Top Tips for taking action photos of your dog – By Rae Prince

We asked dog photographer Rae Prince for her top tips when taking photos of your active dogs and here’s what she had to say:

Capturing an action shot is great fun but can be tricky to nail as your dog zoomies around the field at a million miles an hour. Inevitably most people are left with a blurred image of paws and legs going every which way. However, there are a few little tips you can utilise and you don’t even need a fancy camera!

Most of today’s mobile phones have excellent cameras and some neat little actions to help you capture it all. So, here are a few little tips and tricks which will hopefully help you with your action shots. In the first instance, if you can rope in someone to act as dog wrangler this will help enormously. They can be tasked with throwing balls, releasing the dog and generally helping to get them in the right spot at the right time.

Now, my NUMBER ONE TIP for any dog photography is to get down low…….and I mean right down and dirty! You need to have your camera at your dog’s eye level or even lower for the best angle.

• Try and face your dog into the light but beware of harsh shadows. If you can, shoot early morning or an hour or two before sunset when the sun is lower and the light is softer. Your camera/phone works much better with good contrast when taking action shots.

• Use a path or an opening to help position your dog so that you can then be ready to take the shot. Have a helper hold your dog and then call them to you.

• Make sure you are steady. Either hold your breath or exhale slowly as you take the shot. If you are standing, keep your elbows tucked in. Prop your elbows on something if you are sitting or lying down.

• If you are using your camera phone, don’t zoom in. Better to take the image and then crop afterwards. Ideally, zoom with your feet in the first instance.

• Use burst mode. Hold down the home key on your phone.

For those of you using an actual camera there are a few key settings you’ll need to dial in, although obviously these aren’t hard and fast rules:

• Increase your shutter speed. For an action shot with a dog you need at least 1/1000 of a second.

• Check your aperture – a wide aperture (eg f2.8) will only give you a depth of field of a few inches meaning that only a small part of your image may be in focus and the rest will be blurred. Have a play with narrower apertures depending on how in focus (or not) you want your background to be.

• If you don’t want to go fully manual, use the Sports Mode setting on your camera. There’s a lot of technology in a digital camera so you may as well make use of it!

Two final little tips:

Try and capture the dog on the up stride i.e. you want their head to be higher than their bum and secondly, think about the space around your dog in the image.

Always try and give them ‘somewhere to run’ in the final image i.e some space to the left or right of them depending on which way they’re going.

About Rae:

Originally from a little island in North Wales called Anglesey, I’m now based in Worcestershire where I live with my husband and our two rescue dogs called Betty and Hector. I’ve had a camera in my hand for as long as I can remember and it’s probably something I picked up from my Dad as he was a keen photographer documenting his travels abroad with the RAF in the 60s and 70s way before digital was a thing! I love photographing all animals as I love the thrill of capturing a special moment in time, especially dogs as they are never with us for long enough. However, there’s not enough money or cake in the world to get me photograph a wedding……oh no!

To get in touch with Rae please visit her website; raeprincephotography.co.uk

How to stay injury free whilst canicrossing – by Louise Humphrey

Are you a runner who got a dog or a dog owner who started Canicross?

Whichever you are, Canicross is a very different sport and however you have come into the sport, you need to not only think about your dogs’ fitness but yours too.

Runners who become dog owners – Top Tips

1. You need to slowly introduce your dog to Canicross, as you would if you were just starting out yourself

2. Be aware of your dogs needs when running, like water, terrain

3. Canicross is a different running technique from solo running

4. Canicross can increase your risk of injury, cross- training is VERY important

Dog owners who start Canicross – Top Tips

1. Start slow and build up for both of you, this way will help reduce your risk of injury

2. Make sure YOU have the right kit, most important being trail shoes

3. As a runner you need to ensure you cross train to reduce your risk of getting injuries

4. Start off with the C25K course

Whatever your reason for taking up Canicross, it’s really important that you look after yourself as well as you dog. If Canicross is the main way you exercise your dog, then the last thing you need is to get injured and not being able to get out and go for a run. Believe me I have been there with injuries and I should know better the importance of cross training.

Canicross running

Canicross running is a little different from regular running

As a Canicrosser your running technique is different from running solo. Due to the nature of Canicross and the fact that as well as you pushing yourself forward with your own running technique, your dog will also be pulling you. This means you are more than likely to overstride. Overstriding is when your foot lands in front of your hip (a normal runner’s foot tends to land underneath your hip), the foot is in contact with the ground longer, the muscles are having to work harder and this is when the injuries are likely to occur.

So, it is really important that we keep ourselves injury free to keep running with our dogs.

Crossing training is SO important and ensuring it is functional training as well, so it mimics what we do when we run but focuses on our strength, flexibility and balance.

Don’t be put off if you weren’t a runner beforehand. Hopefully you are starting to realise how addictive and great Canicross is.

Pilates for Runners

Pilates for Runners is a great way to focus on your balance, strength and flexibility and learning about your technique more will help you reduce your risks of injury when Canicrossing.

If you have done Pilates before, you know that it focuses on your core strength and this is a great start for runners as this will help you improve your balance. Pilates for runners will also help to increase the strength in your legs and your flexibility, ensuring that you run with the best possible technique you can when canicrossing.

Throughout the course we do both standing and mat Pilates practice. The standing practice focuses on dynamic running movements whilst also focusing on strengthening and improving balance.

Mat Pilates practice goes back to basics to ensure the core is strong but also working on the areas we use in running – glutes, hamstrings and core muscles, making sure we are engaging and using these muscles.

Pilates done regularly will change your running and with some great mantras to keep you going when you are out canicrossing, you know you are doing the best to keep yourself injury free.

All the exercises we do on the course can be used before or after runs to get you warmed up and cooled down, then longer sessions can be used on rest days. It doesn’t need to take up hours, just small sessions on a regular bases will build your strength & flexibility.

So, if Canicrossing is the way you let your dog unleash its energy in a safe way, then working on your cross training will help you get out there more often and enjoy the trials around you. If you want to find out more about Pilates for Runners Course then you can here.

About Louise

Louise Humphrey is the founder of Paws4running and Studio 44 Pilates. She started Paws4running after her Black Labrador Pickle failed Gundog school with a high prey drive. Wanting to make sure Pickle could unleash her energy they started to Canicross together, leading her to qualify as a Canicross instructor.

Louise is a certified DogFit Canicross instructor offering Canicross taster sessions, C25K and social runs in her local area of Market Harborough, Leicestershire https://www.instagram.com/paws_4running/

Canicross has been proven to help, reactive, rescue and anxious dogs’ bond with their owners and running in groups helps them socialise too.

Louise has been teaching Pilates for over 20 years and has an online 10-minute Pilates membership to help you bring Pilates into your life daily www.studio44pilates.com

With Louise’s Pilates experience she is able to also combine Pilates for Runners together with the Canicross ensuring that her human clients are as fit and healthy as their dogs and stay as injury free as possible.