I was fortunate enough to accompany the K9 Brain Training team on another scent training day at the Madejski Stadium with expert tuition coming from Georgina and guest instructor Wesley Visscher. It’s always a privilege to see these dogs being put through their paces, hunting out scents in such a vast arina.
The dogs come from far and wide and from many breeds, and they all have their individual strengths but it was great to see the instructors getting the most from them all.
A large stadium with its steep lines of folding chairs can look imposing to anyone but the dogs seemed to take it all in their stride, coping marvelously with the unusual location.
Some were very laid back…
… and others very keen to get on as fast as they were able.
What was obvious, was that regardless of their skill levels, both dogs and owners had a most rewarding weekend.
We all love to take photos of our dogs in the snow because they love the stuff and start playing like puppies again leaping about, digging and rolling around in the most endearing way. It’s a great opportunity to grab some action shots and, perhaps, a picture for next year’s Christmas cards.
However, if you’re not a little careful you’ll come back with some disappointing results and be scratching your head as to what went wrong, particularly if, like me, you use manual settings. Our cameras have a wonderful ability to expose correctly for whatever we put in front of them but sometimes they can be fooled.
The exposure meter doesn’t expect the world to suddenly be bright, brilliant white. It normally averages the exposure for a theoretical 18% shade of grey. The result will be underexposed images which seems a bit counter intuitive but it’s logical I’m afraid. This makes your wonderful, white sparkly images look dull and renders your subjects very dark, a bit like silhouettes. This is a similar effect to what aircraft photographers suffer from when shooting into a bright sky.
If you want to get natural looking images you are going to have to compensate by opening up your exposures by a stop, or even 2! Because I shoot in RAW and post process all my images I only used 2/3 of a stop for all these as I didn’t want to end up with snow that was so white it had no texture and I was able to adjust, when necessary, on my computer after the shoot. Of course, your camera might be clever enough to realise what is going on and do this for you or it might have a specific snow exposure setting. Whatever, if it goes wrong, you now have an idea of how to fix it next time and good luck.
A couple of days ago I was following a number of keen scent dog owners around the huge Madejski Stadium in Reading. They were undergoing training from Wesley Visscher, a Dutch expert on the subject and a guest instructor who had flown over specifically to cover the difficulties involved in clearing a large event location.
I was there to photograph the dogs at work and was delighted with the results but sadly I won’t be able to put up a gallery on my Website. The day, which was forecast to have a good measure of sunlight, sadly proved to be gloomy and dull. Without adequate light levels it was necessary to increase the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor which results in more noise on the image. Noise resembles speckles and it is possible to blend it in but that reduces the sharpness of the photograph… something that I feel is unacceptable when capturing a great image.
When the photographs are viewed at less than full size, the noise and softness are invisible but when I put images up for sale I need to feel confident that my customers will get a perfect image whether they select a small download or a large piece of wall art. As such I didn’t feel that it was right to charge for these photographs and I have donated them to K9 Brain Training and thence to the dog owners.
I look forward to attending future training events and trust the weather will be kinder next time.
A frosty day is a wonderful opportunity to capture some special images that will forever remind you of a winter wonderland and the holiday season. You don’t need a special camera to take great images as all the shots on this post were taken by an inexpensive and small mirrorless camera. Being a big bloke I’m not a fan of small cameras as they are fiddly to set up and use but I often carry one around for the convenience of always having one in my pocket.
Whilst, for me, a mirrorless is fine for static images, they are still lag behind for the sort of action images that I love taking. Whilst the technology is continually improving I find the start up time, the focus speed and the ease of use still doesn’t match my DSLRs but I’m sure, one day they will get there.
Having said all that, I can usually make any camera work sufficiently well to get something of value and I enjoy the challenge of adjusting my techniques to suit.
Finally, a very Merry Christmas to all of you out there in gun dog land!
On my last post you may remember I mentioned photographing a dog scent training class at K9 Brain Training. One of the lovely dogs there was Roo the Fox Red Lab. I was lucky enough to get Roo’s owner, Rachel, to give Roo her own photoshoot and here are a few of the results.
Roo is a great dog, full of personality, verve and vigor so it was a delight to get a chance to photograph her.
She also lived up to his reputation of jumping like a kangaroo and being a wonderful funny dog that keeps her family in stitches!
I first met Georgina when she was involved with a Search and Rescue group and I was shooting images for them during a training session. She and her partner, Phillip, trained a number of their dogs to become qualified scent dogs but since then, Georgina has started classes to train other dogs and their owners.
I was recently given the opportunity to watch Georgina at work training some spaniels and a lovely Fox Red Lab in an industrial area near Farnborough and hope to return to photograph other classes in the future. It was great to see these dog’s owners putting their animals through the various tasks and to see the fun that everyone was having. There was little doubt that the dogs were enjoying the work which encouraged them to use their natural talents and incredible scenting capability.
Weather permitting, I shall be returning to join K9 Brain Training on the 1st of December to get some more images of the dogs taking part and can recommend Georgina’s classes… she is a great instructor and her pupils certainly get a lot from her classes. She has a facebook page at:
… are just a click away. I will do a full photoshoot, either in a my studio or in the lovely local countryside for just £60; the choice is yours For that small sum you get several hours of photography plus a day or two of detailed post processing to obtain fine art images that would grace the walls of the most beautiful house. In addition, you will have a set of your images watermarked and in a size suitable to publish on social media made available for you to share with your friends.
A gallery of your photographs will be placed on my website from which you can order large sized downloads, prints or a dazzling array of beautiful formats ready to be put onto your walls.