Take Your Animal Photography to the Next Level

by Exposure Guide

Pets play a big part in many households so it’s no surprise that pet photography is more popular than ever. Some animals have little to no patience and will not sit still waiting for you to take a photograph so use your creativity to capture the most striking photographs.

Pet Photo Tip 1: Catch Your Pet’s Character

Photographing pets takes on a deeper meaning when you can capture their character in a photo. It’s a good idea to photograph pets in their preferred spots or enjoying a much-loved pastime such snoozing on the porch or catching a Frisbee. To capture a pet’s character, you can ask yourself what is unique about your pet and try to capture that uniqueness on camera.

Pet Photo Tip 2: Freeze the Action

Photographing your pet at play is a great way to capture some interesting shots with personality. Because the animal will be moving quickly and you want to make sure the photos are free from blur, turn the mode dial to TV or S (Shutter Priority) mode so you can control how you freeze the action. Set the focus mode to continuous focusing (AI Servo AF Canon/AF-C Nikon) so that the lens can constantly maintain its focus on the running pet. For multiple shots use continuous shooting mode and hold down the shutter button as long as you’d like.

Pet Photo Tip 3: Aim for the Eyes

In your pets quiet moments, after eating or bedtime for example, move in close for some dramatic and expressive shots. Use a standard lens (50mm) or a zoom lens that covers the 28-70mm lengths. Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode and select a wide aperture for a blurred background. Use spot metering and focus on the eyes–this area must be sharp–and avoid flash if possible, for a softer look. An uncluttered background with neutral colors is ideal because it isn’t too distracting.

Pet Photo Tip 4: Include People

A good simple portrait of a pet by itself or with the owner is a classic shot. Use outdoor lighting to avoid flash, which can distract animals. A standard lens of 50mm is ideal for this kind of image. A shallow DOF (depth of field) keeps things in the center of the frame sharp so make sure you have focus on the eyes. Remember to be quick when taking this type of image because animals are easily distracted when outdoors.

Pet Photo Tip 5: Get on their Level 

Getting on the floor and at the same level as your pet is a great way to capture some dramatic, yet natural shots. Lying on the ground usually prevents the use of a tripod, so to keep the camera steady you may use a camera bean bag, or a sturdy book as support. To help reduce camera shake, take a deep breath before you take the shot. For the blurred background effect, choose a shallow DOF (f/2.8-f/8) and a fast shutter speed since pets can move fast! Shutter speeds of 1/400s and faster when you are outdoors is a good bet.

Pet Photo Tip 6: Avoid Using a Flash

There are various reasons why flash should be avoided when taking photographs of pets. For example, flash is bright and can be unnerving for a small animal. Flash can scare them or make them nervous and hide. Additionally, flash is harsh. Particularly if you are indoors, it’s best to use natural light since this won’t wash out feathers. If your pet is light colored, white fur in particular will look washed out with a flash. Another reason for not using flash is because animals can photograph with red eye, like humans. Finally, try to avoid using flash with animals that live in tanks, because glass will reflect the flash making an unsightly white hotspot. This also is true with metal cages, because once again, even dull metal will look white under the beam.

Recommended Exposure Settings

If you are capturing your pet in motion then use a fast shutter speed–don’t be afraid to push it up to 1/3200s if necessary. If you pet is still or relaxing then try to avoid using flash as animals tend to dislike it. Open the aperture to let more light in instead. This also keeps the background blurred and works for artistic shots.

Recommended Equipment

A telephoto lens is useful if you need to capture your pet from far away, especially one with I.S. (image stabilization). A standard lens, such as a 50mm f/1.8 or f/2.8 is also useful because it can take good portraits and can work quickly in low light conditions without needing a flash.


Pets can provide a range of interesting photographs from cute to dramatic. Build up a rapport with the animal; use toys and treats to reward them if they are behaving well and let them leave if they are bored of having their photograph taken. Feeding an animal first is always a good idea if shooting portraits as it leaves them relaxed. If your pet is going outside make sure you have another person helping in case they break free. Take many shots, and amongst them could be a winning image.


Exposure Guide is a great resource for photographers of all skill levels. It covers everything from considerations when selecting the right equipment, to composition techniques, and simply how to take amazing photos. Easy to understand tips and digital photography techniques are offered in many subjects from portraits, to sports, to wildlife and nature photography. Our Photoshop tutorials will teach you basic and advanced skills to enhance photos, while the e-book store links to more references to deepen your knowledge even more. And yes, we give exposure settings for many photos on the site so you can learn by example. After all, we’re Exposure Guide – your ultimate reference for photographic information and resources.

