Friday, September 28, 2012

Before Coyote - Part 1

So before we ran into Mr. Coyote, we were actually having a really good time.  Such a good time in fact, I'm breaking it into more than one post as I took a tonne of photos.  These will all be ones before we even hit the water.

Where we park there is a short steep hill with beautiful trees behind it.  Do you think I could get Coulee to stand up there without a toy in her mouth for a "formal" fall photo?  Of course not!  I don't even bother with Lacey - she just looks beaten if I try and make her "pose.  I did manage a few of her running by to get the toy at least.

After a short walk through the trees we hit the beach and the girls are off and running...

But before they hit the water they ran back to see why I was taking so long.

I wanted some dry dog pictures so I threw the toy a few times before we got to the reservoir.

Some days Coulee really does have the patience of a saint.  The focus isn't quite right in the photo below, but it is good enough to show you what she puts up with some days!

After a few throws, they were hot and thirsty and it was time to head to the water.  There was no stopping them this time.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Close Encounter

The girls and I have found a great new walking spot (thanks to Lisa and Zack) out at St. Mary's Reservoir.  We went out there on Tuesday and the girls had an absolute blast.  I was soooo excited to go back again today, camera in hand.

The walk was great... (photos to come) until the end.

Today was warm and beautiful so I took my socks and shoes off and walked down close to the shore.  Out in the middle there is a grassy knoll that the water wraps around and I wanted to see what was on the other side. As we got close to the grass, Coulee ran ahead to poop.  Just as I was reaching the edge I glanced up and saw a coyote...

I took a picture mainly to see if it was actually a coyote or a dog.  An owner could have been 6 feet behind it and I wouldn't have been able to see them.  Nope.  Definitely a coyote.  I instantly call Coulee.  She is totally ignoring me and I discover it is because she hasn't quite finished pooping and is looking for a second location to go.  I glance up again and the coyote is gone...

Phew.  Then I notice he isn't gone, but it is about 8 feet closer!  Gah!  The dogs are still oblivious.  I call the dogs, Coulee picks up her frisbee and we are off back towards the car but we have a big stretch of open beach to cross.

I keep glancing back and the coyote keeps moving forward but isn't leaving the grass area.  He sometimes turns sideways as if he is about to leave, but never does.  I snap a few photos while still walking.  We are walking at a fast clip, but he keeps coming forward.

He stops at Coulee's poop and circles around it for a bit, sniffing.  I totally thought he was just going to stay there when he starts following us across the open sand at a trot.  The dogs are still oblivious although Lacey has been sniffing around a lot. I'm pretty sure she can smell him, but she isn't really sure what is going on.

He is starting to catch up with us and I can't remember what to do in case of a "Coyote Emergency".  Do I run, do I scream, do I turn my back or not turn my back, do I act small, do I act big?  My brain has gone blank.  I decide to call Marlin - he'll know what to do.  I dial the phone and suddenly Coulee spots the coyote.  I toss my phone in my pocket and poor Marlin hears "Oh f*ck.  COOOOOUUUUULLLLEEEEE!   COOOOOOUUUUUULLLLLLEEEEE!" before it hangs up on him.

The girls were off and running.  I was screaming.  They turned back, got within a few feet of me and I was about to grab Coulee's collar when she turned around again, and started running.

The coyote ran back to the grass area and was heading up a bank.  Coulee was losing speed (probably due to her feet) so Lacey ran out in front.  Once Coulee realized she'd never catch him, she started to come back.  It took Lacey a few seconds to realize she'd lost her back-up, but when she did, she also came tearing back.  The coyote stopped, turned, and started to give chase.

Lacey was running with all her might straight back to me but the coyote was gaining fast. I could see him lining up to bite her and all I could think was that she was about to be mauled.  I started running towards them (I'm still screaming.  I haven't stopped since the whole thing started).  We got within about 8 feet of each other when the coyote pulled up short.  He was almost at her side when he stopped. He had overlapped her but I think hadn't bitten yet because he wasn't quite at the right spot.

