Teamwork in action: dog sledding in the Monteregians

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A friend invited me to shoot a dog sledding workout for a team of four Malamutes. His brother owns and gets his dogs a workout on trails shared with snowmobiles and ATVs. To avoid any chance of an unfortunate encounter with a motor vehicle, we went just after sunrise to see and photograph the run. The circuit is located near St-Amable in the Monteregians.

The team completed an estimated 8 kilometer loop or so and interestingly enough, it felt like we ran for about as much distance trying to overtake the dog sled to position ourselves to take some shots as it rode by. At first, we thought we would get deeper in the trees to avoid detection by the dogs as they ran by but this effort was completely futile. We could see that the dogs hesitated between stopping to say hi or keeping the pace going at each encounter. At one of the meeting point, they did get to stop and play with us.

The Malamutes can be very playful but they seem to understand when it is time for play and when it is time for work. Before the run, as they are let out of the truck, they appear very eager to do what comes naturally to them: run. The master riles them up and they go for a thunderous start. Besides before and after the workout, we got  four other opportunities to shoot the dog sled in the woods or through tall grass.

I rarely, if ever, photograph animals but this experience is very different from wildlife. It feels more like shooting action. After all, these dogs sure are athletes. I wanted to take more shots of the team from the side but there were not enough open space to do so. The overall length of the dogs and sled is just too much to capture in the narrow trails. Since I used a long telephoto, the perspective compression induced betrays the true length of the sled and dogs.

It was a very pleasant photographic experience. Waking real early after a night out does not feel so good but getting out of the city for some fresh air and a walk in the woods first thing in the day does feel really great. It certainly cured my semi-hangover and sleep deprivation!

The gallery includes all pictures in chronological order as shot.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L lens, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens, RAW conversion using Lightroom 4.1

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