If your pet is injured while the family is out of town, being prepared makes all the difference.

by Dr. Kim Smyth, member of the Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan pet insurance

For many of us, going on vacation just isn’t the same without our four-legged family members. Obviously, I’m not going to take my pets with me if I’m going on a 10-day tour of Europe, but I can’t even imagine going to the beach without my dog!

Taking the entire family on vacation takes a lot of planning, but you know what they say—an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Planning well can help you out of a potentially sticky situation should your pet run into trouble. Accidents can happen anywhere, and just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that injuries are, too. If your pet is injured while the family is out of town, being prepared makes all the difference.

  • Schedule a pre-vacation check-up with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy for travel and is up to date on vaccines. If you are planning to fly with your pet, this is imperative, as most airlines require a health certificate issued within 10 days of your flight. If your pet does not already have a microchip, this is the time to get one.
  • Put together a folder of important information about your pet to bring with you in case you need to visit the vet on vacation. Include current vaccine information, the name and phone number of your home veterinarian, your pet health insurance information, and your pet’s microchip number, as well as the microchip company’s phone number.
  • Research your veterinary options at your destination before you leave home. You’ll want to find a reputable vet with daytime hours near your destination, as well as the closest emergency clinic should an injury occur after hours. The last thing you want to do in the face of an emergency situation is struggle with a phone book and map trying to figure out where to go.
  • Travel safely. Keep your pet safely confined in your vehicle, either in a crate or by using a safety seat or harness seat belt.  Remember to take frequent potty and watering breaks.
  • Don’t forget to pack your pet first aid kit.

When you’ve finally reached your destination, relax and have fun! You’ve already done everything you can to prepare for potential problems. Should your pet sustain an injury, call the veterinarian you researched ahead of time to let them know you need to see them. If it’s an emergency, it is wise to call them ahead of time anyway, just to give them a heads-up that you’re on your way.

If you’re not sure what constitutes an emergency or whether your pet’s injury is serious enough to need veterinary care, call the veterinarian for advice.


Dr. Kim Smyth is a member of the Veterinary Advisory Board of Petplan pet insurance. In addition to a passion for practicing veterinary medicine, Dr. Smyth is a naturally gifted writer and has authored hundreds of veterinary pet health pieces, including essays, breed profiles and blogs.



Pets, Like Humans, Can Benefit from First Aid During National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, CATalyst Council Offers 5 Tips for Treating your Cat

by CATalyst Council

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, offers this list of five common injuries and how to treat them prior to going to the veterinarian.

1. Your cat has a cut.

Steps to stem bleeding from a cut on your cat are similar to what you would do if you had a cut. The first step is to calmly approach your cat and take it to a familiar area. Next, use gauze or a sterile first aid pad to apply pressure to the wound for at least 10 minutes. If the cut is on an extremity and your cat will allow it, elevate the wounded area to help slow the bleeding. In any case, seek veterinary attention immediately for specific treatment, including pain and infection control, and suturing if needed.

2. Your cat has been bitten by an insect.

Have you ever heard of an “outside-only insect?” Of course not! Even indoor-only cats are susceptible to bee stings and mosquito bites. If you suspect your cat has been stung by an insect, inspect the area for a stinger and remove it by scraping your nail or the corner of a credit card along the skin to flick the stinger out. Next, apply a cold compress for a few minutes. You will want to monitor your cat for signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or swelling, in the area of the sting. It’s best to take your cat to the veterinarian immediately for any needed treatment, including safe treatment for pain. And remember, mosquitoes transmit heartworm to cats so be sure you use the monthly preventative recommended by your veterinarian.

3. Your cat has a broken or badly injured bone.

The most important thing to do is to keep your cat calm so that it does not further injure itself while on your way to the veterinarian. If you have a plastic carrier with a removable top, take the top off, line it with towels or blankets, and gently place your cat into the carrier, replacing the top for transport to the veterinarian. If your carrier does not have a removable top or if you don’t have a carrier, a large box lined with towels or blankets will work as well, but you will want to secure the top in a way that allows plenty of air to enter the box while preventing your cat from escaping during the drive. You do not want to splint or otherwise manipulate the injured area, as this could cause further injury.

