- Inexpensive Portrait Lighting Ideas
- Essential Portrait Lighting Tips
- A Beginner’s Guide To Studio Portraits
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Pet portraits are one of the hottest photography trends right now, you can get into the field for profit with just about any camera and some basic portrait lighting gear.
As with other types of portraiture, you can make use of simple gear or high-end equipment, which includes whatever you choose for pet portrait lighting.
Pet Portrait Equipment
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What do you need for good pet portraits? A camera with adjustable settings is preferred. If you’re taking these pictures for your one enjoyment, one of the better smartphones with a full featured camera app will work.
An interchangeable lens camera, mirrorless or DSLR, will generally give you a whole lot more creative control, including lens focal length. An entry level APS-C camera with the kit can be used with great success. It’s not really so much the megapixel count you need as it is the control.
Generally speaking, kit lenses tend to have rather slow maximum apertures, so a fast prime might work well for you, especially if you want to try some selective focus techniques or include bokeh as part of the image.
A quiet spot in your home or office could prove beneficial as the place to set up for these shots, outdoors or other location environmental portraits might have too many distractions competing for the pet’s attention. You have more control over noise, lighting, and temperature inside.
Easy Pet Portrait Lighting Tips
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There are some types of lights I tend to avoid for pet portraits, flash, quartz bulbs, and incandescent bulbs. I prefer to use LED lighting or CFL bulb lights, with LED being my top choice.
My reasons have more to do with reactions of the subjects than with quality of light, since all these do a good job and I own some of all of them. But, a flash going off can startle the pet, and the heat produced by quartz or incandescent can make the pet very uncomfortable, neither of which makes for easy pet portraits.
A light I’ve been using for a lot of my photography is the Hakutatz Pocket Size LED light with a smartphone control app.
It’s a great light for taking advantage of all the one light portrait tips in this article and others. The Hakutatz LED light is battery powered, has adjustable brightness and color temperature, and you can control the settings from your smartphone.
Simple Pet Portrait Lighting Configurations
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Using one light and a reflector or two small lights allows for several classic portrait lighting techniques to be employed as pet portrait lighting.
Two pet portrait lighting tips I like using are the broad lighting and short lighting techniques due to their simplicity and consistently good results. You really don’t want to get too complicated with the light configurations, since the pets will likely move and change poses a lot during your session.
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Perhaps the easiest one light portrait tips for pets is the broad lighting technique. Broad lighting is when the side of the subject facing the camera has the most light falling on it.
In other words, if you are to the left of the subject, and the main or key light is to the left of the subject, and the subject is turned to face left towards the camera and light, then the largest part of the subject image is lit and you have broad lighting.
This will produce a pleasing and natural pet portrait that should also show lots of good detail if the image is exposed properly. The Hakutatz LED light works well for this type of pet portrait lighting since it’s small enough to hold in your hand while you are snapping pics with a remote release and your camera on a tripod.
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To make a short lighting configuration, keep everything the same as above, but move the light over to the other side. Now, the brightest light is on the side of the subject showing least in the image. You may find that adding a reflector for a catch light gives better results than the single light by itself.
This lighting technique shows texture such as the pet’s hair more clearly than board lighting does. How much texture can be varied by moving the light more towards or away from the camera position.
This pet portrait lighting technique can be used to create a mood as well. Since small LED lights like the Hakutatz can vary color temperature, you could also use that as part of the settings for creating a mood.
Your Pet Portrait Studio
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It’s also fun to make portraits of pets outdoors or in their own environment, but the indoor studio, even a small one, will afford you much more control over all the variables involved in pet portrait photography. And believe me, there will be many variables involved in taking photos of pets.
Start out with your own pets for practice and for experimenting to see what style of pet pet portrait lighting you are comfortable using. And let us see the results!