VP Shoots Photography: Blog http://www.vpshoots.com/blog en-us (C) VP Shoots Photography vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Tue, 17 Jul 2018 19:58:00 GMT Tue, 17 Jul 2018 19:58:00 GMT http://www.vpshoots.com/img/s/v-5/u72374969-o284808826-50.jpg VP Shoots Photography: Blog http://www.vpshoots.com/blog 120 101 Canoeing the Little Manatee River with Canoe Outpost http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/canoeing-the-little-manatee-river-with-canoe-outpost This past week a girlfriend and I along with her two children (one teenager, one middle schooler) took a canoeing trip down the Little Manatee River.  Yes, canoeing (not kayaking) after a little bit of debate as to whether this was really a good idea.  Anyway, the teenager took a single person kayak and the rest of us went in the canoe.  Let's put this into perspective - I cannot steer a canoe - I can paddle.  The middle schooler, a young girl, is afraid of spiders.....and well, let's just say we had an exciting adventure on this trip.

Brian gave us the information we needed for what we would be travelling.  Now, having done this not to far in the past, I know you need to pay attention.  And not only that, it helps to take notes!

As you can see, I took a couple of photos of the photos that Brian was showing us.  Who will remember all this? (not me).  Then the map.

So, do you know what all the little circles mean?  That's when I said, "Can you label that?".  I do know that the last time I did this trip it was dark from stormy clouds, then it started thundering, lighting and well, we got wet and we didn't fall into the river.  We also took a detour and it wasn't intentional so I knew I needed to pay more attention this time! We elected to go with the 2:30 pickup time because it was now 10 and we weren't sure if we could make the 1:15.

It started out fine, we didn't fall into the water - which was dark, flowing high and fast.  Since I can't steer, I loaded into the front of the canoe.  After we all got loaded, this was the view.

The water is high, there is a current and I think you could probably float down a good portion of this without doing much except steering.  Remember, I said I can't steer!  Brian said the first part of this trip, actually the first half of this trip was going to be challenging.  Hmmm, I didn't know what that meant - but I do now.

We started coming up to things that looked like this.

There was a tree across a good portion of the river.  The water is flowing pretty good, you can see that going around the tree branches in the river.  In order to get around this, you have to get over to the right side of the river and pass through an area that in this case was probably about 6 feet wide - maybe a little more.  And the adventure begins.  I didn't get the opportunity to take photographs along the way before I was to busy trying to get out of the branches that I was going through, get around the next tree, branch, whatever that was blocking half the passage way - you name it, there just wasn't time to keep putting the paddle down.

Halfway through, we stopped at the pavilion and had our lunch purchased at Publix.  That sandwich tasted really good - not sure if it was all the paddling or what - but it was nice to stop and have a little relaxing lunch.  Just about the time we finished, we found out whose belongings were in the pavilion with us - here came a few adults and at least 30 young children all wearing matching tie dye shirts - we finished up and headed back to our trip on the river.

We made it and we scrambled out of the watercraft. We retrieved our cell phones - guess what time it was? I kid you not, it was 1:15, the first pickup time that we didn't think we could make it was exactly 1:15.  We all noticed the sign about alligators - we didn't see any, we did see a good number of turtles and the rest of the time we saw a lot of leaves, branches, etc (we actually had a good layer of debris in the bottom of our canoe when we reached the halfway point).  Oh, did I mention - we had spiders....lots of spiders...remember I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post that the young middle schooler didn't like spiders?  She was right up there with Ronald Weasley from Harry Potter on her fear and sharing it with us.  She kept wanting to quit - like, did you want to swim back?  Sorry kiddo, you're stuck in this little canoe for a few more hours, start killing them!

Well, that was our adventure and it was fun, just got a bit annoying that we kept seeing all the branches up so close.

Kayak next time!!!



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canoe Canoe Outpost canoeing current dark flow high kayak little manatee river Moran outpost outpost' river VPShoots water http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/canoeing-the-little-manatee-river-with-canoe-outpost Sun, 15 Jul 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Head Tilt" http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-head-tilt This week's pet photography theme is the 'head tilt' - you know when your pet gives you that curious? questioning? and in many cases just downright adorable look! As a pet photographer, I have learned over the last few years that often times this is the most adorable head portrait I can capture of a rescue dog.  Not all dogs will do the head tilt, but for those that do - it can be such a cool photograph.  Almost two weeks ago, I met Danny.  Danny is a sweet, quiet, rescue dog - a sharpei mix - and almost immediately he did the head tilt.  Course, I've also learned to make a few rather interesting noises that often seems to provide the dogs into that totally 'What are you doing?' (at least I hope it's that as opposed to 'This human has an issue, what's wrong with her?')

As a pet photographer, and even more as a rescue dog photographer, I've learned quite a bit in the last couple of years.  First, there are lots of dogs out there looking for homes - they all have different personalities and most are not scared of the camera (a couple have been).  What do I look for when I am doing a photography session for a rescue dog?  There are several things, but I spend a few minutes to see how the dog is acting before jumping into photographs.  Sometimes the dog doesn't get a lot of attention and that's all they want from you - so it's important to give that attention - they need it and you'll enjoy it!

The next thing I almost always try to capture is at least one good head portrait - I love it when they will look directly at the camera, but not all dogs do - so a nice portrait either way is always something I will patiently wait for (sometimes up to an hour and over 100 photos later).  The other things are at least one full body photograph - whether that is sitting, standing, running, laying down - it's all depending on the dog - but if it's a rescue dog, they want to see what the entire dog looks like - not just their faces.

