My Furry Sixth Sense


I’ve known since basically forever that my dog is a protector.  I wouldn’t say he’s a guard dog (I’ve honestly no idea what he would do if someone tried to mess with me or my family…he’d probably not be happy at all), more of an alert dog.  I was reminded of this fact twice today, and also why this is one of the reasons I love having him around.


Liam sneaking up on my dad. 🙂

The first instance was this morning.  I was working on something (facebook, maybe…?) and was gradually realizing that one of the neighbor dogs was incessantly barking outside, which they don’t normally do.  About this time my dog Liam barked as well.  I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but Liam doesn’t bark.  Ever.  The only time he will ever bark is if he thinks something is wrong, or if something is out of place or out of the ordinary.  So I went out on the back deck to see what the fuss is about…turns out, there were some people in the backyard next door looking at the house to rent or something, I think.  My boy knew they weren’t supposed to be there, he knew they weren’t usually there, hadn’t seen them before, so he told me.


On a slightly different note, there’s this weird thing that happens to me when he barks.  I don’t really know why or how, but I seem to hear him even before he’s actually making sound.  Even if I’m in bed and he barks at something, I always feel like I’m already moving before he’s properly started to bark.  Maybe it’s one of those weird mom senses or something.  I don’t know.

The second instance was later in the day.  I was washing dishes and happened to glance out the window.  Liam was sitting straight up, staring at the road that goes behind our house.  He seemed pretty intent on something, so I just thought “Hm, wonder what’s caught his attention?”.  A few seconds later, I began to hear sirens, and pretty soon an ambulance screamed by on the road.  Again, he knew it was coming.  In this instance, he wasn’t alerting me to anything, cause cars go by on the road all the time, but he was still very, very aware of what was happening.


His serious face.

I’ve learned, over the last few years especially, to always, always trust the animals.  I know some dogs may actually bark at nothing, but in my experience, my pets never lie.  Even the cats.  Our skinny kitty will lock on to something out the window.  I’ll get down to her level and look, and it may only be a leaf blowing in the yard, or a bird on the roof three houses down, but there’s always something there.  It’s never nothing.

So, essentially I kind of adore my dog.  Not only is he keenly aware of every single thing going on around us at all times, he’s the goofiest boogerling ever who likes belly rubs and playing hide behind the tree and sitting all ninety-something pounds of himself on my big toe…he’s a goose.  🙂


In case anyone needed proof of his gooberness. 

PS  All of these photos are from a while ago…I don’t have very many recent pictures, and it was a good excuse to go back and see how adorable and gangly he was.  🙂



Pet Portraits

A few weeks ago in our portraiture class we all shot pets (With cameras.  Please nobody come hunt me down for pet murder.).  🙂  We all had to choose a pet, whatever sort of animal we wanted, and lug it in to the school campus.  Most people brought dogs, although there was also a snake, a fish, puppies, a bunny, and a pig.  Since my dog weighs 90-ish pounds and gets very excited when he sees doggy friends, I decided to drag my grumpy cat to school and use her as my pet model instead.

Something you should know about my cat: She hates.  That’s pretty much it.  She’s always devastated, when we go home for a weekend, to find out that no, I’m really not the only human being on earth, much as she would like me to be.  She hate’s car trips, she hates her kennel, she hates when I wait too long to feed her, she hates when I don’t let her sit on my lap 24/7…basically, she’s a cat, just grumpier than normal.  She’s getting to be an old lady though, so I guess she’s allowed to get away with it.

So when I dragged her to the school for a photo shoot, popping strobe lights, dogs in the other room, noises and smells and new places, she was pretty set to murder me.  For my area to shoot I was put in the prop room, a small room very akin to a closet cluttered with lots of junk and places for kitties to hide.  Willy kept trying to sneak off, but overall it was a decent shoot.  Here’s some of the photos I got.  Click for a bigger view.

My classmate trying to console my poor cat.

I used a softbox for most of the pictures.  Here she is looking not terribly freaked out.

This was the photo I turned in to my teacher.  I traded the softbox for a snoot, and it gave it a very dramatic feel, which I liked.  My teacher seemed to have very pleased things to say (she kept coming back to it while discussing other peoples’ photos) which was nice but very strange.  She suggested fixing the little light-colored spot on Willy’s ear to be less distracting, and removing the tail from the bottom.

I decided, in my free time yesterday, to see if I could fix it up any like she’d suggested.  It’s not perfect work, but hopefully my editing isn’t painfully obvious, aside from the fact that I pointed out what I changed.  (And yes, I did stick a lame watermark in there…if my tough-to-please teacher was interested in it, and if I spent that long trying to fix it, I’m going to try and protect my picture as best I can.  But we’re all friendly, non-stealing people around here. 🙂 )

This one is just for fun.  I liked the angle and the light.

The critique for this assignment was actually a tiny bit fun for once.  It was cool to see what sort of shots my classmates were able to get, and see what animals they used.  It was also somewhat reassuring, for myself, to hear positive comments not only on one of my photos in general, but also on a photo that’s a subject I’d actually be interested in shooting as a job.  When I started college, I said I wanted to be a pet photographer.  Now when people ask I tell them I have no clue what I want to do.  Animals are still my passion, but I just have no idea.  So it was nice to hear that I actually did a decent job on the subject I like best.

