copyright, Tim Flach.
If you’re familiar with Tim Flach’s work, you know there aren’t many people out there who photograph animals better than he does. It’s not that he merely captures his subjects with excellent lighting. He also creates a unique environment for them – whether they be horses, chimps, bats or, in this case, dogs – and brings a painterly quality and rich, storied texture. As someone not easily enamored with animal portraiture (I’m not much of a William Wegman fan, for instance), I find Tim’s work beautiful and compelling.
This image of a Springer Spaniel chasing pheasants was included in his 2010 Dogs book. It was taken on the Elveden Estate in Norfolk, England which is huge, hunting mecca teaming with pheasants just waiting to be shot at. The book is definitely worthy of a perusal, if not an outright purchase. There are tons of fun pics of all kinds of dog breeds here, many of which I’ve never even seen before. Tim nailed this shot with 3 lights on an overcast day. I am happy to say no animals were injured in the filming and no fog machine was necessary.
Lighting: Tim has positioned two lights to act as the keys for this shot. One large softbox at f16 (+1 stop) is set high, 15 feet to camera left and a foot behind the dog. Another large softbox at f11 is positioned similarly 15 feet to camera left just in front of the ferns. These two lights ensured the foreground would be covered regardless of where the dog ran or the birds flew. A third large softbox at f8 (-1 stop) is high and directly behind the camera, acting as fill. The incredibly overcast daylight measures f5.6 (-2 stops) and allows for the moody, gloomy background.
Comments: Tim waited hours in a cold, wet, camouflaged duck blind to get this shot. The hired Spaniel – a lifer hunting dog with an impeccable pheasant kill ratio – was noticeably displeased when, after executing a textbook flush from the brush, Tim shot the game birds with a Hasselblad H4D-40 instead of a Browning Auto 5 Light 12-Guage.