Tuesday, May 31, 2011



Dog Blog Post #346: I knew exactly what I wanted to capture for today's Daily Shoot as soon as I read the description...

Illustrate attraction in a photograph today.

In some ways, it's a total cop out. I mean, on any given day, I could shoot dozens of shots that look just like this. Henry is hardly ever without some article of laundry in his mouth. Sometimes he raids the clean laundry pile, if I haven't folded it yet, but mostly he's carrying the Sacrificial Socks (like this one) around.

They say you should never give your dog something, as a toy, that is like something you don't want them playing with. And on the whole, I agree with that. They certainly are not allowed to play with shoes, of any age or condition.

But a retriever and socks?


I am challenged to think how I would keep them apart, even if I wanted to! Socks have a way of ending up on the floor, and a sock on the floor is a certain retriever magnet.

And so, we humor the boys and try to keep enough old socks lying about so the "good ones" stay safe.

Besides... look at that face. How could you deny him?

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 30, 2011



Dog Blog Post #345: Ok... I bet you never, in a million years, would have dreamed up the picture that leads this post. Fess up. Not a million, right?

Today's Daily Shoot assignment...

Make a photograph that features metal or a metallic surface today.

... was hard because it was easy... and hard.

No, really!

It was easy because it's, well, metal. We are surrounded by metal, right? It's everywhere right? Before today I would have said, "Well, duh." And then the day dawned, and I looked around my house, and realized that metal - actual bare metal - is a rather rare.

Everything I saw was either wood, or glass, or (sigh) plastic. And even those few things that I did happen to know where metal underneath, were either painted or covered with something.

I was almost to the point of pulling labels off soup cans, when I spied one of my son's Boy Scout trophies. That's right, Boy Scouts. It has absolutely nothing to do with dogs, or bones. Go figure.


But the base is genuine metal (of some sort) and it kinda related to dogs (that's a genuine dog chew on top) and so a picture was born.

And then there's this one...

More Metal

... well... moving right along.

Monday is Memorial Day in the USA, and each year the Boy Scouts go out and put flags on the graves of those who served in the military.

Memorial Day

May all who gave all find peace.

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Flap Harder!

Dog Blog Post #344: There was neither artistry nor technique in today's shots, but we all had fun getting them. Today's Daily Shoot assignment was...

Make a photograph today with a central point of interest in it.

... and I decided that nothing is more central to the boys than their Lacrosse Balls. (Editor's Note: the first draft of the previous sentence was originally one word shorter. Thankfully, I decided to read it again before publishing!)

Other than requiring a bit of dexterity, and switching Baby into "Sports Mode", this was pretty easy.

Step 1: Pick up the nasty, slimy Lacrosse Ball (yes, I have a chucker, however, as I (and my neighbor) discovered, I do not have a long enough yard to safely use it.)
Step 2: Heave it down the yard.
Step 3: Wipe fingers on jeans (an important step that keeps nasty things off Baby, and reduces the chance she will slip from your fingers while you...)
Step 4: Zoom in, find the dogs (by now on their way back with the Central Point of Interest) through the viewfinder, and snap the picture.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat!

Zachary is Old Reliable - if I throw it, he brings it back. It's central to his being, and he will keep retrieving as long as I keep throwing.

Henry is... learning. He will certainly chase after the ball, every time. And he will bring it back, assuming he finds it. He's just not quite as motivated to locate lost Lacrosse Balls as Zachary is. Zachary treats a lost Lacrosse Ball as though someone should be dialing 911. Henry realizes there is a yard full of Lacrosse Balls, and really, is that one so very important if there's another close by?

Golden Races

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blue Jean Baby

Blue Jean Baby

Dog Blog Post #342: The Daily Shoot assignment for today was...

Make a photograph dominated by the color blue.

And, boy, did I have problems. I set up "the set" the same way as for the Angelic Boys shoot (2 feet further from the window, and angled away so I could back up an extra 4 to 5 feet), popped on the overhead light from the ceiling fan and the floor lamp, and started shooting away...

