VP Shoots Photography: Blog https://www.vpshoots.com/blog en-us (C) VP Shoots Photography vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:17:00 GMT Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:17:00 GMT https://www.vpshoots.com/img/s/v-12/u72374969-o284808826-50.jpg VP Shoots Photography: Blog https://www.vpshoots.com/blog 120 101 Pet Photography with cute props https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/pet-photography-with-cute-props This week's blog post is all about the Photographer’s Choice (that's me!)– this week we are focusing on using props when photographing puppies.  It’s now the middle of February and we have been busy photographing about 16 puppies thus far for a local pet rescue (maxxandme.org).  These puppies came from two different momma’s who had pretty large litters!

We wanted to create some creative and fun images for these puppies – some props we brought with us.  These include the common things of a wooden crate painted a beautiful aqua blue, a basket, a couple of blankets or fleece materials and a white ‘furry’ piece of fabric.  All of these things were purchased at Joann’s fabrics with the exception of the paint for the crate.

Here’s some sample photographs using these various props for each of the puppies.

Wooden Crate

Sitting in the crate with white furry material and a few brightly colored toys.  She has been adopted!

Sitting in the same crate, outside using the house as a background.  COVID has presented it's challenges and most all of our photography sessions with the rescues are done outside now.  The fleece material was purchased at Joann's Fabrics several years ago.  Another tip is to get smaller dogs off the ground - they are less likely to jump and leave your studio setup.


This outdoor shoot was photographed with the backyard fence blocking the sunlight and creating a simple background.  The black saucer chair was used to place the basket along with a nice fluffy blanket.

All of these puppies were being raised by foster parents in the Tampa Bay area.  Each foster parent had various things at their homes that made for some great props. 

Child Playhouse (#1)

At one home, they had a playhouse on their patio for the children.  We ask – may we use the playhouse for photographs with these puppies?  With permission, we decided to utilize the windows in the playhouse to have the puppies peering out looking at us.  Cute?  We think so!

The puppy poked his head out the window while an assistant was hiding inside the playhouse with the puppy to ensure it was safe.

Child Playhouse (#2)

This playhouse was outside in the backyard.  An assistant was inside the playhouse with the puppy to hopefully ensure they didn't jump out.  A large window opening provided the perfect place for the puppy to pop their head up and pose for the waiting photographer!

Flexible flyer red wagon

Another foster household had an antique red wagon.  This wagon is called a ‘flexible flyer’ (I googled this and found that it is similar to the radio flyer that I remembered from me child hood.)  Now the challenge is to get the puppy to stay in the little wagon allowing us to capture a few photographs. 

This beautiful antique was perfect for our little girl - the issue was keeping her in the wagon long enough to capture her portrait since the wagon was sitting on the ground.  The little brindle girl was willing to sit there for us – great, we captured another wonderful photograph.

Barbie Jeep

As we drove up to the last foster household, we spotted the little Barbie car played with by so many children.  We asked, "Can we use the car to create a photograph of the puppies?"  She said yes, but it was a little dirty – no problem, we grabbed the water hose, got a towel from our vehicle and it was cleaned up pretty nice for a photo session.  Now, can we teach Melba to drive?  Yep! 

Watch out - here comes a new driver!  Jim, my partner, managed to get Melba to stay in the jeep long enough for a few photographs (this was after several attempts - she kept jumping out).  Finally, Melba was attracted by things happening outside the jeep, she put her paws in the perfect positions and click! Just have to be quick.

Saucer Chair

One prop that I had bought but not yet had a chance to use until these puppies came along is a ‘saucer chair’ (Amazon – “Urban Shop Super Soft Faux Fur Saucer Chair with Folding Metal Frame”).  This is a super lightweight chair that folds and is easy to transport.  I purchased it in black – and the effects of the black with the puppies is beautiful.  For each of the puppies, getting them off the ground and into something they thought was comfortable was the ticket to capturing some wonderful images with a little Photoshop (or your favorite photo editor) this became a beautiful setting.

The head tilt - typically created by making a sound that the puppy hasn't heard before (I've gotten pretty good about making sounds and ignoring what I might look or sound like!).

The dead stare ahead with those beautiful blue eyes!

For this last photograph, we added a little dead palm branch that was laying on the ground at the foster's home for some texture and added interest to the photograph.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Kirsten Hough of Wort & Flea Pet Photography, capturing the love, the fun, the adventure and the spirit of your pet in Pokeno, New Zealand.

If you would like to discuss or book a custom pet portrait session, send an email to vpshoots@gmail.com or give us a call/text Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Hillsborough/Pinellas/Pasco/Polk counties in Florida).  We have flexible rates and packages to fit most everyone’s budget as we believe that having wonderful photographs of your pet is important to so many people.




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) basket blanket canine crate dog dog photography fabric fur fleece Florida large puppies large puppy mixed breed mutt outdoor outdoors outside pet photography pet photography blog props puppy rescue saucer chair vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/pet-photography-with-cute-props Fri, 26 Feb 2021 09:00:00 GMT
Using depth of field with Pet Photography https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/using-depth-of-field-with-pet-photography Ever wonder why some photographs you can see everything in the background crystal clear and others it’s just a creamy blur?  Well, that’s what this week’s pet photography blog is about.  In this particular case, we are looking for a 'deep depth of field'.  What does this mean? Well, it means a lot of the photograph is in focus.  This long boardwalk and the trees in the background are all in focus - this gives a greater amount of depth of field.  I know, there's no dog in this photo - it was almost freezing and they were hanging in the truck.  If you're curious, this is near Cedar Key, Florida and is called Shell Mound.

Background blur is an excellent tool that will separate your subject from the surroundings and is often used to make the subject pop out.  The photographic term for this is called ‘depth of field’.  Most people think of the ‘depth of field’ as being controlled by the aperture or f-stop for the old timers.  The larger aperture number on the lens, the better chance of getting some great details in the background of your image.  However, there is one other factor that also comes into play and that’s the ‘focal length’ of the lens used to capture that photograph.  Let’s explore these two concepts and see how they impact a portrait of your favorite animal.



This is one of the three parts of the ‘exposure triangle’ that a camera uses to create ‘proper’ exposure.  For this blog post, we are only discussing how the aperture impacts your photo.  Photography Life defines aperture as follows: “Aperture can be defined as the opening in a lens through which light passes to enter the camera. It is an easy concept to understand if you just think about how your eyes work. As you move between bright and dark environments, the iris in your eyes either expands or shrinks, controlling the size of your pupil.  In photography, the ‘pupil’ of your lens is called aperture. You can shrink or enlarge the size of the aperture to allow more or less light to reach your camera sensor.” (https://photographylife.com/what-is-aperture-in-photography)

In newer lenses this is not as common to see, but with older lenses (or perhaps a lensbaby lens) you can see how the hole in the camera lens gets larger or smaller.

Before the world of digital cameras came on the horizon, apertures were a set of numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, etc usually the highest value is at least 22.  If you look at these aperture numbers, you will see a pattern.  The first number is 1.4, the second is 2.  The third is 1.4 x 2 = 2.8. The fourth is 2 x 2 = 4. Do you see the pattern?  Now with digital cameras, each aperture can be split into thirds – so we can increase the aperture a third of a stop or decrease the aperture a third of a stop.  This gives a finer degree of control, but probably makes very little difference in the amount of blur in the resulting photograph.

So, now you know the formula for remembering the various ‘true’ apertures on a camera.  But how do you remember which is ‘wide-open’ giving a beautiful blur or ‘closed down/stopped down’ giving details in the background?  For me, I always think of the aperture numbers as fractions and then think about a pie!  If I am getting ½ of the pie that’s a whole lot bigger than getting 1/16 of the pie – right?  Apply this little technique to your aperture and you’ll remember without any issue.

Background blur is an excellent composition tool to set your subject apart from their surrounding areas. It’s another way of saying “minimum depth of field”.  Sometimes you want everything in focus, if that's the case - then you need to think about using larger aperture numbers which translates to having a smaller piece of that pie I mentioned earlier.

Jimbo was a great hiking buddy as he could be trusted to stay with us regardless of whether he was on leash or just hanging out when we were photographing the sights.  In this case, Jimbo is watching Jim who is just outside of the area the camera is capturing.  A wide angle lens (14mm F/9.0), a smaller aperture and the scene all comes into focus.

Yep - it's Jimbo at another waterfall in North Carolina.  A wide angle lens allowed for getting him as well as the waterfall in the background all in the same photograph (27mm, F/8.0).


Focal Length

The second part of this is all about the focal length of your lens.  The human eye sees things in the world at approximately 50mm focal length.  Hence, the reason that the nifty 50mm lens used to be the standard lens that everyone started using when they purchased a new camera.  Now, people usually get a zoom lens that has a range of focal lengths and most of the time 50mm is somewhere in that range.

A lens that is smaller than 45mm is considered to be wide-angle.  Although, most wide-angle lenses are actually thought of as 35mm or 24mm.  Anything smaller is probably more commonly considered to be a ‘super wide’.  

A lens that is larger than 60mm is considered to be a telephoto, although 60mm is a very short telephoto – and the more common zoom lenses are 70-200mm in focal length.

A lens with a shorter focal length, let’s say, 24mm allows more things to be in focus in your photo overall and also decreases the ability to have the creamy blur background.  A lens with a longer focal length will work much better than one with a shorter focal length.

Most of my photographs of dogs are taken with a longer focal length.  The most common is between 70mm and 200mm.  Here's some samples of different photographs and the aperture/focal lengths associated with each.  On the shorter side for the focal length, using a 'super wide focal length' just about everything will be in focus.

Ollie - 10mm, F/9.5 Superwide focal lengths can give a very unique and different perspective.  It also gives you a deeper depth of field as just about everything regardless of the distance from the lens will be in focus.

Maximo - 35mm, f/4.5 - wide angle, has little blur in the background - but still a fairly good amount of depth as we in Florida know that tree behind Maximo is a Brazilian Pepper plant (invasive and everywhere).

Nana, 35mm f/18 - A smaller aperture was used because it was bright sunshine and the background is iconic in the Tampa (University of Tampa).


Salem - 42mm, F/5.0 - Using a shorter focal length and an aperture that provides some depth of field gives a little softness in the background but still able to determine all the plants in the photograph.

Now, let's start using longer focal lengths and see how to create some background blur.  

Abby - 80mm, F/13

Abby - 80mm, F/6.3 (nothing changed except the aperture - look at the difference in the ferns behind Abby)

Abby - 170mm, F/11 - Changing the focal length (Abby nor I moved between these photos and the ones at 80mm) creates a lot more blur in the grass and ferns behind her.

Abby - 170mm, F/4.5 - the blur has increased enough to create creamy blur without being able to determine the plants (ferns) in the background.

Abby - 200mm, F/8 - very similar in overall appearance to photograph at 170mm/F4.5 above.

Deep Depth of Field:

A shorter focal length

A smaller aperture (think higher number here and less of the pie)

Most of the photograph in focus

Shallow Depth of Field:

A longer focal length

A wider aperture (think more pie here)

Most of the photograph outside of your focus point will be blurred to varying degrees


That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, serving pets and their people in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas.

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



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) aperture blur boardwalk bokeh canine Cedar Key deep depth of field depth of field dog dog photography Florida focal length nature outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog rescue Shell Mound sunset vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/using-depth-of-field-with-pet-photography Fri, 19 Feb 2021 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography with puppy love https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/pet-photography-with-puppy-love Our last few weeks have been filled with puppies!  Maxx and Me Pet Rescue has rescued several momma dogs and taken their little ones into foster care as well.  We have been touring the Tampa Bay area photographing these puppies - and it's all about love with these little ones.  Lot of puppy love going around here as we saw many different puppies and a surprising number of them with blue eyes - or one blue eye and another eye a different color. 

All of these puppies belong to momma "Brie" who was not able to nurse them herself due to health issues.  As such, a call went out for fosters to help feed these little babies from the beginning of their life - and they were paired up with two in each foster.  Eight of those puppies have grown into wonderful little fur bundles waiting for their forever home (a few have potential furever homes, some still waiting to find one).

Here's two 11 week old siblings sharing a toy together as they run and play with a little red valentine monkey across the yard.

 These two siblings allowed us to place them in a wooden crate for a few cute photographs together. Sometimes during puppy shoots, well - perhaps one shows a little love through a snuggle and the other shows what they might be thinking about it (by sticking out their tongue?).

  Our last puppy, for a red love portrait - Blackberry, an 12 week old puppy with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, sharing the love with Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography Florida love Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue outdoor pet photography pet photography blog puppy red rescue Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/pet-photography-with-puppy-love Fri, 12 Feb 2021 13:08:28 GMT
Using Symmetry in Pet Photography https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/using-symmetry-in-pet-photography Symmetry - what is it?  In simple terms, this is where the two sides of a photograph are equally balanced if you split it down the middle.  Or perhaps it is when there is a balance achieved because both sides of the image hold equal weight.  Wondering what this actually means?  Well - maybe it's as simple as looking at these two birds - both staring at each other.  Actually, this is a mirror image of the same bird but using photoshop it was 'flipped' so the bird is now looking at itself.  Symmetry - draw a line down the middle of this photo of the birds and you will have a mirror image on each half of the photograph.

Nature's symmetric dog face

Let's look at this with respect to a pet photograph.  In the world of dogs - some have very symmetric faces as they are primarily one color.  But for those that aren't, such as this husky - nature provided Colt with a pretty symmetric face. If you're looking for a husky, he may still be available through Maxx and Me Pet Rescue (www.maxxandme.org) in Tampa, Florida.

Creating a symmetrical dog face

What happens if we take a dog's face that has very distinctive markings and create a symmetrical face? Does it look natural? A little eerie? or perhaps a little off?  Well - that's for you to decide.  This dog had a very distinctive white mark on one side of it's face. Using Photoshop, I created another copy of the dogs face, flipped it and then created a duplicate (or mirror) image on the other half of the dog's face.  Hence, we created a symmetrical face for this dog in an imaginary world.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching pet and family portraits in Coppell, Carrollton and the greater Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) balanced bird canine dog dog photography Florida husky line mirror mirror image monochrome outdoor pet photography pet photography blog photography rescue symmetric symmetry vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/2/using-symmetry-in-pet-photography Fri, 05 Feb 2021 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Using Lensbaby Sweet 50 for dog portraits https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/1/pet-photography---using-lensbaby-sweet-50-for-dog-portraits This week our pet photography theme is "center" and as I thought about this - I thought, what better time to give the Lensbaby Sweet 50 a try with Abby, one of our rescue dogs.  The Sweet 50 optic is used with the Lensbaby Composer which is a manual focus lens - making this a much more challenging process - to highlight Abby in the center of a sharp sweet spot of focus that is surrounded by dreamy blur.  As we have very gloomy weather outside today, I decided to use this with the optic wide open on the aperture giving a lot of dreamy blur around a small center of focus.  

Background Image - Lensbaby Sweet 50

First, here's an overall image that has the sharper areas focus in the center of this photograph of the ferns at our local park.  This is where I requested Abby sit down and thankfully she agreed.

Abby's portrait using Lensbaby Sweet 50

All images were taken with a Nikon D750 full frame camera and the lensbaby composer with the sweet 50 optic.

This particular portrait has the focus on Abby's right eye (furthest from the camera) which probably is not the best option.  Focusing on the eye closest to the camera is the preferred option but hey, getting used to a new lens, manual focus, and a moving subject.

This portrait has the focus on the eye closest to the camera which is a better sweet spot.  I've noticed that Abby has taken to "not looking at the camera" which she did very well when she was a few years younger.  I also noticed that 2020 was the year that Abby decided to 'go gray' - she will be 5 in February - but apparently is going gray already!

This one is probably my favorite pose from this photo shoot but  the sweet spot appears to be more towards the eye furthest from the camera.  

This portrait of Abby has good focus on her eye closest to the camera creating a sweet spot on this side of her face.  The center of the focused spot is her eye.

Lensbaby Lineup

The lensbaby lineup of various lenses and optics are interesting tools to work with.  A throw back to the time where focus is manual - many may not have ever used manual focus but there was a time that cameras didn't auto focus (for those of you that are younger and don't know that world).

Oh, for all of these photographs I tried to use 'no tilt' of the Lensbaby composer because it often makes it harder to focus.  However, it can be a really nice feature when you want to change where the center of focus for the sweet spot is located.  Also, if you're curious - the Sweet 50 is a 50mm lens.  They also have a Sweet 35 (a 35mm lens) and a Sweet 80 (an 80mm lens).  These are the focal lengths for a full frame camera.  You can also control the 'sweet spot' size by using different apertures - all of those above were shot wide open, but if you use a smaller aperture, the sweet spot will be larger.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Kylee Doyle Photography, serving pet parents in the greater Sacramento area.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography dreamy fern ferns Florida Lensbaby nature outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue river soft sweet 50 Tampa tilt vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2021/1/pet-photography---using-lensbaby-sweet-50-for-dog-portraits Fri, 15 Jan 2021 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Gift https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/12/pet-photography---theme-gift This week's pet photography theme is "Gift" - and as I write this blog post I think of a couple of ways to interpret this particular theme.  First, I was given a gift when I first received a camera so many years ago.  Now, I am using my gift of photography to help dogs looking for homes.  The last several weeks have been a bit of a blur between taking photographs for dogs looking for homes and doing home visits to meet people interested in adopting a dog.  The second gift, is telling the story of each dog as we meet and greet to get some portraits in hopes of helping them find their homes.  I think more importantly though, the biggest gift is spending time with each of the dogs I meet and enjoying each dog as we learn a bit about them.  Of course, the dogs are being generous with their time too - by letting us get photographs of them (always a two way street).

This week we photographed Phoebe for the second time.  Phoebe is a young female dog looking for a foster home or even better a permanent home.  She has been with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue for over a year now.  How do I know? Well, I met Phoebe for the first time on the day before Christmas Eve last year. Yes, it was December 23, 2019 - and this poor gal is still looking for a home that isn't a boarding facility.  She is a little timid with people at first, and she doesn't like every dog she meets.  But then, do you like every person you meet?   Today, she wandered around in the room as we set up our cameras, lights and got everything situated to start today's shoot.  We let her do her own thing, giving her some time and space of her own.  I know that being in front of cameras is a bit scary as I have done it myself.  Here's Phoebe - perhaps she will find her home this year.

Our second dog is Roy.  Roy's story is a little sketchy but he is a sweet boy.  A medium size hound dog (look at those ears!) who came into Maxx and Me Pet Rescue after being tied up in a back yard - without a name.  They called him "Boy".  Anyway, I am not sure, but perhaps he flunked out of hunting and then was resigned to spend time in the back yard.  During our photography session, Roy was the perfect gentleman.  He was attentive, willing to pose, curious but not destructive and loves playing with the other dogs in the play areas.  Roy didn't mind being petted, he enjoyed the attention and hopefully he will find a forever home soon.

Our last dog is Colt.  A purebred Husky - big and beautiful.  Colt came into Maxx and Me Pet Rescue after starting his journey at the local county shelter here in Hillsborough County, Florida.  Apparently Colt had a little run in that left him needing surgery on his face.  If you look close, you'll see a little scar - but he is all healed up now.  A young man had Colt and was unable to keep him. He asked for help on social media when the rescue stepped in to help.  Huskys are beautiful - but they do like to roam based on my experience (jumping fences is probably within the realm of the breed as well).

If you or someone you know might be able to help any of these dogs - please let them know to check with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue (https://www.maxxandme.org/) or check out their Facebook page.  All of these dogs are currently in boarding at Mutt Meetup in Odessa, Florida (https://themuttmeetup.com/)

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Kylee Doyle Photography, serving pet parents in the greater Sacramento area.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue Mutt Meetup pet photography pet photography blog rescue studio vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/12/pet-photography---theme-gift Fri, 04 Dec 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Shelter https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/11/pet-photography---shelter This week's pet photography theme is 'shelter' and while I take a lot of photographs of dogs that are being sheltered by local rescues from the life they previously experienced - I decided to share a story about Jimbo from several years ago.

Jimbo was in our lives for just over 7 years - and we had many adventures together during that time.  When Jimbo arrived to live with us he was very afraid of thunder and while he got better over the years, he never really did like thunder.  I can't say that I blame him, he probably lived outdoors for the first 7 years of his life.  

One year we were off on a trip to Cashiers, North Carolina - and we took Jimbo with us to do the hiking and photographing with us.  It was a beautiful day (or so I thought).  Jim and I are taking photographs, Jimbo is keeping watch over us while we take photos.

And less than 7 minutes later - after a single rumble of thunder, Jimbo has taken shelter under a large rock and looks totally different (not sure if this is annoyed, scared or a bit of both).  Of course, I went over to comfort him and we left shortly there after because there is nothing I dislike more than making Jimbo uncomfortable with about the only thing he was truly afraid.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching pet and family portraits in Coppell, Carrollton and the greater Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine Cashiers dog dog photography North Carolina outdoor pet photography rock shelter vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/11/pet-photography---shelter Fri, 06 Nov 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Photographing your pet from above https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/10/pet-photography---photographing-your-pet-from-above This week's pet photography theme is "shoot from above".  For many of us (unless we have really big pets and are very short/small), we look down at our pets - thus we see them from above a good majority of the time.  Your pet looks up at you, you look down at them.  Typically when I do a photo session with any animal or child I will get down to their level - I don't shoot from above.  It's just not my style - I like having the eye contact looking straight into the camera.  However, there are times when taking a photograph from above is just the right thing to do.  Let's take a couple of examples of where I think this works very well.

First, with this little kitten (long since grown up now) - in order to keep the kitten from running away and playing I used a very large bean bag.  This bean bag was used by my dog on our boat, so a good bit of the 'beans' were removed to make it lower to the ground.  Then using a colorful blanket over the bean bag, I created a crevice that would make it challenging for the kitten to climb out and placed the kitten in the middle.  Now, looking directly down at the kitten, I snapped several photographs.  Here's one of those photographs.

Using this same technique, I photographed a sibling of this kitten and she now has a place on a book published in Italian and the kitten is named "Tally" (here's the link if you're curious: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tally-gatta-regalare-amore-Italian-ebook/dp/B077PXBPWS )

We do a lot of rescue dog photography, primarily for Maxx and Me Pet Rescue (www.maxxandme.org) but we also do it for other rescues on occasion.  Many of these dogs are in foster homes with several different dogs in the household.  While this dog was a resident dog living with his foster Mom - I decided to take a photo as I was being watched while working with the other dogs.  As an older senior dog, the eyes were full of so much soul, I just couldn't resist.  This photograph was taken indoors using natural light from the nearby window.  The dog was laying on the floor looking up at me as I was standing very close.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, capturing pets and their people, from all angles, in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) above blanket canine cat dog dog photography feline kitten looking up Maxx and Me nature pet photography pet photography blog rescue up vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/10/pet-photography---photographing-your-pet-from-above Fri, 16 Oct 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Reflections https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/9/pet-photography---reflections This week's pet photography blog theme is 'reflections'.  As I thought about this over the course of the last several weeks - my initial thought since we had been having rain every day, which meant we had puddles everywhere that I would try to do a photo where the reflection of one of our dogs is in the water puddle.  Well, it hasn't rained in so many days now that I need to water everything - go figure.  My next thought was perhaps a mirror, glass or some other way to create a reflection - but none of those have happened this week as I've been busy with other projects.  So - what about what a dog sees? Have you ever thought about what the dog is seeing when you are photographing them?

Here's a look into the eye of Rue while she watches me take a photograph of her.  My initial thought is, no wonder dogs can sometimes be scared of the camera - they see a big black blob in front of your eyes.

I will say, that by far my favorite 'eye reflection' photograph is not of me aiming a camera into the eyes of a dog (mine or anyone else's).  It's several years ago when I had my 70-200 mm lens camera, Jimbo on a 6 foot leash and he decided it was time to take a break while sitting in the parking lot at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN which wasn't open this early.  As I am sitting there wondering how long this break might be, I decided that with Jimbo being so close I should try looking into his eyes - what did he see?

Well, I can see me sitting in front of him, but the more dominant part of the reflection is the sky and trees.

If you'd like to capture a photograph similar to this, you'll need to have the dog outside somewhere that creates a reflection.  No artificial light, just natural sunlight works great and allows for seeing the reflection.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, photographing Cincinnati pets for "Tails of Cincinnati", a coffee table book project for charity.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine close dog dog photography eye outdoor pet photography pet photography blog reflection reflections rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/9/pet-photography---reflections Fri, 25 Sep 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Action! https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/9/pet-photography---action This week's pet photography theme is "Action" and I have decided to use Abby as our showcase model.  Abby loves the water - she will play in it for a good while - but prefers it to be shallow enough that she isn't forced into swimming - at least not over much distance.  We recently decided to take the dogs over to Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, Florida.  This particular state park has an area that allows dogs on the beach - with a leash.  When we arrived and started walking the trail to the beach, we found that the tide had left a small 'pond' that had to be crossed.  For us humans, it was probably just above our knees - but to deep for the dogs to walk across.  We had camera gear that couldn't get wet either, so what's the best way to cross this?  One dog at a time!  Abby loved it and ran across no issues.  Rue decided to do it without much issue although she was not happy about it (come on we are talking about walking/swimming for 10 feet over water?).  Ollie - well, it's not an action shot, but this was her idea of how to handle it.

Yep - Ollie walked far enough to get the water to the top of her legs, belly wet and STOPPED.  So I had to walk across, give my camera to Jim, walk back and pick up the little kid.  Ollie is not into swimming - I suppose she would if her life depended on it, but as long as there is another option she will choose that one every time.

Since Abby liked running and playing in the water so much, we decided to have her do several runs across as we photographed her having fun. And she is off running across (leash dragging through the water/mud).

And then hitting the bottom as she continued across the water. Yep, she is pretty much covered with all the water and much harder to see - but she is still coming across the little water way.

I took several photographs as she ran across this little area from Jim (Dad) to me as happy as she could be - free to run! The entire sequence this is the only one that I captured her ears flying up in the air - one of my favorites.

At last she has just about finished crossing the waterway and ready to shake off all the water.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Terri J Photography, photographing your pets and family in and around the Toronto area.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) action beach canine dog dog friendly beach dog photography dog-friendly Dunedin Florida Honeymoon Island Honeymoon Island State Park nature outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog trail vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/9/pet-photography---action Fri, 11 Sep 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Rainbow Bridge Day https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/8/pet-photography---rainbow-bridge This week's pet photography theme is Rainbow Bridge Day.  My fellow pet photographer's that are part of this pet photography blog circle were kind enough to alert me that August 28th is officially "Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day".  How fitting that this happens to be the day before my birthday?  In doing a google search (what we all do now, right?) I find that a woman named Deborah lost her beloved cat, Mr. Jazz, on this date in 2013.  Deborah published an emotional book that detailed her journey of letting go of Mr. Jazz.  The book had an overwhelming experience as so many of us each experience similar emotions when letting go of our pet.  In 2015, Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, became an official day to remember your furry friends.  

As a child, we had a lot of cats - my Mom loved cats and cats were always a part of my growing up.  I'm not sure that I can remember all of them but I'll see if I can give a quick rundown! Tom, Yachi, Grey, Sam, Momma, Chocolate, Smokey and Bobbi.  Hopefully I didn't miss any of them.  Course, all these kitties were in the pre-digital images days so while I have photographs of them somewhere, none are digital and easy to put into this blog post.

Also, as a child, my first dog - Buddy came into our lives.  All of us children talked my father into one of the puppies that our neighbor's dog had and well we had Buddy a long time!  Buddy was born in 1969 and seems that he was there all of my childhood, then into my college days and maybe even into the beginning of my working career.  We loved that dog so much that when he was going off to obedience school he flunked because we didn't let him finish (back in the days when they actually went away for a few days to learn the skills of life).  Photos weren't to good in this time period - all those little instamatics that kodak came out with - I'd say it was the photographer, but nothing is sharp, so think it's the world of instamatics.

After I was an adult and moved out on my own - I had cats for a number of years. 

Simon - my only long haired cat, a brown tabby

Cleo - I got her from the local grocery store - a family giving out kittens from a cardboard box

Marvin - By far, I would have to say that Marvin was the best kitty I had as an adult.  Marvin didn't believe that you should over sleep for work - if the alarm went off and you didn't get up, well - let's just say Marvin made sure you did.  Marvin would play with the weather alarm and darn if you were awake!!

Cody - a tuxedo cat, came from a litter that one of Jim's cats had before we moved into the same household  He was a good little kitty. 

In time, Jim moved in and his kitties came with him. So Milo and Mindy moved in.  Then we began our family of animals together.

Dillon (1) - a gray tabby

Angel - a tuxedo cat that Dolly found at Riverhills park by our house (found as a very small kitten)

Late in the list of cats, came Dolly.  Dolly followed my step-son around while he was skateboarding and they didn't know what to do when it was time to leave.  She had no collar, no name tag, nor any evidence that she had a good home - so she came here.  We couldn't find a microchip, she wasn't spayed, and eventually Dolly became our dog.  And a wonderful dog she was!  She went boating, canoeing, hiking, fishing, scalloping, walking, running and travelling - through out Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.  The memories we created with this girl are wonderful, never to be forgotten.  On her first road trip to Blairsville, Georgia - Dolly took a sunset boat ride with us on the lake.

