Monday, August 23, 2010

Dog Sitting Mr. Personality

He looks like a tough guy, doesn’t he? We were dog sitting our granddaughter’s English Bulldog over the weekend, so I had to get a couple of shots of him. Let me tell you a little about him. He was taken to obedience class as a pup. He flunked the obedience portion, but he did get the congeniality award. He thought he was there to entertain and play with all the other dogs. He was the runt of the litter and is still pretty small for a bulldog. (About half the weight of some of his siblings.) If you look at his forehead you’ll see, what looks like a poorly done swipe with the Brush Tool (B). It’s not. That’s his natural marking. This shot doesn’t show it, but most of the time he has this “snaggle tooth” sticking up over his upper lip on the right side. Every time we go over to our son’s house, as soon as he sees me, he races around to find his newest favorite toy and brings it over to show me. He’s done that since he was a pup. Right now he’s over on the couch, fast asleep, snoring softly. Trying to get a shot of him was more of a challenge than I thought it was going to be. Turns out the camera scared him. All of a sudden something was blocking my face and was being aimed right at him. If that wasn’t enough, there were flashes of light happening and freaking him out a bit. So the shoot when something like this: Position the light, get the dog into the lit area, snap a shot, reposition the lights, wrangle him back into the lit area, snap a shot and so on. To find out more about this particular shot, hit the “read more”.

The setup was two Nikon SB600 Speedlites set behind and above his head. The light on his face comes from skimming off the sides of the lights. Both flashes have Stofen diffusers on them to generalize the light. Lighting in this manner gave his wrinkles better shadows and made the folds of skin more accentuated. He does have about enough skin for two dogs his size, so it was important highlight any tucks and creases to give him character.

Focus was kept directly on his eyes and the Depth of Field was just enough for his nose to be in focus also. Luckily his nose and his eyes are almost on the same plane. English Bulldogs are noted for their flat faces.

There is surprisingly little post processing on this image, proving again that a well lit face doesn’t need much basic processing. Processing of human models to produce the illusion of perfection requires processing well beyond what could be termed “basic”.

Sharpening was done with our normal High Pass Filter (Filter/Other/High Pass) technique, but the interesting thing was the vignette. A uniform vignette darkened his left ear much too much. Once a normal vignette was applied using a Layer Mask, a large, soft, black Brush (B) was used to push the edges of the vignette out to give his ears a little separation from the background.


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