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Fleet of Foot: Capturing Canine Speed

This week, I embarked on an artistic journey attempting to create an engaging photo using intentional camera movement (ICM), more specifically, the challenging technique of panning. For those unfamiliar, panning involves synchronizing the camera's movement with the subject's motion, resulting in a striking contrast between a sharply focused subject and a beautifully blurred background. Think of it as capturing the essence of speed and motion in a single frame. (I similarly created “motion” during Kite’s session back in January, but that effect was applied in the post-process and not captured in camera.)

Since I knew this technique would require a significant number of tries, choosing the right subject for such an endeavor was crucial. That's where Beep enters the picture – a vivacious five-year-old whippet border collie cross with a boundless love for running. With her infinite energy level, Beep proved to be the perfect model for my photographic experiment: running and running and running some more without complaint.

Our setting? A small neighborhood park next to McIntosh Lake in Longmont, CO – a beautiful backdrop that perfectly complemented Beep's spirited nature. As Beep's devoted mom orchestrated the action, instructing her to “line up” and then calling her across the field, I positioned myself perpendicular to the run line, ready to capture the motion.

But here's where the challenge truly began. Beep, with her lightning-fast pace (clocking in at an impressive 33mph), presented a formidable task: keeping her in focus amidst the blur of motion. Heck, half the time I couldn’t even keep her in the frame!! Despite my best efforts – lying prone amidst nature's surprises (🪿💩🤮) – I found myself grappling with the sheer speed of Beep's movements. Here’s a quick (pun intended 😉) video showing the real-time action to illustrate the difficulty of the session. This clip has not been accelerated – Beep is truly a speed demon!!

As any dedicated photographer knows, mastery comes through practice and perseverance. Experimenting with different lenses, focal lengths, and focusing modes, I embraced the trial-and-error process, ultimately snapping over 800 frames in pursuit of the perfect shot. And while most were consigned to the realm of blur, I managed this single frame that captures Beep's essence in motion.

“Beep Beep”:

Whippet border collie mix running very fast, captured via panning sharp subject, blurred background, McIntosh Lake, Longmont, Colorado.

The behind the scenes (BTS) look of how I created it:

Behind the Scenes (BTS) of a panning dog photography session at Lake McIntosh in Longmont Colorado

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that that I’m a focus-junkie. So in order to satisfy my need for sharp images, I temporarily set aside the panning technique to concentrate on freezing Beep's dynamic stride instead of blurring it. With a quick adjustment of shutter speed, we were in business! After some more runs on dry land, we walked down to the muddy shoreline where Beep enthusiastically leapt into the cold lake. Although I’m sure it was a bit shocking, she went in time and time again - her zest undiminished even in the face of the chilly temperatures. Additional (unedited) images from the session:

Filmstrip of (unedited) whippet border collie cross images at Lake McIntosh, Longmont, Colorado

In the end, what emerged from this photographic adventure was not just a series of images but a testament to the enduring spirit of our four-legged companions and a reminder of the pure joy that dogs bring into our lives.

Ginger Wick Photography is an award winning dog photographer specializing in creating beautiful custom artwork of dogs & their people. Based in Parker, CO serving the Denver area.





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