⇒Please click on the title of each post to open up the whole post with the photos.
August 12, 2019
This is a continuation of last week’s blog on using Snapseed to make your pet photos better. If you didn’t read last week’s, here is a link: https://stephaniesabourinphotography.com/2019/08/02/how-to-use-snapseed-to-make-your-photos-better/ The tools I discussed last week are my most used tools. This week I will discuss some of the other tools available. Have you ever been so caught up in a moment that you ended up taking a crooked photo? The Rotate tool is perfect to fix a horizon line that is not straight. All you need to do is use your finger to move the photo to the position where it looks best to you. You could also use this tool to flip your photo horizontally. Perspective is not a tool I use for pet photographs, but you might find it useful when photographing buildings. Have you ever photographed buildings or trees and they look closer together at the top than at the bottom? If you want to fix that, this tool will do it. You can touch any one of the four corners and push them in or pull them out to get things better lined up so that they are parallel and straight from top to bottom. If your picture is smaller than the original size, the fill mode will do its best to supply a background that matches the rest, sometimes more successfully than others. The Expand tool allows you to make your photo larger to fit a certain format. In this photo of a deer, the original was a square, but using expand I made it into a rectangle. The app fills in the new area with background like you already have, and again this works best in simpler photos like this one. One good use for this is to give a pet some extra space to run into or look into visually in a photo. The Selective tool allows you to brighten or darken one area without making adjustments to the whole photo. You might choose to add a little brightness to an area in shadows or a dark dog’s face. Just go easy to keep it looking natural. The Brush tool is another way to lighten or darken certain areas of your picture. You can control how much you want to lighten or darken with the exposure brush or the dodge and burn brush. I find the dodge and burn brush more harsh than the exposure brush. You can also move the brush back to zero and erase areas where you have made a mistake in over brightening or darkening. Also in this tool is a Saturation brush. You can use it to selectively intensify or bleach out a color. Look how much more orange this deer looks after using the saturation brush. Now I would not use it this way, but sometimes I do to either give a flower a little more pop or to tone down a too bright collar. The Healing tool allows you to remove small objects from your picture. Sometimes it works great and sometimes it is a disaster! In this picture below, I chose healing and then used my finger to highlight the grey gravel road, and, voila, the road has disappeared. If you have something annoying in a photo, like a piece of trash or a cup on a table, etc, then this tool may be able to solve your problems. The HDRscape tool is designed to increase saturation and contrast. It can look good or really fake. Thankfully there is a slider so that you can control how much you want. It also has different applications for people of landscapes. Here I put the HDR slider to 100% just so you could see the difference it made in the photo. It is too much. I am just going to highlight a couple of other rolls at use. I sometimes use Vignette to darken the edges of the photo to draw attention to the center. Below I did it to extreme just so you can see what it can do, but normally I use it just a touch, almost unnoticeably, to just help direct the viewer’s eye. I like the Frame tool to give a photo a finished look or to help set it off from the background. There are a number of choices available. Here is the deer with a subtle vignette and a frame. Those are the tools I use. There are a few more that you can play with and see if they match your style. Have fun experimenting and remember to ask me any questions you have. I can go into more details if you struggle on any tool.
