CATCHLIGHTS - Dog Photography 52 Week Project - Week 4

Our new dog Molly. My dog trainer friend Courtney came over to meet her and graciously offered to hold the leash while I snapped a few photos of her. The catchlights in her eyes aren't well defined because we were outside using natural light only and she was underneath a tree in the shade.

The topic of the dog photography 52 week project in week 4 is catchlights. They are defined as gleams of light reflected in the eye. In photography you want catchlights in the eyes because they give your subject life.

When I saw this topic for the week, I thought "okay, this is going to be a pretty easy one." (Thank you Susannah for that btw. Easy is a good thing for me right now.) Then we adopted a new dog. Here's why that has made life a little more complicated for me.

If you don't know Moose, he's our 10 year old chocolate lab. We've had him for 3 years. He has separation anxiety. Right after we adopted him we figured out pretty quickly how to manage it. We have a routine we follow every time we leave the house. It works. 

Enter Molly, the dog pictured here. We adopted her on Sunday January 14th so we've had her less than 2 weeks. She is a 4 year old lab/hound mix. She reminds me a lot of Moose including the separation anxiety part but luckily it doesn't seem to be as bad as his. We have been following the same routine that Moose has when we leave them and so far the routine seems to be working well.

What isn't working? Me trying to take photos of them. When we had Moose and Willow, I could take Moose outside by myself and Willow was perfectly fine to stay in the house by herself. That plan doesn't work with these 2 dogs or not yet anyway. 

The catchlights in Molly's eyes are round because the softbox I was using is an octagon. See the difference between these catchlights and the ones in the photo above where I was using natural light only?

I resorted to taking photos inside while they were relaxing on the dog couch. (For those of you who don't know, I'm trying to learn off camera flash. I've only used mine a couple of times and I don't know much about it yet.) Actually the dogs had been relaxing. Once I started taking pictures, they stopped relaxing and started looking annoyed and a maybe even bit anxious. Molly doesn't love the camera and unfortunately Moose is such a treat-hound, I can't train her to love the camera using treats because Moose goes crazy. Therefore I didn't subject them to this torture for very long. I believe in the short term, I'm going to need an assistant to help me whenever I want to take photos of my own dogs. Sigh.

So I decided to include this example of a photo I took in 2014 because it doesn't have catchlights in the dog's eyes. It isn't a very good photo but I thought it was pretty great at the time I took it. <cringes as she types that :o>

I've started reading about using off camera flash and learning about how you can tell what type of lighting was used and where the lighting was in a photo by looking at the catchlights. Who knew, right? I'm sure many in this group actually do know and I hope someone talks about that in their blog post. Let's see if someone does.

Next up is Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area. Be sure to click the links at the bottom of each post and you'll end up right back here when you've gone around the circle. Have a great weekend ya'll.

Kim Hollis27 Comments