4. Your cat has been bitten by another animal.

Since it’s often difficult to detect the extent of the injury, seek veterinary help immediately. You may be able to initially cleanse the area with a mild antibacterial cleanser, but deeper treatment may be needed. Your veterinarian can determine if any other treatment is needed and will prescribe a safe pain medication along with antibiotics if warranted.

5. Your cat has been burned.

If it is a thermal burn from heat or fire, apply a cool compress to the area while on your way to the veterinarian. If your cat has gotten a chemical burn from common household cleaners, flush the affected area with water for at least 15 minutes. You should bring your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible for any kind of burn, as burns are painful and very prone to infection.

Remember, your veterinarian is your best resource when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of your pet. Once you realize your cat is injured, call your veterinarian immediately. He or she will be able to provide medical treatment advice specific to your cat’s injuries that will help you stabilize your cat long enough to bring it into the practice. For more first aid tips for your cat, check out the AVMA’s pet first aid site here.


The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s  favorite pet. It was founded in response to  troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.




It’s fun and convenient to take a pet along with you in an RV, but precautions must be taken.

by Mark J. Polk, founder of  RV Education 101

It’s prime RV travel season and I thought this would be a good time to discuss traveling with pets in your RV. Pets and RVs just seem to go together. One of the really great things about traveling in an RV is that you can take your pets with you. In many cases the main reason people buy an RV is so their pets can travel with them. Both of our dogs have been traveling with us in our RV since they were puppies. They both get extremely excited when they see us loading the RV for another trip.

It’s fun and convenient to be able to take your pets along with you, but I realized a long time ago that certain precautions must be taken when you travel with pets. There were a lot of things to remember about traveling with our pets, so to make it easier I included this checklist in my “Checklists for RVers” e-book available at www.rveducation101.com

  • First and foremost always keep in mind that an RV gets extremely hot and/or cold inside depending on the outside temperature. Always make sure there is some type of ventilation and/or heat and air available when pets are left in the RV.
  • Never leave your pets in an RV for long periods of time without somebody checking on them periodically. If you will be away from your pets and the RV for an extended period of time leave a key with someone you can trust to check on the pets and in case of an emergency.
  • Always have fresh water available for your pets. You never know the quality of the drinking water when you are traveling so it’s a good idea to take a container of water from your home that your pets are accustomed to, or use bottled water.
  • Pets should always travel in a pet carrier or crate for their personal safety.
  • Get a current health certificate from your veterinarian before traveling.
  • Always take the pets medical records along with you.
  • Take a recent color photograph of your pets with you in the event that they should get lost.
  • Update all vaccinations before leaving on your trip.
  • Take a proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Take flea, tick, and heartworm medications.
  • Take a pet first aid kit and know what dosages of medication to give your pets.
  • Take your veterinarian’s regular phone number and emergency phone numbers with you.
  • Get the phone number for a local veterinarian when you arrive at your destination.
  • Don’t forget to take the brand of pet food your pet is used to and take a food and water travel bowl.
  • Take a walking leash.
  • Your pet’s collar should include identification along with basic information such as your name, address and a cell phone number. You can even include an e-mail address.
  • Take a harness, tie out anchor, and a leash or chain. Give your pet plenty of room to move, but be cautious of traffic and obstacles that they can get hung or caught on. We use portable exercise pens.
  • Take grooming tools, pet toys, and treats.
  • Take extra cat litter and the cat box.
  • Take some plastic bags for pet clean up.
  • Take your pet’s favorite bedding or crate.
  • Take some old towels just in case you need them.
  • Traveling can be stressful on pets especially if they are not used to it. When your pet is away from home and off of their regular schedule it can affect their health. Perform a daily health check on your pet. Look for anything out of the ordinary.
  • Stop often when you’re traveling and allow your pets to exercise and to relieve themselves.
  • When making campground reservations be sure and ask about pets. Some campgrounds offer kennels and boarding for pets. If your travel plans include day trips or extended travel away from the campsite inquire about these services.

This checklist does not cover everything that you need to be concerned with when traveling with pets in your RV, but it’s a good start. You can add to this list and tailor it to your specific type of pet or your pet’s needs and refer back to it before a trip so you don’t forget anything.


Author and video producer Mark Polk, founder of RV Education 101®, was quickly labeled as the go-to resource for RV owners and enthusiasts. With hundreds of thousands of training and informational DVDs and books sold, and his many TV appearances as the RV Savvy Guy, he is recognized and respected in the RV Industry as the authority for everything RV. Since 1999 Polk has helped educate over 1,000,000 RV consumers on how to safely and properly use, maintain and enjoy their RVs.


by Dr. Sasha Gibbons of Just Cats Veterinary Hospital in Stamford, Conn.

