Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cuteness Overdose - Zora

Zora was the focus of the photoshoot last Friday.  Monique had taken her to the NADAC Championships in Gillette, WY and came home ribbons and memories she wanted to commemorate in a photograph.

I was game!  I jumped at chance to photograph this adorable little ball of fur.

We set my living room up into a mock photo studio.  I used an ironing board to elevate the agility jump that Monique brought along.  Then put a small wooden box in front of it for Zora to perch on.  Draped it all with a large off-white flannel sheet.  For the back drop we hung another sheet on the wall behind - which we changed from green to blue once.

Then I started shooting.  And shooting...and shooting.  When you shoot something like this I know you need to use a aperture that will allow you to have a deeper depth of field, so I could get Zora and the ribbons in focus.  Sadly...I did not manage that as well as I hoped.

While this shot is cute, her ribbons are crisp, but Zora is not.  Part of that was caused by her 'quivering' and the fact I was shooting on such a low shutter speed, since the lighting was less than optimal.  Regardless I liked this shot. 

My lack of decent photography lighting really came into play.  I used lamps set up on both sides to light Zora the best I could from the bottom up.  The only light I had from the top came from my existing lighting in the house.  We had light from the north & west facing windows too.

I shot on manual, with my Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS and struggled with the proper exposure.  It was difficult to get the white of Zora's fur exposed correctly and still manage to capture the darks of her face.  I over exposed the fur a few times, and because I was shooting with such a low shutter speed Zora had to sit very still so I could get a decently focused shot.

I refused to use my flash, because of the way it was blowing out her fur & distorting the light in her eyes.   The blue sheet behind sucks the light out of the shot & was not as neutral as I was hoping it would be.   So I hid it with text!  Necessity is the mother of invention & pathetic attempts to distract from bad lighting & questionable white balance issues. 

 I double dog dare you not to smile when looking at this face. 

Then the fun began!  Forget posing in front of awards.  How about a quilt!

I had to break out my favorite lens, the nifty-fifty (canon 50mm) for some up close and personal shots of this little monkey.

This lens allows me to open up my aperture to as low as 1.8.  But that means your 'depth of field' is VERY narrow. As you can see in the photo below the bridge of her nose, between her eyes is in focus, but her eye ball peepers are slightly out of focus.  Not as crisp as I would like to see.  

I chose to shoot down on her...well, because she is so tiny and I loved the way the oriental carpet behind her just smoothed out into a gorgeous background.  Because I was shooting on such a low aperture 2.0 it allows for that gorgeous bokeh blur behind. 

The cuteness just caused my blood sugar to spike into dangerous levels.

Forget sugar in my coffee this morning, who needs it. 

Dear Lord in Heaven....diabetic coma is imminent.  It has been lovely knowing all of you...goodbye. 

Okay, back to reality.   Here is a good lesson in aperture and shutter speed. 

This was shot using aperture:  f/2.8, shutter 1/200, ISO 1000.  As you can see it is slightly under exposed.  But my camera's meter was telling me it was okay.  I didn't want to spend hours editing these shots, so I changed it a bit.

So I dropped it down to aperture f/2.0, shutter 1/125, ISO 1000.  Nothing else changed other than Zora's position ever so slightly.  Look at the difference. 

I love this lens.  Time to take my insulin. 

That said I need to find a decent lighting package to use for indoor shots and when I do finally set up a home studio.  Given my unemployed status it needs to not cost me a fortune.  I have NO idea what I need to buy first.  Should I get a flash set up - where the camera is attached to the lights and they flash together?  What is that called?  Do I even need it?  Any and all suggestions are welcome!  Please educate me - obviously I need it.  Thank you in advance! 


Debra Kay said...

I am going to need a nap now-ssssooooooooooooooooo cute. I had a chi girl named Zorita-her registered name was Baso De Zora-kiss of the vixen.

Diana said...

Ive been wanting to buy this puffer. Its suppose to diffuse the light and make is softer. maybe you already know about it.

Its on that guy Gary Fonge website. Diana

RYKER said...

What a cute little bug Zora is. And again, what a nice job or photographing her!
Have you looked on Ebay for lighting setups...they have some pretty reasonable kits...


Gennasus said...

Zora is mega cute...and talented too...but she is a papillon after all - not that I'm biased or anything!

I love to see paps doing agility, we have one over here who is just fantastic to watch. I'll find a link for you and you can have a look, if you're interested.

You did a great job on those photos. I have your lens too and love it although I don't think I use it to its full advantage, must learn more on how to use my camera!

I have been away from blogging for ages, must get back into it!

Gennasus said...

Here's Puzzle, the whizzy pap!