If you are in Northern California and Santa didn’t give you the kitty that you wanted for Christmas, please consider adopting one of these wonderful cats from the Petaluma Animal Shelter. They are full of love and looking for their forever home. You can contact the shelter at (707) 778-4396, or stop by at 840 Hopper Street in Petaluma.
Bokeh, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM, Canon EOS 6D, Canon Extender 1.4x, Canon Speedlite 430EX, Fill Flash, Marin Humane Society, Shallow Depth of Field, The Unauthorized Rolling Stones
The 5th annual Marin Humane Society fundraiser Woofstock 2013 was a huge success with the largest turnout yet. Not only did a record number of people enjoy the wonderful entertainment and food, thirty-seven animals found forever homes during the adoption fee waived event. A kids area, including a Blue bounce house, kept the little ones entertained, while music from The Sorentinos and Rudy Colombini and The Unauthorized Rolling Stones kept everyone entertained. While a previous commitment earlier in the day kept me from seeing The Sorentinos, I was there in plenty of time to catch Rudy and the rest of the band in one of the best tributes to Mick Jagger and the real Rolling Stones.
Outdoor photography can pose some minor trouble with regards to shadows and lighting. These troubles can easily be overcome by the use of a fill flash. In a fluid shooting situation, I usually use a camera mounted Speedlite with a setting of EV -1. This will put out the proper amount of light to fill in the shadows and bring out the details with a natural look to the image. However, this lighting on the particular afternoon proved to be a bit more complex than most typical outdoor shooting. The stage had a couple of large trees beside it that resulted in part of the stage being in total shadows, part of the stage still being in the sun, and part of the stage covered with sunlight filtering through the trees. Throw in the fact that to get shots from certain angles I was more than 100 feet from the state, I was constantly checking my settings to get the best shot possible. At times I even skipped the flash and went solely with available lighting.
Being a significant distance from the subject will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the flash, to where at times I would push the flash to EV +2. Upping the ISO setting will also allow the light from the flash to be more effective. Just keep in mind that if you are shooing in Aperture Priority (as I was), this can push the shutter speed above the normal flash sync speed. So, be certain to set your camera to ‘High Speed Sync’ to keep from having troubles. Shooting in ‘Aperture Priority’ keeps the aperture where I set it, usually wide open or within a stop or so of being wide open. This allows me to separate the subject from the foreground and background by throwing those two out of focus while keeping the subject in focus.
If you have never used a flash outdoors, you should give it a try. Grab your camera, a speedlite, and your favorite model to shoot and head out. I would recommend starting with the following settings: Camera metering to ETTL, use high speed sync (if needed), , flash set to EV -1, aperture priority with lens f/stop set to widest possible (smallest number). Try shooting with sun at different angles to the subject, front lit, back lit, and side lit to see what the different results look light. Mix it up a bit by shooting both in the midday sun and also at either in the morning or evening with the sun close to the horizon. And, don’t forget to shoot with the subject in the shade with the background in the sunlight.
I hope you enjoy my shots from Woofstock 2013. Check with your local Humane Society office to see when their next event will be and don’t forget to spay and neuter your pets!
For more information about the Marin Humane Society and Woofstock 2013, please click on the link below.
For more information about Rudy Colombini and The Unauthorized Rolling Stones, please click on the following link.
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This weekend was the Bay Area Pet Fair at the Marin Civic Center. There was plenty of vendors, adoption agencies, tasty eats (for both two-legged and four-legged attendees), a Splash Dog competition, and two days of fabulous weather.
Below is just a sneak peek at what was going on…I took more than 1,500 shots and it’ll be a later in the week before I get through them all.
The Little Guy – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200m f/4.0L @70mm – Exposure: 1/200 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill – This little two-pound Tea Cup Yorkie was drawing lots of attention hanging out with the staff of North Bay Animal Hospital at their booth.
The New Guy – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200m f/4.0L @70mm – Exposure: 1/1250 sec @ f/4.5 ISO 200 EV-1/3 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX Speedlite @-1/3 for fill – This had to have been one of the cutest puppies that was up for adoption this weekend…and he went home with a friend of mine! He’s an Aussie Sheppard, German Sheppard, Great Pyrenees mix and tips the scales are just over ten pounds (4.5kg). He is somewhat unique in that he has two dewclaws on each of his rear paws.
