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See Spot Run Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

To all my dog walking and pet sitting clients, I have exciting news: I’ve launched my BARKography website and you can click the link to check it out.  If you do, please let me know what you think. This means several things. I no longer have to share my dog walking and pet sitting website with my photography site. Because I’ve spent a lot of time marketing the new dog photography business, it was taking over the See Spot Run site. No more. 🙂 The dog photography piece is still really important but so is the dog walking and pet sitting. It always has been. So now I get to blog about dog walking and pet sitting things here and I can blog about the photography side of the business on the BARKography site. If there is a downside, it is that I now have 2 blogs. Yikes….. 🙂

pet sitting doberman

I recently saw a post from a friend on my facebook page that was an article she shared about a pet sitter leaving a dog in a car and the dog died. The pet sitter was found through an online site. Here are my recommendations for finding a pet sitter:

  1. Ask your friends and family for a referral. If you have friends who have dogs, ask them who they use as a dog walker or pet sitter. Contact that person and see if she (he) covers your area. If she doesn’t, ask her for a referral. I get a lot of referrals and sometimes the person lives outside of my service area. I will always refer them to someone else. If it is someone I know well, I will tell them that. If the person has pet sat for me before, I will tell them. If I don’t know the person well, I will tell them that too.
  2. Ask your vet for the front desk staff at your vet’s office for a referral. Ask them how they know the person.
  3. Interview the pet sitter. Seriously interview them! (I would interview them as if you were hiring someone to care for your child. My dogs are my children and they are treated as such.)
  4. Check the pet sitter’s references. Really call them. Really check them out. Ask questions like: how long have you known her, how many times has she pet sat for you, were there any problems, how did she correspond with you while she was pet sitting for you, how frequently did she correspond with you, etc. Ask questions. Lots of them.

As a pet sitter, it breaks my heart to read the stories like what I read this morning. It breaks my heart for the family of the dog. I don’t like the black mark it leaves on my industry either. There are good pet sitters out there. Do your research and find them. You’ll have to plan ahead as this process will take time. Your dogs are worth it, right? Trust me if you find the right pet sitter, she’ll appreciate your efforts and your dog will too.

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Pet Photography Project 52, week 32: Lens Flare

For this week’s pet photography project 52 week challenge, we are examining lens flare. I’m so glad this is the assignment for this week because I have an image and I would really like some honest feedback on it. I took this 3 weeks ago. My mom was looking at all of the images from this photo session and she saw this one and audibly gasped. Now, she is certainly biased when it comes to the photos I take. I like this image but something doesn’t seem quite right and I don’t mean the fact that her front paw is cut off although maybe that is part of my issue. Does this image work? What would make it better? If you took this at a session, would you show it to the client?

lens flare

This is Tess. She is 12 years old and is the sweetest pup ever. I get to see her every week and her mom asked me to do a photo session too. She is a leaner and whenever I see her, she makes it very obvious my job is to pet her. 🙂 I took this photo at the very beginning of our session and when she saw me on the ground, she had to come over and sit beside me so I could pet her. I love her to pieces!

Here is another photo from this same session. I found the raw file while searching for the image above and just edited it now. I didn’t edit it before because I didn’t think it was good enough. Your thoughts? (Seriously, honesty is what I want. :))

lens flare

Lots of lens flare in this image… perhaps way too much??

Here is another of The Moose.

lens flare

Another sunrise photo. This is one I took when we were doing backlit photos and it also has lens flare.

Be sure to check back next week for some super exciting news!! 🙂 This is a blog circle. Click the link at the bottom of each post and you’ll see the other photographer’s take on “lens flare.” Next up is About A Dog Photography in St. Cloud MN.

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Pet Photography Project 52, week 31: Damn Trees

The theme of our 52 week challenge this week is actually silhouettes not damn trees however this week, my challenge revolved more around the damn trees than silhouettes hence the title! Let me set the scene. Grab a cup of coffee or if it’s later in the day, your favorite beverage. You may be here for awhile. 😮

trees

My silhouette of Moose that required a ton of tree removal in the editing process

First of all, I love silhouettes. I always have. The first time I ever took one was in April when I was at Barkelona, the dog photography workshop I attended. We’d talked about how to take them during one of our classroom sessions and that night while out walking with 2 of the other attendees just before sunset, we crested a hill with an amazing view of the sunset so we took them of each other. We had a lot of fun but I’d not taken another one until this week. Finding a place to take them has been my challenge…. because of all the trees in Charlotte NC.

