Pet Portraits: Capture Studio-Quality Photos of Your Pet | Tabitha Park | Skillshare

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Pet Portraits: Capture Studio-Quality Photos of Your Pet

teacher avatar Tabitha Park, Product & Food Photographer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (57m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project and Supplies

    • 3. Setup and Lighting

    • 4. Photographing Smallcat

    • 5. Large Painted Backdrop

    • 6. Cedar and Alta

    • 7. Lightroom and Mobile Edits

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Create a beautiful, high-contrast portrait of your cat or dog using a window and a black backdrop in this DIY studio photography class.

We'll cover:

  • How to best utilize window light
  • Positioning and adjusting your backdrop setup
  • Camera settings for success
  • Keeping your cat or dog's attention
  • Working quickly to capture several great shots
  • Editing adjustments to add drama and contrast

I'll be photographing 2 cats and 1 dog in two different homes so you can see how this setup might work in your space.


If the thought of taking your cat to the Target Portrait Studio sounds like the start of a really rough day, stick around because I'm here to help you create that High-Quality, dramatic glamour shot of your dreams from the comfort of your own home.


Need help with backdrops? I've got you! Here's simple backdrops you may already have around the house, as well as Textured Backdrops you can create with a bit of paint, as well as Concrete-Look backdrops like the dark slate board I used in my demo with Smallcat.

Meet Your Teacher

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Tabitha Park

Product & Food Photographer

Top Teacher

Hi! I'm Tabitha and I teach photography classes. I'm a lifestyle, product, and food photographer living in Portland with my husband and Smallcat! I love plants and chocolate and I had my appendix removed in 2014 and sometimes I worry that I might need it later to talk to aliens. Other than that I'm pretty normal.

