Shake Stills Challenge

This week I decided to attempt to recreate a photo from one of my favorite photographers Carli Davidson. She did an entire series of pet portraits, which is now available as a calendar and a book, that I adore. You can see more on her website:

The challenge was simple enough, capture a split second still of a dog mid-shake. The execution was a tad more complex. To start I didn’t want to shoot this inside because I was expecting to make a mess. Thankfully even though it’s still February in Texas the weather has been fantastic.

I enlisted a helper, my husband Bob, grabbed my camera, my two dogs, a water bottle and a flexi lead. (Flexi leads are easier to remove in Photoshop.)


We went to our local park which has a small hill in the middle. From the top most of what you can see in the background is only sky. I thought this would be ideal since you want the backdrop for the images to be as simple as possible so as not to distract from the focus.

I set my white balance to custom as I always to make sure the colors were not skewed. I set my camera to program mode TV (which can also be labeled as Sport on some cameras) as I want the shutter speed to be the priority. I usually start with these settings and then fine tune them if necessary for shooting pet portraits. In this case, since it was a clear sunny day around 6PM, no additional tweaks were needed.

I used the water bottle to pour some water onto my dogs neck then waited for the eventual shake I knew was coming. My two dogs did not disappoint. I especially enjoyed the beard action on my schnauzers photos.

The shooting took less than 10 mins to set up and execute. I know I will be doing this one again in a studio environment soon. It was a lot of fun and the pictures would make great conversation pieces to hang in my home.