Hand eye…


DSC_5451-Edit-EditPhotography is like a moment, an instant. You need a half second to get the photo. So it’s good to capture people when they are themselves.

Patrick Demarchelier

I’ve had some interesting thoughts on photography lately and not just about subject matter but how everything pulls together to capture that image.

I’ve had some opportunities lately to photograph some more environmentally themed portraits. People photography is not something that I usually gravitate towards but capturing people engaged in something that brings the light from with-in outwards has been extremely satisfying for me.

I find myself enjoying crafting how I want that image to come out and at the same time getting some exposure to new things like the speed bag.

I don’t want to be one of those photographers who can’t carry their own gear and can only shoot from a standing position because my body can’t move, so for me that means continuing to incorporate more, and more varied, physical training into my life.

I have never tried punching a speed bag before and wasn’t sure that I would even be able to do it having been told by my eye doctor that I don’t track objects coming towards me with any degree of accuracy.

What I found though was somewhere along the way, all this daily shooting has bridged that gap and my focus and timing has improved. It only took one session to realize that this is perfect conditioning for a photographer. Not only does it build and tone muscle in your arms but it greatly improves the hand/eye co-ordination so valuable to the photographer. You’ll also see improvements in cardio by doing timed sets of 3-5 minutes followed by a minute break.

If that’s not enough there’s the rhythmic sound of the bag striking the platform…almost as seductive as the click of a shutter.


a sure sign that IT is coming.DSC_2960-Edit-2-Edit-2

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash.

Louis Aragon

Spring is trying to make a comeback.

As temperatures drop at night, the battle between snowflake and raindrop ensues leaving behind a wintry mix.

A sure sign though that it’s winning is the lone goose.

Soon we will be seeing bright pops of green in photos as people embrace the new season.

I see spring in black and white…what does it look like to you?



and creativity.


Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.

Ansel Adams

Many years ago I had family portraits done with my husband and two mastiffs. I treasure that memory but can’t help thinking how sterile and posed the image is.

It was out of that thought that the idea to photograph dogs in their own environment, just being dogs, was born.

It’s a challenging adventure kind of like those cooking shows where you open up a box of ingredients and have to make something amazing out of it. In this instance though you’re handed dogs and whatever weather conditions the day brings, and from that you need to create a group of images that hopefully capture the spirit of those animals. It’s real and unscripted and each shoot is different from the one before.

I think of photography as a language from which you develop your own accent and cadence. It takes awhile to learn what that might look like for you but I believe that it can only be accomplished by diving in and shooting every day under all conditions.

It’s an incredibly creative medium and one that I think it’s essential to develop your own voice for.

Will everyone like your work? Certainly not but in time you will develop a style of shooting that becomes more distinctive to you and with that knowledge it becomes easier to take whatever photographic opportunities that come your way and make the most of them.

On this day the ground had a layer of frost and as the sun hit it, it began to steam giving me nature’s version of a smoke machine. I couldn’t have scripted that and it lent such a beautiful, soft atmosphere to the shoot.

Have you picked up your camera today? Maybe you should…

In a perfect world, getting a dog…

would be a commitment that would last for the lifetime of that dog and not just until it was no longer convenient…or… why I buy from a breeder.

20110813-Bella II-2

The chief ingredients in the composition of those qualities that gain esteem and praise, are good nature, truth, good sense, and good breeding.

Joseph Addison

I can’t tell you how many times I get a look of disgust from people upon finding out that my puppy did not come from the shelter but that I in fact waited over a year for him to be born and that was after I had done my research and chosen a breeder who was breeding the lines that I was looking for and doing the appropriate genetic testing for hereditary conditions. Even more appalling…this is NOT the first time that I have done this nor will it be the last. On each occasion I have received exactly what I was looking for at the time.