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Tabitha. In this photography class, we are going to be photographing our pet. Where is my pet? I should have prepared for this. Mama, it's your time to shine. Hi, I'm Tabitha, in this photography class we are going to be photographing Small Cat. I'm going to show you the technique that I use for creating a dramatic, high contrast studio quality portrait of your pet or your favorite plant or your favorite child, or any of the three objects in your life that you want to photograph. What I'm hoping is by the end of this class, you will have an awesome lighting technique that you feel confident using, that you can keep in your back pocket for any future session or project that comes across your desk. Yeah, I'm going to show you how I set up and get my camera ready to go, then we're going to bring my cat in, I'm going to take some pictures of her and show you what I'm doing and thinking along the way and then I'm going to make a larger black backdrop and then run down to my friend's house to photograph her dog and her cat. It's going to be really fun. I'm super excited to share this lighting technique with you, every time you share photos of Small Cat taken this way, people just love it on Instagram. She has garnered quite a following, which is amazing to me that other people like my cat as much as I do. But I'm hoping that you can come away from this class with a gorgeous, beautiful studio quality portrait of your pet or child or plant that you feel like proud of and you want to share on the internet as like I created this and feel happy about it. You could also put together a cat calendar or maybe you're creating homemade gifts for holidays or birthdays, or you're just looking for a new and exciting project to complete. Whatever the reason is this class is targeted toward beginner to intermediate level of photographers. We're going to talk about high-level and kind of base level lighting techniques, as well as camera settings using manual mode and also editing techniques at the very end. With all that being said, my name is Tabitha, I'm a lifestyle and product photographer. I am also a content creator and I teach over here on Skillshare. I'm super excited to photograph my cat and share this lighting technique with you. Let's get started. 2. Class Project and Supplies: Thanks so much for joining me. For the class project, we're going to be creating a high quality studio portrait of a pet. To create this image, we are going to need a camera. I use a DSRL and a smartphone throughout this class. You're going to need a window. I'm using my big backdoor window diffused with a dollar white ikea curtain. You can use any window in your house as long as it gets sufficient light to do the job. I'm going to show you different ways that you can manipulate your backdrop and your light to get just the right kind of lighting here. For your backdrop, I recommend a dark or black backdrop.You can use a chalkboard, a piece of black foam core or a hand painted dark slip backdrop like you might have learned how to create in my previous class. I'm going to show you how I made this two four by four foot matte black painted board to photograph my friend's dog because he is much larger than my cat. You might optionally want a piece of white foam core as a reflector.Some clamps and brackets to hold up your backdrops and an assortment of treats and toys to keep your cat or child entertained.Our pets are so nice too. Let us do this with them and so we definitely don't want to over tire them or distressed them in any way. So be respectful, go slow and be patient, but work quickly so that we can get as many effective shots out of one. Quick and easy session by as possible. We are going to jump right into getting our scenes set up and getting our cameras set in the next section. 3. Setup and Lighting: Alright. So, before we begin shooting, it's important to do a practice setup. It's a good time to get your camera settings right where you need to be, so that when you bring your cat or dog or whatever into the scene, you're not messing around with trying to get the settings just right because you've already done that. What I have here is an MDF chalkboard for my baseboard. I have this painted slip backdrop for my backboard. I have a stack of books, a plant, and a crystal. It is 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon here in the Northern Hemisphere. It's the end of March. I've got a really overcast day outside. The sun is right there but it's broken up through the clouds. If it were a sunny day, I would want to close these white curtains. But when I do that, it adds an extra diffusion and it darkens up my scene. I want bright lights. The angle of lighting we're going for here is side lighting. This is going to add a lot of texture, depth, and drama. That's why I have my light source here, and I'm going to be shooting this direction. I'm going to be shooting with my DSLR. This is a Nikon D750. I'm using the 24-120 zoom lens and I'm going to zoom in to about 70 mm. This is where I'm setting my zoom to. If I go ahead and take a picture right now, it's okay. The settings are 1/200 of a second. I'm shooting at F/4 and my ISO is 320. I'm getting a lot of light on this backdrop and I don't want it to be so lit up. I want to dark it up a little bit. So, I'm going to tilt my scene just a little, so it's just off of square, and then I'm actually going to bring this curtain in just a little so it starts to reduce the light that's hitting the backboard. Then I'm going to bring this one in just a little bit too. This is super subtle, but I'm giving myself a nice beam of light that's going to drag across my subject. I did this stack because it's kind of similar to the size of my cat. My cat's a bit taller, but this will give me a good place to start. I'm going to shoot straight on. The difference between those two is dramatic and I really like how it looks. At this point, I could add a fill-board. Let me grab them. This is a piece of white foam core. If I put it in opposite the light source, you can't see this from that angle, but it brightens up that edge a little bit better. I probably will pull this in for when I'm photographing with the cat. When you are fine-tuning your settings for this shot, it's important to consider your subject matters. If you're photographing a dog with a long snout, you're going to want to make sure that a lot of that snout is going to be in focus. If you're shooting with a really wide aperture like F/1.8 or F/2, you can get your dog's eyes in focus, but the front of his nose is going to be blurry. Which is totally fine. Just something to consider. If you want his whole eyes and nose in focus, you're going to need a narrower aperture like F/8 or more. Figure out what you're going to want