The word is "Climb"

July 23, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This week's photographs feature stairs as a way of conveying the word 'climb'.  Definitely something that many of us did when we were young children, we climbed trees, jungle gyms, stairs and probably a lot of other things.  As I get older, I can't say that I have climbed a tree in a good while, but stairs are still something that I do on the trails, gym and buildings.  

This stairway is at a local building and has been digitally processed - what does it make you think of?

The next stairway we were climbing down and with a dog and a backpack, I wasn't sure I was going to fit by the time we got to the bottom.  I took the backpack off and made it through.  This is at Ceasar's Head park in South Carolina.

The last stair photograph is stairs made of stone that we came across as we were hiking.  There comes a time when we begin to groan as this is not the first time we find steps on the trail.  Our older dog, Jimbo, was having some issues with steps - so eventually we turned back because I don't think it was fair to Jimbo nor did I want to try and figure out how to carry a seventy pound dog.  We have since put him on a new supplement that has helped him greatly and he likes it too!

So that's what I think of now when I see the word "Climb" but I am sure there are many different things that can make people think of this word.  What comes to mind for you?

 

 


Pet Photography with Florida Summer Skies

July 21, 2017  •  7 Comments

This week's word for pet photography is 'sky'.  As many of you know, I live in the "Sunshine State", yep - Florida.  If you live in Florida too, take a few moments to think about how many sunny days you have seen in recent weeks.  Sure, it starts off with the nice sunny morning most days here on the west coast, but within a few hours those big white fluffy clouds usually start to show up.  By mid-day, it can often look really stormy and sometimes it's darn scary!  Since we are a prime location for thunderstorms and lighting, eventually it just comes to be expected.

So, I take my dogs out to try and get photographs with something other than a white overcast (boring) sky.  Don't get me wrong, a white overcast sky is great - but not if you want to include it in the photograph.  My next thought was to try and capture one of those beautiful sunsets following the afternoon storm - but I only have a week to accomplish these photographs for the blog entry, and well - it's white overcast skies or pouring rain thus far.

After much thought, I decided that the magic of On1 software and Photoshop will have to help this week.  Since the lighting is not sunny, I decided to take a dramatic storm sky and put it in place of my beautiful white overcast sky.  Here's the final photograph of Abby sitting on the boat ramp dock.

Well, yet another thunderstorm struck when I had hopes of having a sunset!  So, instead of taking more photographs I created another one with Abby.  This one is a black and white with thunderstorm clouds behind her.

Then I started thinking, how far could I carry this out?  Could I put a fantasy into her sky? I know this must be how Abby envisions the birds....

For more sky photographs head over to visit Rochelle with Dark Sapphire Pet Photography. Nelson, New Zealand and then head around the rest of the blog circle until you end up back here.

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

 

 

 


Art of the Brick, Tampa

July 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This week we took a trip to downtown Tampa and visited the new art exhibit, "Art of the Brick".  In this case, the brick is a Lego piece.  It's really incredible what can be created out of Lego - I don't know that I could do this, but this guy is fantastic!  Nathan Sawaya has taken the use of LEGO bricks as an art medium to a new level - something you may never see again.  If you haven't had an opportunity to visit this exhibit you still have time - it's here in Tampa until 4 September 2017. 

When we arrived, there was a line (when we left no one was waiting - go figure).  They take a group of people into the gallery at a time and the first step is to watch a video where the artist talks about his craft - short and very interesting (don't skip it!).  After that, you are free to view everything in the gallery at your leisure.  We wandered around to see all the exhibits and it seems like we must have gone through about 8-10 different areas looking at this incredible detailed work created all from Lego.

Remember - it all starts with a single brick!  That's what this symbolizes - a hand holding a single red brick.

The artist gets his inspiration from many different sources - sometimes it is from a famous painting, or something that he sees along the way while walking out on the street.  Regardless of where the inspiration comes from - it's a work of art when he is done.  The largest Lego exhibit is a dinosaur - yes - probably near life size if not life size - over 80,000 Lego to put that together.  It's definitely something to view - so take some time and go see the exhibit that Vinik Family Foundation has paid for people in the Tampa Bay area to view.

