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Dog Photography in Charlotte NC

 

dog photography in Charlotte NC

Dog Photography is something I have grown to love. I started See Spot Run Dog Walking in 2009 and in 2016 I launched BARKography my dog photography company here in Charlotte. Here is a link to my dog photography website: BARKography.  I write at least one blog post / week on the site.  You can see some of my latest work there and read about my journey to become a dog photographer.

When I got my first camera, I knew next to nothing about dog photography. I actually didn’t even realize there was much to learn about photography. Early on I got really frustrated with myself and my camera. I didn’t understand why my photos weren’t any good and why they were frequently blurry. For those of you who try to take photos of your moving dogs with your phone, you know it’s hard. If they’re sitting still it’s easier (still hard but easier) but when they’re moving, it’s almost impossible to get a cell phone photo.

local dog photography

This is the image description

Fast forward to today and I am in love with dog photography. I love my camera. I love learning new things about photography and I love trying out new lenses. For my birthday, I got a lens that allows me to take really close up shots that are super sharp and clear. I love those types of photos: close ups of their eyes or their fur. I feel like I can see my dog’s soul through his eyes. I know I’ll cherish the photos that I’m taking of them forever.

I think cell phone photos are great. They’re great for capturing the moment but if you want to ever print out your photos, your cell phone photos aren’t going to look very nice. I’m a big advocate for printing your photos. Even before I got into photography, I’d print my photos. I have a zillion photos of my first 2 dogs Sam and Sloan but none of them are very good. I’m so glad that the photos I have of Willow and Moose are nice quality, printable photos.

I saw a stat recently that 20-30 year olds are the most photographed generation ever but their kids and grandkids won’t ever see photos of them in their younger years because all the photos are cell phone shots – the ones people never print.  There’s a hashtag #printyourphotos (I’m not making that up!)

If you’d like photos of your dog, contact me. Don’t wait. Time goes by too fast and you don’t want to have any regrets about not having decent photos of your furry kids.

local dog photographer

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Do Dogs Remember Each Other?

I’d love to know if dogs remember each other. I did a BARKography photo session earlier this week with Baxter, a dog that used to live in Charlotte and now he lives in Florida. I was introduced to Baxter and his family through my neighbor Tiffany. I’d done a photo session with Tiffany’s dog Jack and when Baxter’s parents saw the photos, they wanted to have a session with Baxter and they wanted to have photos of the 2 dogs together. The dogs used to play together all the time when they both lived in Charlotte.

I did an early morning session with just Baxter and later that day, I met up with Baxter at the Mint Museum and Jack joined us there. Seeing the two of them run around and play was a lot of fun.

do dogs remember each other

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then and I wonder, do dogs remember each other? I have no scientific reasoning behind this but I think they do.

I know there are studies about a dog’s memory and many say dogs don’t remember things but I tend to question that. I think they remember certain things or events. When we rescued our black lab Buddy, he cowered if you lifted your hand over his head. I feel pretty certain he’d been hit in the past – he had to remember that and seeing a hand raised over his head made him remember being hit in the past, right? I can tell you over the last 6 years of his life, he was never hit again.

When Baxter and Jack saw each other, the first thing they did was sniff each other. There were a few other dogs around so they sniffed them all too but then they ran around together and played. I even captured a quick pic of Baxter giving Jack a little lick on his nose.

BARKography dog photography

I do think dogs remember each other. Perhaps it has something to do with their sense of smell. Perhaps they remember the dog’s scent. Seeing Baxter and Jack together was really sweet. I’m so glad I was there to witness it.

If you want to see more photos of Baxter, head over to my BARKography blog where I wrote a post about our time together.

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Project 52: week 29: Backlight

First of all, my apologies to the other photographers for my late entry into our project 52 challenge. I’ve had an exciting couple of days and I have been distracted. I was really excited when I saw the challenge for this week because I love images with backlight. I had the pleasure of working with Charlotte Reeves of Charlotte Reeves Photography when I was in Spain in April at Barkelona. She is famous for the way she backlights her subjects so I got to learn from the best. However learning and then actually doing proved to be 2 different things. 🙂

backlight

I was impressed with Moose on this early morning. He was watching the geese in the lake. He wanted to go after them but he sat and watched them instead. (His handler and leash and been edited out of the photo. ) I would prefer a different composition for this – I don’t love Moose in the center of the frame but I love the bench and tree on the right and cropping the left side of the photo out didn’t seem to work either so he is in the middle of the frame. Once again…. another learning opportunity and another reason why I love photography. I am always and will forever be learning.

Here is the story of my shots for this week.

