Excuses, Excuses

June 4, 2012

This weekend Andy (with Lodgepole Photography) and I photographed the AAC AB/NWT Regionals.  It was a weekend filled with fun, fast dogs and we loved every minute of it.  The trial went incredibly smoothly and we were able to get back home to our hotel room every night by around 4:00 to start work on the photos we took.  We still have a tonne more to do, but as I am going through the photos I’m struck by a thought that comes up with every event I photograph.

Every time I photograph an event, I end up with tonnes of great shots of some dogs, and not nearly as many of others.  I wonder if owners notice and if they wonder why this happens. So I thought I’d explain.  It isn’t because I like one dog more than another one, or because I tried harder with one dog over another.  There are a whole lot of reasons why some dogs end up with more photos than others.

Warning – this blog post is purposely filled with not so great photos just to illustrate my points.  I realize that is probably not my best marketing move!  LOL.  Although I’ll crop the first one to make it a better image and while I quite like the last one, it probably isn’t really what an owner is looking for in an agility photo.  The other three are already in the “trash”.

  1. If your dog is small, odds are you won’t have as many pictures.  I like dynamic close-ups of dogs and little dogs don’t fill the frame nearly as much as the big dogs do.  Yes, I can crop the photo to compensate (and I often do), but a cropped photo is never as good as one straight out of the camera. Imagine this same photo with a large golden retriever going through the tire.  The dog would fill the tire and it wouldn’t get lost in image like this adorable papillon does. Small dogs are also harder to focus on (there is less for the camera to find) and handlers tend to run closer to them and often end up blocking the shot with their legs.Reason 1 2 Excuses, Excuses
  2. Dark dogs are harder to photograph.  Not because they are dark, but because lighting conditions are much less forgiving on a dark dog.  Any little shadow can have a huge impact on the image and can take a dark dog and make it black and can take a black dog and make it a faceless blob.  :)  If the dog below was mainly white instead of black, there would still be a shadow on the side of their face, but you’d still be able to see some detail in the shadow.  I like it when photos show the dogs’ eyes and it feels like something is lacking when you can’t see them.  My favourite lighting conditions are either high overcast (like on Saturday), or when the dog is facing directly into the sun so there are no shadows on their face. I try to avoid taking photos when the dog is sideways to the sun like in this photo below, but courses are not set up with the photographer in mind.  Shocking, I know. If I ruled the world…Reason 1 Excuses, Excuses
  3. Sometimes the equipment or handler casts a shadow that hits the dog at just the wrong spot.Reason 1 4 Excuses, Excuses
  4. The camera loves some dogs and struggles to focus on others. I’m not sure if it is the texture, the colouring or both, but the camera can have a hard time with certain dogs.  I struggle with Amanda’s dog Boone for example. It is like he is dressed in camo or something and the camera swears he isn’t there. When he picks up a toy  though, the camera can suddenly find him again.
  5. If you are the first couple of dogs to run, I’m probably not that confident of the course yet and therefore can’t predict where you are going to be and when.  I watch the walk through, but I definitely get better at remembering the course after watching a few dogs run it.  And of course, the littlest dogs often go first, which reduces their photo chances even more!  Those poor small dogs just can’t cut a break.  ;)
  6. Sometimes I miss.  If my timing is off at all, I miss the shot and there are rarely any do-overs in agility.  (I’m probably the only one on the field that likes it when a dog pops out of the weave poles and has to do them again – it gives me another opportunity to take more photos!)  In this photo below, my camera was fast enough that the next frame caught the dog in the middle of the tire, but that doesn’t always work out so nicely.  Occasionally my timing seems to be off for most of the run. I hate it when that happens, but luckily I have more than 1 run over the weekend to get some good pictures.Excuses 1 Excuses, Excuses
  7. If a dog does something unexpected it can throw my rhythm off, just like it can throw off the handler’s rhythm.

Reasons 1 Excuses, Excuses

This isn’t to say we won’t have some great shots of each and every dog from this weekend but just to say that some dogs will have MORE great shots than others.  We will be posting photos in the next week or two.  We both have day jobs and are working in all our spare time to get the images up for you to see.  I’m hoping we’ll have them up on the weekend, but don’t hold me to that.  I do promise to get up a few sneak peaks on the blog this week though and there are already some up on our Facebook page.

Thank you to Flashing Canines for hosting an incredible event.  The volunteers, the judges, the organizers, the dogs and all the participants were awesome!

1 Comment

  1. nicole ehmann says:

    awesome article and great photos,,, glad you were there!!!