dog

Surprise Engagement Photography in Albuquerque New Mexico

Surprise Engagement Photography in Albuquerque New Mexico

Live engagement shoot with dogs!

Bobby called me up asking if I could do a live photoshoot of him proposing to his girlfriend. I said yes, I could, and I have actually done this very thing before back on a beach in Florida. Now there are a lot of variables that go into any outside, on location photoshoot, and even more for a live shoot. Luckily, with as much preparation and planning as we could do beforehand, everything worked well for the live shoot! I casually pretended to be photographing the mountains while Bobby put bowties on the dogs and got the ring out.

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Cottonwood Dog Park Rio Rancho Ribbon Cutting

Cottonwood Dog Park Rio Rancho Ribbon Cutting

Rio Rancho doglife just got better!

I have been taking my dog, Kiki, to dog parks across the country for all her 9.5 year life. Having a good dog park is a key feature of any place I choose to live. Therefore, the opening of more dog parks is always welcome, and especially ones in urban areas. Such a dog park opened right in the middle of the Cottonwood Mall parking lot in Rio Rancho, New Mexico! Before the ribbon cutting event hosted by the ABQ West Chamber of Commerce I had a hard time imagining how a dog park could be in a mall. Whoever the designers were deserve great praise for making a fantastic dog park, with obstacles, shade and easy access to water for both dog and human alike! I have never seen such a large gathering of dogs with all dogs getting along so well either! We live far from this dog park, so will not be regulars, but when on the west side I look forward to visiting again!

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Penny the 18-year old dog at The Crofting Inn Cloudcroft New Mexico

Penny the 18-year old dog at The Crofting Inn Cloudcroft New Mexico

Penny, the 18-year old dog of Cloudcroft New Mexico

My rural land photography work recently took me to Cloudcroft, New Mexico, which is about 30 minutes east of Alamogordo.  It is a small mountain town, almost like a place you might think is hiding up in the Alps in Switzerland.  The town has a lot of charm and while there I stayed at The Crofting Inn B&B.  The is where I met Penny, the 18-year old dog.

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Albuquerque New Mexico LinkedIn Headshot Photography with Jess

Albuquerque New Mexico LinkedIn Headshot Photography with Jess

Many of you may know Jessica, full-time girlfriend and part-time photographer's assistant and charmer at networking events!  She is writing her dissertation and once she has her PhD will be looking for professor jobs and therefore now needs to get her LinkedIn profile going and we started with making her a headshot at the JCP Home Studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

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Photography Tip - shoot at eye level to your subject

Seeing eye-to-eye with Kiki (left) and two friends. Shot from one knee at the same eye level as the dogs.One very easy way to start making photographs like a pro is to simply stop only shooting from your own eye level.  Getting down to the same eye level as your subject immediately transform a photograph, for the better.  I often see people in the dog park standing and shooting down on their dogs playing.  That will just show you what you already see when looking at your dogs, so why would you want to see a photograph of that?  Get down on one knee (or your stomach if you have a very small dog!) and suddenly you will see in photographs your dog from a very different perspective.  

In the above photo Kiki is running with two friends.  The expressions on their faces are all very clear and it looks like the dogs are looking right at the viewer of the photo in the eye.  This creates a connection to the subject of the photograph not possible if shot from me standing up over five feet in the air.

The next time you go out shooting trying taking a knee or even lying down to get to eye level and see a world from a new perspective!

Photography Tip - set DSLR Drive Mode to its fastest for action shots

One big differentiator between DSLR models is how many frames per second it can shoot.  10 FPS is fast, 3 FPS is not.  6 FPS is a minimum for being able to produce pretty good action and sports photography shots.  The faster the FPS of your DSLR, the better the odds are for you to capture the best moment in an action sequence.  Knowledge of the action type definitely helps, but ultimately a lot of it comes down to just being lucky enough to have had your DSLR capture that particular frame that looks the best, the coolest, the most dynamic.  

By default most DSLR will be set to take only a single shot no matter how long one holds the shutter down for.  For me, I always leave my Nikon in its faster FPS setting.  In the menus this is usually called the Drive Mode and its symbol looks like a stack of cards (see photo above).  Many DSLRs will have a button for changing this setting on the camera body.  My thinking for leaving it set to the fastest is you never know when something cool will happen and I much rather have 6 chances in a second of capturing it than one.  Of course I do not always hold the shutter down and take 6 FPS.  I have trained my finger to only actuate one shot each time I press the shutter if I only want to make one shot.  I have seen though that many newer model DSLRs have a very sensitive shutter button making this very hard to do.  Maybe those will eventually wear in and not be so sensitive.

If you find you are taking too many shots at once due to a sensitive shutter or other reasons, there is usually a second, less fast FPS setting you can use, without having to go to just a single shot setting.  When photographing the St. Anthony's Triathlon that was the drive mode I was recommended to use in order not to end up with too many shots of each triathlete.   

In the above dog photos these were made withing a split second of each other.  If I was trying to specifically get an ears up or ears down shot, I would never rely on having perfect timing to do it with one shot!  For sure I would use the fastest burst mode available.  This is definitely a case where you lock onto your subject and just hold the shutter down and hope the final frozen action of the subject looks good.  You use your skills to set exposure and focus, and to position yourself well relative the moving subject.  This minimizes how much you need to be lucky to capture good action shots.  Get your settings right, put yourself in good position, then hold the shutter down and hope you got just the right moment!  The faster your FPS, the better your chances.

Photography Tip - get close, then get closer for higher impact images

Getting in very close on this photograph of Kiki showing her viewpoint and thoughts.Getting in close to your subject is one way to immediately add more impact to the photograph.  Once you think you have gotten in as close as you should, try going in even closer.  This is especially true for portraits, as seen above in the portrait of Kiki seemingly in deep thought.  The framing only reveals her right eye and some of her head leaving all else a mystery to the viewer.  

It helps to use a macro lens to make this kind of shot.  Another good way is to use a long focal length (200mm+).  

Get close, and then closer even for group portraits to capture more emotion.The get close, and then get closer composition style also works for group portraits, not just single subject portraits.  In the above example showing the groom and groomsmen head to toe is a fine shot, but the viewer feels distant from the subject.  Zooming in and composing a much tighter shot reveals each person's individual character more and makes for a much more personal experience for the viewer.

Try getting much closer than you normally do in composing your shots and let me know in the comments below what the results were.