I’ve been working on getting a new logo made for BARKography. My thought was to try and use my lab Moose (you know…. the crazy one) as the model for my logo. My goal was to use him in these backlighting shots and also create an image to use for my logo. I had been texting with a friend about this and she offered to help me with crazy Moose…. get this, at sunrise! She is a good friend.

backlighting

In this image, we were trying for a profile shot of Moose that I might be able to use in a logo. The shot works okay for that purpose but I struggled with the tint here… That tint slider and I have a love/hate relationship. 😉

We met at Freedom Park which is a nice park, with a large lake and stone bridge. I have an app that helps me see where the sun is going to rise, it gives you the golden hour times (the app is The Photographer’s Emphemeris) so I felt pretty prepared.  The app is fairly complicated (to me anyway) and what it would’ve told me but I failed to do was check the elevation. It will determine elevation and the surrounding terrain and factor that in and I skipped that step. If you’ve been to Charlotte NC before, there are lots of tree.  Lots. Of. Trees. Said trees were interfering with my sunrise shots.

backlight

This was my vision going into this photoshoot. Moose with the lake and sun rising behind him. However, exposing for this was a challenge. The sky and lake are blown out… boo!

backlight

This was one of the last shots of the day so the sun was higher in the sky… hence the blown out sky.

My biggest takeaway from the weekend was to assess the location and work with what it is giving me. I’d gone into the session thinking that I could take photos of Moose with the lake in the background and the backlight behind him which was perfect because the sun was rising behind the lake. What I didn’t learn until after the session was that all that water and sky behind my dark brown dog was tricky at best to get the proper exposure.

This is a blog circle. Click the link at the bottom of each post and you’ll end up right back here. I can’t wait to see the other’s photographs using backlighting. Next up is St. Cloud based & serving central Minnesota, About A Dog Photography.

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Pet Photography Project 52: Week 23 Learn to Sketch

Week 23 of our project 52 challenge has the title Learn to Sketch. When I read this, I really didn’t know what to expect and then the first paragraph states: “The idea that this craft is easy gets unfairly promoted from all kinds of corners, not the least of which are the camera companies themselves. But it’s not easy. No new camera will help you ‘shoot like a pro…’ ”

This resonates with me on so many levels. I was guilty of thinking this way. A year and a half ago when I bought my first professional camera, I thought I’d buy the camera and boom, I’d be a professional dog photographer. Wow, was I wrong. I had no idea there was so much to learn and I know I need to do a better job of educating others about everything that goes into creating an image that has an impact on its viewer. It is hard. It is frustrating. It is expensive. It is time consuming. It is amazing. It is worth it. It is gratifying. It is humbling.

I truly love it.

If it wasn’t hard, everyone could do it and everyone’s photos would be great.

Back to Learning to Sketch. In our book The Visual Toolbox by David Duchemin, he says and I am paraphrasing: Because we so often see only the final work of the photographers we respect, I think we miss what would be an otherwise eye-opening chance to see their process.  One that he likens to ‘sketching.’ He says painters sketch out their images and many even have a process that often involves scraping the canvas clean and starting again. He says as a creative person, you have to be open to not getting it right the first time.  You have to be open to playing and to experimenting. He looks at his failed images as rough drafts and he says he makes hundreds of them.

Here is a true story: an amazing photographer whose work I admire so much posted several images recently. I was with her when she took some of them and my images don’t look like hers. Her photography skills are certainly better than mine as are her editing skills. I responded to her post by saying: “I mean this in the highest form of flattery but I envy your talent so much it hurts.” I want to be that good.

Duhcemin says he keeps his old images and looks back on them and sometimes they take him to new places. They remind him not to get discouraged because they might lead him to the heart of what he’s trying to create. The first sentence in our assignment instructions this week: ‘Stop being so hard on yourself.’ Ha! If he only knew how close to home that hits. Well timed sir, well timed! 🙂

So I decided to take a look back on some older images of mine. The next two photos are ones I took after having my camera for about 2 weeks. I had no idea what I was doing. For the photogs reading this, I was in Aperture priority (ha! that’s a miracle! I now shoot in manual but I half expected to find I’d been in automatic mode.) My settings were f/5, 1/80 and ISO 1000. Typing that makes me laugh. None of those settings make sense at all and at least now I know that. I have made progress, hopefully a lot of progress since Aug 2014.

sketch

My heart dog Buddy, photo taken 8/27/04. SOOC

sketch

After looking at this photo again now in June 2016, here are my edits. I know I will continue to improve in all areas of my photography but this is certainly better than the edits I made in 2014!