Many years later, Jim and Dolly sitting on top of the highest mountain peak near where we were staying in North Carolina.  We had been hiking for a good while and eventually made it to the top.  As the sun was setting we now have to get back down to the beginning of the trail before it is dark - so the trip up the mountain was leisurely, but the trip down was much faster.

Thank you Dolly for being the wonderful soul mate that you were and for spending your life with us.  We will never forget you!

I remember the song I put to your photos after you left us, Please Remember Me .....written by Rodney Crowel.

All our tears have reached the sea
Part of you will live in me
Way down deep inside my heart
The days keep coming without fail
New wind is gonna find your sail
That's where your journey starts


Please Remember Me!

Since losing Dolly, we have experienced this lost twice more.  Angel, our blind little tuxedo kitty that Dolly found, left us several years after Dolly.  And most recently, Jimbo.  Again, the tears will flow as I write this blog post - the hurt is still strong, the love is strong, and definitely we will "Remember You"!  And not only on this special day that Deborah created for all of us just five years ago.

Our dogs by far we have created the strongest bonds with as they do so much with us.  We have been fortunate that our dogs all love to travel and be with us - by far, what they want most is to be with us.  I share one of my favorite face portraits of Jimbo - one I see almost every day in our home.

I'll share the sunset photograph I took of Jimbo at our favorite place - Riverhills Park, just blocks away from our home.  The sun has set on his physically being here with us - but the memories will live on forever.  As the lyrics of "Please Remember Me" say, ...."Part of you will live in me".

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Angela of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, WA, remembering Dexter on his last day on Earth.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) animal animals canine dog dog photography Florida grief lost National Rainbow Day nature outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog pets Rainbow Bridge remembrance vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/8/pet-photography---rainbow-bridge Fri, 28 Aug 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "BFF" (Best Friends Forever) https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/8/pet-photography---theme-bff-best-friends-forever This week's theme is "BFF" and in this case, it means "Best Friends Forever" as I have noticed on google that this can have another meaning.   As I think of my dogs, I realize that when you have a single dog perhaps you get more attached to them? Or maybe it's just about the personality of the dog and how you and the dog get along.  I've read that if you are taking a walk with your dog - if you allow the dog to choose the route for your walk, then you are 'companions' (perhaps BFF?) but if you always tell your dog(s) which way to go then you are not truly companions.  I guess for the most part, my dogs are companions - as Dolly had her walks that went different ways depending on the time of day.

Either way, I know for sure that when Dolly entered my world many years ago, I did not intend her to be my "BFF" but I will say she definitely did!  Everyone always told me what a special dog she was - I was so happy that she choose us to spend her dog years with once she found us.  Never to be forgotten.  Dolly was my first dog as an adult, and fortunately for me, she was my first model and she allowed me to learn more over time in the world of pet photography.

Shortly before Dolly left us, Jimbo came into our lives.  I am sure that Dolly probably special ordered him when we weren't around to notice because - well he became my new BFF once I no longer had Dolly in the physical form and the similarities between Dolly and Jimbo were like wow!  This blog post is centered around Jimbo although I have several dogs now that are working there way strongly into become additional BFFs - with Rue trying the hardest!

Jimbo was unique because he was a great hiking & photography buddy.  Many of these photographs were taken by my partner, Jim Vargas since Jimbo and I are in the photos.  One thing Jimbo was great about - if you dropped his leash, it meant stay put and in most cases he did just that.  Depending on the amount of time we had been on the road/trail, he might take advantage and curl up for a nap - but he would always stay close by.  Here he hangs out while I am taking photographs at the Historic Hagood Mill located in Pickens, South Carolina.

Hanging out on the rocks now that we have hiked to one of the areas we want to photograph.  This area is called "Sliding Rock" although I have heard that there are a lot of areas called "Sliding Rock" - this one is in the Pickens, South Carolina area close to where we were staying.

I am clueless at this point as to what we were looking at, but notice that we are both looking the same way!  Jimbo was good at letting me know if there was something that I should be aware of by simply perking up and looking - a fringe benefit for those with good hearing (Jimbo) and those with not so good hearing (me).

On our way to Brevard, North Carolina - we stopped for a dog potty break at a covered bridge park (Campbell's Covered Bridge).  Who am I kidding? A covered bridge? Let's STOP!  Jimbo and Abby were wondering why they are tied to a pole.....to many people around to let Jimbo free and Abby, well she was pretty young at this time and wasn't to be trusted off leash even if it is allowed, so I have heard from other hound dog owners.

Off walking in South Carolina at the "Ninety six National Historic Site".  In my family history research I have seen references to this particular area of South Carolina and decided that I needed to visit.  This was a very nice park to visit and the scenery is beautiful and peaceful.  Most of all this is a dog friendly location were the entire family can enjoy.  The "Old Ninety Six" is located about 60 miles south of Greenville, South Carolina.

Jimbo took 'walking' to a new level - talking about companion vs dog.  Jimbo knew which way he was going to walk each time we left the house (I got more control if we were away from home).  If you attempted to go a different direction than Jimbo wanted to go, he would stop and at almost 70 pounds so did I!  I am sure that I looked rather funny as I tried to figure out which direction Jimbo wanted to go at some intersections not to mention that sometimes I was in mid step when he decided to go another direction.  He was definitely in charge!

As the girl dogs step into their new role, it appears that little Ollie is the direction decider although she will allow you to change the direction if you insist. 

Ah, the life of dogs as your best friends....

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching pet and family portraits in Coppell, Carrollton and the greater Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) antique bridge Campbell Campbell's Campbell's Covered Bridge canine covered covered bridge creek dog dog photography Greenville County Hagood Hagood Mill historic Historic Hagood Mill Landrum old outdoor pet photography Pickens red rescue river rocks Sliding Rock South Carolina vpshoots water waterfall wood https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/8/pet-photography---theme-bff-best-friends-forever Fri, 21 Aug 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Filling the Frame https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/pet-photography---filling-the-frame This week's pet photography theme is "Fill the Frame".  One of the things that make photographs interesting and compelling is filling the frame with your subject.  In this case, it's filling the frame with your pet - whether it's a dog, cat, rabbit, turtle (or maybe a fish?).  This is one of my favorite ways to photograph - nothing in the photo but the animal I want you to focus on.  Filling the frame is all about getting close and making the subject a large portion of your overall photograph - filling the frame with dog (in this case).  It's about making it such that there is no question as to what your subject is.  Have you ever looked at a photograph and asked "What is this a photo of?" Many photographs are taken that suffer from exactly this issue.  If you look at the next two photographs of Fauci, the dog, do you have any question what this is a photograph of? I suspect not.

This particular rescue dog was a very easy model (it's so nice to get one of them every so often!).

These are simple, well lit, composed portraits of this dog.  The dog is filling the frame. 

An example photograph for not filling the frame by comparison is shown below.  The below photograph has our subject (the hound dog) in the front of the photograph and is the primary focus - but this photograph also shows other things providing context of where the dog is - in this case, downtown Tampa.  This photograph doesn't fill the frame, but the dog is still a very prominent part of the photograph with additional elements to showcase more than just this beautiful hound dog.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, photographing dogs in Greater Cincinnati for Tails of Cincinnati, a charity book project.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography downtown Tampa Florida outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue riverwalk Tampa Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/pet-photography---filling-the-frame Fri, 31 Jul 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Mingo Falls, near Cherokee, North Carolina https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/mingo-falls-near-cherokee-north-carolina Our first hike on our recent trip to North Carolina was to Mingo Falls located near Cherokee, North Carolina.  Mingo Falls is a pretty high waterfall being 120 feet in height.  The nearest town is Cherokee, North Carolina although the waterfall is actually located east of this town.  This was by far the busiest waterfall in terms of traffic that we visited while in North Carolina.  The trail starts out with a lot of stairs - yes - stairs, so if you cannot do stairs this is not the hike for you.  There are 161 stairs at the beginning - plenty of time to stop for a breather if you need one.  We had our dogs with us on their leashes. 

This is the first time we had our smaller dogs with us and this particular trail presented a bit of a mind twister for little Ollie (short in the leg department). It is interesting to see how our dogs think things through and decide what they want to do when presented with a given situation. Here is the beginning of the trail to Mingo Falls - Abby and Rue were preceding up the stairs.  Ollie went up several stairs (2 or 3).  She stopped, looked behind her, then looked back up all these stairs and turned around.  We could see her saying "Nope, no doing this".

Having smaller dogs is a relatively new thing for us - this never even occurred to me as a potential issue.  Ollie is weighing in at a good solid 30 pounds or maybe a little more - carrying her is not an option.  What is?  Hmmmm, well maybe she will walk up the hand rail?

Apparently Ollie has done a bit to much of modeling because she posed just great!  But she wasn't planning on moving.  Next option?  Hmmm, well there is enough room for her to run along side the stairs on the other side of the railing - we can keep her on the leash and let her run along side it.  That worked for a short distance, then Ollie figured out we were doing the stairs and decided to do them with us.  (whew - something to keep in mind!).

Since this waterfall was pretty crowded, we decided to wait a bit for the traffic to let up as we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 and a lot of places are wearing masks and just about everyone is trying to avoid large numbers of people (myself included).

Mingo Falls - it is a beautiful waterfall with a long drop down.  The waterfall itself faces mostly a northern direction and the sun is getting pretty high in the sky now as it is shortly after 11am and the sun has been coming up around 6am.

There is a wooden viewing bridge that allows for viewing the waterfall.  Many people were actually up in the water coming down (I am sure it was pretty cool/cold).  Given the current times, we decided to take a few photographs and get out of the immediate area since it was fairly crowded.

The hike to this waterfall is short once you complete the stairs - so if you are looking for a short hike, this might fit into your schedule and is definitely a beautiful sight.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine Cherokee dog dog-friendly hike hiking Mingo Mingo Falls North Carolina outdoor outdoors river stair stairs tree trees vpshoots water waterfall https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/mingo-falls-near-cherokee-north-carolina Sun, 19 Jul 2020 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Noses" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/pet-photography---theme-noses This week's pet photography theme is "Noses". We all know when we are walking our dogs and they catch a scent that they will go nose to the ground, zigzag back and forth and just go nuts following that scent.  Well, there is a reason for that.  Dogs 'see' a good portion of the world through their noses.   In general, a dog's brain is smaller than the human brain - the area in a dog's brain that is devoted to smell is 40 times larger than in humans!  If this is the case, why does my dog think things I find smell horrible are great smelling?  Like that dead whatever laying near the river's edge? Apparently, we have different taste in what we think smells good.

“One of the main functions of the nose is to warm the air,” Dr. Dorman says. Warming inspired air so that it’s closer to body temperature makes it easier for the lungs to function. “In many ways, the dog’s nose is similar to a car radiator to achieve this function. It achieves this by having multiple folds that increase the surface area. Because dogs rely so much more on their noses, more of the air they breathe comes in contact with the olfactory neurons that detect odors.” website link: https://www.thefarmersdog.com/digest/how-your-dogs-nose-works-and-how-to-take-care-of-it/  This is a very interesting article for more information about the dog's nose.

Have you ever wondered how your dog knows you are about to come home from work?  Well, it's all about the scent and nose.  In the morning, you change your clothes, leave your scent around the house.  As the day progresses, your scent become less dominant.  When the scent gets to a specific level, the dog knows it's time for you to come home.  Pretty clever huh?  This was a story I read many years ago (source unknown) where the husband came home at the same time everyday.  The dog was always waiting by the door for him to come home.  So, they decided that his wife would take clothes out to her husband shortly before he was to arrive home, have him change his clothes and bring in the 'freshly scented' clothes.  Guess what?  The dog's clock was reset and wasn't waiting by the door!  Try it - I'd love to know if this works with your dogs (my schedule is so varied, it's not possible for us to try this).

So, onwards with some nose photographs!

A dark nose with a big smile!

A slender black tip graying nose.

A short pug nose..

A light colored nose...

A strong nose for a boy....

A side view (I've been playing in the sand)....this photo includes the eye which adds a different perspective to the overall dog nose photograph.

Or maybe a senior dog going white side view....

A short face nose.....

A longer nose with lots of fur color variations....

And maybe you just want to see what one of these dogs looks like?

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Angela Schneider of Noses & Toes Pet Photography, finding snoots to boop on dogs of Spokane.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine closeup dog dog nose dog photography Florida nose outdoor pet photography pet photography blog rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/pet-photography---theme-noses Fri, 17 Jul 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Rufus Morgan Trail, Franklin, North Carolina https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/rufus-morgan-trail-franklin-north-carolina Rufus Morgan Trail is located in western Franklin, North Carolina.  We drove about an hour to get to the trail head – many years ago we did this trail with our first dog, Dolly, in the fall of 2010, so it’s been almost a decade since we have hiked this trail.  Franklin is experiencing a good amount of rain this year and we did encounter some muddy spots along the trail. These photographs were taken in late June 2020.

The entire loop trail is approximately 1 mile in length.  We hiked to the waterfall and then turned around and went back the same direction we came in.  The entire trail was ours for the duration we were there, so plan to potentially be the solo hiker(s).

Dogs are allowed on this trail, we kept ours on leashes.  There were several places they picked up scents and would have been gone otherwise (and not sure we would have found them with all the foliage).

The first photograph shows the gravel road (well maintained) with the tree canopy over the road.

FS 388 - Gravel roadGravel road to Rufus Morgan Trail

As we start off on the trail, I snapped a quick photograph of Abby looking down the trail – for now, I am handling Abby (she is on a leash – removed in photoshop from the photograph) and Jim has the twins.

It’s not long before we see the truck a good ways down from our location – this trail has a total altitude gain of 288 feet.

Jim stopped for a photograph with the dogs near the beginning of the trail – sitting on a fallen log. 

There is a lot of small life in this area of the Nantahala National Forest.  A lot of trees and forest - it's quiet except for the water flowing and noise that we are making along the trail.  I'm sure there are lot of animals living here - we didn't see any wildlife during our hike.

Eventually we begin to see the water flowing down the rocks.  The water is fast moving with a few areas for the dogs to drink if they need some hydration.  In one location it does require walking over rocks to get through the water.  The water is flowing from the south towards the north - no sunlight on the flowing water.

At the waterfall itself, there is several rocks to relax on if you’re inclined to do so.  Many branches are at the bottom of the waterfall.  This waterfall faces north, but by the time we arrived (9:23am), portions of the waterfall were in sunlight.

Abby standing on the rock in front of the main waterfall.


Driving Directions


Take US 64 West from Franklin for 3.7 miles. Turn right on Old Murphy Rd, go 0.1 mi, and then turn left on Wayah Rd (SR 1310). Go 6.3 miles and turn left on FS 388, which is gravel. Go 2 miles to the parking area on the right, which is signed. (FS 388 may be gated in winter, and - although a bit long - makes a nice added hike to get to the trailhead).

Our experience in driving to this was pretty easy except it is important to pay attention to your mileage because this is the best indication of where to turn left on FS 388.

Rufus Morgan - who was he?

Using Google to search and find out, Rufus Morgan was born in Franklin, North Carolina in 1885 (he died in 1983).  He was a naturalist, author and explorer. In addition, he was one of the early pioneers for the founding and development of the Appalachian Trail which is nearby in North Carolina. If you're interested in more information, check the entry on findagrave.com for Rufus which contains a short biography. (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35182964/albert-rufus-morgan



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) dog-friendly forest Franklin hike hiking Nantahala Nantahala National Forest National Forest North Carolina remote river Rufus Morgan Rufus Morgan Trail Rufus Morgan waterfall stream trail tree trees water waterfall https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/7/rufus-morgan-trail-franklin-north-carolina Sun, 12 Jul 2020 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/6/pet-photography---theme-water This week's pet photography theme is 'water'  - as a family that has done boating, hiking to waterfalls and just hanging out in nature - our dogs have had opportunities to be around water for most of their lives.  We live about 2 blocks from the river that winds through a good portion of our county - so the dogs see the river daily.  Here's Rue, my worse model of the pack sitting by the river - I am sure this was hard for her to just 'sit' and stay put! For this photograph, the water I made a little bluer (we don't have blue water in our river - it's dark and brown/gray color) and then I used Topaz Impression to create a painterly effect.

A few other photographs from the past showing our dogs and 'water'. Jimbo hanging out on the front of our bow rider boat while we idle around. This always make me nervous - but for a quick photo I let him be up front by himself.

Here's Abby at the dog park at Ft. DeSoto Park in Pinellas County, Florida.  She is my only true 'water dog' - loves to play in the water - none of the others do.

This next photograph will always have special memories - we went to the mountains in North Carolina and rented a cabin in the area of Cashiers, North Carolina.  This particular day we traveled to Gorges State Park in Sapphire, North Carolina.  We decided to hike the Rainbow Falls Trail which is 1.5 miles one way and this hike was listed as "strenuous hike".  That being said, this was when we were all several years younger so we decided to go because the view at the end made it worth it!  Jimbo never did like thunder.  The clouds were building, rain was coming - it was just a matter of time.  We hiked all the way to the waterfall and took quite a few photographs.  Then it happened, a loud thunder and Jimbo was at full attention.  No longer happy to be at the waterfall - Jimbo was ready to leave.  I can honestly say, that I have NEVER traveled 1.5 miles scrambling along a trail so fast but Jimbo had a mission (get out of the bad weather).  Jimbo and I didn't get wet on this trail getting back to the truck but I was dripping sweat like I had been soaked.  When it finally stopped raining, we ventured back out and found Jim just finishing the trail (he enjoyed the walk back).  Not every photograph has this kind of story, but many do have stories behind them.  I suppose part of Jimbo's dislike for bad weather is because he spent the first several years of his life primarily outside with the elements and learned to 'take cover'.

Just in case you are interested in seeing a photograph of the waterfall (which faces mostly south).

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit  Angela of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, WA, hitting Spokane River for a dog photo session.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) beach boat boating canine dog dog park dog photography Florida forest gorge gorges Gorges State Park hike hiking Hillsborough River nature North Carolina outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait Rainbow Falls rescue river sand Tampa Topaz Impression tree vpshoots water waterfall wood woods https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/6/pet-photography---theme-water Fri, 12 Jun 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Landscape and your pets https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/6/pet-photography---landscape-and-your-pets This week's pet photography theme is 'landscape' and we are showing some of Florida's green summer weather (right before we are getting 5 days of  forecast for rain!).  Our adventure this week is more about 'memories' than posing our dog(s) and getting great photographs.  As we continue to stay home more, our dogs are just waiting for any adventure to come along and this morning they saw all the signs they have been waiting for.  Up early, cooler packed, cameras by the door, oh and most importantly - they are getting our leashes!  Abby was sitting by the door waiting - surely they won't go outside without letting me go too.  I told her to wait, I needed to do a few things - you could see the disappointment.  I left the doors to our truck open - when I came back I said "Go to the truck" - they ran so fast and jumped in - like little children ready for an adventure.  We are off to the Alafia River Corridor Nature Preserve in Plant City, Florida.  This is a tricky place to find - it's almost next to the Alderman's Ford Conservation Park - but not - look for the ball field complex and pull in - on the north end is the entrance to the preserve trails.

It's a cloudy, overcast day - rain forecast for early afternoon - so when we arrived and met our friends it was time to hit the trail.  Our goal - find the river - we walked quite a while, came across a smoldering fire (time out for a 911 call to get the fire department - Jim handled that while we continued on to hike).  Finally - it's here!

Here's the Alafia River - we crossed it on the metal bridge shown in the photograph below.

The boys spotted the river - now it's time to figure out how to get down to the water.  We continued walking along the edge of the river and found a spot - Abby took a dunk to cool off once we ensured there were no big creatures (like snakes or alligators).  Then they were tied to a cypress knee much to their dismay.

After a little 'fishing', food and drink we eventually head on back towards the beginning of the trail but not before Abby had some fun running along the trail and in the meadow with a new young friend!

Come on Abby - let's go into the meadow.  Abby is being a great sport, but it's a bit warm now here in Florida, high humidity and a lot more walking than she is used to.

Let's run!

Finally caught the hound dog ears flying!

The end of a 'day out' is always considered a success when the dogs all fall asleep in the back seat before we get home!  They have the entire back seat, yet Abby (the largest dog) is on the bottom, Rue has straddled across the top of Abby and Ollie is resting her head on the door arm rest handle (I think the other 1/3 of the seat was empty).

This is the end of this week's adventure sharing Florida's landscape.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pawparazzi Pet and Animal Photography presented by Shae Pepper Photograph.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Alafia Alafia River Alafia River Corridor Nature Preserve Alafia River Nature Preserve canine dog dog photography dog-friendly Florida hike hiking natural nature outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog river run trail tree vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/6/pet-photography---landscape-and-your-pets Fri, 05 Jun 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Photographer's Choice - Get those end of life portraits while you can https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/5/pet-photography---photographers-choice---get-those-end-of-life-portraits-while-you-can This week's pet photography theme is "Photographer's Choice" and I'm touching on a subject that many do not want to.  Thus far, the year 2020 has not been a great year - it's a year which several friends have lost their furry companion(s) - I ask myself why so many in such a short span of time that I personally knew? I wonder if the animals know something about the world that we humans have not recognized?

Either way, I wanted to write this particular blog because I know a great many of us are very attached to our furry children.  As such, we should do our best to have great photographs of them.  Short home videos are great too.  Each of these photographs doesn't have to be something special, it can be just a moment in time at home.  Capture those moments that you want to remember - capture their personality. 

Many of you know that we lost our beloved Jimbo just over two months ago - I haven't written to the general public about our loss as it has been hard for us.  It's a deep and personal loss as Jimbo was my shadow, my buddy, always willing to go wherever I wanted to go.  We hiked, boated, played, walked, laughed, smiled, cried - you name it, we did it together.  We even took our first road trip - just Jimbo and I from Tampa, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee.  That's when Jimbo learned about drive-thru restaurants.  I always joked that he must have thought - "Mom drive somewhere, talks to someone, then a hand comes out with all that good food".  He loved 'snacks' (which could be anything besides dog food - dog treats or human food). Not a day doesn't go by that I don't think of him.  In time, perhaps that will change as it did when we lost Dolly - but we always remember and I have hundreds of wonderful photographs of him during the time period he was all ours.


Jimbo came to us from the Bahamas - he flew in a private airplane to come to Florida (very brave!).  It was not our thought that we were going to adopt a second dog - but apparently it was Jimbo's and he won!  Here he is on his 'freedom flight' to Florida - loaded on the plane and heading our way.

Feeling much better thank youFeeling much better thank you

Here's our first photograph together - this is when we went to pick up Jimbo and begin our lives together. It was October 17, 2012 (a Wednesday - maybe I was taking off a few days or working from home - I can't imagine that I went to the office those next few days).

This beautiful smiling face - I will always remember.

If you're curious about Jimbo's first year of life starting with his roots in the Bahamas through the end of his first year, we put together a photo video (a bit long) of his travels. It is on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPtZUPGU30Q - Jimbo's first anniversary.

In the last couple of weeks, these dogs left us for the rainbow bridge and this blog is to remember each of them.


The photographs I captured of her several years ago are when the dogs were playing at a local dog park.  This photograph was taken many years ago before I started photographing dogs almost weekly - I can tell how much my photography has changed (for the better!).

Little bit of cleanup on the background to make it a nicer photograph - she was playing, so she has a little bit of dirt here and there - but still a wonderful girl who lived with many dogs and her Mom & Dad.


These photographs were captured during social distancing near the height of the current COVID-19 pandemic.  The photographs were spur of the moment as Spooki and his owner were walking by our house this particular evening.  I grabbed my camera (70-200mm lens) and we had Spooki stand in front of our fence with a little distance between to ensure the fence had a nice blur.


These photographs were captured when Fred came into the Maxx and Me Pet Rescue as a timid and frightened dog who learned love while in foster care.  This particular photograph was captured of Fred who was so timid that his tail was tucked underneath.  Fred was attacked prior to his coming into the rescue and his ears were 'trimmed' as a result of the damage (so he had cute fluffy ears instead of hound ears). He was a good sport once he realized that we were not going to hurt him and eventually we got some great photographs (now in the hands of his owner).  This particular photograph was captured outside, the background was replaced with a texture and then Topaz Impression was used to create a painting effect.

We got Fred to do a little run across the front yard - he was on leash (removed in photoshop) and my partner was running with him.  When the sunlight hit his eyes, that was the moment to click.

For each of these beautiful dog souls that came from a bad place in this world and entered into the world of rescue - we will miss you. 

For each of the beautiful human souls that work in this tireless profession, thank you.

For each of the human parents that have not captured great photographs of your furry companion - don't wait - do it now.  If you find yourself in a 'end of life crisis' and you haven't done this task, do not hesitate to email, text or call as I will do this as an act of kindness to you and your pet providing my schedule allows even if you can not afford to pay a photographer.

Bless each of you - remember your furry children.


That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, making choices in Northeastern PA and the Endless Mountains.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) airplane canine dog dog park dog photography Florida Fred Jimbo Maxx and Me Pet Rescue Nalli outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue senior senior dogs Spooki Tampa texture texture replacement Topaz Topaz Impression vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/5/pet-photography---photographers-choice---get-those-end-of-life-portraits-while-you-can Fri, 29 May 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Black and white photographs https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/5/pet-photography---black-and-white-photographs This week's pet photography theme is black and white - and most of the time when this kind of theme comes around, I'll look to my beautiful Abby who is a black and white dog and has no issue going along for a modeling job especially if there are any kind of food involved (she loves food, what can I say?).  This past week our dogs got to have some fun and run around - and well, be dogs.  A friend has a horse farm outside of the busy city and lots of fenced in areas to run.  And run they did....and when Abby found the little fishing pond, well I think she was thrilled.  A break from the Florida heat!  

What? No swimming?

Abby spent a good amount of the first hour sitting in the pond.  I did learn that she can hold her breath because she had a good portion of her face under water trying to figure out what the boys were catching (her first experience with fishing).

Standing on shore

Ok, I'm out of the water now - did you want or need something?  The boys were very patient with her swimming around while they were fishing in a stocked pond.  And when they caught something - we had to keep Abby away from the catch!

All the girls....

Yes, the smaller sisters (our twins) were there, but they just got in the water enough to cool off.  Abby was all about running around this pond and then jumping in!

What's this? A horse you say?

It wasn't long before the dogs decided this place has more to offer than a pond.  Since these girls are a little smaller, it was easier for them to run under the gates that horses can't go under.  This particular horse is older and very gentle - no care in the world that the dogs were checking it out.  Notice that Ollie is big and brave on the opposite side of the fence from the horse.  Rue on the other hand has always been the one that has to get into everything and while I'm praying that the horse doesn't care - Rue walks right up to it.  The horse didn't care (apparently our friends knew this horse was no issue for the dogs or they would have been leashed).

A hike at Little Manatee River State Park

All of us, dogs included (on leashes), went for a walk in the state park nearby and it was getting pretty warm by the end of the hour long trek to another pond for some fishing.  When we returned to the safety of the horse farm, the first thing Abby did? You guessed it - ran to the pond and sat down.

So that was our little adventure this past week - two different trips to the horse farm to let the dogs have some fun and have a little social distancing with a few friends.  Eventually, slowly, the world will return to a new normal - but until then stay safe!

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pawparazzi Pet and Animal Photography presented by Shae Pepper Photography.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Abby canine dog dog photography Florida fun Maxx and Me Pet Rescue nature outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog pond rescue Tampa trail vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/5/pet-photography---black-and-white-photographs Fri, 22 May 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Early morning 'golden' hour https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/5/pet-photography---early-morning-golden-hour This week's pet photography theme is "Golden Hour" and I've noticed several things about Florida's "sunshine state" weather.  The first thing I noticed is how many cloudy and overcast days we have - well, we may have 'sunshine' but it's not here many days of the year.  Overall, that doesn't really matter except when you're trying to do photographs of your dogs with a theme of 'golden hour' which is the hour of daylight shortly after sunrise or before sunset.  The light is usually redder, more golden color because the sun travels through more of the earth's atmosphere than when the sun is higher in the sky.  The second thing I noticed is how early the sun is now rising here - it's just after 6:30am - which is pretty early to be out walking the dogs!  Last, one of my favorite places to do golden sunlight in the morning is over at the Harney bypass off US 301 - however, I'm not sure that's open right now with the COVID-19 - so we stuck to walking our normal areas here near home.

Earlier this week showed some promise of being 'sunny' (although the light still wasn't great golden color).  The clouds were sitting on the east horizon - but I got the girls to do a little posing for this week's post.  Often we walk around Biltmore Park which is very popular for the dogs as we sometimes have to navigate around it based on the direction other dogs & owners are walking.

