“Portrait of Azazel” by Liz Mitchell

This is a portrait of my friend’s dog, Azazel, and it is one of a series of images I took a couple of years ago when he was a puppy. My friends had not had him for very long and had asked me to take some photos of them and their new puppy.

It was the first photo shoot I had ever done and I was quite nervous, to the extent that I slipped climbing over a stile leading into the bluebell wood where we did the photo shoot and I ended up in the mud (!) but, thankfully, the photography all went well and my friends were happy with the results.

This year has been a strange one, having to spend so much time at home and being unable to travel very far, I decided to make use of the extra time I had to learn new skills in photography and image editing.

One of the workshops I attended was a wonderful course about equine portraiture presented by E.J. Lazenby, who is an artist and photographer. She covered techniques to create portraits of horses using Photoshop. I don’t actually use Photoshop but soon realised that the techniques being discussed could also be applied to other photo editing software, provided it could use layers. I tried out these techniques on some photos of horses I already had and was reasonably successful, getting some nice feedback from friends. I soon exhausted my equine images so I was looking through my older collections to see what else I could create a portrait from and came across this photo of my friend’s dog. I decided I would try out my new skills on this image of Azazel and am really pleased with how it turned out.

The original image was taken in April in a field of bluebells (you can see a hint of the bluebells in front of the dog) and there were trees in the background. This was one of my favourite images from the day’s shoot.

It was taken on a Canon EOS 550D DSLR with an EF-S 18-135mm lens at a focal length of 74mm. I did basic RAW editing in Lightroom and then imported the resulting JPG file into a new photo editing app called Facet which I have been getting to grips with during lockdown. Facet’s AI capability helped me to create layers and masks which I used to enhance the subject and to apply different textures and colours to the background in order to turn this into a ‘traditional’ portrait that looks like it could have been taken in a studio.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

I love the wistful look in his eyes and how I managed to capture his gentleness. I’m also really pleased with how the background has blended in and how I have created a painterly feel to the portrait.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I would try to get a little more definition in his fluffy fur.

Liz Mitchell shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Liz Mitchell, Congleton, Cheshire, UK


Equipment and Settings

Canon EOS 550D DSLR + EF-S 18-135mm
74mm, f/6.3, 1/100 sec., ISO 400

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