I think my first words after coming home from the Looking Glass Photo & Camera's PhoDography class were "That was so much fun!" Well, it was! Last Saturday I spent the afternoon with a great group of people and dog trainer/photographer Dianne Morey of DogmaSF learning how to train dogs in order to take better photos, and how to take better action shots. It was such a learning experience especially since the hounds aren't exactly the speediest dogs, they are great models for portraits but not so great for action shots. But now that I have a few tricks thanks to Dianne I think we're going to change our photo shoots up a bit!
Dianne brought two of her amazing dogs, True and Zero, as models for us to practice with and they were very patient and generous as cameras started clicking away. We started off in the classroom learning more about how to read dog behaviors and basic training tips for a "stay" and how to get your dog to look at your camera and even look away. I'm embarrassed to admit this is an element that I should have been practicing all along and it's no wonder I've been frustrated at times with Hazel; I haven't trained her for photography! Simple commands that when you think about it are critical for when you are setting up a particular shot. But at the same time the key is to remain flexible enough to catch those "off" moments that could really make the picture, like Dianne's tip to wait until your dog catches a scent and starts sniffing the air.
What was really nice was that Jen, the owner of Looking Glass Photo, was nice enough to write down all our questions and go through them so we had a better understanding of camera settings and tips and tricks for taking action photos. I've been having trouble with movement coming towards me so I tried to really focus on tracking and panning during the class. I really like the perspective and the shots I got of True coming down the alley in the shots above, and I was actually laying on the ground for those which helped to reduce camera shake!
Dianne started our outdoor session by setting up props for the dogs to jump on and posing the dogs doing various tricks so we not only practiced portrait shots, but how to set up your dog as well. Then we moved into more action shots with agility equipment and some play time as well.
I think the hardest part, but the most fun at the same time, was getting shots of Zero catching a frisbee. The action was unpredictable so I had to think ahead and see what was the best thing to focus on so I finally started to follow the frisbee as much as possible, and then tried to get in a spot where the "No Parking" was behind Zero as well. I didn't have as much luck with the agility equipment but that just leaves more to practice during the next class!
Overall I learned so much from the class and the best part was having quite a bit of time to actually get outside and shoot and ask questions! It was fun bouncing ideas and checking out everyone's shots during the breaks. I can't wait to find some willing models so I can keep practicing and hopefully the class will keep in touch so we can keep learning from each other! If you are in the San Francisco area then check out Looking Glass Academy for more photography classes, they are located in Berkeley right off of Ashby Avenue.