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The Perfect Action Shot - Dog Photography

Learn how to take the perfect action shot of your dog having some fun. In this post we will look at a couple of ways of capturing action and the settings and techniques you can use to get a stunning final image.

There are a few different ways to capture action, you can either try and completely freeze the motion of whatever is happening, or you can use motion blur to your advantage to give a sense of speed.

Freezing Motion

By freezing the motion, everything in the frame will be crisp and sharp, no matter how fast things are moving. This means your camera has to take a photo very quickly.

Thankfully most cameras have some sort of sports setting made for this purpose, so ensure you switch over to it before taking photos. If you have a camera with manual settings, you will want to manually set a very fast shutter speed.

If you are using a smartphone or automatic settings on your camera, freezing motion will work better the more light you have, so a bright sunny day will work best, as this forces your camera to take the image faster.

Motion Blur

If you want to use motion blur to enhance an action shot, one of the things to try is adding some camera movement. Let’s take an example of capturing a dog running, we want the dog to be sharp and in focus, but the foreground and background to have motion blur to show how fast the dog is running. The key to this is to move the camera with the dog as you are taking photos, keeping the dog in the same portion of the frame at all times. You will get more motion blur the closer the dog is to the background, and the closer you are to the dog.

The sand in the foreground of this image is blurry due to the camera moving with the dog.

Burst Mode

Whether you have chosen to freeze the motion, or embrace the motion blur, it is a good idea to put your camera into burst mode (on a smartphone this is normally achieved by holding down the shutter button). This way you can capture lots of potential images as the action is happening and pick from the best ones. You don’t want to miss the perfect moment by having to take each shot individually.

Keeping Everything in Focus

An example of a camera autofocus not being set correctly

It’s pretty much a given that when taking an action shot, there is going to be lots of movement and when attempting to take pictures of a dog with the zoomies, it can make it very difficult to keep the camera in focus. Luckily autofocus on cameras and smartphones tends to be very good these days, so you might be fine without having to worry about it at all. But if you are struggling to keep things in focus, there are a few different things that might be able to help.

On a smartphone, if you are struggling to focus correctly, try using the touch to focus feature where you press the area of the screen you want it to focus on, then move the camera to keep your dog in that portion of the frame.

On a DSLR type camera, set your autofocus to continuous mode (the name will change depending on your camera), this way when you half press the shutter button it will focus as normal, however as you continue to hold, it will track the focus on the subject. This is very useful if you are trying to focus on a dog running towards you, as the camera should keep the dog in focus as it moves closer and closer.


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