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Posts Tagged ‘American Working Dog Federation’

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The 2011 AWDF National Championship in Bowling Green, Kentucky was a marvelous event, with more than 100 handler / dog teams competing. While I am a German Shepherd Dog enthusiast, I greatly admire the work of other breeds such as the Belgian Malinois, Rottweilers, American Bull Dogs, Giant Schnauzers and others that were represented at the AWDF this year. I must admit that when it comes to photographing Schutzhund dogs at work I have a real fondness for Mals, not because of their work, which is a joy to watch, but for the color of their coats. They always look good, regardless of the lighting, which at this year’s AWDF was a real challenge. One day cloudy, the next day a mix of sun and clouds, the final day a spit of rain here and there, sun, clouds, wind and dust. Also, the lighting changed dramatically from one side of the field to the other. Yes, a great blog topic!

In the meantime, above are some of my favorite pictures from this year’s AWDF. Next post will finish up the series on Composing the Shot, with a look at the long bite (courage test). After that, a closer look at how to meet the challenge of difficult lighting conditions and come out with great photos.

Be sure to visit Betty Lindblom’s 5 Dog Photography website to see her photos from the AWDF. She was the official event photographer, and while there were a number of photographers at the AWDF with great equipment, Betty offers a unique perspective by being on the field and have a real eye for the sport. Her photos are superb and exceptional examples of the Art of Schutzhund Photography!

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The photo above is by far one of my all time favorite Schutzhund photos.  It is, of course, of the “Send Out”, the very last exercise in the Schutzhund Obedience routine.  I took this photo at the 2006 American Working Dog Federation (AWDF) championship in Gasden, Alabama, with a Canon Rebel XT and a Canon 100 – 400 mm – F/4.5 – 5.6 EF IS lens.  What I like about the photo is it shows the send out, plus the other competitor attending to his dog, thus showing the entire story of what is happening on the Schutzhund field during this exercise.  And – yes – this photo is in The Sport of Schutzhund: A Photographic Essay.

As I advised in previous posts, it is better to position yourself at an angle to the action so the picture will not appear flat but have some depth. That is true in this instance, also, as positioning yourself  slightly ahead of the action is a great choice that will achieve this goal. But, the send out also is an exception to this rule and benefits from a more direct, straight on shot. Try to position yourself on the dog side so you can capture the exact moment h/she reacts to the command. If you position yourself too far ahead of the action, you might miss the dog and handler’s expressions and the dog starting to run out right next to the handler. If you position yourself behind the dog and handler, it is likely all you will see is their backs – not very dramatic. Another interesting perspective is to stand at the far end of the field near to where the dog will down and photographic the dog running and catch the moment the dog goes down. In this instance, I advise panning from your right to your left, using burst mode to be sure to photograph the dog as h/she reacts, turns around (as most dogs do) and goes down.

One other thing – at trial, be sure to position yourself so the judge is not in the way. This is where knowing the routine will help, as you will be able to anticipate when the handler will release the dog to run out and be able to avoid the judge’s back. Takes a little trial and error, if you’ll pardon the pun, to figure out just the right place to stand, but the practice is well worth the effort. And, hopefully, the judge will stand in approximately the same place for all the competitors. During training, of course, your options are less limited, but then again, watch out for fellow dog handlers on the field who may be watching. They have an uncanny ability to get in between the you, the photographer, and the shot. In these instances, I nicely – but firmly – asked them to MOVE!

What works best for you? Please share your ideas and experiences!

Next post will be after we return from the USA National Schutzhund Championship (Nov. 5 -7) and the Central Alabama Schutzhund Club trial (Nov. 13), where several of our fellow club members are showing. My husband, Peter, is competing with Leroy v. Rietnisse (Eli) at the Nationals. Our best wishes to those competing at the Nationals and at the CASC trial for safe travels and great trials!!  As a good friend of mine says, “No matter what happens, it’s all good!”

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