The photograph below shows the "Swimmer".  This is a life size version of a person 'swimming' in a pool.  It's depicted as if you are viewing the person from the top side.

You'll see life size versions of a few famous statues. Life size versions of other humanoid figures.  This particular person is made from gray Lego bricks and represents a human with hands covering his eyes.  The same thing children do when they are upset, if I cover my eyes, no one can see me.

These few photographs give you and idea of what you'll see.  If you want to see more photographs, here's the link to some of the others I photographed - but there is more.  I didn't take a photo of many of the various Lego creations - you'll have to go visit or find another website that has some photographs.

http://www.vpshoots.com/artofthebrick

Have a great week!!!

 

 


Comic Pet Portrait Moments

July 14, 2017  •  4 Comments

Pet Project 52 - A group of pet photographers are given a photo theme each week to incorporate into our pet photographs. Many of us around the world are participating, at the end of my blog post there is a link to another photographer's blog. Click on the links in each one and you'll eventually complete the circle and come back here to my blog.

This week is "Comic".  According to google, one of the definitions of this word is "causing or meant to cause laughter".   This photo brings a smile to everyone's face and some of my friends find it amusing so I'm sharing it with all of my blog friends.  As we look at this photo, remember that the summers in Florida are very hot - very humid and not so good for your dog.  A friend almost lost their dog due to heat exhaustion recently and a few dogs have not been so lucky in recent months.  Keep your furry friend safe and provide ways for them to cool off.  Abby has this one down pretty good!

Each time I see this photograph of Abby, it makes me laugh.  I'm not sure if she is telling me what she thinks about doing another pet photography session or has something totally different on her mind.

Truthfully, I'm sure she was caught with her tongue out by the camera, but it makes for a cute comedy moment. This next photograph is of a dog that was having an absolute ball playing in the mud.  We were all laughing as the dog was having so much fun - but then again, it wasn't our dog!

The last photograph it appears as if the dog is saying "You meany" and stuck it's tongue out at another dog while at one of the local dog parks. 

Do you have a favorite photograph from this blog?  If so, take a few minutes to let us know!

For more 'comic' photographs head over to visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area and then head around the rest of the blog circle until you end up back here.

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


Dead River Park, Hillsborough County, Florida

July 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The last two weeks we have been on the road showing beautiful scenes where roads are oak lined.  We have something close, a Florida version, here in our 'backyard' located at Dead River Park. Lighting can make a BIG difference on how a photograph looks.  For example, this photograph was taken on an overcast day with little bright sunlight coming through the trees.  This is the road that takes you to 'Dead River Park'.  It's a long dirt road lined by oak trees and other Florida natives.

On a sunny day, this same road has a different look.  The trees are light in color and the sunlight is filtering through the trees.

Or through the magic of digital photography and the software that is available now, we can make a dark scene of this same line of trees and leave a bicycle at the bottom of the photograph for some potential mystery...

Keep in mind, this is Florida and it is dense trees with near by water - dead water - non-moving water....yes, you guess it - bugs - mosquitoes! But it can be a nice, lonely park to visit if you're equipped with the correct gear.  At the end of the road is a small parking area.  This bridge goes across the water which is actually a part of the river that has been 'cut off'.

There are lush green plants growing during many parts of the year.

  And little flying insects...

And no fresh Florida water is complete without these - the alligator.

I'm sure there is potential for fishing as well as photography, walking your dog or just having a nice walk with nature.  Summertime is probably the hottest, fight off the critters time but that's when you have beautiful lush greens.  It's all a matter of your taste and what you can handle in terms of temperatures.