Back to the challenge this week, to me, this comes down to editing. If you don’t get the shot right in the camera, some times there are things that can be done in post processing that will make a photo heaps better. For example if you underexpose the shot because you didn’t have a change to change your settings because your subject was moving around, things can be done in post processing to fix this. (I am not at all implying that photographers should rely solely on their post processing to “fix” their images.) Because I feel as though my editing skills are really lacking, I try really hard to get the shot right in the camera. I don’t know LR and PS well enough to try and adjust the colors too much. If I do play around with them, inevitably I end up with a green cast on the dog or some sort of result that I don’t want.

Here are two images from a photo session I had this past week. I love images that have a lot of bokeh in the background. In this image, as much as I wished that were the case in the background here, it wasn’t happening. I’m posting the final version first (but I can’t guarantee I won’t tweak it some more) and then one of my attempts at working on the background.  My very first attempt at editing involved trying to mirror the left side of the image on the right side. I was trying to get rid of the green leaves because I prefer the background on the left side of the photo. That attempt did not work at all. Just like a painter, I started over and over on this image several times.  My next attempt I tried mirroring the right side on the left side. (see below.) After spending more time that I should admit (it was hours), I went back to the original background. Perhaps next time, I will remember to really look at my background and consider re-framing it when I am composing the shot. Perhaps this will be one of those shots that Mr. Duchemin is talking about when he says that hours, months or even years later he’ll go back to one and consider it again.  Perhaps I’ll decide that the original is just fine. But if I am being honest, all I was worried about at the time was I had 3 dogs holding a stay in front of me and I needed to take their picture!

sketch

Berkeley, Fisher and Bella

sketch

Berkeley, Fisher and Bella. A photographer’s dream…. photographing a dog trainer’s dogs. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Next up in the blog circle is Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area.  Be sure to click the link at the bottom of each post and you’ll end up right back here again!

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Barkelona Day 2: Photo Session with Pruna and Boira

Every time I go to write a post about my photo sessions in Spain, I think “this photo session I’m writing about resulted in some of my favorite images.” I guess I am lucky that way in that I probably have one image from each session that I can call a favorite. These two dogs Boira and Pruna definitely fall into this category. Pruna is a year old Spanish Water Dog and Boira was all puppy! She is a 5 month old Portuguese Water dog. Pruna had just gotten a haircut. Apparently her hair can look a lot like Boira’s when it is long. This was my first time meeting a Spanish Water Dog and she was beautiful!

Portuguese Water Dog

One of my favorite photos from my time at Barkelona. This is Boira.

Pruna

Look at this field and those flowers surrounding Pruna. I love it!

Pruna

Pruna – beautiful dog in a beautiful setting

I really want to get a huge wall art piece of that photo of Boira. (and that is why these photos are LARGE.  I didn’t resize them as I usually do.) As a photographer, I take photos and I do have my favorites. That has nothing to do with the dog itself or even how the dog looks, it has to do with my ability as a photographer. I hope that makes sense. This image of Boira is one of those. I never really knew I was drawn to the color yellow but in photography, I am. It’s been over a month now that I’ve been home from Spain and every time I see this photo of Boira, I still love it. I hope that feeling never goes away. I do look at the image and I can see things that aren’t technically correct with it but I still love it and hey, I’m the photographer so that is my right! 🙂

 

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Barkelona Day 2, Photo Shoot with Sasha

If you’ve read my previous posts about my day 2 photo shoots at Barkelona, you’ve met Taila, Pepa, Teo, Forca and now let me introduce Sasha. Sasha is a 4 month old Samoyed. After this photo session with her, I knew one of my goals when I got home was to try and find a setting similar to this so I could recreate this first photo of her with my dogs and my client’s dogs.  I love the dirt path that leads to her and the canopy of trees framing her, and the sun coming through the trees above her.

I believe I have found a location in Charlotte to recreate something similar this photo. Unfortunately it isn’t super close to where I live (so I am on the hunt for a similar location closer) but I hope to get my dog Moose up to this location soon and once I do, I will post the photos and we can compare them. Eeeeee 🙂

Back to Sasha.

She was such a great model and if my memory serves me correctly, I believe I told the others in the group at the time, I knew these would be photos I would love. I’m having a difficult time editing this first one.  The setting is beautiful but it is requiring some photoshop trickery and I’ve not quite mastered it yet.  I’m sure I’ll continue to play with this photo… I’m curious to see what I might do to it next time.  Again, if you’ve read my previous posts you know I was searching to create my style. These are getting closer to it, particularly the 2nd photo.

Samoyed Sasha

 

Sasha Samoyed puppy

We changed locations and the lighting was gorgeous. In the next set of photos, Sasha was backlit but the setting sun. The photos I took during this time are quite different from the earlier ones of Sasha because of the lighting.  Which do you prefer?

