Golden Lion Tamarin - Lowry Park Zoo

February 18, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I love these little "golden lions" - they are small, active, bright colored and a joy to watch at the zoo.  They are a small primate found in a very small range in Eastern Brazil.  They live about 10 - 15 years and form a life long breeding pair.  Their diet consists primary of fruit, flowers, tree sap, insects and reptiles (I'm assuming small reptiles)!

They have a small 'cave like' area they can duck into when they aren't feeling up to the crowds.

Early morning sunshine...

Coming out to see what I am doing, notice the long tail on these little guys (they are small, their head will fit in the palm of my hand).

Beautiful orange fur with red tint.  They were curious when I was hanging out there for a while and gave me a variety of options to photograph them.

 


Pet Photography - Theme "Year of the Dog"

February 16, 2018  •  8 Comments

This week's theme is "Year of the Dog" to coincide with the Chinese New Year...."The Dog is the eleventh of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Monkey, Rooster and Dog were in another country, helping a god defeat evil spirits. After, they set off to the party together. Because they arrived at the same time, the Jade Emperor went by the order they met the god in the other country. Thus, Dog became eleventh." Info from the website Chinese New Year 2018: https://chinesenewyear2018.com/zodiac/dog/

This past weekend Jim and I had an opportunity to push our pet photography into a new realm of "extreme action" - we went to visit a dog disc competition.  This blog post is including just a few of the photographs from that event - at the time of this writing, I'm still working to get this down to a manageable number of photographs.  This event (we went on Sunday) was the USDDN Qualifier hosted by Central Florida Dog & Disc Club in Spring Hill, Florida at Veterans Memorial Park.  These dogs were fantastic performers on a warm Sunday.

The events consisted of several rounds of "freestyle" where the dogs did amazing things with their owners - I've never seen anything like it - next time I will try to capture some video of freestyle as photographs just won't do it justice.  The other rounds consisted of the handler throwing the dog disc (looks like a frisbee) and the dog running to catch it (or at least retrieve it).  Above is a photograph of the dog after it has retrieved the disc.

This is a cattle hound dog mix.  It's not all the Aussie's and Border Collies that are doing this!  I did find that many of these dogs were pulled from shelters and rescued into a life they seem to love with all the exercise.  A perfect fit for the very active dogs to allow them run time and have such a strong bond with their handlers.

And here's one of the catch - up in the air!

More photographs will be posted in the gallery for this event, click here http://www.vpshoots.com/centralfloridadogdisc

For more 'Year of the Dog' pet photographs 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).

 

 


Koala Bear at Lowry Park Zoo

February 11, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Over the years, I've gone back and forth different years with being a member of Lowry Park Zoo.  I don't recall who, but someone came across our path and mentioned that they had Koala bears at the zoo.  I've been there many times to do photography and never seen them - so I went this week and had to look at the zoo map and sure enough, they have them.  Guess what? It's in the children 'petting zoo' area and I typically don't go into that area.  So this time I walked in and looked for the cute little Koala Bears.  They have two different ones in their habitats.  The first one was sleeping and you couldn't see their head, so not much of a photography opportunity there.  The second one was eating breakfast - much better chance here!

These photographs were taken through glass using a 70-200mm lens.  I used the flash on the camera to put a small catchlight in the eyes of the koala bear.  The secret to getting a good photograph when photographing through glass is to put yourself at an angle to the glass.  This way, the flash will go through the glass to your subject, but bounce back at an angle and not at your camera.

This little bear seemed quite content to eat the leaves of this plant which I am not certain what it is but it looks like Eucalyptus leaves which is one of the main tree leaves on the diet of a Koala bear.  They consume 200 to 500 grams of leaves a day - that sounds like a lot, but I don't know how many grams are in a given leaf.

And my photoshoot ended shortly after that because the koala bear decided to ignore me!

That's it for this week!