Dead River Park is located at 15098 Dead River Rd, Thonotosassa, FL 33592.  As of this writing, the hours are 8am - 5:30pm for bicycle and pedestrian access. Vehicle access allowed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

 


Pet Photography using beautiful bokeh - the blur behind your subject

July 07, 2017  •  4 Comments

Pet Project 52 - while this is a 52 week project, I joined late - so perhaps I will cycle back around to the beginning of the topics after 2017 ends.  Can you believe that 2017 is half over?  For this particular facebook group of pet photographers, each week we are given a photo theme.  The photo themes can be applied to many different types of photography (at least those I have done thus far), but we are focusing on how to incorporate it into pet photographs.  Since there are many of us around the world participating, at the end of my blog post there will be a link to another photographer's blog and if you click on the links in each one, you'll eventually complete the circle and come back here to my blog.

So what is this week about?  Bokeh - have you heard this word before?  Photographers use it a lot, and hopefully they know and understand what they are talking about.  Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means "blur" or "haze", or boke-aji, the "blur quality." Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.  Essentially, bokeh is the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that is created when shooting at a wide aperture (possibly the widest) for a given lens - typically this if an aperture of f/2.8 or wider.  However, having said this, it doesn't have to be that wide, and having a telephoto lens can help with the bokeh as well.  If you're really curious about bokeh, there are lots of places on the internet that you can find information, just google it.

Here's my first image with Jimbo taken while the sun was coming up.  Actually both Jim and I were photographing the sun as it was rising, but it's always good to turn around and see what the sun is shining on.  In this case, it was a very pretty golden glow on Jimbo!  The 'bokeh' is how all the things in the background blur - it's different for every lens but having a soft, non-distracting background always makes your subject stand out.

Jimbo came to us over four years ago, and he is a wonderful dog.  We can't thank him enough for joining our family!  The next group of photographs were taken in late afternoon, but due to the Florida thunderstorms it's hard to get the golden colors at the end of a given day.  Here's our happy boy hanging out at the neighborhood park - saying the word "snack" will get his attention and perk up his ears.  Of course, he gets that little reward after being such a good boy and staying put while I create beautiful portraits of him.  In this photograph, you can see how the grass gradually blurs as it moves into the distance behind Jimbo.  The maximum aperture for this lens is f/4, but I'm using a telephoto lens to help provide more blur in the background.

Moving in closer, as Jimbo looks off at something to my right - everything behind Jimbo is blurred - it's actually trees but with the bokeh, it's a pleasing non-distracting background.

 

This next image, I have two different versions - one is the original image, the other is cropped differently.  I think a bird flew by and he looked up when I snapped the shutter.

And here's the same image with just his face and the blurred green grass.  You can see a little light in both his eyes since he was looking up at a mostly white overcast sky.

Do you have a favorite photograph from this blog?  If so, take a few minutes to let us know!

For more  bokeh head over to visit Rochelle, Dark Sapphire Pet Photography in Nelson, New Zealand and then head around the rest of the blog circle until you end up back here.

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

 


Wormsloe Historic site - Leading Lines - Oak Trees

July 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Last week I shared photographs of the beautiful oak trees along the entrance to Boone Hall Plantation.  This week, continuing along those lines, here are photographs of the oak trees lining the entrance to Wormsloe Plantation just a short drive outside of Savannah, Georgia. These photographs are from a visit in July 2013.  We arrived at the entrance to the Wormsloe Plantation in rain and to find that we had arrived before they opened.  It wasn't our best timing on having a vacation trip to Savannah as it rained several days while we were visiting.  The good news is, there wasn't anyone else there and it made for nice even lighting when taking photographs.

The dates over the entrance to the plantation are 1733 and 1913.  1733 is when the colonial estate of carpenter, Noble Jones (who came to Georgia with James Oglethorpe) came to Georgia.  1913 is when the stone entrance to the historic site was erected at the entrance to the oak lined drive.

The rain provided for deep green colors in the trees along the drive to the plantation.  The beauty in having all the greenery wet is reflected light is at a minimum and provides the deeply saturated colors.  Many people will actually put away their cameras in this type of weather, but for landscapes and some other types of photography - it's actually a perfect time to photograph (providing it is not to hard to see anything). You can see rain drops in the puddles along the roadway.

