Monday, October 31, 2011


On a Friday morning that was completely clear and wonderfully sunny my friend Alana brought her three greyhounds, Abbey (subject of the previous post), Axel, and Charlie, for me to photograph for an hour. This is Axel:


The blueness of the sky surprised me when I first saw the picture. I added a bit of Clarity and Vibrance in Lightroom to strengthen the midtones, but left everything else alone.

But I couldn't help myself wondering how this picture might look in black-and-white so I applied the low-contrast Lightroom preset and I got this:


I actually tried a couple of other presets before settling with this one. I think it came out okay but I don't have a good feel for black-and-white yet.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom set at 18mm; shutter-priority mode with shutter speed set at 1/1000 second; camera set the aperture at f/10; ISO 200; matrix-metered; auto white balance; shot in RAW.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011


A tip often cited by pro pet photographers to get interesting pictures of dogs is to get down to the dog's eye level. I agree. This is because most pet photos are taken looking down at the pet. And you'd like to take a picture with the idea of "this is what I see", and not take a picture that looks like everyone else's.

If you go to greyhound events like the Solvang Greyhound Gathering, Greyhounds In Gettysburg, and Greyhounds Reach the Beach at Dewey Beach, you might see some dude occasionally photographing greyhounds by walking in front of the dog, keeping pace with it, and hunched over while holding a camera down at arm's-length, pointing it at the dog, and snapping pictures. Ummm...that would probably be me.

I would not be surprised if I amuse more people in this manner. I'm sure one of my friends has a picture or two of me doing this. But I like the different perspective from shooting this way. For example, this is Abbey, one of the greyhounds I took pictures of at Dewey:


I used a wide-angle lens to make sure the dog is in the field of view since I can't look through the viewfinder to see the dog (in this case, I'm using the 18-200mm zoom set at 18mm). I aimed the camera in the general direction of the greyhound, set the autofocus mode to "Auto Area AF" (the solid white rectangle icon on the back of the D300), and the focus mode to Continuous-servo AF (also known as AF-C) since the distance between me and the subject is always changing. Then I take a few shots and see what I get. Since wide-angle lenses have great depth-of-field pretty much everything is more or less in focus. But it also overly exaggerates the size of the nose compared to, say, the back legs.

Since I was in broad daylight I used my SB-800 flash to fill the shadows somewhat, and set the flash mode to slow-sync so that the foreground and background would be properly exposed.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom lens set at 18mm; shutter-priority mode with shutter speed set at 1/500 second and ISO 200; camera chose aperture of f/10; SB-800 used for fill-flash; flash mode set to SLOW; auto white balance; processed in Lightroom; shot in RAW.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A greyhound threesome in black-and-white

I don't see enough greyhounds rendered in black-and-white. So, if the thought occurs to me and if I think the image might lend itself to being in black-and-white, I give it a try and see what happens. Sometimes it's straight-up b&w; sometimes, it's sepia; sometimes, it's in platinum.

Here is an example of a color photo processed using the Platinum preset in Lightroom. First is the original picture in color:

Charlie, Abbey, and Axel

And here is what it looks like after using the Platinum preset:

Charlie, Abbey, and Axel

I can't say I recall how the three of them ended up arranged this way, but I thought it looked interesting enough to photograph. There's a strong sense of perspective implied by the angles of the greyhounds' forelegs, the edge of the surf behind them, and the tilted horizon line. I think I like the the black-and-white version more.

Greyhounds often lie upright in this "sphinx" position, where they rest on their elbows with forelegs extended in front of them and the back legs supporting a rear end that doesn't touch the ground. It looks uncomfortable (you often hear greyhound owners say this) but they have no problem lying this way. But they often put their heads down on their forelegs, look up at you and give you these big, sad puppy eyes so that you'll feel sorry for them. Sometimes they'll add a loud sigh to enhance the effect. It's one of their tricks.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom lens set at 18mm; shutter-priority with shutter speed set at 1/500 second at f/10 and ISO 200; auto white balance; SB-800 provided fill-flash at -0.7 flash compensation; shot in RAW.)

Don't look at me in that way

Sable Sable

When newly-arrived retired greyhounds from Caliente get a good and thorough bathing I find it very, very hard to avoid seeing them with their eyes locked onto me. All pictures taken with fill flash to lighten up the shadows, which results in sometimes using long exposures (1/20 second) to get both the foreground and background exposed but causes the subjects to blur.

I need to stop looking at them and move on to something else -- I'm going to want to bring one home.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm f/1.8 lens and SB-800 flash. Normal JPG.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom set at 31mm; program mode; camera chose 1/250 second at f/13 and ISO 200; daylight white balance; processed in Lightroom using the Creamtone preset; shot in RAW.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bee Wiseman and Steak

In the past couple of days I have been saddened by the news of the passing of two greyhounds that I know: Bee Wiseman and Steak. Neither of them I knew for long; both I had only met little more than once. I am fortunate that I "met" both of them through a greyhound forum that their owners and I all belong to. And I had the good fortune to photograph both when our paths crossed.

Bee Wiseman was a twice-returned bounce with pannus and separation anxiety when she was finally adopted by her owners Trish and Burke. Within a few weeks after she went home they found out that she was Daddy's girl. I've read where she was so happy when he returned from work; rolling onto her back to have him rub her belly; groaning when her ears were rubbed. Burke took her every day to the auto repair shop where he worked so she could greet his customers when the disease that ultimately took her made breaking a leg a real possibility.

