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Archive for the ‘Lenses’ Category

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Before continuing with the series on composing Schutzhund photos, I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of the best images from this past weekend’s photo shoot at the 2011 SE Regionals. The competition was held at Lake Valley Schutzhund Club in Knoxville, Tennessee. I took more than 1,300 images, and I am just now starting to edit them. The best photos came from the protection routines. It was later in the day, with the sun behind me. As a result, the lighting was much better than in the morning, when the field glistened in the morning sun. Pretty, but not easy shooting!

I used a Canon 70 – 300 mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM lens, which is great for bright sun. But, as I learned this weekend, this lens is not that great for zooming long distances. It is much better as a medium zoom lens, such as when you can get on the field and get up close and personal with the action. During trials, I recommend a more powerful zoom, such as a Canon EF 100 -400 mm f/4.5 -5.6 L IS USM. In my experience, however, this lens tends to focus on the brightest spot in the image, which is not always where the action is – aka the dog! My favorite lens for Schutzhund is the Canon EF 70 -200 mm f/2.8 L IS USM. Great focus, great zoom capabilities, but like the 70 -300 mm is better for medium range. With the larger, heavier lenses, a tripod or monopod is definitely a help.

As one image shows, there were a couple of other photographers snapping away.

Next post will get back to the drive after the escape bite.

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The first T. Floyd Youth Schutzhund Summer Camp is now in the books, and by this photographer’s reckoning was a resounding success. Fifteen kids (ages 7 to 18) spent four days honing their dog handling skills, with periodic breaks for a massive water balloon and pistol fight and an afternoon at a local water park. The kids ranged in skill levels from novice to experienced competitors, but that didn’t matter as the more experienced helped the novices and life-long friendships were made. T. taught them not only about obedience, protection and tracking, but also about how to show a dog in trial. Many thanks to T., his family and Glyn Clayton for organizing and hosting a fabulous event. I, personally, cannot wait for next year’s camp!

As the “official” photographer for the event, I took more than 4,000 pictures of the training and the fun trial on the last day. And therein, Schutzhund photography fans, lies an adventure that has its start even before we left for the camp.

My favorite Schutzhund photography lens (Canon EF 70 – 200 mm IS USM) failed the Saturday before we were to leave – Fourth of July weekend!!  My heart sank. My face struggled to hold together and was in serious danger of breaking into a thousand pieces. We planned to leave the early the next day, Sunday, July 4th, with no time to locate a replacement lens before we left. We now think it is a firmware problem as it’s an older lens working with the new Canon EOS 7D body, which may have produced some communication problems. More about that later after we send the lens to Canon and get a firm (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) diagnosis.  Back to the adventure…

After calming down and rediscovering a regular heartbeat and lowered blood pressure, we spent Saturday evening researching replacement lenses and thought about renting a lens, but on the Fourth of July weekend, we really didn’t think we could arrange it. We found an excellent candidate, a Canon EF 70-300 mm, F4.5-6 DO IS USM lens. It’s lighter and smaller than the EF 70 -200 mm lens, as it relies on Diffractive Optical (DO) elements, which enable this 4.2x telephoto zoom lens to measure less than 10 cm long at the 70 mm position.

Problem was where to get one in time.  Most Internet sources we looked at would not be able to ship the lens until Tuesday (holiday weekend!), with arrival on Wednesday at the very earliest (camp started on Thursday, July 8th), and I was not crazy about shipping a lens to a hotel that wasn’t used to receiving and holding packages for guests. Good thing, too, as there was a problem with our reservation, but that’s another story. We also thought about driving into Manhattan to the B & H Photography Super Store, but that didn’t seem like a good idea either.

On our drive up, using the power of an iPhone and a Blackberry, we finally located the lens at a store that was right on our way through the Washington, DC area. Problem was the store closed at 6 pm for July 4th. We were on I-85 in central North Carolina, about 200 miles from the store in Springfield, Virginia – and it was 2:45 pm. With a little pedal to the metal action and with careful avoidance of numerous speed traps along they way (no skill, we were lucky), we arrived at the store at 5:30 pm. I had lens and necessary filters in hand by 5:45 pm. Whew!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the lens. It’s lightweight and easy to use. I was able to scamper around the field and catch the kids in action each day, all day without wearing out my arms and back. The only other real challenge was the lighting, which changed from gloomy to extremely bright, sun to clouds, and back again all within about 5 minutes throughout the camp days. One day it rained a bit, so I took a break and didn’t photograph those few hours. I’ll have more to say about the technical aspects of photographing the camp when I share some photos of the dogs working (sorry, no kids to protect their privacy).

On to organizing and processing the photos! I will get back to the series on composing Schutzhund photos very soon.

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