I once again had the privilege of being the official photographer for the weight pull competition sponsored by the Texas Alaskan Malamute Rescue Association at the Reliant World Series of Dog shows. Last year’s competition was not as exciting because there were a lot more restrictions on dog breeds, but this year apparently, it was more open so there was a very large crowd at hand and the competition was fierce.
If I may get on my soap-box for a moment, keep in mind that this is event is held using AKC standards and the dogs have a fun time doing this. Families bring their dog to see how it would do and sometimes the dog just sits there and looks at the owner as if to say “I don’t get it, let’s go for a walk”, but many of the working breeds really get into it. In other words, man has bred dogs over the centuries to be our companion and work so nobody is forcing the dogs to do something they don’t want to do. It’s great exercise and time spent with their owner. Dogs love to have fun and for some, it’s jumping over hurdles, dancing with their owner, or in this case, weight pull.
I mention this because I have noticed some uninformed people leaving comments at various dog rescue sites saying “this is animal abuse!”. The irony here is that quite a few of the dogs that enter various competitions at the dog show were dogs who were rescued from some horrible conditions and are now happy and healthy. Coming to these types of events, getting exercise, and spending time with the owner is much better than laying around the house all day. I am only posting a few pictures from the weight pull because there is an official site for downloading them, but take my word for it, it was a good weekend for it!
Photographywise, I think the Reliant Arena has the absolute worst lighting out of all the convention halls and gyms I’ve ever been to. Even the George R Brown is slightly better (at least they try to match the color temperature). On top of that, the subjects are moving fast and I have to stay close and not use flash so there is no getting around using high ISO’s (Mine range from 1600-6400 on many here) and using fast f/2.8 lens. I did bring my f/1.4 prime 50mm too but it’s easy to miss the focus at that F/stop and that narrow of DOF.
For a few stationary subjects I used flash to get a little fill in and used a gel on there to somewhat match the lighting but the white balance was a nightmare. Even on manual custom white balance settings, the picture would need adjusting in Lightroom because the white balance is different even 3 feet away from the previous spot. Just bad.
I tried my hand at the jumping competition (there is a different name for it I’m sure), but the lighting is really really bad there so all of these were at ISO 6400 and it just wasn’t that impressive as far as pictures go