Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue

Taking better pet pictures – Flash vs. HDR

Did you ever try to take a picture of your pet with your cellphone or pocket camera, the flash fired, and they just looked like the devil?

Jake, pictured here, is one of my oldest dogs; and while he does get grumpy, he is not the devil ☺

Believe it or not – it’s very similar to those redeyes you get when you take flash pictures of people.  But the redeye reduction methods (typically a set of rapid flashes before the actual shot) in these cameras usually do not work for pet pictures.

The phenomenon is really due to the way our eyes (and our pet eyes) are made.  You may have heard about the rods and cones.  Cones are the cells that help us see color, and rods are cells that help us see black and white.  The rods are very sensitive to light (they are really what makes up our ‘night vision’).  The rods also happen to be reflective.  And so the redeyes/devil-eyes – are just the flash getting reflected in the cones of your subject.  

Now for people – there are two things that make redeyes more manageable. Specifically we have less rods, and when we see these rapid flashes, our pupils contract and so less light gets reflected.  For our pets – their superior night vision also means they have an order of magnitude more rods in their eyes, and they tend to have much bigger pupils, that don’t react as rapidly as ours. 

So, if your pet is in low light, and you think you need flash, there are a couple of approaches to take.  First – try to avoid flash.  Only the more sophisticated cameras with an off camera flash will work well.  A better approach is, when possible simply turn on a lamp!  

Also most of todays cellphone and pocket cameras do well in low-light – just make sure to turn off the auto-flash. Another great technique (works very well in iPhones – is to turn on “HDR”. This stands for High Dynamic Range. Basically the camera takes three (or more depending on the camera) images: One exposed at the room level, one underexposed, and one overexposed. It then does some magic to average them out – and the resulting image is often much more pleasing (I actually love it so much I use it even at daylight as the pictures tend to look richer). This is the same picture of Jake, where I turned off the flash, and turned on HDR:

Experiment for yourselves!


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Wine and Wags - Sunday June 2nd

June 2nd !!

Mark your calendar for this wonderful 2nd Annual Wine & Wags event, in Livermore. Big White House Winery/John Evan Cellar has graciously offered us a spot at their beautiful winery where we will have our BAGSR table ! More than 15 wineries are sponsoring this event and many rescues are participating. Please plan on a beautiful Sunday and come do ya thing....with the wine glass thing and support our dogs. We will have a few ambassadogs there. Thank you for Carmen and Mark Battle, as well as Kathy Ramirez, who reached out to us. Who wants to have some fun in the sun?

Holiday Pup Pics 2018

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!

Holiday Pup Pics

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!


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We are a proud group of volunteers who love German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Click here to learn more.