I’m not sure what it is with puppies and leaves. Whether it’s the texture, the taste, or the crunchiness of them, but all of the puppies of all of the Celine’s litters that I’ve seen seem to really love chewing on leaves. Maybe they just like a little salad with their milk…
Celine, a breeder dog for Canine Companions for Independence, had what will be her fifth and last litter six weeks ago and this morning the stars finally lined up and allowed me to get over and take shots of them. Due to my busy schedule at the moment, it will probably going to be a few days before I get through all 500+ images that I took this morning looking for the “Awwww!” shots. So for now, I’ll leave you with a teaser shot to enjoy.
Canine Companions for Independence is the largest provider of service dogs and does so with no charge to the recipient. For more information about CCI, or to make a donation, please click on the link below:
This past Sunday was Bone Appetit, the major fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence Northwest Region in Santa Rosa, California. It was a wonderful afternoon of food and wine parings with some of the wine country’s top chefs and wineries donating their time and delicious goods for all that attended to enjoy. There was plenty of great food, good spirits, and cute puppies. As well as a silent and a live auction with outstanding prizes for the one lucky enough to be the highest bidder.
CCI is one a several organizations that I volunteer my time and talent as a photographer to. So, enjoy some of my shots from Bone Appetit 2012!
Update – September 20th: Just received an email from one of my contacts at CCI…Bone Appetit netted nearly $160,000 for Canine Companions for Independence to continue this vital service that is provided absolutely free of charge to those that receive one of these special and amazing dogs.
For those of you that have been following my blog, and for those of you that recently stumbled upon it and noticed that there have been no new posts for a few months…well, I’m back. During the months of May and into June, I took time to go and be with my parents. My mother had several small strokes earlier this year and was having a delicate procedure performed to keep her from having a fatal stroke. And, I returned home to California just in time for my own surgery. I have been having serious problems with my neck for the past year and it required removal of the disc between C6 and C7 and fusing them together. To fuse the two vertebrae together, decalcified bone from a cadaver is put in place of the disc and a titanium plate is attached to the vertebrae to stabilize them while the graft knits. Removing the calcium from the donor bone makes the bone paste-like and relatively easy for the doctor to work with.
My recovery is going quite nicely and I meet with the doctor later today to see what the latest x-rays say and what the next step is in the recovery process. I’ve been out of the cervical collar for the past week and just a couple of days ago did the first serious shooting with my camera in several months…and it felt great. I photographed five dogs for The Dog Shack, a rescue group that I volunteer my time and skills as a photographer for.
Now that I’m back and as long as there is no setback in my recovery, you will again be seeing routine posts that will cover everything from pictures of cute puppies (CCI breeder dog, Celine, just had a new litter last week), to equipment reviews, tips, techniques and much more. For now, I will leave you with a shot of Rascal, a fabulous dog available for adoption from The Dog Shack.
Update August 14th: I met with the doc yesterday and my recovery is so far ahead of schedule that the surgeon has cleared me to go back to doing most everything including photography. I will see her once again in three months to take a final set of x-rays so she can write a letter to the FAA stating that I’m fully healed and cleared to return to flying…I can’t wait!
Alright Mr DeMille…I’m Ready for My Close-Up! – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @31mm – Exposure: 1/125 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX set to -1 for fill
I gave you a teaser last weekend of some new photographs of the latest litter of puppies that Celine (the momma dog) has given birth to. Like her previous litters, these are destined for training as service dogs with Canine Companion for Independence. I recently signed on with CCI to volunteer my time and talents as a photographer and attended an orientation last week at CCI’s headquarters in Santa Rosa, California. Canine Companions for Independence is the largest provider of service dogs and provides the dogs free of charge. It operates solely from private and corporate donations. Please visit the CCI website for more information about this fabulous organization, or to make a donation.
Enjoy the photographs and stay tuned for more of Canine Companions for Independence and the fabulous dogs in the future.
I’m So Stinkin’ Cute! – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @18mm – Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 100 Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
I’m not sure what it is about the cinder blocks, but the puppies from all of Celine’s litters seems to love playing with them and crawling through the openings.
