Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's National Black Dog Day

To recognize this day I'll share this photo of Sadie that I took back in 2008. Here she was playing bitey-face with Katie.

Still miss these two girls a lot -- always will.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Puppy Bean Roadtrip, part 1

One evening, a few days after we lost Katie last September to lymphoma, Gayle commented — out of nowhere — that she wanted to adopt a racing Greyhound puppy. My mind spun for a few moments as I tried to recall stories written by others who had raised puppies. While I could not remember specific experiences, I knew the stories ranged from "I would do it again in a heartbeat..." to "I did it once and never again...". Was adopting a puppy really something we were prepared to do? 

Although Sadie was getting on surprisingly well as an only dog after having Katie around for nearly ten years, she really did need a dog of her own. (As an aside, racing Greyhounds are always around other Greyhounds from whelping to the day they retire from the track. While on the farm Greyhound litters are kept together for a year before they're sent off to "finishing" school.) I mentioned our interest in getting a Greyhound puppy to a friend of mine in Minnesota who regularly went to a Greyhound farm in Iowa to pick up newly-retired racing dogs. I could keep my eyes peeled for one, she wrote back. And, she explained, Gary (the farm owner) doesn't have oops litters but occasionally has one with a minor physical issue that causes him to decide not to train the puppy but put it up for adoption instead.

That was as far as puppy-talk went for the next several months.

My friend, during that time, made a few trips to Gary's farm, hauling dogs back to her Greyhound adoption group in Minnesota. During a trip she made at the end of November she photographed a litter of puppies that were just two-and-a-months-old. Here is one of her photos of one of those puppies, sleeping in the late autumn sun:

Photo copyright Aimée Finley
What a face. Who could not fall in love with it?

In February, very shortly after Gayle, Sadie, and I returned from the Solvang Greyhound Fest, Aimée sent me a message: Gary has a five-month-old female white-and-brindle Greyhound puppy who injured herself at the farm and, although she was treated for it, he's not going to train her to race but wants to pet her out. Would we be interested?

Uhhh...was this really happening...and happening this fast? We said "yes," put in our application, had our interview and were approved. Now we just had to plan the roadtrip to get her.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Meanwhile, down at the farm...

(Shot with the Nikon D600 using the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens; shutter-priority with shutter speed set to 1/250 second at f/22 at ISO 800; auto white balance; matrix-metered; normal JPG; processed with Lightroom.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mitch (2007 - 2014)

Mitch, though he may not have known it, did a lot to heal Lynn's heart after she lost her previous Greyhound, Eric. But then Mitch was taken much too soon, having stayed for only 11 months.

He turned seven on 12 July.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pain and Remembrance

I don't know if anyone is still reading this blog or not; I haven't added anything to this blog since a couple of weeks after Sadie died on St. Patrick's Day. I am sorry if you've been holding out and waiting for the past three months for something new from me. Her death had stolen most, if not all, of my motivation to write about pictures I have taken of Greyhounds and their owners. Oh, I do have plenty of pictures to share and give you a little background about them...but writing about it had seemed pointless without her (or Katie, for that matter).

We were without Greyhounds (or dogs) in the house for the first time in twenty years. That span lasted for two months, and it was the worst two months ever.

Fortunately I had planned to join two of my friends on an East Coast roadtrip to see a third friend run in the Boston Marathon for the first time. And I was lucky that I had photo shoots to do with a customer in Williamsburg, NY, and at the Greyhounds in Gettysburg event in late April. It was a great distraction for me, but still I caught myself weeping several times (like on the Amtrak train that we took from Boston to New York, or on the Metro in New York) because I missed her so much. My two traveling companions understood, and helped me a great deal.

And shortly after returning from Gettysburg our daughter and I prepared to drive to Minnesota and back to pick up a seven-month-old female Greyhound puppy (who our daughter named "Bean"), fostered for two months by my friend Aimée and her husband.

I promise to write about how Puppy Bean came to join our family in the very near future.

It was early this evening that Puppy Bean was lying on the front lawn, and I was sitting and watching her while holding the end of her leash. And as I watched I was suddenly reminded of a picture I took of Katie eleven days after her leg amputation. So I took our my smartphone and tried to get a picture of Bean as I had done with Katie.

