Spaniel Journal

Your Best Shot
by Loretta Baughan

Puppies. Doesn't everybody love 'em? They're wiggly, squirmy, bouncy, bundles of energy. Capturing one of these little critters on film can be a challenge akin to shooting a timberdoodle in a thicket. A challenge, yes, but not all that difficult.

There is a wide array of available camera equipment ranging the gambit from the old-style, manual, 35mm SLR - to today's auto-focus, automatic 35mm - to digital. Regardless of what type of camera you may have, there is some common ground that determines the outcome of releasing the shutter.

First of all, if your camera uses film, choose either 400 or 800 ASA. Set your camera to utilize the fastest shutter speed available light conditions will allow. If you can shoot at 1,000 sec, or better, you should be able to avoid blurring the subject, even if it is in motion.

Second, consider the lighting conditions. Try to avoid taking photos in bright, mid-day sunlight. The light will be very high-contrast, resulting in harsh, dark shadows, glaring highlights, and washed out colors. Generally speaking, the best times of day to shoot photos outdoors is from early morning to about 10:00AM and again, from about 4:00PM until twilight. These times can produce beautifully lit shots. The quality and color of the early morning or late afternoon light can add a magenta or golden glow to your photographs. Be mindful of the direction of the sun and position yourself between it and the subject. This will insure that the subject is well lit and also add catchlights to the eyes. If the day is overcast, you can get excellent results most anytime of day. This type of light will bathe the subject in soft, studio-type light, producing excellent results. When you must shoot in harsh, mid-day conditions, try moving the subject into a shaded area. In back-lit situations, meter light on the subject's face for well exposed prints. If in doubt, bracket your shots, shooting one or two f-stops in either direction.

The third thing to keep in mind is composition. The placement of the subject within the frame can make or break a photo.

The "Rule of Thirds" is an easy method by which you can improve the quality of your photographs. This principle involves visually dividing your photo into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. Then place your subject at any of the intersection points.

In the case of a close up shot, try to put the spaniel's head - or more specifically its eyes - at any of the one-third intersection points, as illustrated. If, for instance, you are photographing a spaniel working a field, avoid placing the horizon line dead center. Instead, try placing it on either of the

Page 1

| Next Page |

Copyright © Spaniel Journal 2002, all rights reserved