Address is Approximate

Some of you may remember the stop motion video of the little light bulb my classmate and I made earlier this year.  We had a lot of fun making it, and it sort of perked up an interest in stop motion for me.  Recently (I suppose it’s been a month or so ago now) I stumbled on a video while I was skimming around Vimeo a bit.  Now, aside from being plain beautiful, from the visuals to the music, this has several things I love.

1) A little robot character.  Call me weird, but I love certain types of robots.  I have a fleece blanket covered in robots.  I love the idea of playing off robots and emotions together since, obviously, robots aren’t alive and therefore shouldn’t technically be capable of feelings.  (Also, one of my favorite story ideas that I never finished writing has a human with surgically implanted mechanical parts…not quite a robot, but similar)

2) This sort of goes with #1, but I love when something simple can have such a huge story.  Stories don’t always have to be these huge complicated things.  In fact, I think it speaks extremely well of you if you can tell a simple but engaging story, especially in a small amount of time (two minutes and forty-three seconds, for instance).

3) Stop motion.  I believe when I stumbled on this video I had actually done a stop motion search, and it apparently caught my eye.  Honestly, though, I have a hard time believing this is stop motion.  It’s incredibly smooth, almost to the point that, technical factors aside, it could be straight video footage.  It absolutely sucks me in, with squid suckers and everything.

I’ve found that it’s great to crawl in bed, pull all the covers around, turn the lights out, put it on full screen, volume up, and watch it in the darkness.  The music is so soothing, the story  is so magical, and the video as a whole is superbly beautiful.  So, here it is.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.


Metal Inspiration

It has been, once again, difficult to find a photographer who specializes or has shot metal (the hard, often shiny substance used to make a whole heap of stuff, not the style of music).  So, instead, I thought I would find some photos of metal, things that I think of when I think of metal.

The first thing I thought of was London (it’s on the brain big time right now).  In London, all the street lamps along the Thames (or at least one section of it) have these fishes at the base of the lights.  Something like this (I can’t find an exact picture, but these are close):

And, because I’m still thinking about London, here’s the Trafalgar Square lions.  🙂


Metal Technical Info

Our metal assignment was similar to the glass in that we had to deal thoughtfully with the reflections on our objects.  Several of my ideas were approved, and I chose to shoot metal measuring cups.

I started out wanting to try a dark background approach and create lighter edges.  I used a black sheet for the backdrop, a soft box on one side, and a reflector card on the other side of the cups.  This worked alright, but there were still a lot of reflections.  I borrowed a classmate’s cleverly created light box (made out of artist canvases held together with tape to form a box) and placed the measuring cups inside to help smooth out the reflections and create even softer light.  This helped a lot.

Tech Specs:

  • Camera and Lens: Nikon D300s with a 55-200 lens.  No film since this is a digital camera.
  • Exposure: F/11 @125, ISO 200, Daylight white balance.  The white balance came out more yellow than intended, so I fixed that in Lightroom.

Here are a few photos from the shoot…

One of my first tries…

After moving it into the light box…

A few others I liked…

And this is the one I’ll end up using…

Glass Photographer

To find a photographer who shoots glass, I once again began by consulting my friend Google.  Did Google know of anyone?  Did he know of any particularly striking pictures?

The first picture I found that struck me as really interesting was this one…

glass Photography - Explored 12/2/2011

I like the way he flipped the second glass behind the first.

There’s not a whole lot of information about this photographer.  His name is Patrick Iven and he lives in Belgium.  Here’s his site (It’s all written in another language, but still pretty easy to get around.  You can see some of his work).  He seems to shoot a variety of things, from nature to kids.  Here are some more of his glass objects he’s shot…

Westvleteren XII - the best beer in the world

B/W glasses

Wine Splash and Drop

If you’re interested in seeing more of his work, you can visit his blog, Flickr account, or his Facebook page.

Glass Technical Info

The glass assignment was the last one we had to do with the 4×5 camera.  I shot the Coca-Cola glasses, lined up and on a white background.  I was pretty pleased with how it came out.  I wish I had gotten a little higher to shoot, but then the reflections below the glasses were lost.  Anyway, here is the technical information about the shoot (for my teacher and anyone else interested enough):

Tech Specs:

  • Camera and Lens: Calumet 4×5 view camera, 8 inch/210 mm lens
  • Film: 4×5 Fujifilm Provia 100F, Daylight, ISO 100 (chrome film)
  • Exposure Factor: 2 (one stop over for normal exposure)
  • Exposure Info: ISO 100 (lightmeter and film), f/22 @125, 177 watt seconds for the light

Here’s a basic (terrible) picture of the basic setup:

This is my friend/classmate’s object.  We created a makeshift light table with a soft box and a thin piece of material.  To achieve the darker edges on our glass items, we used squares of black poster board and brought them close in to the objects.

Here’s my final image: