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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 27 Dec 2008 (Saturday) 11:15
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Dog show...second batch...

 
Walczak ­ Photo
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Dec 27, 2008 11:15 |  #1

Hey Folks,
Well, between the holidays and my wife and I getting nailed by the flu, I'm just now getting back to the rest of the shots I got at the 2008 Crown Classic Dog Show. The first batch of prints came out pretty nice, so I'm going to try and get some more done in the next week or so.

As I stated in my the post with the first batch, these were taken under very difficult lighting conditions. This was an indoor event and no flashes were allowed because of the dogs in the competitions, so I pretty much had my 40D's ISO cranked to 1600 most of the time with my Tamron 70-200mm wide open at f/2.8. The shots got really grainy, the DOF was much shallower than I would have liked etc.. Also, this was the first time I've ever shot an event such as this...I really don't feel it's anywhere close to being any of my best work. In other words, please feel free to be brutal, but please keep these things in mind...there was some stuff that was just way beyond my control and my equipment's capabilities (not that I'm blaming my gear for those of you reading my other threads! LOL!).

#1

IMAGE: http://img178.imageshack.us/img178/4652/img3491ab0.jpg


#2

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#3

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#4

IMAGE: http://img187.imageshack.us/img187/7656/img3514jj5.jpg



#5
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#6

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Alrighty folks...for those who have said my critiques are a little too brutal, I'm giving you some ammunition here...take your best shot! LOL!!! I know what I'd be saying if I were reviewing these for others, so I'd like to see how many folks "see what I'm seeing". Please feel free to let me know what you think as well as what I could have done differently to have improved these!

Peace,
Jim

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. " - Ansel Adams
Walczak Photography - www.walczakphoto.izfre​e.com (external link)
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justus
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Dec 27, 2008 18:49 |  #2

Considering the restrictions on taking photos, (no flash, lighting, high ISO, etc)
I think your shots are spot on!

You captured the personalities and intensity of the dogs. As an animal photographer and competitor myself, I'd flip over the shots of the obstacle courses. Love to have one of those of my dog hanging on the wall...

Great job...sometimes we're too hard on ourselves in critiquing and miss the point of capturing the animal's personality. You got it!

Linda
...specializing in equine photography...
www.sherrill.smugmug.c​om (external link)


Linda
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Dbmk
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Dec 27, 2008 20:35 |  #3

Given the conditions I'd be hard pressed to fault anything. It might show a little bit through on #3 which seems a little too soft overall.
Could just be the fur that does that naturally or the eyes that does not pop out like they do on most of the others, but its still a very good result regardless.




  
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JuiceBox
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Dec 27, 2008 22:39 |  #4

I love all of them except two and six; they just don't pop at all. They don't seem sharp at all, and the colors are quite bland. On number two you missed the focus; it's on the weave pole in front of her face, the one she's about to turn. On six, it looks like the focus is about a few inches in front of the jump, and the dog is already over it, past the focal point. All the others are spot on though; great set.


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Titus213
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Dec 28, 2008 01:31 |  #5

Very nice series. I love the 'eye contact' you managed in 1,3,and 5.

I've got to believe those critters are moving pretty fast in the runs and the shots you got are really good. I'd be more than pleased with them.

#4 looks out of place simply because of the girl in the shot. The dogs face is a bit too dark with no discernible eyes on my monitor.


Dave
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anorien
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Dec 28, 2008 13:46 |  #6

A very, very nice series.

#1, I would have enjoyed more if there was a different, bolder contrast to the merle in the aussie. I sort of "lose" the definition of the head with the coloring of the background (cement makes a horrible background)

#2 shows GREAT speed, flexibility and agility in the dog taking the weaves. It really captures the althetic ability of the dog.

#4 totally captures the moment I see in so many Jr. Handlers and their dogs at shows. Both the girl & the dog are a bit oblivious to the world around them.

#6 I can't quite figure out if my agility person or photo person is critiquing this shot :-) As a handler I would love this shot of my dog as it would really help me understand and see how my dog is jumping. As a photographer, I think I would like to see the focus just a smidge closer to the front paws then the jump itself.

I think the head studies would "pop" a little more if taken off angle, off center, maybe a head tilt or some animation as opposed to 'nose on' shots

A very, very nice series. Dog shows are not easy to photograph (terrible lightening, generally yucky conditionsand dull, lack of contrast enviornment) that can make it very difficult to get a really nice shot. Which you acomplished with all these shots!

J




  
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Walczak ­ Photo
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Dec 29, 2008 08:21 |  #7

First and foremost, thank you to everyone for the kind words. I'm sure that I'm probably being a lot harder on myself than is really necessary. I can live with the grain issues from the higher ISO's...in this case I was glad to have the high ISO's just so I could actually get some shots. The focus issues however in regards to the "action shots" are really driving me nuts. I know the single biggest problem was simply the lack of light and shutter speed...even on shots where I got the plane of focus right on the nose by pre-focusing, many of the shots are still blurred because the dogs were just so quick...a couple of those Border Collies were like greased lightening! LOL!!! Of course part of it too is just that I'm a bloody damned perfectionist...I tend to see things in my work that most folks never really notice. On the other hand, I figure that if I can see them, chances are someone else will too.