The key to stopping undesirable behaviors is understanding why they occur.

Pets can chew for a variety of reasons: from various medical conditions to certain behavioral issues. Teething, dental disease (such as loose teeth or sore gums), and vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause animals to chew in either an attempt to alleviate their discomfort or fulfill a bodily requirement. Therefore, the first step to answering why does your pet chew on inanimate objects is to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian to determine if there are any health issues that need to be addressed.

In the case that a related medical condition cannot be identified as the cause of the chewing, this means that the activity is most likely behavioral. There are many psychologic reasons why pets chew inappropriately, but the most common are boredom, stress, or due to attention-seeking. To help figure out the reasoning, think about when does the activity occur. Is it when you are home or away from home? Are there particular objects that your pet targets? What do these objects have in common?

If there are particular possessions that your pet favors, the simplest solution is to avoid contact between your pet and the targeted items by either removing the objects or removing your pet from the area. If this is not possible, if you are traveling for example, there are deterrent sprays that can make the items taste bitter so your pet will not want to chew on them again or noise deterrents to discourage pets from going into particular regions of the home. Evasion therapy can help modify the behavior, but it usually will not cure it. The underlying reason why the chewing is occurring needs to be addressed, or the pet may find a new way to manifest his or her displeasure. This is why it is important to make physical and behavioral modifications to help control the situation.

Chewing that occurs without the owner being present is usually due to boredom or stress; good examples are separation anxiety, environmental changes like travel, or perhaps even something unsolicited such as nearby construction. In these situations, it is imperative that your pet be given plenty of entertainment to help pass the time while you are away or to distract from stressors. Chew toys, in particular ones with puzzles that stimulate the pet mentally, as well as physically, are the most useful forms of diversion. Other forms of entertainment can be automated toys and some pets even enjoy videos geared toward animals.

When the chewing occurs in the presence of the owner, the cause can also be from boredom or due to a desire for human interaction. Pets realize that even if it is negative energy, they will get an owner’s attention when they perform an undesirable act. If this is the case, the animal needs to be retrained. Besides substituting the improper items with appropriate chew toys, the pet should be rewarded with treats and praise when he or she gnaws on the right object. Try to work some time into your schedule to take your pet for a walk or spend some time cuddling or playing with the new toys together. These changes should not only make you and your pet closer, but also a much happier couple.

Note: The above guidelines are designed to help with generalized chewing disorders. If your pet does not respond to these modifications, do not get discouraged. Every pet and every situation is different. Contact the veterinarian that examined your pet and he or should be able to make tailored recommendations.


Dr. Sasha Gibbons is an associate veterinarian at Just Cats Veterinary Hospital and veterinary advisor for Community Cats in Stamford, Conn. You can also find her here:


by Sleepypod

As designers and suppliers of pet products, we are often asked questions about pets and camping and what are the best methods to keep a pet warm when camping. More specifically, is there a way to adapt our Warmer accessory, designed for indoor and auto use, to be used in the great outdoors without an electrical outlet readily available?

Photo by Heather Monroe.

A Sleepypod customer informed us about a rechargeable battery pack that may be suitable for this purpose. So if you camp, and have a Sleepypod Warmer Kit to be used with a Sleepypod mobile pet bed, a Sleepypod Air pet carrier, or a Crater Dot pet bed, then this just might be the accessory to keep your cat or small dog warm.

NOTE: We don’t manufacture these products so please use them at your own discretion. We are simply passing along information to people who are interested. Test this at home, under supervision, and for a period of time before your camping trip. Use all precautions and keep it away from moisture. If you have any doubts or questions, please ask someone who knows about electricity before use.

Studio Review by Sleepypod

We tested two rechargeable battery pack models at the Sleepypod studio: Belkin BU3DC000-12V and Belkin BU3DC001-12V. You can find both models on eBay.com for about $15-20 inclusive of shipping charges. When searching for a battery pack on eBay, use the following keywords:

  • Belkin
  • Battery
  • Backup


Aside from the color, slight change in body style, and the weight, we were not able to determine additional differences between the two models. From our tests, both models will provide approximately 10 to 11 hours of power to the Sleepypod Warmer when used inside a Sleepypod mobile pet bed. That really impressed us at the studio and is perfect for use throughout the night.

