I was delighted to get another opportunity to work with Georgie of K9 Training as she put a mix of experienced and beginner owners and dogs through their paces in a location new to me, a farm. As usual she had a lovely mix of dogs for me to photograph, which is one of the reasons I love doing this kind of shoot… lots of variety.
The work that everyone started with was new to me as I usually see the dogs work with hides but this time Georgie was teaching everyone how to follow a trail. This is an obvious talent that is required for Search and Rescue dogs who head out to find a missing person. In the basic stages the dogs are taught to follow a trail that is punctuated at regular intervals by a coloured disc (and treat) to show that they are following the right trail.
The afternoon given over to hide work and Georgie was keen to get up on the farm machinery to find some unusual locations. As usual, the dogs and owners were fantastic which gave me some opportunities for great photos.
After some lovely summer shoots out in the countryside, I was in the studio this morning photographing the lovely Rolo. He is a big, lovely, young German Shepherd Dog who is looking for a new home. He grew up tethered to a chain and never got the start in life we would all have wanted for him. The muscles in his hindquarters didn’t develop well so he is in need of hydrotherapy to get him fully fit.
I was very recently back with Georgie of K9 Brain Training photographing a Scenting Trial in one of her classically unusual locations, a Transport Yard! The weather took a turn for the worst and the first few contestants looked a bit concerned but soon got into the swing of things!
The sun was soon making an appearance and the location was certainly testing the dogs who were searching for tiny scent deposits of either gun oil or cloves, both used as training scents. It didn’t take long before they were indicating a location.
After some difficult marking and adding up, eventually the victorious contestants were chosen.
Another great day and my thanks to all who got involved and especially the winners. All your photographs can, of course, be found in the Gallery on my website HERE.
What a wonderful breed the Munsterlander is! This was my first time photographing this gundog breed which originates, funnily enough, in Munsterlander, Germany. A sleek and elegant breed it’s an offshoot of the GLP the German Longhaired Pointer. Mollie certainly lived up to my expectations and she was a delight to photograph, even if she decided to dunk herself in a puddle which gave her quite a ‘different’ look!
With a keen nose, Mollie roved well ahead which made it a little difficult getting tight shots but then opened up some opportunities for putting her in a landscape instead.
She came with her great friend Roo, who I have photographed in the past and it was obvious that they were great friends.
Both their owners like the idea of another shoot when the weather turns frosty or snowy and I have to say that it’s a great idea for a slightly unusual shoot that will look great on your Christmas Cards!
Nothing quite as likely to get an awwwwww as 8 squiggly puppies… unless you’re are trying to corral them into a line up? Just finished working on Georgina’s lovely litter and they were a handful to be sure. The photos don’t really show the bedlam, apart from a few?
Eventually we had to get Mum to give them a little feed and then, at last, they began to quieten down. Tula wasn’t too impressed either!
But with full tummies they all started to cooperate… a bit anyway!
At last, the job was done and everyone was happy. I’m sure that the new homes these wonderful little bundles go to will be delighted with the sharp little teeth and needle claws but I’ll be suffering the wounds for a while.
Going to miss these lovely pups but I hope their new owners will think of bringing them back so I can see what wonderful dogs they have grown up into.
Sorry, couldn’t resist but I have just spent another fascinating day with Georgie Armstrong at one of her K9 Scent Training workshops. This venue was yet another test for both dogs and owners as it was a Transport Yard and an environment the dogs would not be familiar with.
Georgie chose spots amongst huge vehicles, cargo containers and other industrial areas that were available to her. It certainly put the dogs and their handlers through their paces and by the end of the day, a hot one, everyone was looking a little tired!
From my point of view, it was another great opportunity to capture images of working scent dogs and I enjoyed every moment. Some of the images I got were funny…
and others showed just how hard the handler and dog teams were working.
All in all, another brilliant day and I can thoroughly recommend all that K9 Brain Training do to help you keep your dogs brains working and senses honed!
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!