Sasha

I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos of Sasha.  We had one more set of dogs we photographed on day 2.  You’ll meet Pruna and Boira in my next Barkelona blog post and there were a couple of photos from that session that I stood out to me too. 🙂 Be sure to check back!

 

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Project 52 Week 19: Patterns

This week we are continuing our study of lines and specifically patterns this week. In our workbook, this phrase in particular stood out to me: “The stronger the pattern, the stronger the expectation that the pattern will continue to repeat, and when it doesn’t, that contrast has great visual mass and will captivate our attention.” When I was in Spain, one of the photographers took several amazing photos of a dog standing in between some stone columns. That visual is exactly what comes to mind when I read about this exercise. I am hoping she will participate this week and use that photo (I may have hinted to her that she needs too!)  It is one of my favorite photos that anyone of us took in Spain.

In our workbook for this week, one of the photos used as an example was taken in Africa on a safari. It was a landscape image with antelope and a Land Rover creating a pattern with eye being drawn to the antelope. My take on this week’s assignment is similar since I couldn’t find any stone columns and a dog that would hold a sit/stay for me. 🙁

Let me set the stage.

I was pet sitting with this cutie Millie and her canine sister Sadie. Millie was rescued as a puppy from a bad breeding situation and now 5 years later to say her life is better is an understatement. Just look at this yard AND her frequent guests that keep her (and me!) entertained.

I’d grabbed my camera before heading over to her house knowing that I was loosing light quickly. I wish I would’ve had my long lens but I didn’t so I made do with my 24-70. I cranked up my ISO and was at f/8 to try and capture the entire scene in focus. To say Millie is a ball of energy is an understatement. If you sit down or crouch down (to take a photo), you need to know where Millie is because she will be on you in a heartbeat and loves to smother you in as many kisses as she can. She may hold the record for most kisses given in under a minute! I am not kidding!!  In low light at f/8 and a high ISO, if Millie moved at all, she wasn’t going to be sharp. In the first image she isn’t but I’ve included it because this was my first indication that something was going on….

This was mine and Millie’s view last night. And yes, my view of Millie was pretty much of her hind end the entire time!

patterns

Where’s Millie? You might be able to see her in the grass near the fence but she is hard to make out! I couldn’t see what she was looking at but I knew she was watching something!

patterns

Now I see and they spy each other too

patterns

I see you! I see you too!!

boston terrier

Pretty much my view of Millie all night!

This is a blog circle so next up is Northeast PA Pet Photographer, Elaine Tweedy.  Be sure to click the link at the bottom of each post to see each photographer’s interpretation on this week’s assignment.

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Project 52 – week 16: Try it in Black & White

For week 16 of Project 52, Try it in Black & White, I am in Spain!!!  I found out last year about a dog photography workshop called ‘Barkelona’ to be held just outside of Barcelona and I am here.  It is amazing – truly a pinch myself moment.   I don’t have the words to describe how beautiful it is and literally as I’m typing this the church bells in the village of Olivella which is just below our villa have started to ring.  Today, it is my heaven.

I am here with 14 other ladies from all over the world (America, England, Ireland and Australia) and the 3 instructors for the event:  Kaylee Greer of Dog Breath Photography,  (the color inspiration is for Kaylee and if this doesn’t make sense, go to her page and read her bio), Charlotte of Charlotte Reeves Photography  and Nicole of Nicole Begley Photography.   A Barcelona based trainer Ingrid Ramon is staying here with us too AND she brought her dogs, Edna a rottie and Blat a yellow lab.  (Blat means wheat in Spanish.)   Ingrid has lined up all of the dogs that we’ll be photographing over the next several days.  It’s going to be a jammed packed, exciting, memorable time!

The village in Olivella is gorgeous.  The stone work, the old buildings, the wildflowers and the surrounding hills are a perfect setting for photographing.  We photographed 3 different sets of dogs last night.  One of the dogs we photographed was a puppy named Luc.  Since the theme for this week is try it in black & white, I thought Luc and his story would be appropriate for black & white photos.

Luc is a Galgo or Spanish Greyhound.  I learned about these dogs and the breed’s history during my stay in Spain.  My heart broke when I learned more about these dogs’ plight. For reasons I cannot understand, this breed originally brought to Spain by noblemen and held in high esteem, is now deemed worthless.  They are used for hunting hare each season and then as part of the tradition, they are killed after the hunt.  I couldn’t bear to hear about their history and the torture they endure.