your depth of field to be like and then you're going to need to have a shutter speed and an ISO to compensate. Personally, I'm photographing my cat. She moves pretty quickly so I don't want to go any slower than 1/200 of a second. It sucks to get that perfect shot, but it's barely out of focus because the cat or the dog moved a little bit. I do 1/200 of a second because, that is fast enough that in most movement I can capture a very sharp photo of my cat. With 1/200 of a second. Let's say I want to do F/5 because my cat has a flatter face and so I don't need to worry too much about her nose being blurred. I can take a picture and know that it's going to be a little too dark, so I will have to kick up my eyes. If I want to use F/5. I kicked it up to 500, and it's still just a little bit dark. I'm going to go to ISO 640. I think that that is pretty close to right on. Now that I have my settings done and ready to go, I want to do a little bit of experimenting. I just bought a set of higher end iPhone lenses. These hook right on to the case. This is moment brand. This is the telephoto lens. I don't have a ton of experience using this, but I'm thinking that I can get higher quality images with my phone using these lenses because, they mess with the distortion. I'm going to be able to get an image that feels less distorted. The things that are normally closer to the camera feel a little further away with the telephoto lens, so portraits tend to be a little more flattering. I'm going to snap a couple quick photos with my phone, and I'm going to do a few without. And then we can compare when we get to the editing stage. I'm going to leave that ready to go. Now that I am very confident with where my camera is and my lighting setup, I'm going to move this out of the way and then bring my cat over, and we will start photographing her in the next section. 4. Photographing Smallcat: Before I bring small cat over, I have collected a few of her favorite things. I have a bag of treats, a rope that she loves. One of her noisiest toys with little feathers, and I also have a sprig of oregano. It's a fresh herb from my herb garden. She likes to smell herbs and I'm pretty sure she will not eat this because it sits over there on my herb garden, and she does not eat it. Come here. One quick note, I wanted to mention, oregano is technically not safe for cats to eat. It has a high concentration of essential oils in it that can make them sick to their stomachs. Small cat has never expressed an interest in eating oregano. She's never tried to eat it, so I felt like it was safe for me to use, but I can't recommend it for you to use because I don't know if your cat's going to try to eat it. Some herbs that I think would be safer are cilantro, basil, sage, rosemary, or thyme. These are all listed on the ASPCA's website as non-toxic. If you bring any herbs or flowers or plants into your home, I recommend that you check and make sure that they're safe for your pet, if your pet decides to eat them. I went ahead and posted a link to that in the project section just as a good reference for you as a pet owner. With that being said, let's get back into shooting. Come get in the picture. She knows she's not supposed to be on the kitchen table. We're going to let her pass just this once, so while she's in position, I'm just going ahead and get myself ready to go. I'm just going to snap a few pics. I want her centered on the board a little bit. What is that? What is that mama? I want to be patient, give her time, it's a little dark. I'm going to kick up my ISO a little bit, and I'm going to drop my f-stop, so I'm an ISO 1000 and I'm an f/4.5. Want to smell? You're so pretty. I want you to look over this way, so turn. Come here. I put her face toward the light. She's so pretty. She's a bit bright, I'm going to hold up my shutter speed to 1/250 of a second, because I'm also getting a little bit of blur. I'm going to zoom out a little bit, at 50 millimeters. If you don't have a zoom lens, a fixed lens works beautifully. How are you doing? You want to smell these plants? Do they smell so nice? While I'm shooting, I want to think about end goal. I want to get a really good portrait, a really good full body shot that has all of her legs and her tail hopefully, and then maybe some close-up macro photos of her little face. Show off some details, maybe her toes too. You're so pretty. With this lens, it doesn't have a very close minimum focal distance, so if I get this close to her, it won't focus. If I want to get a close up, I have to zoom all the way to 120, and then step back, and then it will give me a close up photo if that makes sense, but then I have to be further away because the lens is so zoomed out, I'm more likely to get camera shake. I'm going to try and balance it with my camera really tight on my face. I want to focus on her eyes because that's where people connect, they connect with the eyes. She is doing so good. You're doing so good for me mama. Do you want a treat? You want this? You want me to put it down. She doesn't like to take treats out of my hand; she prefers to just eat them. She is so pretty. I'm going to pull this reflector up, get a little bit of light in. This will just give us a more evenly lit photo, but it will still provide that drama that I'm looking for. She's a little tired, she's laying down. I want to get somewhere she's standing up. You are so cute. Should we try and play with the rope? You want to try this? If you have someone who will help play with your cat for you while you take pictures, that would be easy and great. It's just me today, I can do better. Let's go for that full body shot. I'm going to zoom out to 35 millimeter. You funny girl. My backdrop's just a bit tight for this. She super likes to play. How about this? You want to smell the feather? I missed you blink. Come on try it again. I'm going to zoom out just a little. I want to see you up on those paws, honey. I know we're almost done. You want a treat? Do you smell that? I'm going to turn you. Treat? Don't leave. Here, go get it. After flipping through, I know we have a few really good shots in here. I don't know that I got my best full head to tail shot of small cat, but she's done for the moment, so I'll have to try that one again. I know I have one of her in her space costume that I absolutely loved. The goal here is to get a beautiful, captivating portrait of your pet, and be comfortable talking to them and helping them through the situation. I had a few different things that I was able to use to keep her attention. I'm honestly surprised we were able to capture it for that long. I'm really pleased with the few images that we were able to get that I really feel like are going to be very effective. If I were to do it again, I'd want a full body shot, head to paws like