FE600: Shoot the Dog!

Instructor: Amy Johnson

Course Details

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Did you get a new camera and aren’t sure how to take photos of your dog that aren’t one big blur?  Are you still shooting in Auto mode on your expensive camera?  Do you want to know what settings to use in a wide variety of lighting conditions?  Learn the skills and tools you need to be more comfortable with digital photography.  Start to see the world differently and get better results. Move beyond “point and click” to “compose and create.”

This course will introduce you to the fundamentals of photography with an emphasis on using available light to capture those candid moments of your favorite four-legged friend.  This class emphasizes the principles of exposure and learning how to choose the right camera settings for the type of photo you wish to take, both indoors and out.  We will also cover camera gear and introduce the basics of composition.  Initially, you will not be photographing moving objects (i.e. your dog), but gradually we will add the skills that will allow you to photograph a wide range of subjects, both still and in motion.

Classes will have 2 Photo Labs per week and will use Google Photos (formerly Google+) to share images.  There will be lecture material each week, in addition to the photo assignments.  However, the greatest value of this class will be in the discussions carried on through the forum. The lecture material will not be new or unique--the basics of photography have been well-covered in multitudes of books and websites.  Having a working photographer at your virtual "beck and call" to answer all of your questions is where you will find the most value in this course.  If you're wondering about it, it's a good bet someone else is, too, so don't hold back with your questions.  

GOLD STUDENTS will complete the Photo Labs and receive feedback on the results.

SILVER STUDENTS may ask as many questions as they want.

This course requires a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera. If you are unsure if your camera will work for this class, you can check the list here:


If you are buying a camera and want to know what to look for in a camera for this class, I have posted an article on that topic here:


You need to know how to transfer images from your camera's memory card to your computer and upload them to a website.  A tutorial for using Google Photos will be provided with the first lecture material.  


Next session starts: August 1, 2017
Registration starts: July 22, 2017
Registration ends: August 15, 2017

Registration will begin at 10:30AM PDT.

Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 10 students, Bronze: unlimited. If you are interested in bronze level, you can sign up any time during the registration period.


The foundations of photography are the same whether you're taking photos of your family, a flower, a panoramic landscape, or your favorite four-legged friend.  This class will teach you those foundations with an emphasis on taking better pictures of your dog.  

This course is "brand agnostic" in terms of the camera you have.  The lessons will be on the basics of photography, and will not be written with any particular camera brand in mind.  Names of functions may vary between brands, but the fundamentals of proper exposure are independent of those terms.  Between the camera manual, Google, and yours truly, we can help you make any necessary translations.  

The syllabus is a general guide.  The flow of topics may change

Week 1: Aperture and Depth of Field, Composition: Rule of Thirds

Week 2: ISO and Manual Exposure

Week 3: More practice in Manual

Week 4: Shutter Speed and Photographing Motion

Week 5: White Balance, RAW vs. JPEG

Week 6: Putting it all together -- Final Project!

Prerequisites and Equipment

If you are not sure whether your camera will work, please check the list here:


This course is "brand agnostic," meaning it is not written for a specific camera brand or model.  As long as you can manually control the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, you are good to go.  Your camera manual should be able to give you this information.  If you do not have your manual, Google for it and dowload a copy.  You will need it for the class.

I have been a Canon user for almost 20 years.  In the past year, I purchased a Nikon D500 and have been using it extensively for my bird photography.  This has allowed me to become familiar with the Nikon line and what it's capable of.  

Memory card

Lens (or multiple lenses if you have them)

Course Testimonials


When I started this class my camera was gathering dust. I would try to shoot some on auto. When photos of my cute animals never came out the way I wanted I would give up for a while in discouragement. I had read the basics of shutter speed, aperture and ISO before and understood them as concepts. But when it came time to shoot I couldn’t seem to remember everything, would shoot in auto, be unhappy with the results and give up, thinking I just couldn’t take good photos. The beginning basic exercises in this class actually got me comfortable with using my camera in manual. I loved the way the explanations really made sense and were memorable enough to stick in my head some. Then the exercises got me out right after the lecture practicing and learning about what I had just read. This further imbedded the basics in my memory. Throughout the class I gradually got better and quicker at adjusting the manual settings and better at knowing what I wanted to change and then adjusting in order to get that. Then we started shooting our dogs and poof it all came together and I could many times get the picture that I intended through manipulating the settings. Well, I was so ecstatic that from this point I just couldn’t stop shooting! I became addicted! The end result is I now better know how to adjust to get the picture I want. I am hooked and happy and want to practice, practice, practice and learn, learn, learn! I am so happy at how far my comfort level with manual shooting has come in this class. Thank you! Lisa H.              
Thank you for offering this class. It's been an absolute treat to learn to take photos from a pro in the dog sport photography world. Amy is awesome.                  
Did you spend a lot of money on a fancy camera, but haven't used any other setting than "Auto"? Are you dissatisfied with your pictures because they are out of focus? Frustrated because you can't see the features in your black dog? Or because your little white dog looks gray? If you are struggling with any of these things, this class is for you. When I opened the box to my camera, I knew it had the technological capability to take stunning pictures. But I was relying on the itty-bitty "brain" in my camera instead of the gray-matter between my ears! Throughout this course, Amy has challenged me to really think about and consider how I take pictures. She provided me with the tools to understand not only the camera settings, but how these settings interact with each other to create stunning art. The course content has been written in a multi-media format which can accommodate different learning styles. She takes challenging concepts and breaks them down into smaller, easy-to-understand topics. I still have a lot to learn about photography, but my participation in this class has set me up for success! Kristine D              
Thanks, Amy! I finally understand what all those buttons and knobs mean on my camera.                
I was only able to afford and have time for the bronze level of this class but I learned so much from just reading the lectures and forum that it's unbelievable. Amy made sure her students were "getting" it. Hopefully I can go gold next time it'seems offered.              
Again, really, really loved this class. I learned more in this class than I learned in the photojournalism class I took in college and in all the photography books I've read. I am so glad to have you on the FDSA team! Really looking forward to taking more classes with you.        
I guess the most important thing I learned in this course is how much I didn't know. I knew that it would be a learning experience, and it was and continues to be, but right away in the first Photo Lab 1, I got my money's worth! So much so, that I upgraded my camera just to see how much better my photos of my dog could be. Amy was very patient with me while I learned what all the buttons mean. I am very pleased that during this course I took what for me is that "photo of a lifetime" of my dog and it would never have happened if I hadn't taken this course! Connie G.             
If you want to learn how to utilize the manual functions of your DSLR camera & not just use it as a point & shoot, then Shoot the Dog! is for you. You'll be amazed at the things you'll learn how to do. Laurie I.