Many of these oak trees has resurrection ferns growing along the tree trunks.  This particular fern looks beautiful when it has rained recently and a constant supply of water is available to keep them lush and green.  However, should the rain cease, they will shrivel up and look dried up (maybe even dead) waiting for the next rain to rejuvenate.

All of these photographs show the concept of 'leading lines'.  This refers to a technique of composing a photograph such that the viewer of the photo has their attention drawn to lines that lead to the main subject of the image.  In this case, the trees and the roadway lead the viewer into the unknown deep in the back of the photograph (that's where we want you to wonder what lies ahead!).

As we got to the end of the long oak lined drive, the rain had begun to end and I had hopes that we might be able to see what all there was to see at this historic site.  Since we had Jimbo, we knew going inside the buildings wasn't going to be an option, so we headed off to see what trails there might be.  This path lead out to the waters of the Isle of Hope (and our hope was that the rain wouldn't begin again to soon).

I was fascinated by all the texture of the juniper trees (I believe that is what they were along the water way).

Looking closer at the texture of the tree, you can see the twisting lines.

Even closer and you begin to notice that little things are running around on the trees. Crabs!  Little bitty crabs were running around everywhere.  With the pace these little crabs were running around, one can't get the necessary closeup (macro) work to capture great photographs - but it was fun watching them scurry around.

Well, we ended up turning back as the rain moved in hard and we were not prepared.  Thus, now I always try to bring a rain jacket, umbrella and other appropriate things should we have inclement weather while on vacation.  It's a beautiful place to visit.  If you think you might want to go, the address is 7601 Skidaway Rd, Savannah, GA 31406.  As of this writing, the plantation is open from 9am-5pm Tuesday through Sunday. Closed on Mondays.

If you're travelling with your dog(s), pets are allowed on the grounds and trails, but not inside the buildings.

 


Leading Lines in Pet Photographs

June 30, 2017  •  3 Comments

This weeks topic is "leading lines", Week 26 of our project (week 2 for me).  One would think that it would be easy to capture great photographs of your own dogs, but for some reason mine seem to think that they have done something wrong most of the time when I try to pose them.  I don't have this issue with other dogs, just mine - who knows what's going through their minds!

Now, as I think about the concept of leading lines, many different photographs that I have taken in the past with trails, roads, converging tree lines and many others come to mind.  Just one problem, none of them have any of the dogs that I have owned or currently own in them.  So, I went searching through some of my photographs to get some ideas - and I did find some that helped to give me a few ideas.  The next step is to get a dog to go with me for this little venture - as it's hot, muggy and thunderstormy (is that a word?) in Florida now and it's not ideal outdoor weather a lot of the time.

First, I tried to get Jimbo out.  He is really good about staying put off leash - no dice.  Jimbo's weather forecast said there was to many gray clouds outside with potential for thunder and lighting - potential - not actually happening - he won't go outside.  So, I go to our young girl, Abby whom we adopted last September - truthfully, she wasn't my first choice because I didn't know if she would stay off leash when I told her to sit.  But - to my surprise she rose to that occasion and was very good (even when there was a potential squirrel to chase up the tree).  I'm proud of her - she has learn so much since we adopted her last year.

Here's one of the photographs of Abby sitting on the boardwalk. In this photograph, she still has her leash, but there isn't any one holding onto it.  Step one in our 'trust' for whether she will stay or not.

Abby is now off the leash and sitting nicely on the boardwalk.  The planks on the boardwalk provide leading lines to Abby sitting.

Next step, can I get her to sit on the bridge?  This has leading lines from the wood planks making the pathway, but also includes side railings. Now, truth is, this bridge is actually over water and asking a dog to sit pretty while there is water underneath along with lots of trees, squirrels and a few people can sometimes be challenging for any dog - let alone a young dog with a short attention span.

