Friday, November 30, 2012

Under the Sofa

Informal Portrait

"Hey! What are you doing here? Momma! There's a HUGE BUG living under the sofa!"

Now Henry, I'm sure it's not as big as you think it is. Why don't you look it up in the bug book and see what kind it is.

Big Bugs

Under the Sofa
Zachary (with flash light): "I'm telling you Henry, there's NOTHING under the sofa."

Where Did He Go?
Zachary: "Mom, will you tell Scaredy-dog that there's is NOTHING under this sofa."

Zachary, you might want to look... up.


Dog Blog Post #887

Photography Assignment

Daily Dog Challenge "396. Informal Portrait"

Our Daily Challenge - Nov 30, 2012 - "The Insect World"

Yes, I know. Technically, a spider is NOT an insect.

But they EAT insects, and therefore have a profound effect on The Insect World.

Close enough? Pretty please?

I certainly hope so, as I had no other Creepy Crawlies of Size to work with!


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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Making Cookies

Making Cookies

Now where are those boys?

I was sure they wanted to give me a paw baking Christmas Cookies...


Making Cookies
"Did someone say cookies?"

Making Cookies
"Cookies! Cookies! Can I lick the bowl? Can I? Can I?"


There are no unwashed paws allowed on the table!

And there will be no bowl licking at all unless your manners improve, young dog. In fact, I'm now thinking these cookies will just have to wait until another day.

Dog Blog Post #886

Photography Assignment

Our Daily Challenge - Nov 29, 2012 - "On the Other Side"

The Monthly Scavenger Hunt November 2012 - "10. Ingredients "

Daily Dog Challenge "394. With (a) Heart - Take a photo that shares a sentiment or shows a heart in some way today!"

Yeah, a bit weak on the Heart part - but it's there, if you look closely!

Making Cookies
Zachary: "Step One - grow opposable thumbs."

Mmm Mmm Good

Editor's Note: No, of course they didn't lick the cookie dough. Sadly, after getting it all out and setting it up, I never even made the cookies. This weekend. This weekend for sure.

As for the shot above, the boys are enjoying a generous amount of peanut butter I smeared inside the bowl.

Miss Kodee mentioned the lighting on yesterday's Christmas Picture shots.

I use a Speedlight, on camera, and bounce it off the ceiling.

Bouncing the flash creates soft, nearly shadowless lighting for the pictures plus it means the dogs are not getting flashed directly.

I also usually, although not today, add in two stand umbrella stands with CFLs. They don't flash, they are just on, but they also don't get very hot - a real plus in out hot summers.

I couldn't photograph at my preferred shutter speed (1/160s) and aperture (f/6.3) with just the stands, but they do a great job of evening out the lighting from the flash.

Why do I like even lighting? Because my "studio" (the kitchen) is pretty cramped, and the boys are usually with a few feet of the backdrop. This is so close that any backdrop other than the black, if flashed directly, would have nasty harsh shadows thrown on it, and the black would shimmer gray in places.

Why don't I just shoot a wider aperture and get more light that way?

Because I've found if I drop below f/5.6 when shooting both boys at once, its pretty much impossible to keep them within the depth of field. With a single dog, f/2.2 - f/3.2 creates pretty portraits. :)

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Picture

Henry and Zachary

Dog Blog Post #885

Running really late tonight (dozed off on the sofa again) - if nothing better comes along tomorrow, I'll post the rest of the shots from this shoot. :)

Photography Assignment

I frequently hear folks say they have a hard time telling the boys apart, so here's a double...

Daily Dog Challenge "394. "Formal Portrait"

… that hopefully illustrates their...

Our Daily Challenge - Nov 28, 2012 - "Individual"

… traits.

On the left, we have Henry.

Physically, he's still a bit lighter in color, his coat is always a bit more rumpled, and he's noticeably larger than his Uncle in person although that rarely shows in pictures.

He's sitting back on his haunches, looking at me with a relaxed, open expression that says "I love you Momma" (or possibly "I love you Cookies" - the looks are quite similar) and not a darn thing is going to budge him from that spot unless I request it or he gets paid.

Henry's my sweet, gentle, loving boy (hence the heart pendant) whose as big a marshmallow on the inside as he appears on the outside.

Contrast that with Zachary, on the right.

Rapidly approaching 5 years old, Zachary is 2.5 years older than his nephew and has noticeable lightening on the end of his muzzle. His coat is a bit darker and much sleeker.

