Call of the Wild

A friend of mine and fellow photographer Shane Wilkinson (http://www.chillpics.co.uk/) owns a Siberian Husky dog team and after the latest snow fall he was chomping at the bit to get them out in the snow on Salisbury Plain for a bit of a run.

These dogs are amazing – relentless, strong and determined animals that never seem to get tired of running through the snow! He trains them for working sled dog rallies, this basically consists of a team of dogs, a sled, usually with wheels (we don’t get that much snow that often) and a route mapped out over various distances. Against the clock they set off on the route and race each other.

This jaunt out onto the Plain was a bit of training for them and a couple of Alaskan Malamutes’ that joined the team and also offered some good photo ops for myself and Steve Woods another fellow tog (http://throughwoodyslens.blogspot.com/) . The light was fading fast and the first light set up I used was a single flash camera left at half power with a Pocket Wizard triggering. The camera was a Nikon D3 with a 70-200mm f2.8 VR lens. I had my ISO at 1000 and was working at a 200th at around f8, although this had to be tweaked as the ambient level dropped. I kept my white balance at ‘Daylight’ allowing the background to retain some ‘blueness’ because I liked the coldness it showed whilst the flash lit up the dogs in a pool of light (see above).

The shot above was on similar settings but this time Steve held a second flash at camera right, triggered by the main light. On the earlier shots Shane’s face was too dark, we even tried shining a torch into his face as he passed to bring in some light but after getting some cross light going with the other flash it made a nice light, lifting Shane and his dogs nicely whilst keeping a sense of place as he drove the team through the cold woods (see above).

On the whole it was a good photo opportunity and from it, hopefully, some half decent shots. Some photo considerations that came out of it were that when you think you have enough plastic bags to cover your flash and pocket wizards – you don’t – always have more, take some elastic bands to secure them to the light stand. Pre-focus on your light pool if your continuous focus is confused by the snowfall. Finally, ensure that the stands are weighted down – but at least I know now that snow softens the fall when the stand, SB 900 and pocket wizard all blow over in a gust of wind (twice!!)

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