Pet Photography - Theme Fantasy

February 09, 2018  •  7 Comments

Wow, it's already week 6 of the new year, 2018!  January flew by and we are well into February now.  This week's theme is "Fantasy" and this is definitely a new area for me.  I knew immediately that if I was going to try anything in this theme, it would require that I do some work in the world of compositing to bring several different images together.  So, I've given this my best shot being that I haven't done any 'fantasy' type photographs before...and here are the two images I came up with.

Please take a few minutes to comment and tell me what you like or don't like about these fantasy photographs as I delve into this new world.  It might help me create better images in the future!

My first image is a take on 'Prince Charming' a bit of fantasy for Abby and Jimbo.  I started with an image I created some time ago with the bridge and the trees with a golden touch and blur.  I scanned through the images I have of Abby and found one where she is facing away from me to put her looking over the bridge.  Then I found a photograph of Jimbo where he is standing nice and tall.  Here's the image.

The second image is a composite of three different images - 1) the broken bridge, 2) the airplane, and 3) Abby looking up.  After I brought the images together into a single image, I used On1 Effects to create the final image. 

Which one is your favorite?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

For more 'fantasy' pet photographs head over to visit Courtney from CM Bryson, offering pet photography east of Atlanta Georgia 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).

 

 


Alafia River Rendezvous, 2018 - Florida Frontiersmen

February 04, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Last weekend the Florida Frontiersmen completed their annual "Alafia River Rendezvous" just south of Bartow, Florida.  We asked why it is called the "Alafia River Rendezvous" and found that many years ago this event was held near (or on) property by the Alafia River.  Eventually, the Florida Frontiersmen purchased their own property at 1000 Old Fort Meade Road, Homeland, Florida (some places list this with a city of "Bartow") and the event moved to this location - however, everyone knew the name "Alafia River Rendezvous" and it stuck even after the event moved.

This event pulls in people from all over who participate in a week or more of living life as "Florida Frontiers".  We arrived to find that hundreds of white canvas tents of various sizes had been set up creating a small town.  All modern devices either were not allowed or had to be hidden from view.  I saw several very creative wooden boxes crafted around coolers.  The portable bathrooms were hidden behind picket fences (which we had passed but until we asked, never realized that is where they were hidden).

Upon entering, this is what we see.  The main area in front - which is a grass 'street' between a long row of tents where many of the vendors are located.  After a bit of walking around, we decided a bison burger sounded like something to try (it was similar to beef, but dryer).  Jim had some of the old time root beer (made like it was back in the 1840s - not today's style).  There were several different things to eat, many choices all cooked the old fashion way and much of it made the same way too.

This was the 47th annual event - this means the event started back in 1971!  I'm sure the frontier has not changed in those 47 years, but this is a big event and I'm guessing that it has grown over the years.  They have four governors - one for each 'section' of the frontier.  The governors are there to maintain peace - I'm sure they don't have to many issues to deal with, but if they are needed - they are available!

As we entered, to our left there was country mountain music being played by several people.  As we walked around, we found several other areas with mountain music being played live.  Some played guitar, banjo and other instruments that I don't have the knowledge to know what these mountain instruments are.

The vendors were many, but root beer was a 'staple' drink available in many of the tents.

There were several blacksmiths on the frontier, one is Henry (near the entrance to town, a little to the right).  Henry was working on tent stakes for several of the frontier families as it had been very windy and many found themselves needing new tent stakes.

A frontier family with a small covered wagon to carry the small children.

Cooking food over an open fire pit, outside from the tent homes.

Many of the tents had heat inside with the vent coming out of the tent.  These were ovens as well.

Different flags flew depending on where we looked.

Here's a frontier man near the 'shooting' area - they were having a competition at the shooting 'range'.

And another one....

And another one (they were all over!)

Let's not forget the clever disguise for the shower - the rectangle canvas area on the back of this tent.  They had various ways to heat the water for the shower depending on the frontier home.