the end of her paws or having her tail in there. This backdrop is just a little bit tight for photographing small cat. Two ways to fix that, get a bigger backdrop which I'll show you in the next section, or you can even reduce the size of your shooting. If I were to bring this forward, and then this is the area where small cat can be. She's a little closer to the backdrop, and therefore less of the backdrop spill off can be in the edges, because the backdrop's a lot closer. This doesn't work in every situation obviously, it works best if you're shooting with a larger millimeter like a 50 millimeter or an 85 millimeter, because when you're shooting with a 24 millimeter, it's just going to distort so much of the scene that you're going to get whatever is not in your backdrop. By zooming in, you are basically bringing your backdrop forward in the image, and it tends to show less of what's going on behind the scene, and that is a common problem with a phone. I totally forgot to do some phone pics. Maybe we'll see if she'll come back up for a few. Mama, here's for a quick pics. For some quick pics. You don't want to. You don't want to Mama. You're so pretty. There's my full body shot. She likes having the windows open. I wonder if opening those up a little bit longer, will keep her entertained? You are so pretty. You want to smell? You try to bite those, those are mine. Are they tickling you? You're so cute. Do you want a treat? Let's get you a treat. You're doing so good. Go get it. Now, we got our full body shot on my phone, and combined with the images that I got. I feel very confident with what we were able to get of small cat and she's in a good mood. She's right underneath the tripod. Things start shaking, it's because she's getting excited and she's going to hit the lights at the tripod. She does that every time. Now that we are wrapped up with small cat, I'm going to take you through a setup where I use a bigger backdrop, and photograph my friend's dog, and her cats. We'll be in a completely different setup using slightly different backdrops, and you'll see the varying outcomes that you might expect using a very similar setup and lighting scenario and settings to get the same vein of portraits. Let's go ahead and do that in the next section. 5. Large Painted Backdrop: Before we go photograph my friend's dog, I need to create a large backdrop. Most of the backdrops that I have are only two foot by two foot, and so I know that it'll be really tricky for me to work in such a small confined space, and so I want to create a backdrop that is quite a bit larger. I happen to have a piece of underlayment laying around in my house. I am going to use that, and I will show you the process for how I created that. I'm going to be using this two foot by four foot piece of underlayment. This is just a particle. Not exactly sure what this is. I imagine it's for floors, but it's got this lovely wood texture that I'm going to cover with plain matte black paint. I'm going to be using black chalkboard paint. The nice thing about this paint is it's matte, so there's no shine or anything on the surface. It's also nice because I already have it from a previous project, so I'm going to use it up. I've got a baking tray that's lined with a plastic bag and a cabinets indoor smooth mini roller, which I will use to apply the paint. I'm going to go ahead and turn on time-lapse mode and talk you through the process. To start out, I want to go ahead and set out a bunch of newspapers just to protect my table from getting any paint on it. I also put on a pair of gloves to protect my hands because I tend to use my hands a lot in photos, so I don't really want to have to Photoshop paint off of them. I begin applying my first layer, and I wanna make sure I cover the board consistently, but it doesn't need to be perfect because we're going to be putting on a second coat of paint. It's been about 10 minutes, and my board is dry to the touch, so I'm going to go ahead and put a second coat on here. It should only need two coats, but if it needs a third, I'll do a third. Like I mentioned before, my second coat of paint is going to cover up any unevenness from my first layer and it's going to give me a nice, polished, clean, black look in the end. Now that my backdrop is dry completely, I can go ahead and start using it in my work. I know this is very simple. It's just black paint on a board but this is exactly what I need to get a really clean, crisp, beautiful portrait of my friend's dog, which I will show you how that went next. 6. Cedar and Alta: Come here, Cedar. Perfect. Sit, stay. Good girl. All right, so we're here in my friend Paula's kitchen. We're going to photographs Cedar. I've set up next to her back door window. It's 4:30 in the afternoon. We're getting some beautiful West light, East side lighting yeah, East and I have this four foot by two foot black mat board that we will photograph Cedar on. So I'm going to bring you a little closer and we will start shooting. Hi sweety. Hi, hi baby girl. Okay, I'm shooting with a zoom lens it's a 24-120. I've got Paula behind me she's going to try and and keep Cedar alert and paying attention and we'll see if we can get a straight on shot and a portrait like a side view portrait. So let me see if we can, what our settings need to be. Okay, I've got pretty good settings here. I'm going to adjust just a little bit. Okay, I have ISO 1,250, I'm at one-60th of a second, and f/5. I don't want to drop any slower than that because Cedar is going to move a little bit and I want to make sure I can get her nice and sharp plain focus, and then I don't want to go any lower than f/5 because her nose is really long and I want to make sure we maintain focus in her face. So if we can have her sit just a little closer to the board. I don't know if there's a way to like, I can do that. Okay. Here, back. Perfect. Here, stay, stay. Good, and then am going to push just a little, It's a little narrow, but I think we can. You tell me if you want her to look lower, I can go lower or higher. We've got a good little mix. It's important to keep focus on her eyes. So I'm going to make sure we get that. She's so pretty. Stay. She's doing amazingly well. Girl, stay. You're such a good girl Cedar. Outside? Good. Outside? Yes. Are you going to get a treat honey? Did she give you treat? Okay let's see if she can look outside. Outside. Outside. Yes. That was good. Good girl. Stay. Good girl, outside? No, sit. Back. No, back. Silly girl She's so funny. Here. Here. Sit. Stay. Cedar. See if we can get her to look right into the camera. Here. Here. Good girl. Stay. You're so pretty honey. Is she like feasted? What are you doing you silly kitter? Girl stay. Are we holding hands, sweetheart? Is that nice? She's like it's confusing. Shake. Shake. Good girl That's