I decided it might be easier to get the twins (Ollie & Rue) to be more willing if they were off the ground - so up on the park bench each was placed.  Abby who is much larger looks up at them and has a special moment with Ollie (Ha ha, it's your turn, I get to relax!).  It's a cute moment between them.

A gentle moment between dog siblingsA gentle moment between dog siblings

Onward, Abby - let's get the girls looking the same direction.

The twins, sisters on a benchThe twins, sisters on a bench

Ollie on the left, Rue on the right - these girls will be three this summer - often called the twins - they are litter mates adopted from Maxx and Me Pet Rescue here in Tampa, Florida.  Rue wasn't much for being up on the bench and quickly jumped down leaving Ollie to pose.

Ollie shortly after sunriseOllie shortly after sunrise

Ollie Portrait - Golden Hour morningOllie Portrait - Golden Hour morning

Here's a photograph of our first dog, Dolly, during the golden hour at Harney Bypass Canal where there is a boat ramp and some open fields for the dogs to walk around and enjoy.  They also have a few 'hills' that allow you to photograph shooting down or up at your subject.

That's it for this week's pet photography blog.  For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit  Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bench Biltmore Park canine dog dog photography Florida home nature neighborhood outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog rescue Temple Terrace twins vpshoots walk wood https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/5/pet-photography---early-morning-golden-hour Fri, 15 May 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - before and after photos https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/4/pet-photography---before-and-after-photos This week's photography blog for pets is "before and after".  There are many photographs that I just do very simple and minor edits (exposure, shadows, highlights, cropping).  Those are the easy ones! Then there are some that the location is less than ideal and to get a better photograph a lot of cleanup work on the background/location is done.  Sometimes if the background is not favorable to the dog with respect to a photograph, the background is replaced.   Let's take a look at a few examples that show the before and after photograph of these rescue dogs looking for their foster or forever homes.  All photographed were modified using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Example 1: Removing a leash

Here's an example of a easy, simple photograph of a rescue dog - BEFORE

AFTER leash removal.

This senior dog spent her life not being socialized, but stuck in a back yard.  Her owner passed away and she was turned in to the shelter and then brought to Maxx and Me Pet Rescue.

Example 2: Leash removal, back ground cleanup

This is the before photograph. The mom is on the right - Athena and her son on the left, Roscoe.  They are both pretty young and these rescues were very strong and pretty full of energy.  It was a while before they stayed put this long to grab a photograph of them (each dog leash being held by a different person).  While the overall hanging out next to each other was nice - the background was a little messy.  Both of these young dogs are up for adoption - they are strong, but they were very affectionate towards us while we were there photographing them.

Here is the after photograph.  The leashes have been removed, the background cleaned up to be less distracting.

Example 3: Background replacement

In the next example, the background was pretty much a blown out white color - mostly because the white fencing was getting sun, the dog was under a shade canopy and darker in fur color. Here's the original photograph with his leash.

Here's the after photograph (we had a little fun with the background texture).

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Angela and Bella of Noses & Toes Pet Photography hiking Spokane during stay-home orders.

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

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) after before canine dog dog photography Florida outdoor pet photography pet photography blog rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/4/pet-photography---before-and-after-photos Fri, 24 Apr 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Senior, older dogs in wide open spaces https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/4/pet-photography---senior-older-dogs-in-wide-open-spaces Wow, I have got to say that I need to figure out how to find some 'normalcy' our of the crazy world that we are living in now.  Wondering where the next roll of toilet paper is coming from (oops, did I really say that?).  So this week's pet photography blog featured an elderly senior dog that has been diagnosed with cancer, but seems to be doing pretty good thus far.  His name is Spooki and I have known him for a number of years.  Before we got the latest orders last week that we were "safer at home" and needed to stay home except for essentials - which included walking dogs, I was able to capture these photos.  Truth be known, our friend was walking Spooki, we stopped outside and I got my long lens out and took some photographs of him.  These photographs were captured with natural light only, nothing fancy, in the late afternoon.

And one last photograph that I used Topaz Impression to create a painting of Spooki.

As the state of Florida is getting even tighter enforcement to stop the spread of the coronavirus, I expect that any photographs I take in the near future will either be one of my own dogs or older photographs from photography sessions before we knew what this virus was.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Colleen of Simply Col Photography - for the love of photography and pound pups.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine closeup dog dog photography end of life fence Florida nature outdoor pet photography pet photography blog rescue senior Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/4/pet-photography---senior-older-dogs-in-wide-open-spaces Fri, 03 Apr 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography using shallow depth of field https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/3/pet-photography-using-shallow-depth-of-field This week's pet photography theme is 'shallow depth of field'.  As we continue to stay at home, and away from most all people while the world has slowly come to a new world...we decided to use the social distancing by taking the boat out on the river.  Our dogs have been out of the boat several times this week and are now getting pretty used to it.  Today's ride was longer and when we got home, they all ate and crashed!  Little Ollie has learned how to recognize the boat ramp dock from a distance and will start to jump around on the seat as we approach - the first time she did this, I thought she had to go potty.  But turned out that wasn't really the case.

Today's model is Abby - we learned some exciting news about Abby this week - her DNA sample results were in!  Yes, this adorable little face is 25% beagle (the only one I guessed), 25% tree walker coon hound (well, I guessed hound because of her beautiful ears) and then pretty much a mix of 'mutt'.

This photo of Abby was taken as we cruised down the river with a 70-200mm lens (145mm, f/4, ISO 800) - she looked back at me from the bow of the boat and I snapped this photograph with the beautiful greens of the cypress and oak trees behind her.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Bella and Angela of Noses & Toes Pet Photography get some fresh air for dog photos with shallow depth of field in Spokane Valley, WA.

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) blur canine dog dog photography Florida nature outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue river shallow depth of field Tampa tree vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/3/pet-photography-using-shallow-depth-of-field Fri, 27 Mar 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Colorful - Abby in front of mural https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/3/pet-photography---theme-colorful---abby-in-front-of-mural This week's pet photography theme is colorful.  Last year a local painter decided to paint the building where the restrooms are at our local park - Riverhills Park.  He did a wonderful job - it is dedicated to his wife.  I had the opportunity to listen to him tell me all the wonderful stories of his life and how he came to be a mural painter.  It was wonderful to hear what a great life he had and about his wife's passing a few years ago.

This week's dog is Abby - with the virus issues going through Florida and all the areas starting to look like an abandoned ghost town - it's time to get my girl to do what she does best - pose for the camera!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bathroom canine dog dog photography Florida mural nature outdoor painting park pet photography pet photography blog rescue river Riverhills Park Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/3/pet-photography---theme-colorful---abby-in-front-of-mural Fri, 20 Mar 2020 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - using the rule of thirds to create great images https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/3/pet-photography---using-the-rule-of-thirds-to-create-great-images This week's pet photography theme is about a basic guideline/rule of photography called "the rule of thirds".  This is a concept that has been used a lot by photographers throughout the decades - it's easy to google and find more information about it.  But first, let's take a look at what it means - and  this composition guideline applies to all types of photography - not just pet photography.

When you look through your view finder (or at your phone, tablet, whatever device you have) - mentally divide the image up by using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines.  When you apply this concept, then the most important elements of your photograph should be along those lines or at the points where the lines meet (intersect).  

"With this grid in mind, the ‘rule of thirds’ now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image. Not only this – but it also gives you four ‘lines’ that are also useful positions for elements in your photo. The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally.  Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it." For more information, refer to this URL: https://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/?fbclid=IwAR2TsL81mu789lLISaneKwzD13V_eo9b4qEKw2JGE4DL8OSCtVdcFuFpJUM

Here's an example of a photograph taken of Elizabeth (aka Lola).  Elizabeth is available for adoption from Maxx and Me Pet Rescue (www.maxxandme.org) if you're looking for a dog in the Tampa Bay area.  First, the photograph without a rule of thirds grid.

Now, let's look at this photograph with an approximate rule of thirds grid added in Photoshop.  In this photograph her eyes are on the line for the top third of the frame.  The placement of her eyes is not in the intersection of the lines, but is on the imaginary line dividing the photograph into 9 areas.  Keep in mind, this is a guideline, not an absolute rule of photography composition.

Another example showing the face of Elizabeth is in the left third of this photograph.

Here's a few more examples. Elizabeth has been given the nick name of "Lola" which seems a little more fitting - and shorter! They say that dog names should be one or two syllables at most (probably because in a hurry how fast can you say "Elizabeth"?).  Elizabeth was very interested in seeing what every other dog was doing, so keeping her attention for photographs took a little work.  She is definitely interested in playing with any dog wanting to play!

Of course, the rule of thirds is a composition guideline - it's a great concept to learn, but then once you know and understand it, don't be afraid to break this rule.  I often don't consider the rule of thirds for a face portrait.  In this case, it's most important to consider getting the dog looking at the camera and staying put long enough to get a great portrait.

Or when the dog is leaving the posing place and moving directly towards you.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex and surrounding areas 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bench canine compositon dog dog park dog photography downtown downtown Tampa female Florida guideline Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue nature outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue river rock rocks rule of thirds sidewalk Tampa vpshoots water water works https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/3/pet-photography---using-the-rule-of-thirds-to-create-great-images Fri, 06 Mar 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Shades of Gray - black and white pet photography https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/2/shades-of-gray---black-and-white-pet-photography This week's theme for pet photography is 'shades of gray' - I decided to use Abby for this week's photographs.  What better colors of a dog (black and white) to use for this theme?  Abby was recently hanging out in the yard and I took these photographs of her.

The first one is black and white - I used an 'infrared' setting which makes the green grass almost white (very light color) and gives a different effect than traditional black and white.

The second one is not black and white, but instead has all colors desaturated and the greens and reds are still there, but also desaturated.  By 'official' definition, desaturation of a photograph means that more black and white is added thus making the colors less vibrant.

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



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) black and white canine desaturate desaturated dog dog photography female Florida grass hound outdoor pet photography pet photography blog rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/2/shades-of-gray---black-and-white-pet-photography Fri, 07 Feb 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography with texture https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography-with-texture Texture - it's all about the light on your subject, in this case Tracker - a black dog with golden eyes. The lighting in this photograph was provided by two AD200 lights in 24" softboxes at approximately 45 degree angles in front of Tracker.  Since black dogs can often come across as 'dark blobs' it is important to have some type of lighting (the sun works too) on them to light up the fur and show the texture.  "For most subjects side lighting works well to bring out texture. If using natural light, this would mean shooting shortly after sunrise or before sunset. If you are using artificial lighting, it just means placing your lighting off to one side from the subject." (https://www.discoverdigitalphotography.com/2012/the-importance-of-texture-in-photography/?fbclid=IwAR1Mk32oPTUQ-21M7ka9vF68cMFRRVitTf8IuEf1ajZGl1Ibkn0pjnNtLGE)

Another example of texture can be seen in the background of this dog - Charity is a beautiful brindle young dog (less than 1 year).  The teal colored blanket shows texture based on the nap of the blanket and how the light is bouncing off it.

I often use this off white blanket just because of the wonderful texture - it photographs very nicely and the dogs seem to love snuggling with it.  Please note this cutie has already been adopted and is no longer available!

And sometimes it just the senior dogs that bring out all that wonderful texture.  He is black with a lot of white mixed in showing so much character in his face.

That's our look at some different options in lighting - For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, capturing special times in the lives of pets and their people in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) black canine dog dog photography fur pet photography pet photography blog rescue studio texture vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography-with-texture Fri, 31 Jan 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography in an urban setting https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography-in-an-urban-setting This week's blog features Nana, a hound dog previously used for breeding who is now with the Maxx and Me Pet Rescue.  She is a very sweet hound dog who spent a couple of hours modeling for us in downtown Tampa along the Riverwalk.  Of course, she was paid (chicken jerkey and other dog treats), chance to smell, investigate and walk - no dog should work and not get some rewards.  Course, she got a lot of attention too.

Each time we photograph a new rescue dog (or any animal), we don't know them before starting our photography session.  The animal might be seeing a camera for the first time - they might be scared, timid or hey, sometimes they are a total surprise and just know how to work the camera.  However, most often that's not the case.

As we photograph more and more rescue dogs, we have learned skills that allow us to photograph dogs that have zero training.  Some have not been pets before and some have been outside with little human attention.  They might be great on a leash, they might be scared or pull.  We don’t expect that any rescue will know how to sit, some do, but many do not.  They don’t speak our language and probably don’t know any specific words. That’s ok. 

Every dog is different, every dog needs patience, every dog will get great photographs, but they will be different based on the dog - my partners and I have lots of patience to get some great photographs – all pet owners need patience while we work with the dog and get those great photographs.  Yes, we do private pet photography sessions too!

This week's featured dog, Nana.  Nana has a little boo boo on my forehead, but it will heal just give her a little time.

Nana is standing in the grassy area next to the Children's Museum on Ashley Street in downtown Tampa.  The whole urban experience is all new to her as she came from a rural area.

They have a lot of high buildings here!  It's a beautiful day, clear skies and in the upper 40's (it's a bit cold for all of us here in Florida).

Here's the river walk - the University of Tampa is just across the river - built by Henry Plant in 1931.  Seems like most people take time to get a photograph with the minarets.

Along the river on the river walk (University of Tampa is across the river).

The 'beer can' building - it's a round building near the river in downtown Tampa.  Everyone knows this building by it's nickname.

That's all we did - everyone got hungry and we went over to a local pizza place and had lunch before I (Nana) went back to my temporary home at Urban Tailz in South Tampa.  That's where Nana is staying until she finds a foster home or a furever home.  We found out a lot of things about this girl on our journey through part of the river walk in downtown Tampa.  She is sweet and gentle.  Never barked or had any issues with cars, people, noises, dogs, or anything else we came across during our stroll.  Gentle enough that we could pick her up and put her into the various places we wanted to photograph her. She apparently didn't have much 'car' experience - we picked her up to put her in the car - but she was great during her ride in the car.  If you're interested in Nana, please contact Maxx and Me Pet Rescue at maxxandme.org

That's our look at some different options in lighting - For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Jo Lyons Photography, the down-to-earth dog-loving photographer for cherished dogs of the Great Lakes NSW 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography downtown female Florida girl Hillsborough hound Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog Pet Rescue portrait rescue river riverwalk Tampa vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography-in-an-urban-setting Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Light it up! https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography---light-it-up This week it's all about light - 'get lit' is the theme!  There are all different types of light that can be used for pet photography and they all have different looks.  When I first started doing most of my pet photography I used natural light - that which comes from above - the sun.  I still use that, especially if I am photographing a dog that is shy, timid and/or scared.  It's a wonderful source of light and one that all animals are used to.  Knowing how to use that light source is the key and mix that with the various colors of fur - you'll see (black fur isn't the best in bright sunlight). A bright sunny day in the sun isn't the best light, but sometimes it is what you have.

Another option for shooting outdoors is to have an off camera portable flash unit and a trigger on camera to fire the flash.  In this case, we looked for shade (even lighting), and used the portable flash unit with a 7" reflector and sock to help soften the light from the flash.  Oh, and yes the dog on the left is on a diet now that she came into the rescue!

The standard portable studio setup we take onsite to boarding facilities - a background (in this case a large blanket) lit with two octagon 24" softboxes, each having an AD200.  In this photograph of Buster Bo, we had a third light against the background to make it lighter in color. This works really well providing the dog is not afraid of flash - if they are, then we revert to LED lights with higher ISO which hopefully they can handle.

Having said that, sometimes we just have to 'wing it' because in the world of rescue, you just don't know what you're going to get until you meet the dog. This is the same dog, Sawyer, that didn't do so well on his first try with a studio setup (but he blossomed when we took him out on the town!).

That's our look at some different options in lighting - For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit  Lynda Mowat from Heartstrings Photography, capturing people and their pets around the Waikato 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) AD200 canine dog dog photography downtown Florida light Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue natural light outdoor outside pet photography pet photography blog Pet Rescue playground rescue Tampa vpshoots window window light https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography---light-it-up Fri, 17 Jan 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Telling a story, find a way around the obstacles, just follow me https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography---telling-a-story-find-a-way-around-the-obstacles-just-follow-me We recently have been blessed (at least my viewpoint) with some cooler weather!  Yay - wearing pants and not sweating!  That's prime weather for going out for a walk in the woods.  Just one catch, cooler air usually means that we recently had a downpour of rain leaving water puddles and muck to deal with on trails.  However, I have been promising Jimbo (my senior well behaved guy) a walk in the woods - so off we went to Lettace Lake Park.  After turning off the concrete path and onto the nature trail area - I see this.

My first reaction is to turn back, if there is all this water at the beginning, it's probably going to be worse as we walk along.  Jimbo's first reaction is "Nope, we are going this way - and I'll show you how".

A younger dog might have either considered going through the middle of this or looking back at me to ask how one should proceed - but Jimbo is experienced, he knows what to do.

Are you coming?

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Bahamas canine dog dog photography Florida Jimbo lead leave leaves Lettace Lake Park muck mud nature outdoor park path pet photography pet photography blog puddle rain reflection reflections rescue river trail tree vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2020/1/pet-photography---telling-a-story-find-a-way-around-the-obstacles-just-follow-me Fri, 10 Jan 2020 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Out takes https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/12/pet-photography---out-takes This week's pet photography theme gives a 'behind the scenes' look at what happens when rescue dogs have different ideas than we do.  I recently reviewed our photos from this year, 2019.  We have shared almost 600 photographs of over 45 dogs and 20 puppies this year alone!  That's definitely a lot of future pets being photographed.  My partners, Jim Vargas and Greg Turner, have helped with each shoot along this way and without them, I would not be able to have such great success - thank you.

Now let's look at some of the out takes.

When the dog doesn't want to have their photo taken and you now realize how strong they are!

Then they get into position - you know they are looking at something over your shoulder - but are they about to spring into action? Somehow, everything looks good except the legs just don't look right!

I know I am a big dog, but maybe if I hide behind Jim he can protect me from those things aimed at me!

You think you have just about everything right - and something gets their attention that you don't see because you're looking through the camera lens...

Ok, maybe the bubbles idea is not going to work - but it was worth a try!

I'm tired - are you guys done yet?

When you're trying to get a litter of puppies to stay put - they were all tired and almost asleep before we moved them into the chest....go figure.

This rescue dog was so scared, I think he was figuring if I slide out of here on my belly.....maybe it will work.

but all he really wanted was...so people time with Jim.

This little girl wanted nothing but to sit right next to me - and I was told to kiss her - not sure if she liked that or not.

And sometimes we just enjoy our moments with the rescue dogs.

Just in case you're curious, they all came around and we got great photographs of each.

Each dog is unique.

Each dog has different experiences in previous home

Each dog might have preferences on female vs male (we have both on our team)

Their stories are unique, their past is unique and their future is hopefully brighter than it was before they joined the rescue world.

Thank you for the opportunity to meet each of you and have fun while we created beautiful photographs of you!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit  Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) adopt adoption background bloop blooper canine dog indoors inside Maxx and Me out take outtake pet photography rescue studio vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/12/pet-photography---out-takes Fri, 20 Dec 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Monochrome - black and white https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/11/pet-photography---monochrome---black-and-white This week has been busy - we photographed 9 dogs on Monday for the rescue (Maxx and Me Pet Rescue - www.maxxandme.org).  What a wonderful group of dogs - all with different personalities.  Some outgoing and wanting to play, some timid and wondering what the whole photo session was about.  Then others that just wanted to snuggle - it was a fulfilling, tiring day.

Here's a few photographs turned to monochrome - black and white (turning them to some other color - blue, red, green, etc just didn't seem right).

First, it's Dippy - a little worried about the whole modeling job - but eventually rose to the occasion and gave us a few great photographs.

Next is Hershel - he is beautiful.  They say he is part border collie - he loves his treats.  He was the first of 9 we photographed - easy one - but some were much tougher!

Last, is Oreo - with his dark brown fur giving him patch work over the eyes, he is full of energy and ready to go.  This guy loved to play ball - so we used that as a way to get some energy out before we started with photographs - it worked!

After finishing the photographs of all these wonderful dogs - we realized the variety of things that we had to come up with in order to get what we wanted.  All they wanted was to play or have human attention - but they knew we wanted more.  Some we played with, some we snuggled with, others we made weird noises and some we pretended to bark.  Along the way, we also realized that sometimes it was just sitting down and hanging out until they were ready.  A wonderful day and hoping that each finds it's foster home or forever home so they can enjoy home life instead of just a boarding facility with lots of dogs to play with during day care (which they really seemed to like, so maybe that's not so bad after all).

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Terri J Photography, photographing pets and their people in Toronto and Ontario 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) black and white canine dog dog photography Maxx and Me Pet Rescue pet photography pet photography blog rescue studio vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/11/pet-photography---monochrome---black-and-white Fri, 01 Nov 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Paint it black https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/10/pet-photography This week's pet photography blog theme is "Paint it black" - and for me, this is a look inside what happens when we go to photograph a rescue dog.  As we started our setting up to photograph Trooper, his foster was busy taking photographs of us and was kind enough to share them with me so I can in turn share with you our experience.  Just in case you were curious - it seems that many of the people we meet and take photograph of their foster dogs really enjoy watching and being a part of the entire experience.

So, without further discussion, let's get a look at how this all happens for us.  First, let me introduce our model for this photograph session, Trooper.  Trooper came to us from the Pasco County Animal Shelter (hope I got this correct) after being hit by a car.  Unfortunately for Trooper, he took the majority of that hit in his face and more specifically his mouth area.  Lucky for Trooper, Maxx and Me Pet Rescue stepped in to help save his life (for more information on Maxx and Me visit their facebook page or maxxandme.org).  When we met Trooper we had all these great ideas as we stepped into his backyard and saw the possibilities - of course, it was up to Trooper, was he willing?

Most all the shoots start with a little bit of attention, loving, and letting the dog(s) greet us.  It's always better if they have a little time to get to know us before we start trying to work with them.  Trooper getting ready to give Jim some love!

Here we are setting up our gear.  Greg is setting up the softbox and lighting.  I'm getting my camera ready and Jim is getting our model ready (Trooper).

Depending on the dog and their personality, we may choose different lighting.  In this case, Trooper was being very good so we set up a softbox beauty dish on a light stand with the Flashpoint AD200.  This provided some nice lighting for Trooper since the background was much lighter than where Trooper was sitting.  That's Linda (me) holding the camera taking photos of Trooper.

Greg is shooting photographs of Trooper while Jim is holding a squeaky toy (little alligator) to get Trooper's attention.  I'm hidden behind the guys, but still there!

Just in case, we always look at the photos after we have done a good group to make sure that we are leaving the shoot with several good ones to help the rescue dog find their forever homes.  Here I am showing the foster mom one of the photographs - blow it up to make sure it is sharp on the face.

Hanging out with our model, everyone gets to take a short break!

And here's a few of the final photographs that are helping Trooper to find his forever home.  UPDATE: Trooper has a new family! He was adopted just over two weeks after we photographed him.

And with that, our photo session is wrapping up, one last photo with all of us for Trooper's foster mom.

Trooper, Linda (sitting with Trooper), Jim on the left, Greg on the right.  That's a wrap for this session - it was a pleasure meeting and working with Trooper and his foster mom - he was such a great dog and has been through a lot in his short life.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, capturing pets and their people in Northeastern PA and surrounding areas 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) AD200 behind the scenes bench canine dog dog photography dslr Florida nature outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue sitting sneak peek softbox standing tree vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/10/pet-photography Fri, 18 Oct 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Into the Woods https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/10/pet-photography---into-the-woods This week's pet photography blog circle theme is "Into the Woods".  For us, that's a wonderful way to spend our time - we love it, the dogs love it and we have spent time up on the Suwannee River in the 'woods' for a couple of decades.  Here Abby is posing on the property just above where the cove is that leads down to the river (the cove is actually where the river floods when the water is high).  A rare luxury that she is allowed to run free without a leash - but she finally earned it and now is allowed providing she has a parental chaperone to keep a watchful eye and make sure she doesn't go running after some form of wildlife she just saw.  Everyone tells me that is the hound in dogs like her and to be careful, but she is definitely bonded and very good at listening now (course, we didn't see a deer or other wild animal so she didn't get tested).

We let the grass grow high, and Ollie almost disappeared in the high grass when they were running around and playing in it.  Here she took a short break to sun herself.

That's it for this week - two gals enjoying the woods at the river.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography Florida grass nature outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog rescue river sun Suwannee tree vpshoots water woods https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/10/pet-photography---into-the-woods Fri, 11 Oct 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Orange" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/10/pet-photography---theme-orange This week's pet photography theme is "orange" - oranges (hey, it's Florida!), Gators (hey, it's Florida), or perhaps a pumpkin - it's fall.  Well, I decided on getting a pumpkin and I had this wonderful idea that maybe I could get little Ollie to stand behind the pumpkin, put her front legs on the pumpkin and stand up a little bit taller.  Dreaming...yep, I was dreaming (maybe tomorrow, but not today).  First asking Ollie to come out by herself without her sister must have made her think she was in trouble.  So, I took her out by the pumpkin (I bought a large one, that may have been my first mistake.

Ollie looked at the pumpkin and wanted to run and hide.  Not much for new things apparently.  Eventually she figured out it wasn't going to hurt her, but the pumpkin was to close to her size and well, she wasn't sure.  Maybe I should have taken her with me to the pumpkin patch?

Needless to say, I realized that I wasn't going to get the photo I had in mind and the deadline for turning in my photography blog was looming....so at this point, I figured I had to settle for a little less than what I was hoping for and perhaps try another day with Ollie (but that would probably be after the deadline).

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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 Linda at 813-610-2671 in the Tampa Bay area (Florida).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog female fence grass laying mix mutt orange pumpkin rescue sitting small wood https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/10/pet-photography---theme-orange Fri, 04 Oct 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Season Change https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/9/pet-photography---season-change This week the theme is Season Change for our Pet Photography blog - and well, since I live in central Florida, the only change we are seeing is more activity in the tropics making us watch the weather more to ensure we don't need to go into storm watch mode.  Very rarely do we see a season change here - it's hot, hotter or nice - we don't hardly have freezes anymore - maybe its climate change, but I am mowing the lawn in December and I didn't as a child (and I live in the same 3 block area!).

Any way, I injured my hand over the weekend and haven't been able to do much photography.  Abby was kind enough to pose for this one shot that was my idea for 'season change' and it's all I managed to do before this little mishap.  Hopefully I'll be shooting again next week.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH 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) Abby autumn canine color dog fall fall color indoors leaf leaves lighting Maxx and Me Pet Rescue Maxx and Me Rescue pet photography pet photography blog rescue studio vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/9/pet-photography---season-change Fri, 20 Sep 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/9/pet-photography---water This week the theme for our pet photography blog circle is "water" so I went back into the archives to find one of the photographs of Jimbo hanging out when we are busy taking photographs - Jimbo is probably among the best behaved dogs I've seen - and certainly the best behaved, gentle boy I've ever had.  As we remember the recent destruction of the Bahamas with Hurricane Dorian, I can't tell you how many times I hugged Jimbo and told him how happy I was that he was with us and not still in the Bahamas.  Jimbo is a 'potcake' which is a common name for the street dogs in the Bahamas - it is not a particular breed, but rather a name they were given because they were 'scraping' for whatever the people scraped from the bottom of the pans after cooking.  (That's what I believe I have been told anyway).  So in celebration of Jimbo, here's our sweet boy enjoying his vacation in North Carolina mountains a couple of years ago.

If I recall correctly, Jim was standing on a rock above Jimbo in the direction that he is currently looking.  He enjoyed walking about the various rocks as we were the only one there at the time and since he will stay when told - it's not an issue to have him standing close by.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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) boulder boulders canine dog flow North Carolina outdoor park pet pet photography river rock shallow stream vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/9/pet-photography---water Fri, 13 Sep 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Digital Photos....are you preserving them? https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/9/digital-photos-are-you-preserving-them This week I am writing a short blog to ask you a question - think about this - with all the digital photographs, how are you preserving them for future generations?  In the 'old days' we printed photographs.  Today, we have them as a digital form - whether that is social media, website, instagram, cloud, your hard drive - and I'm sure I have missed a few.  But, will they be around when you want to see them in 20 years?  or even 10 years?  This particular topic came up recently in a weekly photography meeting that I attend most weeks with fellow photographers.  

After thinking about the discussion that we had on how we are creating photographs and what we are doing with them, I decided that the suggestion I like the best is to start creating books that contain photographs that I want to keep - those that are family, vacations, etc - not so much about what is my best 'photography' work - but the ones that will mean something to me or someone else in the future.

What are you thinking?  How will you share your photographs?  Are you getting them printed? or are they simply stored on some electronic device somewhere with hopes that we will always have access to them?

