Taking great photos of your pet in bright sunlight is easier than you think!
Check out these top tips from Jackie Robinson
Shoot in the Shade
My number one tip, if it’s bright sunshine, is to find an area of shade.
Here the light is more even and softer. Our eyes can cope with strong contrast caused by glorious sunny days but our cameras can’t. Overhead sun causes blown highlights and heavily shadowed areas and as a result, a loss of detail.
Try moving your subject under some trees, a bridge, or into the shadow of a wall.
If you’re under trees watch out for hot spots created by dappled light.
These bright areas draw the eye and become the main focal point in the image.
In these two pictures of Tilly, one shows her with a bright spot on her chest and in the second I have moved her a few feet to avoid them.
The key is to have your subject at the edge of a shaded area where it’s not too dark (for example if you went deep into woods) but the light is still soft and even.
And make sure your pet has its back towards the deeper shade and its face towards the light.
You can use your own, or a friend’s, body to create some shade by standing between the subject and the sun to cast a shadow over your pet.
In the example shown where I am creating the shade, I have left some of Ted's body in the sun so you can see the difference it makes.
Use a Reflector
This is the act of bouncing light back on the subject and filling in the shadows. It needn’t be a fancy photographer’s gadget - a simple piece of white card or paper will do the trick.
Play around with the angle of the board and watch how the light moves around your pet. Or position yourself so that you have a white wall or similar behind you (the photographer) which will bounce the light back on to your subject.
You’ll be surprised how much of a difference this can make.
If you have no option but to shoot in the sunshine try and position your pet with his or her back to the sun; this blocks most of the direct light from falling on the face (but only works as long as the sun isn’t directly overhead).
If you can wait until the sun is low in the sky (early morning or evening) the light is softer, creates beautiful rim light and makes your images much more atmospheric.
Just watch out for sun flare as it can cause haziness and loss of detail.
Diffuse the sun
If there are clouds, wait until one hides the sun. They work like a wonderful, huge softbox, diffusing the light.
In this image, I had Badger standing in a stable door which meant he was facing into the light and waited for the sun to go behind a cloud. With his black/brown and white markings, he was extremely hard to photograph in direct sunshine as the camera just couldn’t cope with the contrast.
Nothing fancy is required - anything translucent will do the trick, like an umbrella, but try to avoid strong colours as this can create a colourcast on your subject. If you’re in your garden try using an old sheet pegged on a washing line to create a softer light.
Very dramatic! By exposing for the brightest part of the scene, you render everything else very dark.
Make sure that there is no clutter overlapping your pet i.e. bushes, trees, people etc.
You are after a nice clean silhouette against the sky. Experiment with negative space for an arty look.
An extra thought for these exceptionally hot days
Dogs can‘t perspire like we do to cool down, they pant. But if the air they are breathing is hot then their panting has little cooling effect. Plus the air is hotter closer to the ground and therefore less effective when they are panting. Panting can also leave them very dehydrated so make sure there’s plenty of water available. And try to avoid walking your dog on hot stones or pavements as this can burn the pads on his or her paws.
As a result of having a hot dog you will end up with a huge, lolling tongue in your photographs which may not be the look you are after.