The Belkin BU3DC000-12V (black version) is slightly lighter by about one pound, making it a better choice in situations, like backpacking, when weight is a consideration. If you are lucky, the included battery will work as it should; otherwise, purchase a replacement battery. We purchased six battery packs in this model and each appeared to operate well with the original battery, though we suggest asking the seller about the condition of the battery before bidding on eBay.

Our final assessment: we are quite happy with this affordable solution.

Other considerations: it would be sensational if a solar panel could recharge the battery pack. If anyone has a solar panel that can recharge this, please contact Sleepypod. Don’t forget to send us your pictures. We would love to post and share them.

Following is a battery pack field test review by a Sleepypod customer.

Field Test Review by a Sleepypod Customer

by Heather Monroe

The Belkin Battery Pack is a convenient, easy to use power source for the Sleepypod Warmer that makes camping and travel more comfortable for pets on the go.

After simply charging the unit overnight, it plugged directly into the Warmer and provided 10 to 12 hours of continuous warmth for our sphynx, Milo. Since the sphynx breed is hairless, it is imperative that they are kept warm; and since we love camping and the outdoors, Milo is our constant companion along with his Sleepypod. Although the battery pack is a bit heavy, it does travel easily and takes up minimum space. We tested it on our trip where the lows in the evening were in the mid to upper ’60s in our RV, and the warming pad along with his blankets kept Milo toasty warm in his Sleepypod for a solid 10 hours. It may have needed a re-charge sooner if the temperatures had been cooler, but even so it was a cozy convenience for our little guy during those times that there was limited or no access to electricity. It also charged easily from the power converter in our vehicle, keeping him comfortably warm en route to our destination.

Photo by Heather Monroe.

We were very pleased with the results of the battery pack, and would recommend it highly for Sleepypod owners who love to travel with their four-legged friends.


Skip the details and you’ll miss the connection to its pet-friendly past.

Riddle me this? The dog figure pictured below can be found in a pet-friendly city previously blogged about here on Pet Travel Experts. This decorative piece (though functional at one time) is pictured at the base of a structure, from which water flows, within the “My Pet-friendly City” post. Name the pet-friendly city where this little guy calls home…

The answer: Louisville! This little guy is a bronze statue at the base of Hogan’s Fountain in Cherokee Park. Melissa and Sean Little, of Little Eatz: Pet & People Treatz, included Cherokee Park in their Pet-friendly Louisville post for Pet Travel Experts back in January.

Hogan’s Fountain is a particularly fascinating pet-friendly gem. When unveiled in 1905, the fountain was designed to provide water to dogs and horses. The ornate, granite structure is composed of three sections:

  • The first is a circular fourteen-foot-wide granite basin with four bronze dog heads on its outer walls. These heads spew water from their mouths into troughs from which dogs can drink.
  • A granite pedestal springs from the basin 
  • on which a third part, a bronze figure of Pan, who has a hairy human-like body, short horns, and goat’s feet is depicted dancing while holding a pipe in one hand. He is surrounded by four large turtles that spout water from their mouths into the basin.1

Today, water no longer flows from the lower fountains meant for watering dogs. Although on occasion, dog-owners will lift their pooches for a nip of water from the portion of the fountain that was meant for watering horses.

Other interesting facts:

  • Edie Yandell sculpted the statues on Hogan’s Fountain. A Louisville native and prolific sculptor, Yandell studied with luminaries of sculpture such as Auguste Rodin and Frederick William MacMonnies.
  • Cherokee Park, the home of Hogan’s Fountain, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. Olmstead is considered to be the father of landscape architecture.

For more information on Louisville Metro Parks check out their very own blog, Common Ground.

Very special thanks to Jacob Murphy at Louisville Metro Parks for helping Pet Travel Experts track the history of this pet-friendly treasure. 

Photos are courtesy of Louisville Metro Parks.


1The Encyclopedia of Louisville / John E. Kleber, editor in chief ; Mary Jean Kinsman, managing editor ; Thomas D. Clark, Clyde F. Crews, George E. Yater, associate editors. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, c2001.



The winner of Pet Travel Experts’ Get Your Pet Traveling Giveaway is… drum roll please… Amy R.

Amy R. chose Sea Breeze as her favorite Yummy Travel Bowls color.

Wondering what the answer is to the 10-chance question? The structure is a pet-friendly gem and a fascinating landmark. Read the next post for the answer.