Agility Action!

August 4, 2023

I've had a busy year and the blog has suffered, not because I've had nothing to say but because there hasn't been much free time to say it. I'm very grateful for all the work this year and all the new friends I've made.​ I was privileged to serve as the official photographer for the American Chesapeake Club's National Specialty in October. I was invited to shoot all their associated events, performance as well as conformation. It was my first in-depth experience with this sporting breed and  I was impressed with their temperaments and versatility.​

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DE2A3678-ACC-2015-blogCanon 5D MKIII, 70-200mm 2.8L, ISO 500, 1/5000, f4.0 © 2015 Vicki DeGruy, all rights reserved

The week began with an agility trial that was open to all breeds; along with Chessies, there was a Poodle, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, a Lab, Malamutes, a rough Collie, Belgian Malinois. Each breed has its own way of working, some are more graceful than others, some disagree with their handlers about how the courses should be run, but they are all enthusiastic! Dogs love agility and their excitement is contagious.

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I love shooting action, the faster it moves the better I like it! Agility presents several challenges to a photographer.  You need a quality lens with a long reach that's able to focus very quickly. Agility dogs are fast, fast, fast, the photographer and camera must be able to keep up with them.  You have to determine where the best action will take place and arrange to be there to capture it, putting yourself in a non-distracting location.  Since agility courses are not designed for photographic convenience, finding such a location that also gives you access to the obstacles you want to shoot can be difficult.   When events are outdoors, the sun can be both enemy and friend as it moves around the course throughout the day.

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I like drama in my agility shots, intense expressions, flying ears. Catching the right moment is key, click the shutter a microsecond too soon or too late and you miss it. I've found that it helps not to think too much when I'm shooting action; I do have to concentrate hard on what's in front of me to make sure the subject will be in focus but the actual firing becomes more instinctive than intellectual. My finger knows when it should push the button, as long as my brain doesn't interfere.

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