Archive for February, 2011

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Of all the exercises in the protection phase, the hold and bark at the find blind is one of the most often photographed.  For one thing, it takes place in a confined space and the dog is not moving as much as in other exercises. Much easier to plan and get the shot. Also, it can be quite dramatic as the dog comes full speed into the blind and starts a forceful hold and bark. Some dogs leap up and down as they bark, while others settle into the more traditional (and correct) position, and others move around in the blind.

It’s that dance, that communication between the dog and helper that is the essence of the hold and bark. The dog is trying to intimidate the helper, and the helper is standing firm with a look that says, “Is that all you got? Bring it on!” Capturing these moments, the look in their eyes, adds real drama to the photographs of this exercise.

Getting the shot is not always as easy as it appears. The find blind often is in shadow, a good thing for the helper, but not such a good thing for photographers that have to deal with a sharp lightening contrast from the rest of the field. Or, if you are at a trial, it may be hard photograph in and around other spectators. Try shooting from the stands to get above the crowd. A zoom lens is very helpful in this instance.

There is no one set place to get the best shot. A lot depends on the dogs. With dogs you know, it is easier to set up as you know which side of the blind they come in and how they behave in the blind. This has the advantage of knowing where to zoom in; for example, capturing the dog’s look at h/she comes into the blind or if the dog is a leaper zooming in on the dog’s and handler’s faces. With dogs you do not know, it may be better to zoom out and capture the entire blind, and then use photo editing software to crop in.

Best advice is to track the dog coming into the blind and be ready to fire. If your camera has burst shooting mode, use it, so as not to miss some of the most dramatic moments just as the dog comes into the blind and confronts the helper. Burst mode also allows you to capture a mini-movie of the dog’s hold and bark, which not only makes a great series of photographs, but also may be helpful to handler to see in slow motion the dog in action. Also, try different positions to the sides or directly behind the dog. If you feel adventurous, get a ladder and stand at the top of the find blind looking down from the helper’s perspective. I have not tried this one myself, but it is an intriguing idea.

The slide show above shows some of my favorites, including a couple taken by Betty Lindblom of our dog, Eli (Leroy v. Rietnisse). Next up – my favorite exercise to shoot – the escape bite!

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