So there you have it, leading lines that include a pet - my well behaved Abby!

For more  leading lines head over to visit Danyel with Wag to My Heart, serving the Portland Metro area of Oregon and then head around the rest of the blog circle until you end up back here.

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

 

 

 

 


Boone Hall Plantation, Mt. Pleasant, SC

June 25, 2017  •  2 Comments

This week's blog is a trip back in time for us, as well as our subject.  Several years ago, we went to Boone Hall Plantation located about 8 miles from Charleston in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  A recent article reminded me of the beautiful oak trees lining the main road to the plantation and I decided to share some of those with all of you.  Of course, now I want to go back again - so perhaps that will be in a future trip.

The website for Boone Hall Plantation says that it "was founded in 1681 when Englishman Major John Boone came to Charleston and established a lucrative plantation and gracious home on the banks of Wampacheone Creek. The family and descendants of Major Boone were influential in the history of South Carolina, the colonies and the nation. The McRae family is proud to present that history, covering over 330 years, on a daily basis."

We arrived and found that we were among the first (if not the first) to get to the road of oaks.  I don't see any tire tracks in the dirt road leading down to the plantation.  It made it great for us as we parked in the middle of the road and then started taking photographs of this iconic location.  For those of you that remember years ago to the mini-series "The North and the South" this was where some of it was filmed.

*** Note - these photographs were taken in Mid May of 2011 and while the azalas are done blooming, the flower gardens here are enough to have us spending hours here just photographing flowers.  Boone Hall Plantation was dog friendly when we arrived (hopefully it still is). Dolly was our dog at this time and she was very well behaved - dogs are not allowed in the house itself but everywhere else is dog friendly.

This particular version of the photo was 'warmed up a bit' as it had been raining and a bit cool in color in the original photograph (shown below).

Some people like it warmer, others don't - do you have a preference?

The plantation home is nestled among the beautiful oaks and has a fantastic flower garden in the front just beyond the brick wall.

Once we entered into the flower garden, I think we were all just lost in the beauty.  The flowers are about 2 feet high, which meant it was hard to find Dolly and a few times I hear her give us a little whine or bark because she couldn't find both of us.  The plantation house with the flower gardens was taken just inside the brick wall shown in the above photo.

I was overwhelmed by all the beauty in the flowers.  I haven't seen these here in Florida in such quantities, and as a macro/close-up photographer I couldn't help but spend a few hours in the flower garden.

Here's a poppy - I love these, but I don't think they grow well in Florida.  The honey bees love these flowers so I am assuming they are rich in nectar.

The slave quarters are made of brick and many are still standing.  They are small structures that are lined up in a row. Each one has a fireplace for cooking and warmth during the winter months.  They are a single large room with no interior walls (just the outside walls).

The oak trees have a natural beauty that can be overwhelming, particularly if you love oaks.  This photo shows one side of the oaks that line the driveway to the plantation.  To the left is a fence in area that horses roam freely.

Hope you enjoy our journey into the past.

 


Purslane flower - soft focus

June 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Continuing on the soft focus theme, this time of flowers I spent time photographing my purslane plant.  For those of you that may not know what this beautiful plant looks like, here's a photograph to help you.

Using a special lens, the Lensbaby Velvet 56, a dreamy, soft photograph of this beautiful little flower (about an inch across).

This lens can take 'almost normal' photographs while blurring the backgrounds and creating a wonderful dreamy look.  If the lens is set to have a larger depth of field, then it will look similar to this photograph.

For artistic looks, this photograph was converted to black and white which shows detail in the center of the flower as well as the pollen on the flower.  This particular black and white photograph shows the variation in the colors by showing the pink in a darker gray while the yellow is almost white.

This black and white photograph is considered 'infrared' and shows the flower as entirely light gray/white in color without showing a difference between the pink and yellow colors in the flower itself.

This simple subject, so many different ways that it can be shown in the world of photographs with amazing details, texture and beauty.  Do you have a favorite photograph of this flower?  If so, please post a comment.