How I Shot This: Bruce, Peter and Diamond Dog

How I Shot This: Bruce, Peter and Diamond Dog

I love photographing people. I love the challenge of connecting with the person and working with them to produce a fantastic portrait. Sometimes, the “moment it clicks” comes easily, as in this case of this portrait of Bruce and Peter, from the Nyinyikay community in East Arnhem Land, with their big canine friend, Diamond Dog.


Bruce, Peter and Diamond Dog
Bruce, Peter and Diamond Dog
Nikon D810, f5.0, 1/250, ISO 200, 65mm (Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens)


It was late in the afternoon, with sunset only an hour or so away, when we headed out to the mangrove flats with Marcus, Peter, Bruce, Rickay and a number of the very friendly dogs from the community. Peter and Bruce were absolutely delighted to be showing us the flats — from shells that, when cracked open, revealed perfect 5-pointed stars, to oysters that you could pick off the rocks and eat raw.

While ambling along, I took note of the light and layout of the land. I noticed the strong backlight, as the sun was still out, which meant that if I shot any frames with the sky behind, it would mean that my subject ran the risk of being underexposed and silhouetted. This meant that I couldn’t shoot in Aperture Priority (my preferred mode of shooting “on the fly”). So, I metered for the light on the foreground in Manual Exposure, took a test shot and checked the Histogram. Everything looked in place, so I knew that even if I had to shoot with the sky behind the subject, the person (or dog) would be properly exposed.

I selected an aperture that would give me a fairly shallow depth of field, and a shutter speed that allowed me to freeze movement (the kids were running around excitedly), and off I went.

The boys loved being photographed. At one point, they gathered around Diamond Dog and hugged him tight. I popped down on one knee (I always try and shoot eye level for portraits) and fired away a few frames as I laughed with them and told them to hug Diamond Dog more. If you see something interesting to photograph, go with the moment and if you can, encourage it along. Be part of the game.

The boys loved it, and, of course, loved looking at their photos even more. Peter even wanted to give it a go, so I handed him my camera (which he could barely hold up in his smaller hands) and showed him how to focus and shoot. He had a ball!

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