In writing this blog post, I decided to do what everyone seems to do today - Ask Google.  What are some of the places to get the best photo books in 2019?  Among the entries that came back from that search are: Shutterfly, Snapfish, Amazon prints, Picaboo and Mixbook.  In looking at the details of the information in the reviews, this one little part caught my eye. "This way you’ll be 100% sure that your book won’t fade or get damaged due to bad ink or poor print quality."  And guess what, this company was writing about "Mixbook".  Mixbook was the last company listed for the photo books, but it is a well known website for designing photo books. Mixbook is one of the best but definitely not one of the cheapest. However, if you want excellent quality and vivid images, you could save some money and choose Mixbook.  Since I personally want to be sure that the images aren't going to fade due to poor print quality - I will be creating my second book with some of my images using Mixbook (hopefully the quality is the same as it was 2 years ago when I did a book to see how the quality was - I'll let you know what I think after I get my book created and printed!  In case you're curious, here's the link for Mixbook - https://www.mixbook.com  and it looks like they are having a sale, so I'll have to get moving on this if I want to catch this sale!



VPShoots Photography


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) book digital Mixbook photo photo book photos picaboo print self publish shutterfly snapfish https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/9/digital-photos-are-you-preserving-them Thu, 12 Sep 2019 00:28:28 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Soft https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/8/pet-photography---theme-soft This week's pet photography theme is "soft" - and our models this week are 'soft young girls' about 5 months of age - meet Opal and Odette - sisters looking for their forever home (preferably together if that's possible).  These two girls were a lot of fun to photograph and just loved playing in the blanket and hammock during our photo session.

Meet Opal taking a short break hanging in the hammock.

Meet Odette hanging out from the hammock (they were playing pretty hard and having a blast!).

Oh where you trying to get our attention?

After a good amount of playing and having fun, the girls posed on the soft blanket. I'm sure the next thing they did was curl up and take a nap after all that hard playing.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex 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) adopt adoption blanket canine dog dog photography female hammock Maxx and Me outdoor pet photography pet photography blog pet rescue puppies puppy rescue siblings sisters vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/8/pet-photography---theme-soft Fri, 30 Aug 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Poe Springs Park, High Springs, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/8/poe-springs-park-highlands-florida Poe Springs Park is located in High Springs, Florida not to far from the well known Ginnie Springs on Highway 340 west of Gainesville.  The official address is 28800 NW 182nd Ave, High Springs, FL 32643. The park has an entrance fee of $5.00 (as of this writing, August 2019) and if the spring reaches a capacity of 100 people the park may close to limit the number of people in the spring.  The park is open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk - with the spring and boat ramp closing about 30 minutes before.

Have you heard of it? It is a beautiful county park, well maintained and a great way to spend several hours - whether you want to have a picnic, walk your dog, play on the playground, do a little walking or enjoy the beautiful spring.  On a Saturday morning we stopped in to check out this park and see what the spring located on the Santa Fe River offered.  We were pleasantly surprised - this is a beautiful spring and not to crowded at the time we visited.  

When we arrived, our little pack all leashed up and water with us, we headed from the parking lot to see what was nearby (picnic tables, restrooms, playground) and eventually we found this path.  Please note that dogs are allowed in the park, but must be kept out of the springs to preserve this natural Florida resource - please respect this so we can preserve it for future visitors.

The dogs are familiar with this, and off down the little pathway we went.  Eventually, we noticed more people and the walkway changed to boardwalk. There were many people carry their supplies along this well maintained boardwalk to the spring in a wagon - some with coolers on wheels. If you're taking any amount of things, definitely plan to have some method to carry it all as the walk to the spring does involve a bit of walking.

After a fair amount of walking (about 1000 feet on the boardwalk).  Dogs are not allowed in the spring area, so we stopped short of that and sat in a small area that allows a view of the spring. This is the area the families were carrying all their belongings to.

The spring is a good size and the water was clear - I could see a turtle swimming around in the water below.  This spring has a lot of shallow areas that make it ideal for small children.  You can see several people standing in the water and it's knee high on adults in some areas.  The spring is accessible from the Santa Fe River if you have a boat - the photograph below is facing to the west and just beyond the trees the Santa Fe River flows.  We did not swim in this spring, but there is an area that appears to be where the water flows out of the vent which is about 2' by 3' with a cave about 13 feet long (per another website).  Poe Springs pumps an average of 45 million gallons of cool, refreshing water daily.

They have a map that shows the many different springs located along the Santa Fe river - this map has the famous "You Are Here" that we have all become used to seeing - the map was a bit large for a single photograph ( if you want to be able to read it ), so here's a portion of the map. On the far left of the map is the Suwannee River which the Santa Fe River flows into.

If you're in the area, or perhaps Ginnie Springs is full, this might be a nice alternative - no scuba diving, just snorkeling and swimming.



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Alachua Alachua County canine children dog Florida High Springs nature outdoor park Poe Poe Springs Poe Springs Park river Santa Fe snorkel spring springs swim swimming water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/8/poe-springs-park-highlands-florida Sun, 18 Aug 2019 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Wood" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/8/pet-photography---theme-wood This week's photography blog has us joining our pack at Poe Springs Park located in High Springs, Florida.  The dogs and I are all thinking, well that's Dad's nickname, 'Poe' that is - so we should check out this park.  First, I will say the park itself (entrance fee required) is very nice.  The dogs all enjoyed walking around, smelling mostly and taking care of business.  Then we found a trail and started walking on it to see where it lead (didn't see any maps to help us).

After a short asphalt walk, it switch over to a nice wooden boardwalk - we watched other people go down the path, most with wagons of swimming gear and food - so this must be the way to the spring.  It had been raining earlier in the morning, the boardwalk was wet and slippery - so caution was definitely necessary.  Here we all are with one human in tow behind us - Ollie, Rue, Abby and Jimbo.  All being good and staying on the path.  Leashes are required in the park.

Dogs are not allowed in the spring area to help protect this natural resource and keep the water clean.  There is a nice little area that we can sit and watch people swimming in the spring without being to close.  All the dogs are on leashes (removed in photoshop).  Jimbo has become camera shy and declined to have a photo taken.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit https://www.terrijphotography.com/toronto-dog-pet-photographer-blog/tips-for-photographing-small-dogs?fbclid=IwAR1SBSEMyvCaVyf3btnq0Irc1mV7tQwPr1j6vqPADLXKI7IcH_NtXetExSE 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) boardwalk canine deck dog dog photography Florida leash nature outdoor pack park pet photography pet photography blog river spring tree vpshoots water wood https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/8/pet-photography---theme-wood Fri, 16 Aug 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Fill the Frame (with dog!) https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/7/pet-photography---fill-the-frame-with-dog This week's theme is 'Fill the Frame' for our pet photography blog circle.  We met Axle this week - he is a rescue that is looking for a new home - and the only issue I saw Axle has is he is a big fella!  This big fella looks a lot like a brown labradoodle - probably weighing in around 100-120 pounds - but it's all fur and love!  He was very happy to see us and was happy to have attention - and did very well with instruction when it came time to model for his photographs.  I am thinking that Axle is probably the biggest dog I have photographed thus far, but he is perfect for 'filling the frame'.  Often when I do my pet photography, I like to fill the frame with the pet - no  other distractions, just look at your beautiful pet.

Meet Axle - available for adoption with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue in Tampa Bay, Florida - he is currently looking for a foster and/or a forever home.

Sitting tall with those beautiful light brown eyes.

Laying down was a challenge for Axle - he would lay down and then almost immediately roll over.  This time we were able to get him to lay down and look over his shoulder.

And in case you wanted to see his entire body he did a great job of sitting for us.  It's hot here in Florida and Axle was hanging his tongue out for more of our photo session. 

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Floppy Ears Photography is the home of cheeky and cheerful Sydney pet photography by Lyndall Hord 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) Axle brown canine dog dog photography Florida labradoodle large male Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue studio Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/7/pet-photography---fill-the-frame-with-dog Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Doors https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/6/pet-photography---doors This week's Pet Photography theme is "Doors" and I took a little different approach than I originally planned.  While visiting a friend that is currently fostering a dog, one of her dogs came out and is shy around new people.  She almost immediately ran out the doggie door - hence these photographs are Valerie looking at us from outside the doggie door.  The frame of the doggie door is showing in this photograph as Valerie stands outside wondering exactly what that is aimed at her (the camera scared her almost as much as people she didn't know in her house).

Eventually Valerie got a little closer to the doggie door (and came in after I put the camera down).

So this is Valerie - a rescue that was adopted by her foster parents - she is now a Maxx and Me Pet Rescue alumni. (www.maxxandme.org) . A little more cropping and we have a wonderful portrait of Valerie that was taken through the doggie door of her home.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Floppy Ears Photography by Lyndall Hord is the home of cheeky and cheerful pet photography in Sydney 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) adopted brown canine dog dog photography doggie door door female outdoor pet photography pet photography blog pit pit bull rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/6/pet-photography---doors Fri, 28 Jun 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Blue sky https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/6/pet-photography---blue-sky This week's pet photography theme is "Blue Sky" and it comes when we here in central Florida have had a ton of rain.  No kidding, we have had enough rain to fill a 5 gallon bucket in about 10 days - that's probably about 15 inches of rain - and no idea when it's going to rain - not like the normal late afternoon rains we usually have.  Of course that came on the end of a month long dry spell - so we needed it.  But, with rain, there is no blue sky.  It's either gray, overcast, stormy or anything you can imagine but blue sky!

Since it rained most of the night, we managed to get some sunny skies that gave us a little blue sky mixed with clouds.  A lot of places are under water, or at least mud which don't make for good photographs particularly if you want a mud free dog.  I took Ollie and Rue to the playground in the middle of the day when the children are not out playing and got a few photographs of them with blue skies.

Rue decided that she would join Ollie - so we got a little sister photograph here of the 'twins' as all the people seeing us walk together have started calling them (we call them the 'puppies' because they are smaller than our big dogs even thought they are fast closing in on their 2nd birthday).

Ollie laying on top of a picnic table while I got low to the ground to include blue skies behind her.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex 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) blue skies canine cloudy skies dog dog photography Florida low angle outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog playground rescue tree vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/6/pet-photography---blue-sky Fri, 21 Jun 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Operation War Dog at Advantage Pet Center, Largo, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/6/operation-war-dog-at-advantage-pet-center-largo-florida On Saturday, Jim and I had the pleasure of photographing this event at a local pet center, Advantage Pet Center.  We met MWD Damon - he is a retired German Shepherd who served several tours before retiring after being injured (he was not injured in the line of duty).  Damon was born on 15 August 2009 and began active duty on 10 August 2011.  His specialty while serving is Detection.  Oh, in case you're wondering, Damon was in the Air Force.  He has been retired for a couple of years and now lives with his human, "Dog".

Damon received a number of medals during his service, but only wore one to this event because it would have been to hot and heavy to wear all of them.  He saved many human lives by sniffing out explosives during his service.

Damon loves his ball, he found it at the event in the play yard and was very protective keeping it close by.

Another member of the K9 Heroes is this young lady poodle.  She visited and represented the K9 Heroes.


Thank you for serving our country Damon - we appreciate it!

Thank you Dog for adopting Damon after he completed his years of service.

Thank you Barbara and your supporters at the event for supporting the war dogs through K9 Rescue.

If you're interested in more information about these organizations please take a few minutes to look at these links.


http://www.uswardogs.org/ <-- US War Dog Association

http://www.k9wardogadvocates.com/ <-- K-9 War Dog Advocates - Bring them home too!

or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/k9wardogadvocates/







vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) advantage Advantage Pet Center Air Force canine Damon dog event german german shephard K9 K9 War Dog Advocates operation Operation War Dog pet retire retired shepherd war https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/6/operation-war-dog-at-advantage-pet-center-largo-florida Sun, 02 Jun 2019 23:30:08 GMT
Pet Photography with the color Yellow https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/5/pet-photography-with-the-color-yellow Wow, we have been busy doing a lot of dog photography lately as we head into the 'dog days of summer' when a lot of outdoors in hot and we watch the temperatures for our furry friends to make sure they don't overheat.   This week, I had Rue snuggle with my yellow hoodie sweatshirt and she actually stayed put!  That's an accomplishment for Rue - she is the one that always says "Nope, not staying!".

We started out with a simple, let's snuggle in the color yellow....it's the middle of a hot Florida afternoon, all the dogs are into snoozing inside in the air conditioning.  Rue appears to be wondering what I am doing and why she is snuggled with my hoodie.

Rolling over, she is getting sleepy in the middle of my photo shoot....

Well, she's asleep - I guess the middle of the afternoon is NOT the time to ask my dogs to do anything other than snooze.

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) canine dog dog photography jacket medium pet photography Pet Photography blog rescue Rue sleep sleepy snuggle tired vpshoots yellow young https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/5/pet-photography-with-the-color-yellow Fri, 31 May 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Photographer's Choice https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/5/pet-photography---photographers-choice This past week we hosted our first fundraiser for Maxx and Me Pet Rescue (https://www.maxxandme.org) at Advantage Pet Center in Largo, Florida (http://advantagepetcenter.com) and it was a wonderful experience meeting so many dogs - all different - and all fun bundles of fur to photograph. 

Today, we photographed another group of dogs for Maxx and Me Pet Rescue - and we met some wonderful dogs.  This sweet little girl is a medium size dog, very friendly and very interested in food - I told her we like to work with one simple rule.  In exchange for a little modelling, we will give you some yummy food (and if you don't like that, we can give you a bunch of attention!).

As you can tell from her photographs, she was very willing to do a little modeling for us.  Over the years of photographing dogs, I have learned several different sounds that often times will give the 'head tilt' that so many people find cute.

Most of the time when I make the 'weird noises' it's just the dog and us photographers - there aren't foster parents, teachers, and others watching - but this time I had a few watching us work with the dogs.  One person actually asked what class taught all the noises to attract the dogs - that's the point when you realize that you're really working with the dog and not really paying attention to those around you!

If you're interested in adopting Coco, contact Maxx and Me Pet Rescue at maxxandme.org - you never know if a share on facebook or on some other social media might just be the ticket for a dog getting their forever home.

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) brown canine Coco cute dog dog photography female head tilt indoor medium pet photography rescue school vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/5/pet-photography---photographers-choice Fri, 10 May 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Dogs with People - behind the scenes of a photo shoot https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/5/pet-photography---dogs-with-people---behind-the-scenes-of-a-photo-shoot This week's theme for Pet Photography is "Dogs with People".  In my blog this week, I took a different approach than many people might take - I am showing photographs that show how a person (in this case, my other half) handles the dog while I am doing the photographs.  I'll admit that he is much better at handling our dogs for photos than I am - so it works better this way - they just listen to him better (or maybe they just know they can't get away with as much).  Either way, here's some photographs that show you the before (with a person) and the after (without the person).

Initially out of the camera, Abby is standing on the bottom of a slide with leash and Jim hanging onto her.  We pull the leash up and away from the body to make it easier to remove the leash.  Often times I also take a photograph of the scene without anything in it to make an easier removal job of objects not wanted in the final photograph.

Without a person.

The final photograph cropped in and final adjustments have been made.

Now Abby is the best when it comes to doing various things for photographs - it's like she knew that was going to be her role in our dog family.  We have several other dogs as well - Ollie is the next best model.  Rue is definitely the one that just doesn't want to do it - it shows in her 'dog with person' photographs.

It's a rainy week day up on the Suwannee River - no one is around.  Let's see if we can get Rue to do a "Sit - Stay" command (Rue has a mind of her own and doesn't want to work for the treats).  Jim is simply bending over Rue and Rue is sitting there like she has been disciplined.

Jim steps away just outside the frame.  Well, she still doesn't look relaxed, but at least we got something!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH 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 dog dog photography outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog playground rescue sand slide vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/5/pet-photography---dogs-with-people---behind-the-scenes-of-a-photo-shoot Fri, 03 May 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Play Time https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/pet-photography---happy-time This week the theme is "play time" and with that said, these types of photographs are typically snapshots when I take them.  They are the times that perhaps you want to remember, but they aren't the posed portrait type photographs.  I believe that for our dogs, happy time is anytime that they are with us - it doesn't matter if they are laying at my feet on the floor while I am on the computer, snuggled up with us in the bed or out playing - just being with us makes them happy.  Having said that, there are a few other times I know they are happy!  Play time is when they are free to run around and do what they want.

Jimbo is my senior dog and as a former Bahamas street dog trying to survive, he didn't learn a lot of 'play' skills.  He still will run some with other dogs, but now just prefers to hang with the humans.  Jimbo when he was a bit younger and still loved running with other dogs.

A game of chase is always fun.

When Abby was younger, she played well with other dogs - now, as she matured she mostly plays with her pack at home.  Loved the pool at the dog park, but can't get her to play in one at home!

If you tell Abby it's time to go before she is ready.....

Abby loves running (with her 'cousin' Korra).

Most recently, I think they all find 'play time' when we go up to the Suwannee river property and they can run free on the acre of property.  Jimbo has had that privilege for a number of years having shown that he is a responsible senior dog.  Abby, Ollie and Rue just got this privilege earlier this year after having shown they will stay close and return immediately when called.  What does this amount to? Play time without leashes, fences, etc.

So there you have it, happy time with the 'Perdue-Vargas' clan of dogs!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH 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) boat canine car dog dog photography drive explore Florida happy nature outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog play play time rescue ride river vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/pet-photography---happy-time Fri, 26 Apr 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Sugar Sand Festival - Clearwater Beach (Pier 60) 2019 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/sugar-sand-festival---clearwater-beach-pier-60-2019 The Sugar Sand Festival is currently happening at Clearwater Beach!  The sculptures created by a talented team of artists are quite amazing - the event ends on April 28th - so you still have time to go - but beware that the traffic getting to Clearwater beach will make for a slow ride and a search for parking.  The sculptures themselves are under a tent (protected from wind, rain, and sun).  It's bright out there - sunglasses will make the trek on the beach more enjoyable for sure (I forgot mine) - once under the tent, no issues.

Clearwater Beach has soft, sugary and white sand, hence the name "Sugar Sand" - the festival is officially called the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival.  The sand is made primarily of quartz crystal and contains minimal shells and/or coral which gives the sugary feel to the sand.  The sand sculptors are varied - some coming from Clearwater/Tampa while others come from Russia and Belguim.  The sign at the event indicates 17 artists created these sculptures (minus those on 'college wall').

As you enter the covered tent, you begin to see sculptures that are larger than you!  The amazing detail, the hours put into their creation, its a bit overwhelming.

A portion of the Australia sculpture.

Closeup of the penguins in the Antarctica sculpture.

A huge alligator! The head alone is probably 2-3 feet long.


Tribute to Notre Dame.

Near the end of all the sculpture, this sculpture artist (looks like the one that lives in Clearwater, Florida) is quietly working with the sand.  Tools include brushes, dry wall tools, dental tools - things for the large details as well as the small details.

That's it for this blog post. For more photos, click this link to view the gallery. Sand Festival Photo Gallery



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) 2019 60 art artist beach Clearwater Clearwater beach festival Florida pier Pier 60 Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival sand sand festival sculpture sugar sand Sugar Sand Festival tent https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/sugar-sand-festival---clearwater-beach-pier-60-2019 Sun, 21 Apr 2019 13:25:37 GMT
Paying the model - Snack time in Pet Photography https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/paying-the-model---using-snacks-in-pet-photography This week's theme is 'snack time' which can be rather fun at my household of four dogs.  I've taught them all they must sit - but they all know the door those snacks are hiding behind.  Sometimes Jimbo will go to the cabinet door and look at you, other times you sit in the chair closest to the snack cabinet and he tries to get you to give him a snack - and heaven forbid you use the words "Do you want a snack?" and they all four come running!  Abby is the best, sits right away, the girls will sit as long as it takes to get a snack and they are off running with their stack - Jimbo waits for his, gently takes it and goes to his spot - Abby has inhaled hers and is trying to see if she can get seconds!  Without photos, that's what the snack time routine is at our house - but what about a dog photo session?

I almost always carry some snacks (dog snacks) with me when photographing dogs.  One time I actually forgot them and stopped on the way to the shoot to buy some.  I used to keep them in my camera backpack all the time, that way either my dog (Jimbo) or the dog being photographed would have snacks when out shooting.  Then along came Abby with her hound nose and that habit had to stop for fear of having my camera backpack chewed up while she happily got the dog snacks.

While some dogs are not food motivated, I have found that they like rewards for their part of the hard work.  My little Ollie started modeling at the age of about 10 weeks and now she is so good at it that when I set up the studio, she is waiting to jump in and be the perfect model (Abby is willing, but you gotta ask - with snacks of course!).

I met Landon this past week - he is a beautiful dog, but has a lot of energy, loves to jump 4' fences and in general is a great dog but he keeps trying to get a senior dog involved in activities, and well - it's not going that good, so he is looking for a new home.  Landon was very happy to be at a new park with lots of smells - at first, he was all ready to walk that trail, check out the park, but not much interest in having photos taken.  One glance at the camera and Landon backed away - not sure what to think of this whole thing.  Out come the snacks. Landon was won over by putting a snack on the lens hood of my camera.  He at least thought that the camera was ok, while still leary, after getting a couple of snacks off it.

Now for a head tilt, it required a noise, snacks didn't work - yep, those really goofy noises we learn to make to attract dogs.

Now, after I get the head tilt photo, I give the snack. And the next photo he almost looks like he is about to say something and got stopped? Or maybe he just didn't expect what was happening and it caught him off guard.

It didn't take long before Landon's desire to check out his surroundings over powered any snacks or noises I could make and we called it a wrap on this photo shoot - but he was a great boy and loved the little jerky snacks while posing.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex 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 cookie dog dog photography fern ferns Florida leaf leaves nature oak oaks outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue river snack Tampa trail treat tree vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/paying-the-model---using-snacks-in-pet-photography Fri, 19 Apr 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Bluebirds at the community garden https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/bluebirds-at-the-community-garden Bluebirds are a common site in our neighborhood now - I don't recall seeing them a decade ago, but in the last few years they are everywhere - you just have to take the time to look.  Our community garden seems to be a favorite for them - perhaps the vegetables help to provide a source of critters they like to eat.  I had a couple of baby bluebirds in my bird house and the parents were busy feeding them on a 10-15 minute schedule - perfect time to set up the camera and hang out waiting for them to return with the goods for the little ones.

It was interesting that the female bird (not as bright blue as the male) would come in from the east side, kept an eye on me, then flew into the birdhouse.  While the male (brighter blue) would come in from the west side, more leary of me than she was, and flew into the birdhouse.  Perhaps they had different areas they went to find food, but for the time period I watched (about 2 hours), they were pretty consistent.  It was interesting to see what kinds of animals they brought back - each time appeared to be something different - the female brought back a spider the first time.

Flying into the bird house purchased at Wild birds unlimited on Dale Mabry in Carrollwood (suburb of Tampa, Florida).

The male came in next landing on top of the bird house and eyeing me to see if that camera was a issue or not.  Looks like he brought back a cricket.

In the house we go to drop off the food for the hungry little ones (there were two in the house).

Time to go back out again and find another insect.

Missed the female coming back (got distracted) so I caught the male coming back again.  He again landed on top of the bird house, this time with a caterpillar of some type.  Circled around to the front of the house.

A quick stop to look at where the noise was coming from (the camera shutter).  

And then into the house to feed the little ones.  This goes on for hours when the young are just about to leave the nest.  I was there watching for the better part of two hours.  These little birds have now left the nest and I'll have to wait for this cycle to start again.  Usually they build about 2 to 3 nests each season and this is the first one this year - so I'll see when they return to start it over again - in the mean time I'll clean it up nicely so they can start again with a new nest as that's what I hear they prefer (no used nests for these birds).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bird bird house birdhouse blue blue bird bluebird caterpillar cricket female garden house male park spider Wild Birds Unlimited https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/bluebirds-at-the-community-garden Mon, 15 Apr 2019 13:05:19 GMT
Pet Photography - Removing the Leash https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/pet-photography---removing-the-leash This week's pet photography theme is about removing the leash from the final photograph.  As a good portion of my dog photography is with rescue dogs, often they are on leashes - either to keep them from running away or to help keep them in a specific area for purposes of photographing.  I always try to have an assistant when the dogs are leashed as it helps to have the leash held such that it does not cross the dog's body.  My preference is to have the leash held above the head away from the body, not tight such that it pulls on the collar - and if possible, no harness (more to remove and sometimes left on the dog in the final photograph).

These two handsome dogs were fostered by a friend of ours and eventually became part of their household.  Finding someone to adopt a 'bonded pair' is not an easy task and in this case, Nic and Cord were bonded.

Here's the original photograph with leashes.  The dog on the left has his leash pretty tight, pulling the little metal ring straight out.  Notice that the leashes are away from the dog's body and does not cross the body or legs/feet.

Here's the final photograph. Notice that the leash and the metal ring were removed from the photo.

Here's another example. First, the photograph as it was taken.

The final photograph.

In order to make these post processing changes, I use Adobe Photoshop.  Within Photoshop, I use the 'content aware' to remove a good portion of the leash and then some of the clone stamp to remove the remainder portions that are close to the dog.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Colleen of Simply Col Photography - for the love of photography and pound pups 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) adobe Adobe Photoshop after before canine content aware dog Florida leash outdoor park pet photography photoshop remove vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/pet-photography---removing-the-leash Fri, 12 Apr 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Bridge https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/pet-photography---theme-bridge This week's post is a little late - we have been away in rural Florida where internet isn't very 'available'.  Go figure - yes, there are places you can go and except for your phone, you don't have internet and even then - well, it's sketchy as to whether or not you will have cell phone service.  Sometimes that's just what you need - get away!  Needless to say, I was able to take the photographs for this post, but I wasn't able to write the blog and share them with anyone - so, I'm late and didn't make the 'blog circle' this week.

We visited Ivey Memorial Park in Brandford, Florida on a rainy, overcast day - but we were all itching to get out and do something - so off we went.  This bridge in the background is Highway 27 going over the Suwannee River in Branford, Florida.

The entire 'pack' was with us travelling and each took a turn.  First up was Abby.  Abby is definitely pretty good at the whole modelling thing of sitting where you want and paying attention - but of course, there is a little snack (treat/cookie) that I am holding just above the camera lens.  It always helps to 'pay' your models!

Next up was Rue.  This isn't my favorite photograph of her - but I have to say that she is difficult!  I have more photos of her trying to sneak away, walk away, crawl away (thankfully not run away) but not any that really do this little girl who is always of the mindset "I am going to do what I want to do".  As a result, we will be working a lot more on the "Sit - Stay" commands as that's something she definitely fails at.  Nipped her paw off, but it's the best I was able to get of her.

Our easiest model is Ollie - some how, she just gets it.  If you ask her to 'stand here' it's like "Ok, right here?".  Of these three dogs, I had to clone out the leash on Abby and Rue.  Ollie, well, she is good and there was no leash on her (we also had this park to ourselves on this rainy week day).

Our senior dog, Jimbo, was there as well but he wasn't about to go out on the rock.  He did however take a minute to look at the camera for me - here's a headshot of Jimbo.  He doesn't seem to like his photo taken anymore - so I couldn't get him to perk up his ears but at least I can remember that he sat there patiently waiting while we got photos of the rest of the gang.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Lynda Mowat from Heartstrings Photography, based in Hamilton New Zealand 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) Brandford bridge canine dog face Florida Ivey Memorial Park outdoor outdoors park pet pet photography portrait river rural sit Suwannee vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/4/pet-photography---theme-bridge Fri, 05 Apr 2019 15:56:58 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Portraits https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---theme-portraits This week's theme for Pet Photography is 'portraits'.  If I google the 'official' definition of the word portrait, this is what it says: "a painting, drawing, photograph, or engraving of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders".  A portrait is defined as essentially being the head and shoulders.  A head portrait for a dog will usually include to just below the collar or maybe a little more/less depending on your individual preference.

For the 'techies' out there here's a little information on the studio setup used for this portrait.  The background is a fluffy white blanket hanging from a couple of background stands.  The lighting on my left (the dog's right) is provided by an AD200 strobe inside of a 34" beauty dish (both purchased at Adorama).  I also have a gold/silver reflector on my right (the dog's left) to fill in some of the shadows by bouncing some of the light back into the dog.

Same lighting as above, just allowing the left side of Ollie's face to be more in shadow.

In my household, when Ollie decides she will do the modeling job, Rue (her sister) always gets jealous.  Rue is a hard one to get good photographs of - she was like that the day I met her at about 10 weeks old and she is just a few months shy of 2 years old now - same little girl with a mind of her own.  Rue did finally listen and 'stay' allowing this photograph to be captured.  This isn't true to the definition of a 'portrait'.

However, cropping this photograph to be 'just a head portrait' doesn't look as good (to me) because her hind legs are still partially in the photograph. Perhaps you have some thoughts?

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Terri J Photography, Creating images that capture the unique spirit and personality of your pets and the people that love them, serving Toronto and Southeast Florida 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 dog dog photography Maxx Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue mutt pet pet photography pet photography blog pets portrait portraits rescue studio terrier vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---theme-portraits Fri, 22 Mar 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Green' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---theme-green As we approach St. Patrick's Day, this week's Pet Photography theme is "Green".  This weekend they will do the annual 'river of green' in downtown Tampa - it's a sight to see for sure (but will occur to late for this blog post).  We have a nearby park that is a sea of green ferns growing wild.  It was the perfect opportunity to let Abby pose and show off her many different 'dog faces'.

