Dog Photography - it's all in the eyes

September 22, 2017  •  2 Comments

This week’s Pet Photography theme is “Eyes” which in the world of dogs, are typically some shade of brown but there are occasions, when you run into a blue eyed puppy!  Yes - I got the opportunity to photograph some darling puppies this week and this little girl has blue eyes.

Many of you know, I do a lot of dog rescue photography for a local dog rescue.  This litter of puppies is among those that are within the care of our dog rescue.  Photographing them was a total fun event - but it was obvious that these little pups really just wanted to be held.  Course, we did a lot of that, but that wasn't our goal in getting great photographs to find them homes.  Eventually, we put this little girl in a little basket and covered it with a blue blanket.  She has a lot of different expressions as we tried to capture her personality.  Many of the photos show her fear, uncertainty and other emotions that must come when she is separated from her siblings.

Ear back, eyes piercing - she is afraid.  This was at the beginning of our shoot.

Little bit of talking and a side ways glance at the camera as she still isn't sure about this whole event she has been signed up for.

She is getting a little more comfortable now, but still giving us a look (she is precious and never did anything but give us the look).

Is this closer to what you people are looking for?  There were three of us photographing her and working with her while she was the only puppy out at the moment. Course, staying still wasn't her best attribute and she quickly learned how to move faster than I could get the focus locked on her eyes.

Finally she learned how to get out of the basket and it was tipped over so she sat on the blanket with a little encouragement.  In case you're curious, here's her sister.  This sister learned how to get out of the basket in record time making it very challenging for us.

And her other sister who has a bit more red to her fur than her sister siblings.  This little sister was an absolute ham for the camera and very happy to sit there letting us photograph her!

And last, their brother who looks nothing like her sisters!

For more 'eyes' pet photographs head over to visit Cahlean of About A Dog Photography 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 vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).  Special discount if you're looking for an 'end of life' portrait.


Hurricane Irma - getting through the lost of electricity for over 4 days!

September 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Hurricane Irma threatened us all in Florida - the entire state - over the last weekend.  As we spent the week prior getting ready - it definitely changed my plans for the week after returning from scalloping and fishing in Steinhatchee, Florida.  A nice, peaceful weekend - we returned home with little food in the refrigerator and just about no gas in our truck.  Little did I know that the entire town of Tampa was in panic - we have to get hurricane supplies!  I just needed food to get through until the storm came on Sunday night.

We picked up things, we froze large containers with ice, we made ice non-stop all week, we wore ourselves out.  As our crew of three humans, three dogs, three cats all waited.  The cats in their crates to make sure they didn't run away, the 'storm' rescue dog from Maxx and Me (Flower), our 2 dogs all waited.  We watched the big screen television non-stop with hurricane Irma coverages (we did walk away as it was repeating itself).  We ate dinner early - scallops and pasta - it was very good - no left overs please - it can't go to waste.

It's getting dark outside....get the flashlights, get the candles, get the matches, get the generators close by, make sure we can get to the gasoline containers.  And wait....  Thump, Thump - it's only 5 pm and we hear the thump on our roof - it's raining - has been most all day - it's windy - what is that?  Ugh, the branches on our live oak are hitting the roof - so soon?  Jim and his son, Matt - climb up on the roof and start using a hand bow saw to cut the limbs and throw them to the ground.  Hopefully, we will get lucky and nothing else will happen.

The power flickers as nightfall comes. We grab the flashlights each time, and breathe a sign of relief as it came back on.  The television FiOS (cable) could not recycle fast enough for us to get it back on before we went to darkness again.  We turned it off.  Now what?

So that was the beginning of our power outage - it went out at 10:40 pm on Sunday night and we wait for it to come back. It's now Thursday afternoon and we see the glimmer of hope at the TECO (Tampa Electric) trucks are close.  Just as our generator sputtered as the rain storm put water in the gas...and it died... I yell to Jim "The Power is ON!".  A miracle - all in the same 60 seconds this occurred.

I've been through this before, back in 2004 and 2005 - lost of power for up to 7 days.  How do you get through it?  Here's some things I learned.