Various types of wagons and wheelbarrows were used to carry heavy items from one place to another.

 

After wandering around for several hours in the land of Florida's Frontiermen, we headed back to the current world of 2018!

 


Pet Photography - Theme Depth of Field

February 02, 2018  •  12 Comments

This week's theme for Pet Photography is "Depth of Field" - this is a concept that is used within photography to control how much of your photograph is in 'sharp' focus.  If you're a photographer (whether amateur or professional) you have probably heard this term but for those of you that love photographs and aren't concerned with how it's created, 'depth of field' is how 'blurry' the background is behind the subject.  Have you ever seen a photograph that has a beautiful blur behind the dog? Or maybe it has a beautiful scene behind the dog?  This is the idea behind 'depth of field'.

I photographed Abby against a few bushes and a painted brick wall.  This background was chosen specifically to show how the depth of field changes based on changing the aperture.  The lens used is a Nikon 70-200 set to 190mm.  Abby moved her head through out the sequence of photographs, but she remained in a sit position.  I told Abby to sit about 6 feet from the brick wall.  The first photograph was taken at f/4. The shallow depth of field renders the brick wall as a blurred gray and the bushes are patches of green and yellow.  No real 'definition' in either of the background objects.

For those of you that are interested in the details of photography, let's talk about depth of field.  There are specific points to keep in mind.  The first, and most important, is the 'depth of field' is controlled by the aperture of the lens (sometimes referred to as the f-stop).  In the 'old days' before the world of digital - apertures values were fewer - f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, etc up to a maximum of 32 but many lenses stopped at about f/22.  An easy way to remember the apertures is to remember f/2 and f/2.8 - then from that point on, double the number - so double f/2 and it's f/4. Double f/2.8 and it's f/5.6 (and so on).  Now, with the world of digital there are more aperture values available but often times they don't make a lot of difference in the overall photograph unless you have several 'stops' in between the apertures used (for example, there is not much difference between f/7.1 and f/8).  Please note that some lenses actually have f/1.4 or f/1.8 but these are typically only on a 'prime' lens (not a zoom lens).

The second photograph was taken at f/8. The depth of field renders the brick wall as a blurred gray and the bushes are patches of green and yellow but you can make out some of the lines in the brick wall and the leaves on the bush are a little more defined.

The third photograph was taken at f/13. The depth of field renders the brick wall and bushes as soft blur, but more detail is beginning to show in the background.  Abby changed her head position a little bit so my camera angle has change slightly, but we both maintained the same distance from each other.

The fourth photograph was taken at f/20. The depth of field renders the brick wall and bushes with some blur, but there is enough definition in the background that the plant can be identified as well as detail in the brick wall.

The fourth photograph was taken at f/32. The depth of field renders the brick wall and bushes with a small amount of blur but there is now significant detail in the brick wall and plant.

Hopefully, Abby was able to show you how the depth of field affects the background areas of the photograph.  For all of the above photographs, the focus was on Abby's eye.

Point one, the aperture is important to the depth of field for your photograph.  Next, the closer you are to your subject, the less depth of field you'll be able to capture.  It really does matter how close you are to your subject (think macro or close-up vs being a little further away).  In this photograph, the focus is on Jimbo's eyes.  Aperture f/3.3, 35mm lens, focus on his right eye (left side of the photograph) - but really close to him when this photograph was taken - only a small portion of his face is in focus.

"If you want way less depth of field, and you've opened your aperture as wide as you can, get closer. Vice versa - if you want more depth of field at a given aperture, step back a little." David Duchemin states in his book "The Visual Toolbox".

This photograph of Jimbo was taken at 35mm, f/5.6 - I've moved much further away from Jimbo to include his entire body and surroundings.  A much larger area is in focus.

Point two, the closer you are to your subject, the less depth of field you will have regardless of the aperture.

