Tuesday, January 12, 2010


My human got an email the other day asking about a big problem all pug picture-takers face: Getting your camera to make a cute puggy face look like a cute puggy face and not a dark blob.

She says pug faces are hard for a few reasons:

Problem #1: Cameras don't like extremes
Cameras have a hard time with dark AND light in the same picture (think: light pug body/dark pug face... brother Dutch's entire body). So when your camera sees a fawn pug like me, it says: Uh, black AND that light fawn-color in the same place? Are you kidding?? I can really only get one of them right. This thing is mostly fawn-color so I guess I'm supposed to get the fawn-color right. Sorry about those dark parts. Hope they weren't important.

Problem #2: Cameras are stupid
A camera doesn't know -or even care- what cute is. All it cares about is light and there's no such thing as cute light. Your camera takes a picture by measuring the amount of light bouncing off stuff and then deciding how much light needs to be inside the camera to make a picture of that stuff come out good. Light-colored things tell the camera to let a little bit of light inside; dark things tell the camera to let a lot of light inside.

A pug like me is like 90% light-colored, so the camera thinks: oh, a light-colored thing. I don't need to let in much light to take this picture. So the camera lets in just enough light to make my light-colored puggy body look good.... and my face turns into a black blob because there isn't enough light inside the camera to create the details in my dark puggy eyes/nose/wrinkles.

That's probably waaaay more than you wanted to know about cameras... but the moral of the story is that cameras don't like pugs (and they HATE dalmatians). My human says there are things you can do to help your camera take better pug pictures (good for all dogs and black puggies too):

* Look for a setting that tells your camera to pay more attention to whatever's in the middle of a picture (it's called center-weighted metering, check your manual). Keep your pug's face in the center and it shouldn't turn into a blob. [note from human: Personally, I never use this setting - so if you don't have it on your camera, don't worry]

* Get as much light on your pug's face as possible. This means always always ALWAYS stand between the lightsource and your pug when taking a picture. When the source of light is behind YOU, it will be in front of (shining on) your pug. Big bright windows are really good.

Example: http://dailypuglet.blogspot.com/2009/08/caught.html

See those white rectangle in my eyes? That's a window. My human was standing between me and a big window and took that picture with a little $100 Casio. No giant fancy scary(!) camera needed.

* If you really want to get super-fancy (sort of), you can use a reflector to "bounce" light onto a pug's face. A reflector can be anything white. A light colored wall will work, so will a silver car-window shade thingy or 39cent piece of white posterboard. The idea is to have your pug facing whatever it is you're using as a reflector. If you experiment, it will make more sense than me trying to explain how to do it :)

Good luck with your cameras. May the face be with you!


SpencerBartholomew said...

Thanks for all the tips... we will start practicing but my camera folks want to know just how to make me sit still and pose for the photos... do they have to move fast or give me treats? and cookies? This is starting to sound like fun!

Ollie said...

Puglet, when I see the camera come out, I run like my tail's on fire! I think I probabley dislike the camera even more than Dutch.
My human has a lot of pictures of my blurry backside getting away or when I do sit still for a cookie, she gets a droopy depressed hound who looks like he's going to the vet for an anal gland extraction.
That's why once a year, I have a professional take my picture. They have the patience and equipment to get at least one decent shot of me.
But now with this post, she's inspired to try once again to capture my cuteness and devilish charm, herself.
Woes me!

THE PUGLET said...

Hey Spencer!

Tell your people to give you lots of cookies. Ok, maybe not lots. But definitely cookies.

Try this: the human with the camera should talk to you and make funny noises when they're ready to take your picture(I don't know why, but this will probably make you want to look at the camera). When you do look at the camera, they take your picture and you get a cookie. It's kinda fun!

THE PUGLET said...

Hey Ollie, Dutch here. Dude, I feel your pain. My human says I look either tortured, unhappy or pissed off in most of my pictures.

Tortured, unhappy and pissed off: that's EXACTLY how I feel when they do the evil anal gland thing!

I realllly don't like having that big black camera eyeball stuck in my face either. Gives me the willies. Besides, our humans see us every day. Why torture us with cameras, right??

I say if your human's going to point a camera at your face and expect you not to run, there better be something in it for you. Something REALLY good, not just some lame dog cookie. Hold out for something meaty (or cheesy) that doesn't have a picture of a dog on the package.

Good Luck!

Lola said...

Hey there Puglet-
I don't mind the camera much. I think that since I'm a black pug, the camera knows how much light to send- there's no confusing two- tones going on.
We appreciate your human's pointers- she seems to totally know what she's doing. If our humans get it right, it wont take so kong to get a good pic.
Happy Day,
Lafayette Lola

Ollie said...

You negotiate like a supermodel. I'm definitely going to demand better compensation for my time. Why should I do a photo shoot for a measly cookie when I could get dried liver or a piece of cheese or bacon or...nuggets!!
Thanks for the advise!

Mr. Puggle® said...

great post puglet! you look adorable in all your pictures. :)

food. i use food with mr. puggle. he works for food. here is a behind the scene shot of a photo shoot with him. ignore the studio lights. you can do the same thing by taking the picture outside but force your flash to stay on.


Brutus, Ellie, Pippa and Otto said...

Thanks for the great tips! Mom is always taking lots of pictures of us.

Pugs & Kisses,

Yoda & Brutus

THE PUGLET said...

You're right Mr Puggle. I don't know how I forgot to mention the importance of tasty snacks.


Thanks for sharing your photoshoot! Very fancy flashies :)

THE PUGLET said...


Definitely hold out for Nuggets. Or Canadian Bacon. Or both.