Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue

This is an intermediate photo tip and assumes that you know about aperture priority, f-stops, the different focusing setting on your camera "Tracking versus single shot" and you understand ISO

Would you like to take pictures of your dog like this? It’s actually quite easy.

1) Set your camera to aperture priority and f8

2) Set your camera AF in a mode that tracks the subject - Canon calls it AI-Servo 

3) In daylight set ISO to at least 800 

You’re ready to go

We used a wide angle zoom lens (Canon 24-105) set at 24mm - You can use any lens but it must me 35mm or wider

You don't need to be looking though the lens. Just  hold your camera near the ground and call the dog 

Run backwards and shoot continuously at 4+ frames per second and do this several times

We took about 19 shots to get this one

Good luck!

Taking better pet pictures – Flash vs. HDR

Did you ever try to take a picture of your pet with your cellphone or pocket camera, the flash fired, and they just looked like the devil?

Jake, pictured here, is one of my oldest dogs; and while he does get grumpy, he is not the devil ☺

Believe it or not – it’s very similar to those redeyes you get when you take flash pictures of people.  But the redeye reduction methods (typically a set of rapid flashes before the actual shot) in these cameras usually do not work for pet pictures.

The phenomenon is really due to the way our eyes (and our pet eyes) are made.  You may have heard about the rods and cones.  Cones are the cells that help us see color, and rods are cells that help us see black and white.  The rods are very sensitive to light (they are really what makes up our ‘night vision’).  The rods also happen to be reflective.  And so the redeyes/devil-eyes – are just the flash getting reflected in the cones of your subject.  

Now for people – there are two things that make redeyes more manageable. Specifically we have less rods, and when we see these rapid flashes, our pupils contract and so less light gets reflected.  For our pets – their superior night vision also means they have an order of magnitude more rods in their eyes, and they tend to have much bigger pupils, that don’t react as rapidly as ours. 

So, if your pet is in low light, and you think you need flash, there are a couple of approaches to take.  First – try to avoid flash.  Only the more sophisticated cameras with an off camera flash will work well.  A better approach is, when possible simply turn on a lamp!  

Also most of todays cellphone and pocket cameras do well in low-light – just make sure to turn off the auto-flash. Another great technique (works very well in iPhones – is to turn on “HDR”. This stands for High Dynamic Range. Basically the camera takes three (or more depending on the camera) images: One exposed at the room level, one underexposed, and one overexposed. It then does some magic to average them out – and the resulting image is often much more pleasing (I actually love it so much I use it even at daylight as the pictures tend to look richer). This is the same picture of Jake, where I turned off the flash, and turned on HDR:

Experiment for yourselves!


Here is the next installment in our series by local photographer Avi of Avivi photo.

The last part started to cover composition and now we move on to one of the rules that will really help you compose better shots of your dog, or any pet.

Prim ThirdsThe rule of thirds asks us to divide the frame into three horizontally and vertically, those thirds are typically referred to as the ‘power lines’.  The points where these lines intersect are usually referred to as the ‘power points’. It was determined that images tend to be more pleasing when the subject of the picture, or the focal point is located along one of these ‘power lines’, and even better if it falls directly on a ‘power point’.  

If we use the cropped image of Prim, you can see I’ve made an effort to bring Prim into the left third, and get her face to be on the top left ‘power point’.  This might be a lot to think about when all you want to do is get a better image of your pet, but trust me, practice composing your pictures by getting closer to the subject, and trying to get them to line up along the ‘power lines’ and you’ll wind up with much better images.  

It should be noted that the ‘rule of thirds’ is more of a guideline and it is not set in stone.  There are other compositional guidelines such as the ‘golden ratio’ or ‘golden spiral’ – but typically – the simplest to follow is the ‘rule of thirds’.    

Avivi PhotoWelcome back to our series by renowned local photographer Avi of Avivi Photo.  The first entry covered the angle of view.  Today we are talking about composition.  As a reminder, you don't need an expensive camera to take great pictures.  All our shots in this series are taken with an iPhone.

Taking better pet pictures – Filling the frame and basic composition and cropping your picture.

This entry deals with a common mistake people make when taking pictures of their pets. Specifically not filling the picture frame.  As mentioned in the first entry – this applies to pretty much any type of photography.

