Papparazzi to the Pooches

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Walking Joey has done more for my photography than anything I’ve ever done short of taking a class. Training myself to carry a camera for the several-times daily walks, meant I was prepared when something memorable appeared. The ordinary, every dayness of it forced me to try new things.

Suddenly, I could use every menu and button on my camera comfortably enough to change them at will and at need.

But taking pictures of Joey is a challenge of another sort.

I love having the souvenirs of memorable moments, but Joey turns his head or changes his behavior when I point a lens at him.

One of my favorite resources for inspiration and technical advice is Digital Photography School, an online source for photography tips and tutorials, advice about cameras and equipment and post-production enhancements.  Here’s a gleaning of tips from a number of posts there:

  1. See the world at a dog’s eye view.  These eight fun dog photos all have one thing in common: the photographer took the photos from the dog’s eye level.
  2. Keep your eye on the eyes. If you can keep the animal’s eyes in sharp focus, you have a instant magnet for a viewer’s eyes. This works as well for people photography as it does for pet photography.
  3. Pick your moment. One of the biggest challenges of photographing animals is that they don’t hold still. You can work around this by shooting photos when the animal is napping, sleepy or has just woken up. On the other hand, a pet’s energy is part of their personality. Letting movement show in a photo with blurring or panning can make for an evocative photo.
  4. Be patient. Getting a great photo of your four-footed best friend isn’t a point, shoot and walk away affair. You may have to give some time to letting the animal relax in the presence of you and your camera. Experimenting with lighting, point of view, environment are all steps to a great animal shot. Photographing your animal on a regular basis only helps to make you better.
  5. Be prepared. The moment when Fluffy is doing the cutest thing is not the time to run for your camera.  The camera has to be close at hand and ready to fire when that cute thing happens. That means having the discipline to have the camera there while you admire Fluffy.

The new, smaller, easier to use video cameras make it super easy to take moving photos  — Ruff on the agility course, playtime at the dog park or the joys of rolling in the grass in the spring time.  Flip cameras are the rage at the moment, but the Kodak Zi8 has caught my eye.  It’s less expensive and from reports by at least one user of my acquaintance well built enough to stand up to being attached to a bike for road filming.