No More Blurry Paws – How to Capture Great Action Dog Shots


Oh no, not blurry paws again!

Its Linda, Alfie’s human here at the keyboard. Alfie suggested that I take over some of the Friday Foto Fun blog posts as he is more interested in mischief than camera settings. He even went as far as to say that until he gets his own camera, he’s will not write anything to do with dog photography anymore. There you have it, that dog knows how to negotiate and I’m on my own!

Luckily he is still willing to pose for photos as long as there are treats and toys on offer. That brings me onto this week’s topic – how to shoot great action dog shots, without capturing that all too familiar blurry dog shape across the frame.

98% of my photos end up looking like this:

A fast shutter speed of 1/1250 sec at f 1.4 wasn't enough to capture Alfie as he burst through the frame.

Or like this:

Shot at 1/1250 sec at f1.4 this shot could have been pawsome if only...

I can just tell that if the autofocus would have just been fast enough, I could have shot pictures worthy of being published in National Geographic (I wish!) – but instead I have a collection of perfectly exposed and focused backgrounds, with a blurry, happy looking dog shape in front of it. Sigh. What to do.


The Big Pre Focus Plan

Here’s a quick overview of how to shoot doggie action shots using a pre-focus method. If you want to know more about how alfie and I did this, then check out my detailed Article on Hubpages.

(maybe I'll learn how to draw on day! In the meantime, the jotter app is great fun)

First Attempt

1/800 sec at f1.6 - the pre set focus landed somewhere around Alfie's armpits. Back to the drawing board!

Second Attempt

1/500 sec at f13 - almost, almost in focus!


1/500 sec at f13






  1. Inga says

    Wow… I’m impressed! Your approach really seems to work; good luck with the ‘fine-tuning’!!

    • says

      Thanks Inga – with Alfie, there are always lots of good opportunities to shoot pictures so there will be plenty of time to practice the new technique!

  2. says

    Great tips! My mom has a NIkon 3100 and has taken some classes with similar advice but we still have some blur issues. Practice makes perfect mom says. Emma : )

    • says

      Hi Emma – I looked at the Nikon D3100 in the shops and seriously considered buying it, but then I was lucky enough to get hold of the D7000 second hand from a friend. You’re right, practice makes perfect but sometimes its soooo frustrating when you think you’ve just taken the best photo in the world and its come out blurry :-)

  3. says

    Wow – thank you SOOOO much for showing us that not every shot you take is perfect. ;) I’m actually serious, thanks for sharing your less-than-perfect shots – it’s encouraging to those of us who are just starting to figure some of this out to know that photographers we admire like you don’t get it right every time.

    And thanks for acknowledging the tri-color issue. I don’t have the same always cloudy situation (in fact, I often have the opposite) but I have discovered how hard it is to work with 3 different colors on the same face and have the camera not wig out about it.

    Your new photos are fabulous and I admire your patience in working out the details and sharing them with us. I think I know what I’ll be playing at this weekend. ;)

    • says

      OMG – you’ve just made me blush, thank you so much for your lovely comment. Most of my photos come out blurry. Seriously, I wasn’t joking when I said I have to throw away 98% because I’m not happy with them. Luckily I love taking photos so I don’t mind spending long enough to get that special shot I was after, but you’re right – a tri coloured dog is not easy to photograph (Alfie and Bella could be related!) at the best of times and one that moves at lightening speed isn’t any easier!
      Let me know how you get on with your photography this weekend :-)

  4. says

    That is great information! I am trying to learn how to switch the settings around on my camera so this was an important read for me! Thank you!

    • says

      You’ve just given me an idea for next week’s Friday Foto Fun. I might just do a dog lover’s guide to camera settings :-)

  5. says

    Hey Alfie’s Mum,

    Thanks so much for your tips – my Mum is always moaning about her blurry pics of me – so most of the problem for her is she takes them on her iPhone 4S or her Canon G10 – yep, not exactly ideal! She was also recently told to press the focus and then wait for the perfetct shot, which is helping, but still they’re not great!

    Unfortunately the G10 doesn’t have an action mode – or she can’t find it – and even when I’m still there’s always some action – Tee Hee

    Maybe she just needs to save up for a proper camera and stop waiting for me to be more still? :)

    Love your pics and tips – Thanks,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  6. says

    OMG Snoopy – Your mum is a true hero for taking such good photos of you without even having an action setting on her camera! I don’t think I could live without the faster than lightning setting on my camera, and I’m guessing as a keen mischief maker you’re just a s fast as my Alfie in front on the camera lens!

    Don’t even get me started on shooting with the iPhone – as far as I’m concerned its only good enough for shooting videos of Alfie, or photos where he is sitting still or lying down. Anything else just comes out as tri coloured, unrecognisable blurry thing – its just too slow! :-)

  7. says

    It is an art. It is so difficult to get the “right” picture. I have literally taken thousands of pictures of my pug, and of those, only a few make it to the blog. It can be really difficult taking action shots unless you have a really good camera and a lot of experience. I have a Cannon T3, which is really great, but doesn’t take the best action shots unless I’m really far away. It looks like you got some really good pics though!

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by! I have thousands of photos that didn’t make it to Alfie’s blog too – I guess practice makes perfect!

  8. says

    His TAIL is in focus in that first photo :) My biggest tip is take LOTS of photos. One usually turns out the way I want. I have a Nikon D80 and was thinking of upgrading, The new D4 is a little above my budget so thanks for suggesting the D 7000. I will have to look into it but at first glance the price is more reasonable :)

    • says

      What type of camera are you using at the moment? An SLR camera is so much faster than any compact cameras and make such a difference in getting the ‘timing’ right! :-)

  9. says

    Hi there, a little late to the party but hey :) Thanks for this. I too have tried the focus on a point and click manically when the dog crosses it. My issues is my dog KNOWS I swear she does, and promptly runs around, over, elsewhere etc. I also think the trick might be patience and 500 shots in the hope that one of them, just one, will be epic lol.

    Thanks for posting :)

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