Thursday, February 3, 2011

Photo of the Week (POW) - February 3, 2011

I had a ruff time thinking about this week's POW and it's pawsitively gone to the dogs.

I like to call this the Poodle Model Photoshoot. Sadie (black poodle) belongs to Margot and I, while Tessa (lightest) and Buffy (middle) belongs to our friend Debbie. Tessa is Buffy's mom. Sadie and Buffy have been friends since they were puppies.

We shot this on October 13, 2008 at Bruce's Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville, our absolute favourite place for fall walks. They have a mature forest so the trees are ablaze with colour during the autumn season.  The photo I took of Mel and Mackenzie was also taken here. It's my secret spot. I guess not so secret anymore...
Tessa, Buffy and Sadie, all miniature poodles.
Nikon D80 with 80-200mm F/2.8 with 1 SB-800 flash to
camera left above the dogs' head.
I'm going to get a bit more technical in my description of this photoshoot so if your eyes start to glaze over, I won't be offended if you skip to the next paragraph where I go back to talking about doggies.

(More after the jump)

I exposed for the ambient light and used an SB-800 flash in remote mode as the key light. The backlighting was the sun shining through a break in the trees. Black animals are notoriously hard to photograph as their fur is like a black hole that doesn't allow light to escape. As such I would've preferred having Tessa and Sadie trade places so Sadie would be closer to the flash but when working with animals (even trained ones), you often only get one chance and I'm still happy with the outcome. Putting Sadie closer to the flash would've lit her up more allowing more details to show. Tessa being light-coloured would've shown up fine away from the flash. The farther away you get from the light source, the lower the light intensity. This is the same idea as when you take a photo in a dark room, the person closest to the flash is often washed out (too white) and the people at the back are too dark.

Have you heard the saying, "it's like herding cats?" As it turns out, it's not much different with dogs! But having excellently trained and obedient dogs makes a big difference. We put the girls in a sit-stay and Margot was just out of the frame to the left holding the flash. Then I told the poodle models to "work it" and give me some sass and they delivered!

The girls depsite being models, had a fun time running around playing tag, tumbling in the dirt and chasing sticks. Debbie, Margot and myself got some exercise and we got to take home lots of great shots. A perfect outing if you ask me!

Buffy and Sadie took "Puppy Kindergarten" together at Canine Campus in 2007 and continued all the way to "Rally Obedience 2" in 2009. Lucinda Glenny, the owner and principal trainer is amazing and if you listen to her and practice, your dog will be well trained and obedient. Actually if you know anything about dog training, it's the people that need to learn not the dogs. Under Lucinda's tutelage, Sadie was able to achieve her Canine Good Neighbour (CGN) certification and also earned her Rally Novice (RN) title (Magna Cum Laude),  in rally obedience both on the first try! Notwithstanding, Buffy and Debbie also have their CGN, CKC RA (Canadian Kennel Club Rally Advanced) and CRAMCL (CARO Rally Advanced Magna Cum Laude) and Tessa is Therapy Dog with St. John's Ambulance. Debbie and Tessa visit a nursing home every Sunday where she makes a big difference in the quality of her patients' lives. Debbie remarks, "I never thought she'd make such an impact, but she really does." (Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Lucinda nor Canine Campus -- I'm just a happy customer with a smart and happy dog.)

Sadie and Tessa's first puppy class at Canine Campus.
Sadie is the crazy little black puppy running around.
I wanted to leave a couple takeaways:
  1. You don't need a huge bag of equipment to take great shots. Here I only used my camera and flash.
  2. You can use any opportunity, no matter how mundane (like walking your dog) to take great shots. The only limitation is your imagination.
So get out there and shoot.

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