Unleashed Education Blog

Peter's Mentoring Session with Diesel the Border Collie

mentoring Mar 30, 2015

As is always the case in summer in Queensland, the humid and stormy weather played havoc with scheduling Peter's full day of mentoring. Initially booked for December, it was March before we made it happen, but I believe it was worth the wait! We ended up with some great weather and it was also not quite so hot - much better for us and our doggy subject.

Just as well because we really put Diesel the Border Collie through his paces while practising action shots! Having heaps of light to play with really helps obtaining sharp action shots - lots of light means a high shutter speed can be used to freeze the action. The shots below were taken at 1/3200 sec (at f2.8 and ISO 125) in full sun, always with the sun behind us to minimise side lighting which in my opinion is never attractive unless it's done for artistic effect.

Shooting action with backlighting is another story - the image below was taken at 1/1600 sec (still fast enough to freeze the action) but the ISO still needed to be bumped up to 500 to compensate for less available light. I also deliberately underexposed to retain detail in the highlights, knowing I'd be able to brighten the image.

Keeping the editing process in mind while shooting is invaluable!

Continuing with the backlighting, we moved into an open area and shot with the full force of the sun on the back of Diesel (while he held a perfect stay for us, what a good boy!). I actually try and avoid this type of lighting if I am photographing a fluffy dog, especially a fluffy WHITE dog, as the furry backlit edges are nearly impossible to retain detail in, even if you underexpose.

I much prefer to "filter" the full force of the sunshine through some foliage, but this was a good exercise in seeing what happens if you don't.

We'd been shooting mainly with a telephoto lens so far, so next up we switched to a wider lens and played around with getting some personality-filled up close wide-angle shots of Diesel. This involves working with the dog directly, using treats and toys. It can take some juggling but the resulting images I find have more personality and interaction, which can make them more appealing to owners.

The area around the Powerhouse building at New Farm Park has some great little relics of old buildings, sporting cool textures and colours. This is a super popular spot for photographers, especially weddings! We had the place to ourselves though and I put Peter to work on setting up some shots with Diesel, using the features of the location to frame and add interest.

Diesel has a fantastic head tilt, so we used our noisemakers and squeakers to get him tilting away!

Just as we were finishing up, the sky put on an absolutely gorgeous sunset show. Unfortunately, there are no good spots to shoot silhouettes at New Farm Park, so I settled for taking an HDR style shot of Diesel in an open area of parkland instead.

I knew I'd need to underexpose to retain detail in the sky, so there was quite a bit of editing involved in lightening the underexposed areas, both in Lightroom and then Photoshop. To simplify and tidy up the image, I also removed the pole on the left and the people in the park in the background. Here's the RAW file, straight out of camera.

Here's what Peter had to say about his mentoring session.

"I had a wonderful mentoring session with Charlotte Reeves, there is nothing like face to face learning from a true professional."

You can check out some of Peter's work on his website at Peter Hollmann Photography - you might spot a few shots of Diesel there!

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