I grabbed the girls by the collars and started walking quickly back to the car and yelling "Git" over my shoulder.  Thankfully that was as far as he went.  He laid down in the sand and just watched us.  I took this last picture when we were in the safety of the trees (with the parking lot just behind us. You can see him as a tiny speck in the sand (just below and to the left of the tree) and the grassy bank he led them up.  The whole coyote encounter started just to the right of this picture on the far edge of the grass area.

I think I was in a bit of shock on the way home. I alternated between giggling and crying.  LOL.  I kept giggling over the image of Coulee chasing the coyote with her giant red frisbee draped over her head.  She has her priorities you know!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Protective Gear Required

So the other day after the Word on the Street Festival, I needed to unwind, so I took the girls to Park Lake.  I was going to go for a nice long stroll with them - the weather was beautiful and on Sunday evenings, the park isn't busy so I was sure the path would be almost deserted.

It started off great.  The colours were beautiful and I still had Lorelei's camera so I had fun playing around.  We didn't really have a fall last year - we had a cold snap and all the leaves just died on the trees while still green - but this year the colours are amazing.

We hadn't been out for very long when I managed to step in a gopher hole, stumble and fall.  I fell right on the knee that I hurt 2 weeks ago.  It still hadn't totally healed.  I was able to do stairs pain free but kneeling was impossible and even the pressure on it if I'm laying on my stomach in bed causes pain.  So it REALLY hurt when I fell on it. I also scraped off the almost healed scabs and had fresh blood seeping through my pants.

The good news is, it didn't seem to do much more damage.  The stairs hurt for the first few days but now I'm back to where I was before this second fall.

The girls still needed exercise though, so instead of walking, we just hung out at the spot where we access the lake.  Lacey got lots of cookies and became quite demanding by jumping up and holding on to my leg.

And Coulee got lots of swimming in, which is better for her feet anyway.

I seriously think I need to start wearing protective gear while I'm out on a walk.  I've turned into an absolute klutz these past few weeks.  I can't imagine what I'll be like when things start to get icy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Word on the Street

So as I'm sure most of you have gathered, I don't really do people photos.  :)  Frankly people don't interest me as much as dogs.  LOL. At least in terms of looks... If that makes any sense.

Anyway, when Lorelei asked if I would help at the Word on the Street Festival I instantly said yes, and then wondered what the heck I was thinking.  As the day loomed closer, I looked forward to it less and less. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was going to be a horrible chore.  By the time the actual day arrived I almost had to drag myself there.

Imagine my surprise when it wasn't just OK, it was actually fun!  I mean really fun.  My favourite part was the kids. They were so absorbed in what they were doing, that for the most part, they had no idea their pictures were being taken.  The parents also surprised me.  Even though I was a stranger with a camera in their kids' faces, not a single person asked what I was doing and many of them actually got out of the way once they noticed me. I felt a little like a creepy stalker but apparently I didn't look like one.  :)

Warning: Picture heavy post - and only one dog!

I was more than a little obsessed with the face painting station.  I loved all the bright colours.

This girl was very intent on her chalk drawing.

There were some kids that were just so incredibly animated.  This guy was definitely one of them.

This little girl was so serious the entire time she was playing with the ants.

Checking out the program while waiting in line for facepainting.

Reading up on becoming a foster parent.  LOL

She really wasn't sure she wanted her face painted.  I think I took a dozen photos of her and she had this look the entire time. The woman doing the painting was incredibly patient with her.  She showed her the paint on her hand so she would know what it felt like and looked like and held up a mirror after putting the first bit of paint on her face.  Despite all that, she was still never sure it was her cup of tea but she hung in there.

For some, the day was a little too long.

I took a tonne of photos at this fishing pond... I think this is the only one I was reasonably happy with!

I think the kids dancing to the entertainment was the most entertaining thing ever.