... and they were coming out orange. Sickly orange. Not even the pretty pumpkin orange from when I left Sunset mode on. This was a nasty yellow orange that made even Zachary look unwell.

And it wasn't even consistent. Sometimes it look OK...

Blue Jean Baby

... and sometimes not, and I kept shifting modes, and fiddling with dials, and saying words that my mom would not have been pleased to hear, and then panic set in (as in, "Acckkkk!!! I permanently broke Baby!!!") so I hit the Armageddon Reset Button, and even that didn't help, and while I did get a few more that were ok...

Blue Jean Baby

... most were a total write off (including all the shots of Zachary).

Later, after I had taken every thing down, and my brain had rebooted, I realized that Baby must have been picking up on the (yellow) incandescent floor lamp lighting. It seemed inconsistent as it got worse the close I got to the lamp (backing away from the dogs) and better as I moved forward, but because I was using the zoom lens, things were seeming relatively the same from my point of view.

I probably hadn't noticed the effect before today, as there was usually more light coming in through the window, but today was quite overcast. That, and the fact I had more room meant I could back up further and get closer to the lamp.

So, the upshot is, for the Discovery of the Obvious Award: The color of your lighting effects the color of your pictures.


© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved


Horizontal Lines

Dog Blog Post #341: A short post today. I only took a handful of pictures for the Daily Shoot assignment...

Make a photograph dominated by horizontal lines.

... as I frittered away most my time cleaning Baby's lens...

(Good grief, how can something I use so little and treat so gently, get so many specks and motes and smudges on it in such a short time???)

... with my brand new $12 lens cleaner before I screwed on my brand new $50 clear filter.

Yes, clear. A $50 filter that does nothing. In fact, it's so clear that when I first picked it up, I would have sworn I was holding a rather heavy but otherwise empty metal circle.

(Well, it does do something. It keeps those specks and motes and smudges off Baby's $800 lens. Still, I couldn't help but think about The Emperor's New Clothes as I was screwing it on...)

Anyway, the picture up top is Zachary eyeballing my Blueberry Bagel. I loved this picture for all the yummy brown tones, not to mention the yummy bagel, and because I spent a whopping 5 minutes on the whole shoot. Now there's bang for your buck!

For the curious, this was taken with the cutting board sitting on a kitchen chair in front of the open slider with the last of the morning sun streaming through. Remove the chair, and you have the same place where I took the blue iris pictures the other day (irises in vase on the floor). Replace the cutting board with the butcher board and you get the picture of the hamburger press last month. Switch to a TV tray and white tri-fold cardboard backdrop and it's the high-key kitty salt-n-pepper shakers shot.

A very useful spot, that is.

Speaking of Yoda speak, one of the Scavenger Challenge items for this month is to find a misspelled or grammatically incorrect sign. I have thus far failed, but I have seen a few odd ones. My favorite so far is this one...

Park or Park Not...

... which has me thinking of Yoda's famous line... "Do or do not, there is no try."

"Park or Park Not, there is no semi parking?"

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Angelic Boys

Angelic Zachary

Dog Blog Post #341: Glad folks enjoyed yesterday's Wordless Wednesday - Don't Panic "towel" shots. As mentioned over the weekend, those were taken on "the set" using Baby. While focus wasn't perfect, it was much better than the first time, and I think we all had a much better time.

I still was feeling cramped, however, as the arrangement of the set was too confining to back up the distance I think I need to have the focal length that I think want. (No, I don't know what I'm doing. How can you tell?)

So today, when I set "the set" up again, I pushed it one more ex-pen panel (2 feet?) further from my primary light source (ie: the dinning room window) and tilted it more toward the center of the room, effectively giving me about four more feet to back up.

Given the odd nature of the Daily Shoot assignment...

Make a high-key photograph today.

