Thursday, April 14, 2011

High Contrast

ds514 - High Contrast

Dog Blog Post #299: Hmmm... today was another one of those, "but I just posted one of those yesterday," sort of days.

So, right on the heels of my Sunbeam-n-Black-Background Wordless Wednesday shots (taken this past Saturday) we get a Daily Shoot assignment of...

Make a high-contrast photograph today.

Zachary at Noon
Zachary outside, near noon, sitting in front of deep shade
Isn't that what those Sunbeam-n-Black-Background shots are?


I was firmly resolved to not take a sunbathing beauty shot (haven't we seen enough of those?) until I realized that in a few short moments I was going to lose what little natural light I get through my northern window to a big dark rain cloud.


No time to set up "the set", so in the last few moments of sunlight I ran back and banged off a few shots of Zachary looking nice and contrasty against the BBQ shadow. I then patted myself on the back, and went about my raindrop-dodging day.

Later in the afternoon, with rain clouds far behind us, I sat down and looked at the (yawn) pictures that I took. Sorry, Zachary. You look lovely, just like you always do, but haven't I done that shot enough???

But wait! What light through yonder window breaks? It's the late-afternoon sunbeam, and it's got Henry's name on it!

ds514 - High Contrast

So I grabbed the first thing I spotted that had yet to make it into a shot, flopped down on the sofa, held my prize up in the sunbeam, and banged off a bunch of shots with Henry practically standing on top of me to reach the yellow chicken.

(It had Henry's name on it, because it was so late, and the sunbeam so high, that it required much stretching and basically standing on my lap on the part of the dog to get fully in it. And Zachary is just too polite to do that.)

The picture I tweeted was the one at the top of the post, because it made me laugh - it looked like they were sunbathing together - but I don't like the way Henry's 3rd eyelid is showing and if I'd had more to choose from I would have liked to see that gone. The other shot with chickie is cute, but a bit of something (the decorative shelf on the back wall?) is showing between Henry's nose and the chick, and the shadow line is a bit high. But beggars can't be choosers. :)

Editor's Note: I think I've mentioned this before, but if the thing you are taking pictures of is light, and a strong light source hits it, the camera (at least my little point-n-shoot) will set the exposure for that light, bright thing, making the rest of the unlit room appear pitch black. It's not, of course. And if you tip the camera a bit this way or that, the sensor might hit something different and figure that out and you get a boring picture with dusky brown walls and a dull looking dog. But if you get it just right, you get a brilliantly lit dog with total blackness behind (or around, depending on where your sunbeam is.)

If you look really carefully at second shot of Henry and the chick, between Henry's nose and the chick, is a little triangle of off-white. That's probably the mantle on the back wall (a good 25 feet away) that was also being hit by the later afternoon sun, and therefore showing up in the shot.

The picture above is a "miss", for although Henry's color is more pleasing and natural, you can plainly see the sofa and mini-blinds on the left. It was taken in exactly the same spot, with Henry and me in exactly the same spots, only with the camera was pointed in a slightly different direction and the sun partially obscured by a cloud (hence the more natural coloring!)

Anyway, that, Greyhounds CAN sit, is how I get the black backgrounds that seem to wrap around the dogs. I'm sure there are fancy photographer ways to do it that no doubt involve expensive gizmos I sadly do not own.

For the record, the other way I get black backgrounds is to drape a 2 yard piece of stretchy black velvet fabric (from the fabric store) over a cardboard tri-fold (the sort kids use for science faire projects) and use it it as a background. You can always tell those shots, as they invariably look "posed".

I have no idea if the black fabric method would still work if my dogs were darker, but I know the sunbeam doesn't, as I was never able to get a picture of Beau that way - his fur was just too dark, so the exposure was always such that you could see the room instead of blackness.

ds514 - High Contrast
Wait! Shouldn't there be a dog in here somewhere?

(The shot above is just me holding chickie up into the sunbeam and snapping the picture while I stayed low and out of the light.)

And finally, here's my (non-dog) Scavenger Challenge picture of the day: "#9 Give me five"


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Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Ahhhh, thank you for that. I'm going to have to try that technique and look for light. My little house isn't sited for the sun and mostly has small windows so it would be a bit of a challenge, but isn't that what life is about:)

I love the last photo of Henry, he looks like he's just about to doze off. And I probably wouldn't have noticed the sofa etc if you hadn't pointed them out cos I'm too busy smiling at Henry:)

The flower photo is sumptuous, so much colour but beautifully composed.

Amber-Mae said...

OH I love that yellow on that black background! The duckie stuffie stands out so well!

houndstooth said...

I wouldn't have noticed the background stuff, either, if you hadn't mentioned it. You could probably do a tad of tweaking in a photo editor and darken that up just a smidge so that it wouldn't show. If you were the perfectionist sort, that is! :P I couldn't decide which one I thought looked softer, Henry or the chick!

I'm waiting to see if the tie dye fabric comes out for today's assignment! I'm still mulling that one over.

Pup Fan said...

Thanks for sharing a little behind the scenes about your background - really interesting!

Wyatt said...

Great shots! We started doing a photo scavenger hunt too, following the blog 'Postcards from the PP'. It's been fun to look for things to shoot from the list :)

Wyatt and Stanzie

Unknown said...

Hiya. I found your blog thru Bunny's (tailsandtales) post when I read about your photography challenge. I must say, I LOVE your pictures. They are gorgeous and so artistic!!!