Dog Days of Summer


It’s late summer 2020 and it’s hot. The pandemic is in full swing, picture-taking opportunities are slim and as for complex camera operations, I feel muscle-memory draining from my hands.

Fear not! I learn “All Dogs Sports Park” is hosting one of its outdoor Disc Dog / Dock Diving Tournaments at Sycamore Lane Kennels. These are wonderful diversions for dog lovers and photographers. Just find a strategic spot under one of the many shade trees, unfold your chair (at a safe distance from others) and get set for action. There’s nothing better to test your hand/eye coordination than tracking the intersection of a running dog and a flying saucer with a telephoto lens.

Disc Dog and Master

Since light was abundant, I was able to use a modest ISO for decent color (400 – 640), a fast shutter (1/2500) and an aperture that gave me adequate depth of field (f/6.3 – f/8). This day I was using a 300mm telephoto lens. That may sound impressive, but big lenses can be a disadvantage when fast moving objects get too close too fast. A 70-200mm would have worked well.

Depth of Field

Simply stated, “Depth of Field” is the minimum and maximum distance from the camera within which objects are in focus. It can make or break a good photo and you can use it to achieve interesting effects. Large aperture openings (f/1.4 , f/2.0, f/4.0) give you very shallow depths of field measured in inches or a few feet. This is great for creating a blurred background so your subject really stands out. Smaller aperture openings (f/8, f/16, f/22) give you a greater depth of field and make it easier to keep things in focus.

So, for shooting a disc dog running at me over a long distance, I wanted a depth of field short enough to blur the background AND a depth of field deep enough to keep the dog in focus (continuous focus mode). I was able to get good results by using a telephoto lens and a mid-range aperture setting.

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