... and the fact Baby has a "High-Key" scene mode (who'd a thunk it!) it actually worked out pretty well.


That said, I don't think I'll normally be able to get away with it, as the backdrop was significantly darker than I think would work under any other circumstance.

My favorite shot was the one at the very top, but I tweeted the one below...

Angelic Henry

... as I felt it was probably of more general interest that "just another portrait shot of my dog". Here are a few more...

Henry and Friend

Sleepy Zachary

These were all pretty much straight out of the camera, other than a bit of sharpening to add a little "oomph" to their fur. I'm loving some of these scene modes, although I wish there was a list somewhere detailing how the camera was being set up for each one.

What I need to do is set up a still life, and go through them all to see what happens with each!

Editor's Note: Nope, no makeup on the dog's eyes yesterday. Heck, I don't even wear makeup!

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Don't Panic

Don't Panic

Don't Panic

Don't Panic

Don't Panic

Editor's Note: May 25 is International Towel Day, in honor of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A favorite of mine when I first read it as a kid, and now a favorite of my teenage son. :)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


That's My Ear

Dog Blog Post #339: Ok, so at least I'm not alone in the quest for pictures with lovely eyes, nor in thinking it less than easy to take them. After reading folks comments, I went back through my stack of ripped-off pages from my 365 Days of golden retrievers calendar, and I didn't find a single clear-eyed picture amongst them.

There were running goldens, and swimming goldens, and leaping goldens, and adorable puppy goldens surrounded by flowers, and all had the same black-hole eyes that I get.

So I guess I shouldn't feel so bad, as (a) some professional somewhere can't do any better and (b) until that very moment, I had never noticed the black-hole eyes and always thought the dogs to be very cute (and still do!)

This means I am (once again) obsession over nothing.

That said, I'm still going to keep trying, since I know it can be done. I'm just not going to beat myself up about it when I fail. :)

Speaking of failing, the Daily Shoot today was quite disappointing. As houndstooth aptly pointed out, why couldn't this have been yesterday?

Make a photograph of a vista today.

I don't know about you, but I have a ton more time for this sort of foolishness on weekends!

Anyway, my plan was to create an "insurance" picture at lunch of the longest stretch of yard that didn't require a machete to get to...

Garden Vista

.. and then grab a dog and head out after dinner to find something more inspiring. Of course, after I took my insurance shots, I tossed the Lacrosse Ball for the guys and snapped a few more pictures.

Alas, despite spending all my idle CPU time mulling over possible vistas within my time/dog limitations, I came up empty. Back at the computer, digging through what I took, I stumbled across my "fetch" pictures and rather liked them.

And so it is, that my "vista", which a prior Daily Shoot had defined as a "beautiful view", became one of those very same shot. If you look closely, you'll see that while Zachary has the ball, Henry has Zachary - by the ear!

(Thankfully, no ears were hurt in the making of any photographs!)

And finally, a few pictures of some Irises. I have no idea what kind, other than "pretty". :)



(Yes, Baby can do black backgrounds, too!)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 23, 2011



Dog Blog Post #338: I probably missed a great opportunity today with the Daily Shoot assignment:

Make a photograph of a tool today.

What I should have done, is break out the clicker and set up some fancy training-like photo.

But I didn't.

No, today was housecleaning day (joy) and I just couldn't afford the time. Sooo... I looked around to see what has handy, and noticed (anyone? anyone?)

Yes... a broom!

(How did you guess?)

I tweeted the one up top, although the one below...


... gives a better idea of what the boys can do to two rooms in one week. (Keep in mind that these guys go to the groomer twice a month, and probably lose much of their coats there!)

Later on in the afternoon, I did find time to set up "the set" after all, for the first time since the first time with Baby, and found that being able to control focus made the whole process much more enjoyable. I'm still not all the way there, however, as all shots had one dog more focused than the other. I'm guessing it's either an aperture thing (to big) or a focal length thing (I'm zooming in too close.)