As I tried to frame the picture it then occurred to me that tomorrow (Tuesday, 8 July) will be a year and a week since Katie's operation. It again saddened me terribly that she was no longer here, and those feelings of loss overcame me anew. I remembered what I told her at the end:

"I'm so sorry, Katie, that we could not save you."

As I have told some of my Greyhound friends who let me vent and hug and cry on their shoulders about Katie since her death, I will forever resent the fact that we did not even get the chance to treat her for the lymphoma that eventually took her so swiftly from us. If we just had the chance...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I expect to see her everywhere

It's been hard on you not to have your dog, my wife told me as she gave me a long hug one recent morning. "I expect to see her everywhere," I replied.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Katie's portrait is done

We received Katie's portrait from Xan a few days ago. Seeing the painting develop on a web page is one thing, but having the finished portrait in your hands and seeing it in its full glory is something entirely different...and so much better.

You can see in the animated GIF how the painting came to be.

Thanks to our friends who commissioned Xan to do this portrait of our beloved Katie, and to Xan for a wonderful painting that will be cherished forever.

Monday, February 17, 2014


I was running into a problem when I started working on Gypsy's session pictures at last year's Dewey Beach: everything was looking uninspired and dreary. What to do?

I thought I would add a lot more exposure than I usually do just because I wanted her to stand out more. So I added some black to sharpen things up a bit, and added a slight vignette. Even then the sky in the background was pretty featureless, so I played around with using a gradient filter and added some underexposure to see if I could get some details in the clouds to show up. That helped with what I had in mind. Then I did a bit of cropping and digitally removed her leash.

For the picture below, I'm exploring my photojournalist-wannabe side. I didn't want a standard pose here. After I uploaded the picture I felt like the image's vibe was ambiguous, or perhaps you weren't sure how how Gypsy is feeling (well? ill? stressed?) under a threatening sky at the moment:

She was actually turning to her right to present her profile to me.

I sometimes do this to see if I can see the scene in front of me differently. It doesn't always work (just like most of my pictures don't work) but it keeps things interesting, and helps me to keep trying to get better at seeing the world around me.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 and 18-35mm zoom; aperture-priority, with aperture set to f/8 and 1/160 second in top picture; shutter-priority, with shutter speed set to1/1600 second and aperture of f/4.5 in bottom; center-weighted metered; +0.7 exposure compensation in top picture, +0 in bottom; shot in RAW, converted to DNG, and imported into Lightroom.)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Today is World Galgo Day

Today is World Galgo Day, which was set aside to publicize their situation in Spain. The plight of the galgo (also known as the Spanish Greyhound) in Spain, especially after the end of the hunting season (which happens to be now), is heartbreaking and horrifying. I will not post any pictures here of what happens to all too many of them, but suffice it to say that you can use Google to search and see for yourself. Fortunately there are people and organizations both here in the US (SAGE, GRIN, Scooby North America) and in Europe (Scooby, BaasGalgo, Galgos del Sol, Fundación Benjamín Mehnert) who do their utmost to rescue (and I mean, rescue) them.

What I will do here is to show you some pictures of Galgos that I've met in private photo sessions.






Adopting a galgo is not quite as hard as you might think.

Thanks to all the volunteers and organizations that help these wonderful dogs.

Misty Rose (2005 - 2014)

Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them,
Filling an emptiness we don't even know we have.
 — Thom Jones

(Photographed at the inaugural Remember The Greyhound event in San Antonio, TX, in November 2013.)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Miami, meet Ocean

You will sometimes hear of a list of things that racing Greyhounds may not have encountered during their racing careers before heading off to their adopted homes: linoleum flooring, stairs, city traffic...or the ocean.

Miami had not seen the Atlantic before Saturday's photo shoot at Dewey. How would he react to getting his feet wet with sea foam blowing all over?

Miami, meet Ocean:

No problem! Success!

(I've digitally removed his leash, incidentally.)

Not only was this the first time Miami had seen the ocean, it was also the first time for his companions Thyme (Greyhound) and Izaskun (Galgo), too.

