by Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging.
I’m a writer, a photographer, and a Fur Mom, which means most days you’ll find me stalking our pets with camera in hand. We have three dogs and two cats that barely notice the camera, but it’s a different story when I take my Sony Alpha to the dog park. The first time I went I made the worst mistake and almost lost my camera; since then, I’ve learned a few things that have made taking pictures at the dog park fun.
Arrive Early – When I want to take pictures at the dog park, I arrive between 9 and 10 in the morning; there are enough dogs at the park to get some great shots, but not so many that I worry about my camera’s safety. Stop by your dog park several times during the day and week to see get to know the traffic and choose a time that will work for you and your camera.
Dress Appropriately– I live in the Pacific Northwest so rubber boots and quilted vests are a common outfit for most of the year. It sucks to be distracted by thick mud puddles or worse, to trip into one, because you’re not wearing the right gear. I use a cross body camera strap, because it’s easier on my neck and easier to maneuver quickly when a dog shows interest.
Bring a Friend– I arrive at the dog park with three adorable canines and if I’m going to take pictures, I invite friends along, because I can’t watch our dogs, watch for other dogs, and take pictures. When you go to the dog park, you’re in a different world, a world were dogs completely forget recall unless someone has a treat, they have only one speed (really fast) and no brakes, and they seem to always be heading in the direction of your legs. I’ve been taken out many times; my friends make sure it doesn’t happen when I have a camera in my hand.
Stand Tall – As I mentioned, I made the worst mistake the first time I went to the dog park, I got down on one knee and every dog in the area was immediately curious about me and my camera. I was swarmed by 10 dogs and barely made it off the ground before canine body blows and wagging tails hit my legs. If you want to capture a shot at a dog’s level, get down when the dogs are at a distance, use your zoom lens, and be fast about it. I’ve learned to adjust my settings before walking through the park’s gate; there isn’t always time to adjust settings when a dog is running towards you.
Adjust Your Camera Settings First - This probably should have been the first tip. If I'm planning to take my DSLR camera to the dog park, I adjust the camera settings so that I have one less thing to worry about when I get there. Most days that I'm inspired to bring my camera are sunny, so I'm going to want to use a low ISO and because I'm shooting dogs in action, I go for a high shutter speed. I prefer to allow my camera to select the appropriate White Balance and then I adjust when I'm editing my images. If you aren't ready for Manual Mode, then I suggest that you select the Action Mode for your camera and work your way to manual. Sometimes it's easier to start at a program mode until your both comfortable with your camera and environment.
I have a blast taking pictures. It’s a great way to connect with local dog lovers, because everyone wants to know if these will be on Facebook. It’s also turned into a great way to promote my business locally. I’m not a professional photography, just a photography enthusiast, but I’ve learned something with each trip and I hope I’ve shared something that will make your next trip to the dog park fruitful.
Kimberly Gauthier | I'm building a community of dog lovers who want to connect with people like themselves, who believe dogs are family members who deserve the best we can offer; together we'll promote dog rescue and responsible breeding, making the lives of our dogs a better. I’m the Editor in Chief of keepthetailwagging.com. You can also find me at Girl Power Hour as girlpowerhour.com,The Fur Mom.
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