1) Fill your freezer - I mean STUFF your freezer with frozen containers - STUFF it so that things will fall out or almost fall out when you open the door.  The more stuff you have, the longer it will last without any assistance.

2) Fill your refrigerator - even water bottles help, the more it has in it, the better off it will be in the long run in keeping the food good.

3) Get flashlights - big ones are great to read, eat, cook, etc by - here's one of the ones we have.  It takes a lot of D cell batteries but it is a great flashlight we got when Sports Authority was becoming a part of history and selling all of it's inventory.

4) Your better get those batteries in APRIL, before the season starts - especially "D" batteries as they are gone very quickly.

5) Be prepared with some way to charge your cell phone - it's not going to make it very long with all the text flying back and forth.  I have a small battery pack with a USB port - it uses 6 AA batteries - that worked this time - but solar would be even better - maybe next time.  You can also use your car if you have the adapter.

6) A high grade cooler - you know, those expensive ones - they are expensive because they stay cold longer.  We got a Craftsman which has wheels and holds things cold for 5 days - so they say.  I think at least 4 days it does - not sure about 5.

7) It's going to be quiet and boring if you don't have something to do - especially when it is dark.  Grab a deck of cards - play those old games - Go Fish, Rummy, Gin Rummy, Poker, Crazy 8 - whatever works for you.  We played cards - and then broke out the Scrabble board game.  Yes - those old fashion games that don't require batteries.

8) For those of you that like your drinks - make sure you have wine, beer, alcohol, etc.  You may want it when the world seems to be coming to an end.

9) GET A GENERATOR and a high grade extension cord (get a spliter too so you can plug in several things on 1 cord).  You'll never regret that - we have a small portable one that we got many years ago for camping and it is wonderful.  Our little Coleman Powermate can be carried if needed although it is heavy.  It will run our refrigerator, a lamp, a fan and our fish aquarium.

11) Get fuel tanks - we got a few years ago - they typically stay good for decades so it's not something you have to replace very often.  You'll want these if you have a generator or if you decide to leave the state and traffic is backed up badly.  They are in high demand and disappear quickly from the shelves.

12) Get a fan - yes, remember those old things that your parents or grandparents had? You'll want one of those!!!  Since we didn't have air conditioning, I used this little battery powered fan and put it on the night stand by my face as it blew air all night long.  It uses 2 D cell batteries - ran for 8 hours each night.

13) Consider a Coleman stove or some other type of stove and the propane gas so that you can cook some of the food that will otherwise go bad if you can't keep it cold.

Things to remember - ICE will become a VERY valuable item and a very hard item to find.  Fill your gas tanks!  Those also will become very valuable.

We have 2 months left this year for hurricane season - make sure you're ready! and come next year - when they say Hurricane Season is starting....you should start your preparations then - not the week the storm is about to hit you! 

Two important things:

1) Start stocking food you like at least in May if not April! Yes - start to purchase a few things each week or each time you go to the store.  Put it in a safe place you won't raid when you're hungry.  Do this for water also!  It beats having to fight the crowd, because you're already ready when it comes.

2) GET OUT YOUR GENERATOR! If you don't run it to ensure that it is working properly.  I saw way to many generators (not ours) come here to be fixed either right before the storm (like Saturday and the storm was coming on Sunday) or right after the storm.  Your generator needs to be 'winterized' - don't leave fuel in it sitting until the next season - that will gunk up the carburetor.  Make sure this little item that can make or break you after the storm goes through is READY long before the storm is coming to you.

So what did I miss?  Cool air - yes, I can do without the television, I can do without a lot of things but having cool air sure would help.  So, for our next piece of "Hurricane equipment" I think one of those portable rolling room air conditioners will be perfect.

 

 

 

 

 


Cat Photography - It's night time!

September 15, 2017  •  6 Comments

This week’s Pet Photography theme is “Night” and I have a different perspective of this word after having lost electrical power on Sunday night from Hurricane Irma and as I write this it is Wednesday afternoon and we still have “Night” as soon as the sun sets (yes, that means over 3 days without electricity now).   I decided to feature one of my cats, Torie, after seeing how she curled up for her “night night” time.