Looking for Shade – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @18mm – Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
It was a very warm spring afternoon when I was taking these photographs and the puppies were most interested in spending as much time as they could in the shade. This is why it is always a good idea to use a flash to fill in the shadows when taking shots like this. In fact, unless I’m shooting landscape or architecture, I almost always use a flash to bring out detail in the shadows. This may sound counter-intuitive to most people, but give it a try and I think that you will be pleased with the results. If you can adjust the EV of your flash, you can experiment and see which results you like best. For outdoor portraits I usually use -1 EV or 0, but for a different look I will crank it up to as high as +2. If shooting with a lot of sunshine, you’ll need to set your camera and flash for high speed sync if you are shooting with large apertures to get the shallow depth of field that you see in most of these photographs.
Doin’ Me Some Explorin’! – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @50mm – Exposure: 1/400 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
New Heights! – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @50mm – Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
Hangin’ in the Shade – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200 f/4.0L @135mm – Exposure: 1/125 sec @ f/4.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
Here we see Hula, who is an older sibling to the puppies, and the puppies hanging out in the shade. The one puppy with the lighter coat and whose face you see is Stinson. Canine Companions for Independence volunteer puppy raiser Leigh Anne will be raising him from the age of eight weeks until he is about eighteen months old. You can read about her puppy raising experiences by checking out her blog.
Hi! – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @18mm – Exposure: 1/320 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
What’s In The Ball? – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @50mm – Exposure: 1/800 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
What’s Up There? – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200 f/4.0L @172mm – Exposure: 1/125 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
Tango No.6 – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 – Exposure: 1/2500 sec @ f/2.5 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
Keeping a close eye on the puppies is Tango, a very photogenic and sometimes neurotic border collie. While she seems interested in the puppies and their antics, she would be much happier if they didn’t invade her personal space.
Will You Be My Friend? – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @33mm – Exposure: 1/640 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
Yummy! – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200 f/4.0L @184mm – Exposure: 1/160 sec @ f/4.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
I’m not quite certain that they have much flavor to them, but all of the dogs seem to enjoy chewing on the hard plastic balls. This is Hula, a sibling of the small puppies from several litters ago. Not only is my friend a volunteer puppy breeder, but a volunteer puppy raiser as she (and her family) is raising Hula. The puppy raisers have them for approximately eighteen months and teach them basic commands and socialization skills prior to the puppies going into their formal training as service dogs.
Hula and her Siblings – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L Macro @118mm – Exposure: 1/100 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
After chewing on the ball for awhile, Hula decided to see if the toy bone was more suited to her discriminating palate!
Nap Time – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L @109mm – Exposure: 1/250 sec @ f/5.0 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted for fill
After a rough afternoon of playing and posing for pictures, the puppies have decided that it was nap time.
Be sure to click on the ‘Follow’ button to receive notifications of new blog postings, including future writings and photos about Canine Companions for Independence.
For those of you that enjoy the photographs of dogs on my blog, please check out Donna Black-Sword’s blog, Raising a Super Dog. She is a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, which is one of the same organizations that I volunteer my time and talent as a photographer to. Puppy Raisers play a vital role in the development of the future service dog by providing them with initial obedience training and socialization.
Canine Companions for Independence is the largest provider of service dogs and operates solely from donations made by private individuals and corporate sponsors. And, CCI provides service dogs free of charge…which makes it even more special. Please visit their website to find more information (like information on being a volunteer puppy raiser) or to make a donation.
And now for the Sneak Peak…Yesterday I visited Celine and took more fabulous photographs of her latest litter of puppies (now five weeks old) that are destined for training as service dogs with CCI. Since I’m somewhat behind in work, I’m going to give you just a sneak peek below at what you can expect later this week, once I’m all caught up.
Will You Be My Friend? – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @33mm – Exposure: 1/640 Second @ f/5.0 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
As previous readers know, I recently started volunteering my time and skills as a photographer to a dog rescue organization, The Dog Shack. I’ve done two sessions with them so far and the results have been amazing, with several of the dogs being adopted almost immediately after having quality photographs of them posted to several websites that The Dog Shack utilizes. I’ll be doing another shoot for them next week and am looking forward to getting some great shots of some great dogs.