August 2, 2019
Part 1 As I said last week in this blog (https://stephaniesabourinphotography.com/2019/07/26/10-tips-for-taking-better-photos-of-your-pet/) Snapseed is a free app that you can get for iPhone or android devices that is the best app photo editing software I have found (I get nothing for endorsing this software. I just like it). I want to share with you some tips on how to use Snapseed to make your photos better. When you open the app, you will have the opportunity to open a photo from your phone. Once you select one to open, you will see some options along the side.The rainbow icon is a link to different filters. The pencil icon is a link to different tools, and the square with an arrow up is for saving or exporting the photo after you finish. I am not one for filters, but you can open them and play if you like. I am going to explain the tools. When you click on the pencil icon, a new panel pops up. You will see many options. I always start with Tune Image. When you click on that, you will get options for a number of sliders: Brightness will control the overall exposure. It makes everything brighter or everything darker. You can start there if your image is too dark or too light. Contrast controls how much difference there is between the dark tones and light tones. Increasing contrast adds more drama to an image and often more power to colors, but it can make your lights too light or your darks too dark, so proceed with caution. If you make an adjustment and don’t like it, you can undo it and try something else. Saturation controls the intensity of the colors. Too many people overdo saturation and end up with a very fake looking photo. Again, proceed with caution. Ambiance is similar to contrast and controls the balance of light. Slide it to the extremes and you will be able to see what it is doing. I almost never use it because I can get what I want with the other sliders. Highlights controls how bright the brightest tones are in the photo. If you have an area that is too bright, too white, bring down the highlights. Shadows controls the darkest tones. If you are losing details in some of the darkest areas, try bringing up the shadows. Warmth controls how yellow or blue a photo looks. Move the slider left if it is too yellow or to the right if it is too blue. That covers the tools panel. This can make a huge difference in your photos. tools panel showing all icons The next icon is details. You can use this to bring out the texture of fur or to make a picture a bit sharper. Be careful about using this on people as it can accentuate wrinkles and large pores. Unlike Lightroom and Photoshop, you don’t have choices what to sharpen and what not to in Snapseed. Next to that is curves. What I like about this tool for is using it to change midtones- areas that aren’t very light or very dark. By moving the center of line on the graph up or down, you can brighten or darken these tones. There are presets for this function that you can try and experiment to find what looks good to you. White balance controls how yellow or blue your picture looks. On phones this is normally automatically set and generally the phones do a pretty good job with it, but you might get a really blue looking picture when in the shadows and this tool can help with that. The crop tool changes your photo size and has a number of presets or you can choose free to make it a unique size. If you are using Instagram, most experts recommend using 4×3 in the vertical position rather than a square. Why? This takes up all the space on a phone screen or tablet screen normally so if someone is scrolling through their feed, they will spend slightly longer on your photo. For me, I hate make decisions on a photo based on this factor alone, but I will sometimes re-crop an image to fit Instagram. My photo cropped in closer in the 4×3 format. The rotate tool is very useful if like me you sometimes grab a shot quickly and realize when you look at it that the horizon is slanted! This tool will help you to get that horizon line straight very quickly! These are the primary tools I use. The next blog I will explain the rest. You might wonder why I would want to help you take better photos when I am a photographer who wants your business :). There are two reasons: 1) I want everyone to have the best photos possible of their pets 2) I offer a service that goes beyond just taking a quick shot and making it better. When you hire me for a session, we meet to talk about what you need and want. At the session you can choose to be part of the photos are not and I have lots of tricks for getting the attention of dogs, even when owners have trouble. We have fun and I take the pressure off you. Then afterwards, after the photos have been edited, I meet with you to select the best images for what you want, whether it be wall art or an album or something else. I have knowledge of wall groupings and can help you see what something would look like on your walls before you buy, and I have the tools to make all this happen. So I think there is a place for both good cell phone shots and professional photography 🙂
July 26, 2019
