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Doggy splash

By SusanKing
Taken whilst out for my daily walk. Dog was enjoying splashing about in the water. I tried to capture the moment & had to practice my panning to keep up with the dog & also had camera on continuous. CC would be appreciated

Tags: Dog Action General Water Panning Splash

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mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2455 United Kingdom
12 Dec 2020 8:34AM
Hi Susan, you posted in the Critique Gallery once before, many years ago, so you know what we are about here. We try to help with questions on camera technique, aesthetic considerations, image processing. I hope you'll find this helpful.

Panning is not something that I do regularly, but my immediate thought here is that it's the wrong subject for the technique. Panning works best with simple forward propulsion, typically a vehicle. Then when done successfully it works on the contrast of crisp, sharp bodywork and spinning wheels with blurred background - that suggests the experience of the viewer turning their head to watch something speed past. Search for examples online and almost all the results will be mechanical propulsion such as racing cars or motor cycles, followed by human propulsion where the upper body is quite taut, such as cycling.

Here you have legs and ears moving in all directions, up and down as well as forwards; imagine a dog bounding around on the spot - 1/40 second would not be fast enough to capture it!

Plus crucially there's the water splash. That water is moving upwards not forwards, and for the sense of the dog's action the flying water needs to be sharp - that requires a static camera and a much faster shutter speed.

This could still work if the dog's head was sharper and larger in the frame, but for this view I would much prefer a totally different technique - shutter speed priority, at least 1/500 second and preferably faster, (that will more or less guarantee a large aperture to isolate the animal... ), and pre-focus on the bit of water where you expect the dog to run.

That's my thoughts, I shall be interested in other people's.
chase Plus
16 2.2k 578 England
12 Dec 2020 9:42AM
Hi Susan and welcome back to the CG.
Panning is difficult with most subjects but with one that has many different planes of focus it's gonna be difficult ++
I see nothing in focus here, your shutter speed is far too slow and I would agree with Moira, shutter speed priority would give you a much better chance.
Think of how fast the dog and the water are moving, pretty quick I suspect and they are a fair way from you so a longer focal length ( a better zoom lens if you have one) would maybe help with your focus too and put the subject larger in the frame.
I would be not too bothered about the water splash not being in focus, it's the main subject you need to work on here.

The thing to perhaps practise your panning technique on would be a vehicle, a car, motorbike, a runner or even just a cyclist.
Pre-focusing could work but that in itself has it's problems as living, moving subjects don't always end up where you think they will, especially a dog in water, they are likely to change direction at any moment.

A really difficult one Susan but practise makes perfect, it may take some time as with any technique but would be worth it in the end when you get a great water splash and good focus on your subject.

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
12 Dec 2020 10:46AM
I'm not convinced that a slow shutter speed and panning have no value for this, but you need to take a lot of frames!

And you probably need a longer lens, too. I've cropped hard, and used Nik Detail Extractor, plus a fiddle with Levels in Photoshop to bring out the graphic qualities. There's definitely something there, but you really need a uniform dark background to get it looking really good. And lots of frames.

A conventional approach would be to wind up the ISO and use a high shutter speed. As it is, even with perfect panning, only one part of the dog is likely to be sharp (if any parts are) because the legs, ears, tail move independently, unlike a car or bike...

But there is something there that I like...
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2455 United Kingdom
12 Dec 2020 10:49AM
Just to clarify, when I suggested an alternative approach with 1/500 second, large aperture and pre-focus, I meant static camera instead of panning!

One other aspect that hasn't been mentioned here is the background, which has a lot of vertical lines. Panning works best with the horizontal lines of an open road or a race track.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2455 United Kingdom
12 Dec 2020 2:32PM
PS I've added a quick modification. I cropped keeping your aspect ratio but reducing space behind the dog in particular (space behind a subject's back is generally wasted space), and getting rid of most of the verticals in the background. Then a Levels adjustment moving the two outer sliders in a bit to boost both light and dark tones.

I applied some gentle local sharpening to the water splash, then more aggressive sharpening to the dog's head - the effect is cosmetic but I think it does help. See what you think.

I hope you know where to find modifications - they are under the blue Modifications button below your upload.
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 784 England
12 Dec 2020 3:31PM
I guess you were out for some winter scnes while walking with your dog rather than specifically for dog pictures or pictures ofyour dog in action which is why you didn't use a longer lens as suggested by Janet. There are times when we all wish we'd got a more appropriate lens for an unplanned opportuniy.