This leads me to another dog based program that I have now signed up to volunteer my services as a photographer to….Canine Companions for Independence. CCI is the largest provider of service dogs and provides the dogs free of charge, while operating solely on donations from individual and corporate sponsors. I have a friend that is a volunteer dog breeder for CCI and I have gotten some very cute shot of the puppies of the last two litters that the momma dog, Celine, has given birth to.
I’m not certain how often CCI will be calling on me for my services, but I am quite proud to be associated with an organization that does so much good in the world. Although, I did mention to the volunteer coordinator that there is probably more times that they could use my skills than what they realize. I’ll be attending an orientation at CCI Headquarters on March 6th, and will hopefully be able to start working on some projects with them shortly thereafter. I will be certain to share with you any great shots that I get from my work with CCI.
For now, I will leave you with a few shots of some of the wonderful puppies destined for training with Canine Companions for Independence.
Cuteness Overload No.1 – Here we see one of the puppies from Celine’s fourth litter at the ripe old age of four days old. – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @46mm – Exposure: 1/30 Second @ f/4.5 ISO400
Cuteness Times Three! – Here are three from Celine’s fourth liter, now a whole sixteen days old. – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @26mm – Exposure: 1/100 Second @ f/2.8 ISO100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX camera mounted with custom light modifier
All The Toys Are Mine! – Two of the puppies from her third litter at six weeks of age. – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM @84mm – Exposure: 1/400 sec @ f/4 ISO 400 – Lighting: Canon 430EX at -1 with custom light modifier for fill
The Canine Sleeper Hold! – Here we see Hula, at six months of age playing with one of her younger siblings that is six weeks of age. – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @50mm – Exposure: 1/200 sec @ f/4 ISO 100 – Lighting: Canon 430EX at -1 with custom light modifier for fill
Celine – The momma dog to all of the wonderful puppies. After her fifth litter, she will be spayed and adopted out to a loving family. – Camera: Canon EOS 40D – Lens: Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro @50mm – Exposure: 1/25 sec @ f/3.5 ISO 800 – Lighting: Canon 430EX at -1 with custom light modifier
I was reading the KEH blog last week and they had a posting that was about charitable and non-profit organizations that photographers can get involved with and donate their time and professional services to. One that caught my eye works with matching photographers with animal rescue organizations. This would allow the rescue groups to have high quality photographs to help enhance an animals chances of finding a forever home. The organization had different levels that a photographer could sign up for, and pay a fee to join their service. Each level had different requirements and there was an application process to go through. After twenty-three years in the military, I’m kinda tired of jumping through hoops to get to do what I want to do. So, I did a google search of animal rescue organizations in my neck of the woods and started looking for one that looked like it could use the services of a professional photographer. It didn’t take long until I came across the website for The Dog Shack. The image below is the one that really spoke to me and had me contact The Dog Shack.
Curran (Image courtesy of The Dog Shack)
I sent them an email and introduced myself and told them that I was offering my services, free of charge. Almost immediately I received a reply and last weekend I met with Saskia, who founded The Dog Shack after becoming involved with animal rescues in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck. It was then that I learned that the above image of Curran was actually provided to her by the shelter that he was rescued from. She told me that The Dog Shack places about 100 dogs a year into forever homes and runs on a shoe-string budget. They just received their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status and are now trying to find ways to increase donations to the organization. Almost all of the dogs that they rescue are saved from being euthanized at kill shelters in Northern California just before they are to be put down.
If you are a photographer looking for a way to give back to your community and are interested in helping animals up for adoption find a forever home, please contact HeARTsSpeak. Or simply do what I did… find a local rescue organization that could use the services of a photographer.
