Studio work

Winter is coming, and I’m trespassing on my husband’s garage…Why? Because it’s nice and warm – and has room for a (very simple but still) studio!

Yep! I’m all set for winter. It’s not a lot of fancy stuff, most of it is second hand, but it works! Two large softboxes with continuous light. Some backgrounds. A fake-floor. Some cheap props.

I’m having so much fun!

My own dog is really easy to photograph, a trained model who loves to work with whatever I bring home.

Do you want to train your own dog to be a Top Dog Model? There’s an online course in the making right now… Just saying… 😉

I’m learning about studio lights, fixing the background in post, trying to get that personality showing.

Nelly grid w

It’s really fascinating. And I get to work with different kind of breeds, colors, and furs.

I just love finding the right ways to combine training and photography. It’s all about happy dogs!

So…All set for winter! And one step closer to my dream 🙂


Speedlight for dummies: part 2.

Pretty soon after my first speedlight-try, I realised what an advantage it would be to separate the flash from the camera. So I got a transmitter. On the list of what I love about Godox: it’s cheap. That means I can learn without having to invest a fortune (so far under 2000:- for flash and transmitter!).


Lensbaby is too soft for this purpose and my taste at f/2,8, so the rest are taken with f/4.

Today I have been working with my Fujifilm t-x2, Godox tt350, and a transmitter. Lens: I made a bad choice. I couldn’t choose between working on my speedlight skills and working on my manual focus skills, so I chose the lensbaby. I should have gone with an af-lens, as I don’t quite handle manual focus yet. Oh, well! One sharp out of every ten isn’t too bad, is it? Love the look of the lensbaby when I get it right! 😀

Anyway. I wanted a controlled environment, so all photos are from inside my living room with a simple black backdrop.


Todays tasks:

  1. Find out how it works.
  2. Try different settings (more or less flash, more or less natural light)
  3. Try different angles (because lighting dogs are NOT the same as lighting people. People don’t have huge triangular ears or very long snouts).
  4. Try to get the eyes sharp.
  5. Maybe get something worth saving.

I wanted kind of low key, and in my mind the photos were fantastic (of course). In reality…Let’s just say I need more practice!


Flash straight from the side/behind her. “Are you done soon?”

I was worried the flash would be distracting for my model, or even frighten her, so the first thing I did was to flash it in a different direction and give her a treat a few times. Flash = treat. She got that really fast, and there were no problems at all!


Flash behind her. I so missed the focus on this one, but wanted to show the effect. The light on her face is natural light from a window.

I started with TTL-mode, and adjusted the amount of light. I got the lighting of her really nice, but wanted to get a darker background so I changed to manual mode instead.


Flash bounced in the ceiling. Nice, but too much light on the background.

In manual mode I set the exposure on the camera first, and then I added a tiny bit of light from the flash.


Flash almost straight in front of her a little bit to the side.

I also tried to bounce it in the ceiling, and compare that with flash straight-on. The bounced one is much softer, obviously, but also harder to control.


From the side, bounced in the ceiling.

Luckily, I have a very patient model who works for a handful of kibble. That allows me to play and test things! After an hour of shooting, I know A LOT more than I did an hour ago. And I guess that after a few more sessions, I may even start to know what I’m doing…:D

The Creative Kelpie

First of all: big news! I have decided to keep things nice and tidy in my head, so BuJo for dog owners (and for everybody else) is getting a blog of its own. Visit TheCreativeKelpie and see for yourself! Sorry about the double posting, I promise that it will only be new material from now on!

So, this blog post is about how you can use the fact that your dog is creative. And by “creative” I mean that he or she thinks for him/herself, and finds stuff to do. I also mean that you may be creative together, and train fun tricks!

My kelpies are very creative. I love to just follow them around and observe, and see what they do!

A little patience goes a long way…Sooner or later they will forget that I am there, and do something kelpie-ish! (And as you can see in the first photo – the technique works with every breed!)

The trick is to be ready when that happens. I often bring my camera along for walks, and I always check my settings to match the light. My standard settings during a walk are 1/400 (handles slower action), f/2,8 (I like short DOF), and ISO 200, but I always adjust to the light! I normally use AF-C to be sure to get focus quickly even if my dogs are on the move. Want to learn more about

(Want to learn more about camera settings? Look HERE  for tips on portraits, and HERE fo tips on action. And don’t forget ISO!

The other type of creativity is a bit more planned. I teach my dogs to trick-pose! Well…at least one of them 😉

I’m sure your dog knows some cute tricks. Sometimes it’s hard to get the dog to hold the pose while you take the photo, a tripod and a remote are good investments.


