Strobist fun with friends & dogs

Terry holding his dogs Lucy & Sadie with my dog Kiki frame left - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 on a chair to frame rightOn a recent visit to eldest friend Terry's house I brought with me a good bit of my strobist portrait gear planning to make some images of us with our dogs.  This involved not only getting the lighting and logistics correct for shooting in his living room, but also giving Terry some quick tips for how to shoot using my Nikon D300.  Once I got the above image of him with my dog Kiki and two of his three dogs, we switched players and I began coaching Terry how to first focus on my eyes and then recompose all while holding down the shutter halfway and shooting from a position lower than my eye level.  He learned fast, which should not be surprising as he was the valedictorian of our high school class after all!

Yours truly with Kiki & her best friend Sadie - Terry pushed the shutter on this one - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/8 ISO 200 1/250th Strobist: SB-800 in brolly to frame left & SB-600 on floor to frame rightHere is the image Terry and I created together.  This is all without mentioning the random element of the dogs and their movements, who were actually rather stoic for them.  Once Sadie laid down I got Kiki to come in behind her and I just rested on both of them, Terry was in position, and boom, we got the above shot.

Lucy kissing Kiki - background added digitally - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 800 1/60th SB-800 hotshoe mountedLucy was hanging off the sofa with peoples' legs in the background for the above shot, but I liked the kiss Lucy was giving Kiki so I took both dogs out of that busy background and then using Photoshop painted in a color sampled from Lucy's own hair color with a slight gradient added as the final touch to the digital background.

All these shots were done in just a few moments of time, just a fraction of the time we were there, but now thanks to a little photography know-how we will always have these memories of our dogs together.  

Hillsborough River State Park Relaxing with Canine & Human Friends

Relaxing at Hillsborough River State Park with canine & human friendsIf you make the effort with your photography, you will be rewarded.  Sometimes that effort just comes from physically lugging your gear with you when you might feel like just leaving it at home or in the parking lot.  I met some canine and human friends yesterday at Hillsborough River State Park, a very dog friendly place that is also one of the best nature experiences in the Tampa Bay area.  Many parks do not allow dogs on boardwalks, but in HRSP they have free reign.  So four people and as many dogs were able to roam the banks of the Hillsborough River, walk through the slash pine forest and later relax hig above the river and just enjoy the view.  

Certainly it was a bit of an effort to carry my Nikon D300, Tamron 17-50mm lens and Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash on this 2-hour trek, but not that much because I only brought one lens.  I knew ahead of time that the kind of shots I would want to make would require a wide lens.  So to save weight and my back I brought the minimum amount of gear to be able to make those shots.  Why bring the flash?  For fill light in all those three shots above.  They just would not have turned out as well exposed and lit without it.  

So since I made that bit of effort to carry that minimum gear with me, I will have forever visual aids to help me remember that afternoon spent with great canine and human friends.  

My photography tip to you is:  yes, do make the effort to bring your DSLR with you, but help yourself by bringing just the one lens you know you will use for the shots you want to make.

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  • Photography Tip -- photograph your friends

    Nothing like a candid photograph of your best friends - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm @ f/2.8 ISO 1250 1/60th ambient lightI had not seen Rick (on left) in over ten years.  Terry (on right) is once again only about a city and a half away, though for most of the past ten years I was on the other side of the Pacific from him.  So this August marked a mini-reunion a long time coming.  Terry is by far my oldest friend, since the 7th grade.  I have known Rick since the 10th grade.  Few things are more valuable than childhood friends.  

    PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  photograph your friends acting how you remember them

    On our one evening mini-reunion I met Rick's family for the first time, then just Terry, Rick and I went out and tossed the frisbee in a park in downtown St. Petersburg before ultimately ending up in a Denny's.  Back in our day (1990-1992), we used to frequent Perkins and became known for leaving messages spelled with silverware & $2 dollar tips.  The tip was better this time and there was not enough silverware on the table left for any message.  

    I had my DSLR with me of course and used an assortment of lenses while we were seated.  It turned out my wide angle lens produced my favorite image of the night.  I have this photograph residing on my desk printed and mounted right now.  I believe it to be the first photograph of all three of us together since we took a group portrait together our senior year in high school, along with two other friends.  Shocking isn't it?  Now in the digital photography world I am sure the average high school student will graduate with thousands of photos of themselves with their friends.  

    Still, I am happy just to have the above photo and our high school group shot (residing on a shelf behind me right now).  This way, my memory will never fade of my best friends. 

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