So, what do I do when the dog is camera shy? Well, the first thing I do is put the camera down.  Then spend more time with the dog, just talking or walking them, petting, you know - dog things.  After a little while, this can be 10 minutes or 30 minutes, I will pick up my camera again.  If they are still not comfortable, then I will set the camera down and see if they will sniff it.  If they don't, I put a small treat on the lens hood - yes, on the lens hood, on the camera.  I've never had one eat or attack the camera, they just want the treat - and sometimes they want it badly and are quick to take it - but other times they are slow as they are still scared. 

I know there are other people out there in this big world capturing photographs of pets, what tricks do you do to get great photographs of your pet?

Here's a few more head tilt photographs for you to enjoy!

Amore - male adoptedAmore - male adopted

Amore (above) adopted very soon after this great photography session!

This cute dog was adopted shortly after he posed for the camera - the head tilt does make a difference!

And this little one was adopted too - so if you're dog (I haven't really tried this with cats) does a head tilt - make sure you capture that adorable moment in time!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit The Hoof & Hound Photographer, covering the Lancaster UK 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).



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine Danny dog dog photography male medium pet pet photography Pet Photography blog rescue Rescue Teamsters sharpei VPShoots white http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-head-tilt Fri, 13 Jul 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Swallowtail Caterpillars http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/swallowtail-caterpillars The black swallowtail caterpillars were busy eating the forgotten fennel herb plants in a garden - there were several good size plants and a small cluster of a dozen caterpillars happily eating away.  The smallest caterpillars I saw (looking very closely) are mostly dark in color with a white 'saddle' in the middle and spiny. This caterpillar was probably between 1/4 and 1/2 inch - very small. While I was working on photographing these small caterpillars, I was also busy shooing away a wasp that appeared to want my subject for breakfast!

As the caterpillars grow up, they change some in coloration.

Then when they are nearing full size and will soon begin the pupae stage of life, they look similar to a monarch caterpillar with some variations.

I haven't yet found the pupae stage to photograph, so that's on my bucket list! But once they complete this stage they become a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly.




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) black butterfly caterpillar fennel garden herb insect swallowtail vpshoots http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/swallowtail-caterpillars Sun, 08 Jul 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "By a Nose" http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-by-a-nose This week's theme is "By a Nose" as we have now crossed the halfway point for the year 2018! It's hard to believe that half the year has passed as we begin July and for those of us in the United States and celebrate the fourth of July this week.  This week I want to take a moment to remember Charley who crossed the rainbow with a 'nose photograph'.  Here's Charley looking up into the camera - he was one of my first dogs I photographed besides my own.

I decided to feature several different dogs this week and focus on the differences in their noses - and if you look at various breeds of dogs, you'll see that there can be a lot of different types - some long, narrow, short, wrinkles, squishy - let's take a look at some of those noses! 

Squishy soft nose (Sharpei) - I love giving these a gentle squeeze if the dog allows it.  Both of these Sharpei mixes are looking for a home if you in the Tampa Bay area and interested!  These dogs are with Rescue Teamsters - Max (brindle) is a good size dog and appears to love men - although he wasn't to picky and likes me too.  Danny a medium size dog, seem like he had a lot of deep thought during our photography session - very sweet boy.

Hound dog - gotta have a long nose to smell out all those wonderful things!

Short noses - often wondered why they are so short (other than genetics).

Short and wrinkled....oops, with a tongue curl!

or not....

slender nose...

And the end of a nose!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tim Evans Photography, photographing pets and people throughout Mississippi 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).

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) boxer canine Charley closeup dog dog photography hound nose pet photography Pet Photography blog rescue sharpei short vpshoots wrinkle http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-by-a-nose Fri, 06 Jul 2018 08:00:00 GMT
USF Botanical Gardens - Summer http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/usf-botanical-gardens---summer Last weekend we attended the summer plant sale at the USF Botanical Gardens.  I noticed that they had quite a few flowers through out the garden blooming as well as lots of butterflies flying around.  So, we went back this week after the plant sale ended and spent some time walking through the gardens and taking photographs.  Jimbo and Abby came along for the walk but soon found out it was a photography trip and they would be doing a bit of waiting on us (instead of the other way around).  Afterwards they got a treat from the local pet store, Pet Wize while we ate lunch at the Windmill here in Temple Terrace.

So what's blooming?  Quite a few plants (I know most of them, but those I don't - maybe you can drop me a comment and let me know if you know).  The blanket flower is a beautiful flower - especially in numbers!  I see them in the road medians and they are so pretty as a large group.

Firecracker plant - with a lizard hanging out watching us!

Help! What is this beautiful purple flower nestled in all the green? (I suppose I could google it, but it's more fun to ask you!)

Hibiscus - they have several different colors of these flowers blooming in the garden - this one was a very pretty deep pink color.

Purslane - these are such small flowers that most people don't notice how beautiful and delicate they are up close.

Begonia - the beautiful soft colors of the pink flowers against the green was to much for me to pass up.

In the orchid area, this lizard was hanging out watching us.  I wanted him to open up his neck area, but I didn't have all day and he was pushing my patience as I was getting eaten by a good number of mosquitoes in the orchid area.  We learned a good bit about the orchids here at this garden that are cared for by the Tampa Bay Orchid Society.  Several people from this group were busy tending to the orchids and putting out new orchids that were blooming while taking those no longer blooming back to the green house where they have a LOT of orchids!

