This and That

Random bits of my life

My Brief Career as a Dog Paparazza

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 10, 2010

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

I can hear you all saying, “WHY?????” Why did I spend three hours crouching in the dark, beside a stage, photographing a community dog show? A couple friends brought their dogs to this show, it was cute and informal (a real dog show would probably not have allowed me to crawl through a crowd barrier and take photos, and because it was very good practice for shooting under difficult situations. Most of the show took place after dark, the main lights were bright yellow spotlights, the dogs and their owners move fairly quickly, and I wasn’t using a tripod or flash. I took these photos with a 50mm f/1.8 lens because it was the fastest lens I own. The advantage is illustrated by the photo above. The dog happened to turn towards me while he was on the stage and I managed to get a sharp, clear portrait with catchlights in the eyes. If I had used a flash, he would have had bright green eyes, that is, if he had been looking at the camera at all.

The disadvantage is show in the photo below. Because I was so close to the stage there was a lot less room for me to frame a shot, so this dog’s nose got cut off when I snapped the photo of her jumping through the hoop.

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

There were only two areas where I could get a good shot — on the runway and on the stage. The runway photos were shot in manual mode, 1/250 second because anything longer caused motion blur. For the stage shots, because the stage was much more brightly lit, I quickly flipped the dial to aperture priority (AV) mode so that the aperture would stop down instead of overexposing it at the settings I had for the runway. Maybe I should have tried both sets of shots in TV mode, at 1/250 seconds. I didn’t think of it at the time.

Here are a couple runway shots. The dogs and owners are only lit by the spotlight for the space of time it takes to walk two steps. Too early, and the dog is lit but the owner is in darkness. Too late, and the opposite occurs. So the timing was pretty tight and there were a lot of shots runway I didn’t get because of the timing required. The spotlight is actually pointed at the dog. In order to show the owners adequately I had to boost the midtone levels.

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

These photos were taken at high ISO settings (800 and 1600) and cleaned up with Canon DPP’s noise reduction. Actually, I noticed very little noise with this lens. I shot a few RAW files (for a friend whom I wanted to photograph) but most were JPG because I had only one card with me.

Autofocus: AI Servo, spot metering. I had to do a lot of colour correction afterwards because the lights were so yellow. If I do something like this again, I’m going to set a custom white balance early on. I love the challenge of low-light photography but this was more challenging than most!

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

This photo of my friend’s dog rehearsing her tricks was taken about half an hour before the show began, when it was still light.

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

The Shar Pei below won the top award. He didn’t seem too impressed with his trophy.

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

Maale Adumim Dog Show, 2010

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2 Responses to “My Brief Career as a Dog Paparazza”

  1. aswirly said

    Oh yeah, nighttime, fast moving dogs, and yellow lights… a pretty challenging situation for sure! Looks like fun though and you got some cute poses of the dogs with their owners 🙂

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