Point three, a wide angle lens (such as as 12mm (cropped sensor) or 24mm (full frame sensor) will appear to have more depth of field than a telephoto (such as 200mm (cropped/full frame)).  The reason longer lenses appear to produce a shallower depth of field is because they provide a narrow angle of view compared to a wide angle lens.  A telephoto lens will fill the frame with a much smaller area of the background, so any blur (or camera shake) will be magnified too.

Point four, the more distance there is between your subject and the background, the more blur can be achieved with various apertures.  This is why I asked Abby to sit approximately six feet away from the brick wall in the first series of photographs.  If I placed Abby next to the wall, I would not have been able to create the same amount of blur in the background.

That's enough technical information for the photographers - how do I photograph dogs?  I've found that my Nikon 24-70mm lens is my go to lens.  Why? It allows me to stay close to my subject, keep them engaged and provides a sharp photograph.  I can get close to the dog and blur the background using a shallow depth of field such as f/2.8 if the dog is not moving a lot.  If however, the dog is moving a good bit, then I will use a 'medium' aperture such as f/8.  If I have an assistant to work with me or the dog is good off leash, then I can use a longer lens such as a 70-200mm and get some beautiful blurry backgrounds.  My primary goal is to get a sharp photograph with some blur in the background to help separate my subject from the background but also provide a creamy background.  By the way, every lens will create different 'bokeh' or background blur - so if that's important to you, make sure you look at reviews before purchasing a lens.

Using the Nikon 24-70 lens, set at 70mm, f/7.1, 1/60s with fill flash Abby posed while waiting for the promised 'snack'.

Using the Nikon 24-70 lens, set at 62mm, f/18, 1/60s with fill flash - this photograph has more detail in the boardwalk as well as the background and is not a typical aperture unless I wanted to feature the background as well as Abby.

For more 'depth of field' pet photographs head over to visit Kelly Garin Photography, Columbia, SC 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 at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).

 

 


Brooksville Raid, 2018

January 28, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The annual Brooksville Raid was held the weekend of January 20-21, 2018.  It was very nice weather - not to hot, not to cold!  Seems lately we don't know whether to grab a jacket or put on shorts.  This was my first time visiting the Brooksville Raid re-enactment.  One of the vendors told me that this far south, Florida really didn't have concerns with fighting any battles - however, they did have raids.  The raids were typically to get food for the soldiers.  Florida was known for it's cattle and that was the primary good seeked out during the raids - beef.  However, for the purposes of the re-enactment, they actually performed a 'battle' with cannons, gunfire and soldiers.  For the number of people arriving at this event, the parking was a breeze - they had that down very well.  I was lucky and got a parking place very near one of the entrances to the area.

After providing a $10 donation (technically a donation....) I walked inside and took a look at this map of where things are.

For the first hour or so, I wondered around in the sulters, and then to the Union and Conference camp areas. One of the first people I came across is 'the free woman of color'.  She was talking to several people so I captured her photograph as she talked with them.

This soldier was happy to show me his gun and then shoot it off so I could get a couple of photographs.

As I wandered around, I came across the 'church setting' and spent a few minutes talking (listening) to the pastor.  He told me this old cross was made by a prisoner who was held at Anderson (a well known prison camp during the war but not one a lot of people survived).

Several horses were tied to a tree in the union area.  One soldier asked if we were 'horse savvy' - and cautioned us not to walk behind the horses so they would not kick us.

At 2:30 the battle began.  Just before the battle began, the troops walked past us.

Some people lay on the field as the battle continued (but not any where as many as I thought should have been).  It was interesting to see, but it did not invoke the bone chills that I remembered from when I watched the battle held several years ago in Mansfield, Louisiana (that one gave me goose bumps!).

The raid happens every year if this interests you - check it out!


Pet Photography - Theme Catch lights

January 26, 2018  •  16 Comments

This week's theme for Pet Photography is "Catch lights".  For those of you that might not be familiar with this term, that's the reflection of light in the eyes of your subject.  In much of my photography, the catch lights are provided by the sky as this is the primary source when outside and shooting on location.  I have used a small LED panel to provide additional light on my subjects as well as a catch light in the animal's eye.  This is especially helpful in providing some 'life' into the eyes of the subject.

