The Truth Behind Cute Dog Pictures

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Dog art is a lucrative business. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans spent $53.3 billion dollars on their pets in 2012. Increasingly, dog owners are looking for ways to use Photoshop and Lightroom to make their dogs look that way.

I am not a dog owner, but I do have a dog. Well, I did have her at the time this article was written. She was a rescue from a pound, and I named her Mollie after my grandfather’s sister Mollie. She was a giant Schnauzer and looked nothing like a traditional Schnauzer, but it just seemed right to me that I should name her after my grandfather’s sister who also looked like she didn’t belong to any particular breed of dog.

The first time I took Mollie home with me, she was terrified of everything in my apartment: bookshelves, furniture, even the refrigerator made her nervous—things she had never encountered in the pound where they kept her. I wasn’t worried about what the bookshelves would do to her; I had read up on how to introduce a new dog to your household and knew that it is important not to worry about things you can’t control. But it bothered me that Moll

I’ve seen a lot of cute dog photos online. I had to know: Are they really that cute, or are people just using photo editing programs to make them look better? I decided to investigate by doing some post-processing on my own dog pictures.

Taken with Canon EOS Rebel Ti1, ISO 100, 1/200 sec @ f/4.5. Post processing done in Adobe Lightroom 4.0 with the following settings:

Exposure adjustment: +1.00 (brighter)

Contrast adjustment: +10.00

Saturation adjustment: +4.00 (more colorful)

White and black point adjustments: no change (no correction)

Sharpening adjustment: +10.00 (more detail)

Many dog owners have been taken by surprise when they see the first pictures of their new puppy. The cute pictures show a fluffy little dog that is the epitome of innocence and joy. Unfortunately, those pictures are often not what you get when you get your new puppy.

We have put together this article to help dog lovers discover the truth behind cute dog pictures and learn how to take better pictures of their dogs.

This is a tutorial on how to create the popular, cute looking dog photos.

First, let’s start with the pictures you will be using. You need one of your dog, and one of a background. I am just going to use my husky on the beach for this post.

1) Open up two images in Photoshop. Make sure they are both around 1000 pixels wide, as that is ideal for what we are doing. Zoom in so that you can see the details clearly.

2) Your background should be something that has even lighting, such as a white wall or a solid colored blanket or towel. You are going to do simple lightening and darkening with curves to create your shadows and highlights. You want the colors to be subtle in your shadows and highlights, so don’t use anything too colorful for your background when making these edits.

3) Find somewhere on your dog where there is no fur, such as between the toes or there belly button area. If you have a long haired dog, try their ear flap or some other area where they have hair but it looks smooth like silk. Since you are working on a photo of your dog and not a photo of an object, you don’t want any hair visible while editing this picture

I’ve written before about how I use Photoshop and Lightroom to improve my dog pictures. (See “Dog Training: The Unofficial Guide.”)

I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people who want to learn more about how I process my photos, but I haven’t been able to answer them because of the confidentiality agreement I signed with the company that commissioned me to write the post. That contract has now ended, so today I’m going public with the details.

Taken together, here’s what you need to know:

1) Don’t try this at home. You can’t get good results unless you have a very expensive camera, good lighting equipment, and years of practice.

2) Having said that, don’t let the existence of this post stop you from taking good pictures. All it takes is patience and practice.

3) If you want to learn more about how to take better pictures of dogs, or people, or anything else, Annie Leibovitz’s book “Annie Leibovitz at Work” is one of the best photography books ever written. It goes into enormous detail about lighting and posing, but never in a way that gets boring or technical. She also tells great stories about her famous subjects and working with various

The dog photo above is a pretty good one. But how can you tell it isn’t a real picture? There are no clues. The ears, eyes and nose are aligned on the same plane; the lighting is uniform; the colors are consistent; there aren’t any visible artifacts from montaging multiple photographs together.

The basic technique used in editing most dog pictures is to take a picture of the animal’s head and shoulders against a solid background, then cut out everything except the head and shoulders using Photoshop; then move the head slightly, use layer masks to adjust the lighting on different parts of the head, and fill or erase away parts of the background to make it less distracting; then copy and paste in an appropriately shaded body from another picture of an animal (usually this is just a Google image search); then finish up with a little cleanup work, where necessary, to remove stray hairs or wrinkles in otherwise clean fur.

The result is that what you see here is not actually what happened when someone took a bunch of pictures of their pet. It’s what happened when someone took one picture of their pet and edited it until it looked like enough other dog pictures to pass for real.

There are three levels of dog photography.

The first level is the most common and involves taking a picture of your dog, probably outside, and posting it on social media with the caption “Cute pic of my dog!”

The second level involves taking that same picture and manipulating it in Photoshop to make it even cuter.

The third level involves taking that same picture and manipulating it in Photoshop to make it not a picture of a dog at all, but to make it look like the dog is doing something interesting like flying or playing the piano or eating ice cream or something.

Thing is, you really have to know what you’re doing, because if you don’t do it right, you’re left with just a crappy picture of a dog. If your goal was to take a picture of a dog, then that’s kind of embarrassing. And if your goal was to take an interesting photograph, then you’ve failed anyway.

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