Most cell phones these days can take pretty good photos of your pets, but there are some things you can do that can help you to get better photos. Here are a few suggestions. I had to go way back to find cell photos to share for this post because I pretty much always use my Canon camera these days, but here goes. 1. Think about where the light is, especially if your pet has dark eyes. Pets look more lively in photos if some of the light is reflected in their eyes. Face your pet towards the sun or a bight light source inside in order to make that happen. Try to avoid the cell phone flash as it does strange things to pet eyes and gives an unnatural look. It is hard to get my girls eyes to show, but by facing her toward the light they show up better. 2. Along those lines, try to keep hair around the eyes trimmed up a bit so more light can reach them. Taking a few moments to brush the hair away or trim a bit can make a big difference. 3. Get down to their eye level. Providing a different point of view will make your photos more interesting, and we don’t often view our pets from that angle. 4. Or try a photo from straight above with them looking up at you, which emphasizes their heads. The distortion caused by a camera causes the head to look too big for the body which can make a fun photo. This guy’s head looks out of portion for his body from this angle, but that is what makes it cute, 5. Think about what is in the background. Nothing ruins a good photo as much a cluttered background. Look for trees, grass, the side of a building, sky, something pretty. Along those lines, if you know you want to take photos, declutter the yard or room you are taking photos in. Look around and plan well. There are too many distractions in this photo, though I love the expression on my little nail file thief. 6. Use treats to motivate your pet. If you have their favorite treat, they are more likely to pay attention and look at you. Use small pieces so the pet doesn’t get filled up too fast. 7. Think about what your pet loves best and plan to take photos when your pet is relaxed and doing some of those activities. These photos will capture your pet’s personality and memories. 8. Think about your pet’s energy level at different times of the day. You don’t want to take photos when they are sleepy unless that is what you want to capture. You also don’t want to try to take pictures when all they want to do is play, unless you are videoing or you know how to take pictures at high shutter speeds to stop motion. You also don’t want a pet who is heavily panting with the tongue way out. Ideally, your pet would have had some exercise earlier, had some time to rest and will be ready for some activity with out being overly excited. 9. Think twice about props. Some pets don’t mind a hat or sunglasses, but other pets hate them. Don’t try to force a pet to wear these items if your pet hates them. Your pet will look miserable in the photo if you force the issue. Just look at the stink eye I am getting in this photo! 10. Use free photo editing apps such as my favorite Snapseed. I will do a separate tutorial on using this app soon, but it can make a world of difference. There are filters if they are your thing, but I don’t use them. What I do like is the ability to take a cell phone shot, adjust the exposure level, brighten shadows, bring down spots that are too light, change the warmth, even remove some distractions. It isn’t photoshop, but it is a really good and free program that is fairly easy to use and will definitely improve the look of your photos. I hope that helps you to take some better photos. If you have some specific questions, please ask and I will do my best to help you.
July 20, 2019
These days people often ask for digital images instead of prints. There are a number of reasons why someone might do this. One of the most common reasons is a desire to share images with friends or family. Others think digitals should be cheaper and they are all about saving money. Finally, a few people want them as back-up in case anything happens. So why do I prefer prints and do I offer digitals? 1. Digital technology is constantly changing I have been using computers a long time. We have moved from floppy disks to CDs to USB drives. Who knows what will be next. My newest laptop does not have a CD drive. Those images I saved on floppy disks and CDs of my previous dog are no longer accessible; the prints I have are. 2. Digital technology can fail CDs get scratched, USBs get viruses or files get corrupted. Just having a digital image is no guarantee that you will be able to access it even a month from now. 3. Digital images often are stored unseen These images often sit in drawers or computer memories, unenjoyed and soon forgotten. 4. Prints last Have you ever been to an antique store and seen boxes of old photos or photo albums? The images, some 100 years old or more, still look good. They can still be enjoyed in modern times. Sometimes low tech is better. 5. Consumer printing options are not as good Perhaps you are reading this and thinking, yeah, but I plan to get my images printed. The problem is the quality of consumer labs is lower than the quality of professional printing labs. One photographer told me that she gave some digital images she had taken of a family member to that person to print; time passed and the person didn’t say much about the images and didn’t ask the photographer to take photos again, and the photographer was a bit hurt. She later learned that the family member had taken the digitals to a local store to get printed and they all came out with a bluish tint. The family member thought that the photographer was a poor photographer, not realizing that the printing lab (or machine) wasn’t calibrated to print the right colors. 6. You don’t have any real options when printing at Costco, etc You can’t get your photograph printed on acid free paper that will last for generations, you can’t get that print mounted to increase durability, you can’t get special papers and textures, you can’t get metal or acrylic prints, and if you do get a canvas, the quality won’t be as high. I know many people mention one online particular lab to me thinking it is high quality, but it actually is the lower quality side of a professional lab. It is better than Walmart, but that is hardly the standard for good quality prints. 