Four  years ago, we went on vacation in western Georgia to see “Providence Canyon State Park” – a mini Grand Canyon and if you haven’t seen it, and can’t get to the big one – this is a great option!  We stayed at a state park close by and were outside one evening taking night photographs of the stars.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a small animal walking beneath our truck.  This is how we met the one we now know as “Torie”.  A kitten,  abandoned at the park, the last one of the litter.  This little kitten was very friendly and not afraid of our Jimbo - 70 pound dog vs 3 pound kitten?

For more 'street' pet 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 vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).  Special discount if you're looking for an 'end of life' portrait.

 

 

 


Salt Marsh, Steinhatchee, Florida

September 10, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

We went up to Steinhatchee, Florida to go scalloping for a few days.  While we were there, I got a chance to take the 'road to nowhere' and see the salt marshes.  The dogs and I headed down a two lane road to nowhere...and when we got to the end, well, we had to turn around as it was surrounded by salt marsh area that was mostly dried.  Later I learned that it rarely has water at the end of this road.  I almost felt like Forrest Gump - remember when he ran across the country, when he got to the edge he turned around and kept going?

I stopped at a little clearing to take a few photographs as well as a bridge that crosses over the water and flows on out to the gulf capturing some wonderful photographs.

There were lots of crabs along this lonely road - blue crabs, good eating so I hear but I didn't have anything to catch the crabs with.

This photograph was taken at the Rocky Creek Boat Ramp.  This particular boat ramp is used by some of the smaller boats as well as air boats - boats that do not need a lot of depth in the water.  The water flows out to the gulf near Rocky Creek where we went scalloping.

 


Dog Portraits - it's all in the details

September 08, 2017  •  2 Comments

I'll admit that this week has been a bit of a whirlwind as we returned from a long weekend away and we had Hurricane Irma facing down on it's way to Florida.  At the time of this writing, I have no clue what the next few days will hold for us and I pray that everyone will be safe and we will not face a similar situation as what Houston, Texas and surrounding towns and cities are currently trying to begin the recovery process.

So this week's theme for our Pet Photography blog is "Details".  Now, I don't know about you, but when I think about this particular word in relation to pets, it's all about the details.  What are the special things for this particular pet?  I know my first dog, I remember had these cute little fur swirls on the backs of her legs - I'll remember those forever - it's a detail.

As for Abby, I'll probably always remember the white spot she has on the back of her neck.  It's a special marking that a lot of dogs don't have, and when we look at her, often don't see, but sure enough - there is a white spot!

As for Jimbo, I'll always remember this guy coming to us with the small scars of previous wounds. As a street dog in the Bahamas, I'm sure he had to spent a lot of time trying to find food and survive - and right now, he is very happy to be inside a cozy home.  His elbows have places the fur never grew back along with the little nicks from scapes of a previous life.  I like the detail of his fur and curves in this photograph that show a piece of Jimbo.

Or maybe it's all about the paws - as Abby lays down on top of her leash.

Or maybe the endless curiosity of a young dog as she see something for the first time. 

Up close, this is what Abby has spotted.

That's it for details as we wait for the latest on Hurricane Irma - by the time this blog post goes live on Friday morning, we may know what Irma thinks she is doing!

For more 'detail' pet photographs head over to visit Elaine Tweedy with I Got The Shot Photography, Northeastern PA Pet Photographer 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 vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).  Special discount if you're looking for an 'end of life' portrait.

Best of luck to all my Florida friends!

 

 


Life cycle of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly

September 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This week's blog will share some of the backyard wonders we have here at home.  While I haven't yet spotted one of these butterflies laying the eggs (therefore I haven't found any eggs), we have several caterpillars that have gone through the life cycle in our backyard.   The host plant for this butterfly is the purple passion flower vine.  These views have beautiful complex flowers that are really nice.  A close up of the inner portion of the purple passion flower.

This plant is necessary for the little caterpillars to eat and live on during the first stage of their life.  Our backyard is a haven for several types of butterflies including this one.  When the caterpillars are close to full grown, they look like this - orange with black spikes all over their bodies.

