He wasn’t a good dog…

he was a great dog!

Daunt-EditThere is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.

Simon Sinek

I’ve been listening to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” and it is one powerful message so it comes as no surprise that this quote should pop into my head as I’m writing this.

This was a beautiful story and being the dog lover that I am, I never tire of hearing “Daunt” stories.

He had an exceedingly hard start to his life having been in the possession of a hoarder for the first four years of his life. A hoarder who was forced to surrender countless dogs kept in appalling conditions. Hoarding is a medical condition that manifests itself in many ways but the common thread is acquiring and refusing to part with “things”.

Having been involved in the clean-up of a home belonging to a hoarder, this story breaks my heart because we’re not just talking about stacks of paper and junk, we’re talking about living, breathing, animals kept in neglectful, abusive situations.

Unlike some stories though, this one did have a fairytale ending when one man took the time to visit the shelter on several occasions and gain the trust of this particularly challenging dog. One who did not like men, but bonded hard and fast with this man, surprising even the animal behaviorist on site to assist in the transitions.

Fast forward a decade or so and we find that sometimes our animal relationships are more enduring and balanced than those we share with other humans and sacrifices are made that are incredibly difficult.

They did not get to spend the last year and a half together, the decision being made that Daunt was better off finishing his life in the home that he’d known best. A home where he would still be cared for. A safe decision for a dog who’d endured so much trauma in the early years.

This photo was shared with me on their last visit together, knowing at the time that it would likely be the last visit.

I couldn’t be with someone who didn’t share my passion for dogs and even writing this brings tears to my eyes as I think of the strength it took for him to say good-bye to his dog for the last time.

Rest in peace, Daunt, rest in peace.

Is it art…

just because we say it’s so?

DSC_1027-Edit-EditBefore the people at large, and for that matter, the artists themselves, understand what photography really means, as I understand that term, it is essential for them to be taught the real meaning of art.

Alfred Stieglitz

Had some interesting conversations lately about art; what it is and what it is not.

Is it the piece of dryer lint tied with thread and given space at a gallery? Or perhaps it’s the old sheet hung on the wall with a word written on it? Is it assembly line production of paper and glue?

Is it art because it matches your sofa cushions? Is it art because you cut an old RV in half and applied social commentary to it? Does the quality of the material used elevate the work?

The very definition of art, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination would lead me to believe that there are more components involved than the simple desire to be called an artist.

Recent art exhibits seemed to be accompanied by lengthy bios on the artist and the creative process that resulted in some of the exhibits mentioned above leading me to wonder is it art if it has to be explained to you in advance of the viewing?

For me whatever I’m looking at, my own work or that of others, first and foremost it has to evoke some sort of emotion and secondly the creation of the piece has to have some component of skill and intention involved.

Art or craft…always a hot topic. I’m grateful for artists like Stieglitz who paved the way for photography as an art form.

There was a man with great passion, talent, and intention and I would have loved to shadow him for just one day as he worked.

Who moves you? What motivates you to create and not just replicate?

As the year winds down…

I’m taking time to play.

DSC_4261-2If you’re not trying to be real, you don’t have to get it right. That’s art.

Andy Warhol

I couldn’t have planned this year if I tried and looking back on it, I think that may be what got me through it.

Sometimes it’s just better to let things unfold and make choices on the opportunities that present themselves.

Life and art are a lot alike that way.

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to listen to your gut and just go for it. The path that you should be on is often the easier one to navigate.

Winter Carnival…

has gone to the dogs!

20170226-dsc_2505-edit-2Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a lot to be learned from our four-legged friends.

This week-end had a special event sponsored by some amazing local business’ all in the name of raising money to support the Panhandle Animal Shelter.

A little snow didn’t keep the crowds away and the dogs ran their hearts out pulling size suitable empty kegs down a snowy track to raise money for their less fortunate friends.

There were dogs of all sizes dressed in all kinds of gear sporting EzyDog harnesses for the Keg Pull.

This was my first time attending the event and I had the pleasure of being in the thick of the action. Some dogs gave it their all, seasoned veterans returning to better their times from past years. Others, new to the game, took more leisurely runs, pausing for photo opportunities along the way.

Great group of dog loving people supporting a wonderful cause and lucky me…I got to spend a few hours combining two passions, dogs and photography.

February’s Tip: Double your pleasure and try to find a way to combine two passions in one. Really think about what gives you the most joy to photograph and seek out opportunities that combine those things. Your heart will thank you!

A case…

for blinkies.

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Creativity takes courage.

Henri Matisse

The words of one of my mentors often creeps into my mind.

“Sheryl, first learn the rules then break them!” She’s a painter but much of it still applies as we look at composition and style.

For example…the nose and the eyes must be in focus. When photographing in snow make sure that your highlight blinkies aren’t flashing indicating that you’ve lost detail in the brightest parts of the image.

Heavy sigh…

I’m always more inspired when I take a painterly approach to my dog photography. I’m all about the moments and the emotion expressed in those moments.

I love lost and found lines and not having every detail tack sharp; a sentiment that not everyone shares.

In this image the “snow P” is taking every ounce of enjoyment that he can in his dash through the deep, freshly fallen snow.

Blinkies on? Flashing like mad!

Eyes in focus? Not a chance with all that flying snow!

Today’s thought is take every opportunity to be creative. Try things. Shoot one way then do the opposite. Don’t let the rules and your head get in the way.

Show me what you’ve got!

Is that you…

Santa Paws?dsc_6082-3

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Seneca

A lot can be learned from watching our canine friends and seeing how they live in the moment.

I recall the crazy antics of my bloodhound when she was presented with the “heel” from a loaf of French bread. Her joy knew no end as she pranced, danced, flung it around, rolled all over it, and then at last would eat it.

Another Stafford of ours would do “the green bone dance” when he was given a Greenie to chew on. Designed for dental health we had no idea why they inspired such antics but they always did.

My dogs are some of the lucky ones. They are cherished from the first day that they come to us until the last day of their lives. It isn’t so for many other dogs though and we, the P and I, have a plan to do our part towards making that happen for more animals in the coming year.

We’ll be sharing more about this as it unfolds in the upcoming weeks…

Stay healthy and happy during this holiday season and find joy in the little things.

 

Pop…

art.

dsc_1492-2

I like to be the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place. Being the right thing in the wrong place and the wrong thing in the right place is worth it because something interesting always happens

Andy Warhol

I’m not a fan of generic filters plopped over images but I do sometimes find their effects appealing and reminiscent of other styles of artwork.

I keep the editing of my raw images firmly in Lightroom and Nikon Silver Effex, only using Photoshop for the addition of text.

For the preset for this image though a sticky mouse pulled one of my adjustment sliders into an area  that I never venture into and rather than quickly removing the edit I took a little time to look at the effect.

A nice feature in Lightroom is the ability to create your own sets of presets that can give you a starting point for your edits. I tend to keep my presets very “gentle” since I find that even amongst similar images, one does not fit all. This way you can apply the preset and then adjust from that point. It’s something that I will often do for my nightscapes.

I like the pop art feel of this image and the knowledge that I created it myself. Each time you do something like this it’s a bit like a self guided study course and you have the opportunity to learn more about the programs that you use and their capabilities. Playing with images and this preset then gave me more information about how I should shoot an image designed for use with this preset.

Same thing with a camera. Take it off auto and just start shooting and experimenting.

That’s where  creativity lives.