Tails from the Road
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CAPTURING THE SPIRIT, Part V [ © Dennis Glennon ]
Shooting Set-up Shots
Some folks like to take posed, portrait-type dog shots. I do too
--- when the breed, or the dogs special spirit lends to it. However, I prefer to
show a dog in a natural setting doing what they are bred for. Any set-up shots I do, such
as one where props are used, or where dogs are placed on a particular surface, or in a
certain environment, is designed only to emphasize and correspond with the theme of the
breed and/or the dogs special personality.
is a perfect example of a set-up shot. For this breed, the curly coated retriever, I
needed my subject sitting with the light off to the side of her, hitting her
in such a way that the texture of her gorgeous coat was shown off. Frontal light
would have only flattened the scene and faded out her coat, making the curls
on it difficult, if not impossible, to see. So, in this instance, it was best to
place the dog in a position where one of her breed attributes, the thick, waterproof curly
coat, was emphasized.
The rest of the shot was set
up as well. Placing the bird in her mouth and having her hold it while she relaxed, I
photographed the Goddess as
she looked around, alert to her surroundings, as any sound hunting dog should be. What I
wound up with was nothing short of exceptional, but only half of it was due to my
photographic know-how. The other half was a combination of a beautiful, spirited animal,
and a well trained one. If you want to increase your percentage of keepers,
those images you dont dump in the trash basket, work with well-trained dogs.
I did a photo shoot for the Quail Hollow Hunting Preserve in eastern
Pennsylvania. The owners of the preserve, who hunt train their dogs, needed some
advertising images. Having trained dogs made this photo shoot easy. All I needed to do was
find a flattering background for the dogs and the right light. Then I simply had the
owner/handler set up his dogs for me.
||We took out a Brittany Spaniel, a Black
Lab, and a German Short Haired Pointer. We released a few live birds and let the dogs go
to work. As they marked and flushed the birds, I shot my film. Being familiar with the
behavior of hunting dogs made this session a breeze.
I was able to photograph each of the three dogs, individually, in about
30 minutes, AND I got great shots. Having the trainer handle the dogs freed me up to
concentrate on creating just the composition I wanted.
I just told him what I wanted, and then he had the dogs do it for
me. The images Perfect
Point and Feathered
Trophy are two of the very pleasing results. One is an action shot, and the other is
Click for larger image
of Feathered Trophy
Capturing the Spirit of
Certainly you want to capture the spirit of the
breed AND of the individual dog when you photograph, yet I feel a truly successful photo
is one that also brings out emotion in the person who views it. If my spirit isnt
stirred by an image, I have learned, no one elses will be, so I strive to make
people smile, either due to a cuteness factor, or say "WOW!" because
an image has a high degree of drama. I want an IMPACT image, one that people cannot put
out of their minds.
As I explained earlier, people will tell their
friends about my "Buddys Window" photo, inspiring those friends to seek me
out and see the image for themselves. When I display Buddy's Window and his
other images at my art shows, people stop dead in their tracks. Everyone has a reaction.
Most people smile, laugh, and giggle. Ive even had people pet the dog through the
glass! Those who know the scent, swear they can smell puppy breath. Some even cry because
the spirit of the pup in the picture reminds them of a dog who passed on. To be able to
bring out such strong emotions in a viewer is powerful. THATS what makes an image
successful. Its is the difference between taking a picture and capturing spirit.
© Dennis Glennon, DogsAsArt.com
NOTE FOR DOG OWNERS:
If youre a novice and just starting out, even using a simple point-and-shoot camera
can lead to very some nice images. The PhotoTips section on my Dogs As Art website, and my free Newsletter for Novices, a
private email subscription, provides hobbyists with tips like the ones in the article
YOUR Web start page today --
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