Do I not feel guilt when thinking about the dogs already born who are looking for their forever homes? Of course I do.  Perhaps the guilty feelings come from my compassion for all animals and if I walked into a shelter would I be likely to come out empty-handed? No, how could you look into those eyes and not want to make their world better?

I do however have strong feelings about the need to preserve breeds that have been in existence for decades and in some cases, centuries. Breeds that have been developed to serve a myriad of purposes ranging from home and livestock guardian, search and rescue, hunting, companion dog, and like my current breed, all-purpose dog just to name a few.

Take the bloodhound for example. After completing my own personal training and being certified by the National Association of Search and Rescue I was ready to find my partner to work with on our team. We did not have any bloodhounds currently working tracking/trailing so I searched high and low for a conformationally correct bloodhound. They are scenting marvels with every part of them designed to fulfill a specific purpose. The neck must be long enough to comfortably reach the ground, the ears are designed to waft scent towards the nose, the skin must be loose in order to slip through underbrush more easily, the drool helps to rehydrate the scent and that nose! A human’s nasal cavity is about one and a half inches square while the bloodhound’s comes in at roughly twenty-two and a half square inches. Their testimony is admissible with proper training documentation, in a court of law. From clear across the country I bought a puppy from a Chief of Corrections, a breeder who knew from many years experience exactly the dog that I would require to do the job that she would be trained for. She was utterly fabulous and at the age of 10 months was running 24 hour aged tracks at a flat-out run during a law enforcement training seminar.

For me this is just one experience among many and one excellent breeder among many that I have met. Are all breeders good? Certainly not but this is where doing your homework comes in. It’s been my experience that the breeders who are doing it right, are not making money off of their litters. They are testing for genetic inheritable problems and like the breeder above, working towards producing excellent dogs that are a credit to the breed and this does not come about by cutting corners. Does this guarantee that I will not go through the heartbreak of any health-related issue, certainly not, but it gives me a known starting point. I filled out a lengthy questionnaire before I was even “allowed” to make a deposit on my current dog. My buyers contract was several pages long. Am I happy with him? I am thrilled, he is exactly what I was looking for. Will I show him? More than likely but only if he also enjoys the process. Will he be first and foremost a family member? Absolutely. Another wonderful thing are the friendships that have developed with these breeders who actually care about what happens to their dogs and what they accomplish in their lifetimes. They are an endless source of information and insight on the breeds.

These days when confronted by someone who is appalled that I did not go to the shelter for my dog, I ask a question of them.

Do you have children? If the answer is yes, I then ask why they did not adopt a child who needed a home instead of having one or more of their own. More than 250,000 children enter the foster care system in the US every year. Not adopting a child who needs a home is readily forgiven but with rescue organizations being very PC, not adopting a dog from the shelter and buying from a good breeder somehow makes you a bad person.

I think that we all should be allowed to choose who we live with without criticism or judgement. When adding to my “family” I owe it to those that are part of it already to choose someone who will be the right fit.  I hope that the small time breeder, who goes that extra mile to produce purebred dogs with not only the traits that we have come to expect from that breed, but also ones sound in body and temperament, will be allowed to continue producing dogs of merit and will not be legislated into the ground.

I think that our efforts would be better served attempting to weed out puppy mills as I believe these to be the source of many shelter dogs. These poor animals are treated very poorly as breeding stock and no thought goes into producing sound dogs. As a contrast to my puppy, their first very formative weeks of life are not filled with excellent care, appropriate socializing and the astute observations of the breeder to match puppy and future owner. The uneducated, perhaps soft-hearted buyer then comes along and finds that he has a nightmare on his hands and the dog is turned into the shelter for aggression, destructive behaviors, and a host of other potentially avoidable traits. Ahead of him then lies a long road to try to “fix” these issues so that he may one day become adoptable.

That’s not the life that I would choose for any dog and when I look into the eyes of my puppy, I think he knows that he’s one of the lucky ones to have come from a good breeder.