There are rescue groups across the world involved in improving the outlook for these dogs. We were fortunate and thrilled to meet Luc and his brother Ovi who were recently adopted. Yay for them!!

black & white of Luc

 

Spanish Galgo in black & white

I didn’t really get to know Luc but I believe this last photo probably sums him up.  Just look at those bright eyes, nun ears and silly grin!  Good for you Luc.  Enjoy your life sweet pup!

Next up in the blog circle is Little White Dog Pet Photography – Sioux Falls, SD   Be sure to click the link at the bottom of each post and you’ll end up here when you are done.

PS  If you’d like to see these two images in color, look at my blog post dated 4/21/16!

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Spanish Galgo

My next several blog posts will be from my time in Spain.  For those of you who might not know, I found out about a dog photography workshop last year that was going to be held just outside of Barcelona.  It was appropriately named ‘Barkelona!’

I have a lot of photos to share including (believe it or not) some that don’t include dogs!  ha!  However, I feel like I need to start by sharing a story about two dogs Luc and Ovi that we met during our first photo shoot.

Galgo puppy

Luc, a Spanish Galgo rescued and adopted from a local shelter

I’d not heard of this breed prior to this trip.  They are Galgos or Spanish Greyhounds.  Here is some information I found on them on vetstreet.com for anyone looking to learn more about the breed or considering adoption.  They have a serious, reserved temperament and can be shy in the presence of people they doesn’t know. They are  affectionate toward his family and gentle with young children.  In the home, they are quiet, but when they are hunting they turn into a lively, energetic dog.

A height of 24 to 27.5 inches gives him easy access to kitchen counters, so don’t leave food out where he can get to it. He will have no qualms about stealing it.  Give a Spanish Greyhound regular exercise to keep him conditioned. He’s an ace competitor in lure coursing, a sport that involves chasing a mechanically operated artificial lure.

Galgo Espanols respond well to positive reinforcement techniques, especially food rewards. If you are firm, fair, and provide the right motivation, they learn quickly and easily. If you don’t, well, this is a big dog that can do a lot of damage untrained and left to his own devices.  Looking for a dog with an easy-care coat? The Spanish Greyhound has you covered. Weekly brushing of his smooth, shorthaired coat (the majority of Galgos have a smooth coat) and regular nail trimming and ear cleaning are all he needs to stay clean and in good condition.  The Galgo Español loves his family and should live indoors with them, preferably with access to furniture or soft bedding.  I love this last part:  gotta love someone who recommends letting the dog on the furniture. 🙂

Unfortunately, most of these dogs in Spain are considered worthless and are treated horribly and tortured to death.  If you want to google them and read more about them, please proceed with caution. Their story is unfathomable.  Rescue groups from across the world have stepped in and are trying to change the plight of these dogs.

During our first photo session, we photographed Luc and Ovi, two puppies that were rescued when their pregnant mother was taken to a shelter.  They were all puppy and they will live out their lives knowing what human love and affection is.  Yay for Luc and Ovi!!  Did I mention that they were puppies??  That has something to do with the fact that I’m only posting photos of Luc! 🙂 🙂

close up of galgo Luc

Just look at Luc’s smile!

#barkelona

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Project 52: Week 15: Exploring Color Contrast

This week for our Project 52 challenge, we are exploring color contrast. Just as last week, I like this challenge. I like exploring colors and thinking about colors as I am photographing my subjects and as I’m editing my photos. In doing some additional research on color contrast, I ran across this statement from the about.com site: “Colors don’t have to be direct opposites or have a set amount of separation to be considered contrasting or complementary.” It also goes on to say, “The more transitional colors separating two colors, the greater the contrast. For example, magenta and orange is not as high contrast a pair as magenta and yellow or magenta and green. Colors that are directly opposite from one another are said to clash — although this clashing or high contrast is not necessarily a bad thing. Some of these high contrast, complementary, clashing colors are quite pleasing.”

When I initially looked at the challenge, I assumed each color would only have one contrasting color because I thought that contrasting colors had to be exact opposites such as green/magenta or purple/yellow. However I learned that a single color can have several contrasting colors. This is yet another reason why I love doing these weekly challenges. I learn new stuff all the time and it isn’t just about my camera and composition.  AND all of this learning once again makes me wish I would’ve taken up photography earlier in life! 🙂

The images that I chose don’t have the greatest amount of contrast but given the green backgrounds, there is definitely some contrast with the first image having the most since it is a green background and as close as I could get to a magenta dog!

color contrast

 

color contrast

color contrast

color contrast

Next up in the blog circle is Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area. Click the link at the bottom of each post and you’ll end up right back here.  Be sure to check back next week too as I hope to have some really exciting, out of this world photos to post!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

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