Pet Photography Project 52, Week 41: High Contrast Dog Photography

Today is Friday the 13th, but if you’ve ever wondered how to incorporate high contrast techniques into dog photography, it’s your lucky day! High contrast is the theme for week 41 of the Pet Photography 52 Week project blog circle.

According to the article, “How to Get Great Contrast in Photography,” by David Roos, “A high contrast photograph purposefully includes strongly contrasting elements. In black and white photography, a high contrast shot will have relatively few gray tones, but lots of strong blacks and whites. A high contrast color photo might have bright, almost iridescent elements cast against deep, dark shadows, or a single red tree in a forest of green.”

Roos explains that one way to intensify the contrast of your photos is through the use of high-contrast lighting. To achieve this, he recommends photographing your subject in a dark room with a bright light source. An example is light shining through a window. The goal is to have one side of your subject covered in hot, bright colors or strong white light (if shooting black and white) in order to provide dramatic contrast with the opposing shadows.

Related: Pet Photography Project 52, Week 11: High Key

To create the high contrast look I needed, I sought out one of the darker places in our home: the hallway. For this particular image, my light was positioned slightly below my camera and to my left, and you can see a hint of catchlights in his eyes.  Surprisingly enough, the light from my iPhone flashlight was just enough to illuminate the right side of his face and his bright white fur without adding too much light.

high contrast black and white dog portrait
Nikon D90 @ 50mm f/1.8, ISO 1000, 1/100, f/2.5

Aside from his legs, belly, the tip of his tail, and his white “Mickey Mouse” face, Hunter is relatively dark. His dark brown and nearly-black fur created more gray tones than was likely desirable for this assignment, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I especially love the way his eyes stand out thanks to some simple post-processing tips from my friend and fellow Pittsburgh pet photographer Nicole Begley with Hair of the Dog. (Seriously, if you want to really make your pup’s eyes pop, you must check out her quick tutorial on enhancing eyes in Photoshop.)

Related: Pet Photography Project 52, Week 17: Low Key


The Pet Photography Project 52 posts are part of a blog circle. To see what the next pawesome pet photographer is sharing for the weekly theme, “High Contrast,” start with Darlene with Pant the Town Pet Photography, serving MA and NH. Continue to click the link at the end of each post in the blog circle and you’ll eventually find your way back here.

9 thoughts on “Pet Photography Project 52, Week 41: High Contrast Dog Photography

  1. The strong black and white is really evident in this photo. Hunter has wonderful eyes! Thanks for giving the specs below your photo. I always like to read them.

    1. Thank you! I did have to bring down the exposure slightly on the background shadows, but it worked well.

    1. Thanks! He is cooperative, but I don’t always get the look I desire with his expressions. At least here he looks content…probably because I bribed him with “Do you want a treat?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve the following to comment. *