I was asked if I might be able to capture some photographs of an especially amazing puppy this weekend called Blu; a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Dogs, and taking photographs? What could be better!!?

So I headed over with the Hasselblad 501CM and two rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400. Met Blu and spent some time getting associated. That’s an important step with canine photography. You have to persuade the dog that spending time around you is a good thing, and beneficial. So we had some play and some head rubbing before heading out into the garden.

I decided to push the Tri-X to EI800 instead of 400 because generally I prefer the look of it when underexposed by one or two stops but then pushed in development to emphasize the traditional black and white look. The problem was it much brighter than I expected it to be so I struggled to narrow the depth of field because I had to go with about f16 for most of it. I tried with the 150mm lens to start with which got me a couple of nice keepers, but Blu was so fast and energetic, I couldn’t keep him more than 5 feet away for more than about 1 second! In fact, he spent most of his time chewing and playing tug-of-war with my boot laces, or the strap of my light meter, or my own fair hands! So I switched to the 80mm and tried a different approach which enabled me to get a few more nice ones once he had tired down a little bit.

The other aspect I had not anticipated was the fact that although the grass was green, and Blu is, er, kind of blue (grey), so different colours, they were both of a very similar shade of reflectance. This means, in black and white, that his shade does not stand out much beyond the shade of the grass! So he kind of blends into it a bit. Still, by pushing the Kodak Tri-X a bit, I think that has helped bring him out from the shade of the grass.

Of the 24 shot, I got 21 that were shown to Blu’s owner which is not a bad hit rate under the circumstances. What a great couple of hours. Thoroughly enjoyed myself. What do you think of the pictures, posted with kind permission of his owner Beth and Joe.