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)