Update: There remains a huge difference between puppy mills and responsible breeders. The responsible breeders that I know rarely come out ahead monetarily when having a litter. I will never condone having a litter of puppies for any reason other than a strong belief that a sounder dog can be produced. Going one step further, I believe that my next dog will come from a shelter.


As 20 major wildfires burn 243,706 acres in Idaho…

one begins to wonder if and not when it will end.

wildfires in Idaho
wildfires in Idaho Panhandle

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.

Edward Abbey

In contrast to last week’s post the reality of each day looks a little more like this. As the air quality remains firmly planted in the unhealthy zone, I am quite certain that companies who sell inhalers are doing a booming business.

As an added blow, Sunday marks the closure of a huge swath of Federal and State land in the Idaho Panhandle where a veritable playground of wilderness exists for those like myself who love to camp in and explore remote areas. Emergency closures include all National Forest System lands, Bureau of Land Management lands, and all state endowment forest lands within this area. The danger of people becoming trapped by fires is too great and a week-end forecast calling for gusty winds and thunderstorms does not look like it will provide the much-needed relief we had been hoping for.

I find myself hunting for little signs of beauty within the gray pallor that envelops the landscape. With having to limit time spent outdoors breathing the smoke and ash laden air this becomes somewhat of a challenge though.

morning light on the Pend Oreille River
morning light on the Pend Oreille River

I am blessed to live in an area surrounded by vast forested land, scenic mountain ranges, and plentiful rivers and lakes. After the hottest July on record though one can’t help but wonder if this season of wildfires will become the new norm?

Kind of scary and a little more than sobering…

In the company of…



Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.

Dean Koontz

I spent a great week seeing old friends and making new ones…friends of the canine variety that is! Big ones, little ones, fat ones, lean ones, young ones, old ones, hairy ones and smooth ones. Some came with massive pedigrees, stacks of show ribbons…Best In Show to Grand Champions. Others came from more unknown lineage but packing an abundance of charm and good looks and each one had a story to tell!

There’s the mastiff with a stack of ribbons too numerous to count, breeder owner handled. His size was awe-inspiring and his gentle nature a treat to behold.

The pug, being a lady of a certain age, was none too mobile but very adept at keeping the big dogs in line! Her dinner dance would bring a smile to anyone’s face…

The poodle, once somebody’s show dog, forgotten when they moved on, has a heart of gold and a new loving home where he lives the life he deserves.

The staffordshire bull terrier, still raking in the accolades in the show ring but as a veteran now…owner handled naturally!





Being around such a variety of breeds was an absolute treat and seeing the pride that the owners had for their dogs was heart warming.

I am often out at night looking and photographing the stars but this week the stars came out during the day and they couldn’t have shone brighter!


I have a good reason…

for being behind on my posts!

10 week old staffordshire bull terrier

In a perfect world every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog…

I hate being behind in my posts but it has been a very busy week culminating in bringing home this little guy. Those who know me well know of my love of animals and dogs in particular and after losing a very special dog in the spring of last year we embarked on a search for someone try to fill his shoes.

This is my third Staffordshire Bull Terrier and while it is not the breed for everyone, they sure fit our lifestyle. In the AKC breed standard he is described as having “character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog.”

We have found them to be very social, intelligent, and game to try new things even those things that don’t come naturally to them. Every dog that we have owned has learned to swim with the staffies being no exception. It wasn’t very pretty at first but our 8-year-old girl is a now a powerful and enthusiastic swimmer who is also at home in a kayak.

This little guy in just one week has been in several vehicles, planes, and this morning in a kayak for his first ride. I am enjoying watching him experience everything with the courage that this breed is noted for having. This past week was one filled with canine portraiture which I just love doing. It’s relaxing and enjoyable to try to capture that thing that makes each one special. I will follow-up this post with some of the dogs that I have had the pleasure of photographing this past week.

Life gets busy, don’t forget to share a moment with your canine friend!