I have recently started volunteering my time and photography skills to help find new homes for pets in rescue. Geelong Animal Rescue is a registered not for profit charity doing great work finding abandoned cats and dogs their forever homes. The pets live with volunteer foster carers and go through a rehabilitation and training process to ensure they are ready to be re-homed. I photographed a beautiful Kelpie cross called Jack at the weekend. The best part about being a dog photographer around the Geelong area is seeing these beautiful animals run free and happy. He was such a lovely dog, full of life, well trained and eager to please. The foster carers have had Jack for 4 months and unfortunately nobody has come forward to offer him his forever home in this time. It must be a difficult job as a carer becoming attached to a pet, knowing that one day you will have to give them up. Not sure if I could cope with it so I have the utmost admiration for the foster volunteers who put lots of time and effort into helping these pets stay alive. I hope that my dog photography session goes a small way to helping these animals reach their full potential and find them new homes. Here are a few photographs from Jack’s session.
I had a brilliant dog photography shoot last week with the most gorgeous little Chihuahua called Chip. He was a delight to deal with, sat exactly where we wanted him for as long as required. He responded amazingly to the treats and titled the head to some of the noises we were able to create. All in, he was the perfect model and we got some magnificent photos. Here’s the initial edit slideshow for the client. This is following the first stage edits so that the client can get a sense of what images we have to select from. From here, they can proof the images on the website and select their favourite dog photos to be retouched for printing. You may notice things like stray hairs, dust particles in Chip’s coat and some left over peanut butter on his nose. :) This is what I tidy up in the final retouching process.
I recently completed an artists feature for my old college in Geelong - Oxygen College. I often find it difficult to write about myself. It’s a challenge trying to put something into words without sounding like it’s a bit of a sales pitch. For anyone interested in finding out what has been happening over the past year with my Pet and Animal Photography, jump in and check it out. There may be a video interview to follow it up if I can pluck up the courage.
If you photograph canines, you’ll be aware of the challenges
we face trying to get them into the perfect position. Some dogs visiting the
studio are under perfect control. They will move their body to the slightest
degree with a flick of the owner’s hand leaving the photographer with the
perfect posing model. Unfortunately, dogs trained to this degree are not the
norm. Most of my client’s pets will have a handle on the basics of sit and
stay, however when you place them under lights and make a fuss over them it can
result in an overly excited pooch. This is when we resort to having them on
lead for additional control. But leads make for terrible images I hear you
say?!? Well, let’s look at 3 ways to remove the lead in post processing.
- Ensure you are working on a new layer by copying
your current image into the new layer symbol.
The Clone Stamp Tool
The Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop is a good method to get us
started. This tool works by allowing us to duplicate part of an image into
another. This method is good for tricky situations where there may be some
challenges in the background such as foliage or clouds. Start by Selecting the
Clone Stamp tool. There are a few settings you can alter, which I won’t go into
in this post. For our basic introduction set the Mode to be Normal and set the
Opacity and Flow to be 100% for both. Personally, I find having a brush with a
hardness of around 15% gives me the best results, however this will depend on
your image. You may need to adjust this setting with a bit of trial and error.
Hold down the alt key and click an area of the image close
to the lead, either just above or just below. This selects the source for our
replacement. Once selected, re-position your cursor over the area of the lead
you are replacing. Paint over the lead with the clone stamp tool and you should
see the lead disappear.
- Pros: Great for replacing a lead with difficult
backgrounds such as trees and bushes. Great for fixing up the areas where the
lead meets the dog’s coat.
- Cons: Can be tricky to use when handling
something with a gradient background, such as a sunrise or sunset. It can be
done with the correct settings and proficiency but there are better methods.
Need to be aware of repeating patterns as these will appear obvious.
The Healing Brush Tool
Like the clone stamp tool, the Healing Brush Tool can be
used to replace part of an image with another. Select the Healing Brush Tool and
as before select the blend mode to be Normal. Set your brush size to suit your
image. Hold down the alt key and click on an area close to the lead you are
replacing. This selects the source for our replacement. As before, re-position
your cursor over the area of the lead you are replacing. Paint over the lead
and you should see the lead disappear.
- Pros: Quick hitter and with adjusting the blending mode it
will work in most situations.
- Cons: Takes some knowledge and skill to get it working with
difficult backgrounds. Need to be aware of repeating patterns as these will
The Spot Healing Brush Tool
The Quickest and easiest method is the Spot Healing Brush
Tool. This method leaves everything up to Photoshop. For the most part it works
incredibly well but it can be difficult in areas such as the edges of the dog’s
coat. With this method I would recommend using one of the alternative methods
above to do tricky parts such as the fur and challenging backgrounds and then
utilising the Spot Healing Brush for the easier parts. Select the Spot Healing
Brush Tool and set your blending mode to Replace and Type to Content-Aware. Set
your brush settings accordingly and brush over areas of your lead and you will
see it disappear.
- Pros: By far the quickest method. Content-Aware fill gets it
right for the majority.
- Cons: Can be difficult to use in challenging areas such as
These are 3 of the easiest methods to replace a lead as part
of your post processing workflow. What you will find when you start utilising
these methods is that a combination of all 3 will give you the best results.
Some situations can be a challenge to remove a lead, so I find the best method is to
try and ensure that your clients (and in turn the pets) are calm before the
photo shoot. If you need to resort to the lead, try having the owner position
it in such a way that will make your post processing workflow easier. Avoid the
lead running through those difficult backgrounds.
Well, APPA has come and gone. Held at Randwick Race Course in Sydney on the 10th - 12th of August. I finished with a single silver for my Highland Bull Portrait and two at 79 for my Pet and Animal Portraits. Very happy to have been awarded a silver but obviously disappointed with the other two entries. The most important part is receiving the judges feedback on my images and being able to take this on board for next years event. I already have some ideas in mind so stay tuned for next years entries.