How Elke Vogelsang got interested in dogs, and later, photography
When her husband became ill, Elke Vogelsang took to photography for balance and relaxation. Her dogs were frequent subjects, and she started a Picture A Day project that lasted two years. A hobby turned into a passion which then became a career in which she’s enjoyed years of success. Maybe every dark cloud does have a silver lining after all. Her husband, who has since recovered, supports her wholeheartedly. She wrote this article on Dog Photography for WhiteWall.
Find out more about Elke Vogelsang here: » elkevogelsang.com
Picture: Harbour Reflections
My Scout is a little hunter. That’s why, on the weekends, I like to take her out into industrial areas where she isn’t so easily distracted. Here, she’s exploring a puddle I threw some treats into. She’d already wolfed down the treats, but continued to look dreamily for what else she might discover there. My favorite way to photograph her is when she is occupied and engaged in the environment. She likes to sniff around and observe everything very carefully. This results in great pictures.
1. The Unusual Location
There are a lot of people out there taking wonderful, technically perfect photos of dogs. To separate yourself from the oversaturated pack, you have to try taking a different path. You don’t always have to shoot in a field at sundown. So why not try a setting of reinforced concrete for once?
After it rains, I look for flat puddles to photograph reflections. I am particularly drawn to puddles on concrete. They are flat, and if it’s not windy, the surface is as smooth as a mirror. Here, since Scout was investigating and padding about very slowly, the water’s surface was very placid.
3. Tone within Tone
The picture is in color, but seems almost monochromatic. Thanks to the shallow depth of field, the nearly black and white dog really stands out against the nearly black and white wall.
4. Movement in Stillness
The picture shows a rather quiet moment, but the dog’s arched posture and the detail of the water splashing upwards at the paw make it dynamic..
The symmetry of the stone blocks provides a static foundation for the image, and the centered horizon emphasizes that symmetry. The dog’s curved body offers a nice contrast to that.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L IS II USM
Focal length: 142mm
Shutter speed: 1/1000
Post-processing: Corrections to the texture of the background
And here are a few general tips for photographing dogs:
- Photograph the dog at eye level
- The animal’s eyes should be in focus and should have a glint in them
- Find a consistent background that doesn’t compete with the subject
- Leave more space in the direction the dog is looking
- Avoid direct, overhead sunlight
- The photo should focus on the essential
- Be patient and don’t be hectic
- Never abuse or mistreat an animal for the sake of a photo
- Try to capture what makes the animal unique
The picture “Harbour Reflections” was commended by William Wegmann (yes, the guy with the Weimaraners) and featured in an exhibition in Los Angeles.
Images, Text: Elke Vogelsang