A few weeks ago a client hired me to photograph his two dogs. He selected the location which was a park about 30 minutes from my house. I’d seen the location in photos but had never been myself so I was excited. I loved the location with its wide open spaces and hills. I knew I wanted to go back to this location so when I saw this week’s theme was silhouettes, I knew where to go.

I asked my 13 year photography assistant if she was available (she said yes!) and we grabbed Moose (remember him?) Have I mentioned that every time I get my camera bag out now, Moose thinks that means he gets to go on an adventure? If Moose is involved, it is an adventure.  We hadn’t even made it out of the neighborhood before he’d unzipped my backpack/camera bag with his nose and grabbed my memory card wallet out and thought that meant they were his and he didn’t need to give them back.  Moooooose!

Some of you may remember that last week I said many times with these challenges in particular, I have an image in mind but it doesn’t necessarily work out that way. That happened this time too although it was because my memory stinks. Those wide open spaces and hills… they weren’t as vast and plentiful as I’d remembered because they were surrounded by those damn trees.

We walked to the spot I had in mind and the location didn’t work at all.Those stinkin’ trees were in the way. Ugh. 🙁

We walked around and had Moose stand in any open area we could find. The resulting photos are below. Just as we were leaving, we walked up on a picnic area. I believe my photography assistant and my model were ready to leave but I thought… I need Moose up on that picnic table, then those dang trees won’t be in the way. Guess what, they were still in the way. We had to hurry, the park closes at sunset and I had my dog on a picnic table taking photos of him. Others were exiting the park and I didn’t want to get in trouble for having my dog on the picnic table and and dark clouds were rolling in so that was even more motivation to try and get some quick snaps.

The bottom line: My search to find a great spot to take silhouettes around Charlotte continues….

trees

This is the same photo as above, not edited at all. I wasn’t kidding when I said it required a TON of tree removal! I’m not sure what my assistant is doing but she saved me some additional editing by bending over like this and I appreciated it!

 

trees

Moose on the picnic table. I thought for sure the picnic table would work… but no, those damn trees are in the way again! 

trees

It was a beautiful sunset and I think all of us had fun!

For more silhouette photography, head to  Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area. Remember this is a blog circle and if you continue to click the links at the bottom of each post, you’ll end up right back here. I can’t wait to see what everyone else does… and I’m trying to remember if anyone lives near the beach. Photos on the beach would be amazing…. and guess where I’m going to be in a a few weeks? 🙂 🙂

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3 Dogs and a Trainer

I met Bella, Berkeley and Fisher’s mom last October at Barktoberfest. It was my first time photographing at an event and I had a blast. I had no idea that spending a few hours at this event would have such an impact on my photography career. This was one of the first steps that helped me get to where I am today. I owe a debt of gratitude to Berkeley pictured below.

Berkeley

Berkeley – rescued Australian Shepherd

Berkeley’s mom loved this picture of her. She told me recently that it’s still one of her favorites of him. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen photos of Berkeley already. (btw if you don’t follow me, click that link and please do! I tend to post most on Instagram these days.) Berkeley was sitting on a bale of hay in the shot and I got low so the cloudy sky was in the background. There are things I would do differently if I had the chance to take this shot again but I believe it is because of this photo that I got to know Berkeley’s mom.

Berkeley’s mom is Courtney and she is a dog trainer with Off Leash Dog Training. In November she hired me to take photos of Berkeley and her 2nd dog Bella, a pit mix. At the time, I was just getting started in the complex and difficult dog photography world. I’d discovered how hard dog photography was. I loved it but translating that into quality images was challenging. Getting the opportunity to photograph a dog trainer’s dogs was truly a gift. I was able to work on my craft with dogs that sat still. That is by no means a requirement for me to photograph your dogs but when I was new to dog photography, that was certainly a huge bonus.

Here are two of the better photographs from that first session.

Bella

Bella – of course, I fell in love with this dog.  Just look at those ears!

Bella, Mason & Berkeley

Courtney used this photo as her Christmas card last year.