7. You can’t have your digital image optimized for the print size you want When a professional photographer sends images to be printed, we crop to the size ratio desired and optimize the image for that size print. 8. You cannot normally get extra large prints if you are looking for a large stunning image to put over the sofa or the fireplace mantel, you aren’t going to find those at Costco or CVS. Most digital images being sold by photographers won’t print larger than a 11 x14 or perhaps 16×20. Special programs are used to make these large prints, and the shoot and burn photographer selling only digitals probably doesn’t have these programs. 9. Prints from consumer lab aren’t guaranteed by the photographer If I order prints and they don’t turn out right, I get them fixed at my expense, not yours. If you buy framed artwork, metal or canvas images from me and that product fails because of poor manufacturing, then I replace them at my expense. Prints from consumer labs are normally do not come with long term quality guarantees. So, does this mean I do not sell digital images at all? No, it doesn’t. I give social media sized images of whatever you purchase for free and offer the opportunity to buy other images for social media so you can share them with family and friends through Facebook, Instagram, email, or whatever you use. If you want digitals, I do sell them, but they cost as much as prints. Why? Because the cost of photography is not so much in the paper and ink used to print an image, but in the time, skill, editing, and services of the photographer. Therefore, I encourage you to buy prints, wall art, and albums that will last, that will be seen, and that will be treasured and enjoyed. Update: I just saw this and I love the examples of what images from various labs look like after one year. Check it out: https://jmegphotography.com/blog/2019/7/26/where-you-print-matters-respecting-art-in-the-digital-age?fbclid=IwAR3BicowHhSCV7e–aCwT48WD1J-8aGtc-rwE7TvgEIJUEKX3on3BZgVhCI
July 13, 2019
This week was Maggie’s gotcha day, the anniversary of the day we brought her home. Maggie is an AKC registered poodle. I am often asked, sometimes accusingly, why I chose to buy a dog when there are so many dogs in need of rescue. So I thought I would put my reasons here and throw in my two cents to the rescue versus buy debate. Is it only adopt, don’t shop? I have chosen to adopt, not shop in the past. I have owned several rescued dogs. My previous dog Oliver came from a kill shelter in South Texas. He was an absolutely wonderful dog, and I miss him terribly. I believe strongly in rescue and support rescue efforts. I am looking to get another dog and that one will be a rescue, most likely a schnauzer or poodle or mix with those breeds. So if I believe so strongly in rescue, why did I buy Maggie? My search for another dog When Oliver passed, I felt forlorn without a dog. Coming home to an empty home was terrible, and that just made me miss him more. Let’s just say a lot of crying was involved. I knew I wanted another dog as soon as possible. I also knew I needed a more hypoallergenic dog because I had grandsons with allergies that were born well after Oliver became part of my life. They are frequent visitors in my home, so I needed to find a dog that was better suited for them. My grandson Jake Playing with Maggie. I started seeing a big silver and white poodle along my commute, and I thought he was adorable. This dog was a parti- poodle, or partially colored poodle. I had thought poodles always looked a bit prissy, but this dog didn’t have the fancy cut, and I loved the two different colors on him. I knew poodles were hypoallergenic, so I started reading and asking around about poodles. I discovered that they are really clowns and quite smart. I was sold. My next step was to start scouring every rescue site I could find to locate a young poodle. I believe in senior rescues, but my heart had just been broken by Oliver’s death, and I wanted another dog that would hopefully be a part of my family as long as Oliver or longer (he was almost 15 when he passed). And then the problems began. Why I decided to shop this time Almost all the rescues demanded that the potential owners of a rescue not have children around. That was not going to work. Others only let people with large yards or no job adopt. That wasn’t going to work. I quickly saw that I was not going to find what I needed quickly through rescue. And I NEEDED a dog. I decided to shop, not adopt. After that I started asking around about poodle puppies. I talked to a lot of people, but then one day I found a breeder on Facebook who had parti-poodles. I checked her out, and she had a great reputation and she followed the best practices, not over breeding dogs and she kept their dogs until they died, not selling them off when they were too old to breed. This is a screen shot of the first photo I saw of Maggie on the Bireley Poodles Facebook page. And then there on their Facebook page was this little face looking at me, and I had to have THAT dog. I called them and found out Maggie had been reserved, but the people who had wanted her decided they wanted a male, not a female, and that they would wait for another litter. I said yes to Maggie right then and there and put down a deposit. I felt like she was meant for us from the start, and my husband fell hard for her. We brought her home when she was almost 10 weeks old and have loved her ever since. Maggie after her first groom. Those bows lasted only as