I often think that dogs have more sense than humans. They eat when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired and instinctively know if somebody likes them.
One Saturday I called in at The Society Club in Soho, to catch up with friends. Arriving just after lunch, I found Modesty sound asleep, with her companion Monty curled up beside her. The opportunity to take a photo was too good to miss.
Resigned to getting my trousers dirty, I sat on the floor and composed my image. Why get down on the floor? For a dog’s eye view. You don’t take pictures of people from above, so why treat dogs any differently? As a bonus, shooting from low down made it easier to keep vertical lines vertical. Sometimes skewed verticals can’t be helped, but avoid them if you can – they tend to distract attention from your main subject.
With sunlight streaming through the window, the top part of the frame was much brighter than the rest. The contrast was too great for film to handle. My priority was making sure the dogs got enough exposure, so I sacrificed detail in the curtains and let them get bleached out. Afterwards I managed to recover some of the detail by burning in. Originally a darkroom technique, burning in lets you darken selected areas of a picture. Most photo editing software includes a burning in tool.
Alternatively you can use flash to lighten dark areas and reduce the contrast in your picture. Personally I prefer to rely on available light. Unless flash is used skilfully, it can look artificial and kill the atmosphere in a photo.
What do you think? If you’d like to share your experience or opinion, please leave a comment.