Here's some additional feedback on your new work
Thanks, feedback from other photogs is most welcome, though please remove the flickr link from your post
- I usually try to keep my CR nick and photog work separate and my flickr account unlinked to the rest of the net.
Try to think in 2D and make use of perspective compression. If you put the pet in front of the person, you need far more DOF than if you put the pet beside the person. For busy backgrounds that you need to blur, try to put the person beside the pet so their eyes are on the same plane, or close to it.
I try to do this all the time :-p ... problem is that it looks very artificial and "posed", esp. with a dog - with cats, people are more prone to hug them next to their face. Personally, I try to avoid micro-directing the scene, so if after 1-2 suggestions from me what might be a nice idea people don't react accordingly I let the matter drop - the pets are exhausted quick enough w/o me putting additional pressure on them. But I'll keep figuring out ways for thin dof posing nevertheless.
If you have plenty of room in front and behind, use a longer focal length, say 135mm and stop down. The perspective distortion puts them closer together and in practice requires a bit less DOF.
Interesting point, I never used this systematically - though in this case I was to a wall or on the edge of the train platform, so my creativity was rather restricted.
Also, work with the background - if it's part of the story (good or bad) of the photo, don't be afraid to go to f/8 or f/11 and use a wider angle to incorporate the background so it becomes an environmental portrait.
Problem is that with this method, I'm at iso 6400 in no time - not very bad with the 6d, but then shutter speed keeps dropping and creates unwanted blur on the moving pet. I'm often using hss as the 1/180 x-sync on the 6d is so slow.
The photo of the owner with his black Labrador in front of the train (the widest one) is a great example of how to do this and I think that shot came out great.
Thanks :-) ... I'm always hesitant to use this "environmental portrait style" because I keep thinking you can also do this with your smartphone and don't need a €2500€ dslr... but at least I have lighting gear to separate me from the crowd.
Generally, I start with environmental portraits and move in to tighter shots. The builds comfort with my subject and gives me a good choice of shots later. Sometimes the background makes the shot, other times the eyes tell the story in a tight headshot.
That's very good advice, I did it the other way round this time and imho your method is really better - I might even get away with using "test shots" while close up shots need some minimal posing.
With wider lenses, again consider perspective distortion. Don't put a large pet in front or it will look large and far away from the owner. Use wide lenses to shoot side-by-sides or with the owner tightly holding a smaller pet.
Well, they'll be hesitant to exchange animals :-> but still excellent point I'll keep in mind.
Finally, if you can't get things to work, work on being creative (as you've done in many of your shots), but don't be afraid of some motion blur or creative blurring. Show a dog licking the owner's face or wagging its tail with some motion blur, or a dog jumping, cat grooming, etc.
Hmmmyes, I'm rather hesitant on this as a "pro" look on a "snapshot style" scene is extremely hard to manage
Finally, if you can't More than anything, just practice shooting at large apertures as much as you can so get a "feel" for how aperture, DOF, and focal lengths all work together and don't be afraid of some blur, as long as you are the one controlling it.
Problem with pets is that they're quickly exhausted and the "natural" look is gone, after 5-10 min of lighting test and location scouting you've maybe got 20min, and then it might be already to late. That's why getting practice on live subjects is hard to come by, but I ordered rubber heads to pose for me so I can try out different dof and lighting styles @home.
I realize you may be a bit frustrated, but I think you're doing great work and should be proud of the photos you've taken. Keep shooting, analyzing your own work, and improving each time.
Actually, I'm currently rather happy with my progress esp. as I now know that shooting these scenes is rather difficult... I realize this when I find shooting single models or pets is extremely easy to do in comparison :-) ... thanks for commenting!