If the animal has very dark eyes, they may appear as 'black holes' with no life.  This does not provide a connection between you as the viewer and the dog (or subject).  It's always best to have some 'life' in the eyes.  The eyes are the window to the soul - how many times have you heard this phrase? 

The eyes of your subject, regardless of whether it is a person or animal, are what we look at first if they are in the photograph.  They need to be in focus if shown in the photograph.  If they aren't then the primary subject you are photographing needs to be in focus and hopefully the eyes are very soft - if not, the photograph may prove to be frustrating for the viewer.

Here's a closeup of the eyes.  The lighted areas of the dog's eyes from the sky (this is an outdoor portrait on location) is the catchlights that provide life to the dog's eyes.

Here's the entire photograph. Notice how the dog's eyes are lit up from the sky outdoors - no special lighting was used, just the outdoor sun and open sky (the photograph was taken in full shade).

Catch lights will look different in the dog's eyes depending on the type of light used to create the catch light.  Some of my portraits use a small LED panel to create a constant light - the purpose is to create a catch light in the eyes. The small rectangle in the dog's eyes are the LED panel held by an assistant (since the dogs move around a bit when photographing on location).  This photograph was captured close to dusk and the sun was no longer providing catch lights.

Here's the entire photograph.

This is a photograph of 'Cord' who is currently in foster care with his brother - Cord and his brother Nic, are available for adoption as a bonded pair (they are brothers and the rescue would like to keep these border collie mixes together).  If you're interested, please contact Maxx and Me at maxxandme.org.  Just in case you're curious, this is the two boys together.

Nic (on left) has a blue speck on his right eye (that is not a catch light).

For more 'catch lights' pet photographs head over to visit Elayne Massaini Pet Photographer, serving 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 at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).

 


The Clydesdales are in town for Gasperilla, with guess appearance in Palm Harbor

January 21, 2018  •  1 Comment

This past Wednesday (the coldest day of the year thus far), the Clydesdales came to the historic district of Palm Harbor.  Temperatures started in the low 50's, dipping into the 40's before the night was over.  I'm sure the Clydesdales loved the cool temperatures and all us humans were bundled up! 

The area was packed with cars and people all converged on a small four block radius - the Clydesdales were coming to make their first official delivery to Fin's (per google search).  They also stopped outside of Peggy O's Kitchen and Taps before we headed out to get warm.

Per the Pepin Distribution website, the Budweiser Clydesdales make hundreds of appearances each year and are an American icon.  They are one of the world's most recognized corporate symbols.  "To qualify for a hitch, a Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, have a bay coat, a blaze of white on the face, four white legs, and a black mane and tail." per Pepin Distribution website (http://www.pepindistributing.com/the-legendary-clydesdales-are-coming-to-tampa-bay/).  Please note the information on this website (at the moment) appears to be incorrect.  Per a contact with Pepin Distribution, the following are the locations for the Clydesdales:

  • TUESDAY (3pm-5pm)Total Wine at 1720 N Dale Mabry Hwy
  • WEDNESDAY (1pm-4pm) Walmart at Big Bend and 301 (10327 Big Bend Rd, Riverview, FL 33578)
  • Day uncertain THURSDAY or FRIDAY (1pm to 4pm)? Circle K Highway 54 in Lutz
  • SATURDAY for the Gasperilla parade

Information provided by using the "Contact Us" Link above and getting an email response - the response was quick, but not extremely clear - providing what I was able to gather from the email - if further details are received, I will update this blog post.

If you missed them in Palm Harbor, you still have a few more opportunities in Hillsborough County to see them - either at the Gasperilla Parade, or one of several other locations.

