Beginner Photography: Animal Interactions

Oh, hubris. I really thought this subject would be easy. I have animals! I can interact with them! How wrong I was. First, taking pictures of animals is difficult enough. They are generally fast moving, unless you know a sloth. Also, taking pictures of yourself is hard. Selfie+moving animals? Near impossible. I attempted to at least photograph my hand petting said animals, but even that is unwieldy using a DSLR. So then I tried to enlist my daughter, who, apparently, is only a good model when she has to stand very still and be creepy (see here and here and here.)

It has also been in the 90-95F degree range the past few days, so we have all been sluggish. Which resulted in either a very sad looking dog and cat or a very sad-looking child. 

I’m going to tell you now, this project was a failure. I missed focus a dozen times, I cropped the dog’s feet, my daughter’s shirt is wrinkled. I captured a few sweet moments, but they are still technically terrible. Here’s a funny video to make up for it:

So as usual I shot in aperture priority, but using a higher aperture to attempt to get Eloise and Hungry both in focus. Somehow that still often resulted in missing focus. I shot outside in natural light which worked fine, but my cramped back yard resulted is some busy backgrounds. I almost never got both of them looking at the camera. Ah well, this is what I wound up with:


f/3.5, 1/80th, ISO 200


f/5.6, 1/80th, ISO 200


f/5.6, 1/80th, ISO 640 (?!)


f/5.6, 1/60th, ISO 500


I don’t know. Looking at them now, I’m quite fond of them, but I just see everything about them that’s wrong. I need to work on manually choosing my settings and probably give back button focus a try.

Do any of these shots work for you? How would you have done things? I look forward to seeing so many animals on the show this week (and I’ll be there in studio!)

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5 Responses to Beginner Photography: Animal Interactions

  1. JoAnn June 13, 2017 at 11:38 am #

    I don’t know much about photography, but these photos are most definitely very sweet! But, I am a bit biased when it comes to you, Eloise, and Hungry…

    • Morten June 14, 2017 at 3:46 am #

      “I don’t know much about photography, …”

      In that case you should read Stunning Digital Photography by award winning…. ok, I’ll stop here.

  2. Troy Hall June 13, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    I think the one of you 2 holding hands is a nice change.

  3. Roderick June 13, 2017 at 5:24 pm #

    Fahrenheit ????
    Eh, lets see,,,, multiply by 5,,,, divide by 9,,,,, subtract 32,,,
    Well lets just agree that its HOT.
    Your pictures are bight on the button.
    I like the meeting of hands (paws?). Maybe if the paw was pads down on your upturned palm it would have been better (?) but that’s only an opinion. Also you probably would have needed an extra hand to arrange all that – not so much Wonder Woman as The Mummy !
    The last photo of Hungry and Eloise is very, VERY nice.The expressions are super and the dog’s gaze tells us that there’s a third person contained in the photograph – you !
    Dog days indeed, I hope the weather improves.

  4. SteveWaller June 15, 2017 at 10:48 am #

    I too struggled to produce anything I was happy with on this theme. I like your first photo though. After last weeks comment about whether the submission quality has gone up I went back to the archives and watched the 1st 4 live shows. It’s not just the photos that got better, it seems in 2013 T&C were a little inexperienced with LightRoom too! Very entertaining as always and I’m looking forward to seeing tonights show.

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