a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Taking a Break from Dog Activities

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Taking a Break from Dog Activities

SUMMARY: It's still 3 weeks to our next agility trial. What do I do in the meantime--nondog stuff? Are you kidding?

Wednesday: Because the instructors are heading up to Canby (OR) for USDAA Regionals, there's no class for Boost on Thursday, so I switch off running her and Tika in Tika's wednesday night class. It wasn't so long ago I wouldn't have dared to try it. But Boost's weaves have been MOST excellent lately--I'm very happy about it--and she *IS* only one leg away from being in Masters! Ooops, 2 legs--one standard and I keep forgetting about the pairs. Tika ran very well, too; there's definitely something motivating about jealousy of mom's time in the ring.
This photo is pretending to be from Wednesday evening, but it's actually from this morning in my back yard. It was a bit of a challenge getting set up to do this, and to convince Tika to go through the tunnel while I waited at the other end with my camera. Turns out that first we had to do some backchaining to teach her to do the tunnel under those specific circumstances, and then many takes before getting a result I liked.
When I trim things in the yard and toss the clippings aside, Boost likes to catch them for me. Mint is a special favorite.
Friday: This week's photographing-your-dog topic is action photos. I visited an agility friend's physical therapy session for her little chihuahua mix who's coming back from a broken wrist hopefully in time to get back to competing in another month or so.
Saturday: Monterey Bay Area Research Institute another great organization sponsored by the Packard Institute (of Hewlett and...) had its annual open house. Went down with an agility friend and her spouse. There were dogs *everywhere*. I don't know why on earth anyone would think that their dogs would be interested in exhibits on banthic autonomous underwater vehicles, but they were there, from chows to chihuahuas, Wolfhounds to Whatchamacallits. Neither of us took our dogs, but of course we had to look at all the ones that were there.
I love the MBARI slide shows of some of the critters that they've been able to observe with their remotely operated vehicles, like this oddity: transparent head, green upward-facing eyes that actually rotate forward, too (what you'd think are eyes on the front of its head are its olfactory organs).
Sunday: Since I don't have to do anything dog-related, I sneak out in the morning for a movie (Oceans 13), and then--spend the rest of the day trying to take some halfway decent dog action shots and sort through them. That's another 320 photos in one afternoon. Who said that digital cameras were a good idea? Gah. On the up side, it's instant feedback about how you're doing, and you can just delete the really awful ones.
Tika liked the ones where I was throwing the toy. She doesn't merely chase it; she tries to knock it aside and surrounds it from the front to pounce on it. Toys seldom get beyond her.
This was another many-photoed experiment. Main goal was to try different shutter speeds to see what effect you could get--and whether stopping motion completely was more effective in an action shot than panning along at a slower shutter speed so that the dog is somewhat in focus but the background is very blurred. This is the fast-speed shot (1/1000 of a second). Very clear, everything's in focus, you can see exactly how the dog is moving. I like this shot.
The second part was that I decided I wanted to try to capture Boost in the part of her stride where her feet are bunched beneath her. Can you guess how hard it is to guess that? So I repeatedly put her in a down stay in exactly the same position, put shutter on multiple-shot, make several passes at it; identify where in her path across the lawn her stride is in that position by trial and error, and then once that's figured out, setting myself and my camera to be ready to snap the shutter at that exact location to try to recapture it from the ideal angle and lighting. Yeah, right. Still, I got better at it with practice.
This is the slower-speed panning version (where I follow the dog with the camera for a longer exposure--1/100 second here). It does indeed look more like the dog is moving. Another good shot but with a different feel to it.


  1. Geez, and we spent the weekend power-washing and mowing....


  2. Well, I *was* going to finish trimming the shrubs and the organge trees, mow the front meadow, finish planting the 6-packs of flowers I bought a month ago, vacuum...

    Ah, well, there's always NEXT weekend.


  3. That *is* a great tunnel shot! Love how the light is just right. In my set-up, I didn't realize until at home afterward that there was a big shadow into the tunnel so a couple of shots that could maybe have been salvageable, where Lucy was still in the tunnel, are garbage because she's all shade-y.

    Super cool fish too! Took me a minute to realize what I was looking at.