I got a text from Courtney late winter/early spring that she was getting a puppy and she wanted me to photograph him once she got him. At this point I knew I was headed to Barkelona, the dog photography workshop so I scheduled the photo session for right after I got back. I knew I’d learn so much at the workshop, I wanted to be able to use that knowledge the 2nd time I did photos for her.

I met Fisher when he was just 8 weeks old.  Courtney commented that I seemed much more confident at the this  photo session and she was right, I was.

Fisher

This was one of the first photos I took of him at the session. When I looked at it on the back of the camera and showed Courtney, we both teared up!

 

Fisher

Seriously, how cute is this face?

golden retriever puppy

One of my favorite pictures of Fisher.

golden retriever puppy

Fisher and his frog legs.

Confession – choosing just a few photos here was hard! I actually have a sample photo album I show to clients and they are all of Fisher from this photo session! A couple of weeks after our photo session. I got together with Courtney to reveal all of the photos to her. At the end she looked at me and said, I want you to take photos of Bella and Berkeley again. I can see improvement in your work and I’d like more photos of them.

We scheduled our session the day after Berkeley was going to the salon. 🙂 What resulted were some of my favorite photos to date. There are still things that I would do differently if I got the chance to do this again. One of them would be to use a different lens. I’ve developed a love/hate (and actually more on the hate side) with my 24-70mm lens. Unfortunately when I got it, I was so new to photography I thought the problems I was having with it were my fault. Some of them probably were but after sending it back to the manufacturer for repairs because it wasn’t focusing accurately, I’ve recently gotten it back and it is still soft. It is the generic Tamron lens, not the Nikon and if I had to do it over again, I would definitely get the Nikon. I know other people that love this Tamron lens, I am not one of them.

Bella, Berkeley and Fisher

Another one of my favorite photos. There is something about a dog or 3 on this bridge that I love.

 

pit mix Bella

Bella – This photo required a ton of photoshop work because of the background. I learned a lot while editing this one.

 

Bella, Berkeley and Fisher

A dog trainer’s dogs posing perfectly while I got the shot. Well done dogs!

Australian Shepher

Berkeley’s mom might prefer the first photo in the blog post of Berkeley, this one is my favorite.

Courtney recently told me she is getting another dog…. yay me! I get to photograph another member of her family when that happens. I’m not sure where my photography business would be without Courtney, Bella, Berkeley and Fisher. I do know that I appreciate them more than you’ll ever know. Life is Good.

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Pet Photography Project 52 Week 30: Shadows

This week for our project 52 weekly challenge we are considering shadows in our images.  I feel like I say this every week with these challenges: there is an image in my head that I want to take but I can’t figure out how to get the shot. Most of you know that my full time job is walking dogs and when we are out walking I always notice the dogs’ shadows. For years I’ve taken cell phone pics trying to capture them but I just can’t get my angle right with the leash in one hand and my camera / phone in the other.  To make matters worse, I can’t take a one handed cell phone photo – I have not and probably will never master the selfie!

I have a photo on my phone of 2 dogs’ shadows painted on a brick wall that I took a long time ago. I just looked it up:  I took it on 2/25/16. I’ve had this image in my head for that long. That’s the photo I want to try and recreate but I can’t figure out how to get the dog’s shadow cast that high. I think it’s a physics thing and I didn’t do so well in physics in school.

You remember Moose, my crazy choc lab. Well, he is a very early riser. Our dogs get walked when we wake up and this week it’s been around 5:15am. (Our dogs get walked and then have breakfast as soon as we get up…. here in lies the problem and why Moose feels the needs to wake me up so early), his tummy is telling him it’s time to eat! This week while walking them that early, I’ve noticed their shadows. Moose casts a great shadow with his long ears and in the morning when it’s dark outside and the street lights are shining, the shadows are very dark. Hmmmm, I wonder if I can try one morning to take a picture of him in this kind of light? I’d have to walk him, feed him breakfast and then we’d have to go back out but after they get walked and fed then it is time for my coffee so this may not happen. (and it didn’t – ha!)

This week I made several attempts at getting a photo of Moose’s shadow. At one point he just stretched out on his side in the middle of the road – he was done with my camera and me! So these are the images I ended up with… one with him in focus and the other with his shadow in focus. I need a do over!

Moose's shadow shadows

This is a blog circle and next up is Pant the Town Dog Walking and Pet Photography in MA. Be sure to click the link at the end of each post and you’ll end up right back here.