perfect. No, we're not going. Mama, you're confusing me. Stay, stay stay stay, Okay I'm going to reach over here. I love that and if you could drop her nose down just a little, and then bring her gaze a little more towards me. Yeah. Yeah. Perfect. All her whiskers you just lit up. Good girl. She's a good girl. Hi sweety you're doing so good. Nope, sit. No. You can get it to do that with her little paws in the air that will be fun. Pretty stay. Sit pretty. Sit pretty. There we go, that was a good one. We got a little tongue, that was so sweet. You're such a good girl. Yeah. Okay. I think we've probably got it. Do you want to try and do some of Alta? Okay, yeah let me put Cedar away. Okay, okay. We can even put a chair there so she's a little. Yeah. We'll see. She'll stand. We'll see. Yeah she might not be up for this. [inaudible] cat. Hi mama. We got one really good one though. Try again. She so pretty. She's so pretty. I got you for a minute? Hey. You are so pretty honey. Watch the birdies. We got you trapped, sweetheart. Look. Got to face the other way. Hi sweety, what are you doing? Come here, come here, come here. Look. She's purring. I know. Really quick. One more. We got this, we got this sweetheart. Usually behind heels. Okay. Let's see what I got. She is so gorgeous. Look at this cat. The mama cat. Look at you. The bar stool is in most of them if you hate the way that looks. No I don't. We can. Okay. See that one. I like that one. She's cute. Her whiskers are so long. They're lit up really well too. I like that one a lot. I think that was the first one i did. I like the movement too. She's got her tail in the background. You're so pretty mamas. Sweet. Here are the final photos that I was able to get of Cedar and Alta. I'm super excited how this turned out. This went really well. I was expecting it to go a lot less. Well. I think it's important to set your expectations low so that when things go well, you can be pleasantly surprised and if they don't go well, you can be, I knew this was going to be hard and I'm going to give it another go. It's random. I recommend before you get started, maybe thinking about what times of day your cat or dog or bird might be most active or sleepy and then keep that in mind as you're working with them. Because if they are wild and riled up, they're not going to want to sit still for a picture. But if they're sleepy and tired, they might not want to stand up pretty for you. So keep these things in mind. Feel free to do this a few times during the day, taking stock of what time works best for your pet and what scenario maybe after they've eaten or right before they've eaten, maybe right after you take them out and bring them back in. Just whatever is going to work the best for your pet. You're going to know your pet better than anybody else and so you'll have the best kind of idea of what might work well for them, and as you learn these things, please feel free to share what you've learned in the discussion section here in class because other people can find that information useful as well. So I'm totally down for it. Add whatever recommendations you have. I'm not a pet photography expert. I just honed in on how to take this particular type of photo with my cat and so I'm hoping that it works for you and yours as it has worked for mine and my friends. I'm hoping that this was helpful. 7. Lightroom and Mobile Edits: All right, so we are here in Adobe Light-room classic. I am running version 9.2. I will be editing these photos of small cat. So I'm going to go ahead and hit the star. I've already gone through and picked my favorites. So I will be showing you how I take these to the next level because I mean, as it is, it's a pretty good photo. But I think I can make it a lot more dramatic and give it that high-quality studio look with a few quick edits. So I'm just going to go in here and pick a pretty normal looking expression. She really just laid down the whole time. So we have lots of lay-down picks. I actually, I love this one. This one has a ton of personality. She's got her little tongue licking her chops after she had a snack and I can also tweak the background. So this is the foot I'm going to edit. I'm going to go into the develop module. My background is white because I usually edit on white. But for this shot, since it's dark, I'm going to change it to darker gray. Just so that I don't strain my eyes with how much contrast we have. So to start out, I want to go all the way to the bottom of this menu into my lens corrections drawer. I'm going to check "Enable Profile Corrections" and it's just going to take out the vignette on the edging and fix any distortion in the shot. So you can see this is before and this is after. We're going to adjust this crop. You can see my background, it does not extend the full-width to fix this, I could have pushed small-cat further back in the shot so that I didn't have these things spilling out or I could have just used a larger backdrop, but we've already taken the picture. So let's just fix what we have. So I'm going to toggle down to the four by five. This is the tall Instagram crop. It looks like she almost does not quite fit, but that's okay. I don't like how close this crop feels. So for this shot, maybe we will focus in on her cute little face. So we will do two things at once. Here we're going to have a really effective crop and we are also going to remove any of those distracting elements in the background without doing any like clone stamping or anything like that. So I am lining up this top third line with where her whiskers are. This will give her a little bit of negative space above her head and it's not going to cut her foot off in a weird spot. With people I try to avoid cropping right at the knee or the elbow just because it tends to look really weird. So giving your person or your pet a little bit of breathing room around the edges really helps create a very balanced photo. So if I zoom in here, you can see that I have got a nice focus on her ears, but I'm missing the focus a little bit on her nose. So like I mentioned before, if you have an aperture that is a little bit narrower, so instead of a 4.5, if I'd gone to like FA I would have been able to get her full face in focus, but for this shot, I don't think it really matters that much. So let's go ahead and start actually editing this image. I'm going to bring my contrast up. Bringing the contrast up is going to help me see if my photo is too bright or too dark. Because I'm going for that dark high-contrast look, I think that the darkness here is good. But if I was trying to get like a classically edited or live photo, I would probably increase the exposure, but I'm going to take that out. I'm going to bring the blacks down and I'm going to bring the shadows up just a little bit. If I