Saturday, March 31, 2012

A perfect picture

At the Blur of Fur run at the Greyhound Gang's event both Sadie and Katie participated. Both girls ran twice. For Sadie's second run she would run after me. I had the "advantage" of starting before her, as well as starting further down the run. I was sure that it wouldn't take much to get her to chase after me. All I had to do was run for all I was worth away from her and she would automatically go. That's her nature. And I knew she would have no trouble overtaking me before I got close to the end.

Gayle stood at the end of the run to take our pictures. I had my D300 set to shutter-priority and added one stop of exposure because the sun was at our backs, otherwise the shadows would be too deep.

At the signal I took off. Then, after I had run for a few seconds, Sadie started after me. I thought she might try to jump on me as she passed. You see, we jog sometimes during our walks. And when we jog she gets playful: she jumps alongside me, or clamps her mouth around the back of my hand and tries to lead me down the street. But not this time. She kept her eye on me as she passed, then turned around and waited for me while Gayle kept photographing.


I'm glad that Gayle took this. I've looked at this picture many, many times. The picture shows something that I cannot put into words. The picture shows, in one moment, the relationship that Sadie and I have. The picture is perfect.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200 zoom lens; shutter-priority, with shutter speed set to 1/2000 second; camera chose aperture of f/5.3 at ISO 1800; +1 exposure compensation, auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More stinkeye? Don't mind if she does...


(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm VR zoom lens set at 200mm; program mode; camera chose shutter speed of 1/30 second, aperture set to f/5.6 at ISO 1800; spot-metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Would you like some stinkeye with your photo?

Sometimes you don't know how a greyhound will react when you point your camera in their direction. Many are fine with it; some don't like it when the flash goes off; others must investigate and plant their nose on your lens because you've knelt down to their eye level. Others are not sure what you're up to, and so you might get this:


This hound's eye color reminds me of a friend's greyhounds, Doolin and Minerva, who live in Massachusetts, or of Bunny, who I photographed at Dewey last year.

They're not called sighthounds for nothing.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; program mode; camera chose shutter speed of 1/30 second at f/2.8 at ISO 800; spot-metered; auto white balance; normal JPG).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Whale-watching on the equinox

Yesterday was the vernal equinox. It also happened to be the first time I went out on a whalewatch trip as a naturalist this season. The northbound gray whale migration is now well underway. According to the whale census-takers at Point Vicente there were 19 whales seen yesterday, all of them northbound.

I got an e-mail that there were a number of open spots to be filled by naturalists for several whalewatch trips. So I volunteered to take the afternoon trip as one of two naturalists aboard. As it turned out, we ended up with four. Sherry (the other naturalist) and I walked up and down the decks talking to the passengers about what they might see during the cruise.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and we hoped to see whales out in open waters. Instead, we got a call telling us that three whale calves were spotted in the kelp beds near Rocky Point. So we steered in that direction and soon spotted one whale on our port side. We hove-to just outside the kelp beds and watched as what turned out to be a pair of whales slowly swam in and out of the kelp.


I was so preoccupied with getting a shot of the whale that I didn't even notice until I had downloaded the photo that a harbor seal had surfaced with a fish in its mouth (the seal is the dark gray object closer to the camera than the lighter-grayish, elongated shape of the whale's rostrum).

Then the whale turned around and headed away from shore:


Only to turn around again and head back towards shore:


At this point we realized we were looking at two different whales. We were still dead in the water, engines idling, and it seemed that the whales appeared to be slowly getting closer to us. But then a motor yacht sped through the kelp beds and, I'm sure, spooked the whales.

We moved on to Point Vicente and were told of a fin whale nearby. We saw its blow several times before it dove and then reappeared north of us. In the meantime we were escorted by a small pod of common dolphin, which are always fun to photograph:




It was then time to head back. Overall I'd say it was a decent day of whale-watching.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom; shutter-priority, with shutter speeds varying from 1/500 to 1/1250 second; camera chose various apertures at ISO 400; auto white balance; matrix-metered; normal JPG.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random shots from a retirement day

The latest batch of retired racing greyhounds to arrive from Caliente numbered 21. Eighteen was the original number, but leaving just a few in the pet kennel seemed pointless so all of them were taken. What was a bit surprising with this bunch was that there wasn't a broken-legged greyhound among them. So much the better.

