Guest Photographer – Virginia Diehm

This week you don’t have to read my ramblings. We are lucky enough to have a guest photographer that is going to tell us about dog photography that she just did on a recent shoot. Her name is Virginia Diehm and she is an award-winning photographer. I have known her for some time now and she truly amazes me what she comes back with. Without further ado, here is what she has for us:

 Raven and Gigi – Virginia Diehm © 2012

On Friday, December 30, my neighbor invited me to take some photos at a local Agility Show in Palmetto, Florida. Raven and GiGi are two dogs owned by Don Soucy my neighbor.  Don is a dog trainer and Raven and Gigi have been competing for a several years now. Raven is an 8 year old Aussi Black Tri soon to be 9.  She has numerous AKC titles including her MACH (Masters Agility Championship). Gigi, a Bi Blue Sheltie, is the younger lady at 3 and also has numerous agility titles. These photos were taken with my Canon 7D and Canon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO lens.  I’d been taking action shots all morning so my shutter speed was set at 1/800 and the aperture at Auto as the arena was not well lighted. I started out at a shutter speed of 1/500th but when GiGi ran the course, who is fast as greased lightening when she runs, I boosted it up to 1/800. After looking at the shots, I really should have set the shutter at 1/1000. She is that fast!

Action photography can be challenging as Virginia states due to the low light condition. The best way to combat this without jacking up the ISO is with lenses. I own a few pieces of “fast glass” as I have used them for concerts and portraits. The lenses that I have are primes, meaning that there isn’t any zoom on the lens. If you want a zoom that is also fast, you’re going to have to reach deep into your pockets. A very popular lens for this type of application is a 70mm-200mm f/2.8. This lens is around $2,500 USD. Why so expensive? What you are buying is a constant aperture. Most lenses have two minimums. My 18mm-200mm for example, tells me that it’s f/3.5 at 18mm and f5/6 at 200mm. These are cheaper to make there for cheaper to purchase. What if you have to have the 70mm-200mm, but you are on a budget? There are a couple of options; first you could rent the lens. There are companies that will rent it to you for a day, couple of days or a week. This is also a great way to try the lens before you make a major investment to ensure that you like it. The second option is to try and find it used. I know that there is that popular “bay” place, but for something like this, I would call B&H Photo in New York City. They aren’t paying me to say this (I wish they would). B&H will stand behind the products they sell. So if you should have a problem, you will have someone to go back to.

I know some of you are probably asking me, “What about third party lenses?” It’s true that other manufactures make a knock off version of this lens and its $1,000 cheaper than the Nikon or Canon version. However, you will sacrifice quality for price. I would rather pay the piper up front and have great image quality for the rest of my life, instead of being irritated every time I pulled it out to use it. When I actually had time to go to a photo club, there was an engineer that compared his Canon lens and the knock off version of this lens. The Canon lens had consistent image quality throughout all of the focal lengths. The graph that was generated from the knock off version looked the same form a 9.0 earthquake. I personally don’t believe in third party glass. Top image quality is what is important to my clients and me. Do yourself a favor and buy the real deal.

I appreciate Virginia taking the time to send the photo and story in. I hope to see more photographers sending articles like this in the future. By the way, if anyone is interested, I have a tip jar at the end of my desk labeled: 70mm-200mm f/2.8 Lens Fund. Have a great week.

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. Great! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very nice Ginny. I can imagine the fun you had trying to get those dogs as they flew around the course. I have trouble getting my dog fully in the frame when they are playing in the back yard………………not flying as your subjects were. Also loved your framing and touch up on the dogs…………looks great.

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