Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Solvang Thursday

We spent this last weekend in Solvang, CA, for the 8th annual Solvang Greyhound Fest. The weather was great, and there were lots of greyhounds to see and meet.

We checked into our motel room Thursday. Later, at dusk, I stepped out of our motel room to walk over to Dascomb Cellars for their wine-tasting. The sky was clear. I spotted a crescent moon, just a few days past new, hovering over a weather vane that topped one of the buildings where we stayed:


Then it was a short walk down Copenhagen Drive and First Street to Dascomb Cellars. There once was another winery (Wilson-Bradford) at the location a few years ago that sold wine glasses with greyhounds etched on them (see following picture below), but apparently it was in business only for a short while:

Solvang 2009 WCGG commemorative wine glass at Wilson-Bradford 

Anway, here are a few pictures of the greyhounds at the Dascomb winery:





None of these are color-corrected, so there's way too much orange and yellow because of the lighting in the store.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; center-weighted metered; +0.7 exposure compensation; auto white balance; ISO varies; normal JPG.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sadie and Tooey

One of the cats, Tooey, often sleeps with Sadie and Katie on our bed. Usually each animal keeps a certain distance from the others so that everyone is on our bed, everyone is far enough apart, everyone gets to sleep, and thus everyone is happy.

Yesterday, it was Tooey and Sadie who slept very close to each other. I suspect that, in typical Sadie (and typical greyhound) fashion, she stretched herself out be as comfortable as possible at some point during the nap. Despite that, Tooey held his ground. At one point Tooey sat up and looked out our bedroom window while Sadie continued to nap.

I won't go so far as to suggest that Tooey was keeping watch while Sadie slept, but I could understand how one might interpret this image that way.

Sadie and Tooey

(Shot with Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom lens set at 105mm; aperture-priority; aperture set to f/5.3, camera chose 1/60 second at ISO 800; auto white balance; matrix-metered; rendered in b&w using Lightroom; normal JPG.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sadie, Katie, and their new friend at Point Vicente

Last week, my friend and her husband from Minnesota spent a week vacationing in southern California. When she sent me a message a few months ago to say that she'd be in town, one thing that she wanted to do was make sure she got to meet Sadie and Katie. Of course, there was no way that she wasn't going to meet them.

After going on a three-hour late morning whalewatch cruise out of Redondo Beach (where we spotted six fin and two gray whales, and a few common dolphin), we drove to Point Vicente to walk along the Palos Verdes loop trail. Starting from the Interpretive Center, we walked north on the trail, pausing several times to look out at the ocean that was just on the other side of the metal railing that skirted the edge of the cliffs. We spent a lot of the time chatting.

After awhile Aimee and I decided to turn around and walk back to the Center, and again we paused a few times along the way to look at the ocean. By this time I decided I had better try my luck and get a few shots of Aimee with Sadie and Katie. Although we stopped once to take a few photos as she knelt behind them -- Sadie rested her head on Katie's back as she often does -- I wanted to get a few shots of them walking together. This might be the best of those:

Sadie and Katie with my friend Aimee walking on the Palos Verdes Loop Trail near Point Vicente.

I used my little SB-400 flash for fill even though it was mid-afternoon, and the sun was falling behind high cirrus clouds that were approaching from the west. I imported this picture into Lightroom, and played around with a few different presets before I settled on this one, which is contrasty and made for a dramatic sky. Aimee's face was too underexposed so I used an adjustment brush to lighten it with the Exposure setting.

Katie surprised me during the walk in that she was not nervous, and didn't get anxious when strange dogs passed nearby a few times going in the opposite direction on the trail. I was quite pleased at how well both girls, especially Katie, handled being walked at the point. But then, I needn't have worried because Aimee handles Greyhounds well, has three Greyhounds of her own, and assisted me at the last few Greyhound gatherings that we've both attended.

Ever since Aimee and I met on a Greyhound forum a few years back I'd been hoping she'd get the opportunity to meet our girls. I was never entirely sure that she'd ever get the chance. I'm so glad that it came true last week.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom set at 18mm and the SB-400 flash; program mode; camera used 1/250 second at f/20 at ISO 400; slow-sync; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

There could be streaking in Solvang

Greyhound-streaking, I mean.

The past two years we've not been able to let any Greyhounds run in the Solvang Streak because of the rain the night before. But last night, while looking at the extended weather forecast for next Saturday, I read that it would be sunny. That means I'll get to indulge a little in photographing Greyhounds on the run.

The streak is held at the local elementary school. A grassy area is enclosed in orange plastic fencing, and the Greyhounds (usually in ones or twos -- occasionally more) run from one end to the other.

(Front to back): Sheba, Ruby, Callie, Fiona, Je t'aime

A police officer with a radar gun clocks each dog, and the winners in various categories are given racing silks emblazoned with that category name at the Saturday night dinner.

Greyhounds were made to run -- it never ceases to amaze me every time I watch one do it.