Although laying down, Zachary looks like he could spring to his feet at any moment if he though I might need him to do something. Anything. Zachary loves to help. You can see that eagerness in his face. Look how far forward he's pulled those ears - a sign of attention - compared to Henry's relaxed ears.

Zachary wears a bell, as he's our herald - alerting us whenever he hears something he thinks we need to know about.

He's just as loving as Henry, and even more demanding of affection.

It used to be that you could easily spot Zachary by the Treat Spot on his tongue, but as Henry is now sporting his own spot, so that is no longer the sure fire indicator it once was.

Trivia: While it doesn't show much in the pictures, Henry has very thick fur on his his ears, while Zachary's are smooth and supple. If I'm getting nuzzled by a cold nose in the middle of the night, I can instantly tell who it belongs to by feeling the ears. :)

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Cookie in the Wall

The Wall
Cookie Zen!

The Wall
Henry: "Stay there Cookies, I'll be right back..."

Wall of Cookies
(Close-up of Cookies, dutifully staying.)

(Time passes)

Zachary: "Oops!"

(Close-up of damage Sir Wags-a-Lot wrought with one swish of his mighty tail.)

Dog Blog Post #884

Photography Assignment

Well, will you look at that.

Henry build himself an…

Daily Dog Challenge "393. Artificial"


Our Daily Challenge - Nov 27, 2012 - "Brick"

… wall made from cookies.

Insult to Injury

Oh Zachary, it's bad enough you knocked it over...

Oh No!

... but did you really need to laugh that hard???

Poor Henry!

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 26, 2012


Zachary:  "Where's my Lacrosse Ball?" (sniff sniff sniff) 

Zachary: "Gotcha!"

(Time Passes)

Henry: (sniff sniff sniff) "Oh Cookies, were are you hiding?" (sniff sniff sniff)

Henry: "Kitty! How could you?"

Dog Blog Post #883

Photography Assignment

Looks like Inspector Zachary and Detective Henry spotted Kitty…

Our Daily Challenge Nov 26, 2012 - "At the Top"…

that would be the...

Daily Dog Challenge "392. Tip Top"

… of the Recycled…

The Monthly Scavenger Hunt November 2012 - "#5. Paper"

… heap, where she had smuggled Zachary's favorite Lacrosse Ball and was snitching Henry's cookies.


And in Other News...


... why is Zachary drooling?

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Zachary: "MOM!!! Could you pick us up a new bag of balls at the store today?"

(Time passes)

Henry, would you please take these to your Uncle Zachary for me?


"Momma, I don't think that's what Uncle Zachary had in mind."

Zachary: "What the... ???"

Zachary: "Funny one, Mom. Uh, you did get me LACROSSE Balls... didn't you?"

Dog Blog Post #882

Photography Assignment

Bad Mom.

I'm guessing this wasn't the round,…

Our Daily Challenge - Nov 25, 2012 - "Orange"

balls the boys had in mind.

Daily Dog Challenge "391. Color Theme"

Mischief Monday

Tangerines instead of Lacrosses Balls?

Bag of Tangerines

Clearly mischief.

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Uh Oh

Uh Oh
Henry: "Bad Kitty - now the cookies are broken!"

Uh Oh
Henry: "Momma!!!"

Uh Oh
Henry: "Kitty, you are so busted."

Uh Oh
Zachary: "Uh oh. Mom's not going to like this. Broken cookies everywhere."

Uh Oh
Zachary: "I think we should eat the evidence."

Dog Blog Post #881

Photography Assignment

Looks like Kitty's up to no good again.

She was zooming around house, not being careful at all, when she leapt onto the boys' cookie jar and knocked it over.

Poor boys, what could I say except, "That's…

Daily Dog Challenge "390. How the Cookie Crumbles"


Our Daily Challenge - Nov 24, 2012 - "Pieces")

Uh Oh

Zachary, are you drooling at the cookies... or Kitty?

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 23, 2012


Sleepy Zachary

Come to Me, Cookie Jar
Zachary, willing the cookie jar his way

Come to Me, Cookie Jar
Henry's, "Put down the book Momma and play tug with me!" look.
(No, I can't resist it.)

Failed attempt at glowing candles plus Henry.

Dog Blog Post #880

Photography Assignment

Daily Dog Challenge "389. A Soft Glow - Interpret it however you want, by creating a photo with a soft glow in some way or by taking a photo that gives us a soft glow!"

I had also hoped to pick up Our Daily Challenge's "Ravages of Time" by showing the progression of the candle melting down, but without the glowing aspect, the connection with the topic was just to lame to support posting.

