Jack Schatzberg...photographs and talks about horses


Questions and Answers

Q.

Hello,

What wonderful a wonderful site. I love the photographs and have found the "Question of the Month" section very useful. In the the future I am interested in taking portraits of horses, but right now my main focus is actually Canine sports photography, in particular Agility, and I was wondering if you could help me with some film/equipment questions. I know that this not your area of expertise but I think that the problems I have are similar to some of those with horses.

Agility is a very rapidly growing canine sport with events almost every weekend from April to October in my area. Dog agility involves a handler guiding their dog around a course of obstacles (jumps, tunnels, A-frame, etc.) and the team with the fastest time with the fewest faults wins. Agility reminds me of a cross country or hunter/jumpers event. Most Agility events are outside in a 100 ' x 100 ' grass arena, but a few are indoors on dirt as well. Two things make shooting Agility hard, first you cannot be in the ring with the competitors and second flashes are frowned upon.

Right now I use a 35 mm camera with a 300 mm f 4.0 lens and I've used either 100 or 200 ASA Fuji Superia film. When I am shooting I try to pick one or maybe two obstacles that I can pre focus on, but I haven't found the best f-stop to get "best" depth of field. I have thought about using faster speed films, but worry about the grain on enlargements as sometimes I still need to crop/zoom into the subject in the finished print. Unlike with horse the sizes of the dogs vary quite a bit from a tiny Jack Russell to German Shepards so filling the frame can be difficult even with my 300 mm lens.

So, any ideas of what a good depth of field for these type of shots? I know you like the Fuji NPH 400 film it would also be effective in my situation as well? What about the fuji press 800 film?

Finally, I have thought about purchasing a medium format camera for the canine portraits that I do sometime in the future do you think I could get good results using it for Agility as well?

As I said before this is not your area of expertise, but even some basic thoughts regarding any of my questions would be a big help to me.

Thanks for you help in advance, and I think its wonderful how you try to help people realize their dreams.

Sincerely,

Karen Hocker


A.

Dear Karen,

I am indeed a horse photographer, however my Wife and I also shows dogs (Miniature Pinschers) both in breed and obedience classes, so I am aware of your situation. I do recommend the use of Fuji NHG 400 film for outdoor use and Fuji 800 NPH film for your (indoor only) use.

You will easily be able to print 8x10's without having grain problems, and you can easily enlarge up to 16x20 with the NHG 400 film as long as your focus is right on.

I am sure that you notice that all of the experienced dog photographers use medium format cameras, I have been able to stop leg action on my MinPins with them, and using a 21/4 camera is as easy as using a 35mm camera. The medium format cameras and their lenses are generally much more expensive, however.

I am not sure why you are concerned about depth of field. As long as you get excellent focus on your subject, and "crop closely" you have a very saleable photo. It may be necessary for you to get a longer lens so that you can "fill the subject area" no matter the size of the dog. If that works, it may be a good idea for you to use a monopod or a tripod to steady the camera with that longer lens. What do you think?

Please let me know......


Subject heading: Photographing dogs
Posted: Mar 2001
     
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