(Shot with the Nikon D200 and D300 using the 70-200mm VR zoom lens; shutter-priority mode with shutter set to 1/2000 second; camera picked aperture using ISO 800 to 1000; normal JPG.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A different view of the world

While waiting for a greyhound to be brought into the corral for small dog- and cat-testing during yesterday's retirement day, Shannon picked up her Chinese crested boy, Jesse James, to give him some attention. He stayed in this position -- lying on his back, feet up -- for some moments.


I held the camera at ground level, aimed it in their general direction, and had no idea what, if anything, I would get.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom set at 34mm and SB-800 flash; aperture-priority with aperture set at f/4.5; camera chose shutter speed of 1/640 second at ISO 400; slow-sync; center-weighted metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Friday, February 10, 2012


Elvis is a four-year-old miniature pinscher ("min pin"), lives in west Los Angeles, and is owned by an executive of Linea Pelle. I got to meet him when the owner of the three Italian greyhounds that I photographed at Dewey Beach last October bought a photo session as a birthday present for Elvis's owner.

His owner frequently travels for business so it wasn't until last month that we were able to get together for the session. I was told that Elvis was protective of his owner, especially when a stranger showed up, so I brought along a bag of dog treats to make peace with Elvis. As soon as I stepped into his home he started barking right away, but stopped when his owner told him to. I have no doubt that Elvis thought he could take me down if he wanted to. He is not belligerent or aggressive in any way; he is just confident.

He is a bright, fun, ever-watchful dog. He kept an eye on me most of the time that I was there, but he would take a time-out whenever I offered him a treat. His best friend, Lucky (a chow mix) was there, too, and Lucky would stand nearby waiting for his dog treat (which his owner, Nancy, said never did). They made quite the pair.

His owner suggested moving his dog bed over by their sliding glass door. It was a great idea. When that was done, Elvis either sat or laid down and I was able to take a few shots. I like how this one came out:


Elvis's owner wanted a few pictures taken of Elvis's right profile, so I did that, too:


I never used my flash; I relied entirely on the light coming in through the sliding glass door. Having a fast prime lens (I used my 50mm f/1.8 lens for this) was a big help. I could've used my 18-200mm, but I didn't want to increase the ISO and introduce more noise (I prefer to keep the ISO below 1000 if I can). Besides, it could only open up to f/3.5 at 18mm, and I've gotten used to doing portraits with the 50mm at f/2 or f/2.8 so I could blur backgrounds more.

Elvis is an awesome little dog. I was glad to have met him.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8 (top) and f/4.5 (bottom); camera chose shutter speed of 1/100 second (top) and 1/60 second (bottom) at ISO 800; matrix-metered; auto white balance; shot in RAW; processed in Lightroom.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sadie #43

I made a more concerted attempt to get a picture of Sadie today. When she followed me into our bedroom and waited for me to do something with her, I had the camera ready. The light bouncing off our wood floor and coming through our windows had a nice effect on her. But she still didn't look quite right. Then, a car outside revved its engine a few times, which caught Sadie's attention.


When I imported the picture into Lightroom I was perfectly willing to leave it in color. But the wood floor reflected an orange cast on the underside of Sadie's face. So I thought I'd see what I'd get if I converted the image to black-and-white. I made a few exposure adjustments, added some sharpness to her face, and used the Iris Enhance adjustment preset to her eyes.

This is the 43rd picture I've taken of Sadie this year.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2; camera chose shutter of 1/640 second at ISO 400; center-weighted metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Indy and the mixed message

I recently made this photo of Indy my Facebook cover photo. After I did that it was pointed out to me by a friend of mine that the words "Friendly Friendly", stitched on the base of this cat tent, and Indy's expression are in opposition.

Indy plots for world domination -- but where can he get a pair of thumbs? 

I hadn't noticed the words until now.

Oh, and Indy often looks like this. I don't suppose we'll ever know why.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom and the SB-400 flash bounced off the ceiling; program mode; camera chose shutter speed of 1/60 second at f/5 at ISO 1000; slow-sync; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Katie #48

When I went out in our backyard a couple of days ago with Sadie and Katie I was hoping to get a decent picture of either of them. I tried to concentrate on Sadie since I had not taken anything that I liked lately, but again it did not work out. So I started trying to get Katie's attention but she would not look at me in a way that I liked. But Gayle, who was inside and noticed what I was attempting to do, started tapping on the big sliding glass window that Katie and I were standing next to. Katie turned to look at Gayle, so I took a few shots.


Yes, it's preferable to be at eye-level with your dog when you take its picture, but I thought if I did that on this occasion the resulting background would have been too distracting. Instead, I aimed down towards Katie, using a somewhat large aperture (f/2.8) to blur the stones behind her. After I imported it into Lightroom, I adjusted the color temperature up to get rid of the bluish cast you get in open shade, and used the Iris Enhance adjustment brush preset to lighten up Katie's eyes.

By the way, this is the 48th picture I've taken of Katie this year.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; camera chose shutter speed of 1/200 at ISO 400; auto white balance; normal JPG.)