Three large semi-trucks were parked near the White Chapel in historic Palm Harbor.  We arrived just before 5:30pm, many looked like they had been there for a while - the Clydesdales were just starting to unload from one of the semi tractor trailers.

As the horses were just starting to come out, the crowds were not yet thick - but soon people began to gather as these beautiful horses came out one by one.  Four horses were in another trailer waiting for their turn to come out, here's one hanging out in the trailer.

They are 'dressed' in red with white and red roses along their manes. Meanwhile, each horse was escorted over to the trailer containing all the harnesses, eye covering, etc. (I am not strong in 'horse world').

The first horse is attached to the carriage.

As time went on, the other Clydesdales were attached to the carriage - one by one. This Clydesdale waiting for the tour to start,  turned it head to look at me as I was passing by to get some photos.

The last horse is getting the finishing touches - soon all six Clydesdales will begin their tour of downtown historic Palm Harbor.

After about 30 minutes to get the horses ready, it's time to go.

As the 'men in green' passed by and started out of the parking lot down the street - what should I see but a Dalmatian!  Oh what a beauty this dog is - "Weiser" the beautiful white dog with black spots sat proudly next to the men in green. The beloved dalmatian sitting up there in the 48 degree weather, never making a sound but turning to look at all the people down below - many of them taking photographs and some with flash as it got darker.

A first stop waiting for all the people to get their views and 'complete the delivery'.

This photo says it all - many took photographs with their cell phones - others with big cameras, but all taking memories of the same moments in time.

As night falls, we take a few last photographs before heading out.

That's all for this week!

 

 

 


Pet Photography - Theme Fill the Frame!

January 19, 2018  •  7 Comments

Pet Photography can be fun and rewarding and I love 'filling the frame' with the pet.  I'm often getting really close to the pet either physically or with a longer telephoto zoom lens.  I want you to see the eyes, the texture of the fur, the color of their eyes - experience your pet fully in photographs!

Often when photographers are new to taking photographs, you look at the photo and wonder - What are they photographing?  What do they want me to see in this photo?  This is where filling the frame with your subject comes into play.  Whether you take the photograph filling the frame by getting close, cropping the photo after taking it or using a zoom lens - it all comes down to filling the frame with what you want everyone to see.

I think it's easier to fill the frame when you're not necessarily trying to photograph the entire animal - but, sometimes it's not filling the entire frame with your subject - but instead making sure your subject is the only identifiable object.  For example, you could take a close up of the animal - or you could take a photograph that is a little further away, but the rest of your photograph has beautiful blur created by a shallow depth of field (small F-stop number) or created in post processing.

Here's some examples of this week's theme "Fill the Frame".  Meet Flash, he was rescued and is now in his forever home with a wonderful couple and several canine buddies.  Flash is about 80 pounds or so and is a Mastiff mix.  This photograph has a combination of 'fill the frame' and 'negative space'.  Flash is sharp while the rest of the photo has a darker soft blur keeping the eye on Flash.

Here's another photograph where Flash is very dominant in the frame with soft brown and green blurred background.

This photograph is a little further back showing some of Flash's large size, but only the eyes and immediate area are in focus, the rest is allowed to softly blur using a shallow depth of field.

And talk about 'Fill the Frame' -- this is what happens when a rather large dog gets to close to you and then lays down - you just get a very small portion of their face - truly filling the frame with Flash.

Filling the frame is not for every photograph you might take.  Using this process to explore photographic possibilities and experiment with composition can be challenging.  There are many situations where your photographs of pets can be greatly improved by getting closer, moving in towards your subject and by filling the frame.  If you keep this possibility in the back of your mind while you are shooting (whether it is pets or some other subject), you may find your photographs are greatly improved.  It will help those viewing your photographs to answer this question "What is this a photograph of?"

For more 'fill the frame' pet photographs head over to visit Cahlean of About A Dog Photography in St. Cloud, St. Paul, Minneapolis and central MN. 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 at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).