Archive for December, 2011

Photography is a grand adventure!

Today, in the quietness of Christmas Eve, I have been thinking about my Schutzhund (Dog Sport) friends, especially my photography friends.  You are an inspiration to me as we strive to capture Schutzhund dogs doing what they (and we) love best – being on the field training, trialing and just having fun. Just as Schutzhund is a team sport, so is photography. I have learned so much this past year, particularly from you as we talk over camera settings, share frustrations over difficult lighting, figure out the best angles and congratulate each other on getting “THE SHOT” of the day. So, thank you for sharing in my adventure! Here’s to 2012 and many more photography adventures!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to you, your families and your furry friends.

BJ Spanos

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Rectangles, triangles and squares play a big part in Schutzhund. Next time you’re on a Schutzhund field, look around you. The field itself is a rectangle, bordered by six triangular shaped blinds. The scaling wall is made up of two rectangles to form a A-frame (triangle). The inside of the find blind, as discussed in the previous post, is triangular in shape with rectangles forming the sides of the blind. The one-meter hurdle is a square, as is the Group formation in most trials. The tracking, obedience and protection routine patterns also are filled with these shapes. These patterns may be a little hard to show in a photograph, but they can be shown in video.

So, what does this have to do with Schutzhund photography?

Robert Hirsch in his book, Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age, explains: “Shape is often the chief structural compositional element, as it enables a viewer to immediately recognize a face, a structure or an object in a picture…A combination of different shapes can provide variety. For example, an outdoor scene can be made more attention-grabbing by contrasting the sharp, jagged shape of a fence with a soft, smooth curves of clouds and hills.”   According to Hirsch, there are four basic shapes:

  • Geometric shapes, such as circles, rectangles, squares and triangles
  • Natural shapes, such as plants, rocks, humans and animals
  • Abstract shapes are altered to their fundamental essence.
  • Non-objective shapes do not correspond to anything in the natural world but often are whimsical and delightful to view

As visual images, geometric shapes also have symbolic meanings, as follows:

  • Triangle: Three forces in equilibrium, the number three, aspiration, movement upward, a return to origins, sight and light
  • Rectangle: Rational and secure, grounds objects
  • Square: Firmness, stability, the number four

These meanings have direct relevance to Schutzhund, which is all about demonstrating stability of a dog’s temperament and balancing the dog’s performance in three phases, all of which are tied together by firm and happy obedience. And, while dogs are in constant motion, many of the elements that make up the Schutzhund field are very well grounded, which creates drama and “attention-grabbing contrast” as Hirsch points out.

Shapes also can define images by providing a frame. The picture below serves as a useful example.

The picture frame is a rectangle, which accentuates the effect of looking down at the dog and into her eyes. The dog’s face is triangular in shape as are her ears. Yet, the rocks are natural and of varying shapes, which offers a nice contrast with the geometric shapes. The image is both whimsical and soul searching, as any dog lover will tell you, looking into a dog’s eyes is to see h/her soul.

As with lines and space, being aware of shapes and their symbolic meanings, and purposely using them can significantly enhance your photographic compositions. They also can help your viewers understand what you are trying to communicate to them in your images.

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