What if you want to do this and you are one of those people that has never taken their DSLR off of the ‘Auto’ mode? Now would be a good time to try some new tricks. The first thing that you are going to do is put your camera in ‘Aperture Priority’ mode. This allows you to manually set the f/stop that you will be using. Set the f/stop to the lowest number that your lens will go, usually f/3.5 if you are using a kit lens that came with your DSLR. This means that the lens is wide open and will throw the foreground and background out of focus. This allows the subject to stand out against the background. When shooting wide open like this, make certain that you focus on the eyes. That is the most important facial feature to have in focus and this goes for shooting both people and animals. If you find that your lens is a bit soft when shooting wide open, or you notice that the focus is a bit in front of or behind the eyes, use the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop to bring the eyes into focus.
When possible, shoot in the late afternoon as that will provide you with the best light to shoot with. If it is an overcast day, then it is not that relevant. You will want to use a flash to help fill in the shadows, especially if shooting in the sunshine. You may have noticed when you set your aperture to wide open, the shutter speed has jumped way up. This will require you to set your flash to ‘High Sync Speed’ for it to function properly (check your camera and flash manual if you are unsure how to do this). If your camera/flash is not capable of doing this, do not use the flash as the wide open aperture is more important to producing a quality image than using fill flash is. If you are having problems with harsh shadows without fill flash, then find some shade to shoot in. You can also adjust the shadows in Photoshop and this is an excellent reason to be shooting in RAW as opposed to jpeg. The ‘Fill Light’ slider in Adobe Camera Raw was made just for situations like this.
Many dogs that have spent time in shelters can be skiddish and a bit wary of strangers. Have a pocket full of treats, as giving the dog a couple of them can go a long way in dissuading their fears of you. Also, when you reach out to pet them, it may be advisable to reach out from below their head (like you are going to scratch their chest) instead of reaching over the top.
If the dog is on a leash when you are shooting, try not to take shots when the dog is pulling against the leash. A shot of the dog pulling against the leash can give the impression that the dog is difficult to control. If the dog is sitting, have the dog handler put some slack in the leash (if possible), or completely drop the leash if the dog will stay seated or has good voice recall. When getting shots of a sitting dog, make sure that you are not using the ‘Bulls-Eye’ method by putting the dogs face right in the center of the photo. You will want to ensure that the entire dog is in the frame and that you have not cut off the feet at the bottom of the image. When getting close-ups of the face, be sure to get shots that show the entire face and do not get only profile shots. This is especially important when each side of the face has different colors or has different markings, as in the close up shot of Bonzo seen further down in this post.
If you have a dog of your own that you can practice on, head outside and give it a try. Keep practicing until you are comfortable with what you are doing and can get consistent results. If you don’t have a dog, I’m certain that you probably have a neighbor/friend/distant cousin that has a dog and is willing to let you practice (especially if you offer them copies of the best shots).
Below are some of the shots that I have taken for The Dog Shack.
Curran No.1 – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II – Exposure: 1/800 Second @ f/2.0 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
Yes, the above shot is of Curran, the same dog that is in the example of a bad photo earlier in this post. While the earlier shot may tug at your heart-strings to go and save him, the new shot shows Curran more favorably and will go further in finding him a forever home.
Update: Curran has been adopted into a loving, forever home.
Tipper No.1 – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM @70mm – Exposure: 1/60 Second @ f/4.0 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
Tipper No.2 – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM @200mm – Exposure: 1/160 Second @ f/4.0 ISO400 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
To get a dog to look straight at me like Tipper is doing above, I use a small squeaker toy that I held in my hand and squeezed just before I took the shot.
Dustin No.1 – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM @140mm – Exposure: 1/320 Second @ f/4.0 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
Update: Dustin has been adopted and is now living in his forever home!
Coda No.1 – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM – Exposure: 1/500 Second @ f/2.0 ISO100 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
UPDATE: Coda has been adopted and is now living in her new forever home!
Bonzo No.3 – Camera: Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D) – Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0L USM @154mm – Exposure: 1/500 Second @ f/4.0 ISO400 – Lighting: Camera mounted Canon 430EX for fill
If you are in Northern California and are looking to adopt, or can foster a dog, please contact The Dog Shack. They are always accepting donations for those that would like to make a financial contribution to support the excellent work that they do. The Dog Shack is a 501(c)3 organization and your contribution is tax deductible.
Note: If you go to visit The Dog Shack’s website and do not see any of the pictures that I have taken, we are still waiting for the volunteer that handles the website to post the new shots and take down the old ones.