Catching treats for “The perfect picture” on Play4

In the TV program “The Perfect Picture” 8 well-known Flemish personalities, under the direction of presenter Manu Van Acker, compete against each other to take the perfect photo!

Each episode features two specializations in photography, and of course, dog photography couldn’t be left out!

So one day, I was contacted by the production company asking if I wanted to participate in this episode. Of course, I immediately agreed and off we went!

A quick touch of makeup before meeting the contestants and explaining the task to them!

Catching treats for "The perfect picture" on Play4


The theme was “dogs catching treats” and the celebrities descended to Pellenberg where they were each assigned a wonderful model to work with in my studio.

Ingeborg Sergeant was assigned Niké the border collie as a model. Bie Baert got to work with the super cute Cas the bichon frisé. Filip Peeters had Aslan the standard poodle in front of his lens, Joffrey Anane had Bean the beautiful wolfhound, and Julius Persoone got to throw treats for Nysha the toller.

They were given a time limit of 30 minutes to complete the task, and there had to be a clear “action” in the photo.

Especially for those who had no experience with dogs, it became quite a challenge to complete the task successfully, but all’s well that ends well! After 30 minutes, they had all managed to deliver at least 1 “Perfect Picture”!

Catching treats for "The perfect picture" on Play4

Next, the photos were printed, and as a jury member, I got to give points alongside the regular judges Sofie Van De Velde and Zeger Garré, and assess who had executed the task the best.

Catching treats for "The perfect picture" on Play4

Catching treats for "The perfect picture" on Play4

Julius immediately succeeded in gaining the trust of Nysha with his calm approach and even added an original extra touch by combining a trick with the catching action.

A big congratulations to Julius on your well-deserved victory!

Catching treats for "The perfect picture" on Play4

Would you like to try this yourself with your dog? Below, I’ll gladly give you some tips to help you succeed!

1. Use a wide-angle lens

With a wide-angle lens, you can get close to your dog and throw the treat at the right moment. Your eye-hand coordination will be put to the test, but by throwing it yourself, you can easily capture the right “action moment.” If you have trouble holding your camera steady, use a camera hand strap; it will also support your wrist more.

2. The right flash equipment

When working with flash lighting, you need a flash with a short flash duration and a fast recycle time. Personally, I use broncolor siros flashes for this purpose. Each flash has a different flash duration, and at full power, the flash has a slower speed than at half power.

Now, getting a bit technical… You need to look for the T1 value of your flash. This indicates the time needed for 90% of the total flash to be discharged.

Many photographers in Belgium use Godox, so let’s take a look at the T1 values of the Godox AD600 Pro:

  • 1/1 1/220
  • 1/2 1/740
  • 1/4 1/1470
  • 1/8 1/2352
  • 1/16 1/3448
  • 1/32 1/4651
  • 1/64 1/5780
  • 1/128 1/8130
  • 1/256 1/10000

To photograph dogs in action outdoors, a shutter speed of 1/1000 is sufficient, but in the studio, it’s a bit different. You can expect that from a shutter speed of 1/2000 or more, you have a good chance of completely freezing your motion and keeping it sharp.

3. Camera settings

Each camera brand and model has its own sync speed. This is the maximum shutter speed at which the camera can work with the flash. If you’re unsure of yours, check the manual or use 1/160 to avoid black bars in your image.

Once you’ve set the shutter speed, adjust your ISO. This is the sensitivity of the sensor. I prefer to shoot in the studio at ISO 100 for optimal quality!

Finally, choose your aperture; I typically use around f/8 in the studio.

I set the white balance to flash and for focusing, I use automatic eye autofocus for animals on my mirrorless camera (Canon R6 and Canon R5). If you’re using a DSLR, use a single focus point and focus on the nearest eye.

4. Extra tips

  • If you want a real “catch” photo, it’s important that the dog knows how to do this. Most dogs won’t catch at a treat if they haven’t been taught to do so. Of course, this can also result in hilarious photos!
  • Use a toy as an alternative if the dog doesn’t want to catch the treat.
  • Create a collage in Photoshop instead of a single catching photo if you can’t decide which photo you like the most!
  • Always check with the owner first if the dog has any food allergies before using your own treats.
  • Practice! Practice! Practice! Your dog certainly won’t get tired of those treats quickly!
  • Once you’ve mastered it, experiment with what you throw. Maybe shaping a letter of the dog’s name with a letter-shaped treat is just that bit more original than a regular treat. Ultimately, we aim for nothing less than “The Perfect Picture” 🙂 !

G O O D L U C K !

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