Here's a few photographs from this shoot - I've since learned that Abby has a lot of different faces to share, just look at her ears and you'll see a wonder of expressions of which a few are captured here.


For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex 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) Abby black and white canine dog dog photography expression fern ferns Florida hound outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---theme-green Fri, 15 Mar 2019 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Depth of Field - to blur or not to blur the background https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---depth-of-field---to-blur-or-not-to-blur-the-background This week's Pet Photography theme is "Depth of Field".  That's a photography term, not necessarily a term that everyone is familiar with.  You know that wonderful soft blur of color that is behind your subject? That's created by choosing the correct 'depth of field'.  Wikipedia defines 'depth of field' as "the distance between the nearest and the furthest objects that are in acceptably sharp focus in an image".

The depth of field is determined several different factors - the focal length, the distance to your subject, and aperture (f-stop).  Let's take a quick look at each of these.  The focal length is determined by the lens on your camera.  The wider the angle (say 12mm) the more depth of field - in the case of 12mm, just about everything will be in focus regardless of your aperture.  The more telephoto the angle (say 200mm) the less depth of field - in the case of 200mm, a small percentage of everything in your viewfinder (or lcd) will be in focus regardless of your aperture. 

ISO 200, 56mm, f/5.6, 1/160s - Fergie with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue

The distance to your subject - the closer you are to your subject, the more blur will occur outside of your focal point.  This is why often it is hard to get the entire flower in focus if you are filling the frame with the flower.  The same holds true if you are filling the frame with your pet's face - you'll have to decide - do I focus on the eye? or the nose? because they won't both be in focus. 

ISO 200, 32mm, f/5.6, 1/160s  - really close! shooting down on a fairly large dog and I'm only 5'5" - Fergie with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue

The last part of this triangle is the aperture (f-stop).  If the background behind your subject is a soft blur, then a shallow (wide open) depth of field was used by the photographer.  If everything is in focus - subject and background - that's usually an indication of a large (stop down) depth of field.  Now, this particular concept often throws new photographers into a confused state.  If I use a depth of field of 2.8, that's a wide open (shallow) depth of field - right?  And if I use a depth of field of 8, that's 'average' and a depth of field of 22, that's called 'stopping down' for a large depth of field - right?  That seems backwards....2.8 is wide open? but 22 is stopped down?

Dog bows headDog bows headQuiet moment while Snow bows her head ISO 100, 36mm f/16, 1/160s - Snow with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue - wide angle on focal length and small depth of field (f/16)

I always like to think of the numbers related to depth of field as a piece of pie (or a fraction).  If I have 1/8 of the pie, then I have more of the pie than if I get 1/22 of the pie right?  So, if the aperture is set to 8, then more light is coming into the camera lens than if the aperture is set to 22.  But, enough of the technical stuff - you can read about this all over the internet and there are many great articles out there that explain this.  In fact, you might have others in this Pet Photography blog circle that will give great information on what depth of field is all about.  What does it really mean when you take a photograph? It all comes down to - what's in focus or not in your photograph.  Historically, the cameras on phones have not been able to do this (or not well), but I see that they are making strides in this area - so soon.....

Let's say you're ready to take some photographs of your dog - some decisions need to be considered as you approach this.  How much of the dog do I want in focus? How sharp (or blurred) do I want the background?  And the last decision is probably how close will you be to your dog?

This week I met several dogs looking for their forever homes.  Chip was the first of four dogs we photographed.

Chip is a high energy, possibly Australian shepherd mix who was absolutely a joy to spend time photographing.   This photograph was taken at f/8, 62mm - with Chip about 10-12 feet from the fence behind him and I am standing a few feet from Chip.  See that wonderful blur behind Chip? That's all about depth of field.

In the next photograph, Chip is much closer to the fence, I am further away from Chip to get his entire body. This photograph taken at f/10, 70mm does not have the same soft blur because the aperture is in the 'average' range (f/8-f/14) and Chip is sitting closer to the fence (4-5 feet) - less distance between dog and fence coupled with an average aperture gives us more details behind the dog.

When taking action photographs, I find it is best to have at least an average depth of field because this helps to ensure that if you are slightly off on the focus spot, hopefully I'll still have a sharp dog.  Also, action photos of animals require a faster shutter speed and often I don't get to close but rather crop in on the final photograph to give more depth of field by not being close to the subject.  This photo was taken at 70mm, f/7.1, 1/2000s and was cropped.

Our second dog, is Perdita - a short legged momma dog who was a little shy during her photography session. Perdita didn't know what to make of all these people in the play yard with her (4 people, 3 new ones with cameras!).  This shy lady gave us some wonderful expressions, but many were all about "Who are these people?" and what exactly is going on.  Her portrait shows a wonderful blur of grass in the background (no blades are sharp, just a sea of blurry green).  Getting in close using your feet,  the camera lens set at 52mm, f/10 (average aperture, but getting close to the subject is another way to create a blurry background).  

This photograph is at f/14 - showing a lot more detail in the grass surrounding Perdita as she poses for her photo.

Our third dog is Prince - Prince is a purebreed Pit Bull - and we won him over with snacks (treats/cookies).  Once Prince knew all the new people had goodies, it was all about - what do you want me to do?  I often see people shoot down on dogs like this image - while not my favorite pose, it's often done since that is how people 'see' their dogs. 56mm, f/5.6, 1/250s - this is a slightly shallower depth of field than some of the other photographs - you can see that Prince's head (eyes) are in focus, yet his nose and body are softer and the ground around him is a gentle blur of grass and leaves.  Since I am pointing the camera down at Prince, the camera to subject distance is pretty close (a couple of feet at best) causing less of the overall subject to be in focus.  Poor Prince was dropped off for boarding and his family never came back for him - that was 2 years ago - he has been looking for a new home for a long time.  In the meantime, the wonderful people at Advantage Pet Center in Largo, Florida have given him a home at their facility - hopefully soon, Prince will find that perfect person to bring him home!

Our last dog, Cindy, is a muscular, playful bull dog mix - all white with pink ears - she was full of energy to share with us.  This photograph shows Cindy running along the steps with beautiful blurred grass behind her created by a combination of focal length and average aperture.  82mm (short telephoto), f/6.7 and to stop the action, 1/1500s shutter speed.  Cindy is available from Advantage Pet Center in Largo, Florida.  Hopefully this beautiful girl will find a home soon!

That's it for this week's depth of field blog - keep in mind these basics when photographing your dog (cat, or pet).

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Colleen of Simply Col Photography - for the love of photography and pound pups 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) abandoned action Action Pet Action Pet Photography Advantage Advantage Pet Center aperture blur canine depth of field distance to subject distance to your subject dog dog day care doggie day care Florida focal length f-stop homeless Largo Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue outdoor pet action Pet Center pet photography pet photography blog Pet Rescue play playing portrait rescue running vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---depth-of-field---to-blur-or-not-to-blur-the-background Fri, 08 Mar 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - No Place Like Home https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---home This week's Pet Photography is "No Place Like Home".  Now, I personally believe it was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who made this phrase so famous for me - what do you think?

I'm going to share a few 'snapshots' this week in our pet blog because that's typically what shows what home is all about.  It's been a crazy week for us - a lot of things going on in our little world here...computer issues, losing friends, dogs having a few little disagreements, and who knows what the two days of solid rain will bring.  Our household consists of 4 dogs and 2 cats.  One cat is primarily outdoors, so he is hanging out on the patio because he doesn't want to come in and it's raining (but not cold or thunderstorms).  Thunderstorms - inside in a flash!

I have noticed that when we return from a vacation, our dog Jimbo, is the last thing out of the truck or car.  He doesn't want to be home.  Why is that?  I'm not totally sure, but I am beginning to think that when we are on vacation he is with us just about 24x7 and when we return home, well - that's not usually the case.  So perhaps being home for Jimbo isn't all it's cracked up to be?

Now, Jimbo does love being home - he just likes going places a lot too and there isn't anything like going somewhere with his people.  He doesn't care that any of the other dogs go with - in fact, he would just prefer they stayed home (we have had Jimbo the longest as an 'only child').

Our pets do their fair share of sleeping - and that can be another challenge in our house.  Jimbo only likes the bed if he has it to himself.  However, the others, well, they will do what it takes to all get on the bed at the same time. Looks like we only have half of this full bed....let's line up and see if we can all fit (just before I went to get the camera, they were all snoozing).

Sometimes they have to share with the indoor cat, Torie because she got there first. In this snapshot, I can't say that either of them look particularly happy - but Rue (dog) is one for taking what she wants in hopes that you get annoyed enough to move first.

When the puppies were younger (just a year ago), the older dogs - Abby is 1 year older - had to sometimes teach them a few things about household rules.

And Jimbo had to share the bed (sometimes when they were playing).

And sometimes being home is just about waiting at the front door for Dad to come home.

Lot of our furniture now has blankets (easy to wash), but the dogs love blankets so they don't care - maybe they prefer it?  So there you have it - a peek into our home shared with lots of furry children. 

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Angela Schneider of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, WA, and North Idaho puts your pet in focus for your family portraits 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) bed blanket canine car cat dog dog photography feline home house indoor pet pet photography pet photography blog puppy rescue sofa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/3/pet-photography---home Fri, 01 Mar 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Caboose transformation https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/caboose-transformation While wondering around in rural towns near the Suwannee River, I came across this old caboose in Fort White.  It was outside of a train museum sitting on old railroad tracks.  Course, it looks a bit out of place with a gas station behind it, electrical wires running across the sky and all the other modern conveniences.  Here's my original photograph.

After removing a good portion of the modern things, transforming the photograph into an old time caboose photo - here's the final version.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) antique caboose cleanup Florida Fort White Ft. White museum old time photoshop railroad rural track train https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/caboose-transformation Sun, 24 Feb 2019 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Road Warrior https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/pet-photography---road-warrior This week's theme, Road Warrior, features Abby who loves to hit the road (actually, all the dogs do).  I'm blessed that all of our dogs (including our beloved Dolly who is no longer with us) LOVE to go places in the car.  We don't have issues with car sickness, barking, winning or other potential common dog car travelling issues.  They are all just wonderful road warriors.  Abby's preference has always been to sit in the front seat and she will look at you like "Why not?".  I tell her, no - you just set off the alarm for the seat belt not being fastened (she doesn't understand).  Abby is the most attentive of the various things flying by in the car windows - it takes her the longest to figure out, this is a road trip - it's going to be a while, you might want to get comfortable.

A short road trip has us packing the dogs in like people do with a bunch of kids!  I now have a better understanding of what it is like to have a large family with lots of little ones for sure.  The big dogs are always in the back -- so before we go someplace, they have to scramble into the back seat.  A long road trip has us making the entire back seat a bed for the dogs. I seem to remember my parents doing that for us when we were little - before the days of video games, movies and whatever else people are doing on those little electronic devices today.

We get to our road stop and Abby hangs out on the dirt road - at this point, we have posed her to 'own this road' - no one can get past until we move (but there wasn't anyone there, so we didn't have any issues).

After we get to pose for the camera, she decided to come trotting to get her treat.  For photos like these, I try to ensure I capture the tail whether it is swinging to the side or up high - it adds to the overall completeness of a dog (unless they don't have a tail).

Until our next road trip, signing off....

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Kim with BARKography based in Charlotte NC and traveling the US and Canada 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 car car seat dirt dirt road dog dog photography outdoor park pet pet photography blog rescue ride road road warrior seat vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/pet-photography---road-warrior Fri, 22 Feb 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Sunset at Shell Mound, Cedar Key https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/sunset-at-shell-mound-cedar-key While away from home, we decided to catch a sunset - the question was, where?  Well, we did what everyone else does these days and asked Google.  We needed to find a place that wasn't to far, perhaps no more than an hour from where we currently were, but yet provided us a view of the Gulf of Mexico.  My immediate thoughts were Steinhatchee, Florida or Cedar Key, Florida - each were about an hour in different directions.  While the sunset in Steinhatchee is beautiful, we have been going to this little fishing town for a couple of decades.  Cedar Key, on the other hand, we hadn't been to in years, nor had we seen and photographed a sunset there.  Upon consulting Google, there was a very high recommendation to go to "Shell Mound" for the sunset in Cedar Key - stated to be the 'best place' in Cedar Key to catch the sunset.  We weren't disappointed.  It was a crisp day with temperatures failing into the 40's and I am sure they were headed to the 30's once the sun set.

Shell Mound is popular enough that there are brown markers helping to show you the way - perhaps another day I will find out what Shell Mound is all about.  But for now, I will share a beautiful sunset with you!  We arrived at the end of the dirt road that said "Shell Mound".  We jumped out of the truck, leashed up the dogs and walked to the edge of the water - wow, someone left a little rowboat on the shoreline - how sweet!  A beautiful boardwalk to the left,, a little rowboat in front, the swamp areas covered with those razor sharp plants that you don't want to touch (but fine for photographing!).

Tire tracks lead to the little rowboat - photograph taken shortly before the sunset. This photograph was taken at 5:48pm.

When you see these clouds, you need to stay and watch the light show AFTER the actual sunset because it is going to be beautiful! This photograph was taken at 6:08pm. Sunset was at 6:09pm in Cedar Key on this day.

This photograph was taken at 6:12pm.

Shortly after this photograph, we noticed that the temperatures were starting to drop more and it was time to head back as we had just over an hour to drive to get back to where we were staying.  But, wow - this was worth it!  Thank you Google!!!


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) boardwalk boat boat ramp Cedar Key cloud clouds color Florida nature outdoor rowboat Shell Mound sunset swamp tracks tree trees view water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/sunset-at-shell-mound-cedar-key Sun, 17 Feb 2019 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Tale of Tails https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/pet-photography---tails This week's pet photography theme is "Tale of Tails".  Interesting things about those little dog tails (tales?)  Jimbo, my oldest dog, gives me a lot of information through his tail - he actually gives me various stories (tales) just through that one body part.  If his tail is curled up on his back when he is out walking, he is enjoying himself and happy.  If his tail drops down, then I know he isn't happy or perhaps upset about something.  Now, the real stories are told with using a single word and looking to see - how fast is his tail moving?  If I say "Do you want food?" (if I guessed right, his tail goes into a full swinging motion.  If I am wrong - no tail wag.  If I am half right - I get a little tail wag.  Ok, "Do you need to pee?" Did the tail wag faster than when I asked about food? If yes, then he needs to go outside - if not, then he wants food.  Really simple huh?  Just check the tail meter to see what he wants (and if you don't want to go in the car somewhere never say "ride" because he doesn't give in!

Close up tail curl - Jimbo is happy, relaxed and enjoying himself when his tail is like this.

Jimbo's tail is curled, but not up high on his back - so he is happy (we are out and having fun) but we are making him pose - so his tail is at half-mast.

Here's a classic case of "not so happy" - after all, he went swimming and is now all wet.  For an island dog, Jimbo does not seem to be real fond of swimming unless it is to cool off or get from the boat to land.

Of all my dogs, Jimbo's tale is the most expressive of them all.  Abby has a long straight black tail (not a whole lot of cute in that).  Rue's tail is similar to Abby's but it's brown.  Ollie has a curled tail much like Jimbo's but it seems to be curled all the time - so I don't get very many tales from it!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Darlene Woodward with Pant the Town Photography serving MA and NH 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) beach canine dog dog photography expression expressive Florida nature outdoor park pet pet photography portrait rescue sand stair stairs stone tail vpshoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/pet-photography---tails Fri, 15 Feb 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Ichetucknee Springs State Park - in the winter.... https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/ichetucknee-springs-state-park---in-the-winter Recently we took a few days to get away with our dogs and explore some more of Florida along the Suwannee River and surrounding areas.  Needless to say, we arrived at Ichetucknee Springs State Park in the early morning when it was near freezing temperatures (no, really, it was just above 30 degrees).  I am not sure if we were the only ones in the park or not - but we decided that it might be better to return a little later in the day and see if the temperatures got a little warmer and the sun was able to shine into the spring water.  With all the rain we have been having this winter, the water levels are high on the rivers in this area (Suwannee, Santa Fe, Ichetucknee) - and that often makes the spring water 'dirty' because the darker water is intruding into the area where the spring is located.

The first stop was at the south gate which is located on Highway 27.  That's where all the tubers get out of the water.  The water is over most of the stairway - and there is no one around but us and the dogs.  Maybe this gives you and idea, it's cold, dark, and lonely at this time of year!  The tubing season is closed in the winter but you can still rent kayaks and canoes.

Next stop was to drive around to the North Gate - which is probably a 10 minute or so drive from the south gate (maybe longer, I wasn't watching the clock on this one).  We took the trail that leads to this particular spring in the front - they had several people getting ready for a dive into the springs - lot of cave diving in this area.  These divers were wearing 'dry suits' - I guess that way you don't get wet at all - I've not googled to see exactly what the difference between a 'wet suit' and a 'dry suit' is - but they almost look like a person when hanging (have feet and all).

In some areas, the water is still clear and you can see through it - but in general it's just a chilly winter day.

If it had been warmer, we might have hiked a bit (dogs aren't allowed in the spring areas) and perhaps watched for more fish and turtles in the water.  We didn't see any alligators, but then if they were there, the water was warmer than the air - so I don't think they would have been coming out to sun themselves as much as they do in the summer time.

The atmosphere here in the winter is totally different than the summer - so if you're looking to get away from it all, this park might be an option in the winter!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canoe clear cold hiking kayak nature outdoor river tube vpshoots water winter Ichectucknee Ichetcucknee springs ichetucknee Ichetucknee Springs State Park park spring springs state state park tubing https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/ichetucknee-springs-state-park---in-the-winter Sun, 10 Feb 2019 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Composites https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/pet-photography---composites This week's theme is "composites" - enter the wonderful world of digital photography and the software that makes composites possible!  A composite is simply compilation of several (two or more) photographs being pulled together to create a single photograph.  This can be accomplished using a number of different software packages, but for me, it is usually Adobe Photoshop or in some cases On1 Layers.  I have used composites quite often to replace a background surrounding the dog.  Often when doing rescue dog photography the environment the photographs are taken in is not the best - chain link fence is the most common element that isn't particularly flattering.  However, sometimes I just like to create things that didn't really happen - you know those types of photographs, the ones that 'are not real'.  There are a lot of things to consider when creating a composite and that includes making sure the colors from the various photographs match (or make it a black and white - that always works too!).  Often, when you plan to create a composite it is easier to make it more believable because the various pieces of a given photograph are planned.  If not planned, then sometimes it's harder.  Planning can help to ensure the lighting is the same, the camera angle is the same, and all those little technical details that make the photograph more believable!

Here are a few composites I have created - the first one includes a photograph of Abby on red (I missed last week's theme of "Red").  Valentine's day is coming up in the next week, so what better photograph than this?

Here's another favorite that I did in the past, but this is not real - keep that in mind - it is a combination of three photographs - the airplane, the bridge and Abby.  One thing that is not quite correct is the lighting in all three photographs if you look closely - but sometime in the future I hope to have just the right mixture to make this photo really work!

I mentioned that I often replace backgrounds on rescue dog photographs - this photo of Nick has a background replacement.  The most challenging part of this background replacement is preserving the whiskers - and I'm sure there are many ways to do this, I did this using the On1 Layers product and some trial and error to make sure his whiskers remained in the photograph (this photograph helped get him a foster home, he is still looking for his forever home).

Cute small black dog faceCute small black dog faceNick, a long legged, small body, black and white dog looking for his forever home.

My most recent (and difficult) composite has been shared before, but for those that may not have seen it I will include it here as it is definitely a favorite of mine.  Please know that Abby is fine, she was just a willing model for the photograph.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex 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) Abby airplane bridge canine composite dog dog photography door heart heaven outdoor pet photography pet photography blog portrait red rescue sky stairway valentine Valentines Valentine's vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/2/pet-photography---composites Fri, 08 Feb 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'The Eyes have it' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/1/pet-photography---theme-the-eyes-have-it It's been a while since I have done the pet photography blog circle, but working to get back into the swing as 2019 is now just about a month gone!  This week's theme is "The Eyes Have it" - the overall concept of this week is to focus on the eyes of your subject, in our case - a pet.  In general, any subject that has eyes, providing the eyes are in the photograph, should be the focus point - if the eyes are not sharp, then the connection is not necessarily made as the photographer intends.

I photograph rescue dogs quite often and I'm always trying to make a connection with the viewer. An important part of my volunteer job is to help find homes for all these wonderful dogs that have somehow not been fortunate enough to find and stay in their forever homes.  Specifically, my job is to try and capture the personality of the dog in hopes that it will help the dog to find a foster home or better yet a permanent home.

Meet Nick.  When Nick first came out for us to photograph, I immediately noticed this dog has very long legs!  Like wow, he has legs that are long and slender and then a small body.  I can't say that I have noticed this with any other dog thus far but it was definitely a striking feature for this young dog.  Nick is about one year of age and was shy when he first came out.  Each dog is unique, some have had better lives than others and it takes some time to determine exactly what the rescue dog will allow us to do with respect to photographing them.  It was pretty obvious that Nick wasn't sure about us either - so he stayed a fair distance away, I grabbed a camera with a longer lens and started slowing photographing Nick.  Well, by the end of our photo shoot, Nick figured out we were 'good people' and he came up to me and let me pet him - perhaps that was his way of saying 'Thank you'.

Cute small black dog faceCute small black dog faceNick, a long legged, small body, black and white dog looking for his forever home.

Meet Snow - an almost pure white dog who is looking for a foster home, or even better a forever home.  Snow came out into the play yard and didn't want to sit still - I'm sure she was enjoying having several people that were all interested in spending time with her.  The challenge was how to get her to settle down such that we could get some good photographs and share them to find her a new family.  I got out a baby blue blanket to use as the background for our photograph, but Snow had other ideas.  She immediately curled up on the blanket - that was our 'ah ha' moment when we realized that she loved blankets.  We put the blanket over a chair, she snuggled up and that gave us the winning photos to help her find a home.  Her beautiful light brown eyes looking directly into the camera "The Eyes have it!".

White pit bull head shotWhite pit bull head shotSnow, a female white pit bull, snuggles with her blanket

Dogs have quiet moments just like us and other creatures. During our time with Snow I captured this quiet moment where she bowed her head and appeared to being praying.  She is still looking for a foster home and forever home - hopefully that day will come for her soon.

Dog bows headDog bows headQuiet moment while Snow bows her head

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Angela Schneider of Noses & Toes Pet Photography in Spokane, WA, has started a project to spotlight rescues in her 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) adoption canine dog dog photography eye eyes Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue outdoor pet photography pet photography blog rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/1/pet-photography---theme-the-eyes-have-it Fri, 25 Jan 2019 09:00:00 GMT
Kite Festival, Treasure Island, Florida - 2019 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/1/kite-festival-treasure-island-florida---2019 This past weekend the annual Kite Festival was held behind the Thunder Bird Resort on Treasure Island.  Saturday was beautiful, sunny, windy and nice temperatures - the perfect winter day for the beach.  The variety of kites flying in the sky was plentiful - not like the old kites of my childhood.  Parking was scarce, but eventually after waiting a while, a place was found.  First glimpse of the kites flying from the beach (you could see them as you drove along Gulf Blvd).

Here's a few of the kites picked out from the overall group of kites. A giant lizard.....

I assume these are dragons....

A creature of some sort (anyone know?) - in this photograph the tails temporarily joined at the bottom


A series of six kites flying in a line together (a continuous string).

A more classic design kite.

And a pirate ship!

It was an interesting sight to see - and many of the kites were flying without being attended to.  They were attached to a post in the sand on the beach.  If you like kites, this is definitely something you should consider doing - or go hang out on the beach for a while and enjoy watching all the colorful kites flying in the sky.  I think this year Saturday was the better day - Sunday was very gusty, cloudy skies as well as dropping temperatures.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) annual beach event festival Florida free island kite Kite Festival outdoor outdoors sand St. Petersburg treasure Treasure Island water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2019/1/kite-festival-treasure-island-florida---2019 Mon, 21 Jan 2019 15:52:45 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "In a chair" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/12/pet-photography---theme-in-a-chair As we get close to the end of the year, it's becoming a busy time - but the last month I have been working with some photographers on indoor studio/lighting setups so the theme of "in a chair" works perfectly!.  We have several dogs, of which three are very eager to model for our sessions as it always involves a little incentive - food!  The first week we did a session the dogs didn't totally understand what we wanted from them - but now, they are becoming 'old pros' (and they are less than 3 years of age).

I setup a white blanket in a chair, then setup my new eVOLV AD200 light with a 25" beauty dish as the main light.  I used an LED panel against the background to help fill in some of the shadows which seemed to work pretty well as a fill light.  Here's a photograph of my lighting setup for those of you that might have an interest (taken after I was done shooting photos of my sleepy dogs).  There are many different lighting setups, but I'm working with new lighting and also working to have it all 'battery powered' in case there is not electricity available.

Once the lighting was setup, I placed my stand by dog (a life size stuffed dog) in the chair - worked out the arrangement of lights - then picked up little Ollie and placed her in the chair - half asleep, so this part was easy!  Her sister, Rue, saw what was going on (I'm sure she saw food!) and jumped into the chair with her.

A few months ago, we found out that the dogs have a great reaction to my husband playing the harmonica. Since that time, we have used this little trick with these dogs and tried it on some other dogs - it's works great with these two - some dogs like it, some are scared (go figure).

Do you want us to head tilt with our ears together?

Or would you prefer that we head tilt the same direction?

It was instant head tilt when they heard the notes coming from the harmonica (just in case other pet photographers out there haven't tried this!).  After the food break, the girls took turns so they could each get a solo portrait.


For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy of I Got the Shot Photography, serving Northeastern PA and surrounding areas 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) AD200 background canine chair dog dog photography home studio in a chair indoor LED lighting lights medium pet pet photography pet photography blog rescue studio vpshoots white https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/12/pet-photography---theme-in-a-chair Fri, 14 Dec 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Butterfly Rainforest - University of Florida (Gainesville) https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/12/butterfly-rainforest---university-of-florida-gainesville If you drive along interstate 75, you're bound to see the billboards that advertise the "Butterfly Rain forest".  I've seen those signs for over a decade (at least it seems that long) and I've wanted to visit for as long as I knew about this rain forest.  I finally got the opportunity to go last month and it was a photographer's delight!  This exhibit is part of the Natural History Museum and is near the west side of the campus.  We must have spent a good 3 hours just hanging out with the butterflies and taking photographs.  Photographers - no tripods allowed - so be prepared to hand hold your camera and take minimal gear as they take great precautions to make sure none of the flying insects leave the rain forest.

One of the most common butterflies the day we visited was the 'tree nymph'.  This is a white butterfly with black markings - it almost looks like an albino monarch - but it's not.  When I first got there and we were in the rain forest, it's very hard to keep from being excited with all the prospects flying around - the photo opportunities are everywhere.  Here's one of the first photos I got of this type of butterfly. 

After getting a few, I now began to look for a less distracting background.

No bright white sky - but there is still a lot of bright colors in the background that most likely take your eye away from this beautiful flying insect. This butterfly likes the white begonia plants growing in the rain forest.

And my last photo of the tree nymph.

These butterflies are often in various exhibits here in the United States, but you should never see one in the wild.  They are not from our country, but instead their normal dispersal area extends over South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan) and the north of Australia.  The lifespan is this butterfly is normally between 19 days and 104 days.

The University of Florida has a published website that helps to identify the various butterflies you'll see when you visit.  The URL is https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/exhibits/butterfly-rainforest/id-guide/



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) black butterflies butterfly butterfly rainforest fly flying flying insect Gainesville insect museum natural Natural History Museum nature rainforest tree nymph vpshoots white https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/12/butterfly-rainforest---university-of-florida-gainesville Sun, 02 Dec 2018 17:15:28 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Get Low" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/pet-photography---theme-get-low This week’s pet photography theme is “Get Low” – week 48 of the year 2018! Last week I got up on top of a slide and photographed down on Abby (I think she enjoyed the time at the playground).  This week, during a photo session, I got ‘low’ with Ollie up on an ottoman.  Ollie is the shortest of our dogs, so putting her up higher is important, otherwise, I might have had to get in a hole below ground because she is pretty low!

And then I'll share (again) a recent 'hero' shot I took of Ollie just in case you missed it on one of my previous blogs.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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 dog dog photography Florida get low indoor low angle pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait studio vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/pet-photography---theme-get-low Fri, 30 Nov 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Royal Springs near Live Oak, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/royal-springs-near-live-oak-florida Royal Springs Park is one of many different parks featuring a spring in North Florida.  This is a county park officially known as "Hugh Bryon Hollingsworth, Sr." park - free to all who come to visit.  The day we visited was a nice quiet somewhat rainy day and the only others there at the park were a couple of divers.  Please note - like all spring parks in this area - No dogs are allowed.

