help, black dogs face indistinguishable

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by lucky1, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. lucky1

    lucky1 Guest

    I am new to digital photography/photography. I recently got a Kodak DX6490.
    I like it and have gotten what I consider to be some good pictures. But am
    having trouble with one of my favorite subjects, my mostly black German
    Shepard. It seems no matter which way we face in the sun or inside her
    solid black face is too often indistinguishable.

    Any tips, advice, rules appreciated.

    lucky1, Mar 19, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. lucky1

    Tony Guest

    Add exposure with the exposure compensation adjustment on your camera. Start
    with one stop and see what you get. You will probably need more than one
    stop, but it is best to avoid going too high.
    Tony, Mar 19, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. lucky1

    Colin D Guest

    'Fraid not, Michael. The camera will tend to overexpose dark objects.
    The meter is calibrated to render an average subject as 18% gray, and it
    will try to render the dog's face as 18% gray. The problem is the
    surrounding area, particularly if fairly light-colored, will increase a
    general meter reading, thereby underexposing the dog. Spot reading on
    the dog and decreasing exposure by a stop or two should do it.

    Black animals generally are hard to photograph. What you are actually
    doing is catching the shine from the hair, which delineates the animal,
    leaving the non-shiny bits very dark, or black.

    Colin D, Mar 19, 2005
  4. lucky1

    lucky1 Guest

    WOW, thanks for all the feedback. very insightful. yes, I have gotten
    several books on digital photography and am digesting slowly as there are so
    many situations and so many vairables. a bit overwhelming.

    When I add exsposure will it overexpose the background? Is this a damned if
    you do, damned if you don't?

    Thanks again,
    lucky1, Mar 19, 2005
  5. lucky1

    secheese Guest


    If you want the background AND foreground correct, use the fill flash
    secheese, Mar 19, 2005
  6. lucky1

    C J Campbell Guest

    The black dog is the most difficult subject in photography. Not only is the
    dog black, but it is furry. It reflects almost no light. The dog is also not
    a solid black. There are three problems:

    1) The dog must be photographed against a light background, or you will not
    be able to see it, but:

    2) The light background is likely to cause the black parts of the dog to be
    underexposed, or

    3) The black dog is likely to cause the background and light parts of the
    dog to be overexposed.

    As with all dog shots, try to fill the frame as much as possible with the
    dog. This will help eliminate distracting background, along with its
    attendant exposure problems. Shoot on the dog's level -- get down there on
    your knees and be glad he isn't a Scottie. Of course, the moment you do this
    the dog is going to run right up to you to stick his nose in your face or
    worse, the camera lens.

    Try the backlit subject setting if you have one. This works a surprising
    amount of the time.

    You can try fill flash -- but watch the eyes. Dogs (and many other animals,
    including cats) have a third eyelid that is highly reflective; it is why
    their eyes glow at night. The usual redeye reduction methods will not work
    because it is not redeye. The eyelid does not contract, for example, with a
    preliminary flash. Besides, a redeye reduction flash is guaranteed to make
    the dog look away. You might have to just bite the bullet and edit the
    glowing eyes out later. Also, use diffused or bounce flash. Dogs usually
    hate flash and some of them will run from you upon seeing a camera. Another
    problem with fill flash is that if the dog has a shiny coat the flash will
    reflect on it.

    Bracket your exposures, or use a spot meter to expose for the dog. Practice
    until you come up with something that works. Digital film is cheap. And then
    realize that the settings that are perfect for your black dog will almost
    never be even close for your neighbor's Labrador. The key is patience.
    Getting a good picture of a black dog is time consuming hard work, but it is
    extremely satisfying when you succeed.
    C J Campbell, Mar 19, 2005
  7. lucky1

    DaveC Guest

    Your camera probably has a flash control button. It allows you to force the
    flash to flash even in daylight.

    1. Always use the flash when photographing your black dog.

    2. If your camera offers an exposure adjustment option, try overexposing a
    little (typically the choices are +0.3, 0.6, 1, and more).