Prim If you look at dog photos you'll often see too much space around the picture of the dog.  Many of you probably have pictures where there’s a person or a group, and they have a lot of dead space around them.  Consider the picture of Prim on the left:

PrimOn it’s own, not too bad of a picture.  The ‘problem’ is that Prim just blends into the background.  Also – the cars in the background tend to be distracting.  Getting closer by Zooming (or physically getting closer to the subject), or simply cropping the image (cropping is available on most smart phones today) – will yield a much better image.  Consider the following when we simply crop Prim’s image on the right. 

Now we have this mastered, in our next post we'll talk about where to place your dog in your picture and something called "The Rule of Thirds".  You can see more of my work here.

When Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue approached me with the suggestion to write this blog, I thought it would be a cool idea to help people take better images of their pets. Of course I have access to very advanced photography equipment – so in writing this – I want to make sure the ‘lessons’ apply to any type of camera.  In fact – for the first several blog entries – I will only use my iPhone.  I want to show you how you can improve your images through proper composition, angle-of-view, lighting, positioning, when to use flash and when not to; what is HDR and do I want to use it?  None of these require fancy gear – of course – the fancy gear does make it easier. You can see much more of my work with animals by clicking on my logo or here.

So for the first entry – I want to talk about Angle of View.

BeforeLike children, dogs are physically smaller than us.  The urge to take their picture from where you are is very common.  It does make for a strange picture.  Consider the following image of Sadie:

While a reasonable image, Sadie is not in a comfortable position.  When you stand above her – she is forced to bend her neck backwards.  In this position, she – and most dogs – would tend to close their mouths and look tense.  We will talk more about dog expressions in a later blog entry, but for now take my word – it is not a flattering pose.

The fix is simple, get down to their level.  Yes that does mean you will need to get on your knees – but consider the difference this angle of view makes:

AfterNow keep in mind, that when you go down to their eye level, they will be very tempted to come towards you.  The better trained they are, the easier it will be to take their picture from that level.  Note how much more natural Sadie looks.  Her mouth is open, tongue in – a typical pose for a relaxed dog.  Now a couple of things to note – Sadie did come to me very shortly after I snapped this picture.  Also – no treats were involved.  This is a common misconception – dogs do not need treats in order to pose.  In fact, treat can become a distraction. 

So this is it – the first in a series of blogs on how to capture a better image of your pet.  I will use dogs for most of my examples, simply because I have more access to dog ‘models’ than cat or other pet models.  That said – the same concepts generally apply.


Come Adopt A Lovable Pet

Wine and Wags - Sunday June 2nd

June 2nd !!

Mark your calendar for this wonderful 2nd Annual Wine & Wags event, in Livermore. Big White House Winery/John Evan Cellar has graciously offered us a spot at their beautiful winery where we will have our BAGSR table ! More than 15 wineries are sponsoring this event and many rescues are participating. Please plan on a beautiful Sunday and come do ya thing....with the wine glass thing and support our dogs. We will have a few ambassadogs there. Thank you for Carmen and Mark Battle, as well as Kathy Ramirez, who reached out to us. Who wants to have some fun in the sun?

Holiday Pup Pics 2018

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!

Holiday Pup Pics

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!



Our dogs are super smart and learn very quickly with the right direction.  We are often asked to recommend a dog trainer by people who adopt their new dog.  Our belief is that trainer works with you to help you train your dog. Over the coming days and weeks we will be creating a list with contacts.  We will only list trainers that our members have personally worked with and recommend.

Based in Novato, they offer an extraordinary range of training and behavior classes at very affordable prices. Many of our volunteers have undertaken their dog training classes with their personal dogs.  We are huge fans of Dawn and her entire team. See them on line here and call them on (415) 883-4621


Lisa Caper runs DogOvation covering Marin County.  Several of our volunteers have worked with her and they give great reports.  Like all the best trainers her focus is more on training the owner to train the dog.  You can read all about Lisa's philosophy on her website here and phone her at : (415) 299-1158 


See our dogs

Click below if you would like to see all our dogs. They are available to be rescued right now.



How do I adopt?

Check here if you would like to see just how easy it is to adopt one of our wonderful dogs.



What is BAGSR?

We are a proud group of volunteers who love German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Click here to learn more.