This week we were to try and perfect a new technique that would help ourselves and others in their photography. I decided to look at flash photography and to make it simple, I had two requirements: my source of light could only be a speedlight (no studio lights) and the flash had to remain on the camera. There are tons of other techniques using (multiple) studio light and beautiful images are achieved with off-camera flash, but I wanted to see how pleasing a light I could get with just one speedlight on my camera. In other words, something anyone could do!

Truthfully, I have never been a fan of flash photography for pets. Like a lot of people, they don’t enjoy being hit with a bright light and for some, it can really scare them. However, there are times when there simply is not enough quality ambient light and the photographer must supplement it.

For this exercise, I used my favourite boy, Baxter. Given that I was going to use quite a lot of flash I waited until he was napping (you will see in this series that he did not hardly stir during the whole process) and I tried to remain relatively in the same place.

So, here is the first attempt with the flash pointed directly at Baxter. Predictably, using a flash in this manner produces a rather harsh light. Fortunately, Baxter’s eyes are closed, otherwise, I surely would have blinded him. The flash lit up his face and everything else faded to black, creating an almost ‘natural vignette’. I was actually surprised at how much I did not hate this image, but as you can imagine, it would only work in very limited circumstances where you were after a certain ‘look’.

Here, the flash is pointed towards the ceiling. We often hear that we are to bounce the flash from the ceiling as ceilings are often light coloured and it spreads out the light a little more. I actually really did not like this look at all. The light is ‘ugly’ and is coming down on poor Baxter (who is still asleep).

And here is the technique I use the most when I have to employ a flash on camera. It is pointed neither up or down, but is firing directly over my head towards the wall behind me. Granted, if you try this technique in a room with richly coloured walls, you will introduce a colour cast from the light bouncing back onto your subject. But in this case, it lit up the still sleeping Baxter and gave the illusion of the room lights providing the light in the image.

And then I took one more image, just because I love his little black paws. And yes, he is still sleeping. It must be the reason why he is so gorgeous – he certainly gets his beauty sleep!

So, that’s it! As I said, so simple that anyone can do it…

Next in the blog circle is Victoria BC Pet Photographer Melissa McCabe of Unleashed! pet portraits. Please check out what new technique she tried this week and follow the circle all the way around until you come back to Baxter (who undoubtedly will still be asleep).

Toronto pet photography mini sessions

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