Monday, January 31, 2011

Quest for the Family Photo

We have been working on our group stay with the objective of someday shooting a nice dog family portrait.

 We have the group stay a point.  Now, if Camera Face could just get the photography side of things right, we might have a decent shot.  

The hard thing about shooting the dogs like they are arranged in this picture is the 'depth of field'.  What is depth of field (DOF)?  In photography the depth of field (DOF)  is the distance in front of and behind the subject that appears to be in focus.  

If you look at the picture below, the only dog in focus is Brynn.  That is because I was shooting with a relatively narrow DOF (f5.6).  Everything in front and behind Brynn is blurry.

The 'F' stop or aperture setting on your camera determines the DOF.  The smaller the lens opening (the larger the number e.g. f10, f12.0, f20) gives you a broader (deeper) DOF - more things near and far will appear acceptably sharp. 

The larger your lens opening (the smaller the number e.g. f1.8, f4.0, f.5.0) gives you a shallow (narrow) DOF - less things near and far will appear acceptably sharp - instead it will focus on one point (in this case - Brynn) and the things in front & behind are blurry (bokeh).  

Only having one dog in focus is not the objective.  It is a lovely technique to use if you want to isolate the dog/person from their background

I am not sure how far/deep your focus goes with each f stop, but I like to pretend and reference my actual f stops as a key.  F5.6 gives me approx 5-6 inches deep of focus.  f1.8 only gives me 1.8 inches of focus.  For example if I am shooting a dog face with f.1.8, the dog eyes will be in focus but the ears and nose are out of focus. 

f5.6, shutter 1/500, ISO 640

f4.5, shutter 1/250, ISO 500  Brynn's nose is in focus, but her eyes are slightly out of focus.  The distance between the tip of her nose to her eyes is about 4 inches. 

Here is a good example of a very narrow depth of field.  This is a image from a photo shoot I did of two Staffordshire Bull Terrier's right after Christmas.  This is Lilly. 

f.2.2, 1/2500, ISO 320  You can see her eye is in focus, but her nose is out of focus, that is how shallow the depth of field is with a f2.2

You can also isolate your subject from the foreground

Whoops...I lost track of the point of this post.  

I was saying, Camera Face needs to learn how to set her F - stop with a broader (higher number) depth of field/aperture in order to catch a decent shot of the dogs lined up like they were, or position them better, such as in a straight line so they will all be in focus.  

Getting them to stay in a straight line, is not easy.  This shot gives you a good idea of what happens.  

I can get them to lie down in a line, but I have to back up quite a ways to fit them all in the shot.  Why?  Because Beth REFUSES to be anywhere near the rest of them.  Apparently a family photo is beneath her.

While pondering the problem of getting them close together I had the brilliant idea to shoot them all looking over the back of the couch.   Armed with my camera, 50mm lens and a large pile of cheese I tried to get them to cooperate. 

"Hello!  Look at Camera Face!  Hey BETH?    Bonnie, stop making faces at Beth." 

Bea amazed me.  While all the other dogs misbehaved, Bea stayed.  She remained propped on the back of the couch the entire time.  She is just a puppy and I have hardly worked with her on "stay's yet, but she figured out FAST she got yummy treats if she stayed there.  She didnt move while the other ones bounced around like jack rabbits on crack.  

"I am the perfect puppy."

"Dammit Bonnie!  Get back here!"

"I am the cutest puppy".  

"Ranger, Bea!  Yoooo hoooooo!  Look UP!" 

"I am the smartest puppy!"

f1.8, shutter 1/50, ISO 1250


What they are really thinking...


The Sprollies 'n' Border Collies said...

Ha ha ha! This post had me in stiches! I love Ranger's "At one with the cheese"! Wonderful, and you got a lovely shot of them all together out of it too!

Lynn said...

Yea! You did the thought bubbles! LOL

MTWaggin said...

I so adore that puppy's ears!

Karen said...

That last one with the thought bubbles is priceless! It needs to be framed and hung somewhere where you need a dose of humour. Mudroom/laundry room/ bathroom?
Bea ears look like there is a strong wind blowing over the top of her head:) Jake is like Beth, the more you try to pose him, the wimpier he gets.

RYKER said...

You did it! What a patient woman you are. Beth does not look like she's having fun.
Bea, oh Bea, I adore are the perfect puppy!

I'm doubtful I could pull this off with 5 cats and 1 dog. What do you think?

Emma Rose said...

I just can't get enough of those ears!

Sarah said...

So cute!!!! those are great!!!!

the expressions are priceless!

The Thundering Herd said...

What a fantastic family photo. I have never - ever - achieved that goal.

Texas Czech said...

Oh Jeeez, I am cracking up at this blog! I love doggies and am looking for a border or aussie (or mix of one of those) to join our aussie, big mutt, and three cats. I am going to have to follow this blog more often.