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

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