long as the puppy ice cream in that dish. Good Reasons for both So that is why we bought instead of rescued. We want to add another dog to our pack, but since the urgency is not there, we can take our time to find a rescue that will fit our family. I believe responsible breeders who love their dogs and consider them family are not a problem and are good for people who want or need a purebred dog for whatever reason. I also believe rescues can be the best dogs ever, who are forever grateful for the rescue and full of love. I think there is room for both. What there is not room for is puppy mills and backyard breeders who use up dogs by forcing them to have puppies every time they are In heat and then dump them in shelters when they can’t breed any longer. If you are purchasing a dog, please be very careful to find out where that dog is coming from and to go visit. Those breeders that abuse dogs will go out of business if we do not support them. All dogs, all pets, no matter where they come from, deserve love and care, kindness and a future with people who love them. It is up to us to encourage practices that will allow that to happen. Curious about my rescue Oliver and want to know more? https://stephaniesabourinphotography.com/2019/05/14/creating-memories-before-it-is-too-late/
July 6, 2019
Some of you all know we have a place in West Virginia, in Hampshire County, about 2.5 hours away from our Columbia home. My husband had the property before we married, and we built a small home on it three years ago. It is our escape from the craziness of life in the Baltimore- Washington corridor. A view of out WV home after an early November snowfall in 2018 There are many things I love about living in Columbia: the trails, the rivers and lakes, the variety of restaurants, good schools, and the abundance of easily accessible shops. I love that there is good medical care near by, as well as museums and other cultural events. In short, I think it is a great place to live. A fall scene along the Middle Patuxent River about a mile from my Columbia Home. On the other hand, while traffic in Columbia isn’t bad as long as I avoid 29 at peak traffic hour, getting anywhere else to take advantage of the great things that are offered in the surrounding cities, including our jobs, means battling traffic, occasionally for hours, with the rude drivers that accompany it. After a week or two of that, we are ready for an escape, and to West Virginia we go. Our place in West Virginia is pretty much in the middle of no where. It isn’t where I would want to live full-time, but it is the perfect place to get away. We have 6.5 acres, so we don’t have any near neighbors. The people who live in our community within a hairpin bend of the Cacapon River value nature like we do and enjoy the quietness and solitude, as well as community events and friends. Here in our West Virginia home we have a large screened-in deck with sunset views and nice panoramas of the river about 8 months of the year, and river peeks the other four. Here I saw the Milky Way for the first time. Here I sit right now, writing this at the base of our property on the river watching my grandson swim. Here is Jake playing in the river while I write my blog. Our dog Maggie absolutely loves our West Virginia place. We got her when we were building this home, and we took her with us every Saturday as we checked on the progress of our build. We had to stop the car frequently because she was just a pup and needed potty stops and fresh air to not get car sick. Somehow all that driving made her an excellent travel dog. She has made two cross country trips to Dallas with us by car. She has also come to love West Virginia and exploring. All I have to say to her is “Do you want to go to West Virginia?” and she gets very excited. Here she can run free around our large fenced yard. Here she can explore off leash, running up and down hills as fast as she can. She can bark at squirrels and we don’t worry about disturbing the neighbors. In short, West Virginia means she can be fully dog. Maggie is enjoying being off leash and getting to play with Jake. Our community here in West Virginia, called The Crossings, has its own fireworks show we look forward to, with no crowds, no traffic, and a great show. We have community picnics and shared common areas. People support each other. One of our neighbors has sculptural art which he has created along the edges of his property, just across the road from us. This is community also has a lot to offer. Some of the fireworks at the July 4, 2019 show at The Crossings. Sometimes I wonder if we can have a genetic connection to a place. My dad was born in West Virginia, in Charleston, and my family were some of the founders of the Greenbrier area back on the 1700s. I grew up in Texas before moving to Maryland in 2003, but as soon as I came to West Virginia I felt at home. There are parts of the history of West Virginia and of my family that I wish I could change, but also stories I love. For example, my great-grandmother fell in love and married when she was only 14 years old. When she married, her fiancé picked her up in a buggy and they went to a church, but she was too shy to go inside, so the preacher came out and married them in the buggy. She loved her husband till the day she died, many years after he did. And she never stopped loving West Virginia. She became a published poet who wrote about her love of West Virginia and family. Old West Virginia Chuch in Hampshire County That love of poetry, West Virginia, and family runs deep in my father’s family and in me. I grew up hearing poetry, loving God, loving art, loving science and valuing education, loving nature, and loving family. This was my heritage, and these all make up who I am. I can see some of these things in my kids and grandkids. And I find myself wondering if the memories and loves of our ancestors are truly imprinted on our DNA. This is the a view of the river at the base of our property in a little evening mist
