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As all IPO photographers can attest, IPO (Schutzhund) fields are among the hardest backdrops for photographing working dogs in action. The lighting changes from one end of the field to other and from one side to other.  And, I’m sure each of us has one field in particular that bedevils us every time. For me, it’s the Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club field in Winston, Georgia. It’s a lovely place, very green, with many trees lining the field, plus horse pastures on two sides. As you can see in these images from the Chattahoochee Club’s fall trial, the horses graze very near to the field and keep an eye on what’s going on.

I really like photographing on this field. For example, I love using the horses as a juxtapose to the dog’s size and movement. I also like how the trees and pasture weeds add color around the edges of my images, and the field’s contours allow me to get some interesting angles and perspectives.

So, why is this field so challenging? For most of the day, especially prime shooting time when the light is just right, half of the field is in full sun and the other half is in deep shade. This is wonderful for handlers and dogs, but not so wonderful for photographers, especially as the action dances from shade to sun and back again. When the shade finally does retreat, the sun floods the field with bright, white light.  In addition, the dew is heavy here, as is the frost. As you might expect, until the field dries, there is a lot of moisture glistening and reflecting off the grass.

I have yet to figure out just the right balance of settings to get great shots every time. My goal is to create two sets of custom settings, so I can easily flip back and forth, depending on the lighting conditions. I’m working on it, and invite you to stay tuned for future updates.
As noted, the images above are highlights from the Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club’s fall trial, which was held October 12, 2013, Enjoy!
Until next time – Happy Shooting!
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I bet you’re wondering when the next post will be up, as I try to post every two weeks or so. I appreciate your patience as I work through a very hectic period in my life, including a lot of travel (9 states in 5 days with one trip) and a new house. Look for a new post this weekend, with highlights from the USCA National German Shepherd Dog Championship and continuing the series on perspective. The slide show above offers a few of my favorite shots from the Nationals to whet your visual appetites, including one with an oil paint look for fun.

Again, thank you for your encouragement and support. Your visits to my blog and your kind words both here and when we meet in person are very much appreciated!!  Happy shooting!

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Greetings!  Thank you to all my readers for your continued support and encouragement. I truly enjoy writing this blog and get a big kick out of watching the hits pile up. Passing 20,000 visits is a real milestone, especially considering that Schutzhund is not a large universe, although those of us in the sport tend to think of it as our whole world.

As with last year, we are having a hectic summer, including integrating a new dog into our pack. Zarek Von der Sauk is just nine weeks old and already has made himself at home. Shannon Hoffman Slaman of Von der Sauk German Shepherds bred Zarek. His father is Farin Spod Lazov, a son of Agent von Wolfsheim (WUSV, BSP), and his mother is Nutja vom Kathargo. As you might expect, taking care of a puppy plus two other dogs, traveling and working has left little time for photography and blogging.

While it has been a good summer in a lot of ways, it also has been a sad one. We said good-bye to our Leroy v. Rietnisse (Eli), who passed away in July. He was a remarkable dog, who achieved six SchH 3 titles. Eli and my husband, Peter, showed successfully at the 2010 New England Regional Championship and the 2010 USCA German Shepherd Dog Championship, where they took home a trophy for the highest scoring team from the southeast region.

We also said good-bye to Peter’s father, who passed away on Sunday, August 5, at the age of 88. For most of his life, Robert Pericles Spanos’ passions were being stock and commodities broker and his family. He also founded a management consulting firm, ran a television station, worked in advertising, insurance and sales. He flew combat missions as a B24 navigator in Africa and China in WW 2 and graduated from Purdue. Late in life, he published a book of poetry, in which he wrote about himself: “I’ve had a great life…God has given me the things that count.” May both Bob and Eli’s memories be eternal.

I will be posting a new blog entry towards the end of next week or over the weekend (August 18 -19), so please check back.  Stay cool and happy shooting!

BJ Spanos

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Eli’s (Leroy v. Rietnisse) latest litter (4 dark sable females and 1 all black female) are ready to find new homes. He was recently bred to a daughter of Merlin von Conneforde, a USCA and WDA national champion and has shown several times at the WUSV.  Eli is two-time SchH 3. For more information, visit the breeders blog at http:///www.gsdpuppies.webs.com.  We saw the puppies the other evening.  Very cute. Tried to photograph them, but it was too late in the day.  The breeder’s daughter sent me photos she had taken (see above).

I will get back to more regular posting in a week or so. Work deadlines have me buried.  Thanks for visiting and your patience.  Upcoming posts will focus on photographing T. Floyd’s Youth Schutzhund Camp and continuing the series on composing Schutzhund photos.

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