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