Wednesday, May 30, 2012

JJ at the park

At the GreySave picnic I was asked to photograph JJ, a blue brindle boy who had his right rear leg amputated a couple of months ago. His owners, who take in special-needs greyhounds, regularly post Facebook updates on him. Reading through his travails have been inspiring to those who know him. So at the very end of the picnic, I asked his owner if I could quickly take a few photos.

He walked out of the ex-pen and stood still as I photographed. I particularly liked how this one came out (I digitally removed his leash):


One of his owners stood behind my right shoulder and called out to him while the other owner held up his leash. When I got home I added a little more black to the picture.

I hope JJ is around a long, long while.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; camera chose shutter speed of 1/640 second at ISO 400; -0.7 exposure compensation; SB-800 flash set to -1.0 flash compensation; auto white balance; center-weighted metered; normal JPG.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pictures from GreySave's Race to the Park picnic

For the first time ever I went to GreySave's Race to the Park picnic. I know a few GreySave volunteers because they have help run the silent auction in past years at the Solvang Greyhound Fest.

The park was at a different location than what they had used in the past. Many years ago it was privately-owned property, but now it belongs to the city of La Crescenta. It has many trees, and lots of grassy areas. I had a few sessions to do, and in between the sessions I wandered around the many greyhound-filled x-pens that were set up under the shade trees.

Here are some pictures I took during the picnic:

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Everyone enjoyed spending time with their hounds, whether that involved walking in their little parade around the park, or taking a nap in the afternoon.

I tried to stay within the shade to photograph, as has been my habit of late. Center-weighted metering was used a lot here to help bring out the eyes, and I mostly used my heavy 70-200mm VR zoom for these shots.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nikki waits

She waits for us at the the same way she waited for Gayle to come home at the end of a work day:

Nikki waits for Gayle to come home

Four years ago last week...and it still doesn't seem real that she left.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 18-200mm zoom at 18mm; program mode; camera chose shutter speed of 1/250 second at f/8 at ISO 200; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

The solar eclipse of 2012

I have not taken anything worthy of either Sadie or Katie in the last couple of weeks.

But there was a partial solar eclipse visible here in southern California this past weekend so I tried to get a few photos of that. Fortunately, clouds were rolling in off the ocean in early evening (normal for this time of year) so I didn't need any eye protection. Still, I refrained from looking at the sun directly, and looked at the edge of the viewfinder while focusing on the sun.

It didn't turn out too badly:

The partial solar eclipse of 2012

Since I was using the spot meter the camera made silhouettes out of everything.

One method that was suggested to use to watch the eclipse was to use a white background and binoculars or a telescope to project the sun's image onto the background. I didn't have a white backdrop handy, so I had Gayle hold our binoculars and used Sadie as the backdrop:


Sadie was a little confused about why I was having her stand still on the front lawn as I snapped a few frames.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I was thinking of writing something to accompany these pictures of Hoover I took in Gettysburg, but it's probably better that I don't:

Hoover and Jen

Hoover and Jen


Hoover and Jen

Jen and Hoover

Hoover and Jen


(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 70-200mm VR zoom; aperture-priority with aperture set to f/2.8 or f/3.2; shutter speed varies at ISO 200 and 800; center-weighted metering; sunny, cloudy, and shade white balance; some pictures used -0.7 exposure compensation; shot in RAW.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I chose to do some photo shoots at Sachs Covered Bridge again this year at Gettysburg. This is where I met nine-year-old Minty and six-year-old Hoover, their owner Linda, and Linda's daughter Jen.

I met Minty and Hoover at the Country Inn and then led Linda and Jen to the bridge. It took perhaps 15-20 minutes to get there from their hotel. I drove them past the Wheatfield, the Orchard, Devil's Den, the Irish Brigade monument, and then parked near the northern end of the bridge. As had happened last year, there was a relay race being run that day from Gettysburg to Washington, DC (a distance of 212 mi/341km). Sachs Covered Bridge happened to be a transition checkpoint where the many relay teams changed runners. It did not prove to be a distraction (more than a few people involved with the race wanted to meet Minty and Hoover). But I did want to try and not have any people visible in any pictures.

