Unleashed Education Blog

Putra's Mentoring Session with Blue the Border Collie

backlighting mentoring Jan 28, 2014

I seem to be developing a habit of using Border Collies for mentoring sessions! They really are ideal though - usually well trained, active, gorgeous looking and willing to please. Just what I need when teaching people the art of pet photography. Blue the Border Collie is owned and loved by Tracie and had been submitted to my commercial model database a few weeks prior. With some modelling experience already under his belt, I felt he'd make the perfect doggy subject to help teach my student, Putra, who'd come all the way from Melbourne for the mentoring session!

We started off by shooting some action, which of course Blue was very good at.

We then moved onto setting up for some portrait style shots using a screen of trees as a background and some backlighting. We didn't get a heap of sunshine for the shoot, but it was a good lesson in finding good light even when it's not sunny.

Placing dogs on the edges of things or elevating them is a good technique to encourage them to stay in one place. Not that Blue needed much encouragement, this boy is beautifully trained! I stressed the importance of getting down low and shooting upwards to minimise background clutter.

And here's the resulting images.

Next, we moved to the little creek where we played around with various focal lengths to create different effects. A wide angle lens has the ability to include lots of the background, so it's important not to let it overwhelm the image - I prefer to shoot at a shallow depth of field to blur it out and put the focus on the subject instead. This was shot with my 35mm lens at f/1.4.

We then switched to a longer lens, which narrows the angle of view and means less of the background is included. At the right angle, it also means some foreground interest can be included as well, to give the resulting image depth.

My secret graffiti wall is a favourite spot to shoot, so we went there next.

The sun made an appearance right on cue at the end of the session, which was fantastic as we got to play around with some backlighting in an open playing field situation. The following two images demonstrate how much of a difference changing the angle of view makes. Same dog, same focal length, similar pose, same time of day, same location - but a very different look!

To reward him for being an excellent model, we let Blue loose to have a race around, chasing low flying birds. His favourite thing to do!

Then of course at the end, a little more tired out, he was up for some cuddles.

Here's what Putra had to say about his mentoring session:

"I travelled from Melbourne for the mentoring session with Charlotte and it was well worth it! Charlotte went above and beyond in sharing her photography and business knowledge, and in the end I was overwhelmed, in a good way, from the amount of information she kindly shared throughout the mentoring session. Knowing my camera inside out is obviously not enough and it is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, if you are thinking to learn about pet photography, a mentoring session with Charlotte is a must and will save you years of self-learning experience."

Interested in booking your own one-on-one pet photography mentoring session? Find out all the details here.

Start your pet photography journey with 100 free daily tips!

That's over 3 months worth of daily tips covering topics like working with light, obtaining expression, camera settings, shooting action, composition, using the location, dog handling tricks – and so much more. Delivered direct to your inbox so you can read and absorb straight away (no homework required).

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.