Kaffegram by Harri Tarvainen
Harri Tarvainen
Harri Tarvainen

Harri Tarvainen is a professional photographer who’s specialized in outdoor and action photography. He got his first Canon, an EOS300 film camera, in high school and had his own darkroom for developing the photos he took. Over the years Harri has photographed a wide range of images from snowboarding to commercial photos, but it was his dog Kaffe and photographing his pure happiness that brought back the joy of shooting pictures in his spare time as well.

“With Kaffe, it never feels like the moments taking photos and exploring outdoors are in vain – there’s always a certain lightness in photographing Kaffe, even if the photos don’t turn out quite as I hoped beforehand. I strongly feel that images need to transmit feelings and most of all, tell stories – they don’t need to be traditionally considered as perfect to provide the right feelings. Sometimes some things that can be considered as flaws, such as a crooked horizon or over exposed areas can be a good thing, something that brings unexpected beauty. There is so much emotion in imperfection, you just have to see it.”

To Harri, it’s important to encourage everyone’s enthusiasm in photography. He strongly believes that with some tips and tricks of the trade and Canon’s wide range of tools anyone can shoot amazing pictures.

You can find Kaffe and Harri on Instagram under @kaffegram & @harritarvainen.

Here are Harri’s TOP 5 tips for taking pictures of your pet:

Kaffegram story photo 1

1. PORTRAITS

Get down, even lower, good!

Best portraits are usually shot at eye level.

This picture was shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and has a classical portrait approach. Zooming a bit closer and using the widest aperture creates a beautiful soft background and a bokeh effect.

Best portraits are not just looks but personality too. Shoot plenty of frames and pick the ones that portray your pet best. Look for faces and postures that show emotions.

Kaffegram story photo 2

2. SILHOUETTES AND SUNSETS

Early mornings and late evenings are perfect times for taking interesting photos. Even the most familiar places you go to for everyday walks might look surprisingly new and be amazing settings for your pics if you visit them on different times of the day, when the light is different.

For good silhouette shots, place your model sideways. The background should be peaceful. Try to place your pet on top of something and take your photo from a low perspective to get the sky on the background.

The automatic exposure may try to compensate the shadows of the silhouette by over exposing the photo, and this is when you lose all the nice colors of the sky! An easy way to fix this is to under expose your photo by few steps.

On longer hikes or climbs I have to get my set as light as possible. In these situations, I’m usually equipped with just one body and the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM lens which gives you a wider view for landscape shots and a possibility to zoom really close in nature and portrait shots.

Kaffegram story photo 3

3. FAST ACTION

Capturing the moments that pass by in the blink of an eye is one the most fascinating yet challenging aspects of photography.

It took a few tries to get this shot right. I was standing in water and Kaffe waited for my commands at the beach. I set my auto focus on AI SERVO and the shooting mode on high speed continuous. As this was shot in bright day light I could use a really fast shutter speed (Tv set on 1/1600s and ISO 800) to freeze the motion. I told Kaffe to run towards me and after a few runs I got this shot.

Usually people think that professionals shoot with manual mode all the time. If I can´t control the light perfectly, I prefer shooting with P, Av or Tv and compensate the exposure by over or under exposing the frame.

For me, digital photography was revolutionized in 2005 by the 5D system. After the first version I’ve shot with all four models and currently work with 5D Mark IV. For really fast action shots and most challenging conditions, like in this photo, I shoot with Canon EOS 1DX Mark II.

Kaffegram story photo 4

4. LIGHT YOUR DARKEST MOMENTS

Using a remotely triggered Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT flash with a bit longer exposure time gives a whole new aspect for capturing darker moments. The flash freezes the motion when there´s no natural light. The indirect flash is often much more flattering to the object.

With a remote flash there´s yet another thing to control while shooting, but after a few photoshoots many actions become automated. It´s amazing how you can shoot pin sharp photos with flash, even with seconds of exposure time!
Try placing your model in a dark spot and shoot a portrait with flash and a long exposure time. After the flash is triggered move your camera around, try to find some source of light that could paint some cool light streaks on your photo.

Kaffegram story photo 5

5. COMPOSITION

When taking a powerful photo, in the end, it all comes down to composition.

The square Instagram format favors symmetrical composition, where the main object is framed in the middle of the photo. Often the symmetric composition can be a bit static. To add more energy to your image you might want to frame your object on the right or left, or maybe even tilt your camera to get some cool diagonals.

Every photographer’s go to -move for a balanced shot is the rule of thirds (like in this picture) where you frame your object, horizon or other elements so that they are placed one third from the edge of the photo.

I prefer shooting with Center Autofocus. After focusing in the middle of the frame I leave my trigger finger halfway pressed down so that the focus is locked. Then I reframe the shot and compose my main object and other elements so that they are in balance. The best and simplest trick for making great compositions is to stop and think ”how would this look better?” before taking the shot. Usually this thought leads into action - you might take a step aside, tilt your camera or stand on a chair for a better angle. It doesn't matter if you don’t remember all the rules of classical compositions just a simple thought before taking the shot will turn into action that improves your captures!

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