Archive for the ‘Schutzhund’ Category

This year’s AWDF Championship and Team Challenge was an exceptional event; very well organized and a marvelous venue.  Each day dawned clear with cool mornings. It wasn’t until mid-afternoon that the sunlight washed out the trial field, and for most of the day the sun was in a favorable position for photographs. There also were no bleachers directly across the way to distract my camera lens. An added bonus to be sure!

The first day I tried to shoot with low ISOs around 100 or 200, and it simply did not work well. Many of the images came out muddy and out of focus, especially the dark sable and black dogs. I’ve tried this before, with the same disappointing results. The best settings seem to be shutter speed priority, with ISOs around 600 to 800 or maybe higher depending on the light and aperture settings around f 5.6 to f 8 or f 11. The camera sets the shutter speeds, which varied around 800 to 2000. I’m willing to bet that experts who say you can get good action shots at low ISOs have never photographed Schutzhund (IPO) dogs in action. They move fast, and are small relative to the rest of the frame, which is usually a grass field with a lot of reflection and glare.

Which brings me to the other lesson learned. I experimented with different meter settings: spot, center weight, partial and evaluative. The spot meter setting did not work well for the same reason low ISOs do not seem to work; dark dogs that move fast and comprise a relatively small part of the overall frame. It was hard to keep the center of the lens directly on the dog. Partial and center weight settings worked pretty well, especially early in the day. After midday, the evaluative setting worked the best. For a review of what these settings are, please see the recent post on Metering Schutzhund (IPO) Dogs.

Below is a slide show of my favorite 67 images from more than 1800 photos.These were taken with a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EF 70-300 mm, 1:4.5 – 5.6 DO IS USM lens. If you are interested in obtaining a copy(s) of an image(s), please contact me. Please do not copy from this post. Thanks! Enjoy!!


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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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Pardon the sidebar from my usual posts, but wanted to share some good news.  The Greater Atlanta Schutzhund Club held Board of Directors elections on Saturday, June 26th:

  • Peter Spanos – President
  • Stefan Mannsbart – Vice President
  • Larry Hodge – Treasurer
  • Tracy Schaeffer – Secretary
  • Fabian Walker – Training Director
  • Gary McGillivary – Member at Large
  • Ashely Barrientos – Ex Officio (property owner on which our club field sits)

Our helpers are Mitchell Walker, Mark Patillo and Fabian Walker. BJ Spanos (that’s me!) was appointed webmaster.

The Board has a lot of energy and great ideas, including a complete redo of the GASA website and to become more active at the regional (Southeast Region) and national levels of the United Schutzhund Clubs of America.  Our club members also shared some excellent ideas at the meeting.

The Greater Atlanta Schutzhund Club is an all breed club that is dedicated to providing excellent quality training for all levels of dogs and handlers.  We are a family club and have not only individual memberships but also family memberships. We welcome new members and those new to Schutzhund who would like to visit and see what Schutzhund is all about.

Next post will be in mid-July due to travel and work deadlines!  Thank you for visiting and your encouragement!

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This past weekend, I was in Traverse City, Michigan visiting family.  As a part of our activities we spent a day at the Horseshows by the Bay, a regional horse show.  We saw many fine horses participating in a $30,000 purse Grand Prix. For those, like me, who know very little about horse shows, a Grand Prix event requires horses to jump over a number of jumps in a set course.  The goal is to complete the course within a set time limit (but as fast as possible) and with no faults.  In other words, don’t knock the poles off the jumps and don’t go beyond the set time limit.  The jumps are of different heights, looks and widths.  More challenging than the one-meter Schutzhund jump to be sure.

For fun, I decided to photograph this event and was fascinated at how similarly horses and dogs jump.  See the pictures above.  The primary differences are horses move more slowly and are much more predictable in their movements.  But their approach, launch, flight and landings are remarkably similar.

I found this an excellent opportunity to practice capturing captivating jump pictures.  The other cool thing is since the horses have to jump over a number of jumps, I was able to practice taking pictures at different angles, different zoom lengths and even in different lighting.  It was late afternoon, so some parts of course were saturated in light while other parts of the course were in shadow.

Before I knew it, I had taken well over 300 pictures, with the vast majority in focus, with pretty good exposures and with excellent composition.  That’s not always possible when photographing Schutzhund dogs jumping.  Often, the jump is in focus, but not the dog or only part of the dog, or the camera captures an odd moment due to my timing being just a wee bit off.

Bottom line, if you ever have the chance to attend a horse jumping event, take your camera and practice taking pictures.  It will help you get your timing and composition right for the Schutzhund one-meter hurdle.  And, you’ll have some really nice pictures as a result.

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