Set Your Shutter-Priority Mode for Dog Action Shots - dummies

Set Your Shutter-Priority Mode for Dog Action Shots

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

Because your dog will be moving at lightning-fast speed during most of these activities, you should adjust your camera settings before you start the activity. Switch to shutter-priority (TV) mode so you can control how fast (or slow) you want the shutter speed to be.

For extremely fast movements, like running, playing, and jumping, start with a shutter speed of at least 1/800 second. Take a few test photos and inspect your results on your camera’s LCD monitor.

If you want to freeze the action, but Spike is still a bit blurry, increase your shutter speed even more — try 1/1000 second or even faster.


75mm, 1/4000 sec., f/2.8, 100

This shot was taken during the middle of the day, when the most light was available. This may seem counterintuitive to the general rule of thumb of not shooting at high noon, but when shooting a very fast-moving subject, you need lots of light.

Often, you need to bump up your ISO even more than normal to achieve a greater depth of field if your dog is a good distance from the camera.

If you’re using a compact digital camera (CDC), switch to sports mode (sometimes called kids and pets mode). This triggers your camera to choose the fast shutter speeds you need for freezing action.

If you want your image to have background blur, experiment with lower shutter speeds, like 1/125 second. Just remember to use the panning technique. In addition, if you’re not worried about your subject being totally crisp but would rather convey him moving at the speed of sound, forget about panning and choose a slower shutter speed for a more abstract look.


24mm, 1/60 sec., f/4, 400

Although Dino isn’t nearly “frozen,” this photo still conveys the speed at which he was tearing around the beach and frantically kicking up sand.

If you’re using a CDC, experiment with the portrait or landscape mode if you’re looking for more movement in your action photos.