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Once a week I photograph adoptable animals at the local humane society. We always shoot against a white seamless background. To mix things up, typically we throw a gelled speedlite on the background. Sometimes I get a bad colored halo around the critter. I have the pup as far away from the background as I can, typically 4-5 feet, as we are working in tight spaces. The speedlite has a Honl gobo on it to prevent spill on the subject. The speedlite on the background is about 4 feet from the background and the power is turned way down (PW AC3). I don't always get the halo and am baffled as to why it occurs only sometimes. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

A couple of (small) examples can be seen on the humane society's website here and here.

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    Could you give a link to a photo which shows this issue? – Philip Kendall Apr 3 '14 at 8:04
  • Here are a couple, although small - still visible lchsmt.org/lchsDetail.php?ID=291 and lchsmt.org/lchsDetail.php?ID=216 – TC Martin Apr 3 '14 at 20:15
  • Are you sure it is the flash that causes the color? Maybe it is related to photo.stackexchange.com/questions/49228 ? Also, when looking at the photos the color is so uniform, I would first think it is intentional and don't find it bad at all. – PlasmaHH Apr 8 '14 at 14:09
  • Can you clarify that whether the halo occurs on consecutive shoots? If thats the case, your speedlight positions are giving you away. Try to change them for the same animal. – Prachil Tambe Apr 10 '14 at 14:17
  • The halo does not always occur on consecutive shots. It appears to mostly occur when the gel color is very saturated. The speedlite is only pointed at the background and is flagged. – TC Martin Apr 24 '14 at 20:01
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The first issue is: shallow DOF. Basically everything not in focus gets blurred, and if you check your colors, the halo is the average of the dog fur color and the background color...

The second issue could be your image handling. If you resize photos of animals with fur then you are basically blurring those fur segments, and you are introducing color shifts during the resizing (in Lab it is less noticeable).

And, let's not forget: you could try moving your flash off-camera if it is currently on it.

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  • None of the three flashes in on camera. The halo is visible in the RAW file before any processing or re-sizing. I do think you might have something in what you called the first issue. The halo is almost always present when the gel and flash power produce a very saturated background color AND now that you mention it, when the dynamic range between the dog fur color and the background color is very wide. I am shooting again today and will play more with different matchings of dog fur color and background color. Thank you. – TC Martin Apr 24 '14 at 20:05
  • Cool! Please let me know your conclusion regarding this issue :-). – TFuto Apr 24 '14 at 20:07
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    Not completely gone in all cases, but I have more control and can eliminate in many cases. Been shooting dogs at f/8 and last night I went to f/11 to play with the DOF of body fur outside of my area of focus. That does make a difference. I also played with the gelled background, pushing power up or down to reduce saturation. Really furry pups, DOF and highly saturated backgrounds causes the halo. Next week I will try f/16 on really furry dogs - there is lots going on during these sessions and I only had a chance to try a couple different things. Thanks very much for your help. – TC Martin Apr 25 '14 at 15:09
  • Well, this is great news! :-) – TFuto Apr 25 '14 at 15:26

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