I added some exposure in post-processing to keep Miami's white fur from looking a dingy gray. Some highlights were lost but that didn't really matter to me — I also didn't want his eyes to look like two dark holes in his head.

As an aside, Miami was profiled recently in a local news story in Philadelphia.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 and 105mm VR macro; aperture-priority, with aperutre varying from f/2.8 to f/5.6; shutter speed varied from 1/1000 to 1/3200 second; ISO varied from 100 to 400; +0.7 exposure compensation; center-weighted metering; auto white balance; shot in RAW, converted to DNG, and imported into Lightroom.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014


It was windy at last year's Dewey. And kind of rainy. And windy. It was like this for five days.

And I couldn't think of a better title.
This is Jen and Kasey braving the wind and ocean spray during her session. I was trying to show their small figures in context with the large waves pounding the beach and the big overcast sky. Not really breaking any new ground here: it's just a woman and her Greyhound.

We had the entire beach to ourselves because nobody in their right mind would spend a lot of time out there.

But still, it is a picture of Jen and Kasey on a windswept beach during the worst weather I've ever experienced at Dewey. And it counts for something because I've rarely taken pictures in bad weather like this and made the best of it. Fortunately the wind and spray didn't bother either of them at all.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 and 105mm lens; shutter-priority with shutter set to 1/1000 second, f/7.1 at ISO 100; center-weighted metered; auto white balance; shot in RAW, converted to DNG, and imported into Lightroom.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sammy, Harry, and Loki...and photographing the black Greyhound

A long time ago I was asked by Carrie of Tales and Tails about how to photograph black Greyhounds. I'll share a few suggestions on how I photograph them that you might find helpful:

  • Photograph black Greyhounds in shade whenever possible (pictured: Sammy, photographed in open shade):
  • Avoid mid-day, direct sunlight, if possible, to prevent hot spots on the fur. I prefer to photograph in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer and comes in at a lower angle (pictured: Harry, photographed around 9AM):
  • If you do use flash outdoors, lower the camera's flash compensation to -1 (or whatever value you prefer) to keep the fur from appearing too shiny as black Greyhounds tend to be that way. (On Nikons, this button is used to control the flash's output when used in combination with turning the command dial either left or right. Image copyright Ken Rockwell.). I set the camera's flash exposure mode to slow-sync, which allows the camera to keep both the background and the subject properly exposed. And if your flash has a tilting head, point it up at least 45 degrees and use a flash diffuser if you have one to soften the light further (pictured: Loki, photographed in late afternoon with flash compensation of -1 and slow-sync):

These are just suggestions which give me the results I'm looking for. Play around with the various settings until you find the values that you like.

(Shot with the Nikon D600 using the 50mm and 105mm VR lens. All shot in RAW, converted to DNG, and imported into Lightroom.)

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Je t'aime (1999 - 2014)

    I had known Je t'aime ("I love you") from seeing her run in the Solvang Streak for a number of years (she had attended the West Coast Greyhound Gathering every year since it began in 2005). It wasn't until two years ago that I got to the chance to do a session with her in the Secret Garden of the Royal Copenhagen Inn. She was a beautiful brindle girl:

    She was twelve at the time. There's something about a Greyhound face grown white with age that's so wonderful.

    In April of last year (three months before Katie's amputation) she had a rear leg removed due to OSA and bounced right back.

    This year will be the first Solvang gathering where she will not be there. She crossed the bridge on my birthday.

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Some of my favorite photos I took during 2013 (part 2)




    Sadie (belongs to a different owner):








    Speed Racer:

    Mary, Speed Racer, and Trixie:

    Cat and Sully:


    (All photos taken with the Nikon D600, 50mm, and 105mm lens; shot in RAW, converted to DNG, and imported into Lightroom.)

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Some of my favorite photos I took during 2013 (part 1)

    Bailee-Mae and Julie:


    Winston in Marsh Creek:


    Izaskun near the Peach Orchard:

    Miami near the Peach Orchard:

    Daisy wades in Marsh Creek:



    Axel, Janel, and Duncan:


    (All shot with the Nikon D300 and D600 using the 18-35mm, 50mm, or 105mm lens; shot in RAW, converted to DNG and imported into Lightroom.)