White rose - they have several different types of roses here at the garden.

That's all for this week - the USF Botanical Gardens are open to the public.  The entrance fee is $5 and parking is free - can't beat that for a nice walk in the garden.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) begonia blanket blanket flower Botanical fee flower garden garden' hibiscus lizard orchid plant public rose USF USF Botanical Garden http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/usf-botanical-gardens---summer Sun, 01 Jul 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Landmark' http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-landmark This week’s theme is “Landmarks” and I decided to return to a small memorial park that is a landmark in our city of Temple Terrace.  I am sure that most everyone has heard of the man this memorial park is named for, but few know that he started his career here in Hillsborough County, back in January 1937 when he transferred to the Florida Bible Institute.  The Florida Bible Institute occupied a Spanish style building originally the Temple Terrace County Club clubhouse on the banks of the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace.  This man, William Franklin Graham, Jr., was born on November 7, 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Most know him as “Rev. Billy Graham” who just recently passed earlier this year (February 21, 2018 in Montreat, North Carolina).

Billy came to Temple Terrace as a skinny, tall, 18 year old.  He was here in Hillsborough County for 3 ½ years.  In his autobiography he says that he would paddle his canoe across the river to the little island and practice his sermons on the creatures of the river.  All the creatures – from the birds to the alligators that resided on the island.  Billy’s fellow students teased “How many converts did you get today, Billy?”

In Billy’s autobiography (Just as I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham), he says that he received his calling from God on the 18th green of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club which was across the street from the Florida Bible Institute.  Today, just to the east side of North Riverhills, east of the 18th green, is a small memorial park to remember Billy Graham.

We set out early Sunday morning to take a few moments and remember him, as well as read the historic sign placed in 2011 in hopes that all will remember his early beginnings before the world knew him.

Our little puppies, now almost grown up, sat and 'read the sign'.

Rue says "Oops, I think someone is watching us!" Ollie says "I am not done reading yet."

They sat and read the sign and it says "Near here in 1937, world-recognized evangelist Billy Graham would paddle his canoe across the river to the little island. There he would practice his sermons on the creatures of the river great and small, from alligators to birds. Dr. Graham, one of the 20’s century’s best known spiritual leaders and advisor to ten United States Presidents, acknowledged he was called to serve the ministry while living in this city.  In his autobiography Dr. Graham refers to Temple Terrace as “the moonlight, the moss, the breeze, the greet, the golf course… in my spirit I knew I had been called to the ministry”.  Dr. Graham attended nearly Florida Bible Institute (later to become Trinity College of Florida) from 1937 to his graduation in 1940."

After we finished visiting the Billy Graham Memorial Park, we went up the hill to the Woodmont Clubhouse originally build in 1928.  Historically, the clubhouse initially served as a horse stable for winter visitors and full time residents.  Later, it was converted into a one room school, then a multi-room schoolhouse.  In 1955, when a large portion of Temple Terrace began a building boom, Temple Terrace Elementary School opened it's doors to serve the children in the city.  At this time Woodmont was left vacant.  After a period of time, it was taken over by the Temple Terrace Garden Club and is now maintained by the club.  The building is used for special occasions, events in the city and has been remodeled since the early days.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pawparazzi Pet and Animal Photography presented by Shae Pepper Photography  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).



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) 1937 Billy Billy Graham Billy Graham Memorial Park canine clubhouse dog Graham green marker historical memorial outdoor pet puppies puppy read Reverend Billy Graham siblings sisters sit Temple Terrace Woodmont http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-landmark Fri, 29 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Withlacoochee State Forest http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/withlacoochee-state-forest This past week I went up towards the Bushnell, Florida area - about an hour north of Temple Terrace up I-75.  I will say, that I am happy that I was going north this particular day because south bound was a mess and everyone was getting off the interstate and flooding the side streets trying to get where ever they were going (most of them to work some place).  I got off at the same exit as the Florida National Cemetery, exit 309, from I-75.  Just a little west of the interstate is a sign that indicates the Withlacoochee State Forest starts "here".  I've always wanted to explore this forest and by no means did I make a dent in it on this little trip, but it was a start.  Jimbo was in the back seat of the truck and as soon as we started going slower and bumping along the pot holed shell road - he stood up to see "Where are we?".

I was glad I was in the truck as this road had a good number of pot holes filled with water and in a few places the road was almost covered with water and I only hoped that there was hard ground under the water and the puddles were not to deep since I was on this venture with a dog and no other human.

Eventually we found the Withlacoochee River - there was a nice place to stop and view the river, but that place appeared to be claimed by a lone fisherman and his dog.  The dog was very alert to the fact that I had just driven up and I didn't want to see whether or not he liked other dogs, so Jimbo and I drove on - that stop will be for another day now that I know it exists.

We drove to another area and stopped and took a walk.  I think we both enjoyed the peace of nature and being the only ones around this area.  I grabbed a camera with one lens, travelled light and we started walking.  I soon realized that there were flowers blooming that I had never noticed before - no idea what they are (but if you know, please let me know!).

I'm not sure if this is a morning glory with holes eaten in it or some other type of flower but I liked the unique look with the holes.

I realized that it was starting to get dark and it was just after 9am, that can only mean one thing - clouds are moving in and it's potentially going to be raining soon.  Time to turn around and head back to the car.