Minty was easy to work with. Linda said she'd do pretty much anything that was asked of her. I had her stand in the grass that lined Waterworks Road and took a picture:


While we were standing there trying to get different angles on her, there was a loud, sustained cracking sound as a large branch broke off a tree and fell to the ground near us. Minty was not fazed:


We decided to do something different and try crossing the bridge and go photograph on the opposite bank, downstream from the bridge. Jen took Minty and Hoover into the creek, and after Jen led Hoover back onto the bank, Minty decided to stay where she was and just survey the scene:


At no time did she attempt to run off exploring on her own; Linda was near me, and wherever Linda was, that's where Minty was, too.

We retraced our steps back to the bridge, and when there weren't any runners around I tried taking a few pictures, using the light that passed through the "windows" in the bridge:


And then it was time to go. Minty jumped back into Linda's SUV and fell asleep:


I had a great and fun time photographing her. I hope Linda is pleased with how her pictures came out.

(Shot with Nikon D300 using the 50mm and the 70-200mm VR zoom lenses; all pictures used aperture-priority with aperture set to f/2.8 or f/3.2; ISO varies from 200 to 800; shade or cloudy white balance; shot in RAW.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Greyhounds fly at Gettysburg

On Sunday morning at GIG there were two speed runs held at the Gettysburg Recreational Park's baseball field. The speed runs lets owners run their Greyhounds from one end to the other within an enclosed, fenced area. (I'm guessing it was almost a couple hundred feet in length.) At the far end a person hold a radar gun to measure the Greyhound's speed as it approaches. Speeds measured in the 30-40mph range were common; the highest speed I heard recorded was 41.

I went to the second speed run, and stood about two-thirds of the way from the starting point. At first I had my continuous frame rate set to 3 frames a second, but then decided I switch to the higher, 5fps rate. In doing so I was able to get a number of Greyhounds with all four feet off the ground, with the dog at full extension (which is a characteristic of their double-suspension stride).

It's such an amazing thing to see:







I used shutter-priority mode for these; the shutter speed was set to 1/2000 second, and the camera set the aperture to f/5.6 at ISO 400. Also, I used one focus area and tried to keep it centered on the dogs' body as much as possible. And I was also zooming out from the dogs got closer to me. I don't have any shots of the Greyhounds as they passed by: using the 70-200mm zoom at the 70mm setting was much too close for me to get the entire dog to fit within the viewfinder.

This is about as close as I'll get to see Greyhounds running full-out, unless I get the chance to go to a dog track, lure course, or NOTRA event.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Galgos at Gettysburg

I don't know whether this is true or not, but I got the impression that there were a lot more Galgos at Gettysburg than in years past. There has been a concerted effort by people both here and in Europe to get Galgos out of Spain due to the horrific way that many of them are disposed of when they are no longer wanted.

I won't dwell on that subject as you can find information about that on the internet. Rather I choose to show some Galgos brought to the US and Canada that I met while in Gettysburg. Somewhat smaller than Greyhounds, they are stunning to look at. This is Iker from Canada, who arrived here just a few weeks ago:


He is shy and at first wouldn't let me get too close for a picture. Eventually, he did relent and I got a couple of shots using my 50mm lens.

Zeus was the second Galgo I met. He lives in Ohio:

Then, I met Lehto for the first time. He is nearly a year old and rail-thin. His antics are legendary, as are his looks:

Lehto and Zeus


I used an aperture of f/2.8 on all of these, which does not allow much room for focusing errors. But the wide aperture blurs backgrounds nicely.

(Shot with the Nikon D300, 50mm prime, 70-200mm VR zoom, and SB-800 flash; aperture-priority with aperture set to f/2.8; shutter speed varies; ISO 200 and 400; slow-sync flash mode; auto and cloudy white balance; normal JPG.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wiki (2001 - 2012)

I never met Wiki, who was adopted by my friend PJ in Baltimore several months ago. I would've like to, but before I could see him at GIG he passed in his sleep a few weeks ago. Instead of paraphrasing PJ's words, I'll quote what he posted:

My boy Wiki passed early yesterday morning. He was outwardly very healthy until the end, save a brief episode of panting on Sunday night before returning to normal the rest of the week. Adopting him after his 10th birthday I was aware I was taking on a big bundle of future heartache. But he was very special and glad to have known him for the past 11 months. 
My connection with the boy formerly known as Gatwick began over 5 years ago when he on my list of potential matches as a first-time adopter. I never met him back then, but when he showed up as a return 4 years later I felt more than the normal compulsion to help him. It was only about 6 weeks after adopting Kali, but I told myself I was giving him a place to land and maybe someone would be able to take him on down the line. I had no long-term plans for him as I am single with 2 greys already and no proper yard. 
Wiki seemed to think differently as on the day he arrived as he situated himself on the bed and had a look of contentment about him. I like to think he knew had arrived at something good. He really cared for the girls, and might have viewed himself as their ‘protector’ a little bit. He would summon a strong bark at the dogs we passed inside fences in my neighborhood. He loved toys and would usually greet me when I got home with one in mouth. He was nutty at times, attacking the blanket before he laid down on it. And he would groan with happiness when I gave him a good ear rub. 
I spent 6 months trying to find him a home. All the while I was telling myself I could not handle a third grey. But after 6 months with him it was pretty obvious that I had three hounds and it was not a big deal (mostly because he was such an easy dog and easy-going too). A few short weeks after his 10th birthday I did away with the formality and made him mine. 
He might have given me a final present having a rather normal week before passing in the night. I didn’t even wake so I’d like to think he passed quietly and painlessly for his sake. And that he's now happy in doggie heaven/squirrel hell.

Our little group of greyhound friends got together thus: Beth suggested pint glasses, Aimee designed a logo to be etched onto the glasses, as well as placed the order, and Jen bought a varied assortment of beer. Everything arrived in time for GIG. On Saturday night we presented it to PJ, and then raised a toast in Wiki's memory. "He was perfect," PJ said.

I hoped to get a picture of a pint glass filled with stout while I was there but I guess it'll wait until Dewey.

This is Aimee's design that was etched onto each of eight pint glasses:

Wiki logo. © Aimee Finley. Used with permission.
Image copyright Aimee Finley.
Used with permission.

Rest well, Wiki. Know that you are loved and missed, even by those who never met you. And yes, you were perfect.

Friday faces at Gettysburg

After I did a session with two greyhounds at Sachs covered bridge in Gettysburg on Friday (about which I'll share in a future post) I drove over to the vendor area to see what and who was there. It was cold and windy that day after being soaked in a brief downpour the night before.

A number of greyhounds were bundled up against the dry, brisk wind that went through the vendor tents. Greyhounds aren't as resistant to either heat or cold as, say, your typical dog. You'll sometimes hear it said in greyhound adoption circles that if you're cold, then your greyhound is cold, too. On the other hand, I've seen where greyhounds who live in northern climes are just fine running and playing in snow during the winter, and jackets aren't worn until the temperatures drop to near freezing.

I wandered from tent to tent looking for faces to photograph.Here are a few that I saw:

I haven't gotten around to fixing any of these yet. I used center-weighted metering more than I used matrix metering for the first time, I think. For dogs I like how it's better at bringing out the eyes. None of the metering choices I have (matrix, center, spot) are perfect for every lighting situation. I just have to be a little more aware of how the light is, and what mode will give me what I want. Most of the time, up till now, I use matrix. But with greyhounds I tend to have a problem with the eyes being way underexposed when using matrix. In other situations matrix does a good job of exposing the eyes properly. I'm still learning, but it's fun.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 70-200mm f/2.8 VR zoom; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; center-weighted metered; normal JPG.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

That's close enough

Lightning illuminates a thunderstorm somewhere in the Midwest. 

A little over two hours into my flight back home from attending GIG I noticed a light flash on the left wing. I assumed it was a light beacon on the aircraft. But when I saw the flash again I looked past the left wingtip and saw a large thunderstorm with lightning flashing within. I took a few cell phone pictures but wasn't happy with any of them. So I dug my Nikon out of its bag, attached the 50mm lens on it, and snapped a few more pictures as the storm moved past the wingtip.

This was total luck. I took a guess when another bolt of lightning might appear. It's a long hand-held exposure (around 1/2 second ) so when the picture is viewed at 100% the bolt is smeared (the orange blur at the bottom-left of the second picture is of a passenger behind me reading a book). But considering I'd never gotten a really good picture of lightning before, this will work for me.

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm lens; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/2.8; camera chose shutter speed of 1/2 second (top) and 0.7 second (bottom) at ISO 1000; spot-metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Welcome back to Gettysburg

While at O'Rourke's Family Eatery I was drenched by a downpour. But I got some cool-looking star spikes from the oncoming headlights.

Not quite what I had in mind...

(Shot with the Nikon D300 using the 50mm f/1.8 lens; aperture-priority with aperture set to f/5; camera chose shutter speed of 1/100 second at ISO 400; center-weighted metered; auto white balance; normal JPG.)