June 26, 2019
Usually I write a blog every week, but I didn’t get one out last week and I have been struggling getting focused to write one this week. Writing isn’t hard for me; I have taught writing for years, so an informal blog comes naturally. The reason I have been struggling recently is because my mom is visiting. My mom is 88 and has dementia (most likely Alzheimer’s). I spent a lot of time at her place last year as she was having hip problems that decreased her mobility and cataract surgeries. I went for a week at Mother’s Day, then in August to help her recover from hip replacement surgery, and later we spent three weeks at her place around Christmas and New Years. She has full mobility again, so my brother and I decided she should come up here to visit me and my kids (her grandkids) and my daughter’s children (her great grandkids). She loves to travel, so she was happy for a change of scenery. This may be the last time she can make a trip like this, so I have been trying to take advantage of the time together. It is hard to have to mother your mother. That is what I have been doing. I can see she has lost vocabulary since Christmas as well as the ability to logically work through things. Even though I talk to her by phone frequently, it is not the same as living with her 24/7. My mom was quick and determined and independent all her life. She now has a hard time making decisions or thinking about the consequences of choices, such as choosing to sit in the sun too long leads to sunburn. She can’t operate a baby gate that we use to keep our dog from roaming all over. She can’t figure out how to unlock the doors of my car to get out and has trouble with the seat belts. She asks the same things over and over. She seems happiest just sitting outside in nature and listening to the birds and watching the squirrels. My mom and my husband at Las Colinas last January My dog Maggie knows my mom well. She has made several trips to Dallas with us to visit my mom. Maggie seems protective of Mom, spending a lot of time at my mom’s feet. I feel like she senses that my mom needs protection, similar to the way she wants to protect kids. Maggie is also very gentle with my mom. Those who have met my Maggie know she is a rambunctious bouncy poodle, so this behavior is very different from her normal. The funny thing is my mom can’t remember that my dog is female, and it bugs my husband and I, which is silly because the dog doesn’t care. The two of them have spent lots of time together and that makes me happy. I don’t know what the next year will bring or how long my mom has or how long she will even remember me. I am one who always deals with what I need to deal with in a very practical way. In fact, I am the person you want with you in an emergency. However, I didn’t realize how much it was all getting to me until the last few nights when I have been have anxiety nightmares featuring trying to survive in a dystopian world. I have been trying to eat the stress away too, which is not good. My mom and Maggie last weekend in West Virginia So I write all is this to remind you to make the most of today. Make memories with your loved ones, including your pets. Hug your loved ones, go on walks, get pictures to cherish, and give lots of love. Tomorrow holds no guarantees. Carpe Diem!
I do not live in Annapolis, but I travel around Maryland a lot. Still, when a client suggested we meet on Annapolis for pictures of her two adorable dogs, I wasn’t sure where the best place would be. I love the Naval Academy, but I didn’t know if we could take dogs in there and photograph on the grounds.. I like the water front in old Annapolis, with the picturesque buildings from the 18th century and sails in the harbor, but it is also a bustling place, and I did not want to be editing hundreds of people out of photos. I decided a park might be a good choice, but which one? Google maps to the rescue. I zoomed in on various parks, looking at features, but I was still undecided. My next step was to contact a friend who lives in Annapolis and ask her for recommendations. She suggested two parks after listening to my criteria: Downs Park and Quiet Waters Park. I did some more googling and thought Quiet Waters would be perfect for what I was looking for. It was spring, and I was hoping to get some blooming trees in the photos, so my friend volunteered to check it out the next day as the weather was supposed to be perfect and she and her son could have a fun outing. After her visit, she gave me the thumbs up, and I made the decision. My first time visiting Quiet Waters I found it was everything I had hoped for when it comes to dog photography. There were cherry trees and forsythia in bloom, plus daffodils and other spring bulbs. These flowers provided lovely back drops for the dogs who seemed to enjoy the outing as much as I did. There was a gorgeous set of brick stairs, a bridge, a gazebo, formal gardens, walkways, large rocks for posing— everything I needed to show off this pair of dog sisters. Even though it was a misty evening, I was still able to capture some lovely photos. Here are a few examples: Ella is looking lovely as she walks through the forsythia at Quiet waters Park. Gracie is giving us her signature head tilt at Quiet waters Park Recently another client who lives in Annapolis booked me, so