Like the Hold and Bark exercise, the Escape Bite has certain advantages, which make getting a great shot both easier and harder. Easier, because the dog starts from a set position, and the track the dog runs to capture the helper is well defined and predictable. Harder, because the action is quick, and it is very easy to miss the shot or have it go out of focus. Even so, the Escape Bite affords many different angles and perspectives from which to shoot and thus offers real opportunities to be creative. The slide show above illustrates some of these angles and perspectives.
One of my favorite positions is at the top (or bottom) of the field, looking back at an angle to the Find Blind and the set up for the Escape Bite. From here, it is easy to track the dog and capture the moment the dog strikes the sleeve. It also can be a great position to photograph the helper turning to drive the dog (the topic of the next post). Another reason I like this position is the view is not usually blocked as the judge and other spectators hang back a bit to the left of the Find Blind.
If you can get on the field and avoid your view getting blocked, photographing from the other side affords a different look or try getting low and photographing from the dog’s perspective. There is one photo in the slide show of a Belgian Malinois that illustrates this perspective. The lens follows the line of the dog’s back to the helper as the dog is anticipating the helper moving, but the focus in on the dog.
Whatever position you take up, keep the lens on the dog, preferably mid-body to head, and be ready for action. If you focus too far back on the dog, the part of the image showing the helper and dog engaging may be fuzzy. Zooming in for a tighter shot can help with this. You may have to decide if you’re interested in the helper’s face / head or just in the dog and the sleeve, however, as it is easy to cut off the helper’s head if you are zoomed in too close. It is something that takes practice to figure out what is the right focal length to get the composition that most interests you.
Definitely, use the burst mode if you have it, but remember, some photos in the series will likely be out of focus so try to time the burst series so the images that will be most in focus will be the photos you want. Also try varying the shutter speed for a different look. It also is a good idea to use a fast card so images write quickly and the burst shooting is not interrupted or slowed down while your camera is trying to keep up with the action.
Next up: Photographing the drive out of the Escape Bite and the helper putting the dog in the pocket.