I'll share some random shots that I took during the day.

Huck is a large, white male who lives with the McRorie's. When he was let out of the innermost of two fences that enclosed the property he wandered around and had to see what was going on while Joyce was giving instructions to volunteers new to retirement day processing. When he was still long enough I grabbed a few snaps. This one was a mistake, but look at the bokeh:


While this one of Huck was a little closer to what I was trying to get:


Then he walked up the ramp that leads into a house where kennels are set up to temporarily house some of the greyhounds. He went inside, then turned around and stood on the platform at the top of the ramp, so I got another shot of him:


This is probably a little too dark and kind of flat, but also lots of bokeh to see.

What do you do with a picture that sucks in color because you badly overexposed it? You turn it into black-and-white to see if it looks better:


Didn't work this time, I think.

I took a picture of a flower growing under the trees:


I tried for a different perspective of a greyhound being bathed:


There was a nice moment between a girl who hugged a greyhound she had helped foster before the dog left to be taken home:

Perfect gets a hug and a kiss

Small dog-testing photos can be interesting:



All the dogs shown here were fine during testing, in case you were wondering.

The same applied to Kinko, the cat used for testing:


For some reason, Kinko swatted at quite a few of the greyhounds in this batch.

Then I had to leave. I'm hoping that I'll have some different ideas of how to shoot the next retirement day. Stay tuned.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm and the 18-200mm zoom; suffice it to say I used program, aperture-, and shutter-priority; auto, flash, sunlight, and cloudy white balance; normal JPG.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I was talking to Joyce McRorie at last weekend's retirement day when she mentioned that her greyhound Crystal had died in her sleep two weeks previous. I know very little about her ailments other than she was a "mess". She nearly overcame them. But I do know that her plight touched many who knew her, and they pulled for her to recover. As my vague memory recalls, her illnesses were never quite fully diagnosed.

At the previous retirement day last month, as I was walking past the front of the McRorie's house, I remember seeing her hobbling to the front door with Joyce. And at the retirement day before that one, I remember her lying down on a moving blanket that was laid out under a canopy where newly arrived and bathed greyhounds would be toweled dry later.

I had my 50mm lens on; I opened the aperture up and tried to focus on the eyes. I knew I was going to overexpose her white fur but I didn't care.


She was wearing a coat to keep her warm.


It was a cool December morning, but she was quite toasty in her spot of sunshine:


Later, Crystal was moved back inside the house before the dog hauler arrived with the newest retirees from Caliente. Joyce told me that on Crystal's final night she seemed well earlier that day but later that evening she was just a little out-of-sorts.

A final photo of her on the blanket:


(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2 for the top picture, f/2.8 for the rest; spot-metered for the top picture, matrix-metered for the rest; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sadie #83


When I saw Sadie illuminated this way last week I had to try and capture it. I set the aperture on the 50mm lens to f/2 and really tried to steady myself after I focused on her eye. Shooting nearly wide-open does not allow much room for error, so I'm pleased that I got what I did.

This is the eighty-third picture I've taken of her this year.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2; camera chose 1/50 second at ISO 200; center-weighted metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To streak, or not to streak

To streak (Sadie):


...or, not to streak (Katie):


Sadie was clocked at 24 mph/39 kph on a radar gun; Katie registered a 7 mph/11 kph (she was even clocked at -8mph for a few moments).

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 70-200mm VR zoom lens; shutter-priority with shutter speed set at 1/3200 second; camera chose aperture of f/4 at ISO 400; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Before & After #1: Je T'aime

I've been asked by a few readers to show a picture before and after processing in Lightroom. So, before I bore anyone totally silly, here's my first before-and-after:

This is a photo I took of Je T'aime, one of the greyhounds I did a session with during the Solvang Greyhound Fest. Hardest of all the things for me to do here was removing the saliva bubbles on the lower lip. I guess I could've wiped her mouth before I started shooting but I'll have to remember to check for things like that when I do my next session.