Trish sometimes asked me for photo advice when she photographed Bee and their other greyhound, Murray. She really didn't need to ask. Her pictures of Bee and Murray are far, far better at capturing their personalities than anything I could have done. But that is as it should be.

You can read her remembrance story here.

Bee Wiseman 

I met Steaky at Dewey Beach last year. He was a snuggler: it was the thing that he and Beth would often do together on their couch. She often posted pictures of the two of them doing exactly that. He was goofy and happy. While he was at Dewey he was taken for many runs up and down the beach along the water's edge. I love the expression on his face here:

Kaitlyn and Steak 

It was a couple of months ago after Dewey that he began having seizures. It took many months and much patience to find a combination of drugs to get them under control. At times Beth mentioned about how hard it was to see Steak endure all this as they diligently worked on his condition. He just wasn't the same goofy dog he was before the seizures began. But finally, a drug protocol was put together that worked for him, and the dog she knew was back. For seven weeks he was seizure-free -- until this morning.

Beth and Steak 

The greyhound community is a small one as dog breed communities go, and the loss of these exceptional hounds diminishes all of us who have come to know and love them even though they not be our own. Would that they could stay with us forever.

Hug your hounds.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dewey Beach greyhound sunrise

The appeal to see greyhounds and their owners walking or standing on the beach while waiting for the sun to rise at Dewey is (to me, anyway) irresistible. (Well, it is irresistible if you live in the same time zone. I'm three hours behind the east coast, so it was 4am according to my body-time.)

Maybe rendering dog and owner in silhouette is old and cliched, but it attracts me still. Besides, it's what I get when I shoot up-sun. Other than using the daylight white balance setting to add some warmth to the pictures (and because I didn't want the bluish cast you'd normally get at this time of day), and switching between program, aperture- , and shutter-priority modes, i touched nothing else. I'm a little surprised with the results I got since I wasn't thinking too clearly (I had two hours of sleep the previous day, and sleeping during the four-and-a-half hour flight to Baltimore only left me with a huge headache).

Stuart and Flower
A group of people gathered with their hounds.

The shadows have a hint of detail in them, which can be easily revealed with adjusting the Darks parameter in Lightroom. I started to notice that I had dust specks on the images, either on the sensor, the mirror, or the focusing screen. I'm not happy about that, although it's inevitable.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm f/1.8 lens; top and middle picture: aperture-priority with aperture set to f/2.8; camera chose 1/4000 second at ISO 800; bottom picture: program mode; camera chose shutter speed of 1/800 second at f/14; ISO 200; all pictures used daylight white balance; normal JPG.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dewey Beach Friday morning


On Friday morning, at the first sunrise I saw at Dewey Beach, I was surprised to see how empty the beach was of people and greyhounds. There were no greyhounds near where I stood while watching the sunrise. So I walked down near the water's edge, searching for something to catch my eye. I found a shell on the beach and took several pictures of it.

I removed several dust specks, cropped and made the horizon level, added a graduated filter to darken the sky from the top of the picture to just below the horizon, added a bit more exposure to the shell, and added a bit of sharpening.

I was disappointed that there were no clouds in the sky to make it more interesting. But that's another story...

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 10-24mm zoom set at 10mm; aperture-priority mode with aperture set at f/8; camera chose 1/60 second; ISO 800; normal JPG.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Look! Up in the sky...

Is this what a night sky, unpolluted by the city lights of Los Angeles, looks like?


While in Colorado last week I thought I'd try a night-sky exposure using my D300 and my dad's tripod. After taking a couple of shots using the 50mm (because it's faster than my zoom lenses) I went to the 10-24mm lens and set it at 10mm and the aperture wide-open at f/3.5. I set my ISO to 800, focused the lens to infinity at the Milky Way, and then took pictures at ever-increasing time exposures. I put the garage in the frame to give myself a point of reference (I was just fooling around, anyway). Then I pressed and held down the shutter-release button, using the stopwatch on my smartphone to see the elapsed time. The last picture, exposed for 122 seconds, shows the most detail but it's a little fuzzy because I was holding down the button and not using a cable release (I thought about bringing it but didn't). What's in the image is a portion of the Milky Way running through the constellation of Aquila.

I'm no astrophotographer, but it was fun for me to experiment and see what I could get.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 10-24mm zoom at 10mm; manual exposure mode; aperture set to f/3.5; exposure time 122 seconds; ISO 800; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A few more sleeps 'til Dewey...

Kind of makes me feel all giddy like Molly here:


(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom at 200mm; program mode; camera chose 1/320 second at f/10 and ISO 200; slow-sync using the SB-800 flash; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Fall colors

I spent a few days on the western slope of Colorado this past weekend to see what this season's fall colors were like. The summer there has been warmer than usual without a cold snap to really get the color going, so the color season is starting later than usual. I'm guessing it'll be nearing their peak color in the next week or two.

There were three areas I went to: Capitol Peak, Grand Mesa, and McClure Pass. Capitol Peak and Grand Mesa were very enjoyable although I thought they had yet to hit their peak. McClure Pass seemed to be on the downswing as many of the aspen trees had dull yellow leaves and in some cases were already dropping them. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed my visit there.

Here is a few pictures taken up on both Capitol Peak and Grand Mesa:

More aspen fall color goodness along the road.
Aspen leaf on the ground

(Shot with the Nikon D300 and the 18-200mm zoom; matrix-metered; sunlight white balance; normal JPG.)