After parking the car, I walked over to the spring and saw a beautiful turquoise pool of water - wow.  It was like looking into a dark blue hole where the bottom cannot be seen.  The stairs are not actually 'circular' but this photograph was taken with a super wide lens (16mm on full frame camera) and it will distort things a little bit when they are closer to the lens.

After viewing from this platform (above), I headed to the next platform further east.  This photograph below shows the platform that the first two photographs were taken from.

You can see the turquoise colored water - it's big pool - and at this time, the water level appears to be a little low.

Travelling further again around the spring, this photograph below shows the platform the first couple of photographs were taken from.

This photograph shows the staircase down to the spring on the left.  The water way going through this picture leads to the Suwannee River.

This is a beautiful county park with nice cool, clear water.  Great for cooling off, access from the Suwannee River if you're boating.



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Bryon County Park free Hollingsworth Hugh Hugh Bryon Hollingsworth Sr. Live Oak outdoor park parking river Royal Spring Royal Springs spring springs Suwannee water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/royal-springs-near-live-oak-florida Sun, 25 Nov 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Get High" (so we went to the playground!) https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/pet-photography---theme-get-high-so-we-went-to-the-playground This week's theme is "Get High" - essentially get higher than your subject - look down at your subject.  The dogs and I walk past a couple of playgrounds several days a week - so I thought, what if I climb up the slide and my dog is at the bottom?  That would definitely meet the criteria of 'getting high' above my subject.  With Jim helping to handle Abby (my dog of choice since she is a great model) - we gave it a try.  Now, I initially thought that Abby would sit at the bottom of the slide - but Abby had a different idea. She jumped up on the slide and was trying to run up to join me at the top - which of course didn't work - but it was fun trying!

After a few rounds of trying to run up to the top to join me, we managed to get her to settle down at the bottom of the slide.

The last photograph Abby is sitting at the bottom of the stairs that would lead her up to me - we didn't give her the opportunity to climb up the stairs (that might have been a bad idea!).

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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) Abby black canine dog dog photography outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog playground rescue slide stair stairs vpshoots white https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/pet-photography---theme-get-high-so-we-went-to-the-playground Fri, 23 Nov 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Little River Springs near Branford, Florida (off the Suwannee River) https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/little-river-springs-near-branford-florida-off-the-suwannee-river The rural areas near Branford, Florida have many wonderful springs.  I know that many people have heard of Ginnie Springs as it is a very popular spring and is known well even down here in central Florida - but did you know about all these other wonderful and beautiful springs?  On our 'spring' adventure, our next stop was at 'Little River Springs' near Branford (you might need to get out your google maps).

This county park does not have a fee to enter and is a wonderful swimming area.  The Suwannee River is not blocked, so I assume you can arrive by car or boat and spend some time enjoying this cool place.  There is a sign for 'no dogs allowed' so keep this in mind if you're travelling with your furry family members - and there is no lifeguard at this spring.

Using a wide angle lens (16mm for those of you in the photography world) here's a 'circular' view of the spring.  Based on the rocky areas around the water edge, it's obvious that the water levels are low.

On the left of this photograph is the Suwannee River.  Coming down across the bottom of this photograph and to the right, is the entrance to Little River Springs.

Looking from the other side (near the parking lot) out towards the Suwannee River.  The spring itself is at the bottom of this photograph.  I'm sure on a sunny day the water is even more beautiful - but we had an overcast, somewhat rainy day for our travels to this spring.

Here's the beautiful, crystal clear water pumping out of the spring.

Little River Springs is about 22 miles south of Live Oak, Florida.  The closest town is Branford where you can find 2 community grocery stores, several restaurants, gas, and other supplies.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) boat Branford county county park free Little River Spring Little River Springs park parking picnic river spring springs Suwannee Suwannee county swim swimming https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/little-river-springs-near-branford-florida-off-the-suwannee-river Sun, 18 Nov 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Bokeh' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/pet-photography---theme-bokeh This week’s Pet Photography theme is “Bokeh”.  This term comes from the Japanese language, which literally translates as “blur”.  In the world of photography, bokeh is defined as “the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image”.  This varies based on the lens used for the photograph and the number of ‘blades’ in the lens.  This is all technical photography terminology – but the bottom line is this.  If you look at a photograph and you like the way your subject stands out from the background because the background is all softly blurred – that softly blurred background is ‘bokeh’.  Pretty simple when you think of it in these terms.

For those of you that are interested in the photography aspects, it’s important to think about the aperture you are using as well as the lens mm (or magnification).  A wide angle lens has a lot more in focus and will produce less bokeh because of this.  A telephoto lens will have less in focus (as well as a macro lens used for closeup photography) will produce a lot more bokeh.  There’s a lot more to getting that blurred background than just pointing your camera at the subject.

In this photograph of Saint, all those beautiful little circular spots in the background are the bokeh produced by the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.  The soft focus of the overall photograph makes Saint pop out from the busy background at this park.

In the photograph below of Bristol, the morning light is coming through the trees on the left.  A shallow aperture, having the trees in the distance behind the subject combine to provide nice out of focus sparkles instead of well defined trees and leaves.

Julius, this little puppy, is sitting in front of an oak tree - can you tell?  The soft muted brown colors don't show detail in the bark - but instead provide a nice background to allow focusing on this cute puppy!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Kim with BARKography based in Charlotte NC 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) blur bokeh canine dog dog photography Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog rescue soft background Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/pet-photography---theme-bokeh Fri, 16 Nov 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Troy Spring State Park, Branford, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/troy-spring-state-park-branford-florida We went exploring some areas up on the Suwannee River and nearby for a week recently.  The next several weeks will feature some of our travels along the week of exploration and adventure.  One of many places we visited was Troy Spring State Park located about 6 miles to the west of Branford, Florida.  The park features a beautiful spring for diving, snorkeling and swimming - since we were exploring, we were checking out various locations for future adventures - this particular trip was a photo stop along our way (we didn't jump into that 72 degree spring water).  I know it's touristy to take photographs of the signs (notice I didn't make anyone stand in front of it)....however, it does help to divide up the photographs on the camera such that we know when we have traveled to a new place.

Our trip it had recently finished raining, so we had wet roads, saturated colors and the park to ourselves until just before we left.  The roads leading back to the spring are a little hilly and quite beautiful.  I imagine that if Florida had a 'fall season' this would be gorgeous.

There is a ramp (not pet friendly) down to the spring.  Once you get to the end of the ramp, there are a few stairs to get down into the water or since the water was low, walk around the edges.

This is a 'first magnitude' spring pumping a lot of water into the Suwannee River daily. The official Florida State Park website says the spring is 70 feet deep!  That's pretty deep to me for a spring (but I'm not a diver, so I may not know).  Just walking up to the spring with my camera (and wishing I had brought a polarizer down that long ramp with me), I saw several turtles swimming below the surface along with fish.  The water was very clear - it was a nice quiet place to enjoy and reflect without any others around.

In the top of the photograph below, you can see the spring is blocked off from the Suwannee to prevent people from bringing in boats.  There is a fee of $5.00 to enter the state park but if you like springs, this is worth the stop to dive, snorkel, swim or just take a look to see the beautiful clear water.  Note that the park is closed when the spring is not clear (based on the state park website).

Until next week, when we continue our adventure in this area of Florida.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Branford dive diving Florida Mayo park river snorkel snorkeling spring springs Suwannee swim swimming Troy Troy Spring Troy Spring Park Troy Springs Troy Springs Park https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/11/troy-spring-state-park-branford-florida Sun, 11 Nov 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Rescue puppies from the Bahamas https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---rescue-puppies-from-the-bahamas This week Jim and I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph and play with three really friendly and wonderful puppies.  These puppies came from the same organization that brought us Jimbo - so we know they have got a great start.  We played and photographed these three puppies (2 boys, 1 girl) for almost two hours - who says 'working' isn't fun?

Bristol is the young girl of the group - she is super friendly and really enjoyed hanging with us (I will say, they got even happier once we gave them treats - but they were very gentle, loving puppies).

Red - a young boy, he was probably the quiet one of the group and was very loving to me.  I loved hugging him, but it's really hard to photograph the puppy when they are in your lap!  Red is super friendly, we picked him up and he was a bundle of fur with no issues being picked up and placed where we wanted to photograph him. Eventually, we got Red to be the perfect model.

Magnum - This one is full of personality - he gave us the most variety of options to photograph him - he laid on the doggie bed, he ran around the play yard, climbed up the different playground equipment - and sometimes seemed to be the big brother of the puppies.  Magnum has a little more black in his fur than the other dogs - but he is super sweet too.

If you or anyone you know is looking for a young, playful and loyal friend - please check out one of these great puppies.  They are about 6 months old (end of October) and medium size dogs - not sure how big they are going to get, but they are fun.  Available for adoption through Maxx and Me Pet Rescue - maxxandme.org

Until next time....

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Bahamas canine dog dog photography Florida outdoor pet photography pet photography blog potcake potcakes puppies puppy rescue tree vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---rescue-puppies-from-the-bahamas Sat, 27 Oct 2018 21:09:28 GMT
Hillsborough River State Park - Early to rise, you see the deer! https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/hillsborough-river-state-park---early-to-rise-you-see-the-deer This past week Jimbo and I took off for a quiet morning just the two of us.  As I drove north on Highway 301 the fog began to get dense - I didn't really want to drive in dense fog on a two lane road - so I decided to turn off into Hillsborough River State Park.  Normally, I would head over to the River Rapids trail, but today I noticed all the different flowers blooming, so we took a different trail.  With the window down, the breeze coming in, Jimbo poked his head out the window and enjoyed the time riding around in the park.  Eventually, we got around to the last parking lot just before we were back at the exit.  We got out and started walking down this trail (which appears to also be a road in the park for the staff).  We were the only car in the parking area, it was quiet.  Eventually, way up ahead, wow - there is a deer!

I know there are deer in a lot of places, people that live up in the Wesley Chapel area see them all the time - but they aren't here near where I live - so I still really enjoy seeing them out in the wild.

The deer is a good distance from us, not aware at first of us walking quietly - but eventually she looks up as she saw us.

We were to far away, not a threat to her - she went back to eating for a while.

And then as quickly as she appeared, she disappeared!  But that made the walk worth it for me - seeing nature out in the wild.  I've seen deer at this park one other time and it was when I was the first to enter the park soon after they opened (maybe if I camped out here someday - the campgrounds look really nice - but until then, it's early mornings!).

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) deer Hillsborough Hillsborough River Park Hillsborough River State Park morning outdoor park state state park trail walk https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/hillsborough-river-state-park---early-to-rise-you-see-the-deer Sun, 21 Oct 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Photographer's Choice" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---theme-photographers-choice This week the Pet Photography theme is "Photographer's Choice".  This week has been Jimbo's sixth anniversary - so we have been doing various 'celebrations' with Jimbo.  We don't have a good birth date for our Jimbo, so we have always celebrated the day he came to live with us.

Our first adventure was to take everyone (that's 2 humans with 4 dogs) over to Edward Medard in Plant City, Florida.  We decided to hike one of the first trails as you enter the park as we heard that the Vikings were there on Saturday mornings - and eventually we heard sounds that definitely perked the dogs and could have become a bad experience - either way, the dogs enjoyed this early morning hike to new smells along the way.

Jimbo paused for a photograph - but I will say, Jimbo just about refuses to look into the camera - especially if you're close to him.  He looks at you, sees the camera and turns his head some other direction - I don't know why, but I don't push it.  Thus, he is looking up at something in this photograph. Perhaps there was a bird, squirrel or something running around up in the trees - but either way, that's where his attention was glued.

Our next adventure a few days later was - a dog party at Gaspars.  Yep, this time it was 4 humans and 6 dogs!  Course we picked a time where we were just about the only ones sitting out on the patio and we all enjoyed a good lunch.  The dogs had grilled chicken and the humans got their choice from the menu.

After finishing off the chicken, Jimbo relaxed on the deck.

And then he figured out we were going to be here a while....so still alert (remember there are 5 other dogs with us), but definitely taking advantage of the time to rest up.

Our last adventure was this morning when Jimbo and I took off and went hiking for a bit on one of the local park trails.  I could see him looking at me and he knew I was taking photographs, but I gave him a break and didn't make him the subject on our morning walk today.

Many of you know Jimbo came from living out on the streets with no one really to call his own to the luxury of having lunch at the neighborhood hangout, going walking on trails and enjoying life.

We love you Jimbo - thank you so much for making the journey from the Bahamas to Florida!

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) canine dog dog photography Edward Medard Edward Medard park Florida gaspar Gaspars Gaspar's Medard Medard park nature outdoor park pet pet photography pet photography blog rescue trail vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---theme-photographers-choice Fri, 19 Oct 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Under' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---theme-under This week's theme for Pet Photography is "Under" - and it presented it's own challenges.  This week we have been sick, not only us humans, but 2 of the dogs have had a few bad days with issues.  We are lucky, but Hurricane Michael presented us with a few small rain showers at the wrong time (they came in quick and left almost as fast).  I'm not complaining as we aren't getting much of anything from the hurricane, but the pan handle of Florida will have been slammed hard by the time you read this.

We took the entire family for a walk at a local park in hopes of getting a 'family portrait' for this week's blog.  A wonderful fallen tree is on this particular trail and the dogs would fit perfectly under this log!  Jim took the time to get the dogs lined up while I did some snapshots of the dogs as he moved each one into the area.  Then, out of nowhere, it's pouring rain!  Needless to say, this photo shoot is over because I have 4 soaked dogs and all us humans were soaked too.  We finished walking the trail in the rain, found a shelter and hung out until it stopped raining.

I think if the rain hadn't come in, we had a chance of getting a great family photo - but at least we got a snapshot of all the dogs together.  (I could have gotten more depth of field, we could have removed the jumble of leashes and maybe harnesses - perhaps another time!)

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas 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) big canine dog Florida harness leash leashed log mulitple nature oak outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog small tree under vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---theme-under Fri, 12 Oct 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Halloween is coming soon! https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/halloween-is-coming-soon It's that time of year - Halloween is coming. A google search said this about the upcoming holiday. "Halloween has its roots in the ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, believed that the dead returned to earth on Samhain."  I recall many years ago that as a child we went around the neighborhood trick or treating.  Some memories never fade.....the house at the end of our block required each child to walk through a scary haunted house before arriving at the door for the possibility of a treat....not me, forget it - I didn't do that walk!  One year I remember a couple of older children walking through the neighborhood - one was being held with chains, the other had the other end of the chains - we went the other way fast!

How many of you remember those days of trick or treating?  What memories from your childhood do you remember?

As an adult, one of our neighbors would decorate their house with a lot of scary things - some of those things were motion activated.  My first dog as an adult, Dolly, didn't want to go down that road after being spooked by those scary things.

It's all perspective - are you ready?

The ghosts are out there waiting....


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) alive All Hallows' Day childhood dead decoration ghost hallow Halloween haunted house October scary trick or treat https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/halloween-is-coming-soon Sun, 07 Oct 2018 20:23:36 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Isolation https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---theme-isolation As we enter the last quarter of 2018, the beginning of October, our Pet Photography theme is "Isolation".  My immediate thought for this word was a pet that was isolated from the others because of illness, temperament or something along these lines.  However, none of those are good photography options (at least not what I pictured).  So, I thought a little more and decided that I would go for a different take on the word "Isolation".  First, I isolated Ollie from the rest of our dogs - much to the dismay of the other dogs, Ollie was thrilled to be going somewhere by herself!  I didn't however tell her that she was going to work - model that is.  I decided to try another viewpoint in photography after watching Kaylee Greer on her new show on Puparazzi on Nat Geo Wild channel.

We have a fallen pine tree in our neighborhood park - and even though Ollie's front legs are probably only about 7 or 8 inches in length, she can jump over this log.  This time, I asked her to stop on top of it - she was a little confused but stayed.  Food helps, but she is pretty good either way.  I got down low with my super wide angle set to 10mm on my crop sensor camera and started taking photographs with the sky in the background.  After some post processing, here's Ollie!

Later on the same day, we went back down to the park (by now the rest of the dogs are really wondering what's going on!).  This time it was late afternoon and we took an LED light along to help light up Ollie against the sky.  It was a little more challenging, we asked Ollie to stand, sit, whatever - but stay put on top of a log (stump).  Ollie choose to 'puppy sit' on the log and look down at me as I lay on the ground below her.  This time we also had snacks, so I was able to get her to look down.

Well, after working on these photographs of Ollie, I do like this look as another angle to photograph pets.  Question is - will any of the rest of my dogs model for me? I haven't yet tried, but I would like to soon just in case they cut up my pine tree and I no longer have it as a prop for dog photographs.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit  Elaine Tweedy of I Got The Shot Photography, serving Northeastern PA and surrounding areas with fine pet portraits 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) alone canine dog dog photography fallen tree Florida log low angle Maxx and Me Pet Rescue nature outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog rescue sky stump vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/10/pet-photography---theme-isolation Fri, 05 Oct 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Natural Light' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/pet-photography---theme-natural-light This week's Pet Photography theme is "Natural Light".  I've been busy with a few other things the last few weeks and haven't had a chance to join in on the Pet Photography circle, but I'm back this week!  Natural light is often my 'go to' when working with rescue dogs.  Often times they aren't ready for someone to put a camera in their faces, much less bring in any type of lighting to help light up their faces and more importantly their eyes.  This can be a wonderful and easy way to photograph, just need to make sure you keep a few things in mind.  I first look around for someplace I can photograph the pet where the lighting is even - by this I mean, there isn't sun on part of the pet and shade on part of the pet - your eyes tend to ignore this, however the camera will not - and it usually doesn't come out looking to good.  Second, I look for a way to put some light into the faces, especially the eyes of the dog.  The sky can often do this for you, but you need to make sure there is some 'life' in the eyes for the best photograph.

There are many other things to watch for, but definitely these are at the top of my list. With some rescue dogs, I am trying to get a good photograph that is sharp - as they are full of energy.  This can be happy energy because someone is paying attention to them or it can be fear (scared) energy because they have learned that not all humans are nice.  Either way, it's a challenge each time to get some great photographs.

Meet some of the rescues with Maxx and Me Pet Rescue (https://www.maxxandme.org/) here in the Tampa Bay area.

First up is Kane, a young male with a cropped tail - he is a beautiful boy! In this photograph of a black dog, you can see a little sunlight coming through on Kane's fur - this is subtle and adds a little interest to a pure black dog.

Charley is Kane's sister - she doesn't have a cropped tail (no idea why one does and the other doesn't).  Charley is a sweet young girl, and loves her brother.

Here's Charlie (a boy) who was rescued from a hoarding situation - he's a really cool young boy - medium size, so perfect for those wanting a dog that has some size but not real big.

Here's Charlie with his buddy Sam.  These two boys are not considered a 'bonded pair' (meaning the rescue wants they to stay together) but they definitely spent a good amount of time hanging close to each other (this was not posed, they sat together naturally).  They came from the same hoarding situation and are currently looking for a foster and forever home.  Sam was pretty shy, but loved the attention of being petted!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in Dallas - Fort Worth, Texas 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 boarding canine dog dog photography foster natural light outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue Tampa vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/pet-photography---theme-natural-light Fri, 28 Sep 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Heritage Village, Largo, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/heritage-village-largo-florida This week we did a quick visit to Heritage Village in Largo, Florida - I did not get a chance to visit all the buildings this trip, but hopefully I will be able to get back again soon to see more.  Heritage Village is located next door to the Florida Botanical Gardens - both of these are excellent places to visit if you haven't been yet.  They are situated such that you can walk between them along the many pathways - so if you like walking, this is an excellent way to have a different kind of walk.

Our first building is the train depot. 

When I walked inside the office area of the train depot, the communications started tapping out Morse code - now I don't know if that is on a timer or a motion sensor but being as I was the only one in the building, it was a little unsettling at first. There are several rooms to this building - the loading dock (above), the office and the passenger waiting area.

Our next stop was over to the garage and grocery store - the grocery store is air conditioned and has soda bottles and water for sale kept cold in an old fashioned refrigerator. Outside the garage is the gas pump - Mobilgas.

This building was originally built in 1915 and resided on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and 5th Street South in St.Petersburg.  It was sold to the City of St. Petersburg and eventually moved here to the Heritage Village.  The building has been restored to it's original condition and contains a barber shop, post office as well as a garage.  Next time, I'll have to take photographs of the entire store!  However, you can see those if you visit the website for the Heritage Village.

A lone glass coke bottle sits empty in the old wooden carton.

Perhaps you are up to an old fashion game of checkers?

The grocery store has a small area containing material, thread and other sewing items.  I have to admit, I remember this particular item from my childhood - only they were tan in color, not black (that's getting a little scary!).

The garage has a couple of Ford Motel T vehicles.

The parts area in the garage doesn't need to be as large if the only car available is a Model T!

This 'Cracker' style Florida home is the oldest structure in Pinellas County. It was built about the year 1852 by Captain James Parramore McMullen near Clearwater, Florida.

The downstairs bedroom contained a full size bed (shown in the photograph) as well as another bed that perhaps was used by children.

The family dining area is across the breezeway from the bedroom.  It is separated by an open walkway that allows air to flow between these two parts of the log cabin.  This log cabin does have an upstairs, however it is not open to the public.

This concluded our tour of the Heritage Village for today - it's been almost four years since I visited, I will need to visit more often!



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) antique antiques building buildings cracker dog-friendly Florida free garage general store heritage Heritage Village Largo park store train depot village walk https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/heritage-village-largo-florida Sun, 23 Sep 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Hillsborough River State Park - River Rapids Trail https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/hillsborough-river-state-park---river-rapids-trail Recently we visited the Hillsborough River State Park.  It's been a rainy summer here and as I pulled up to the ranger station, they asked "Have you been here before?" - Yes, I have but it was my niece's first time visiting.  The ranger then tells us that many of the trails are under water in sections, some of the water levels could be up to our knees.  Hmmm, I wasn't prepared for this, nor did I want to wallow around in water that deep.  This was my niece's first time out photographing with a 'real camera' (not a phone camera).  We decided to hike the River Rapids trail, this was my intent and was apparently the driest of the trails.

As we parked, we see the "Prayer of the Woods" sign. I have always wondered why this is located on this particular trail, but the trail looked dry - and I thought we could hopefully at least get to the river without getting all muddy, or worse, all wet!

Along the way, I noticed a variety of mushrooms and fungi growing on the old dead trees that had fallen along the walkway.

I spotted a spider web and we spent a little time trying to find the right lighting to light it up for the camera to capture.

We arrived at the river and the water was high, so none of the rocks were showing but I wanted to work on showing how shutter speed impacts a photograph - the slower shutter speed blurs the water while a faster one stops all motion.  This is often one place new photographers can have a 'non-moving' subject that will allow for practicing this technique.

I notice a few things while we stood by the river banks.  The cypress knees.

The sun shining through a maple leaf that is starting to turn brown.

We continued down the path and stopped at another overlook.

The sky had some clouds, reflecting white on the water.

Soon we continued over the boardwalks over the river, but the sun was getting higher and it was getting warmer.  As we walked back to the car, we found the muddy areas - muck I should say, but thankfully none of it was actually 'under water'.  

We ventured through the rest of the park as we headed on out to head home.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) dog-friendly Florida fungi fungus hike Hillsborough County Hillsborough River State Park Hillsborough State Park muck mud muddy mushroom mushrooms oak park rapid rapids river state park trail tree trees walk water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/hillsborough-river-state-park---river-rapids-trail Sun, 16 Sep 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Little Red Caboose at Lake Wales Museum https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/little-red-caboose-at-lake-wales-museum This week the road trip was to Lake Wales, Florida to visit the museum and train.  The amount of history in this one building is amazing!  They are soon upgrading so you won't have to read each of the boards as you walk through, but can instead use your phone to scan the exhibit - but for now, plan to read - not sure how soon this new feature will be available - but hopefully this year.

The museum has train related items as well as information on the city of Lake Wales - it is a good escape from the summer heat.  This blog post is featuring the 'red caboose' that sits outside the main museum as trains are always fun to explore.

This caboose is part of the Seaboard Railroad and is a 1926 rail car.  It sits next to the train track that runs on the east side of the museum

Step on up into the caboose for a short tour.

I was the only one there on this afternoon, which is a wonderful thing for a photographer as no one is waiting on you and you can take your time.

As I stood there at the entrance to the caboose, I image what it was like almost a century ago (yes, another 8 years and it's a century old!). Caboose's were first introduced in the 1830's (that's almost a century before this caboose was built).

There are two benches on either side as you walk in (the black cushions on each side).

Just beyond this doorway are two areas (one on each side) that you can climb up and see where the railroad employees most likely sat while the train was underway. Windows on all 3 sides to view what is in front, back and on the side - across the center of the railroad car is another area just like this one, so you can actually see all 4 sides of the train.

The stove is used by the railroad men for cooking as well as to provide heat during the cold months.

The caboose has a primary function to house the train crew during the trip. The train crew included a brakeman and a flagman - both stationed in the caboose. The brakeman would turn the breaks on the train cars when the engineer signaled the train was going to stop.  The flagman would like lanterns and use signal flags so other trains would not run into the caboose.

The museum is contained within the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot in Lake Wales, Florida. It is located at 325 South Scenic Highway. On August 31, 1990, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

If you find yourself looking for something to do, maybe you'll consider stopping in and checking out the museum and the red caboose.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Atlantic Atlantic Coast Line brakeman caboose cultural museum depot donation engineer exhibit exhibits flagman free indoor Lake Wales museum railroad Scenic Highway Seaboard track train train museum https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/little-red-caboose-at-lake-wales-museum Sun, 09 Sep 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Puppies go boating - who liked it the best? https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/puppies-go-boating---who-liked-it-the-best We took all of the dogs (and puppies) out on our boat for a short river cruise recently.  The young ones I kept with harness & leashes on to ensure they stayed put.  Shortly after we got moving more than a minimum wake ride, it became apparent which one likes boating and which one doesn't.  Can you tell?

Here's Ollie under the passenger side dash (the dogs like it here because it is cozy and in the shade).

Here's Rue under the dash on the driver's side, hanging out where Jimbo normally lays down.

After a short cruise up the river at a faster speed, it became apparent to us that Rue loves boating!  Her preference is to sit up in the bow area on my lap.  Ollie, on the other hand preferred to stay under the dash regardless of the speed until she saw that we were barely moving and there was land in front of the boat a few feet away.

Perhaps Ollie would prefer the larger boat with a cabin so she can take a more cozy nap - who knows, otherwise, we know who wants to go boating and who doesn't really care for it.

Until next time!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) boat canine dog Florida fresh Hillsborough River Ollie puppies puppy river Rue snapshot VPShoots water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/9/puppies-go-boating---who-liked-it-the-best Sun, 02 Sep 2018 20:30:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Brown' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-brown This week's pet photography theme is 'brown'.  At first I thought of a 'brown dog', then 'brown eyes', then 'brown background' and as I thought about it, I settled on 'brown dog'.  I was hoping to photograph one of my friend's chocolate lab - course, this handsome boy is also friends with all of our dogs and they love to play together.  Well, unfortunately, the weather was anything but good - it's been raining, thundering and lightning pretty bad every afternoon and evening.  So, I didn't get to photograph him yet, but I'll do that as soon as the weather decides it doesn't want to follow a typical summer day in Florida.

I went back in time since I didn't get good weather to photograph this week.  My first dog, known as Lucky, was among the first dogs that I photographed for the rescue.  He was also one of Abby's first playmates since she wasn't able to go to visit to many dogs as a foster.  Lucky found his home shortly after these photographs were taken and I am hoping that he is having a wonderful life!  Here he is having a deep thoughtful moment sitting in the window at an adoption event.

My next photograph is a big, beautiful, chocolate lab and weimaraner  - which makes Cody a Labmaramer.  He is a beautiful boy and has been looking for his forever home for a while - currently he is living in a foster home.  If you are that person, please contact Maxx and Me Pet Rescue at maxxandme.org.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Nancy at 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).


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) Animal Photography brown brown dog canine Cat Photography Chocolate lab dog Labmaramer Maxx and Me Maxx and Me Pet Rescue MaxxandMe pet blog Pet Photography Pet Photography blog rescue vpshoots Weimaraner https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-brown Fri, 31 Aug 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Mushrooms - an exercise in photography https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/mushrooms---an-exercise-in-photography A couple of weeks ago, at our weekly photography meeting one of the photographers posed a challenge to each of us.  The challenge we were given is to not use a lot of the technology that is available to us when creating a photograph.  For example, no making any changes in any computer software.  We were also to find our subject, guess at what we thought the proper camera settings were (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, White Balance) and set the camera to those settings.  Then take a photograph of our subject ignoring the camera's light meter telling you whether or not your guess was correct (or at least close!).