go too much, it's going to throw off the high contrast look that I want. I'm going to bring my whites up just a little bit and then I'm going to come down into my tone curve menu to do just a little more finer tuning edit. So I'm going to take the dark slider and bring that up just a little. That's doing the same thing that shadows does above. Then I'm going to bring my shadows here down. So we have a very dramatic looking picture here so far. I think the color is off a little bit. It seems kind of cool, like if I look at the white tones in her ears, it's very cold. So I'm going to take a sample of this lighter spot in the background and see if it gets me closer to what feels natural. So that's a little closer, but now it feels a little too warm. I'm just going to manually bring the temperature back down just a little and it feels a bit pink. So I'm going to bring the tint down towards the green side just a little bit. I usually tweak my temperature and tint for a while until I really feel like it's an accurate representation of what it looks like in real life. I am actually going to bring my exposure up just a little bit and then I'm going to bring my highlights way down. This is going to help bring those bright spots down a little bit, but still going to keep that high contrast look. I'm going to increase the clarity just a little bit. I don't usually do it, but because there's a lot of texture here, we want to really show that off. Then I'm going to also increase the sharpening. I bring my sharpening up about halfway and then my masking, I hit the "all option button" and I just bring it up until the edges are sharp. There we go. I'm just going to hit the "Y key" so I can see a before and after, and I can kind of get a feel for where we started to where we are now, I think this is nice and classic looking picture. I'm going to hit "Y" again to go back,and then I want to just bring this background down just a little bit because I really like how beautiful it looks when the background is super dark. So I'm going to actually hand paint that. So I'm going to go into my adjustment brush and I'm going to adjust it to be big enough to just paint the background. So I have selected burn darken, which is one of the default settings and I am just going to come in and hand paint this background. I'm going to get close to her, but not like super close, so I don't have to go in and erase anything that I've done, but that added quite a bit of darkness. I'm also going to bring the highlights down in that background. If I go too far, you're going to see a definite like halo around the cat, which I don't want. So I'm just going to do just enough to give a little bit of that contrast back into my image. So let me just exit out and then show you before and after again. Then let me just show you before I added the brush stroke, it was a lot brighter and then after I added the brush stroke, it really dials you into the photo, the main focus here. Another thing I can do is bring my exposure of the total image down just a little bit. I can bring my whites up and really give it a lot of drama. There's a lot of darkness happening in this side of her face because I did not use a reflector for all of the images. So I can go in and grab my adjustment brush, do the opposite where I grab a dodge, lighten and then paint in those shadows in her face just. So that we really have the focus in on her cute little face. Going to paint her mouth too so her tongue sticks out keeping that bogus right in there. So I've got a bright spot right behind her back, which I think is because of the way that I painted it. So if I select my tool, if I hover over it, the red shows me where the mask is and if I click on it, it'll reactivate it. So I'm just going to adjust my size and I'm going to come in here and paint just a little closer. So I have a smaller brush so I could do more fine tune painting. Just come in on these edges here just so it doesn't look like I've painted. It is more settle and then I've got this line right here that I think is really distracting once you notice that you're like, oh yeah, you can tell she has two different backdrops there. That's fine, but I'm going to edit it out. So I'm going to go into my clone tool, my spot removal. I'm going to change it to be pretty fat. Then I'm just going to just click along that line. It's going to sample down here in the dark area and it's just going to give a little bit of a blend there. So instead of being just like a perfectly straight line, let me show you like before where it's just a perfectly straight line. It just blended that out a little bit just so it looks more like a gradient now. Then I'm going to take a graduated filter. I'm going to change it to darken. This is going to create like a beam of darkness basically. So I'm just going to bring that in from the corner in a diagonal because this side is where my light was and so I want to really darken this up on these edges here. Perfect.So this looks like a stormy night now. But let me again show you a before and after so you can see where we started to where we are now. So this is before I did any masking and brushing and filtering, and then this is after. So I really did just bring that in just to have that focused in on her and I really like the final photo there. I think that the contrast that makes her tongue and her eyes pop out a little bit more and just like give you that really polished dramatic feel. So now if I wanted to copy this image, I hit "Copy" and then hit "Enter". I can go into any of the other photos I've done of this same session and hit "Paste" and it will throw everything except the individual, it's not going to do the clone sampling. It's not going to do the adjustment because in my copy menu, my local adjustments, they're not checked and neither is my spot removal or my crops. So I have to go and do my crop again, which is fine. I would want to crop per photo and then I'm going to bring that in tinny bit, maybe just rotate. So it's nice and straight, there we go. So my crop is good and then I would have to hand paint my background again. So if I come in here with my dark in, dark in that up and do the very same thing. You don't have to do this. This is totally optional, but I really do think that it adds that extra depth and drama to a photo. If you were using a darker background, you would not have to paint in as much as I have. But because of the backdrop I chose, that's what I have to do. So those are the pictures that I've done of small cat. Let me drop into the photos of cedar and Alta next. So I've toggled back to my session back in February, and I've already gone through and selected my favorites of cedar and Alta. So let me go into the develop module and we can begin. So here is the final photo, after I've done all my edits