THIS is what I wanted it to look like...

Successful glowing candles, but no dogs.

Oh, for yesterday's Beautiful Light....


Editor's Note: If you missed yesterday's Gratitude post, and are curious how I got the shot above, click the link. I try to describe what I did in the bottom half of the post.

Alas, since the sun only comes in the window for a short time this time of year, if I miss it (as I did today) I'm out of luck.

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved



Dog Blog Post #879

Photography Assignment

- For a warm, safe, snuggly place to sleep

- For Uncle Zachary - the best-est friend ever

- For yummy food and nice long walks

… and cookies

LOTS of cookies.

Daily Dog Challenge "388. Gratitude - It's nice to think about what you're thankful for.

Our Daily Challenge - Nov 22, 2012 - "Getting to the Point - Whether its the point of what a holiday means to you, the point of an argument or the point of a big idea, or merely the point of a fork or the very fine point at the pinnacle of a friend's head -- the interpretation is up to you."


Beautiful Light - Camera Tip

I think I've finally figured out Spot Exposure Metering on my dSLR camera.

The default metering (and I believe this is true of many/most dSLRs) is Matrix Metering, where the "camera meters a wide area of the frame and set[s] exposure according to tone distribution, color, composition, and [depending on lens] distance information." (cut-n-pasted from the PDF user manual.)

Then you have Center-weighted Metering, where the "Camera meters entire frame but assigns greatest weight to center area" - about 8 mm in diameter, depending on the lens being used. According to the docs, a useful thing for portraits.

Finally, you have Spot Metering, which only looks at 3.5 mm (2.5% of frame) centered at your focus point.

It's that last part that makes the pictures I took here work, especially the first shot directly below.

The focus point for that shot was centered on the nice contrasty diagonal line of Zachary's upper eye-lid (according to Aperture 3). Had I used Matrix metering, the camera would have exposed the picture to try and even out my sun-bathed Zachary and the lost-in-shadow rest of the living room. This would have resulted a totally bleached out Zachary.


By switching to spot metering, the camera is now looking at just the area around his eye and has totally ignored the rest of the image. This resulted in a perfectly exposed Zachary, and the rest of the image mercifully going to black (note to self: vacuum and dust living room.)

Just remember to switch it back to Matrix Metering when you are done, or you're going to wonder why the pictures you take the next day look terrible!

Beautiful Light

Beautiful Light

Beautiful Light

FWIW: My first little Sony Cyber-Shot (DSC-W55) point-n-shoot could have taken any of the above, with the possible exception of the off-center shot of Zachary, without me having to do a darn thing.

Don't believe me?

Here's one of the first shots (the SIXTH shot, to be precise) I ever uploaded to flickr, way back on Jan 17 2011, of a young Henry taken with said little camera.

ds428 - Soft

Oh the irony!

Editor's Note: On the Nikon D7000, the exposure metering button is a little button with a funky window-pane image on it on the top of the camera near the shutter release button - the button that is NOT the much more frequently used exposure compensation (+/-) button.

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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"Uh, Mom... what's this???"



Dog Blog Post #878

Photography Assignment

Daily Dog Challenge "387. A Pleasing Composition"

Our Daily Challenge - Nov 21, 2012 - "Stripes"

My Pick-of-the-Day was the second picture, as I loved the inquisitive look Henry was giving the Zebra.

The fact the Zebra had a cookie tucked between his front hooves might have had something to do with that. :)


Editor's Note: Poor Zachary - he's been on a diet of late* making him seemingly perpetually hungry, which can be a bit of a problem when photography time rolls around.

He's now so distracted by the knowledge that he's going to get a cookie, that it's hard for him to do what he needs to do to earn it.

In the case of the picture at the very top of the post, all he had to do was hold still and stare at the cookie that was sitting on Zebra's back.

Obviously, he failed.


Poor Zachary.

Of course, I feel sorry for the poor guy, and it's not really his fault, so I have been trying to keep his shoots shorter and what he has to do to earn his cookies easier.

This probably makes him happier, especially since he's still getting his pre-diet number of cookies for the shoot (a deal is a deal!) but it doesn't make for nearly as good a selection of Zachary shots to choose from!

* He packs on the pounds every single fall, seemingly in a blink of an eye, and ends up on weight control dog food and extra exercise (both of which he thankfully enjoys) until he slims back down again.


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© 2012 BZ Training - All Rights Reserved