We didn't stay around to find out if it started raining because Jimbo is not fond of thunder.  On the way out, we saw no one - however I think a deer ran across the dirt road in front of us a little bit (something ran across - I like to think it was a deer instead of a coyote or something).

Until our next adventure, 'Please Protect Your Forest' (remember not to throw out anything that might start a forest fire).




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) alone dirt dirt road flower forest leading lines morning glory outdoor river solitude tree trees wildflowers withlacoochee Withlacoochee State Forest http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/withlacoochee-state-forest Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Outdoor Kitty http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/outdoor-kitty Our neighborhood has a great number of feral cats that I can only assume started because people dumped cats at the park two blocks away and eventually they started having families.  I know many years ago our dog found a very small kitten that was very sick at the park and we had her for many years before having to say good bye earlier this year.  Now, another tuxedo kitty is hanging out in our yard a good bit although he is actually more our neighbors cat.  Early one morning this past week he was curled up next to a tree in our yard and I had my camera so I started taking photographs of him.  It wasn't until I got the photographs on the computer that I noticed what LONG whiskers this cat has!

This particular cat is long haired and has a 'fluffy tail' - it's not a traditional tail, but just a little fluff ball which reminds me of a rabbit tail.  Unfortunately, you can't see that in either of these photographs - but look at all those whiskers!

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).

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) black and white cat feline feral grass long haired longhaired male outdoor tree tudexo young http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/outdoor-kitty Fri, 22 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Deer hunting http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/deer-hunting I am sure the title of this particular blog post is going to bring one thing to mind for many - but when I say "Deer hunting" I am using a camera (not any form of ammunition).  On our deer hunting rides, I did find several deer hiding out in the Cloudland Canyon State Park - but if you're driving the speed limit and not really hunting, you probably will never see them!  This particular photography was more a let's see what this camera can do and I am happy to say that the Nikon D750 is truly very good is extremely low light.  Some of these photographs were taken in such dark light that I was amazed it could actually focus as I could barely see the deer with my eyes.  I hope you enjoy deer hunting with us as I found it a lot of fun to watch them in their native habitats.

This last one was using the "hi 1" ISO setting that indicates as 51,200 when the photograph is loaded into Lightroom.  It was pretty dark when I took this photo, I could barely make out the deer with my own eyes.  Quite impressive what this camera can do (Nikon D750 with 70-200 f/4 lens).

Also while we were out shooting, this little bluebird came and sat outside the car window - I love these birds, they are such a vivid blue (especially the males).

That's all for this week - hopefully as we roll into this next week the cold I have been fighting for a few weeks will 'find another home' (ha ha) and I'll be out doing more shooting that I have been the last couple of weeks.

Enjoy and have a great week!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bird bluebird cloudland canyon state park d750 deer georgia low light nikon twilight http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/deer-hunting Sun, 17 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Wildflowers http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/wildflowers Often times I return to my 'roots' in photography - flower photography.  I've always had a love for shooting up close, and flowers are often the subject when I am shooting up close.  On our recent trip to Cloudland Canyon State Park, we spent an afternoon hanging out at one of the playgrounds just chilling while the park ranger was at our cabin with the air conditioning company replacing the entire air conditioning system (if that's news to you, you might want to go back a few Sunday blog posts).  Anyway, it was a relaxing afternoon and not long before Jim and I starting looking at the various flowers growing wild and taking some photographs.  

Most of the time people photograph dandelion flowers when they are finished flowering and have all the little seeds still intact.  That looks more like what you see below.

But, sometimes you see a dandelion that has already lost a good number of the seeds and has a "bald spot".  Since this is the less often version seen, I think it has more interest.

One other wild flower caught my eye as we relaxed around a picnic table.

For all of these images, looking closely at what is behind the flower and using a shallow depth of field, allowed for a nice blur of color without any actual objects being included in the photograph.  This is a preferred way to photograph flowers to have them stand out.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) closeup dandelion flower georgia partial pink wild wildflower http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/wildflowers Sun, 10 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Blue' http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-blue It is interesting that this week's theme for pet photography is "Blue" and I've been down with a pretty good cold since the weekend - feeling rather Blue myself.  The weather here has been really raining, I am starting to think we live in Washington state not Florida as the rains have been coming so much almost every day with no real rhyme or reason as to when it is going to rain.  I managed to get a few photographs of Martin just before it started raining late last week.  Martin is a middle age (probably 6-7 years old) and is currently looking for a foster or forever home.  When I returned home to load the photographs of Martin on my computer, I was sad to see that Martin actually has a very 'blue', sad frown on one of the photographs.  I don't know that I have actually captured this particular look on a dog.

Martin did have a happy face for us too, but I was definitely struck by his frown and sad eyes in this photograph - if only Martin could tell us what he has seen in his life thus far.

What a big difference just having his mouth open with his tongue hanging out a little bit! His whole face lit up and he looks like a different dog.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Ursula M. Garrison is a freelance photographer based on the South Shore of Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin 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).



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) and animal photography blue canine dog dog photography frown head shot maxx maxx and me maxx and me pet rescue me outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue rescue' sad vpshoots http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-blue Fri, 08 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Point Park, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/point-park-lookout-mountain-chattanooga-tennessee Point Park is located on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  There are wonderful views of the city of Chattanooga from this military park which overlooks the Lookout Mountain Battlefield and the city below.  There is a paved walking path around the park and several areas that can be explored by going down small sections of stairs.  Historically known for the battles fought in the Civil War over 150 years ago.