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Pet Photography Project 52: week 29: Reflections

For anyone who is wondering… you are on the right site and this blog post is about reflections! I have a new logo and I’m in the process of making some tweaks to my website. 🙂 I wrote about that on my last post because I wasn’t planning on getting a new logo for See Spot Run so there is definitely a story behind the new one.

Back to week 29 and project 52. Some time ago, I took a few photos of dog I was walking because his ears were throwing these great shadows on the ground. (The dog’s ears are great!) I don’t love those images though so I wanted to try and recreate something similar for this week. However my attempts this week didn’t turn out so great either.

My first attempt was at midday and the sun was directly overhead so the shadow was pretty much directly under the dog. My 2nd attempt was around 7pm later that same day with my choc lab Moose (remember him?) Well it was a blazing 100° outside so we weren’t out for very long. Moose couldn’t figure out that I wanted him to stand still and we were both hot so I gave up after just a few attempts. Now that I’ve read the assignment for next week…. looks like I’ll be trying this again and I hope I have someone else who can hold the leash! That will help a lot!! BTW – now every time I get my camera out, Moose thinks he is either going for a walk or a ride in the car. He’s been used a lot lately as my model! Poor guy – he doesn’t get to go EVERY time. 🙂

While editing this photo from a session this week, I noticed the reflection in Murphy’s eyes. If you’re on your phone and can zoom in, you can see me, the white garage to the right and the trees behind us.

reflections

This is another one of those assignments that I’d like to try again. This is what I’d like to create: an image of a dog standing near water and seeing his reflection in the water. Next up in the blog circle is Cahlean of About A Dog Photography in St. Cloud MN.  See ya’ll next week!

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See Spot Run logo

I have a new See Spot Run logo!!!!! My website has just been updated and I think it definitely fits with See Spot Run. 🙂 I hadn’t planned on changing logos. I’ve been focused on creating BARKography’s new logo and website so here is how the new See Spot Run logo came to be.

A fellow BARKelonian (the dog photography workshop I attended in April) recommended a site to me: 99Designs.com. Essentially you can go on the site and create a contest and graphic artists from around the world will submit their logo ideas to you based upon a few documents that you complete. Initially I thought I wanted to use Moose as the muse but everything created using him looked like clip art to me.

I had over 200 designs submitted to me. I had a blast logging onto the site to see the new submissions for the 3 days my contest lasted. I narrowed my search down to three designs and two of them were by the same artist. When the ‘5 dog logo’ was submitted to me, I instantly loved it but it wasn’t at all what I had envisioned. After a few emails back and forth with the artist, he made a few changes and the BARKography logo was complete.

BARKography logo

However, I kept coming back to the other one he’d created. It was of a dog jumping…. or running. Then it clicked. See Spot Run. A dog running and that’s how I ended up with two new logos!

SeeSpotRunlogo

Btw, with 99Designs.com, you only pay a fee if you choose a logo. If your contest ends and you don’t choose a logo, you don’t pay anything. As I said earlier, I had a blast doing it and I ended up with 2 logos I love! What do you think?

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Frodo and Twig

To say I had a great time at this photo session with Frodo and Twig and their parents is an understatement. It all started with an email a few weeks ago from their dad who wanted to schedule a session with their 14 year old dog Frodo. He suggested a location that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. It’s about 30 minutes from my house and it was sooo worth the drive. I want to go back to this park soon and do some sunset photos. Anybody game?

Frodo’s mom and dad, Monica and Brent decided to bring along their rescued dingo, Twig. In these photos, Twig is on leash the entire time (and I edited it out through the magic of Photoshop. 🙂 ) We started the session on a road flanked by trees. It was just beautiful and actually a setting I have been wanting to find because it reminds me of a photo shoot we did in Spain. Reason #1 I can thank Monica and Brent for suggesting this park. It was perfect.

Frodo, the westie West Highland White Terrier Frodo Twig, Frodo and their dad

I find that I want to use the term “rock star” a lot after my photography sessions and I’m going to now. Frodo was a ROCK STAR. He’s 14 but you’d never know it! He had so much personality and energy, he’s a testament to the great care he gets from his mom and dad. They are both veterinarians. My focus for the session was to concentrate on the dogs but the photo above of the 3 of them just gets me ever time I see it. I love this photo.