we decided to give Quiet Waters another try for her dog’s photography session. The seasons have changed, and it is summer now, so I wondered if I would love it as much as I had before. I have to say I found it even more enchanting this time. I feared being overwhelmed by green everything, a common problem this time of year, but to my delight, there were purple plum trees and various flowers and foliage of different shades to add variety to the background. The large pool that had been empty in the spring now sported a beautiful fountain. Sunlight danced on the water. I was thrilled and used these backgrounds as well as all the other architectural features I noted before to get some great photos. Take a look. Bruce, a pit bull, at Quiet Waters Park, looking quite handsome. Bruce, a pit bull, looks lovely beside the fountain at Quiet Waters When we had finished in this area, I asked my client if she wanted to try driving down to a parking lot closer to the South River and making a 1/3 mile walk out to the water. She loved the idea, so we hopped in our cars and moved further southeast in the park. We made the walk, which seemed shorter than a third of a mile to us, and found ourselves overlooking the point where the South River joins the Chesapeake Bay. What a gorgeous view! I photographed her pit bull on some benches at the top and then we walked down the steps to explore. Around the corner to the left we discovered a dog beach! That was an unexpected find. On the other side of a semi circular inlet was an old, falling apart dock which was quite scenic. The beautiful blue of the sky and the water added more glorious backgrounds for photography. Bruce, a pit bull, looking stunning capturing the evening sun at a bay and dog beach at Quiet Waters Park. After taking photos at the dog beach, we walked back around in the directions of the steps we had come down. The sun was now setting and the sky was turning orange. I was able to capture some silhouette shots and then some other shots in the wild flowers with the orange sky behind. Quiet Waters has not disappointed in any way. I am now looking forward to booking a client in the fall to take pictures there. I can only imagine just how gorgeous it will be with fall colors. And I found out the reflecting pool is turned into an ice rink in the winter. This is the park that just keeps giving. Here is a link to some information about the park if you are interested: https://www.aacounty.org/departments/recreation-parks/parks/quiet-waters/index.html If you would like photos of your dog taken at this park, just left me know when you contact me!
June 5, 2019
Some of you may be surprised to know that summer is not my favorite time for pet photography. For one thing, I am not a big fan of heat. I don’t like becoming a sweaty mess, but I feel like that is often unavoidable in summer. More importantly, though, is the fact that here in the mid-Atlantic region one color strongly dominates the summer color scheme everywhere but the shore: green. When I first moved to Maryland, I found amazed at how many shades of green there are. And though I think our lush landscape is beautiful, it isn’t easy to get the same kind of variety in the backgrounds of images that I can in other seasons. Spring and Fall These are my favorite seasons for dog, cat and horse photography. I like the mild temperatures and colorful landscapes. In spring so many trees and bushes are blooming that color can be found every where. The beautiful pastels of spring look lovely as backgrounds for pet photos, but there are also vibrant yellows and strong pinks in the spring. Here are a couple examples from a spring shoot. German Shorthair Pointer, Annapolis, MD Standard poodle puppy, Annapolis, MD Autumn offer beautiful reds, oranges, and golds. A bonus is the temperatures are often very pleasant, making the whole experience of the photo shoot pleasant from beginning to end. I think autumn is my favorite time for pet photography. I am always excited by the color and the cooling temperatures, which sparks my creativity and energizes me. Here is an example photographed in the fall. Our standard poodle Maggie enjoying a fall river scene Summer Since summer doesn’t offer as many colors, I try to find gardens or flower beds if possible. When that isn’t possible, I work around this issue is to do some color transformations in some of your photos with the magic of Photoshop. Through the use of layers, masks, and adjustments, I can turn an all green background into one that has the colors of fall. Here is an example from a recent shoot. I have included the before picture and the transformed one. This is a beautiful way to add more color to photos in summer. This is Einstein, a cute poodle Shih Tzu mix. I changed the season from summer to fall to better match his bandana. Winter In winter,even though I also enjoy pictures in the snow, we don’t always have it and of course getting places to take photos can be a challenge. However, I can bring out the reds, oranges and yellows that are hidden in the brown leaves to get interesting colors and textures. The colors are there, just hidden by a brown veneer. Again the magic of Photoshop comes to the rescue, and what seemed brown and dull comes to life. Here is an example of a photo taken in winter with the colors hidden by brown brought out in post-processing. Sheltie dogs on the Matthew Henson Trail, Silver Spring, MD So if you don’t like all the green of summer, or all the brown of winter, don’t let that stop your from booking a photography session! Which is your favorite season? Which types of colors do you prefer for the images of your loving pets for your home?
