Dogs are incredibly athletic animals – from fast greyhounds to representatives of muscular shepherd breeds. But it is one thing to capture a calm pet in a motionless pose or even asleep at all, quite another in motion. And by the way, this is exactly the type of photograph that cannot be played on a mobile phone.
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Do not forget that there are a number of canine sports dedicated to the four-legged sports talents. You can shoot at agility competitions, while playing with frisbee, flyball and much more.
We suggest that you familiarize yourself with the guide to shooting amazing photos of dogs in motion, which Anabel DFlux photographer shared with us.
How to Photograph Dogs in Motion
Which camera to use?
The speed of your camera will determine which points you can capture. It is necessary that the shutter fires at a certain moment or that it is capable of capturing the entire sequence of movements of the object.
Frame rate or FPS (frames per second) is the number of frames that can be taken per second. The more photos a camera can take, the more steps in a series of shots in motion you can achieve! When choosing a camera, always pay attention to its frame rate.
Each camera also has its own autofocus mechanism and the number of autofocus points. Autofocus works through a number of selection points. The more AF points, the more accurately the focus will be selected.
Choosing a lens for shooting dogs in motion
The key to successful shooting is to interfere with what is happening as little as possible. You need to shoot at a distance, your activity should not distract the dogs. That is why many photographers work with a telephoto lens or zoom lens. It is recommended to choose a photosensitive model.
Using a telephoto lens helps visually isolate the dog. Often a photograph in open space can turn out to be chaotic due to many obstacles in the immediate vicinity of the subject. Long-focus lenses allow you to blur or soften some distracting elements in the background.
Pay attention to how strong and fundamentally durable your lens model is in its design – this is very important in order to avoid the consequences of unforeseen collisions and impacts during the shooting process. The lens should be strong enough.
Many photographers tend to use a range of 300 or 400 mm. They use such lenses, again, to get closer to the dogs without physically disturbing them. If you’re not very far away, some fixed lenses will also be a great choice, such as 85 mm f / 1.4 or 135 mm f / 1.4.
Why is it worth using a telephoto lens or zoom lens?
Many dogs are very easily distracted by the camera: they will leave all their affairs just to check what you are doing there. This does not bode well if you want to capture a puppy in a jump. But the solution is quite simple: hide yourself using a telephoto lens or zoom lens! The animal does not even need to know that you are there. In addition, telephoto lenses create a natural perspective.
In addition to having to shoot at very high shutter speeds to visually freeze the action (at least 1/1000), there are a few other things you can do to get clear images.
What most new and old cameras have in common with respect to settings is the focus and burst modes (motion mode). First, change the focus mode to continuous focus mode (AI Servo for Canon users or AF-C for Nikon users). This mode allows your camera to lock an object and monitor the dog while it is moving. You do not need to constantly re-focus.
Some new cameras allow you to either use the presets of the continuous focus mode, or create your own, depending on what you are shooting. On some cameras, you can indicate how your subject is moving and what obstacles may be. To do this, you need to configure various levels of random movement, interference, and more.
There are even presets for randomly moving objects and following the object, despite the obstacles that prevent it. Anabel usually adjusts the camera for the chaotic movement of the object in several directions and taking into account a large number of obstacles. When shooting a dog running across a field, the photographer focuses on speed.
For cameras that don’t have this feature, AI Servo (AF-C) will still be a good choice of focus mode. Once you select the focus mode, switch to using burst mode (high speed shooting). Shoot at high shutter speeds to freeze action.
Focus on the dog beforehand
The best way to capture an action is to first focus on the dog, even if it is not yet moving. On most cameras, focus lock is as simple as pressing the shutter button halfway. Digital and mirrorless cameras are just machines with a program that tells them what to do. Do not rely entirely on autofocus for sharp pictures. Watch both: when the camera loses focus on the subject, quickly restore focus .
Dog Shooting Technique
Get ready to practice the art of panoramic photography. You synchronize the movement of the camera with the movement of the object, along a line parallel to itself. Anabel believes that it’s easiest to set the focus on the dog while she waits for the owner to let her go, and then follow the viewfinder.
Think ahead where you think the dog will go. It takes practice. If the dog runs toward you, most modern continuous focus modes can correctly adjust the focus. However, do not rely solely on this. Check the focus and retune it on the subject while moving!
Another tip for the most dynamic shots is to take pictures at the level of the eye of the subject. Be prepared to spend a lot of time taking off on your knees. So you let the audience feel the connection with the object, and also give an idea of the height at which the dog moves.
Leave more negative space in the composition to create movement.
The best photographers have a natural flair for the correct composition. But there are really important compositional elements that you should always consider when photographing. To capture motion, in particular, leave more negative space in the direction of the intended motion. Although the motion appears frozen in the photograph, the viewer can imagine the next step.
If the object is too closed compositionally (it is cropped so that there is little negative space), the image will cause a feeling of claustrophobia, as if the viewer is in a cell.
Do not be afraid to guide the owner of the dog or encourage the puppy to move.
Many client photo sessions are scheduled. If you don’t take pictures at a canine sporting event, you will most likely feel a lack of time. And this is completely normal – do not wait until the puppy wants to run and jump, and actually ask the owner to encourage him to move. The best way is to tease the dog with a toy and play with it. If you play well, you can get very emotional pictures.
Make sure your pet feels good while shooting
The shooting process should be a pleasant experience for all of its participants! Not all animals are friends with cameras – they cannot run and play endlessly. Let the animal rest from time to time, if you see that the dog needs it, be attentive to it. Like children and adults, pets also get tired and worried. Instead of allowing the animal to reach this point, take a break when you see that the dog is tired or upset. Half an hour, as a rule, is more than enough for recovery.
Sometimes problems can be associated with the pet owner. Animals are very sensitive to the emotions of others, and if the owner is anxious or upset, the pet will respond to this. If you see that your client is annoyed by his pet, try to calm the owner himself. If you do not, the animal you photograph will continue to worry.
You see, there is nothing super complicated. You just need to know the nuances and gain experience in order to take excellent photos of dogs in motion.
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