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Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Loyal Companions

Summarizing today's post: Overhead, off-camera lighting using our loyal companions (the pussycats) as models.

Photography, off camera lighting, pussycat
46mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125th of a sec, off-camera lighting using softbox overhead
Who are your companions...your true everyday loyal followers? I say followers in the literal sense because I'm referring to the pets that most of you have. And, yes...they are followers, especially puppy dogs and pussycats. If you are home right now as you read this, look beside you: You probably have a pair eyes looking at you. 

Right now our sweet ole pussycat is sitting beside me watching me work, completely satisfied with just a simple scratch on the noggin every few minutes. "Kitty", as she is known by, is shown above in one of her traditional positions. She's almost 18 years old and been with me since she was a kitten. She is a true companion, we love her dearly.

I love to take photographs of our kitty cats in there natural state. They make such good models because, for the most part, they don't move! If you ever wanted to play around and develop your photography skills, I highly recommend using a pet as your subject when they are just lying around. It's just hard to mess up, and you can shoot and shoot a hundred times until you get your lighting right. 

It's all about lighting you know. Photography is basically painting with real time. I have spoken plenty of times about off-camera lighting and you get can get the basics by scanning my past posts (start here). If you want to let your creativity shine, you need to move your lighting source off-axis (away from your camera). It's a wonderful way to turn a snapshot into a photograph.

In the photo above, I moved my strobe (I call my flash a strobe when detached from my camera) directly above Kitty. Moving your light source from side to side, over and above, behind or in front, all effects the mood of your image. One of my favorite positions is directly overhead. It really creates a dramatic effect.

cat, photography, off camera lighting
48mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/125th of a sec, off-camera lighting using softbox overhead
Off-camera lighting truly does add a different perspective to your photographs. It adds a 3 dimensional aspect that's hard to manufacture any other way. The positions of your light source is infinite, and is limited only by your imagination. 

Here's another shot of Penelope, our other loyal pussycat, all curled up in her bed. This is where she spends a lot of her time. She blends right in with the bedding, and its hard to get a good photograph. I captured this image using the same off-camera lighting technique, but my strobe was off to one side slightly. The lighting setup gave dimension to an otherwise flat image. Try it.

What to do if you don't have a "fancy" camera and equipment? That's no excuse, you can still play around with off-camera lighting using your point-and-shoot camera or cell phone. Here's how:

First turn off your flash. Find your subject (a worthless pussycat will do just fine). Have an assistant shine a flashlight over your subject, but filter the light by shining it thru a piece of copy paper. This will change the color to a nice white and also soften the light. Then back up a few feet and shoot away and see what you get. I bet you'll be surprised.

You hear me talk about how happiness is linked to photography all the time (see here). When you look at your results, I bet you can't NOT smile. It's so fun to play with lighting.  Put your pets to work and go try this, you can't mess anything up...except maybe naptime.

Have a nice Friday and thanks for reading!


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