Part 2b – Scruffy Dog Mentoring

Ono_photo_blackMy 2nd full day with Scruffy Dog Photography included three models that were fantastic, but more on that later.  Since model shoots didn’t occur until about 4:30pm, Illona and I spent most of the day going over my photos from the day before.  That’s when I realized that I had taken WAY too many photos, especially of Illona’s dog in the water with his favorite toy.  Honestly, I probably wasted nearly 1/3 of the card – over 150 at least – on such shots.  “That’s a lesson for you,” said Illona.  Many of the photos were not in focus and we went over why that might be the case.   But I did manage to have a few decent shots, which I shared in the previous blog.  We then discussed marketing, specifically pricing.  She gave me great ideas on how to price my products.

4:30pm came around quickly and the first client with their two dogs arrived.  We initially went to a city setting.  I sometimes think that one has to be in a beautiful floral setting, well-manicured yard, lovely architecture…. not so!  This was located in an alley.   Below are photos of the two dogs – absolutely beautiful Shar Peis.  Charlotte, the light colored one, is a senior, probably about 12.  Stella is still very young; I believe she is under 1 year old.  By the way, as I started taking photos at this location, my camera suddenly froze.  I could not press down on the shutter and there was an error message on my camera’s control panel.  Well, I thought, certainly in line with the drama I went through getting to Canada.  Karma again?  Illona suggested I change lenses, but that didn’t work.  Then, totally out of frustration, I pressed the shutter again and – voila! – back to normal.


Continue reading Part 2b – Scruffy Dog Mentoring

Part 2a – Scruffy Dog Mentoring

Ono_photo_blackAfter surviving the drama of getting to Canada (see previous post entitled, “Is This Heaven?”), I finally made it to Kitchener and was greeted by Illona Haus of Scruffy Dog Photography and her much-loved companion, Merrick.  It was 10pm, so only had time to get to the bed-and-breakfast.  At 10am the next morning, Illona picked me up and we proceeded to her office, located in the basement of her home.

Over the course of 2-1/2 days, we covered so much.  She was so helpful and patient with me.  It was clear that I needed help in every aspect of photography – uploading photos to Lightroom (my method was rather slow), post-processing tips and shortcuts, how to expose quickly for a photo shoot, and just making sure I knew my camera.  Regretfully (for Illona) I needed to be schooled in several aspects of my camera.  First, there was the firmware.  Had never given it a thought in the 2 years I’ve had my camera.  She determined that I was off about 1 update (Note:  when I got home, I found I was off by 2 updates – good grief!).  I tried to absorb everything she presented, tried to take notes, but I found myself with my mouth open, trying to take it all in.  “Take notes” she would remind me.  Had to continually re-focus since I was in awe of her process and how quickly, and effortlessly, she went through it.

It wasn’t all looking at the computer and camera menu.  We did have some live models.  Illona said, for the first time, she had difficulty rounding up models.  Considering the drama I had getting to Canada, I was positive it was because of my bad karma.  But, we actually had great models.  The first day, we used her own dog, Merrick.

Merrick testing the waters
Merrick testing the waters

We were at an area with water and Merrick had a ball jumping in the water and retrieving his favorite toy.  It was hot; at least, that’s what Illona kept saying.  When I left Alabama it was 95 degrees with a heat index of 110!  I considered Canada at 82 with a heat index of about 90 to be very comfortable.  At least I could breath.  I wasted most of my photos on Merrick in the water.  (See below)  You can just take so many pictures of a dog with his head out of the water with a toy in his mouth.  But I kept thinking I had to keep shooting.  LESSON:  Wait, study the situation, then determine the best time to take photos.Merrick_swimming

I had told Illona that I needed practice on my action shots, so she had Merrick run with his favorite toy down a path.  (See below)  Have to keep in mind that it was about 3pm which is not really a good time for taking pictures as the sun can be a little harsh, but the photo isn’t bad.  She also used this time to show me how to expose quickly, especially if an animal is running and you just don’t have time to make sure you get the proper exposure.  All this boils down to understanding your camera, something I realized that I didn’t fully and Illona definitely did.Merrick_running

Another type of photo is the blind shot – setting the exposure, holding the camera down near the ground (without looking thru the viewfinder) and taking the photo.  She explained the best exposure for such a shot, which, by the way, was different from what I had been doing.  Below is an example.  Not great, but sometimes it takes several tries to get it right.  I’m still working on it.Merrick_blindshot

That first day was full of so much information for me, and it continued into our dinner, where I was told to bring my camera, and whatever marketing material I had.  Discussions continued over salmon… which was excellent, by the way.  She gave me some great ideas on marketing which I have started to implement.  Day 1 ended with so much info rattling in my head, but was looking forward to Day 2.

(To Be Continued)


Is This Heaven?

Misty - not heaven, but makes a great photo

Misty – not heaven, but makes a great photo

What does a famous quote (or should I say, 1/2 of the quote) from “Field of Dreams” have to do with photography?  Well, my friends, my first blog entry will explain that to you.  Be forewarned, it will show me to be a rather bumbling hick when it comes to traveling, not very careful in reviewing airplane itineraries, and rather dull in catching on to “red flags” when they are presented to me.

In late July, I found myself in an airplane, heading for Canada to be part of a mentoring session with Illona Haus, the owner of Scruffy Dog Photography.  To those of us in the pet photography genre, she is the be-all, the quintessential photographer of our chosen field.  She takes fabulous photos of her client’s dogs, catching their personalities, whether they are static or running like the wind.  She does not do workshops with 8-15 eager neophyte photographers in attendance.  Continue reading Is This Heaven?