Panning, or even following a subject, yes it takes some practice. I see Moira's point, but there's also all forms of equestrian and greyhound racing where panning with an animal is required, as well as for example prey and predator. The former more predictable in terms of line and direction, the latter more variable.

I do like the blur of the splash though. However, there's no reason not to use a high shutter speed to freeze the motion of the water. You won't get streaks from your panning but you'll still capture the energy of the action. Looked at another way, if the dog isn't moving uniforly fast as it runs abou some captures at slower shutter speeds won't show much movement either.
So on balance I'd set a faster shutter speed, even if that means higher ISO which unless you're going very high isn't going to much of an issue except for the pixel peepers and noiose freaks (who don't, generally, appreciate the actual image content).

It lools an attrative location, and this leads me on to another point. It's much harder to control a dog at the same time as photographing it. With someone to assist, so the dog runs towards them, you can put all your concentration into your capture and your panning techniue. Try faster shutter speeds to start with, and reduce them for later attempts. You'll get fewer keeper at slower speeds but you should get a few with the dog sharp but with some good movement blur.
clicknimagine Plus
11 878 105 India
12 Dec 2020 5:05PM
I like the fact that you wanted to do something different, I have seen many panning images of a cheetah running behind his prey, I have also tried a few with different subjects but I am not a master of doing it...

But what I have experienced is that, you have to be sure about the speed of the subject, and you have to ensure that the shutter speed, you select, must be same or slightly faster than the speed of the it is better to use shutter speed priority mode or manual mode and experiment with the shutter speed...use tripod for best result and be sure that your subject movement is similar to the movement of your camera...practice can make it perfect...

pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2237 United Kingdom
12 Dec 2020 6:02PM
Hello, Susan. Thanks for asking a specific question and also for including your complete Exif Data, because both of these things assist a critiquer immensely.

When trying panning for the first time, you should approach it with an experimental attitude. It's important not to give up if your first few attempts don't work, as it's a technique that can take a while to get right.
It can be a lot of fun but can also be quite frustrating.

THIS EPZ article says most of the things that I would have said, so do have a look. Click on the word THIS to find the link. "By combining panning with the use of slower shutter speeds you can move your camera in time with your subject and if done right, you should end up with an image that has a blurry background but your main subject is still sharp enough to remain the point of focus".

You will read that a slow shutter speed isn't a bad idea.
Something you have done right here is the angle you chose, with the dog going across your field of vision, which makes it easier to do your panning, and avoids the dog from deviating (hopefully) in a different direction. Panning seems to work best with moving subjects that are on a relatively straight trajectory.

A few more pointers:-
1. If you can pan at the same speed as the dog, it will appear sharp against a streaking blurred background.
2. Don't hit the trigger button too hard as this can cause shake which will blur your image. It's much better to gently squeeze the button.
3. Read the bit about your body stance in the linked article. Guide the camera with your trigger hand but let your body do the twisting.
4. Begin panning before you take the shots, and continue panning well after youíve finished shooting, because stopping too early can create a jerky movement, which will spoil your photo. Then release the shutter as gently as possible to reduce camera shake.

13 Dec 2020 10:24AM
Many thanks to all in critique team that gave me advice on my photo. This wasnít a planned shot I was just out walking & tried to grab a shot of this dog who was having a good time. As it was just a grab shot I was trying to sort camera out & trying to remember what was best to do & got really confused with it all. Moving forward I now have plenty of advice on what to do. I havenít done much with my dslr for a while but now retired & have more time, plan to pick it up again & get off auto. Thanks again for all your help youíre a great bunch of people 👏👍
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.9k 2455 United Kingdom
13 Dec 2020 10:27AM
Thanks for coming back to us Susan, it makes all the difference. I hope that you will continue to exercise the DSLR now (retirement is wonderful... Grin ), and that we will be able to help you. Remember that the more you tell us, the more you ask questions, the better we can tailor advice to your needs.
All best wishes,
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1877 England
13 Dec 2020 1:41PM
That's a lovely thing to say, Susan! Thank you!

It will bring us all further delight if you let us accompany you along the road. Exploring photography with full control is not just for Christmas...
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 784 England
13 Dec 2020 5:50PM
Thank you Susan for those words.
I look forward to seeing more from you.

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