Thankfully, I was able to find a shot that was close to having both in focus, but you're going to have to wait until Wordless Wednesday to see it. :)

I also was playing with "Portrait Mode" again (outside, where I can control focus a lot better) noting how it gives the dogs a rather "soft" appearance. This bothered me greatly when I used it on day one (not realizing what it was doing and thinking I was having focus issues) but I now rather like it...

Zachary and Henry


Alas, I still don't have their eyes showing large and brown like the greyhound folks can do. Perhaps it's just the breed? Some special trick? Too much light? My dogs just like to squint???

I find I can get close only when the lighting is just right, and the dogs heads are angled just right. Like this one...


(Is he irresistible, or what?)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 22, 2011



Dog Blog Post #337:The Daily Shoot read...

Make a photograph of something made of glass today.

... and I said, "Really?" (Son's favored expression of incredulity.)

In case you are perplexed by my reaction, I should point out that large, boisterous, young mammals and glass don't really go well together.



But the shot must be captured! With 123 shots tweeted, I was going to let a little thing like fear of broken glass derail me now.

At first I tried the cheaters way out. I took various glass objects, held them out in front of the point-n-shoot and snapped a picture with a dog behind. I won't bore you with those shots, as you've seen various flavors in the past.


Then I grabbed Baby and tried again...

(Obvious Observation of the Day #1: Longer lenses require longer arms if you intend to be holding both object and camera. Beefy biceps are a definite plus, as well.)

... creating a much clearer, much richer, and just as boring as shot as I had with the point-n-shoot. (sigh) Ok... this would never do.

So I tossed Henry a few cookies and put up the gate to keep him out of the kitchen, washed off a lovely glass christmas tree shaped bowl I got for Christmas this year (if nothing else, the Daily Shoot is causing me to slowly dust my way through the various knick-knacks that clutter my shelves), put Zachary in down-stay, put cookies in the bowl, dropped down on my belly on the floor with Baby, and started banging off close up shots.

Wow... were they coming out with a serious orange cast. True, I was in the kitchen, it was later in the day (dogs were gone most the day), and I was shooting under incandescent lights but...


Wow... were they coming out with a serious orange cast.

So what did I do? Well, for the first 20 or so pictures, I did nothing. (Yeah, aren't I the clever one?) At last, after scanning over the shots again, and noting Zachary was the color of a halloween pumpkin.

(lower resolution example - straight out of the camera!)
... I decided to try to fiddle with the White Balance.

And that's when I was hit with Obvious Observation of the Day #2: Always check what mode you are in before you start taking pictures.

On the plus side, I now know that shooting pictures indoors under incandescent lighting with the camera in "Sunset Mode" will create some really orange pictures, should I ever need them.

Hey, it's happened before!

ds501 - Orange

The funny part is, after finishing with a few "good" shots, and uploading the computer, I find I was rather taken by the orange-cast close-ups. Go figure.

And finally, another scavenger challenge shot ("bristles") This is the neighbor's conifer, planted 2' from the property line, that (not surprisingly) overhangs our property by a rather hefty amount and thus affords and excellent opportunity for a close up.


© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 20, 2011

King of the Hill

King of the Hill

Dog Blog Post #336: Today's Daily Shoot assignment was:

Make a photograph featuring a fence or a wall today.


I liked both shots, but picked the one above (wooden fence) because it I though it looked a bit better as a square thumbnail.

And while I was out there shooting those, I got these...

Fetch 1

Fetch 2

Fetch 3

Fetch 4

Fetch 5

... and now it's time for the Blog Hop!

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

High Contrast


Dog Blog Post #335: The good news is that the sun was out all day, making it a perfect day for the Daily Shoot assignment of:

Make a high contrast photograph today.

The bad news is that my time with the sun + camera + dogs was interrupted early, and I was able to return to the task until after dinner.