    3. Center the image in the viewfinder on the black of the dog and press the
    shutter button half-way down. This locks the exposure on the black.

    4. While holding the button down half-way, re-frame the photo the way you
    want it (ie, if you don't want the dog in the middle of the photo, point the
    camera where you want it).

    This will, unfortunately, frequently overexpose other areas of the photo that
    are not dark. That's due to the difference between the way our eyes and
    cameras render a scene, and the nature of photography.

    Some improvement in this difference can be accomplished in a post-processing
    computer program such as Photoshop.

    Good luck,
    Please, no "Go Google this" replies. I wouldn't
    ask a question here if I hadn't done that already.


    This is an invalid return address
    Please reply in the news group
    DaveC, Mar 19, 2005
  8. lucky1

    Big Bill Guest

    And if you use a Cat lens, they will attack the camera.
    Big Bill, Mar 19, 2005
  9. lucky1

    lucky1 Guest

    lucky1, Mar 19, 2005
  10. lucky1

    Steve Guest

    *Any* camera with an internal flash will "support" an external flash:


    The above can be construed as personal opinion in the absence of a reasonable
    belief that it was intended as a statement of fact.

    If you want a reply to reach me, remove the SPAMTRAP from the address.
    Steve, Mar 19, 2005
  11. lucky1

    Don Dunlap Guest

    I had the same problem with my previous camera which was a digital point and
    shoot - an Epson 3100Z. I have a Canon 20D and the following two shots are
    fairly good at capturing the dog's features. I did quite a bit of
    manipulation with PS CS. The gray on the dog's face is probably a factor.

    You still have to have the right background and I found that a dark area is

    Don Dunlap, Mar 20, 2005
  12. lucky1

    Ron Baird Guest

    Greetings Mike,

    Actually, the Kodak 6490, 7590, and z7590 all allow external flash. Great
    cameras for such creative work. With a good flash you will capture a much
    greater range as flash extends the range of the camera.

    Talk to you soon.

    Ron Baird
    Eastman Kodak Company
    Ron Baird, Mar 23, 2005
  13. lucky1

    Steve Guest

    When I finally got around to buying a digital the one absolute requirement was manual
    control. I really don't see how to live without it unless you only aspire to taking

    That said, if you know what you're doing you can still take some control from a fully
    automatic camera. A diffuser or deflector (which can be as simple as your hand) can
    reduce or eliminate exposure from the onboard flash while still triggering a slaved
    unit. Choosing between different strobes, varying distance, or using bounce flash
    should allow you to get the exposure you want even if the camera is fully automatic.
    It might be a pain in the ass, but if you don't have manual control it may be all you
    have to work with.

    When I was shopping for a camera I concluded that $300 was the entry price for manual
    control, but given the electronic control and a motor for autofocus I don't see that
    it should actually cost much to provide manual capability. It's ironic that auto
    capability used to cost more and now you have to pay for manual.

    I've already got several of those. At least digital slaves save me the expense of
    buying digital strobes.
    Maybe the problem is that they work too well. I've been roped into weddings, but
    fortunately I've only done 3. The slave issue wasn't a problem, but if I frequently
    shot at places with other photographers I'd probably have radio slaves.

    Where it has been a problem for me, is caving. Since it's always dark, all of your
    companions have lights and the few who have cameras are obviously going to use a
    flash. The only digital slave I have so far is a Wein hot shoe slave that isn't
    filtered for daylight use, though I'm not sure if that would make a difference. Being
    sensitive it will fire when somebody looks towards it while wearing a headlamp as
    well as when somebody else's flash goes off. On a recent trip where I took about 130
    shots I think the flash fired several hundred times. Usually while I was looking at
    it, of course. I've been meaning to check with Wein to see if any of their models
    react to a high slew rate as opposed to just intensity.


    The above can be construed as personal opinion in the absence of a reasonable
    belief that it was intended as a statement of fact.

    If you want a reply to reach me, remove the SPAMTRAP from the address.
    Steve, Mar 25, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.