How to pose your dog, three simple poses that stand out!

Posing a dog is different from posing a human, because the anatomy is different. With dogs you have to consider ears and nose, and they may not take directions very well.

To really get the Tops Dog portraits, you have to know your breed. What is this dog supposed to look like? Which features do you want to exaggerate? A bulldog is not the same as a greyhound.

But, you don’t have to get that advanced. Most of the time you just want to take a portrait of you furry friend! What matters most to me when I photograph my dogs is that they look happy, alert, and like they are enjoying themselves.



Ears: in front. Even dogs with heavy ears have muscles at the ear base that makes them look more alert.

Eyes: calm or engaged. Looking at the camera, or calmly looking at something interesting.

Posture: Relaxed, interested, or alert.

Mouth: I love dog-smiles or mischief-lips…A closed mouth is better than a stressed panting mouth. Yawns are really cute on photo, but usually means that the dog is starting to get stressed – time for a break.

Pose one – “I love you mom!”

mårran 2

A portrait from above, with large aperture. Focus on the eyes. A treat on the camera gets the look just right.


Works really nice as a close up that really brings out the eyes (f/1,2). If you want the nose blurry or sharp is up to you, use a smaller aperture to get the whole head sharp.

Pose two: “Nose down”


Again with a large aperture. This requires some training in advance. Perfect to put some flowers in the foreground!


You can always take this photo when the dog is tired and near sleep, if it doesn’t put the nose down on command.

Pose three: simple profile

Dogs with really long noses often look nice in profile. It’s easy: a helper with a treat does the trick 🙂


You can also turn the head a bit towards the camera, to get variation.

There you have it. Three really simple poses! Try them with your dog. Let me know which one is your favourite!


Cheap and efficient home-studio for dog photographing.

As much as I love photographing my dogs (and other peoples dogs) outside, sometimes it’s really nice to be inside. And let’s face it – there are some photos that are, if not impossible, very hard to do outside because you can’t control the light enough.

So I actally have two sets. One in the barn, and one in my office. I use them a lot, not only for the endresult (a photo), but also to learn and test different kinds of lighting.


In my barn. Super easy to move! I do on location studio photosessions 🙂

I love a cute backdrop, I love cute props, and I like the effect of an all white or all black backdrop as well.


“Shopaholic on four legs”

As most people I don’t have a ton of money just laying around waiting to be spent. I do things cheap at first, and when I can afford it I invest in quality where I need it.

This is what I have:

  • Two softboxes with daylight bulbs
  • One small videolamp
  • One small speedlight
  • One reflector screen, small
  • One two-sided foldable backdrop
  • One backdrop stand
  • One large white backdrop in paper, that I cut when necessary
  • One large black backdrop that I haven’t tested yet
  • Four cheap fabric backdrops (the one above is one of them)
  • Three more sturdy vinyl backdrops
  • Boxes, suitcases, toys, blankets, pillows, and other cute props

I have invested about 7000 sek in all my stuff (not all at one go). That really is not much!

So…what do you need to have (in my opinion)?

You need light. I like continuous light, because it’s really easy to see what the effect is, and I think the dogs like it more than the flash. I know I do. I got my lamps second hand, you find something similar here:

The videolight is perfect as a third lightsource that doesn’t have to be very strong. This one is the one I’ve got:

I do have a speedlight, but I almost never use it. When I do use it, I bounce it off something or use it to light the background or create a backlight. Never directly towards the dog. It’s just not pleasant.

My reflector is this one: . I’m going to invest in a bigger one. The reflector reflects the light, to lift shadows on the shadow-side.

My foldable backdrop was the first one I got, it’s perfect to just put wherever I want it:

My backdrop stand and my fabric backdrops are from wish, they are cheap and not the best quality. But they work and they are fun!

The white backdrop in paper is this one:

I bought my vinyl backdrops second hand, you can find nice ones here: . Pro vinyl: lays flat. Easy to clean. Con vinyl: reflection from the light.

All my prop is stuff I have found in different stores. I see, I like, I buy, I photograph 🙂

This is what it looks like in my office:


Ooops…maybe a closed door would look better on photo…

And this is the finished result:


My main source of light is about 45 degrees in front of her, to the right. On the left is a small reflector, to give definition to the head. And I need to iron the floor-bit of the backdrop 🙂

My office is small and I don’t have room for the backdrop stand. The backdrop is attached to a round bar that is suspended from the ceiling next to the wall. Easy solution!

And I should point out that I am in no way sponsored by any of the companies I have mentioned. There is a lot of great stuff out there, this is just an example of what I happened to buy 🙂

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