Dbmk wrote in post #6954843 (external link)
Given the conditions I'd be hard pressed to fault anything. It might show a little bit through on #3 which seems a little too soft overall.
Could just be the fur that does that naturally or the eyes that does not pop out like they do on most of the others, but its still a very good result regardless.

I think that the biggest problem here was the the eyes didn't really come thru in this shot at all...and I've tried dodging that shot twice now! LOL!!! This is perhaps one of my single greatest obsticles as a "dog photographer"...some dogs just really do have eyes that dark. My folks have a Golden who's the same way....every image I've ever shot of her, the eyes are just pitch black. As with people shots, the eyes should always be the sharpest point of focus, but when you can't actually see the eyes, it tends to throw the whole image off (at least IMHO). In the case of these dog show shots here, again I was shooting at f/2.8 so I was working with a rather limited DOF. I've looked at the shot of this chow up close and it looks like the sharpest point of focus was right around the eye area, but without being able to really see the eyes, it just looks rather soft and fuzzy (but then, so did the dog! LOL!).

anorien wrote in post #6958297 (external link)
I think the head studies would "pop" a little more if taken off angle, off center, maybe a head tilt or some animation as opposed to 'nose on' shots


Ya mean like this?

IMAGE: http://img129.imageshack.us/img129/9455/img3471ft8.jpg



IMAGE: http://img111.imageshack.us/img111/2179/img3545ti1.jpg



Sometimes I do go for the "angle" shots but the truth of the matter here is that I simply like the full on face shots better so that's what I typically try to shot. To me, a great dog "portrait" is where the dog is looking straight at you, ears are up and if I'm lucky, a big ol' smile on the face :D. When I'm shooting something specific for a client, I'll talk to them and ask them what they want but if I'm shooting for my own pleasure (or portfolio), then I just tend to lean towards the "high school portraits" of dogs.

Alrighty, again my thanks to everyone here. Didn't really see anything posted that I hadn't seen myself and I will probably work on a couple of these a little more before I take them in for prints.

Peace,
Jim

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. " - Ansel Adams
Walczak Photography - www.walczakphoto.izfre​e.com (external link)
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JuiceBox
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Dec 30, 2008 17:47 |  #8

I really see what you mean about the eye contact; something I've been striving for in my dog shots. That poodle shot is great!


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Walczak ­ Photo
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Dec 31, 2008 13:51 |  #9

JuiceBox wrote in post #6972335 (external link)
I really see what you mean about the eye contact; something I've been striving for in my dog shots. That poodle shot is great!


Hey Juice,
Thanks for the kind words as always. I really approach dog portraits the same way I would people portraits. If you look around at most good portrait work, the general rule is to have the subject looking at the camera. You do get the occasional "gazing at something off camera" (such as in some "glamor shots") and when it's done right, it does work very well but that's more the exception than the rule. Aside from my own personal taste on the issue, the full on face shots with the dog looking at the camera are also the shots that I get the most positive feedback from my clients on as well. Most folks just love the "high school senior" shots of their own dogs :D.

My best suggestion is to simply be shameless! Make "squeaky sounds", bark, growl, meow like a cat, use a squeaker toy, crow like a rooster, use a tennis ball, jingle your keys, whatever. Trust me...when I'm shooting dogs, most humans really think I've completely lost my mind (actually I'm sure most of the dogs think that too!), LOL!!!! On the other hand, I'm not there to look "dignified" for other people...I'm just trying to get great shots of dogs. Just be ready on the trigger. Dogs are even worse than kids in most cases...those wonderful expressions come and go VERY quickly! LOL!!! With "posed shots" like the ones above, if I don't get it within 5 or 6 shots, I just move on to another dog (although if the dog is pretty enough, I will usually come back and try again later).

As to the poodle...
She's actually one of the dogs in the Cleveland Clinic's "Caring Canines" program...she's a therapy dog. The very first time I met her was my Kara's first day on the job in the Clinic's Canine Greeters program. Kara is recovering from a spine injury so for her volunteer work I usually have her in her doggie wheel chair (and when she's in her chair, she thinks it's time to RUN!). Well we were coming around the corner to get on the elevator and we ran into the poodle (and her owner) and Kara almost mowed that poodle right down in the hall way! Scared the living daylights out of her! Ever since then, every time I've seen this poddle, whether I have Kara with me or not, she's always giving me funny looks...I guess I/we left an impression.

Anyways, again thanks for the kind words...glad ya like :D.

Peace,
Jim


"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. " - Ansel Adams
Walczak Photography - www.walczakphoto.izfre​e.com (external link)
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Dog show...second batch...
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