We arrived with a threat of rain nearby, but parked in front of the park and fed the meter so we could see what it was about.  The stonework is very different than anything I have seen before, but immediately reminded me of the rook (castle) in the game of chess. This park is not staffed and pay is requested via credit or debit card. 

The overlooks are beautiful - and probably even more impressive if we couldn't see the rain coming across from the north over the city of Chattanooga.

The cannons are situated at the edge of the mountain so they can fire down into Chattanooga. November 25, 1863 - no Union troops reached the top of the mountain during the Battle of Lookout.  During the battle which was from November 23rd through November 27th, 1863 - the Union troops lost 684 men killed in action.  Many more were missing or wounded bringing the Union total of casualties to 5,824.  The Confederate troops lost 361 men killed in action with a total of 6,667 killed, missing or wounded.

On a slight hill, in the center of the park is a large monument.

This monument is the "New York Peace Memorial" erected by the state of New York as a tribute to peace and reconciliation between Union and Confederate veterans after the war (per the nps.gov website for this park).

As you can see from the sky in this photograph, the clouds were dark and the thunder let out a rumble and Jimbo does what Mom always told you to do as a child - "Seek Shelter" - Jimbo had one thing on his mind and that was get to the truck ASAP - so I didn't get to see the rest of this park, but I did make it to the truck just before the skies opened up.  Best weather dog I know!


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) chattanooga lookout mountain park point park tennessee tn http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/point-park-lookout-mountain-chattanooga-tennessee Sun, 03 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Black and White' http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-black-and-white This week's pet photography theme is black and white.  I personally think pets (cats, dogs, etc) that have strong contrast in their fur look the best in black and white photographs.  Most often I find that the brown and red color dogs become gray and don't have the striking contrast in their fur.  It's been raining here a lot and opportunities for going out and photographing dogs has been severely limited - in fact, I was having to time dog walks based on the weather so it was a bit trying!

Here's a couple of kitty photographs taken inside.  The first one the kitty is sitting inside on the window sill with bright light coming in the window.

This kitty is a solid gray beauty who loves to run out the door when he is suppose to be an 'indoor cat'. Does he look a little annoyed?

Next up, a senior boxer with lots of character. One of his favorite things to do is lay down with his head between front paws.

Sometimes he perks up, just a matter of saying the right words!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tim Evans Photography in Hattiesburg, Mississippi 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).




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) animal photography black and white boxer canine cat dog feline grass gray outdoor pet photography pet photography blog silhouette vpshoots window http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-black-and-white Fri, 01 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Cherokee Falls, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/cherokee-falls-cloudland-canyon-state-park-georgia I love to shoot waterfalls.  Something about the variety of waterfalls, the fact that we don't have any in my area (there is one in northern Florida) - who knows, but I love to shoot them.  Within Cloudland Canyon State Park they have two different waterfalls - Cherokee Waterfall and Hemlock Waterfall.  At the beginning of our visit, we talked with the rangers when we checked in and I found out that the waterfalls for this particular park are accessed by stairs.  And when I say stairs, the ranger said about 600 stairs to the first waterfall (Cherokee) and about 1000 stairs to the second waterfall (Hemlock).  Now, I'm not sure that I could do this number of stairs in a short period of time, but I am sure that given enough time I could do them.  However, Jimbo (dog) cannot.  He has hip and/or knee issues due to being a little older and that's not an option for him.  In addition, the ranger said the stairs are 'grated metal' - that's not good for the dog's paws and some won't walk on it anyway.

So, my dilemma was, do I pass on seeing the waterfalls? Or do we figure out another way?  On our second full day at the park, when we returned to our cabin we found that a park ranger and another vehicle were there.  Hmmm, why?  On closer look, Jim said it looks like they are replacing the air conditioner (which we didn't really need being that the temperatures were nice and we are from Florida so we don't like it real cold anyway).  After our morning hike, I personally wanted to take a nap before we headed out late afternoon for more fun.  That didn't look like it was going to happen...but, with a ranger at our cabin and most likely very knowledgeable - we asked him about whether there was another way to get to the waterfalls - one without 600 stairs!

He told us of another way that would eliminate a good number of the stairs (yay!)  The next day we set out to hike part of the West Rim Trail (not on the loop part we did earlier in the week) and go to a waterfall.  The first waterfall on the trail is Cherokee Falls.  We managed to navigate the first set of about 20 stairs without much issue.  Then we came to the 'final' set of stairs that took us to the bottom of the canyon where the waterfall is located.

Here's the stairs.  Let's look over the edge...

I wonder how many stairs there are?  As the dogs were not going to make this trek, I decided to go down the stairs to see the waterfall while Jim stayed up top with the dogs - they had a nice log bench there to sit and relax.  We agreed I would come back in about 30 minutes as I wasn't able to get cell service so deep in the canyon.  Down the stairs I went.  Eventually after about 100 stairs, I saw the waterfall.

This photograph was taken about 8:30 am - the sun starts to hit the waterfall between 10am and 11am (per the park ranger that was at our cabin).  This particular waterfall appears to be facing north (so my camera is pointed towards the south in this photograph).

The locals mentioned that this is a popular swimming place during the summer months.  We visited on a weekday in early May and there was no one in the water at this time.  Looking to see where the water flows to after the water fall, lots of beautiful trees along the water way.

