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Is this photo eerie? Here’s how I did it.

Heading into the dark side
Originally featured in colour in Ding-Dong! Trick or treat!

Original, unfiltered iPhone shot on the left, half-edited shot on the right. 

I took this shot on one of our morning loo break walks when the light on the ground just made it too interesting a shot to miss. The original was not ideal obviously. I had one hand on the phone and the other holding her leash and her little box of treats and we were walking along at the same time. Not the best scenario which resulted with the box of treats peeking into the picture in one corner.

Popped the picture into Snapseed where I decided this picture needs to be tipped to the right so that her shadow looms over her. I thought that was kind of cool… although the effect would be a lot better if she had scary, pointing up ears rather than silly, floppy ears. Oh well, I won’t fault you for inherited attributes, Donna. :P

Went to the Selective Adjust tool, which we talked about in more detail in this post, and planted little brightness (B) icons over the box, so that I could darken them to become part of the shadow.

I continued to tweak the brightness values in the various areas of the photo in Snapseed. And then riffled through the Grunge filters in Snapseed until I found something I liked for the eerie effect.

Used Whitagram to give the portrait image black borders to fit the square format for Instagram

Few things I feel is essential for this shot.

1) The dog needs to be able to walk on a loose leash so you can modulate your speed in order to ensure a fairly sharp picture. If I was struggling with a pulling dog, I would have likely ended up with a bunch of useless blurred images.

2) The bow is subtle but it adds a bit of theatrical drama to the picture for me. This also means that the dog needs to be comfortable wearing a bow on her head like that. When I first tried to get Donna to wear it at home, she stood locked in place with the bow and couldn’t move. Eventually she pawed it off. I knew I wanted to take a picture of Donna with the bow for Halloween so a week before that we started walking with the bow on her head every time we went out so that she starts to associate the bow to the fun of getting to go on a walk. Anyway, once outside she was too preoccupied with the sights and sounds to care about what was in her head.

The one other time I had a necklace on her head, I started with getting her comfortable having it on her waist first. Lots of treats there. And then I moved it to her head and continued with the treating. It is do-able in one morning ^ ^ at least with Donna :P

3) Other details which I would love to change will be having her on a black leather collar and leash so that it’s matchy-matchy with the bow :P and of course… the dog should have fierce, upright ears.  :P Haha!

The results is as you can see, while I do like the colour version, black and white is the more stark and eerie version, don’t you think?


The sky has done falling, so what’s for dinner?


Phoneography weekly: Swimmingly


  1. Wow, that’s amazing, so eerie and halloween like!

    Nacho, Noah, Buddy & Basil

  2. Great job! Definitely eerie!

  3. Oh yes, definitely eerie! Very awesome, great job. I like how you got Donna used to the bow also….my dogs don’t like wearing much of anything, but I’ve never really tried to work with them like that to get them to like it. Great tips!

    • ^ ^ I think Donna currently puts up with it rather than likes it like her collar and lead. Probably takes time to make that positive association ^ ^

  4. Love the way you use Snapseed to selectively darken different areas of the photo. And I think Donna’s collar (with some color) adds a nice touch! And am glad to hear you won’t fault her for not having fierce upright ears!! Sweet Donna.

  5. I do like the monochrome, but the last image is mu favorite. I like the way the pop of color against the floor–the subtlety of the floor coloration against the purple collar. Nicely done.

    • I agree that the purple is not too bad… ;) I thought there could definitely be improvement on the pink leash though… but it’s little details that are not critical for amateur work on a personal blog :P Glad you like the last ^ ^

  6. Well done – I love all the visual effects. Certainly resulted in an eerie pic.

  7. I love this! I have a dachshund, too!

  8. I loved this picture when I saw it the other day…Thanks for explaining how it’s done…The patterns in the concrete are so interesting

  9. That’s a great shot. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Love your picture!!!

  11. What a great post. My fave is the last one with the slight tinge of colour, but all are brilliant! :)

  12. Thanks for the explanation. It fits the season perfectly. Now I need to go find a ribbon to put on Mr. N’s head…

  13. Thanks for sharing your editing tips, I love the inside peek.:) Both finished images are a lot of fun but I like seeing her purple collar in the last one!

  14. Mel

    Fantastic spooky shot. Thanks for sharing more about how you did it. I actually have Snapseed on my phone because of you, but have never tried it to the extent you have but I will now! Thanks!

  15. Wow, it’s interesting to see what a big difference turning the image made. Very cool.

  16. Thank you for sharing this. I am going to try getting a shot like this one of these days when I have enough sunlight to do shadows!

  17. Very nice editing…looks completely different!

  18. I’ll happily lend you Beryl’s prick ears … although Donna might have to come to our beach to grab them as Beryl mostly only pricks them when she’s on high alert looking for bunnies :) Love the finished photo. I’ve got Snapseed but I’m too much in love with Lightroom on my Mac to use my phone to take and edit photos. It’s great to see what other people are doing though!

    • Doing it on snapseed is largely for convenience, I sometimes fall back on Photoshop too. :) We would love to go to the beach and grab Beryl’s ears! Too bad we are on different continents!!!

  19. wow, I remembered that I happened to have shot a similar picture. I love this style :)

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