How to Photograph an OCD Dog Swimming in Your Pool

I recently made a visit to my hometown. I traveled to Vegas for a convention and got to spend the weekend with my family. My brother and his wife have been remodeling a house out on Sunrise Mountain – right now it’s a work in progress, but there is one part that is ready to go. Right off the patio there is an oasis in the desert – a practically perfect pool.

Growing up we were never “pool people”. On our block there were two families that had pools – one was at a white house with white carpet – they were a fancy-schmancy family with wrought iron and sparkly stucco. I was always too grubby to even pass through their door, let alone be invited to play in their pool. The other was a doughboy pool that the kids a couple of years older hung out at  – it was like swimming in a balloon, not my cup of tea.

The only pool I have ever owned was one of those kiddie pools you buy at Stuff-mart, I bought it for my dog. He loved it and I have always gotten a kick out of seeing a dog enjoy the water. I kayak with my terrier and my goldendoodle loves to play in the lake, so when I heard that we were taking my brother’s dog over to the new house to play in the pool, I was super excited to get a chance to capture her in action in the water.

A word about the dog – Cammie Lou (Cambria Louise) is an english pointer. She is an avid hunter and borders on being OCD when it comes to birds, or toys, or sitting in the passenger seat in the jeep. She cannot rest when these things are in play, she obsesses and pushes and works herself into a frenzy. It makes for a spectacular hunter. Apparently she also obsesses about swimming.

We let Cammie out into the backyard and she leapt into the pool and immediately began swimming laps non stop. She also made an excited crying sound. After about a dozen laps we would have to stand on the steps at the end and urge her to get out for a rest. She was so excited that she would jump right back in and start swimming again. This dog adores the water. Her joy is palpable. She was amazing to shoot.

To capture Cammie I started with a fairly high ISO – 2000. In the bright sunlight you could push it a lot higher if you needed to. I started with a shutter speed of 1/640 second and pushed up to 1/1000 after about 20 shots. In 10 minutes I shot about 150 frames and with these shutter speeds I only had about 4 that were out of focus or where I lost her in the frame. I focused on her eyes. Click through to get a sense of the motion of Cammie swimming.