear I have, I found the most useful to be the 16-50. I tried the 50-135, but it was too long since I had to wave a toy or biscuit on top of the lens so the dog would look at me... I've been bitten once though, working at such a distance LOL... but as long as the owner is nearby, you're good...
Thanks for the inputs and valuable comment. I ended up using most shots with DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 and some with Sigma 105mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro. The female is very protective and cautious of me and I can't get too close as warned by the owner. They are trained dog that can be warm and friendly but they can also become ferocious in game playing or when they think that are under attacks. And I did take his advice not to get too close

Thanks,
Hin

Last edited by hinman; 03-27-2009 at 07:13 PM.
03-27-2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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Few shots to share. I made quite a number of mistakes in the framing cutting the ear and legs a bit. The dogs are quite big and the lighting is quite harsh on the black doberman.


with Pentax DA* 50-135mm f/2.8

Male
The friendlier one




with Sigma 105mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro

Female
The more cautious one



Here are my difficulties & mistakes
  • harsh lighting around 9:30am create a lot of shadows
  • can't get too close due to safety
  • black color while the gravel are shinning bright
  • dogs get tired after 10 minutes into shooting
  • I lack experience in framing the shot, have shots clipping ears and legs

I am lucky that the dog owner are pleased with the pictures so far, and I get to photo his 4 puppies next week. Comments & critiques are welcome. With the babies, I would try to use the 50mm and 77mm and choose a better lighting as in early morning or sunset timing. Will get up close and far shots for personality. Suggestions are comment.

Hin

Last edited by hinman; 03-27-2009 at 07:18 PM.
03-27-2009, 06:08 PM   #8
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Wow! That first shot scared the hell out of me! Those whiskers are all over the place in a frightening way, but not in the second one.

Also, I have a history working with horses (jockey, not photographer), and the "rule" was that you always want their ears to stand up, like you have in the first shot but not the second.

It's like doing a product shot of a watch, where you always shoot so the time on the watch is 1:50 or 2:10. so the hands frame the name of the company printed on the faceplate.

I guess the ears standing up makes them look better.


Last edited by Ira; 03-27-2009 at 06:14 PM.
03-27-2009, 06:40 PM   #9
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Very nice first shots.
Shooting very dark dogs can oft pose a problem at the best of times.
Lighting is especially important, and warm afternoon light really compliments the darker dogs, and plays nicer with te camera's meter.
03-27-2009, 06:48 PM   #10
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I agree that the 50-135mm is a great portrait lens for people or animals. Here are a couple of shots taken while I was playing around with some strobes.





03-27-2009, 06:57 PM   #11
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Oh, man!

I guess my ears up theory only applies to horses and Dobermans!

Those shots show SOUL.
03-27-2009, 06:58 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ira Quote
Wow! That first shot scared the hell out of me! Those whiskers are all over the place in a frightening way, but not in the second one.

Also, I have a history working with horses (jockey, not photographer), and the "rule" was that you always want their ears to stand up, like you have in the first shot but not the second.

It's like doing a product shot of a watch, where you always shoot so the time on the watch is 1:50 or 2:10. so the hands frame the name of the company printed on the faceplate.

I guess the ears standing up makes them look better.
Thank you for the comment. They can be scary and there are few passer by who were really scared to pass by the two dobermans even though the owner had them on leash. And it is also my reasons in using a longer lens to stay in a safe distance. They are very intelligent animals and here is one picture that I may be off focus a bit or the DOF don't show clearly on the nose.




The friendlier one is the male and I think he is younger as his ears are always standing up while the other female is not and her ears are not always up. Another close up that I have problem with the shadow on one side of the face.




It is a valuable experience and I learned that I need to work on the framing on the shots subject to lighting conditions to less shadow and I also make many framing errors in cutting the ear and legs -- I have a bad habit in not paying attention to the whole frame but the eyes.

QuoteOriginally posted by bwield Quote
Very nice first shots.
Shooting very dark dogs can oft pose a problem at the best of times.
Lighting is especially important, and warm afternoon light really compliments the darker dogs, and plays nicer with te camera's meter.
Yes, I request another shoot for the afternoon. Thanks for the inputs.

Last edited by hinman; 03-27-2009 at 07:19 PM.
03-27-2009, 07:05 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxwell1295 Quote
Alan, I wish I can have shots like yours that bring out the mild and warm personality of the pets. They are lovely and adorable. Well done. I especially like #2.
03-30-2009, 10:37 AM   #14
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I got asked this Wednesday to take pictures on the Doberman's babies about a month old. This time, I ask for a better setting with some green lawn area, possibly some trees and flowers. I am contemplating on what lens to bring.

Criteria estimates:
  • they are babies, perhaps I can get closer
  • around sunset timing, it may be short
  • surrounding has green lawn, flowers and tree, better background
  • I have four baby pubs all in black color

I am thinking of re-take with the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 . I can summarize my liking with the DA* zoom:
  • zoom are easier to work with when I can stay in place while zooming for the frame, I have less movement to the dogs
  • DA* zoom is quite effective in sharpness and color
  • quiet AF helps my nerves in the shooting
  • 50mm is not wide enough
  • I used mostly AF.S, I didn't to try out AF.C on the eyes, I did miss some shots on focus
  • I should use smaller apertures to get the full head

But I also think that the DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 may be too long for the babies as I can get closer to the babies for single or group portraits with the four babies.

My lens choice for the babies:
  • Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
  • Pentax FA 77mm f/1.8
  • Pentax FA 50mm f/1.4
  • AF 540 flash just in case, bring in a diffisuer

Comments, suggestions and tips are very welcome.

Thanks,
Hin

Last edited by hinman; 04-02-2009 at 03:51 PM.
04-02-2009, 03:40 PM   #15
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It turned out to be much more difficult shoot than I expected. The puppies are all running and my AF.C combined with predictive AF along with my inexperience and inability to nail a clear shot on them when they played in the lawn.
  • three puppies licking my lens in turn
  • they played tug of war on my camera bag
  • they ran to others on the field
  • they laid low on their head
  • they out-run me with a camera in the green lawn

There has not been a similar time that I felt under-equipped in both skills and gear. I was frustrating at first with the AF.S on center focal point (my default), and then I moved to AF.C and and tried between the selective focal point and that of the camera predictive focusing -- the one on left on K20D. I was overwhelmed with the lack of my experience and how the AF performs on the running puppies. And I totally forget to skip the AF and go directly into manual focus, I should have tried that but I was not confident in my manual focusing timing and accuracy for moving objects.

Guess what lens I ended up using. Some of the puppy shots, many are deleted due to errors of focusing and blur.












I need suggestions on lens/camera setting and tips. What Av, ISO and AF mode would you have preferred in shooting puppies which roam about in the lawn?

Thanks,
Hin

Last edited by hinman; 04-02-2009 at 03:54 PM.
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