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What are the Best Camera Settings for Pet Photography?

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Pets are energetic and very eager members of the family, so pet photography has gained a lot of popularity in the recent past. Pet photographs can turn out to be the most stunning family photos, or they can turn into a massive blur if not done well. Pets are very adorable creatures, and it is a nuisance we love about them that makes it difficult to photograph them.

Pet photography involves incorporating sports photography, child photography, and even portrait photography, but you don’t have to be an expert on each to take cute pet pics. Pets play a significant role in most households. Thus they are treated as members of the family as well. They are also very impatient, and some pets won’t sit through a photography session waiting for you to get creative enough to capture the fascinating pics.

Capturing the perfect photographs of your pet

Taking the perfect photograph for your pet can be quite a challenge, but there are a few simple tricks and camera settings that, if adhered to, guarantee quality and impeccable results. It is possible to capture professional, quality, and amazing photos worthy of hanging on the house walls. Unlike humans, pets won’t understand that you are about to take a pic and pose for you, so you have to know when and how to capture the perfect moment.

Camera settings for pet photography

When doing pet photography, you need to be careful and be well-equipped to capture stunning images and get gorgeous results. The important thing to remember is to get low, be patient and carefully time the session to ensure accuracy.

Use natural light

When taking pet photography, you don’t need any special gear, but a torch or a flashlight is necessary if you are doing indoor photography. The alternative to this is natural light, which ma fills in the shadows and freezes the subject for a sharp tack image. However, natural light is more recommended, because, unlike the flashlight, it doesn’t cause the red-eye effect, and it doesn’t scare off some pets as flash bursts do. Outdoor lighting is perfect because flash distracts animals, and a standard lens is perfect for this case. A shallow depth of field is vital in keeping things centralized in the frame, so ensure your focus is on the pet’s eyes. Pet photography is best done outside, preferably when it is cloudy or soft, diffused light but if you choose to do it indoors, go for a well-lit room.

Focus on the eyes

When doing any portrait photography, sharp eyes are always essential, and pet photography is not an exception. Pet’s eyes can be very expressive, so ensure you focus on them and keep them sharp. The best time to capture a photo focusing on the eyes is during your pet’s quiet moments, for instance, after bedtime or eating. You are guaranteed a dramatic and very expressive shot at this time, as long as you use a standard lens of 50mm or a zoom lens of between 28-70mm in length.

For the perfect shot, turn to Aperture Priority (AV) mode dial and choose a wide aperture if the background is blurred. You can also use spot metering to better focus on the eyes, avoiding flashlights for a softer look. If possible, choose a background that has neutral colors as it is less distracting and uncluttered.

If you are operating with a shallow depth of field, it might be difficult for you to focus on both eyes, so choose to focus on the one closest to the camera. Some cameras feature eye AF settings for animals, with which you activate the eye AF for your camera to identify the pet’s eyes. This helps you have a more consistent focus, so if your camera offers this feature, then use it!

Freeze the action while aiming for the eyes

Pet photography is a very interesting way to capture some amazing shots highlighting the pet’s character. Pets move around a lot, so it can be challenging to capture a still photo that is blur-free. For this to be possible, turn the mode dial to S (Shutter Priority) or to TV mode to control the freeze action. You can set the focus mode to continue to allow the lens to keep its focus on the pet in motion constantly. If you want to capture multiple shots, you can use shooting mode and hold the shutter button down as long as needed to capture the perfect shot.

Go to your pet and go low

When doing pet photography, it is imperative that your pet feels at ease and comfortable with you. Instead of trying to get your pet to pose and come to you, it might help if you go to the pet instead and get down to the pet’s level. When shooting, it’s important to do so from the pet’s eye level or below. Pets look cute when viewed from above, especially dogs, as this camera setting is the perfect one to see the world through the eyes of your pet.

Use macro camera settings

If you want a stunning and intimate photo for your pet, go macro! This means that you use a telephoto lens or macro lens or a type of lens that allows you to focus your camera closely. You can then fill up the frame using the pet’s face and fur. Macro settings allow you to capture stunning close-up shots, which make the perfect portraits for pets.

Since most pets have a challenge sitting still, the best shutter speed to use is a fast one. You can set your camera to shutter mode or manual mode in advance or use a shutter speed of more than 1/250 for perfect action shots. While ensuring you have a continuous focus, use burst mode to capture your preferred pet photo and wait for amusing results.

If you are going for a blurred background effect, use a fast shutter speed of 1/400s and faster as pets move fast and a shallow depth of field (f/2.8-f/8) when shooting outdoors. The recommended camera settings for capturing a pet in motion is anything up to 1/3200s, and avoid using flash as some pets dislike it. You can open the aperture to allow more light and keep the background blurred for stunning artistic shots.

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis. Photography is my life and I have taken it as my profession after my graduation. I am a professional, I almost cover everything from fashion, architecture, editorial topics, and corporate lifestyle. I have worked with clients such as CNN, Alabama State University, Steelcase, LiveStrong, and more. I'm based in Alabama. If you need my service, just feel free to contact me.

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