Thursday, June 30, 2011

The King was Dethroned

Yesterday I bought a new cat post.  From the moment I set it down in the house, Jack laid claim to it.  He spent all last evening in it, and when I came down this morning he was still sitting on top.

Lu eventually came along and dethroned him.  Jack tried to fight his way back to the top, but she wasn't budging.

Poor Jack ended up grovelling at her feet on the floor.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Manual Focus - Day 1

I'm not gonna lie.  It was hard and not a lot of fun.  And I'm not sure it is a good fit for me.  And I'm not just saying that because I suck at it.

1. I have a tendency to shoot without looking through the camera.  Apparently I do this more than I thought. This one was taken of Coulee with the camera held above my head - there was no way I could look through the lens and get the photo, unless I stood on a ladder.  And if I can't look through the lens, I can't focus.

2.  It is almost impossible to hold a toy, AND focus a camera.  I need a third hand. It is one thing to hold a toy and support the camera with the same hand, and another thing to actually manipulate a dial at the same time.  Coulee doesn't put her ears up like this unless she thinks I'm going throw something. And she isn't going to think I'm going to throw something if it is still lying at my feet.

So we'll see.  I want to give it more time before I truly judge it, but from what I saw today, it isn't a really good fit.  Although I do like it when the subject is standing still.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Action and Adventure

Yesterday I headed out to Kananaskis for an "Action and Adventure" photography workshop taught by Brad Wrokbleski.  On the agenda was biking, hiking and kayaking.  The models/talent sure got a workout!  The poor women mountain biking had a VERY steep hill that they kept coming down and then walking back up.

The one thing I hate about courses and workshops is that I can't seem to get past more than one or two suggestions.  My mind starts to fixate on those and drops all other bits of information.  This isn't a problem if the tidbit I focus on is a big one, but can be kind of annoying if it is a pretty minor point.

1/40 sec, f/22

And this time, it was a fairly big suggestion.  At least in terms of how I shoot.  He suggested I focus manually - even on moving subjects.  I have to be honest.  I've never taken even still photos with manual focus, the thought of doing it with moving subject seems impossible.  I know at least one "Flickr Friend" that does it (Hi Anda!) but I always thought she was a little nuts.  ;)

His reasoning makes perfect sense - you can change up your composition on the fly and not have to worry about where the "focus dot" on your camera is in relation to the subject you want in focus.  He thinks it is hard to keep the focus dot on your moving subject (I disagree - I can do this with out too much issue) but he has a point about the composition.  You can't go from a subject being in focus on the left, the middle and then the right without stopping to make adjustments and by then, the action you are trying to photograph is probably over.  So manual focus would help for example when dogs start getting the zoomies and are running in every which direction OR when things get in front of them - long blades of grass for example.

But damn I lost a lot of cool looking photos due to lack of focus yesterday.  But that is OK.  What I am going to do with a bunch of kayaking pictures anyway?  When I nailed it, it was very satisfying, like in the photo above.  And I don't mind practicing on the girls either, because really, don't I have enough photos of them to last 8 lifetimes?  :)  One of my biggest hurdles (other than actually getting things in focus) is to not follow the subject around with the little focus dot anyway.  I couldn't stop myself and it was kind of defeating the purpose!  If anyone knows how to make that dot disappear on a canon, I'd love to know.

The other thing we did a fair amount of was slow shutter speeds.  So panning or just keeping the camera still while action moved in front of us.  This was particularly fun when a kayaker got "stuck" in the eddy as you could blur out the moving water, while they stayed relatively still.  But looking through a stack of photos that are blurry from my lack of focusing ability AND blurry from a slow shutter speed was painful! LOL.  I can't wait to get Coulee in the river to see if I can make some of those tricks work for her.  I think it would be a cool effect in tall blowing grasses too.

1/30 sec, f29
I could have just sat and watched the kayakers all day.  That alone would have made the day worth it.

1/40 sec, f18

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eye Contact

I'm starting to think she folds the frisbee in half just so that she can stare at me while she runs.

Paper Toy

Our cats rarely get "real" toys... the dogs just eat or destroy them.  Jack doesn't mind.  He likes his little piece of paper.

It kept him entertained for at least 20 minutes.

And yes... we do have a bike in our living room.  Don't you?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Tater

We've been looking after Tate while Jo has been home visiting her mom and sister.

He is the easiest dog to look after.  He really likes to sleep.

Somedays he doesn't even bother to get off the couch when we come home or to come downstairs in the morning when we get up.

Marlin's sister came for a visit this weekend and Tate has found the woman of his dreams.  He spent 3 hours running around shaking toys, fetching, jumping on her lap, and tugging on her shirt.  It was hilarious.  Mild, meek Tate would just not sit still.  When she went outside briefly, he managed to settle, but the moment she came back he was up and at it again.

Today Amanda and I met up for a dog walk - she's been looking after his brother Kort.

The boys (and Lacey) had a great time!

Good Run

I took Coulee for her first decent run yesterday since her foot biopsy.  While the biopsy site healed a while ago, we think she pulled a shoulder muscle a few days after we started walking. So she had been on a no fetch, no running diet for a few weeks and then last week I started letting her swim a bit and yesterday we threw the frisbee a few times on land.  She had a good time.

It is nice to not have her glaring at me for once.

Ahhh.  Life is almost back to normal.

She's just a little out of shape - she laid down to rest after only a few throws.

I had taken the frisbee away after a few throws but she knew it had a good chance of coming back out now that we were at the river.  She is patiently waiting...

She was right!

Now that she has her frisbee back, she isn't about to let her little sister steal it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Cat's in the Bag

Lu crawled into a fabric shopping bag I left sitting at the front door.

Apparently it makes a pretty comfy bed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Out Run

Lacey's solution to mosquito control is just to out run them.

As an added bonus she is also out running Coulee who wants nothing more than to do the "beat down" on her.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Down to Earth

I went off to Okotoks yesterday for an Earth Dog Event. It is my kind of dog sport - low pressure.  :)  Your dog either has the instinct, or they don't.  Kind of like Lure Coursing - they either chase the lure, or they don't.  There isn't much you can do to train or direct your dog.  And once they start, you just sit back and watch.

And because it is based on instinct, the dogs are almost guaranteed a good time.  They get to hunt, chase and burrow after rodents for the day.  It is a terrier's dream come true.

There wasn't much to photograph (as the dogs should be underground for the most part) but I just tried to capture some candid shots of the dogs and their owners.  I also liked capturing the excitement of the dogs as they were being led up to the start line - most of the dogs were pulling like crazy to get there.

If you'd like to see more, feel free to check out the full gallery!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Spratly is oh so cuddly.  And oh so cute.

These were all taken with just the little bit of light that shines into the basement.  The shadows were all caused by my sweater that he snuggled into.