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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few people have asked me about photographing mice. Of course everybody has heard this advice, "Use natural light! Stand 2-3 feet away! Buy an expensive camera!"

But what people don't seem to realize is that the colors in your photograph also affect the way the mice look.

This is a color wheel:


(public domain via Wikipedia)

As you can see, there are colors which are near each other (such as red and orange) and colors which are as far apart as possible (such as red and green). This is important.

Colors which are close together are ever-so-slightly more difficult for the human eye, cameras, and the computer screen to distinguish. The net total of this is that when a red mouse is on a background that contains red (such as pink), it looks less vibrant than when it is on a color on the opposite side of the wheel, such as green.

Both these sets of pictures involve the same mouse, the same photography equipment, and the same lighting:


Red-on-red looks less vibrant and "pops" less.


Green-on-red looks much more vibrant and the contrast is naturally better.

With neutral values such as white, gray, and black, all you need to do is stay away from other neutral colors. So for example, a black mouse on a black background looks objectively worse than a black mouse on a primary color background.


A black mouse on a black trash bag full of shredded paper.


The same black mouse on a primary color (yellow) background.

I hope this helps folks realize, for example, why a blue mouse on a purple background is a bad idea, or why a red mouse looks better on foliage than with roses. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If you want them to appear more blue, yes, that's what I'd do. I have solid pieces of broadcloth in a bunch of different primary and secondary colors, but orange is the one I use least because I don't keep blue mice. :p

It's amazing how good a mouse can look on the right background (or how awful it can look on the wrong background, see the black above).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Haha! No problem. I thought I'd posted this over here earlier, but I guess I forgot. :oops:

I'm hardly a genius, just a really big (literally and figuratively) dork. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You're very welcome! :)

Yeah, the "science" of color theory really is an art in large part. There's a lot of wiggle room sometimes and this is made a bit more difficult by the fact that red mice aren't "true" red (the color of apples), blue mice aren't "true" blue (the color of bluebells) and so forth, so you have to use your judgment.

One other thing I'd say for mouse pictures is if you're using a textured background such a printed fabric, it's good to use a print that is a lot smaller (say, pea sized) or a lot larger than the mouse, than to use one that is close to mouse-sized, because the mouse can get "lost" in the movement of the background. I have trouble with this because some of my favorite fabrics (like my dalmatian fabric, which I use a lot) are in-between small enough and large enough. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I like to photograph mine on dark green, although dark blue or dark purple would work just as well probably. The thing with white and champagne is that they're so light, you need a deep contrast that isn't necessarily on the other side of the color wheel (white isn't on the color wheel at all), but just easily distinguishable from the mouse. I like to photograph mine outside against dark green foliage. If you had a PEW or champagne against pale, creamy-colored items (such as a white towel or piece of paper), it would more easily "get lost," I think.

Please keep in mind, I'm not a professional photographer, designer, or anything like that. I'm just a big dork who thinks about mice a lot...some would say way too much. :p
 

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That is very helpful, thanks for great photos to explain, now I must try out diffirent backgrounds :) try dark foliage or just some dark color for my white mouse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You're very welcome! :)

To get them to sit still, I generally budget a lot of time for each mouse and give them only a small area to wander around. For example, the mice above are on a small chair with broadcloth draped over it. The total area of the seat is probably around 12" square. After about five minutes, they don't stop moving completely, but they chill out more. My mice are all show mice so they're naturally more relaxed, too.
 

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If you have variegated or marked mouse, you would then try to use the colour of the patches to choose which background to use since the colour of the patches does matter more than the white colours inbetween?

What would you use for a agouti vari mouse?
Blue/green background because agouti is like brown or on the colour wheel like orange/red?
Or use green/yellow because agouti is dark like purple?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A lot of this depends on the shade of agouti. For a proper show agouti, I'd use something in the light greenish-blue family, I think. For a washed-out, mostly gray petstore agouti I'd probably use a bright solid color. The beauty of color theory is that there is a lot of "wiggle room" and a lot of room for personal taste. Most of the rules aren't set-in-stone, although some are (for example, a black mouse on a black background will always appear more washed out).

With marked mice I'd use the colors of the patches to determine what color of a background to use, because white is always white and it's the one constant in marked mice.
 

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Thank you, I am not sure of what a proper agouti is but one of mine is more chockolate agouti, another one more light agouti probably what you would call washed out agouti and another one even more light agouti. I am sure I do not have a proper show agouti :p but it would be fun to see how far I am.
Do you have any photo of a proper show agouti? or perhaps of a gray washed out petstore agouti?
 
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