Happy Holidays, or Holi-dogs, as you prefer! As I'm wrapping up the last few weddings of the year, the Christmas music has me in the mood for a Holiday style portrait! This is Duke, you might recognize him from the About Me page, and it was time for his annual portrait. I hope you all had the best Thanksgiving ever, didn't get too crazy on Black Friday, and are ready for the rest of the Holidays!
For those of you who are fellow photography nerds, below is exactly how I created this unique portrait.
The first step is to teach your dog to sit still in front of a camera, or use a human model. Duke has learned to not move, and look extra cute, when I'm aiming weird things like flashes and cameras at him!
- Pick a design for your background. I went with a tree, and carve it out of thick-ish paper (I used cardboard, but if you can use black poster board, it will be much easier). You'll want to play with the size of the cutout. If you follow my instructions to the letter, then use a quarter-sized cutout.
- Grab some Christmas lights, and hang them in your background. Notice mine are on a slightly shiny surface, which reflects the lights a little bit.
- If you take a photo and manually focus the lens to decide how big you want your background custom-bokeh to be. You need to position your subject between you and the lights with enough distance between them and the background for the bokeh to look as big as you want it.
- Hold your cutout in front of your lens. It needs to be big enough to cover your whole lens. I mean right in front, touching the lens. If you focus on the subject before holding up the cutout, and then switch to manual focus, it's easier.
My camera settings: 100mm lens on a crop-sensor camera, 1/100, f/4.0, ISO 500. I used a silver umbrella on a light stand with a speedlight to light Duke, who was roughly 8 feet from the background.
You're going to have to play with your lighting a lot on this one, I had to use way more power on my speedlight to light up Duke then I normally would have, as the cutout in front of the lens is basically the aperture, as it's what is controlling the light going into your lens, so even though I was shooting at f/4.0, it looks more like f/8 or f/16.