This guy was hanging out in the middle of the "dance floor" all by himself.  He didn't want to dance, but he wanted the best view I guess.

I love seeing parents get involved.  This guy was participating in a song about super heroes.  :)

I didn't spend much time at the main stage but what time I did spend there was fun.  Both bands that I heard were great.

Cutest. Dancer. Ever.

Curious George and Clifford came for a visit.  Apparently "high fiving" is the new hug.

Ahhh the plastic ants. It was a popular table but frankly creeped me out. :)

There were a few dogs - not many though.  And they are hard to photograph when I didn't want to be obvious about getting their attention. This guy was dying for people come visit and would wag his tail at anyone who looked at him.

I even saw a few familiar faces.  This is a client with her adorable kid.

I'm not sure what these two were talking about, but it was a super cute moment.

I think the adults had as much fun as the kids.

It was a pretty fun day.  Thanks Lorelei for pushing me to do something different.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Outdoor Studio

The other day I was looking through some snowy winter photos and was really enjoying the way the background was just nothing - pure white nothingness.  It has always reminded me of a giant outdoor studio.  When I had that thought this time, it reminded me of the white background we used in the studio with Lorelei. Which then made me wonder why we couldn't just use a background outside instead of inside.  Then instead of flash, we could just use the sun.

I have a few "problems" with studio photography....

  • Dogs can be a little unsure of a new places. 
  • Posing isn't my thing and most studios don't have a lot of room for running around. 
  • I have no idea how to operate a flash. 
But if we took it outside, all those problems disappear.  Don't get me wrong. My favourite photos are still those in the natural environment, but it is still nice sometimes to lose all the surrounding distractions and just focus on the dog.

As usual, when I get an idea, I want to do it RIGHT NOW.  But I didn't have any stuff - no paper for the seamless background, no stand to hold the paper up, and of course my camera is still at the Dr.'s.  In steps Lorelei - the most generous photographer I've ever met.  Not only did she supply me with paper, a stand, advice and ideas, but a camera as well.  And all on a day's notice.

Voila! I had an outdoor studio.

It was definitely a learning experience! We went to a ball diamond and set up the "studio". There was a teeny tiny breeze.  The kind of breeze that is so slight you can't even feel it - but our giant roll of paper could.  So the first thing we needed was 2 people to hold the stand up. Thankfully Dave and Sarah came out to play around with us.

Coulee was a bit of a train wreck.  She was a little too enthusiastic and managed giant rips in the paper every time she ran on it.  She was also long enough that she almost filled the paper from nose to tail when running across it so getting an image with her entire body on the white background wasn't as easy as I thought - especially as I needed to catch her in a good part of her stride at the same time.  

Lacey was too uncomfortable around Dave and Sarah to play so there are no photos of her.  She added some background noise to Coulee's modelling session though.  ;)

Thank goodness for Cedar.  So once Coulee had destroyed a large section of paper, we unrolled fresh paper and brought out Cedar.  She was a super model - way gentler on the paper.  :)

We learned a few things:

  • Putting a hard surface under the paper would have been better.  See how Cedar's feet are chopped off 2 photos up?  The wrinkle in the paper blocked them from sight.  
  • Paper may not be the best option for dogs - cloth or a vinyl would help with the tearing (and be more environmentally friendly).  
  • We also had quite a bit of grass get on the paper with the dogs (more so with Coulee, than with Cedar) but the lawn was freshly mowed with rows of clippings on top, so that didn't help.  
  • Even the slightest breeze can knock things over so Lethbridge may not be the best place for this kind of thing. 
  • It definitely isn't a one-man show or even a two-man show.  All four of us were needed!
We did talk about a white tarp or something attached to fence. I think it would work - if we could find a fence that pointed directly at the sun in an area that dogs could run off leash without worrying about people and other dogs coming along. That was the nice thing about the ball diamond.  We were surrounded by fencing so no one was just going to walk through on their way somewhere else.

Anyway, it was a fun experiment.  We'll see if I ever do it again though!