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12-14-2014, 05:11 PM   #1
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action dog photography tips.

I was hoping someone might be able to help this newbie with getting some decent in focus shots.

Myself and oh go to our local dog rehoming lurchers racing days and my photos with my k30 and da 50-200 suck.

On Saturday I shot in tav with shutter between 1/250-1/2500, f stop above 5.6 and ISO set to float between 1600-6400.


Set to afc and let the camera prefocus on part of the track, the focus is way off and the noise terrible.

Anyone any tips both on settings and focusing techniques given the dogs are running upto 40 mph and I'm about 40-60 feet from where I'm trying to focus.


Thanks for your help.

12-14-2014, 06:10 PM   #2
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At 40mph, the dog moves about 1/4" in 1/2500 s. You are probably getting motion blur. Try keeping the shutter speed pegged at 1/6000. Get a faster lens to keep ISO down, or soot in brighter sun.
12-14-2014, 06:20 PM - 1 Like   #3
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On my K3 with my DA*60-250 I usually get the best results for fast moving dogs running towards me this way:

* Setup TAV with shutter speed of 1/1000 - 1/2000, set my f-stop at an aperture that is fast and has good clarity for me (for my lens that is 5.6) and let the ISO vary between 800 - 3200 (this will depend on your lighting situation, if I shoot outside on a sunny day I will set the ISO to vary between 100 - 800)
* Use back button focus and turn off autofocus on the shutter button
* Use AF-S and prefocus on a part of the course/track that you want to shoot the dog/s running through. By using AFC you lock onto a particular subject but the camera will keep trying to re-focus on different objects whilst your focus button is held down hence anything could be in focus. By having back button focus activated you don't have any issues with the camera trying to refocus when you push down the shutter button.
* Use burst mode and start to press the shutter button down as the dog is entering the frame.

It will take some practice as fast moving dogs are hard to capture well.

Hope this helps a bit

Cheers
12-14-2014, 06:26 PM   #4
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I find this thread useful also, thanks to everyone, including the OP.

12-14-2014, 06:30 PM   #5
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Good point on the shutter speed, I hadn t calculated that out. And it being england on a grey winter day the light was pretty rubbish.

---------- Post added 12-15-14 at 01:37 AM ----------

Many thanks to silvermoose

I'll try and get the k30 manual out and study up on back focusing. Part of my issue is as well is that the rail and the stadium infield appears reasonably in focus, but the dog's out of focus.

Wondering if the afc could be slightly to blame for this?

I'll try and get some of my terrible efforts up to see if it might have explain it better.
12-14-2014, 06:54 PM - 1 Like   #6
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You might find these examples interesting. Click to open the link, pick an image, then click on it to check out its EXIF info...


https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelina2/sets/72157645443119147/


https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelina2/sets/72157634013700083/


The attached shots (below) paired a K-3 to a DFA 100/2.8 MACRO + HD 1.4 TC (140mm), native lighting, handheld... Some consider the DFA 100 slow to focus, but when paired to the HD 1.4TC, the TC's snappy screw drive brings the 100 to life, as you can see.


BTW: My dog (Vizsla) is F-A-S-T and a ball retrieving (to hand) maniac !!! I use a "Chuck it" to put the ball out some distance (say, 20-30 yards). This gives me enough time to bring the camera up and fire away (Continuous focus mode, highest frame rate, 9 focus points... etc.). I was getting about 10 frames per run. Once home, I select the best images, then crop to compose and apply my standard 3-5 minute post processing work-flow....


Comments an questions are always welcome... M
Attached Images
     

Last edited by Michaelina2; 12-15-2014 at 02:22 PM.
12-14-2014, 08:38 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by shhh Quote
Good point on the shutter speed, I hadn t calculated that out. And it being england on a grey winter day the light was pretty rubbish.

---------- Post added 12-15-14 at 01:37 AM ----------

Many thanks to silvermoose

I'll try and get the k30 manual out and study up on back focusing. Part of my issue is as well is that the rail and the stadium infield appears reasonably in focus, but the dog's out of focus.

Wondering if the afc could be slightly to blame for this?

I'll try and get some of my terrible efforts up to see if it might have explain it better.
QuoteOriginally posted by shhh Quote
I'll try and get the k30 manual out and study up on back focusing. Part of my issue is as well is that the rail and the stadium infield appears reasonably in focus, but the dog's out of focus.
Here's some information that may assist you in setting up the back focus button.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/151-pentax-k-30-k-50/198000-back-button-autofocus-how.html
12-14-2014, 08:50 PM   #8
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Try some noise reduction processing software to make your noisy shots look better. Sometimes raising ISO is the most practical change possible. You can see a lot of noise in unprocessed shots that good software can handle.

12-15-2014, 09:34 AM   #9
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Have you tried a flash extender? You're 40-60 feet away, and birders use them from as far as 100 feet away with good results.
Flash Modifiers | B&H Photo Video
12-15-2014, 10:01 AM   #10
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The racing was in the day time, albeit in poor light but no flash photograpy is allowed at these events.
12-15-2014, 10:50 AM   #11
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outdoors in daylight and they have a no-flash rule? That's pretty odd.

Did you try using continuous shooting on high? Spray & Pray and so on.

It's a tough situation. If I were you, I'd probably:

Pick a few specific spots to take shots at. Ideally, spots that have excellent light and are close enough that you'll get details without having to crop.
Know the exact distance to those spots
Use a tripod and a wired remote
Use the Online Depth of Field Calculator to choose the appropriate aperture to cover a decent sized area for each spot where you're trying to capture the dogs -- at 200mm, 40 feet, f/11 will give you a slice from 37.5 to 42.9 feet in focus. Prefocus and then turn the camera to manual focus so it doesn't get modified. Reduce it if you feel like you need a smaller slice
Crank the shutter speed to whatever feels necessary. If you were hand-holding before, I'd suspect any blur is from your hands more so than the dogs, at that shutter speed, but start as fast as you can handle and move down from there.
Crank the ISO up as high as it needs to go to get you the picture. Noise reduction software does a better job at reducing noise than anything can do at trying to sharpen something that's out of focus.
Shoot in raw so you can push the shadows and so on in post if necessary
use continuous exposure and hit the button before the dog gets to the area and let it go after the dog leaves the area.
Do good post-processing and cropping if need be.

Sadly, when I try to photograph my dog in action, it rarely works out, because he expects me to be playing with him , so it's throw the frisbee, try to snap the picture, rinse, repeat.

Good luck
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