to cedar. I'm going to go ahead and right-click create virtual copy. This is going to create a copy of the photo where it is at and then I'm going to re-edit it. So I'm going to right-click on the copy and I'm going to go to develop settings and hit reset. This is going to just take it all the way back to where we started. So you can see from this image, I've got the curtains in the photo, whatever's in the background here, I've got the bracket. So it's not perfect, but we are able to create a really polished, beautiful image by cropping and being creative and hopefully using a backdrop that's a lot bigger that you don't need to do all this stuff with. Let's go down to eight by ten. We're going to scroll down, gets cedar in the shot. I'm going to bring this in nice and tight so that she is our main focus here. We're going to bring this side in too put her eyes right at the third level. That's where your eyes naturally go in the frame and so having her eyes there will be very comfortable composition. Perfect so that takes out a lot of the problems that I had with the background and already cleans up the image a ton. Next I'm going to do my camera profile, so enable profile corrections that just took out the tiny bit of distortion that was there. I'm going to increase my contrast. This is going to make the darks darker and the lights lighter. We're going to bring my shadows up just a little bit. She's got a very heavy shadow side on her face right here, so we may have to paint that in a little bit. She's also a little bit bluish, so I'm going to increase my temperature just a little bit just enough to make her beautiful amber eyes pop. We're going to increase the vibrance up a little bit too just because since she's more muted in tones I think that'll be really pretty. Let's take the darks up just a little bit and the shadows down. Okay, that was a little maybe too far. Maybe it will compensate with bringing my shadows up a little bit and then on her white fur right here is getting blown out a little bit so I'm going to just bring my highlights in just to dial that in. Then from here, I'm going to actually bring my exposure up a little bit just a tiny bit and then I'm going to bring in a graduated filter on her. Let's enable the graduated filter, we're going to do a light in and I'm going to bring this in across her face. If I hover over this you can see where the filter is being applied and then I'm going to increase the shadows on that filter just so that we can see her second eye a little bit better. Then one thing that this did was it helped in lighting up the background a little bit. If you want a pure black background, you'll have to go in and paint this for this shot but I think that it helped even this out. We do have a very heavy shadow right here on this side so I might come in and do lighting on that as well. Just a small filter to just gray out that background a little bit. Awesome. Then I'm going to sharpen the image so bring that up halfway, add a mask to it. I'm just sharpening the edges. I feel really happy about that. This is really classic, really clean. Let's go ahead and edit a photo of Alta. This is Alta, this is the final photo that I edited. We're going to do the same thing, create a virtual copy, and then I'm going to right-click develop settings and reset, so I can show you exactly how I got here. It looks like I kept my crop, but if I wanted to share this on Instagram, I would crop it in just a little more because Altar was standing on a stool. The stool works on this photo just because it's the same color as her fur, but I tend to crop that thing out just so that it's not anything distracting in the image. This puts her eyes right in the center, which I think can be very effective. Let's start by increasing that contrast again. Then for this shot, we're going to need to bring the shadows up quite a bit just so we can get a nice defined shape on her. I'm going bring the whites up, bring the highlights down. I don't want to bring them too far down because then she'll look dusty and weird. Just enough to give us that information in that space, bring the blacks down, and then bring in that graduated filter on this side. Like I mentioned before if you're using a reflector, you wouldn't have to add this graduated filter but this is just to show that you don't have to a reflector every time and you can a lot of times fix this in the editing portion of the process of this photo. Next I'm just going to go in with my adjustment brush and I'm doing a lighting. I'm just going to add a little bit of brightness to the side of her face just so the viewer can connect with her eyes really well. I just want to make sure those are nice and bright. She is so cute. Then we're going to go down into the sharpen menu, sharpen up halfway add a little bit of a mask to it. Awesome. That's so subtle you wouldn't be able to see it just looking at it. How much the sharpness changed this but for sharing online, it's important to sharpen just so that you make sure that your photo is as clear as possible when people are viewing it. Yeah, I feel pretty good about this. She seems a little bit blue if you look at the whites in her fur they're just a teeny bit blue so I'm just going to add a little bit of warmth to that and then possibly I think the tint is pretty right on super cute picture of Alta. Let's hit copy and we can paste this onto some of these other ones. Oh, I love this picture. Okay, what I love about this picture is how stark her whiskers are against the black background. Again, I've got a little bit of stuff here. If I were to try and crop it out, it would get very close to her whiskers and crop those out completely. I'm actually going to go in with the clone tool and try and clone this area out just a little bit. Let's get it to sample right here from this dark spot. I've got a weird part right there. Then let's go ahead and take out this whole curtains. I'm just going to drag. I might have to do it in pieces actually so let me just right-click, delete. I'm going to do this in pieces because there's not a straight stripe of black for it to sample from. I'm going to change this sample from down here and then go in and grab this area and sample from over here. I don't want any whiskers in the picture. I'll have to do one more. If it won't let you select in the corner, sometimes you have to select in the side and then drag the original selection over. It's a little finicky, I would say if you have Photoshop, it's going to be a little quicker for this type of thing but I like to stay in Lightroom. I like to use this program as much as possible kind of push it to its capabilities. Yeah, I'm just taking out some weird little nixing up in that stool and I think this picture is super pretty now. Nice and effective. I took out any of that