A small waterfall and flowering rhododendron along the water.

After I returned to the top, I waited for Jim to go down and view the waterfall.  Sometimes when you're sitting there all by yourself, 30 - 45 minutes can seem like a LONG time!  I played with my camera and the surroundings for a little while - made this image below (one of about 50 - but probably one of a very few I actually like).  This is made by moving the camera up and down while using a long shutter speed.

And the dogs, Jimbo and Abby, hung out with me - but they were more content to lay around as Abby settled down pretty quickly and Jimbo wasn't to far behind (but I had to untie him so he could pick a spot).

That's all for this adventure.  We have a couple more before this vacation will come to a close - so tune in next week!



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) boulder canyon cherokee cherokee falls cloudland cloudland canyon cloudland canyon state park dog-friendly georgia grated hike outdoor river rock rocks stair stairs state park steel stream trail water waterfall http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/cherokee-falls-cloudland-canyon-state-park-georgia Sun, 27 May 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Meet Nina http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---meet-nina This week's pet photography blog features Nina who is looking for her forever home.  She is a very sweet dog, loves her humans and gets along fine with all her current foster siblings of the feline type (several cats).  As soon as I met her, I knew we would have a fairly easy photography session to capture images - she is very laid back, yet curious on what exactly we wanted her to do. 

Meet Nina - if you're interested in fostering her or adopting her, please contact Maxx and Me Pet Rescue at maxxandme.org

Maxx and Me is a small rescue here in Hillsborough County that tries to keep all dogs within the rescue in foster homes.  We have been volunteering our time for over 18 months now to help take great photographs and hopefully find these dogs homes.  Sometimes we have more dogs than fosters and they spend some time in a boarding facility (not our preference, but it does take them out of harms way). If you would like to help, like all rescues, they definitely will be thankful.  Monetary donations are accepted as well if you prefer (no amount is to small!).

Until next week...hopefully it won't be raining every day (but I know it is suppose to be) and we will be able to do more pet photography!


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog foster maxx and me maxx and me pet rescue mutt outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog rescue vpshoots http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---meet-nina Fri, 25 May 2018 08:00:00 GMT
See Rock City - finally we did! http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/see-rock-city---finally-we-did For decades I remember driving along the interstate and seeing signs on barn roofs, on billboards, and a few others places - they all said "See Rock City".  You know, the traditional red barn, and on the roof the words "See Rock City" were painted.  While we were staying at Cloudland Canyon State Park, we drove around and I saw little arrows (not barns) that pointed the way to "Rock City".  So what the heck, we had our dogs with us, but let's go see what it's about and then decide, should we go see Rock City?

I saw a young man leaving the park that looked like he just finished his shift - Jim, ask him what it's about (please).  So he did and the big question was, "Are you dog friendly? We have our dogs with us right now." - Wow - he said, did I hear that correctly - Yes!  So for all you people out there that might be travelling with a canine, this is a place you can enjoy and your dog will too.

I'll have to say, Jimbo and Abby were probably the only dogs there this late afternoon and there were more than one group of people asking if they could either pet our dogs or have a photograph taken with them.  Guess they were a bit of a rare occasion.  The entire park is a 3/4 mile loop through gardens, rocks, caverns, and fun things that make for an interesting time.

As we walked through the park, they have signs that provide some information.  This one told us how the area was initially discovered back on August 28, 1823, (that's they day before my birthday - a different year of course!).  "In 1823, Two Missionaries named David Butrick and William Chamberlain came to the Lookout Mountain area to minister to the Native Americans. On August 28, 1823, Reverend Butrick made an entry in his dairy stating, 'In company with Mr. Chamberlain, I ascended Lookout Mountain to visit a citadel of rocks.' He went on to describe the immense size of the boulders, which seemed to be situated in such a way 'as to afford streets and lanes.'" (that's the entire verbiage quoted from the sign at the park).

The owners opened "Rock City Gardens" to the public on May 21, 1932, during the Depression.  Here's a few photographs from our walk through Rock City.  As we entered, we see a water wheel on one side (below) and lots of rocks with some small waterfalls on the other side.  This looks like a nice peaceful late afternoon time to visit - not a lot of people and all the school children have gone back to school and/or home.

Frieda Utermoehlen Carter incorporated gnome statues into her gardens within Rock City. Later they were moved to their own area in Fairyland Caverns, and now you can see dozens of them throughout the park. See how many you can count here at Gnome Valley and all along the Enchanted Trail!  (we didn't count, you will have to do that) Jim took a photograph of the gnome that was flying a plane - I think that was his favorite of the gnomes.  They say the gnome life expectancy is 400 years!  I guess they will be here for some time to come.

Goblins Pass was the first underpass (or tight squeeze) I remember on the enchanted trail.  Before us where several people and one of them looked to be at least 6'5" if not 7' - I'm sure he had fun.  I'm 5'5", so I didn't have any issues.

Needle's Eye - a small opening between some very large boulders.

Narrow passage way and I was very happy that our dogs trusted us enough to follow us through on the enchanted trail.  Here's Jimbo and Abby waiting while Jim took a photograph.

Fat Man's Squeeze - yes, be careful, I had to take off my backpack and then try to figure out how to squeeze through sideways while carrying my camera gear.  A nice girl asked if she could help - I gave her my tripod - otherwise it was going to be 'slow going' trying to get all the gear through this little crevice!  Strangely enough, the dogs didn't seem to have any issues with going through.  Not that they are fat, but they didn't mind being totally surrounded by rocks with a small pathway.