I thought about this for a while - what did I want to use as my subject and then what might I be able to guess for the photograph to come out - at least partially - and not totally black (way under exposed) or totally white (way over exposed).  As I thought about it, I remembered one of the old rules for how to expose properly is the 'Sunny 16' rule.  This goes back to the days of film - back to when I was a teenager....course today you can google 'Sunny 16' and it will tell you what this rule is.  I went outside, not venturing far for this exercise, and found a few small mushrooms.  I grabbed my macro lens (Nikon 105mm for those of you that are curious) and a towel.  The towel has no real photography meaning, I just wanted to lay down on the ground to get this shot and it was wet and dirty.  The sun was beginning to shine through these little mushrooms - this could be a great photograph!  I set the camera to ISO 200, f/16, 1/200 of a second and click.

Here's the small mushrooms sitting in a bunch of leaves and mulch.  The photo came out almost black and white, there wasn't a lot of color in the mushrooms to begin with, but I love the contrast between the different things in this photograph - hopefully you see something nice as well - the photography group declared my photograph a success.  So, the sunny 16 rule still works in the digital world!

While I was laying down on the ground I noticed this additional photograph of the same group of mushrooms.  This one also looks pretty interesting with the background being almost totally dark since no sunlight was hitting that area.  The exposure was for the mushrooms, and they are pretty much the only identifiable objects.

If you're a photographer, maybe this is an exercise you'd like to give a try - share you experience with this idea.

Until next time....

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) backyard black and white contrast exercise exposure home leaf leaves mulch mushroom Sunny 16 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/mushrooms---an-exercise-in-photography Sun, 26 Aug 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Golden Hour' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-golden-hour This week's pet photography blog is about the 'golden hour'.  I guess technically, there are two golden hours each day.  In the world of photography, the golden hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise (the hour after sunrise) and the period of daytime before sunset (the hour before sunset).  This is a time when the sun is lower in the sky and passes through more of the earth's atmosphere causing daylight which is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky.  In photography, this provides nice 'golden light', hence the term 'golden hour'.  There are many outdoor photographers that only shoot during the 'golden' hours of the day.  However, a golden hour doesn't occur every day - there are cloudy, overcast, rainy, snowy, other types of days.  To limit photography to only the golden hours means you severely limit when you do photography.  Well, this week we have had a lot of those other types of days - with zero golden hour.  Or worse yet, the day we finally have a golden hour (and I am up, awake and functioning), I'm busy and can't do photography.

Last night we finally had a nice golden hour.  I met a young dog named Bella who is finding herself in need of a great forever home - I'm hoping she can find that perfect home that can handle a young, energetic dog.  She's a beautiful dog, but like many rescues, needs someone to work with her to help her learn how to be a great dog.

After our initial greeting from shy, scared, Bella - she began to settle down in her back yard - free to run around and have fun.  For this series of photographs, we did put her on a leash (removed by photoshop).  This is often how some of the photography sessions start, and it's fun to see the personality of each dog as it is captured.

Bella says - "So you want to take my photo? How about this?"

We look at Bella, I have to tell her that's not her best side to show - we need something better.  What else can you do for us Bella?

Bella? That's not nice - let's keep the tongue in and try for a big smile!

And there you have it, a beautiful big smile from Bella!  I knew she could do it - just a matter of my doing the correct sounds and having enough treats to keep her attention.

Here's a few more golden hour photographs of young Bella.

If you live locally and know someone that might be interested in Bella, please contact maxxandme.org to inquire about her!

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) adoption Animal Photography canine dog Dog Photography female Golden hour grass Maxx and Me medium outdoor Pet blog Pet Photography Pet Photography blog puppy rescue sunset Tampa vpshoots young https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-golden-hour Fri, 24 Aug 2018 19:48:25 GMT
Tampa Firefighters Museum, Downtown Tampa https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/tampa-firefighters-museum-downtown-tampa This week we visited the Tampa Firefighters Museum in downtown Tampa located at 720 East Zack Street.  As we approached the building, we saw a beautiful mural painted on the wall for the museum.

This mural is painted on the north side of the building.  The building is the first actual fire department building built as a fire station in 1911.  It's made of brick and sits across the street from the new fire station.  As we entered the building, I first notice this small fire engine.  This is not a real fire engine, it appears to be a piece of artwork created sometime ago and is now spending it's days welcoming people into the museum.

Jim looked up and noticed this flag created out of old fire hoses.

The next thing we noticed (Jim more than I) is that there appears to be a lot of noise coming from inside the museum.  Well, guess they are busy this Saturday morning.  A young man came out of the museum store next to where we were standing and let us know they have a child's birthday party this morning (open on Saturday from 10-2).  As we went around the brick wall, there were a lot of young children having a lot of fun!  For those of you looking for somewhere to have a birthday party - air conditioned! - this could just be that place.  The children were having a lot of fun playing 'fire fighters'.

The first exhibit we viewed is the communication system for notifying fire fighters of an emergency.

This is a pretty complex system for it's time named the 'Gamewell' after the person that invented the system.  Each box has a number (in this photo #41) and if this box is used to make the call for a fire or emergency, it sets off the appropriate alarms and they know where box 41 is located to know where the emergency is located.  If you're looking for the more technical answer on how this works you might want to visit the museum which is self guided but information is posted on a lot of signs for what the various items are.  For the Gamewell system, here's some additional information and photographs for how it works.

"Each box had a unique number assigned to it, such as this box, 548. A gear-like wheel inside has a series of five then four then eight teeth. When the alarm was pulled, the wheel rotates and the gear teeth break the direct current five then four then eight times. This signal was sent to the fire department’s Signal Division where it was received as a series of gongs on a bell and was also punched on a paper tape. The fire department dispatched equipment from the station nearest box 548."

All the switches, gears, etc that are behind the scenes for when a call box is used.  The light bulbs were used to burn off excess energy.  On the back side of the above board is all the wiring for each of the lines - this is a closeup of the wiring for line 11.

These fire boxes resided in Tampa until 1981 - and grew to 300 boxes in total before being replaced with newer technology.

They have two fire engines on display in the museum, the oldest is the "Mack" shown below - very well polished and cared for.

The other fire engine is more recent in time.

They have exhibits of some of the earlier fire equipment before fire trucks (hose & reel) - but for some things, you should make a visit to the museum and enjoy what has been made available for all to see.

If you go upstairs, it is where the fire fighters dorms were located.  Today, it is primarily open space with no exhibits but does show that there were 5 fire poles from what I could see and one is still set up so you can see how it worked.  This photo was taken from the second floor looking down to the first floor. If you look close in the photo above, you can see the 'fire fighter' coming down the pole.

As we are getting close to the 17th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 incident, it is remembered at this museum.  This exhibit includes a fire fighter helmet that was gifted to the Tampa Fire Department.  For those that were part of NYFD, they visited Tampa shortly after the disaster and donated the helmet.  This was one (if not the first) place that several of these fire fighters visited after they completed the rescue.

As for Tampa, it had several large fires back in the early days of fire fighting.  A catastrophic Ybor City fire occurred on March 1, 1908 that made news in every major newspaper across the country with mass devastation of Ybor City.  Over 300 buildings lay in ruin after this fire and thousands of people were homeless and unemployed as a result of this fire.

A small newspaper is available at the museum called "Florida Burns 1890-1920" providing several different articles about early fires in Florida.  

This is a great museum to learn about the history of fire and fire fighters.  The museum is free, but they do accept donations.  If you have some time, and an interest in history, take an hour or two and visit this well done museum at 720 East Zack street - I think you'll enjoy it!




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) downtown Tampa fire fire box fire engine fire truck firefighter firefighters free indoor indoors museum Tampa Tampa Firefighters Tampa Firefighters Museum things to do Zack https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/tampa-firefighters-museum-downtown-tampa Sun, 19 Aug 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Manatee Village Historical Park, Bradenton, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/manatee-village-historical-park-bradenton-florida This week I visited the Manatee Village Historical Park located in Brandenton, Florida.  It was a rainy day, but I thought it would keep most people away and I could duck into the buildings while it was raining.  My plan worked well and I enjoyed visiting the various buildings at this location.  I visited the train first as I figured it was about to rain and not yet raining - known as "Old Cabbage Head".  Interesting old steam engine, a quick snap photo, with the thunder rolling in the background!  Old Cabbage Head was built in 1913 by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The engine was originally built for the Taylor County Lumber Company in North Florida and used to haul timber.

My next stop was at the Stephens House.  A nice cracker gothic style home built in 1912 by Will Stephens family from pine trees on the family homestead, established in 1894 in what was Manatee County, but has since become Hardee County.  This particular house I did not get exterior photographs as it was raining.  The room to the immediate right has an organ among the furnishings.  As for the little cow on the organ, I forgot to ask what the story is behind this because they appear to be in every building - just a matter of finding them.

The rain let up, I headed over to the old court house building quickly before the next rain set in.  This building is Manatee County's first Courthouse, built in 1860.  It is the oldest building in the park and the oldest remaining building built as a courthouse in the entire state of Florida!

As I entered the small courthouse, I realize that is is not a large building - the benches are just inside the doorway and behind the judge's desk is a room on the left and another one on the right. The interior of the courthouse (taken with a wide angle lens to try and get most of the interior in the photograph).  The doorway on the right appears to be a 'law room' as it has several books.  The room on the left has desk/table and chair.

This courthouse was built for $700.  In today's world, I am wondering if we could get a small shed built for that price?  I spent a good amount of time in the courthouse as it was raining very hard along with thunder and lighting.  Eventually, it let up and I ran over to the old school house building which was closest to the courthouse.

This school house, the Bunker Hill School, was built in 1908.  Bunker Hill is located in northeast Manatee County.  Children attended school from first through eighth grades.  At the time this school was built, school days were from 8am to 4:30pm and the school year was from August through December.  Eventually, the school year increased to ten months.  The interior of the school house.

As I watched the rain fall, I looked out through the windows and the doorway to determine where I wanted to dash to next.  There were several buildings nearby, but none appeared to have shelter where I could get indoors (I didn't get to visit any of those).  My next stop was the church also known as the "old Meeting House".  This is a view of the church from the doorway of the school house.

A view of the church from the doorway of the court house.  You can see that everything is wet, and at this point I think I was the only visitor at the park.  Eventually a few families did come to visit as they are open 2 Saturday's a month (2nd and 4th Saturdays).

The interior of the church is simple, yet functional.  The church is available for weddings if you're interested!  The grounds of this park are beautiful with all the large old oak trees and brick walkways.

This concludes my tour of this historical park.  Another trip sometime in the future will potentially allow for visiting the other buildings as well as the old cemetery I eyed through the rain. The old cemetery appears to be the "1850 Manatee Burying Ground" and is associated with the village.  If you want to explore it, you must ask for the key at the gift shop or the park office located on the second floor of the Wiggins Store - so it is locked and secured.

A donation is asked to help support this historical park, but no fee is required.  The historical park is pet friendly, but with the impending bad weather and no animals in the buildings themselves, I left all my furry friends at home in the air conditioning.

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) antique buildings building church court house Florida historical historical village history Manatee Manatee County Manatee Village Manatee Village Historical Park Old Cabbage Head schoolhouse train village Wiggins Wiggins house https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/manatee-village-historical-park-bradenton-florida Sun, 12 Aug 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Wide Open' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-wide-open This week's theme for pet photography is 'Wide Open'.  At first you may wonder what exactly this means.  In the world of photography, this means that the camera is set up to have a shallow depth of field, a larger aperture (or f-stop).  The easiest way for me to remember when explaining whether an aperture is small (f/22) or large (f/2) is to think about the aperture as a fraction.  For example if you are given 1/2 of a pie - wouldn't that slice of pie be much larger than if you got 1/22 of a pie? The widest aperture is dependent on the lens used on the camera.  For these photographs, a Nikon 70-200, f/4 lens was utilized - with f/4 being the widest aperture.

Typically, this long haired orange tabby has long fur.  The owner gives her a 'lion fur cut' during the summer months as she seems to prefer having a lighter fur coat during the hot summer days (even though she is an indoor kitty).  The focal point is on the eye closest to the camera - always the best place to focus if the subject has eyes.  The background and body of the cat goes into a soft blur.  For the photography people out there, the focal length was set to 160mm on the 70-200 lens. f/4.

The next photograph, taken at 200mm, f/4 using the same lens. Natural light used for the photograph with a large window source coming from the left of the photo (the cat's right side).

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit   Elaine Tweedy, I Got the Shot Pet Photography, serving Northeastern PA and surrounding areas 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 aperture cat Cat Photography depth of field feline indoor lion orange pet Pet Photography Pet Photography Blog tabby vpshoots wide open https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-wide-open Fri, 10 Aug 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Wild Wonders at Citrus Park Mall https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/wild-wonders-at-citrus-park-mall The Wild Wonders exhibit featured several different animals created with plants (not real). The animals are quite large sitting in the mall just outside of Macy's.  Children enjoyed seeing the animals as well as the petting zoo that was there the day we visited.

I personally was looking for a more 'Wild' wonder, but then again, I need to remember we are in a mall.

Have a great week!


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) animal citrus citrus park citrus park mall mall park plant wild wild wonders wonder wonders https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/wild-wonders-at-citrus-park-mall Sun, 05 Aug 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Negative Space' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-negative-space As we begin the month of August, our weekly blog for pets is 'Negative Space'.  I will have to say, this is not a concept that it natural for my photographs.  I have spent so many years making sure that I "Fill the Frame" that I don't typically leave a lot of negative space.  I want you, as the viewer, to focus on my subject and ensure that my subject is big enough in the photograph such that there is no question of what the photograph is about. 

In addition to Pet Photography, I do other types of photography including stock photography.  In my work as a stock photographer, I have learned that I don't always need to fill the frame - leaving negative space within the photograph can be great if they are planning to add some text or other things to the photograph.

So what exactly is negative space?  This is space around your subject in your photograph.  Negative space provides 'breathing room' around your subject giving your eyes somewhere to 'rest' and also helps to prevent your image from being cluttered with stuff that isn't your intended subject.

Here's a very simple example. A small frog floating in a swimming pool (and a few little spots of dirt).  All negative space around this little frog - he was taking a break from swimming at the moment this photo was taken.

This week I wanted to feature our foster puppy, Rue.  However, Rue is pretty much a velcro dog to me, so it's hard for me to get great photographs of her because she is almost always touching me when she is not out playing or walking.  I'm still working on that, but after a few attempts to get some good photographs (I was willing to settle for good, not great) - I decided Ollie (her sister) might be my better model.

Unlike Rue, who has been the outgoing, "I am going to do what I want to do" from the moment we met her in September 2017 at the age of about 8 weeks - Ollie, is a pretty good model!  She did what we wanted when she was only 8 weeks old and she has always been much easier to get photographs.

I brought Ollie out to our front yard because the grass is growing such a beautiful green with the almost daily rain that we are having.  At first, I kept her leash on just to make sure she wasn't planning any escapes to run around the neighbors yards.  If you look closely, you can see a dark spot in the window behind Ollie - where she is looking.  That's Rue, she has parted the blinds and is busy barking away because she isn't out and her sister is!

After a little while, Ollie figured out what I wanted her to do - although, I can say that I am not sure I like having dog photographs with a lot of negative space.  First, let's sit facing this way.....

Now, let's lay down showing my other side....

Ok - I'll turn my head a little bit more towards you.

And by the time I managed to click off about 50 photographs, Ollie says she is done and decides to wonder off.  Such is the life of a pet photographer - when your subject is done, so are you.

The next day, we loaded up the family (now that there are two large dogs, and two little dogs, the car is pretty full) and went to a close by park for another potential photography session.  First, I took Abby, our sweet hound mix that has some issues, but she is a great model.  The only problem is the contrast was pretty high for a black dog on this sunny morning - here's Abby in a black and white photograph which works really well since she is black and white - allowing the sky to blow out provided for a simple white background of negative space along with a little scenery.  This photograph is very high contrast, a little more so that I typically use in my photos.

Next I took Ollie up the little hill for a potential photograph.  She was very alert to the small airport across the waterway that had a number of small planes coming in for landings in the 15 minutes we were photographing (she kept looking over her shoulder). For this photograph, I used the small flash on my camera to help provide some fill light on her.  To leary to take off her harness, this is what a dog considers to be 'beautiful run free - maybe "born free" space'.

Since Ollie is low to the ground, she can be a bit difficult to catch when she runs off - and as soon as I picked up her leash to put it back on, she ran off - over to her sister and then we started the 'come' command but these two little girls were over whelmed with the potential opportunity to run and play!  After a minute or two, they came to us - life with young dogs!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit  Kim with BARKography based in Charlotte NC 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 dog Dog Photography grass negative space Ollie outdoor Pet Photography Pet Photography blog puppy red rescue small summer vpshoots yard https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/8/pet-photography---theme-negative-space Fri, 03 Aug 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Getaway from it all.... https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/getaway-from-it-all I've got to say that things have definitely changed over the years. I remember when I used to go to small out of the way places just to make sure I didn't have cell phone service.  A few decades ago, we started going to the Suwannee River - first it was a friend's place with no amenities - just a place along the river to pitch your tent.  Then to another friend's place where he actually built an outhouse, showers, etc for all the friends that came up to camp out.  Now, we go to another place along the Suwannee with family - and it's just a wonderful place to get away from it all.  

We had the opportunity to run up there for a brief visit recently - for Jimbo it was a return to a place he hadn't been to in a couple of years.  For Abby, Ollie and Rue - it was their first visit.  Jimbo remembered it - I found him snoozing on the bed in the room we used to sleep in.  Our dog family has gotten a little big for that room now - but for Jimbo, it was a place to 'get away from the girls'.

Here's the view from our balcony just after sunrise.  Course, it's summer, so everything is green.  It's a nice time to relax and remember all the good times we have had over the last couple of decades - most often I am the first one up, this morning was no exception - only I was out numbered by the dogs.  When I first came here it was Dolly and I getting up early.  Then Jimbo and I going out for the early walk. And now well, it's Jimbo, Abby, Ollie and Rue!  I'll have to capture some photographs of the girls up here on the next visit, it was pretty busy during the 24 hours we were there and I didn't make that happen this trip.

A previous visit shortly after the sunrise.....

And in the winter (January), their is often fog on the river banks....

For as long as I can remember, this white gazebo with a green roof has been the landmark to find their place when on the water.  This place is now up for sale, a beautiful piece of property with a good number of acres for those with some cash.

If I reach back in time, our first dog, Dolly, loved going up to the river because it was a great dog place - no leashes while on the property and plenty of space to run and have fun.  Course, we were always careful because there are gators and other critters out - so definitely be mindful!

And Dolly having fun (I'm not sure if any of our dogs we have now would do this, but the dune buggy has long since been retired and is now gone) catching a ride with Jim.

So much for memories, I hope that you too have a great place to get away from it all.  Cell phone service is pretty good here now - but you can ignore it if you want to.  You're still a good distance from any store and definitely on your own once you go to the remote areas where the Suwannee River flows...


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) backwoods canine dog lonely nature outdoor relax relaxing river secluded sunrise Suwannee Suwannee river water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/getaway-from-it-all Sun, 29 Jul 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Big Sky' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-big-sky Big Sky - well, to me this means something really nice in the sky whether that is a great sunrise, sunset or just a pretty nice set of clouds.  However, this is just not the week that it will be easy to get anything like that - it's raining, gray, overcast most of this week.  Worse yet, it's sunny and then within five minutes it's raining!  Sometimes in the middle of our walks - but as long as it is just rain with no thunder, we just keep walking as it is a welcome break from the hot summers here in Florida.

I'm amazed that Florida is the sunshine state - as I've paid more attention to what the sky looks like because I am looking for specific types of lighting for my photography I have come to realize that we actually have a LOT of gray, overcast days.  Don't get me wrong, I like overcast skies for a lot of my photography - but just where does the 'sunshine' part come in?

This is what our 'big sky' looks like right now - gray, clouds and about to rain.

Here's a photo of Abby watching a sunset on a better 'sun' evening but still wasn't our best as the weather is not cooperating.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Elaine Tweedy, I Got The Shot Photography, Northeastern PA Pet Photographer 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) Abby Animal Photography blog boat ramp canine cypress dock dog Dog Photography nature outdoor Pet Pet Photography Photography river sky sunset tree trees water wood https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-big-sky Fri, 27 Jul 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Gamble Plantation Historic State Park, Ellenton, Florida https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/gamble-plantation-historic-state-park-ellenton-florida This week I traveled down to Ellenton and visited the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park.  The Gamble Plantation is located on U.S. 301 just west of Interstate 75 in Ellenton, Florida.  This is the same exit as the Ellenton Outlet Mall (just turn right instead of left if you're headed southbound on I-75).  I've driven past this old stately home for many years and have always wanted to stop and check it out - so on this hot, muggy morning - I finally had the opportunity.  I am glad that I headed down early as the visitor center has a sign that says the mansion is not climate controlled and temperatures can rise to the 90s.  

If you like history, then this is well worth a stop to see the historic mansion.  This is the site of the oldest building in Manatee County, Florida.  It is close to the Manatee River which played a role in Robert Gamble stopping here to claim the land after the Second Seminole War ended in 1842.  The park ranger providing us with a guided tour indicated that this land was chosen because Robert and others on the boat got stuck and thus decided this was far enough and should be where they stay.

The view in the photo above shows the front and east sides of the mansion.  "The two story (93 x 43 feet) mansion has ten rooms. The outer walls are nearly two feet thick. Eighteen columns support the roof and upper verandas, which extend around three sides of the building." per information from the state park brochure.

The west wall has benches to sit and relax.  The windows in the house are primarily on the east and west sides to catch the breeze.  Since the walls are almost two feet thick with tabby brick (made from shells local to the area), a photograph railing was created around the top of all the walls to allow for hanging of photographs.  A hook was placed at the top of the railing and string was used to allow the photo to hang down to the location desired.

All of the furnishings in this house are from the time period that Robert Gamble lived in the home, however none of the furniture is actually his.  As the park ranger, Robert, tells us the story of Robert Gamble, I learned that he had some bad luck along the way.  His plantation was growing sugar cane and when the first crop was ready for harvest, a hurricane came through and flooded the crop.  Robert continued to grow sugar cane, and when the second crop was ready for harvest, a hurricane came through and flooded the crop.  I personally think perhaps I would begin to think "Maybe I am not suppose to grow sugar cane".  Eventually, Robert Gamble was forced to sell the property to pay off debt and he moved all his belongings up to Tallahassee, Florida where his father, John Gratton Gamble and all of Robert's family lived (Robert himself was a bachelor).  Unfortunately for Robert, the storage building that contained all his belongings caught fire and all was lost.  Hence, Robert had no belongings left to be placed in the home he built in Ellenton, Florida.

The next bedroom had a four poster bed with rope ties.  Robert, the park ranger, explains that every several days, the ropes had to be tightened in order to keep the bed from sagging.  The old saying "sleep tight" came from these old beds that had to be tightened up back in the 1800s.

This bedroom containing this bed, had a bathroom!

Yep, that's it.  A little porta potty on wheels.  No indoor plumbing in this house.

The hallway on the left side of the mansion is a long hallway with windows and very large window sills that can be used for seating.  Remember, the walls are two feet thick, that makes for a fairly nice place to sit and relax.

The next room we entered had a very unique clock on the mantel.  Look closely and you'll see that the hands on the clock have a "T" for the hour and an "S" for the minute.  

The Gamble mansion was built in three phases.  The photograph below is from the first phase of the house.  It has the original flooring which has a stone look but is most likely the same material the house is made of (this I am not certain, as I was focusing on taking photographs and missed some of the commentary as Robert told us about the house and family that lived there).

The east side of the house.

"The land and house was sold to Major George Patten for $3000 in 1872.  In 1895, the Pattens abandoned the mansion to avoid the high cost of maintaining the aging and decaying house." per information at the visitors center for this state park.

The grounds and picnic areas are open each day from 8:00am until sunset.  The mansion is open Thursday through Monday for scheduled tours at various times.   Note that Robert is the park ranger at this state park.  When Robert is giving tours of the Gamble mansion, the visitor center is closed (something to keep in mind).  The visitor center is air conditioned.  You are allowed to take all the photographs you want, but if you're taking a tour of the mansion, you need to stay with the group so as not to annoy the others on the tour.  Check their website as these may change over time as well as the nominal fee.  The address is 3708 Patten Avenue, Ellenton, Florida - enjoy a trip back into the past!




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) cane Ellenton Florida Gamble Gamble Plantation Gamble Plantation Historic State Park Gamble Plantation State Park historic history Manatee Manatee County park plantation state park sugar sugarcane https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/gamble-plantation-historic-state-park-ellenton-florida Sun, 22 Jul 2018 15:38:48 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Doorway' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-doorway This week's pet photography theme is "Doorway".  It's been so hot here (and I am hearing it is elsewhere in the United States too) that I am being very careful when I take my dogs outside for their walk and play time.  As such, we aren't doing as much exploring as we do when the weather is a 'feels like 99 degrees' with high humidity and muggy before the sun comes up.

I'm sure all of you remember when you went to places as a child with your parents, you were often posed in front of whatever it was you were visiting - whether that was a "I was here" sign or just some scene at the place you were visiting.  Well, since I don't have children, I make one of the dogs do this in a lot of the places we visit.

Here's Jimbo sitting at the doorway of an building in the Ninety Six National Historic site in Ninety Six, South Carolina.

This particular area is probably not well known, but I do a lot of family history research and along that path, I kept running into "Ninety Six" district and "Abbeville" District within South Carolina.  As a result, I wanted to visit and see what exactly this particular part of South Carolina was.  This park is dog friendly (except for going into the buildings) so it was ideal for us travelling with Jimbo.

My second doorway photograph is more of a fun photograph - Abby was a good model, but she is alive and healthy (in case you are concerned).  This photograph is a take on 'Stairway to Heaven'.

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Sandra McCarthy Photography serving NH 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) building canine dog dog photography door doorway heaven historic iron Jimbo nature ninety six old outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog revoluntionary revolution Savannah Valley SC site sky South Carolina stairway trail wood https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-doorway Fri, 20 Jul 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Canoeing the Little Manatee River with Canoe Outpost https://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 https://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" https://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 Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati, the San Francisco Bay Area, and destinations nationwide 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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-head-tilt Fri, 13 Jul 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Swallowtail Caterpillars https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/swallowtail-caterpillars Sun, 08 Jul 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "By a Nose" https://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 Darlene with Pant the Town Pet Photography serving MA and NH
 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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/pet-photography---theme-by-a-nose Fri, 06 Jul 2018 08:00:00 GMT
USF Botanical Gardens - Summer https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/7/usf-botanical-gardens---summer Sun, 01 Jul 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Landmark' https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-landmark Fri, 29 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Withlacoochee State Forest https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/withlacoochee-state-forest Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Outdoor Kitty https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/outdoor-kitty Fri, 22 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Deer hunting https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/deer-hunting Sun, 17 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Wildflowers https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/wildflowers Sun, 10 Jun 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Blue' https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/6/pet-photography---theme-blue Fri, 08 Jun 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Point Park, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee https://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 https://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' https://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 Nancy E Kieffer  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).




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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---meet-nina Fri, 25 May 2018 08:00:00 GMT
See Rock City - finally we did! https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/see-rock-city---finally-we-did Sun, 20 May 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Humor" https://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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/5/pet-photography---theme-colorful Fri, 04 May 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Nature's Classroom - Open to the Public Day, 2018 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/natures-classroom---open-to-the-public-day-2018 This past Saturday Nature's Classroom was open to the public.  They do this one day a year - and if you miss that day, you have to wait until the next year!  If you grew up in this area, and you attended 6th grade here, you probably went to Nature's Classroom.  If I remember correctly, we went for a week - and what a wonderful fun filled week it was.  Today, they still send 6th grade children here, but I hear that it is only for a couple of days (too bad).  This is probably one of the few times and for many maybe the first time that children get in touch with nature - that world away from computers, video games, internet and all those things of today's modern world.

Nature's Classroom opened in 1969 - it has been with us for many decades now - I hope that it continues to be here for the children for many decades.  After talking with many of the people at the various booths, we headed over to see animals that were rescued from a bad situation (hit by a car, a nuisance, various reasons).

This eagle was hit by a car and has a bad wing.  Today, it spends the day within a enclosure to protect it from the wild creatures.

A red tailed hawk, missing an eye - he now spends his life here at Nature's Classroom.  The red tailed hawk is larger than the red shoulder hawk.

No animal exhibit in Florida is complete without an alligator - this one was brought here because it was a 'nuisance'.

A yellow bellied turtle sunning on a log.  This is very common along the fresh water ways within our area (the other is the red eared slider).

A curious deer approached the edge of the enclosure - there are several deer that make their home here.

A black vulture - these are living here by choice, they have a lot of them in the area within Nature's classroom.  This vulture and the turkey vulture are very plentiful in our area.

Three toed box turtle is one of three different types of box turtles living at Nature's classroom.

This Florida panther is outside in an enclosure surrounded by chain link fence.  There are several black vultures with the panther.