distracting stuff in the edges, and then I'm putting her eyes right on that third line and I think that that is super, super pretty. I'm going to just brush a little bit of lighting into her fur just so that she's not in the shadow too much, but it will still be a nice dramatic image. Love that super, super pretty. To share these images I would right-click, go to my export window in here I have it exporting to my pictures folder, putting it in my Instagram sub-folder. Let's change the custom text to Alta high contrast start number 1. I export in JPEG using the SRGB color space because everything I do is on the Internet. I'm going to limit my file size to 1800 K, this is the max size that you can upload stuff to Skillshare. I always have this check because I hate when I'm trying to put something on Skillshare and it's too big so I leave the file size to 1800 K. I'm going to resize this to fit the long edge, 1920 pixels. This means my long edge is going to be long enough to fit nicely in a video. I'm going to sharpen for the screen and show in finder after I export. I export at 240 resolution. This is probably overkill, but it's fine for me for now so I'm just going ahead and just leave it just like that. Then it throws it into my massive Instagram folder where I can open my AirDrop, I can turn on my phone, drag this photo right over my little face, and it shows up on my phone ready to share on Instagram. This is my workflow. Hopefully this is helpful for you and you can help add contrast to your photos that you take at home of your pets or plants or whatever you love. Okay, really quickly before we wrap up editing. I want to show you how my iPhone photos turned out. I have these three images here. The first one is taken with my iPhone camera just the straight up lens that is comes built-in with the camera. You can see what I mean when I talk about distortion. All three of these stacks in these photos are about the same size but in the first one you can see a great deal of the background elements that I want out of the photo that are very distracting. To fix that, I just went ahead and zoomed in, in the second photo. When you zoom in and recompose, it brings out backdrop forward. This is a really easy hack to get your photos to look a lot better just adding little bit of a zoom. The only reason why I wouldn't necessarily do this all the time is because zooming does introduce a little bit of noise and so to get around this, to take it one step further I purchased that moment brand telephoto lens. The last photo is with that lens on, same size composition of photos, but this time I'm getting all of the detail, all of the appropriate depth in the shot with using this extra lens attachment. The shot that I got with the moment telephoto lens was the cleanest and most crisp, I liked it the best, so I went ahead an edited that one. I brought that photo into the Lightroom mobile app and I started out by decreasing the exposure and increasing the contrast. I do this in several ways. I take my highlights down, my shadows down. I bring my whites up for contrast, and bring my blacks down. I go through a series of tweaks here you can see I pulled the temperature down to get my bluer colors to shine, and then I bring the vibrance up. I increase my sharpening so that the photo is nice and crisp for sharing on Instagram and then I go ahead and do a couple more contrast tweaks just really making sure that I'm getting that dark, moody, high contrast look, with my few little edits here. Once I'm happy with how it looks, I want to go ahead and add a few little selective edits. I come all the way over to the selective menu and I want to add a graduated filter. If I tap the plus sign in the top left-hand corner, I can choose graduated filter and I can drag this on the screen using my finger. Next, I want to click on light and then bring the exposure down. This is going to select what kind of filter I'm applying to the photo and then how much. Once I'm happy with my graduated filter, you can see I had a lot of drama using that filter. I want to go ahead and do a little bit of clone stamping because you can see my background is a little bit scratched up, it's a chalkboard so it's messy looking. I want to go ahead and take my clone stamp. I adjust the stamp size. It's a little small, but it does the trick and I sit and click and drag with my fingertip to edit out these little marks and blemishes in my backdrop throughout the photo. Then once I am happy with how that goes, here is my final edited photo. Here is the before and after you can see it's very, very dramatic and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Yeah, I do a lot of editing on my phone. I use the Instagram app a lot, and this is just what you can expect using the Lightroom mobile app that has a ton of editing capabilities. It's amazing and I love it. Thanks so much for watching. 8. Final Thoughts: All right. That is the end of it. I hope that this was fun to watch and I hope that you feel excited and energized and ready to go photograph your own pets or children or plants, whatever you want to photograph. Feel free to share any of the photos that you take throughout this process. Your final photo or maybe what it looked like before you edited versus after, any kind of breakthroughs that you had throughout this process, if you run into any snags, when you need help with your photography, your photos aren't coming out quite right and you're not sure why, please, please, please reach out in the discussion section here in class. I would love to help you work through any issues that you might be having. You can also post your photos in your project and be like, "Hey, this isn't quite what I want. Let me know where I need to go from here." If you want specific feedback, please ask. I'm happy to give feedback, but I try not to tell people how to change everything about their photo if that makes sense. So let me know if you want specific feedback, I'm happy to give it. If you share your photos on Instagram, please tag me so that I can come look. My handle is just Tabithapark. I love seeing your work. I love getting your messages and helping you work through any photography related issues that you might be running into. If you enjoyed this class and this is the first time you're seeing my face here on Skillshare, I have a whole collection, a whole library of courses here. I've over 25 classes here on Skillshare, and I am adding more all the time. If you have a suggestion for a future class that you'd love to see, a lighting technique or a subject that you want specifically photographed, I always love to hear your class ideas, suggestions as well. Yeah, with all that being said, thanks so much for watching and I'm excited to see your high quality studio portraits of your pets. Thanks so much.