 

Once the caterpillar is about to create a pupae, they will hang upside down in a "J" and turn a little white in color.

The next step is to create the pupae which is brown in color.  Keep in mind, these are very small - the pupae is probably a little longer than 1 inch in length.  The pupae looks almost like a dead leaf hanging on the plant.

After about 10-12 days, the butterfly will emerge from the pupae.

And the beautiful bright orange butterfly on the top of the wings will emerge.  The bottom side of the wings looks quite different than the top.  This is a newly emerged butterfly - the underside of the wings are shown in this photograph.

The top side of the wings look bright orange as shown in this photograph.

 

Family: Brush-footed Butterfly (Nymphalidae)

Subfamily: Longwing (Heliconiinae)

Average Wingspan: 2 1/2" - 3 3/4"

Habitat: Gardens, open woodlands


Dog Photography - The dog's go street smart

September 01, 2017  •  4 Comments

This week's Pet Photography blog theme is 'Street'.  As I thought of where I might like to do a location shoot with our dogs for this theme, I came up with some places like Ybor City, downtown Tampa, or even perhaps a trip over to the downtown area of Dunedin (which is really a nice little downtown area if you haven't been there!).  Then, I looked at the weather for this particular 7 day stretch and realized that it wasn't going to be much opportunity - 60% rain, 70%, 100%, 90% ....it's raining when I go to bed, it's wet when we get up...I managed to squeeze in a short trip to a local area here close to home and even then it rained while we were out shooting.  Jimbo is one of those dogs that listens to what your Mom always told you growing up "If you hear thunder, get inside".  He wasn't the happiest camper but Abby was game as long as we stayed out with her - it didn't thunder on us, just rained some.  So here's our photographs from our attempt at 'Street' (perhaps I can try this again when the weather is better).

The classic photograph is to have a boy dog going potty on a fire hydrant.  Jimbo either didn't have to go or had no desire to participate in this photo opportunity - so Abby stepped in and looked at the fire hydrant - but said "I am a girl, I don't pee on fire hydrants".

Our next photo was Abby checking out a culvert pipe.  (For those worried, Abby did have a leash on - she wasn't going in that pipe - but the finished photo has the leash removed).  It was a quick glance in the pipe and nothing of interest, so we moved on.


Abby is waiting for the school bus.  I wonder if the door had been open would she have gotten on and checked it out?

Abby sitting patiently at the front door of the "Street Academy".  It's the visitor entrance as well as the main entrance, if I sit here long enough someone is bound to notice how cute I am and give me a nice pet or if I am real lucky a snack!  (After we got the photo - she got a snack)

Jimbo is hanging out in the parking lot - I am betting he heard that the school was a good place to get food - kids always have food and they aren't that careful about keeping it out of the reach of a dog - Jimbo is gentle, he just gives you those soulful brown eyes and you're melting in no time.

Jimbo is running away from school.  Maybe he had a bad experience and decided it was best to leave school behind.

For more 'street' pet photographs head over to visit Elaine Tweedy with I Got The Shot Photography, Northeastern PA Pet Photographer 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 vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).  Special discount if you're looking for an 'end of life' portrait.


Lowry Park Zoo - Dino Exhibit (going extinct soon)

August 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Lowry Park Zoo has signs all over Tampa letting us know that the Dinosaurs are going extinct over Labor Day weekend (just a week away).  I decided to check out the exhibit before the dinosaurs left town.  They have an area in the south east corner of the zoo that they use for a lot of the special exhibits and this is where the dinosaurs are living.  Check out some of the dinosaurs that are there.  I liked this one because of the colors and hair along it's back.  It's one of the first ones coming into this exhibit.

Here's one that has feathers - its called a Utahraptor. It's overall size is about 6 feet tall at the hips (not including the head), 2,000 pounds and a length of 23 feet.

This is the Protohadros, over 9 feet tall, 20 feet long and about 2,000 pounds.  It's a herbivore, so we are safe from it - it only wants plants.