There is a swinging bridge (ugh) but you can take the safe route across the stone bridge too - either one, but to continue on the walk, you must cross one of these.  The dogs and I took the swinging bridge - I don't like heights - hence there are ZERO photographs of Jim crossing on the stone bridge because I was too scared to do anything but look directly in front of feet!

Lover's leap has a beautiful scenic overlook.  From this area, you can view portions of 7 states on a clear day!

High Falls is just under Lover's leap - where water falls a fairly good distance down into a pool of water.

One of the coolest places is Fairyland Caverns.  Now, this is actually a cavern of quite some size and it is cool inside (a nice break from any potential heat that might be happening outside).  When we visited, outside temperature was probably close to 80.  Inside the Fairyland Caverns, it was a nice cool temperature - very pleasant (I assume around high 60's or low 70's).

It's dark inside this cavern and it's wonderfully decorated inside.  Be careful, portions are wet due to water still dripping through the rocks as you see all the wonderful displays that have been created.  You must be able to navigate through low light as well as some stairs to go through this part of the park.  Here's Snow White and they are very vibrant - minimal enhancements were done to this photograph.

Or perhaps Cinderella?


They have many different wonderful displays - some are fairy tales, some mother goose, enjoy all the wonderful scenes.  There are areas where they have lights within the cavern as you walk along an area that is long and narrow (but not real narrow).  You can see some of the steps within the cavern in this photograph.

All kinds of fun things like that that are natural for the adults and kids alike to enjoy.  Just in case you're hungry, they do have several different places you can purchase food and enjoy your stay longer.  They also have a gift shop at the end of the enchanted trail.

While most of the areas you see in our photographs are not "ADA", they do have an ADA/Limited Access trail for wheelchair and/or strollers.  To enjoy all the enchanted trail, you need to have the ability to walk as well as do some stairs (up/down), and either go around fat man's squeeze or not to to large such that you can't make it through!

I have to say "Thank You" to Rock City Gardens was created by Frieda Utermoehlen Carter – a German immigrant with a love for German folklore.





vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) 1932 attraction botanical boulder bridge cavern caverns chattanooga dog-friendly food georgia gnome gnomes lookout lookout mountain mountain rock rock city scenic view scenic views stone bridge swinging bridge tourist trail walk http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/see-rock-city---finally-we-did Sun, 20 May 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Humor" http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---theme-humor This week's pet photography theme is "Humor" and I find that there are several different types of humor within the canine world.  Often times it is just the bloopers from a photographic shoot that are the humorous photographs (which often I don't keep - but perhaps I should!).  The most often bloopers that I catch in a photo session are when the dog blinks (and that happens a lot) or when the dog has his/her tongue out.  In my first photograph, we were at an adoption event and I got the impression that Tristan wasn't to happy about the whole event!

On another photography session with Pogo, well he looks like his tongue is busy - a little close to the nose?

This dog has beautiful fur (hair) - but where are the eyes?  nose? just a little bit of a tongue showing to indicate there really is a dog hiding behind here! 

It's not often that Abby (on left) is able to get Jimbo to play such that it looks like they are dancing together.  I love the eyes on this photograph!

Dog diving in a competition -- this dog is a great jumper and is bracing for the impact!  Catching this at the right moment as the water sprays in all directions - I wonder if humans have that same expression when they are about to hit the water?

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit About A Dog Photography in Anoka 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/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) animal photography animal photography blog beach canine dog humor pet photography pet photography blog playing rescue swimming tongue water http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---theme-humor Fri, 18 May 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Cloudland Canyon State Park - West Rim Trail http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/cloudland-canyon-state-park---west-rim-trail We just returned from several days up in the cooler weather of north west Georgia.  The next few weeks will take you on a tour of our trip sharing adventures along the way.  Cloudland Canyon State Park is located about 20 miles south of Chattanooga along highway 136.  The park is located in Georgia, but is close to the Alabama state line as well as the Tennessee state line.  They have lots of camping areas for tents, campers and rvs.  In addition, they have several 'cottages/cabins' (2 are dog friendly) and a small yurt village.  They have bike rentals, disc golf course, playgrounds, waterfalls and a lot of trails and views.  We hiked several trails during our 4 day stay and enjoyed a camp fire as we pretty much had the areas to ourself since it was during the week. We arrived Sunday evening and started back home on Friday morning.

Our dogs, Abby and Jimbo, travelled along with us and appeared to have a wonderful time!  Our first day we decided to hike the West Rim Trail - this trail consists of a loop which is approximately 2 miles - there is a short connector trail to the West Rim from each of the cottages - we stayed in cottage 7 which is pet friendly.  Cabin 7 has been recently renovated as all the appliances look new.  They had most everything we needed - fire wood was available at the visitor center as well as a few other essentials.  The closest town is Trenton, Georgia which has all the main stores should you need to pick up something you may need during your stay.

Our trip began at the 'official' parking lot for this trail as we came from the visitor's center.  As we began our hike, I spotted an eastern box turtle.

At this time of year, the black berry plants are loaded with blooms - unfortunately, you have to come in the summer to get the black berries and judging from the blooms, there are plenty to eat along the trails.

The trail was fairly easy with rocks, roots and a little bit of up and down along the way.