We snapped a few photos at the old cabin. I’d love to go on the tour of this park and learn about its history. I would love the know this building’s story and know more about who spent time here.

photos at the cabin DSC_4183wm

These next photos might be my favorite from the day. I loved the trees (if you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know I have a love/hate relationship with trees.) I’ll say it again, I loved the trees. ha! The setting was just beautiful.

Frodo and his mom

By this time, Twig was fairly fired up by the other dogs and horses that were around. Yes, there are horses!! He was highly interested in them and wanted to go zooming around. He did and what do you know? Frodo got a burst of energy and started chasing Twig around. It was hilarious and I was able to capture their spontaneity.

Twig, the dingoFrodo chasing Twig

Which photo is your favorite? I love it when that’s a hard decision to make!

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Pet Photography Project 52, week 28: White Balance for Mood

For week 28 of our pet photography challenge, we are talking about white balance and specifically how we can play with it to create a different mood in our images. This is where being create comes into play and I just don’t feel like I am “there” yet with my photography. I spend all of my efforts trying to create a visually correct image and that includes trying to get the white balance correct.

White balance in an image is the process of creating correct color balance in a photo so whites are white. Creating correct color balance generally means the neutral tones in the scene are rendered neutral in the photograph, without a color cast. If you take cell phone photos (or photos with a camera for that matter), look at them now and answer this question: do the whites look white? Do they look pink, green, yellow or blue? If they do that’s common because getting the white balance correct is hard. I just scrolled through my cell phone pics and I learned 2 things: I don’t take very many cell phone photos and when I do, they are either yellow or pink.

color balance

correct color balance

cat in Olivella Spain

What color did I add when I adjusted the color balance here? Yellow!

magenta

This just looks wrong. I added magenta. I also have a monitor that has to be calibrated daily (ugh!) otherwise it has a pink hue to it. Needless to say, I am very anti-pink.

There are tools to use in Lightroom and Photoshop to adjust these but as my instructor Nicole Begley of Nicole Begley Photography said at Barkelona, just use a gray card before taking your shots. Then you’ll know you have the correct white balance. How many times do I forget to use my gray card….. ?? I won’t answer that. 🙂

So the above photos don’t work when I try to adjust the white balance and create a mood so I set out to do that. This is definitely outside of the box for me and outside of my comfort zone. I just don’t feel like I have the experience under my belt yet to be super creative with my photography but part of the reason I’m doing these challenges weekly is to step outside the box.

My first dilemma was this: should I keep the camera on auto white balance? Since my subject is a dog, if I adjust the white balance for the entire scene, the dog is going to end up blue, yellow, green or pink and I can’t think of a scenario when that works. Below I’ve used a photo with auto WB and then in Lightroom I adjusted for blue and yellow white balance.

white balance for mood

adjusted yellow color temperature and a few other color adjustments on the sky

Scooby

Correct auto white balance. The grass looks pretty yellow and it was. It’s been a hot summer and not a lot of rain.

blue auto white balance

I obviously adjusted the blue color temperature in this photo. Yikes….  no bueno

This is a blog circle to next up is Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay area . Keep clicking the link at the end of each post and you’ll end up right back here.

 

 

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Rain, wind and lightning

I hope everyone survived the storm on Friday night and that my fellow pet sitters didn’t get too wet from all the rain. That was one crazy storm. I had 3 dogs to see on while I was at Bandit’s house, the clouds got really dark and purple and it looked liked it could get bad. Luckily my timing was great and I made it to Scooby’s house (the 3rd dog) just as a few big drops of rain hit my car. And lucky for me, there is a carport at Scooby’s house that I could pull in. I don’t normally park in it but on Friday night I did!

I leashed Scooby up quickly and we went out into the front yard. When he was done doing his business, we sprinted back into the house because the rain was coming down in buckets. The wind was blowing around like crazy and it was lightning too.  We waited the storm out inside and then went for our walk after it passed. I didn’t realize it was as bad as it was but when I was doing my morning rounds on Saturday, I found this tree and several others that were going to require chain saws.  The other two trees I saw had even more damage but I didn’t stop the car and take photos…. I thought about it though! That was a lot of rain and wind! Below is Bandit, giving me his best smile!

golden doodle

damaged tree after storm

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