Check out the eye on this one, it's not as large as some of the others but still has enough size that it could do some serious damage. It's about 9 foot in length, 3 foot in height but weighing in at 50-100 pounds.

Here's a view of the entire dinosaur.

If you or your children are into dinosaurs then it's probably worth it for you to head on over and see them before they leave town - otherwise, you'll have to take them to Dinosaur World to view the dinosaurs.

 


Dog Portraits and Reflection

August 25, 2017  •  7 Comments

This week's pet photography theme is "Reflection". What comes to your mind when you think of this word?  Several thoughts came to mind for me - reflection in water, reflection in mirror, reflection in glass, hmmm - how hard is this week's theme going to be?  Then I thought of a photograph I took of Jimbo several years ago on our first road trip - we went to Nashville, Tennessee. Yep, took us 2 days to get there and we both had a wonderful time meeting a cousin that I had found doing my family history.  I remember one morning I took Jimbo out for his walk as we walked around the grounds of the Grand Ole Opry.  Eventually, Jimbo decided to lay down and take a break - so here I am hanging on to Jimbo with a six foot leash, a long camera lens and wondering what to do while he enjoys the sunshine.  I aimed the camera at Jimbo, I couldn't get much of him as the lens was to long, but I caught a wonderful closeup of part of his head and his eye - the cool thing?  You can see the reflection in his eye of what he is seeing!  Blue sky, trees - I'd never have thought about this until I looked close.

Here's another one.  In this one you see the sky, trees and me aiming a camera at him.

For those of you that love your pets and treat them as a part of the family - make sure you capture those special moments as one day, they will be your treasure to remember you friend.  For more 'reflection' pet photographs head over to visit Pet Love Photography, author of "Rescue Dogs: Portraits and Stories" and pet photographer 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).  Special discount if you're looking for an 'end of life' portrait.


Philippe Park, Safety Harbor, Florida located in Pinellas County

August 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This week we got up early and braved the traffic to visit Philippe Park in Safety Harbor, Florida.  This park is along the shoreline of the bay nestled among beautiful oak trees.  We arrived about 8am, and it was already climbing into the mid-80's in temperature and muggy.  The park offers a lot of shade which helps to make it more pleasant during these steamy hot summer days.  We headed to the area where the Indian mound is located - it has beautiful stonework and walkways (or stairs) leading to the top.  As we exited the car, the first thing I noticed was this beautiful old live oak tree.

We had our dogs walking around with us, so we kinda let them lead the way for a little bit.  We came across what from a distance looked like a bunch of stones (kinda like stone hedge).  As we got closer we realized it was a playground for the children.

Empty - it is a school day.  Looks like a unique playground - never seen this type before.  As we walked around, across the road from the memorial for Odet Philippe, I see the entrance sign to the park.  Perhaps there was another entrance in the past, because this doesn't seem to be facing the right way to get noticed.

We continued along a path that lead us to the water and to the east side of the Indian mound.  Here's one of the walkways up to the top with the winding rows of stairs and stonework.

If you missed my pet photography blog, check that out for some photographs of the dogs on this stairway. Click Here

After taking several dog portraits, we wandered around to the other areas near the water.  Then started up this stairway to the top of the mound.

Halfway up these stairs, this is one of the views of the bay area.

The view from the top of the mound is nice, but not very photographic so maybe another time when the sun is rising or there is some beautiful light.  Perhaps if you make the trek to this park, you can see the view in person.  They do have a nice walkway along the water.

And some wildlife (lot of squirrels) but we saw an anhinga sunning itself along the edge of the water.

As it got close to 10 am, it was now getting closer to 90 degrees and we decided it was time to head on out.  This is a great park to check out for owls at the right time of year - we have seen, heard and photographed them in the past - so keep your eyes and ears open!

A short drive to downtown Safety Harbor and we stopped at a dog friendly restaurant called Athens Restaurant to have a bite to eat.  The dogs enjoyed it and sitting in the shade with a little breeze, we began to cool off just a bit before heading back across the bay to home here in Temple Terrace.

For more photographs of Philippe Park, click here.