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Abby & Shane: Engagement – Working with Dogs!

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Recently got a chance to shoot engagement photos for Abby & Shane!  What a terrifically picturesque couple, right?  This was gonna be an easy job for sure. Or was it?

The day of the shoot, Abby said “We’d really like it if our dogs could be in the shoot!  Is that okay?”
I said “Of course!  I love dogs!”  And that’s the truth.  I love dogs!  Loyal, friendly, obedient dogs. I’m mildly allergic to most, but outdoors, it’s a non-issue.

About an hour before the shoot, it dawned upon me that I had never taken pictures of pets before.  My cousin Jonathan takes great pictures of his dog, Suki, but I’ve never worked with Animals before.  I can’t tell them to look at the camera and smile.  I can’t pose them and keep them in one spot for multiple shots… what if the dog blinks?  Is anyone going to care that the dog is blinking in the shot?  These dogs are really important to the couple, and I want to make sure everyone looks their best!  Even the pups. Essentially, I was going to be taking pictures of a family of four – just two of them weren’t humans and would be unpredictable.

As we went to the house to get the doggies, Odie, Abby’s dog, jumped out and rushed down the stairs, charging the camera across the lawn.

My very first picture of the day!

Ok, so this shoot wasn’t going to work out at my desired settings for people, namely, low ISOs and shutter speeds around 1/40-1/80sec   I was going to need a higher shutter speed to freeze these dogs.  Like 1/200 and up.  The sun was setting in under an hour, so I would be working with rapidly falling light.  High shutter speeds in low-light = Dark images.  How to compensate?  Open the aperture!  I have glass with wide apertures… so I would be opening those bad boys up for sure to let in more light… BUT! You usually can’t get two human heads in focus at f/2.8, much less account for some dogs in the mix.  So I would probably be shooting closer to f/4 – 5.6 to ensure sharpness.

Lastly, I was gonna have to boost that ISO into more uncomfortable ranges to nail these exposures… 640…800…1200.  I think in this series, I hit 1600, but I wouldn’t want to go over that with a Nikon D90.

We drove out to a beautiful park with wide open grassy spaces, a mansion, and beautifully colored trees.  Odie and Yåger (Yåger is Shane’s big dog) were on the leash at first… but later on, we knew it was best to let them run free.

And so, I present to you some of my favorites from this lovely fall session:

A lot of the outtakes are mostly like this... Abby being pulled out of frame in quite rapid fashion.

Who's walking who now?

nom nom nom nom

When I asked Shane what physical feature he liked most about Abby, he draw a circle around her face and said "This... general area..."

When I asked Abby what physical feature she liked most about Shane, she commented, "His eyes." To which I said "Me too." Haha. Shane looks so Abercrombie in Black and White - I've gotta post that somewhere...

All things considered, I think I did pretty good working with these animals.  And the dogs too!  (JK Shane and Abby! :D)

Up next:  Raul & Liza’s Wedding!  -or-  Preview: Jim & Mesha’s Wedding up in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee!  Whichever one I can finish first, haha. Stay tuned!

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great shots! Love the 13th shot of them in front of the mansion the most. Mind to tell me the lenses and the settings you used?

    November 11, 2010
    • Hi Dennis! Thanks for dropping by!

      All shots posted are taken with Nikon D90 in Manual mode, RAW files processed in Adobe Lightroom 3. A touch of gold added to shadows, some vignettes, and facial brightening if needed.

      On site general settings were: ISO 640-1600 depending on light, apertures f/3.5-5.6, 1/80-1/200 sec, Shade WB, Active D-lighting auto. Pop-up flash added at -1 FEC for fill in some cases (if you see it in the eyes!)

      Two lenses used in this post:
      1) Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC
      2) Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8

      🙂 Thanks again!

      November 11, 2010
  2. nice work josh, did not know you had a write up on this shoot

    November 22, 2010
  3. rebeccabarrett #

    I really LOVE this shoot! I like what you said in a blog post above though about the perfect lighting being the sun from behind a fluffy cloud. Natural light photography just gives you the best lighting. 🙂

    January 20, 2011
    • A huge cloud is a friendly diffuser indeed! No assistant needed! 🙂 Thanks so much!

      January 20, 2011
  4. Helen #

    These are fantastic shots Josh! Love the joy and warmth they project, really genuine!!

    February 13, 2011

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