Cocker Spaniel shaking off
Most cameras have a changeable speed film setting, ranging from 100-1600. The faster the film speeds the better you are able to capture the action. You will trade off is picture quality. Faster film speeds have more noise, which means the image will be less sharp when you blow it up. Usually the fastest film speeds would only be used if you are shooting indoors where you couldnít use a flash. Outside action shots on a sunny day can be done with 100- 800 film speed. A lot of the time I leave my camera set on 200 film speed, I find it to be good for most shots. This picture was taken at a low film speed and you can see how it didnt stop the action but blurred. I love the gyrating look of dogs shaking off at the beach so planned this shot to get that look !
Lab running on beach
If you can change the shutter speed on your camera, experiment and see how different pictures look with different shutter speeds. Sometimes you might like a slurred look to the picture showing speed while other times you will want as much of the picture to be tack sharp. The great thing about digital is you can dump the pictures that donít work. Use your cameras functions, experiment and learn your camera!
Even low end digitals often have a sport or action setting that you can use when photographing your dog in action. It has a burst of continuous shooting that allows you to overcome shutter lag that is common in digital point and shoot. If you have taken a picture of your dog jumping only to find you have a picture of a jump and no dog, you know what shutter lag is!
Angles of the Action
Cocker Spaniel and Lab running
Often when I shoot action, I want the dog coming right towards me; I love the light in the eyes and find it easiest to shoot this type of action picture this time of year. The lower angle of the sun helps light the eyes. Also early morning and evening, as long as there is enough light is good for action, because of the lower angle of the sun.
Other shoots I want a side view of the dog running by. It really depends on what you are looking for in the picture.
Anticipate the action
When I do an action shoot, I spend time preplanning where I want the action to take place. I look for distracting objects that will end up in the picture, such as a glob of seaweed when the dogs are running past. One of my favorite pictures was on that I did not anticipate. As the doxie ran past and I kept clicking, I got a shot that is perfect for the end of a book, as he leaves!
When I shoot action on the beach, the dogís owners are the best help! They throw the buoy where I want it in the ocean; they call their dog back to do the shot again. Have your friends help you get the pictures you want.
Use a high resolution setting
Stopping the action where you want it is hard but when you get the perfect picture make sure you can blow it up. Use the biggest photo card for your camera that you can.