The mountain laurel is blooming as well as the rhododendron bushes. The smaller bloom of the mountain laurel is delicate white color.  The rhododendron bushes were all pink and at various stages of the bloom cycle.  We missed the dogwoods, as they had just finished flowering.

Jim was taking photographs of the flowers when he noticed a little itty bitty critter on his lens...good thing he noticed before he ended up losing it's life in the camera lens.

We saw some pileated woodpeckers while driving along the roads in this park - not sure if this is their previous homes or from another woodpecker but the holes in the tree were pretty large.

The west rim trail does provide views of the canyon although it was a bit late to get beautiful views with the sun low in the skies.

Abby at one of the overlooks along the trail - she has no problem being a model and posing for the camera.

Jimbo is happy until you pick up the camera and then he either closes his eyes or turns his head - I guess this guy is going to need telephoto lenses to get great photos of (or maybe treats) as every time he would turn his head away from the camera!

I was quite impressed with our Jimbo doing the two mile hike over a period of four hours (we were stopping taking photographs). Abby did great also - so next week we will continue our adventure - be sure to check next Sunday's blog post.



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canyon cloudland cloudland canyon cloudland canyon park cloudland canyon state park dog friendly dog-friendly georgia hike hiking mountain nature outdoor park rising fawn state park trail trenton west rim west rim trail http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/cloudland-canyon-state-park---west-rim-trail Sun, 13 May 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Riverhills Park - A beautiful sunset over the river http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/riverhills-park---a-beautiful-sunset-over-the-river I am fortunate that I have a beautiful park near my house with the Hillsborough River running through it.  There are a lot of different types of birds that call this park 'home' - we have song birds (mockingbird, cardinals, bluebirds, etc), we have hawks (red shoulder hawk), we have owls (barred owl), we have water birds (ibis, heron, egret, limpkin, woodstork) - it's part of the Florida birding trail.  Sometimes you have to take a little time out to enjoy what is right in front of you.  Jimbo, my senior dog, and I went down to the park and watched the sunset.  At first, I didn't think it was going to be all that spectacular.  We had a lot of clouds, but the layer looked like it was going to be to thick to let the sun shine through.

Jimbo and I decided to start walking back down the boardwalk a little closer to the route home.  But as I was walking, I noticed that something after the sun set was starting to light up the sky with beautiful reds....

The reflection on the water was just as beautiful as the sky! Both of these photographs were taken after the sun officially set, just 10 minutes afterwards.

Sometimes it pays to stay after the sun has set just to see what happens shortly afterwards - keep that in mind next time you stop to watch the sun set - the best might be just after the sunset.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) birding trail clouds color hillsborough hillsborough river red river riverhills park sunset temple terrace tree trees http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/riverhills-park---a-beautiful-sunset-over-the-river Sun, 06 May 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Colorful http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---theme-colorful This week's pet photography theme is colorful.  A google search indicates this word means "having much or varied color; bright" or "full of interest; lively and exciting".  Typically, when I photograph animals I prefer a background that is quite the opposite as it will distract from the subject - in my case a dog.  The world surrounds us with color - color of fur, color of background, color of everything - can you imagine the world in black and white?  What a different place it would be - but then, if we didn't know about color - maybe it wouldn't be an issue.

I had great ideas of getting one of the rescue dogs I photographed this past week to pose in front of a very colorful blanket.  However, many of these dogs were a bit timid and that plan didn't work out.  

This week I met Cesar and he is a senior who lost his owner and entered the Maxx and Me Pet Rescue.  Cesar was fairly easy to photograph - but we were at a busy adoption event with a lot of people, cars and not pretty areas.  The noise didn't bother Cesar, he is quite easy going.  At first we did a simple head photograph with his colorful fur against a plain background.

Our next photo we put Cesar on a orange table and a more colorful background. It's a little bright outside, so Cesar looks like he is squinting a little bit.

I visited our local fabric store searching for a piece of fabric to replace the one our foster puppies decided was fun to shread on the bottom of an antique rocking chair - I found that fabric, but it put me into the area where they have fleece fabrics and they had some really pretty patterns.  My first thought was to put the fabric over a chair and get little Miss Rue to pose, however it quickly became apparent that she didn't really want to model for me.  It was cute because Ollie was sitting on the floor patiently waiting because she is very good at modeling and will almost always step in when Rue doesn't want to!

Here's Ollie against a cute paw footprint - heart pattern (not real bright, but definitely having pastel colors).

Now, if I can only get Rue to be a model for just a few minutes!  She was the hardest of the litter when I met her in September and perhaps that's always going to be a trait for her - "I will not sit still!".  Here's one of her the day I first met her many months ago against a colorful blanket.  She was just over 2 months old in this photograph and is now approaching 10 months of age but still has the same sweet face, just more mature.

My last photo of the week was probably one of the most challenging rescue dogs to photograph, Tyson.  Tyson was afraid of the camera - no doubt about that.  He ran everywhere he could to get away from me and after running under a deck (which of course I didn't follow) he finally ran and hid in this blanket. I had to use flash on this and since I was planning for outdoor portraits, it wasn't the lighting I preferred, but I did learn so rescue dogs are challenging!

Tyson - adoptedTyson - adopted

That's all for this week!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Cahlean of About A Dog Photography in 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/text at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) adoption canine dog dog photography event maxx and me maxx and me pet rescue outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog pomeranian rescue senior vpshoots http://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---theme-colorful Fri, 04 May 2018 08:00:00 GMT