Thankfully, the sun was still shining, albeit a "yellow" late afternoon sun, and we had to be indoors as the yard is completely shaded by then.

I was, once again, conflicted about the picture to choose. The one I felt best captured the idea of "High Contrast" is shown at the top of the post. It's been slightly cropped, slightly sharpened, but basically what the camera took. I liked how little of the picture my subject matter (Henry's rear paws) actually took up. I don't know what I liked that, but I did.

My other choice was below...


But I felt it wasn't as good an example of "High Contrast" nor even as compelling a picture, although it is certainly a cuter shot (head vs. feet? No contest!)

The hardest part about getting these shots was trying to get the boys into the small pools of sunlight. Due to furniture shadows and window framing, all too many shots came out like this one...


... of Henry trying (unsuccessfully) to beg the Lacrosse Ball from Zachary. The fact there were three others in plain sight was clearly irrelevant.

Editor's Note #1: Thanks for the suggestions - will give Sports Mode a try!

Editor's Note #2: Yes, I was very close taking yesterday's shots - within inches, in fact. Sometimes when I get that close I have switch to manual focus, but usually I can nudge the focus ring and shift my own location a bit until my subject appears sharp and auto-focus will take my word for it. :)

And finally, yet another shot of Abraham Darby. :)

Abraham Darby

... far to manly a name for such a feminine rose, IMHO! While I like the backlighting, color, bokeh (blurry background) and contrast, I wish the rose itself was a tad more vertical. Ah well, can't have everything. :)

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 19, 2011



Dog Blog Post #334: Glad folks enjoyed yesterday's Wordless Wednesday Play Time pictures. This was, once again, me playing with shutter speeds and settings and things, trying to capture motion.

Yes, the boys were just playing! The top photo (Zachary on his back, looking over at Henry) is Zachary asking Henry to play.

The middle photo is Zachary's Fearsome Face (aka Much Ado About Nothing.) He's actually totally silent when he plays, and having his mouth open and teeth showing is just part of it. Henry doesn't usually show as many teeth, but sounds like a rabid gerbil when he gets into it.

The last shot is how I see them most often, each with his mouth gently holding some paw, ear, ruff, or face of the other - but never a tail. Don't know why, they just never do.

Today's Daily Shoot was a hard one...

Illustrate cold in a photograph today.


The first things that popped into my head were sweaters and hats and scarves, oh my! And then I realized those are the sorts of things I used for "warm".


I quickly decided to go the conventional route - ice - and immediately put a small, square plastic bowl filled with water in the freezer. By early afternoon, it was frozen solid, and I had a wonderful "Enrichment Activity" for the boys.

(Going to have to remember this one for when the weather turns hot!)

Continuing my streak of discovering the obvious, we have, "fast shutter speeds are useless if you have slow fingers."

My eyes would see the tongue and tell my brain, "Tongue!". My brain would tell my finger, "Push!" But by the time finger did it's part, the tongue would be gone 70% of the time. The button works great. The camera was working fabulously. I just couldn't seem to coordinate my eyes, brain and finger to catch the action. For several shots I was just a split second off, every time. Arg!

I did manage to catch a few good ones, the best (I think) being the one at the top of the post. It's about 3/4 the original picture, as my thumb was visible in the bottom portion of the shot, holding the bowl, and so I cropped it off.

(Cropped the picture, not my thumb!)

The next picture shows a better view of the hunk of ice (once I removed it from the plastic holder) plus I like how Henry's tongue wraps around the corner.

Below is a Scavenge Challenge picture (needed a rock/mineral). I find this a rather curious rock, and if you happen to know anything about rocks and care to share, I'd love to hear it! (To read additional details about the rock, click on either image, and see the description below the picture.)

Strange Rock

Strange Rock

... both pictures have been rather significantly sharpened, to bring out the features of this rather unattractive mass of... something.

And finally, a rather tight crop of a Honey Bee visiting the Breath of Heaven:

Honey Bee

© 2011 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved