Ulele - Fairy Land (similar to Lowry Park Fairy Land)

April 22, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Recently I visited the Tampa River Walk - this time starting on the northern most tip which is north of downtown Tampa and the interstate.  As we approached Ulele restaurant, I noticed Humpty Dumpty! There he was sitting on top of the brick wall of Ulele on a wall similar to what he did so many years ago in Lowry Park Fairy land.

I remembered when we toured this exhibit at the Tampa History Museum that several of these characters had been purchased and were being refurbished to be on display at Ulele - I just didn't expect it to be a miniature Fairy land - it's very nicely done!  Humpty Dumpty can be seen from the river walk - if you walk up close to him, you'll see the little book stand that was with each of the characters back in the day at Lowry Park.

The other characters that are on display are on the east side of the building near the road, but tucked away in a secluded place.

Warnings are posted - TOUCH ONLY WITH YOUR EYES!  Security cameras are watching over the little fairy land.

Three little pigs....and the house.

Cinderella and her characters.

Hickory Dickory Dock


And Jack and the Beanstalk

If you remember the old Lowry Park Fairy land, this is a wonderful tribute to what once was an iconic place in Tampa - stop by and visit.  Have a drink at Ulele (the patio area is pet friendly) or perhaps have a meal.


Pet Photography - Theme 'Head shots'

April 20, 2018  •  8 Comments

As we enter the middle of April, we are showcasing 'head shots' of pets.  I doubt they are using them to apply for an acting job, but some may be using them to apply for a forever home.  Here's Norman, a young male coon hound who is very active, high energy and a sweet boy.

And little Bailey is coming in at about 35-40 pounds, a black cur mix and sweet little girl!

Tristian, a male chow mix posing for the photographer.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching family portraits in Coppell, Texas and surrounding communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and then head around the rest of the blog circle.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).

Tampa Armature Works on the Hillsborough River

April 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Many years ago when we first started boating I noticed this old brick building along the east side of the river sitting empty.  I had no idea about it's past, just that the writing said "Tampa Armature Works".  The building sat on a curve of the river just past Rick's on the River if you're coming from Lowry Park ...or just a bit north of downtown Tampa.  One time I recall seeing they had a sunken boat in the water just a short distance from this old red brick building.

A google search gives some additional information as to the history of this old brick building - it's actually over 100 years old.  It dates back to 1910 when there were electrical street cars in this area for transportation. TECO (Tampa Electric) used this building to store and maintain the old street cars.  Eventually in 1946, the street cars faded from the landscape of Tampa in favor of the automobile and this building no longer had a purpose in life.  The building remained, it was then purchased from TECO in 1960 by a phosphate machinery manufacturer.  They used this building for a number of years.

The building sits very close to the river - these photographs were taken while boating along the river in September 2016.

To the left (west) of the building the space is open, waiting for it's next purpose (not sure almost 2 years later what this will be).

Construction is beginning in this area now as the chain link fence has blocked off access.

Now, this is a busy place again - with lots of food places inside as well as a bar or two.  The outside has a dog friendly patio area where you can sit along the river and enjoy the scenery. The east side of the building features the Heights Public Market.

This is the side of the building that faces the river taken from the beginning of the River Walk which begins/ends here (depending on where you started).


Many of the old features of the building have been preserved with the repurposing of this building.  It's very popular especially with some of the younger generations - expect it to be loud and crowded - but it's a great addition to things to visit in Tampa!





Pet Photography - Theme "Get Close"

April 13, 2018  •  7 Comments

This week's pet photography theme is 'get close' so I decided to grab my macro lens and take some close up photographs showing just part of a dog. I started looking at Jimbo - he's my old soul in a dog body - I've always thought that way about him.  He came to us about 5 1/2 years ago and both Jim and I looked at him soon after he was settled in and thought the same thing.  A rough life before he came to us, but now he has it much easier - just has to put up with all the critters I keep bringing into our home.  Anyway, here's a few closeups of Jimbo.

The nose, it went white many years ago - a good portion of his face is white now - but regardless of all the white fur that now covers most of his face - he is still our big gentle boy.

The eye lashes - Jimbo has always had very visible eye lashes and often we were asked if he was a girl.  He has a nick just below this eye, he came to us with several 'battle wounds' that had healed - I'm sure there is a story behind each of them that only he knows.

The tail - on Jimbo's tail there is a little bit of black fur - no where else does he have black - should he ever get separated from us, that is definitely one of his identifying traits.  If Jimbo is 'happy', his tail will curl - it's one of the ways I can tell what his mood is.  When I talk with him if I say the right word(s), the amount of tail wag I get tells me when I have said the correct word.  Course, when I say snack (others call it cookie or treat), Jimbo will go into a happy dance - a lot more is moving than his tail.

If your curious what a 'dead stare' looks like from Jimbo - here it is!  This close up was taken focusing on his eyes with a shallow depth of field.  He does have a long nose - and it's long enough to be blurred in this portrait.

As for Abby, she is a cute hound mix and has spots in various places - here she is gazing off while I am working on getting closeup photographs of the dogs.

I think one of Abby's most unique features (other than the big white spot on the back of her head) are the little black spots on her paws.  I have to say, I have never really looked at the detail in a dog's toe pads until I took this photograph.

In this photo of Abby's eye, I see two little specs of darker color on the bottom right of her left eye.  I've never noticed it looking at her, but it definitely shows up in this close up.

My thoughts to you are - what makes your pet unique such that if you had to pick them from a lineup of similar looking dogs - would you be able to do it?  Have you noticed the little details on your dog, cat, rabbit, etc that make them unique from every other animal?  Take a few minutes to do that - you never know when you may need that information.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching family portraits in Coppell, Texas and surrounding communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and then head around the rest of the blog circle.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).



A dog photo session with Bailey

April 08, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

This week's blog post is about a dog photograph session.  Sometimes we arrive to photograph a pet aka dog and find that they aren't really up to the task of being a model.  Part of working with animals is to realize that we as humans are trying to get photographs of the pet - but your pet didn't have any input as to whether they wanted to be a part of it or not.  It's totally a human decision.  As such, when we go to photograph a pet, it's much like a young child - you go with the flow and capture the best photographs possible keeping in mind the 'model' may have other ideas.  There is never any reason for you as the owner (or foster) to apologized for your dog - they are what they are and we allow time for each dog to figure out what's potentially going to happen - some are easier than others.  In most cases, we have been able to capture beautiful photographs. 

Bailey, whom we met on Thursday, is a sweet dog currently in foster and available through the Maxx and Me Pet Rescue.  Her expressions through out the photographs almost seemed funny as we reviewed them and I thought you might enjoy hearing more about how our pet photograph sessions are done.

First, we talked a little bit with Bailey's foster mom.  Bailey really listens to her and tries hard to please.  Next Bailey sees the camera and isn't quite sure what to make of it. "What are they doing?"

Bailey is listening to what her foster Mom has to say - "So, you want me to pose for these people and let them take my photograph?"

Here's the next photograph of Bailey.  "Ok, I'll show them my funny face - maybe that will make them go away".

"Hummm, I must not be doing this correctly.  Mom is talking to me again about what I am suppose to be doing."

"Ok, I think I have figured out what exactly this modeling is all about. I will give them a classic sitting pose - I think I saw 'Old Yeller' do something like this."

"Or maybe a sitting pose where I'm looking directly at the person with the camera, a slight head tilt - she is making funny noises!" 

"I stood up, I thought maybe they were done - but nope, now they want some of me standing!"

The last photograph of Bailey is showing her beautiful face to the world.  If you're interested in a female dog, about 30-35 pounds - this one looks like a great one!

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of a 'single location' photography session with your furry friend.  Let Maxx and Me Pet Rescue know if you would like to adopt Bailey - they are always looking for fosters as well.

If you're interested in a photograph session for your pet, now you have an idea of the photographs we capture of your furry friend.




Pet Photography - Theme Leading Lines....

April 06, 2018  •  1 Comment

As we continue our weekly pet photography blog, this week is the 14th week of 2018!  Can you believe how fast this year is going by?  It's already the beginning of April - some places in the United States are still getting snow and we are topping out very close to 90 degrees.  This week's theme is "Leading Lines" which is a photographic concept used to lead the viewer's eye to the subject.  Often this is a road, path, stairway or something along these lines.  I decided to take a slightly different approach this time for my leading line.  Our small city has several gazebo's and this one has rails leading up the stairway.  Placing Jimbo near the end of the railing, something caught his attention, and I took this photograph. 

Here is the color version.

This one has more leading lines going to my subject, Jimbo, but his expression is not one of my favorites.  Jimbo just doesn't care to be a model - he would prefer do his own thing and not what I am asking of him!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Kim with BARKography serving the greater Charlotte NC area and then head around the rest of the blog circle.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


Happy Easter - 2018

April 01, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

This Sunday is Easter - wishing all of you a happy Easter!  Here's photographs from the Sacred Heart Church in downtown Tampa.  This church is located at 509 N. Florida Avenue and was built in 1905.  It is one of the oldest churches in the city of Tampa built with Romanesque structure predominantly.  It is open to the public except during services (church, weddings, funerals).  If you visit, please be respectful of those that may be praying at the time you visit.

Have a Happy Easter!

Pet Photography - Theme "Day in the Life"

March 30, 2018  •  8 Comments

This week's pet photography theme is "Day in the Life" of a pet.  I'll have to say that there are days where I see our pets sleeping and that seems to be about the only thing they do.  It's there way of passing the time as there isn't much else to do.  However, when I start walking around the house - it seems like they follow me everywhere!  Sometimes I am lucky and they don't, but seems that they are always wondering if I am going to do something 'good'.  There are several words our dogs really respond to and two of them are "Ride" as in, "Do you want to go for a ride?" They are very smart and know this means we are going someplace in the car.  They start to get excited and they really don't care where they are going.  The other word is "Walk" and all they need is that word or the sound of their leash and they are ready to go.  

So what's a day in the life of one of our pets?  Well, it's changed somewhat now that we have more than one dog, but if you ask Jimbo, a good day is one where he gets to go somewhere whether that is a walk, a ride - or better yet - both! Course, it's always better if it's just him and I that are heading somewhere and I do that with him now that all the 'puppies' (first Abby, then Rue and Ollie) have grown up a bit.  This particular day, we went over to Wilderness Park - and with the help of Jim - we managed to take the WHOLE family.  Here's us at the beginning of the Nature Trail.

We found a fallen tree and let the kids climb around a bit.

Ollie jumped up on this log all by herself and Abby is standing on the ground. You can see size difference here! .

Ollie says "Watching birds is always fun."

And when we get home from an adventure, it's time to nap.  Jimbo jumps up on our bed. 

The puppies often curl up together, especially when they are real tired and not just taking a light nap.

Abby prefers to sleep on our bed providing Jimbo isn't there - otherwise she just find anything around the house that seems comfy!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Nancy Kieffer Photography serving Central New York, the Adirondacks and Beyond and then head around the rest of the blog circle.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).

Beauty of trees...

March 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I recently read an article in one of my magazines that arrived - the article was about trees.  Specifically, it was about a forest ranger in Germany who wrote a book about the "Hidden World of Trees".  After a couple of weeks of this single title continuing to come back to me as I walk through our neighborhood with all the large old oak trees - I decided I needed to purchase this book and see what this was all about.  Hence this week's blog post and probably a few more in the future will include photographs showing the beauty of trees.  I'll share little tidbits about this book - I don't think I will ever think of trees in the same way.  They will have a new respect that perhaps we should all have - but for now, let me share.

I asked "What's the difference between woods and forest?" - Do you know?  Don't google it - do you know without asking some one (including technical gadgets!).  "A wood is an area covered in trees, larger than a grove or a copse. A forest is also an area covered in trees, but it is larger than a wood. The trees in woods and forests grow thickly, and the space between them is overgrown with grasses, shrubs and underbrush."  Source: https://sciencing.com/differences-woods-forests-jungles-8377449.html  Of course, if you want to get even more technical about the difference between these words, there are other articles on the internet found with a google search.  This one indicates the difference has more to do with the language the term originated from.  The article states that the English language is a combination of two language branches: Germanic and Italic and the difference in these words is because of that - if you're really interested, here's the link to that article Read more: Differences Between Woods and Forest | Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/language/differences-between-woods-and-forest/#ixzz5AhjblK7U

Bottom line is 'Woods' is a group of trees that is smaller than a 'Forest'.  The next google search I performed is to see what "National Forests" exist in Florida - and this returns three forests, Ocala National Forest, Osceola National Forest and Apalachicola National Forest of which I can say I have spent a little time in the Ocala National Forest but I can't say that I have visited the others (perhaps I need to add that to my bucket list).  I have been to a very beautiful place located north of Atlanta called the Big Trees Forest Preserve and this place is beautiful.  I've been here a few times now, never in fall (hopefully sometime soon!) and I love the beauty of it.

I wish we had this kind of trees and stuff here in Florida - but if we do, it's not near the Tampa Bay area! 

Now reading the book about the "Hidden World of Trees" I want to visit places like this more just to be able to visually see things that are discussed in the words on the pages within.  As for places within an hour of us, here's some of the trees (woods) that we have.  This photograph of the large old oak tree with resurrection ferns growing along the big limbs and moss/fungi growing on the trunk in the foreground has it's own beauty.  This tree is part of the The Withlacoochee River Park located in Dade City.  

Coming closer to home, along the Hillsborough River at Wilderness Park are cypress trees growing in a forest like environment.  They have a trail that goes along the water and if the water is low enough, you can cross over to a deck that is nice to watch wildlife.  If the water is high, either wade through or turn back and take another trail to this view.

At Blackwater Hammock Nature Park just about sunrise there are oaks and other trees along the water.  This is on the west side of the Hillsborough River a small park with a few trails - but at this time of day, it's pretty much just you and nature.

That's all the trees for this blog post, look for more in coming weeks!




Pet Photography - Theme "Re-Processing of older images"

March 23, 2018  •  8 Comments

This week's pet photography theme is looking back at older photographs and reprocess them using new and/or different techniques than you might have done in the past.  As I began to think about how my pet photography has changed over the last 5-7 years I realized that a lot has changed.  I photograph dogs more frequently than cats and I've learned a lot about the body language dogs are providing during a photo session.  Pet photography is about creating a connection with the animal(s) such that they are comfortable with you and the energy you are providing.  As such, I've learned to keep my energy levels calm - provide a 'happy energy' where the animal will feel comfortable and not anxious. If the dog is outgoing and immediately wants to greet me - and I've had some come at me with tails wagging and tongues ready for kisses - then I focus my attention on them immediately (without the camera).  They get a good bit of love, petting, scratching - let's have fun.  If the pet is shy or a little less outgoing, then I spend a few minutes talking with the owner/handler and let them pet get used to my presence.   I watch the dogs ears, their tails, and whether they are happy or perhaps panting or yawning when it's not hot (a sure sign they aren't comfortable).  Cats for sure need their space in most cases, so I let them come to me on their terms providing of course it doesn't look like it's going to take all day.  All these things have added to my having a better end product when the photograph session is completed.

After the photo session has ended, more 'magic' happens on the computer.  Most all photographs I process have several steps (not in a specific order):

  • lighten and sharpen the eyes
  • clean up the eyes if needed 
  • color checks (white should be white, black should be black - the most challenging fur colors but also applies to the overall photo)
  • removal bright spots that distract from the subject(s)
  • removal of the leash
  • depending on the photograph, add a slight vignette

There may be other things that I will do to a given photograph, but these are the key things I look for when I am processing a pet photograph.  In some cases, I will do a 'composite' where I will replace a background or remove a large amount of what may have been in the original photograph - however, this is not a 'typical' post processing photograph.

Here's a photograph of a white "Tom" cat - while his fur is white, he was not a clean white as he is an outdoor tom cat.

In the below photograph, the eyes are lighten to be a brighter yellow, the fur a little whiter and provides a better overall photograph of the cat.

For the below photograph of my first dog, Dolly I made several changes.  Here's the original taken of Dolly back in 2011 with older equipment and intended to just be a 'snapshot' not a full blown photo session.  She was my first "pet model" and I'm blessed that she was so willing - I only wish my pet photography was a great as it is now back when she was young!  We lost our beloved Dolly almost 5 years ago shortly after our boy, Jimbo, came into our lives.

Here's the post processed photograph. I'm sure you can see the difference - I cropped the photograph to remove some of the lighter background colors, I increased the overall exposure of the entire photo, lightened and sharpened her eyes.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elayne Massaini - Pet Photos - Sao Paulo - Brazil and then head around the rest of the blog circle.

If you would like to book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).