Here's a closeup of a Florida panther - dead stare right at you!  This one is not alive, but is a very life like panther!

One of the activities is a bird walk with a guide who really knows a lot about birding!  This little bird was flying around and we found it on a small tree - yes, he is hanging upside down!

If you don't find birds while you're looking, you might find butterflies....all it takes is patience and a good eye to watch for something moving in the environment.

That's all for this years' adventure to Nature's classroom.  If you like nature, perhaps you should try to join in on the fun next year when they do their open house day.  Remember, only 1 day a year - this year it was $10 to park and everything else is free unless you purchase food, drink or raffle tickets.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) 2018 alligator bird butterfly classroom deer eagle gator hawk nature nature's classroom panther red tail hawk turtle vulture yellow bellied turtle https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/natures-classroom---open-to-the-public-day-2018 Sun, 29 Apr 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Patterns" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-patterns This week's Pet Photography theme is "Patterns".  As I think about this particular theme, I think of cats - tabby cats with tiger stripes - of course, a brindle color dog has a random pattern and several other things came to mind as well.  For this week's theme, I choose to use the background of the photograph as the pattern.  For the first image, a young puppy is sitting in a basket and a pattern on the light and dark wood in the background.

This past week we visited several different parks looking for new and interesting things to photograph.  We came across a horse shoe course (I have never seen one before!) and the first thing I was struck by is the PATTERNS!  Yes, this is loaded with patterns.  The grass and concrete stripes going across the scene and the white poles going along the sides - this screams for a great photograph.  This photograph features Abby on the grass strip.

That's all for this week!

For more pet photographers sharing their take on this theme, head over to visit Gott Dog Photography, Raleigh NC 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 dog dog photography dog photography blog pattern pet photography pet photography blog puppy vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-patterns Fri, 27 Apr 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Ulele - Fairy Land (similar to Lowry Park Fairy Land) https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/ulele---fairy-land-similar-to-lowry-park-fairy-land Recently I visited the Tampa River Walk - this time starting on the northern most tip which is north of downtown Tampa and the interstate.  As we approached Ulele restaurant, I noticed Humpty Dumpty! There he was sitting on top of the brick wall of Ulele on a wall similar to what he did so many years ago in Lowry Park Fairy land.

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

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

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

Three little pigs....and the house.

Cinderella and her characters.

Hickory Dickory Dock


And Jack and the Beanstalk

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) cinderella dickory display dock dumpty fairy fairyland hickory hickory dickory dock house humpty humpty dumpty iconic jack jack and the beanstalk lowry lowry park mouse park pet-friendly pig three little pigs ulele https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/ulele---fairy-land-similar-to-lowry-park-fairy-land Sun, 22 Apr 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme 'Head shots' https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-head-shots As we enter the middle of April, we are showcasing 'head shots' of pets.  I doubt they are using them to apply for an acting job, but some may be using them to apply for a forever home.  Here's Norman, a young male coon hound who is very active, high energy and a sweet boy.



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

Tristian, a male chow mix posing for the photographer.

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

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

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine closeup coon hound dog dog photography dog photography blog dogs head maxx and me maxx and me pet rescue pet photography pet photography blog portrait rescue vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-head-shots Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Tampa Armature Works on the Hillsborough River https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/tampa-armature-works-on-the-hillsborough-river Many years ago when we first started boating I noticed this old brick building along the east side of the river sitting empty.  I had no idea about it's past, just that the writing said "Tampa Armature Works".  The building sat on a curve of the river just past Rick's on the River if you're coming from Lowry Park ...or just a bit north of downtown Tampa.  One time I recall seeing they had a sunken boat in the water just a short distance from this old red brick building.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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





vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) armature bar dog-friendly downtown downtown tampa food hillsborough river restaurant river tampa tampa armature works water works https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/tampa-armature-works-on-the-hillsborough-river Sun, 15 Apr 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Get Close" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-close-up This week's pet photography theme is 'get close' so I decided to grab my macro lens and take some close up photographs showing just part of a dog. I started looking at Jimbo - he's my old soul in a dog body - I've always thought that way about him.  He came to us about 5 1/2 years ago and both Jim and I looked at him soon after he was settled in and thought the same thing.  A rough life before he came to us, but now he has it much easier - just has to put up with all the critters I keep bringing into our home.  Anyway, here's a few closeups of Jimbo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) abby animal photography canine dog dog photography dog photography blog eye face jimbo nose outdoor pad paw pet photography blog profile senior vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-close-up Fri, 13 Apr 2018 08:00:00 GMT
A dog photo session with Bailey https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/a-dog-photo-session-with-bailey This week's blog post is about a dog photograph session.  Sometimes we arrive to photograph a pet aka dog and find that they aren't really up to the task of being a model.  Part of working with animals is to realize that we as humans are trying to get photographs of the pet - but your pet didn't have any input as to whether they wanted to be a part of it or not.  It's totally a human decision.  As such, when we go to photograph a pet, it's much like a young child - you go with the flow and capture the best photographs possible keeping in mind the 'model' may have other ideas.  There is never any reason for you as the owner (or foster) to apologized for your dog - they are what they are and we allow time for each dog to figure out what's potentially going to happen - some are easier than others.  In most cases, we have been able to capture beautiful photographs. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bailey black cur black cur mix canine dog dog photography dog photography blog female florida foster greenery outdoor pet photography rescue https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/a-dog-photo-session-with-bailey Sun, 08 Apr 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Leading Lines.... https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-leading-lines As we continue our weekly pet photography blog, this week is the 14th week of 2018!  Can you believe how fast this year is going by?  It's already the beginning of April - some places in the United States are still getting snow and we are topping out very close to 90 degrees.  This week's theme is "Leading Lines" which is a photographic concept used to lead the viewer's eye to the subject.  Often this is a road, path, stairway or something along these lines.  I decided to take a slightly different approach this time for my leading line.  Our small city has several gazebo's and this one has rails leading up the stairway.  Placing Jimbo near the end of the railing, something caught his attention, and I took this photograph. 

Here is the color version.

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

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

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) brick canine dog dog photography gazebo leading lines line lines outdoor pet pet photography pet photography blog stair rail stair railing stairway temple terrace vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/pet-photography---theme-leading-lines Fri, 06 Apr 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Happy Easter - 2018 https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/happy-easter---2018 This Sunday is Easter - wishing all of you a happy Easter!  Here's photographs from the Sacred Heart Church in downtown Tampa.  This church is located at 509 N. Florida Avenue and was built in 1905.  It is one of the oldest churches in the city of Tampa built with Romanesque structure predominantly.  It is open to the public except during services (church, weddings, funerals).  If you visit, please be respectful of those that may be praying at the time you visit.

Have a Happy Easter!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) alter catholic church cross downtown tampa easter jesus lily religion sacred heart sacred heart catholic church sacred heart church tampa https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/4/happy-easter---2018 Sun, 01 Apr 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Day in the Life" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-day-in-the-life This week's pet photography theme is "Day in the Life" of a pet.  I'll have to say that there are days where I see our pets sleeping and that seems to be about the only thing they do.  It's there way of passing the time as there isn't much else to do.  However, when I start walking around the house - it seems like they follow me everywhere!  Sometimes I am lucky and they don't, but seems that they are always wondering if I am going to do something 'good'.  There are several words our dogs really respond to and two of them are "Ride" as in, "Do you want to go for a ride?" They are very smart and know this means we are going someplace in the car.  They start to get excited and they really don't care where they are going.  The other word is "Walk" and all they need is that word or the sound of their leash and they are ready to go.  

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

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

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

Ollie says "Watching birds is always fun."

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

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

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

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

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

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) canine dog dog photography hike multiple nature nature trail outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog sleep trail walk wilderness park wonder woods https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-day-in-the-life Fri, 30 Mar 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Beauty of trees... https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/beauty-of-trees I recently read an article in one of my magazines that arrived - the article was about trees.  Specifically, it was about a forest ranger in Germany who wrote a book about the "Hidden World of Trees".  After a couple of weeks of this single title continuing to come back to me as I walk through our neighborhood with all the large old oak trees - I decided I needed to purchase this book and see what this was all about.  Hence this week's blog post and probably a few more in the future will include photographs showing the beauty of trees.  I'll share little tidbits about this book - I don't think I will ever think of trees in the same way.  They will have a new respect that perhaps we should all have - but for now, let me share.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) big trees big trees forest preserve blackwater blackwater hammock nature park cypress cypress tree dog-friendly florida forest georgia hammock hike hiking hillsborough river nature oak oak tree park path preserve sunrise trail trails tree trees water wilderness park withlacoochee river park wood woods https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/beauty-of-trees Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Re-Processing of older images" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-re-processing-of-older-images This week's pet photography theme is looking back at older photographs and reprocess them using new and/or different techniques than you might have done in the past.  As I began to think about how my pet photography has changed over the last 5-7 years I realized that a lot has changed.  I photograph dogs more frequently than cats and I've learned a lot about the body language dogs are providing during a photo session.  Pet photography is about creating a connection with the animal(s) such that they are comfortable with you and the energy you are providing.  As such, I've learned to keep my energy levels calm - provide a 'happy energy' where the animal will feel comfortable and not anxious. If the dog is outgoing and immediately wants to greet me - and I've had some come at me with tails wagging and tongues ready for kisses - then I focus my attention on them immediately (without the camera).  They get a good bit of love, petting, scratching - let's have fun.  If the pet is shy or a little less outgoing, then I spend a few minutes talking with the owner/handler and let them pet get used to my presence.   I watch the dogs ears, their tails, and whether they are happy or perhaps panting or yawning when it's not hot (a sure sign they aren't comfortable).  Cats for sure need their space in most cases, so I let them come to me on their terms providing of course it doesn't look like it's going to take all day.  All these things have added to my having a better end product when the photograph session is completed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) animal photography canine cat cat photography dog dog photography dolly feline green older outdoor pet photography pet photography blog post-processing senior tom cat tree vpshoots white cat woods https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-re-processing-of-older-images Fri, 23 Mar 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Lithia Springs Park on a cool spring day https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/lithia-springs-park-on-a-cool-spring-day Continuing on our trek to do the Hillsborough County Hiking Spree, we headed over to Lithia Springs Park this week.  First, we visited the spring - it's beautiful - crystal clear water - a cool day (very few people in the water) - although the water levels appeared pretty low.  We walked around a portion of the fenced swimming area.  There is a major portion of the swimming area to the right of this photograph - but the sun was coming straight at the camera (late afternoon) so I aimed the camera down river.

This spring is the major attraction for this park.  The natural spring flows year round with cool, clean water into the Alafia River. Wikipedia states "The spring, officially known as Lithia Spring Major, is located 500 feet from the Alafia River, into which it discharges an average of 35 million gallons of water per day."  As with most all springs in Florida, the water is a refreshing 72 degrees year round.

At this time of year, the water is shallow, clear and a green tint.  On weekends (particularly during the summer), the swimming area is filled to capacity. There is a rope across this ends the swimming area just behind the sign shown below.

At the end of the area is a fenced off spring - you can see the hole where the water comes up near the bottom of this photograph.

Here's a better view of the actual spring where the water comes up and the fish are all hanging out. Several varieties of fish are swimming around.

This park does have a campground that is available on a first come basis (no reservations).  The entrance fee is $2.00 (similar to many other parks in Hillsborough County).

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) cold dog hike hiking lithia lithia springs lithia springs park park playground river spring springs swim swimming trail vpshoots walk water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/lithia-springs-park-on-a-cool-spring-day Sun, 18 Mar 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "favorite song" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-favorite-song This week's pet photography theme is "favorite song".  I've thought a lot about this and gone through lots of songs that are my favorites - starting back in the days of my childhood where songs like "Black and White", "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", "Though the Years", 'Yesterday", "If" were songs I really love and still do - and when the song comes on whether the radio or live music - funny how all those words you memorized decades ago come back with such ease. 

Next, I thought about songs that I pulled together more recently as I loved the lyrics, music and these songs are "Circle of Life", "Home", "I Love You This Big", "Please Remember Me"....and as I think about all these songs, I realize that each of them has lyrics that mean something to me...whether that is some little part of the song or the entire song, or maybe even just the song title.

I also realized, I don't have a single favorite song, so this blog post is featuring some of my "favorite songs". I'm going to give you a throwback song, by a well known country artist, I hear the song in my head...."On the road again"...and here is Ollie guest starring for this song!


All of us that love and care for our pets, know that they have a shorter life than we do and there are many great memories along the way, but then one day no more new memories are created.  This is the case for a friend a while back and I captured this moment in time because I've never experienced such a moment as we completed the good bye for one furry friend, another takes a few moments to pay his respects.

Alaska came to my friend as a senior rescue dog who was expected to have a short time before he crossed the rainbow.  He flourished at her home with all the canine buddies and had many happy moments as a senior.  We remember all those that cross our paths, "Please Remember Me".  This song has been recorded by Tim McGraw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pA9Z2teKB0A) and Scotty McCreery (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvRN4NZdzGM).  Here are the links to their songs on You Tube. 

All our tears have reached the sea,Part of you will live in me, Way down deep inside my heart, The days keep coming without fail
New wind is gonna find your sail, That's where your journey starts

You'll find better love, Strong as it ever was, Deep as the river runs, Warm as the morning sun, Please remember me


Remember me when you're out walking, When snow falls high outside your door, Late at night when you're not sleeping, And moonlight falls across your floor, And I can't hurt you anymore


Please remember me

Songwriters: Rodney Crowell / Will Jennings

Please Remember Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

For more 'Favorite Song' pet photographs head over to visit Ursula M. Garrison Photography, serving Northern Wisconsin and the Chequamegon Bay 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) alaska animal photography burial canine car death died dog dog photography dog photography blog grave ollie passed pet photography pet photography blog sad senior song vpshoots window https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-favorite-song Fri, 16 Mar 2018 08:00:00 GMT
Spring at Trout Creek, Wilderness Park https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/spring-at-trout-creek-wilderness-park We all loaded up in the car this week on a beautiful spring day and took our little family over to Trout Creek - one of several areas associated with Wilderness Park here in Hillsborough County.  Jimbo and Abby are just about always ready to go for a car ride and wait to see where we stop.  Rue jumps right into the car with the big dogs and is ready to go.  Ollie, being the smallest of the group (although heavier than Rue), always hesitates.  I've taken to just picking her up and putting her in the car - she seems fine with that. Probably a habit I don't want long term - but haven't figured out why she doesn't care to jump in when she can jump on our bed which is a lot higher!

As we pile out of the car (I'm sure it's a sight to see) with all four dogs - we headed over to the river and saw this beautiful overlook.  It was a cool, lovely morning and very few were here.

We walked on over to the area where the boat launch is - lurking on the other side of the river was an alligator - so no stopping there nor getting close to the water.  Time to cross over the parking lot to the other side away from the water.  We decided to take the nature trail.  It was light and airy with all the oak trees covering the walkway for the trail.  The dogs loved it - we were the only ones on the trail at this time.

Here's another darker version of the same photo, I prefer the darker image - what about you?  Feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

So our trail started with palmettos and oak trees (which are very heavy on pollen right now). Jim had the little dogs, I had the big dogs.  Ollie and Rue didn't stop as much for smells as Jimbo and Abby - so they got a little bit ahead of us.

Here's our crew stopped at the sign leading the direction for the nature trail - a jumble of leashes!

As we continued along the walk, the palmettos disappear and are replaced with ferns.  The trees are more diverse, not just the scrub oak trees.

We came upon a dead tree, but didn't find any woodpeckers there.  Then we saw the downed pine tree, and Ollie thought it was the perfect perch to see what the big dogs can see!

Rue didn't seem to have the same sense of adventure to jump up on the tree log.

And Jimbo, well - he's the only boy of the group and the elder for sure - so he just waited patiently but didn't care to have any photos taken.  Get out in nature while it's beautiful weather and Let your mind wander as you walk down this trail and enjoy nature!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) bicycling dog dog-friendly dogs fern hiking hillsborough nature oak park path river trail' tree trout creek vpshoots walking water wilderness park https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/spring-at-trout-creek-wilderness-park Sun, 11 Mar 2018 21:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Minimalist https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-simplicity This past weekend I noticed another photographer at our local park - it's two blocks from my house and just about every day (as long as I am in town), one of my dogs will take me down the road to this park.  As I walked my little foster puppies around this park, I watched this photographer as he posed the two adults with a medium sized white dog.  The adults were lying down on the ground with their dog in the middle.  This all looked interesting, but I smiled as I saw the photographer trying to get the dog's attention by throwing some of the oak pollen pieces into the air (I couldn't tell that it was working - but who knows).  I did notice that the dog was very interested in my little girls even as we stayed a good distance - I decided that if I was going to help them at all, I needed to be directly behind the photographer even though I was probably at least 50 feet away.  Oh well, hopefully he got the photographs.

As we move into this week's theme for pet photography, the theme is simplicity.  I often think that the less 'busy' a photograph is, the easier it is for the viewer to stay focused on the subject.  A simplistic photograph, in the general sense, can be a difficult task - I looked at many different links as I googled through trying to come up with ideas for this week.  I realized that in some ways, I prefer the simple photographs but wasn't sure that I necessarily applied that to my pet photography.  Photographing pets is something that I love to do - each pet is different - each animal is different - whether it will be a photograph that fits into this theme - well, that's another question isn't it?

Here's an image from a while back, I used one of the watercolor options within the Topaz Impression software to create a simple yet beautiful image of this little dachshund.

The next photograph is one of my favorites of a young puppy at one of the adoption events that finally laid down with it's head on paws, tired from a long day of attending the outdoor event.

For more 'Minimalist' pet photographs head over to visit Ashley Blacker Photography Photographing throughout Scotland 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 canine dachshund dog dog photography dog photography blog maxx and me minimal minimalism minimalist outdoor pet photography pet photography blog portrait portraits puppy rescue simple vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-simplicity Fri, 09 Mar 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Circle of Life - Spring has sprung here early https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/circle-of-life---spring-has-sprung-here-early It's now the beginning of March - hard to believe that two months have gone by this year already and we will soon be on daylight savings time.  It's very obvious that it's been spring here for several weeks - it doesn't matter that the calendar says "February" (and now March).  The oak trees have been dropping leaves like crazy - mine still are not done yet.  The azaleas have been blooming for weeks and it's kinda crazy that they will be done before true spring starts. 

Our milkweed plants survived the freeze we had - those in pots were moved to warm locations, those in the ground were covered carefully to protect them.  It's a good thing we did that, we have caterpillars all over the place and we are quickly getting to bare branches on the milkweed.  The monarch caterpillars are eating away very fast - definitely spring in the air.  

This caterpillar is munching away at the branch itself - they do eat those after the leaves are gone.

If I stretch, can I get across to the next milkweed branch? (seems like it would be much easier than walking down one branch and then over to the next branch).

Another photo where the caterpillar is hanging off the branch trying to determine where to go next. I'm sure the caterpillar knows, but I don't.

Here's the milkweed flower cluster on another plant that is a good distance away from those that are currently loaded with caterpillars.  We don't often see the flowers because the plant doesn't get a chance to flower before it is eaten by the caterpillars.

Here's another plant that has just a single bloom left.  These are fairly small flowers, so the bottom photograph is a potentially showing bigger than life size if you're viewing this blog on anything other than your phone.

Soon I expect that the caterpillars will move off the milkweed to start the next journey in life as they wait to become beautiful butterflies.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) butterfly caterpillar caterpillars circle of life close-up florida flower life macro milkweed monarch nature outdoor spring vpshoots warm https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/circle-of-life---spring-has-sprung-here-early Sun, 04 Mar 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Wide Angle https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-wide-angle This week's theme is "wide angle" which allows the camera to capture a large amount of the overall scene.  One factor to keep in mind - is what is a wide angle on a full frame camera vs a crop sensor camera?  Any lens with a focal length of 35mm or wider on a full frame camera is considered to be a wide angle lens.  If it is 24mm and wider, it is considered an ultra-wide angle (speaking full frame again).  For a crop sensor camera, this changes a little bit.  The angle of view is 65 degrees (28mm on a full frame camera), but the lens mm is dependent on the digital multiplier factor.  For Nikon/Sony/Pentax cameras, this is 1.5x, for Canon cameras, this is 1.6x.  A 35mm lens will give 23.3 on a Nikon camera (which is what I shoot).

I often shoot pets close to the wide angle if I am working by myself and need to be able to handle the dog as well as the camera - but if not, then I will use a longer focal length to allow for blurring out the background. 

In general, using a wide-angle lens for any type of photography requires some consideration to what your subject is - it must have depth and you need to get real close to the foreground object in your frame.  Sometimes, real close, like on top of it.  One of my favorite (non-pet) wide angle photographs is this one taken at Cypress Point park.

This photograph was taken with a Nikon D7100, 22mm, f/16, 1/60 sec, ISO 200.  I found this scene very interesting and put the camera up to my eye and kept walking slowly until this foreground rock was right at the bottom of the frame.  How close was it? I was just inches away from it - literally on top of it by the time I got this photograph composed.  There are several factors that come into play to have a well composed wide-angle photograph.

1) Have a clear, dominant subject in the image, particularly in the foreground

2) Get as close as possible to your subject 

3) Use leading lines in your composition to draw the viewer into your photograph

Keeping all these factors in mind, how does this apply to pet photography?  One thing to consider is the longer noses on some dogs will look very distorted if it's to close to a wide angle lens.  But, if you have the dog turn their head a little bit and then take the photograph, some of that distortion goes away. Jasper, a rescue dog (now adopted), is actually not a large dog (about 30-35 pounds), but with him up high, using a wider angle (24mm on APS-C) he looks much larger than the trees behind him.

Jasper - male- adoptedJasper - male- adopted

This photograph of Ollie was taken with a full frame camera, 38mm - just shy of being considered a 'wide angle' photograph.  It's sometimes harder for me to get that close to the dog to fill the frame if using a wide angle.  Ollie is a smaller dog weighing in at about 21 pounds but her face is very dominant in the photograph because the camera is so close to her.

For more 'wide angle' pet photographs head over to visit Darlene with Pant the Town Pet Photography serving MA and NH 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 beach canine cypress park dog dog photography dog photography blog jasper ollie park pet photography pet photography blog puppy rescue riverhills riverhills park rock rocks tampa vpshoots water wide angle https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/3/pet-photography---theme-wide-angle Fri, 02 Mar 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Fog in the country https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/fog-in-the-country This week, we go back to the country - rural counties up in the pan handle area of Florida where life seems to be slower than here in the busy metropolitan area of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater (Hillsborough and Pinellas counties).  Each week I have strived to create a blog entry that contains some photographs that I like - some are amazing to me, some are letting you know what we have been up to, some are what I love to shoot - either way - I appreciate you as the reader taking a few minutes of your time to read and take a look at the photographs - Thank you!

I came across a quote recently by John Grisham on someone else's blog - it's about writing..."Write a page a day or you’re not serious.” So, I wonder - does this also apply to photography?  I can honestly say, that I do shoot photographs of something every week - whether it is a dog, landscape or something else - I'm always looking to photograph my world.  But, I will say, that I do not take photographs every day - should I?  Good question - but some days are for post processing - maybe that counts?  

Sometimes I go back and look at photographs I took a while back - it's enlightening to see what you did and whether you still like the photograph or not.  In this particular case, I went back to look at photos taken on a foggy morning in rural Florida.  Have you ever gone out on a walk early on a foggy morning and taken the time to look at all the artwork spiders have created? If you look close, you'll find the artwork of spiders everywhere with dew making them more visible than normal.

If you're out in the country, then cows are usually out milling around in the pasture.  You can see the hint of pine trees in the background.  Pine trees are grown in many areas in this part of Florida for the timber.

Early morning fog on this day was pretty heavy - here's a grove of trees along the country road.

A few old homesteads, barns, buildings along the country road.

This is my favorite photo from this group showing the old building that may not even be standing anymore nestled among the trees, vines and fog.

Thanks for stopping by!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) barn building country dew florida fog foggy morning road rural spider tree trees web https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/fog-in-the-country Sun, 25 Feb 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Silhouettes https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-silhouettes As February comes to a close, our pet photography theme this week is "silhouettes".  This is a type of photography where the details are lost, just the outline of your subject (hopefully a recognizable subject by shape) is depicted.  Wikipedia states the following about silhouettes: "A silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single color, usually black, with its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the whole is typically presented on a light background, usually white, or none at all. The silhouette differs from an outline, which depicts the edge of an object in a linear form, while a silhouette appears as a solid shape."

I very much wanted to head someplace a capture a beautiful sunset (I'm not getting up and moving fast enough for the sunrise at the moment) and do my silhouette photos for this week's blog.  Unfortunately, reality came into the schedule and I realized that probably wasn't going to happen - either I wasn't free to do it or the weather wasn't a beautiful sunset.  Either way, it wasn't going to happen in the few days I had available.  I can usually go to the neighborhood park and capture some photographs.  As I headed down to the park, I realized that this park is empty when I walk in the morning (perhaps everyone else is heading to school or work) but there are a LOT of people there in the evenings!  Typically, Abby and Jimbo are pretty good and I can either drop the leash or take it off and keep them under voice command providing no other dog comes into the overall scene.  The volume of people at the playground, boat ramp and park gave me a little concern this time - would Jimbo and Abby stay put?  Bottom line, once I put the camera to my face, I'm not actually able to see what is happening around me - I have to depend on the dogs to alert me if something interesting is happening - and that can be a bird, squirrel, dog, person and probably a few things I missed.

I decided to trust them and one at a time, drop their leash and give them the 'stay' command.  It worked!  I'm sure there were a few people that watched from afar, as I had just let go of the leash for a 60+ pound dog. First, Abby - I got down low to put the sky behind Abby and get a few photographs - I stayed close using a 35mm lens.  This is Abby, she is actually wearing her collar and harness, but neither appear in the photo as I have used Adobe Lightroom to increase the blacks and shadows to remove all details of Abby.

Next up, Jimbo - this silhouette is of Jimbo.  Jimbo is wearing his collar, plus a flea collar and the shape of his head is definitely different than Abby's.  Course, I knew that, but it's more obvious in this silhouette photograph.

In the next silhouette, I positioned the sun with Jimbo's head and sun flares over his head.  This photograph isn't a true silhouette as you can see some details of Jimbo.

I'm actually noticing all the fur details on each of my dogs faces and heads.  In this photograph, Abby is actually turned away from me and looking at the sunset.  When the subject turns away as Abby has done in this case, the overall shape of her changes dramatically and is not showing much of her actual shape.  It's important to have the subject lined up such that you can see the overall shape and it is easily recognizable.

This photograph of Abby reminds me of a comic where the character is talking - I think this is because of her mouth being open and the sunset shows through.

For more 'silhouette' pet photographs head over to visit Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography, fetching family portraits in Coppell, Texas and surrounding communities in North Texas 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) abby animal photography boat canine cloud clouds dock dog florida jimbo outdoor park pet photography pet photography blog ramp riverhills silhouette sky sunset temple terrace vpshoots https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-silhouettes Fri, 23 Feb 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Golden Lion Tamarin - Lowry Park Zoo https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/golden-lion-tamarin---lowry-park-zoo 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.


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) golden golden lion golden lion tamarin lion lowry lowry park lowry park zoo monkey orange tamarin tampa vpshoots zoo https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/golden-lion-tamarin---lowry-park-zoo Sun, 18 Feb 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme "Year of the Dog" https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-year-of-the-dog 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).



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) action canine central florida disc dogs central florida dog & disc club competition disc dog dog photography field florida frisbee outdoor pet blog pet photography pet photography blog spring hill usddn veterans memorial park vpshoots year of the dog https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-year-of-the-dog Fri, 16 Feb 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Koala Bear at Lowry Park Zoo https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/koala-bear-at-lowry-park-zoo 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!

vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) animal animal photography australia australian bear eucalyptus eucalyptus leaf eucalyptus tree koala bear lowry lowry park pet photography pet photography blog tree vpshoots zoo https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/koala-bear-at-lowry-park-zoo Sun, 11 Feb 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Fantasy https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-fantasy 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).



vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) abby airplane bridge broken butterfly canine dog fantasy jimbo nature outdoor overhead park runway street unreal walkway water https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-fantasy Fri, 09 Feb 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Alafia River Rendezvous, 2018 - Florida Frontiersmen https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/alafia-river-rendezvous-2018---florida-frontiersmen 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!


vpshoots@gmail.com (VP Shoots Photography) 1840 2018 76 alafia alafia river alafia river rendezvous bartow blacksmith british covered wagon fire fire pit flag florida florida frontiersmen frontier frontier family frontiermen governor gun henry homeland iron old fort meade outdoor cooking pot primitive lifestyle primitive lifestyles rendezvous rifle river root beer shoot tent vpshoots wagon https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/alafia-river-rendezvous-2018---florida-frontiersmen Sun, 04 Feb 2018 22:00:00 GMT
Pet Photography - Theme Depth of Field https://www.vpshoots.com/blog/2018/2/pet-photography---theme-depth-of-field 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 'd