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How to photograph dog action photography

oxfordshire dog photography

Are you stuck trying to take beautiful dog action photography? It is real skill in itself  that takes a lot of practice to capture a dog in action, there are many factors why you may find it difficult.

1) Dogs have their own mind so getting them to play along with the shot can be difficult.

2) Sometimes dogs may not be perfectly trained so it can be difficult.

3) Dogs can move erratically in different directions.

4) Compared to when we photograph humans, dogs move at faster speeds so capturing can be more complexed.

5) Dogs have a small focus area to get that perfect shot (the eye)

6) They can have coat colours that can grab the focus or make it very difficult to focus (black coats)

Dog Photography Oxfordshire

The settings for dog action photography

Lets take it from start-

Hit rates

When I say hit rate I mean how many shots you can perfect in a set number of shots (for example I always give myself out of 5.) With the eye in focus with the dog moving at speed. I have learnt that are several factors that can affect your hit rate:

  • Your ability to track the dog
  • The cameras speed of focussing
  • The lenses speed of focussing
  • The setting that you use

I have found that over years with different camera experience will really take your work to the next level. The more you invest in your equipment the speed of your lense and camera focussing will improve. You may be very good at tracking but without high level equipment you will not be able to capture 5 out of 5 shots in focus. The Canon R5 is one I am looking at as it tracks the eyes for you allowing me to hit 5 out of 5 sharp images. If you aren’t getting sharp images overtime with top equipment then you will need to practice your tracking.

Dog action Photography

settings for dog action photography

These are the settings that I have found to be most beneficial when capturing Dog Action Photography, this is going to be specific to your camera body.

Foucs mode:

This is dependant on the make of your camera, you’re looking for the following:

  • AF-C
  • Al Dervo
  • Continuous AF

I find that these settings make sure that the camera continuously refocusses for the period that you hold down the focus button.

Focus Area:

I have found that the best focus area to use is a small single point that you can choose and move within the frame. Once again it differentiates with different makes but something similar to this would be spot on:

  • Single Point AF
  • Single Spot AF
  • Flexible Spot (Small)

With this you manually move the point around to make sure you keep it on the eye of the dog. If you’re a beginner in the dog industry my best advice is to keep in the centre of the frame, as you get more experience with tracking, you will want to keep the dog on the “rule of third” line.

Top tips

  • One of my biggest tips I can give you is have two buttons, one for shooting and one for focussing. For me personally it allows me to have more control when waiting to get that beautiful shot.
  • Have your drive mode set to continuous, as this means that when you press and hold the shutter button the camera will capture multiple images.
  • Have your camera all set up before you let the dog off the lead as it will help you with your hit rate.
  • When shooting you want to get into a low position, if you take them standing up then you will end up with a large amount of ground and not a lot else in your photographs. By crouch down or lay down will give you beautiful angles.
  • You want to shoot at the start of the walk, as when dogs are let off the lead they normally find the nearest water hole which can look somewhat less attractive in a photograph than having a clean beautiful dog. Also the longer they walk and the more hot they get the more likely the tongue will come out which we don’t want in our photographs.


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