I have just returned from a much needed vacation. We went to Canada to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks and to visit my husband’s sister. Like all my trips, I loved the beautiful scenery and spending time outdoors in nature, but I also love returning home to my family and my dog and my pillow and my bed 🙂 Problems at the start Our first day of vacation was a bit of a disaster. Our flight left BWI on time, but when we got to San Jose where we had a connecting flight, we found out there had been a problem with our plane and we had to wait hours for another plane to be brought in. We were heading towards Spokane, Washington, where we were spending the night before starting our road trip. Since we were going to be arriving so late in Spokane, I decided to call the hotel where we had reservations to make sure they did not give away our room. When I called, I found out the hotel had to close for the night because of plumbing issues. That started my scramble to find another hotel. I was still making calls as we boarded the plane. It was graduation weekend at area colleges and everything was booked. When we were seated on the plane, I asked the young woman next to me if she knew the Spokane area, and she gave me some ideas of where to call. Just before taking off I was able to make a reservation at a hotel in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, about 40 minutes away. This wasn’t too terrible because we planning on heading that way the next day, but it was already well after midnight (and after 3 am east coast time) and we still had to get the car and drive there. By the time we got there, checked in , and got our room, we had been up 23 hours straight and were dead tired. Mountain and lake in Banff, Alberta, Canada Arriving at Banff We didn’t sleep great, but after about 5 hours of sleep we headed out for the drive to Banff. Our route was full of beautiful scenery, and we made a few stops along the way. In Banff I had my first black bear sighting (seen below). Our hotel there was perfect, with a kitchenette, lovely upscale room and bathroom, and a balcony with a fantastic view. We spent the next couple days enjoying the scenery, hiking, viewing waterfalls, and wildlife spotting. I wish I had a photo of the beautiful fox we saw in Johnston Canyon, but my camera settings were for landscape photos and he ran away before I could get them switched. We also took a gondola to the top of the mountain that overlooks Banff and had dinner at the restaurant with the large glass windows so that we could enjoy the view while eating. The ground was still snow covered up at the top and we even had a few flurries while we were there. Icefields Parkway After Banff, we headed up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. If you have not done this drive, add it to your bucket list! Every turn in the road just provides more gorgeous mountain views, or turquoise blue lake views, or waterfalls’ or wildlife. I photographed another black bear and elk along this drive. We stopped and hiked out to a massive glacier, which was one of the highlights of our trip. It is part of the Columbia Icefields, and there I saw some blue ice and crystal clear glacier melt lakes as well. Columbia Icefields Glacier Jasper We spent the night at the Patricia Lakes Bungalows in Jasper. We had our own bungalow with fireplace and kitchenette and a turquoise mountain lake just steps from our door. It didn’t get dark till almost 11 at night, so I watched the sunset after 10:00, a very strange experience, and I had trouble sleeping because my body kept saying “it is still light!” If you go north in Canada in the summer, I would suggest bringing an eye mask for sleeping, something I did not think of before hand. Elk Enderby We next headed back into British Columbia to my sister-in-law’s place in Enderby. Again the drive was quite lovely and we stopped many times for short hikes and photos. Enderby is a long way from everywhere, but it is a beautiful small town in an area that really reminds me of the Canaan Valley area of West Virginia. We spent a few days sightseeing and catching up with her before heading back to Spokane. The drive back was almost all backroads through the mountains. I would like to give a word of appreciation to Canada for the abundance of rest stops they have even among these backroads, and the rest stops are very often in scenic areas. Enderby Riverwalk at Sunset Returning Home Finally we flew back home, arriving late last night to storms and heat we were not used to after the previous week. It was fantastic to sleep in my own bed with my own pillow (is it just me or does everyone think hotel pillows suck?). This morning we went and picked up our dog from the wonderful woman who watches her for us when we go on trips. Now that Maggie is back with us, I truly feel like I am home. Vacation was great, but it is good to be home and back to doing the things I love, which includes running this photography business. if you have any questions for me or want to know names of some places we stayed, comment below. I would also love to know what your favorite vacation was.