Top tips for capturing your dog on camera

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23 August 2013
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Location

Woods, lanes, fields, and beaches change with the seasons and will give your photographs variation and interest at different times of the year. Dogs cope with most weather conditions without complaint - sunny fields, heavy rain, and freezing snow can all work well. In fact, the weather can make the perfect image.

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Composition

Look for simplicity when choosing where to shoot at the location so there are no distractions from the main attraction in the photograph. Look at the bigger picture, not just your dog, but the space around him to help tell the story. Experiment and have a play so you get used to seeing an image quickly and acting on it. Understanding how dogs behave and watching how your model responds and moves will help you set up your image and predict what will happen next in any given situation.

Let there be light

If there is one thing that will make a difference to your dog photography this is it. You need to know where the light is at all times and the effect it will have on your four-legged friend. Use it and play with it. Shoot into the light and away from it, and look for shadows and reflections. Another bonus is that dogs don't squint and will happily run or face into bright sunlight.

Know your camera

With subjects that move so quickly and moments that disappear in the blink of an eye, knowing your camera inside out is an absolute must. Your camera should become part of you and knowing how it works and what settings you need to create the images you want is crucial when photographing dogs. You should know how and when to adjust those settings instantly. I always shoot in manual mode so I have complete control over everything. This enables me to capture those flying dog images that every owner wants to see.

Technical stuff

I will always look to have a shutter speed of at least 400th of a second, and for running shots usually 800 or above if possible. I use a zoom lens for dog photography of 70 to 200millimetres. Find out how to control your focus point if your camera allows. I move mine continually, as at the large apertures I work at, it is easy for it to go out of focus if recomposing. Find your rapid fire mode as you will need it to capture those doggy action shots.