Monday, April 18, 2011


ds518 - Low-Key

Dog Blog Post #303: Déjà vu - from today's Daily Shoot...

Make a low-key photograph today.

(You may recall that just the other day I did "Low-Key" for the Scavenger Challenge.)

So I went back and did a bit more research, and it turns out I was dead-on with my picture last time - but I was right for the wrong reason. That is, for low-key, it seems the point is to take the picture where the main lighting is from the side, not from the front (the lighting from the front being called the "key light".

Ah-ha! (insert light-bulb moment)

So, while Mr. Tacky Knick-Knack was indeed a Low-Key picture, it wasn't because it was dark with only a little bit of lighting on it (which is what I thought) but because the light was coming from the side (and I guess it helps to have the background dark as well, but I'm a bit unclear on that part, still.)

I had to think about this one a bit, and after a bit of hair pulling, and grumbling, and rummaging through drawers looking for inspiration - hubby came through again...

... with a lovely Coleman battery operated lantern (as I've said before, fluffy mammals and flames don't mix.)

Sooo... I closed the drapes in the family room, went to the darkest corner, put my lantern down, called a dog over (Zachary) and started to fiddle with light/dog/camera.

(I like to start with Zachary since I have to do less "dog management" and can focus on the setup. I put him somewhere, pose him, tell him to stay, toss him cookies a couple times a minute, and he'll work with me until I run out of cookies. Once I have the kinks worked out, I can then switch to Henry, where it's more dog management ("stay... stay... stay...," - Yes, Wendy, I know I'm not supposed to be chanting... just pretend you didn't read that!))

Here's Zachary's best shot. I actually prefer the color in this one, but Henry's looked a bit better as a thumbnail, which is how the Daily Shoot displays the pictures on its main page...

ds518 - Low-Key

Where was I?

Oh yes, Coleman lantern on the floor, mere inches from the dog, who is also on the floor, and me (yup, lying on the floor), and the cookies (on the floor) and the camera (on the small tripod, on the floor) and it looked something like this...

Ghost Story II

While looking at the camera's LCD, I moved my nose magnet (ie: cookie) around until I liked how things looked, and click!

The camera was fixed at ISO 100 (and yes, the dogs actually held still enough that I could do that!) and I had the aperture stopped down 2 full stops (the most my point-n-click will let me do, using the little +/- symbol on the main wheel on the back of the camera, that brings up the lightness/darkness display.)

In retrospect, I might have been able to leave the aperture alone and just fixed it later in iPhoto. In the end, I was able to leave the brightness pretty much alone in iPhoto, but I bumped the contrast up a smidgen and sharpened it just a bit (too much, and it quickly started looking grainy.)

Editor's Note #1: I honestly don't know if folks are that interested in hearing about my nit-picky photography fumblings or not - I would think they would be dull (and I don't guarantee I'm right!) but then I get questions. Like yesterday - it's an older Sony DSC-W55, and yes, it can take crisp pictures - particularly in macro mode when the lighting is really good. It takes lousy action shots and sports shots (as in, pictures of a Lacrosse game taken from the stands makes it look like I was photographing stick wielding ants on a strip of green felt) and low-lighting shots in default modes (really grainy) (no doubt due to it's itty-bitty lens.)

Editor's Note #2:

To Flo, who asked what the boy's Saturday nights were like...

Alas, our nights are quiet here
But that would change if you, my dear,
Would come down south (and bring a friend!)
Then we shall see night to its end.

We'll romp by moonlight, then we'd share
Our squeaky toys (we do play fair.)
Our jars are full of cookies, fine.
Our cushions, soft. Our chews, sublime.

The hills are made of gold, they say
But we think they've not looked our way.
With feathers glowing in the sun,
We're happy to show the ladies fun!

And finally, the (non-dog) Scavenger Challenge April 2011 #12 - "Chocolate!"


© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved


Katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

Kathleen I LOVE that pic of Zachary! He is such a good boy, and the light in that pic on his happy little (gimmme a cookie!!) tongue is just so awesome. You really should make a coffee table book of all these shots at the end of the year, they are so cool!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

Apart from the fact that I love your photos I also really enjoy any tips that you post. You obviously know your camera inside out and it shows in the photos you produce.

As for how your brain works, well, I'm totally in awe of that. Who would have thought of using a Coleman lantern? Not me.

Ruth said...

I love those low key photos - I had no idea what a low key photo was before - thanks for explaining!

houndstooth said...

Your low key photo turned out MUCH better than mine! I really struggled with getting one that looked halfway decent, and I still wasn't completely satisfied with it.

I don't know how the fair Slinky could resist an offer like that!

Ooo! And I'm dying to get my chocolate shot done! I planned on doing it yesterday, but time got away from me trying to get that darned low key photo!

fromsophiesview said...

I believe your comments and nit-picky photography fumblings are an inspiration to us. I am trying to understand ISO`s etc and to see your endeavours helps me tremendously!!!!!!

Pup Fan said...

These came out great. And I very much enjoy reading about your process. Keep the nit-picky details coming! :)

Amber-Mae said...

Great shots & I love that cute poem!