Dogs in Landscape Photography

For some photographers they fall in love with the art of photography and photograph everything – families, weddings, engagements, landscapes. And then they realize there’s one subject they just can’t get enough of and specialize. For me, photography has always been driven by the love of dogs. Which means when Embark gave us the challenge “Dogscape” with the brief of “A landscape, either natural or man-made, must be a prominent feature of this image. The image can be shot with any focal length or even stitched from multiple images, but it must show some features of the landscape and give a sense of place, while still featuring the dog as the main subject.” I felt very out of my comfort zone placing a dog in landscape photography.

A Failed Attempt at a Dog In Landscape Photography

I thought about places that might work – somewhere with a big view. For my first attempt I imagined a sunrise over a valley photographed from the top of a mountain. I got up at 4 AM. Drove 2.5 hours. Hiked straight up for an hour. Got to the top for a sunrise dogscape and the clouds were too low that morning to even make out the neighboring mountain much less the valley. (Don’t worry that trip resulted in a great image for the Up Ups challenge).

The Up Up brief in the 2022 Unleashed dog photography challenge asked for photos of dogs up high.

Looking for Landscapes Closer to Home

As the due date grew closer I was getting nervous. I didn’t have anything that I loved and I couldn’t think of a closer to home epic landscape here surrounded by plain farmland. While I think where I live with big open fields is beautiful – I wasn’t sure it could compete with the coasts of Australia or the mountains of Catalonia, Spain. I nearly decided to skip out all together. After all – I’m a dog photographer, not a landscape photographer. But I had committed to these challenges and I wanted to see it through. I knew I had to submit SOMETHING.

Finally in the 11th hour – seriously less than 11 hours from the due date and just an hour before sunset – I begged Renee to help me photograph Jack over by the lake.

Puppy dog eyes photos are best saved for the end of your dog's Atlanta' photo shoot.

Getting the Final Image

Luckily, mother nature was on our side and delivered a beautiful pastel sunset. A few tossed rocks into the lake drew Jack’s gaze back over his shoulder and a nearly perfectly smooth water created a beautiful reflection.

Sunset images with natural light are tricky – you have to expose to keep all the detail and color of the sky or lose all that pretty sunset while also balancing the light on your subject who will be a little dark in the straight out of camera image.

I knew with careful post processing work and a perfectly balanced exposure I’d be able to keep the colors of the sky and bring light back to Jack. I also needed to remove the leash and a few other distractions from the final image.

I was really proud of this final image. I created a landscape image – with a dog. And I am really happy to have an image of my own dog that I really love.

This image earned a Top 10 placement in Dogscapes and our final feedback: “The dog is interacting wonderfully with the landscape in this image. Lovely colour palette and detail in the edit.”

Created during the Embark dog photography challenge of 2022 this image of a Cane Corso in Atlanta, GA scored a Top 10 placement.

Image directly out of camera – The RAW format often seems “flat” but so much detail is contained inside this file type. 

Created during the Embark dog photography challenge of 2022 this image of a Cane Corso in Atlanta, GA scored a Top 10 placement.

Image after post processing in lightroom – Lightroom is the darkroom of digital photography – bringing back the detail our eyes saw.

Created during the Embark dog photography challenge of 2022 this image of a Cane Corso in Atlanta, GA scored a Top 10 placement.

Image after photoshop- Photoshop was used to remove the leash, clean up the dock, and removing distractions. 

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