portrait of a pitbull

Pet Portraiture

I’ve had two recent events focused on portraits of pets. Well… both were open to all pets, but only dogs attended… and bunny dogs:

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I learned a ton through both experiences.

I was very lucky to be able to partner with Only Natural Pet store in Boulder, Gunbarrel Brewing Company, and the Humane Society of Boulder Valley for these events!

The most common question I get is “isn’t it really difficult to get a dog to sit still for a photo?”

The answer to that is complicated, but the short version is: it’s easier than you think!

In my experience, through the magic of fast shutter speed, a wide open lens, off-camera flash, and dogs who (literally) look up to their owners, it isn’t as much of the disaster it’s easy to imagine it as. Even a puppy with the wiggles can be tempted to slow down to look at their owner or a treat, if only for a couple of seconds at a time.

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Bonnie in action at Gunbarrel Brewing, notice dog’s grandma is helping to get his attention

Things that pet photography does require are quick thinking, quick adjustments, and the ability to be up and down off the floor the whole time.

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Bonnie working at Only Natural Pet

Dogs especially look best when shot from slightly below their head level, gives them a sort of noble and heroic air. We’re used to looking at our pets from far above, so it’s nice to see them from their level (especially the tiny ones).

The most intense thing about these events I’ve done is the fast-paced setting.¬† I’ve had to get a lot quicker about adjusting lighting and settings.

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Busy action at Gunbarrel Brewing, lots of people waiting while Bonnie photographs one handsome black lab

I’ve also learned a lot about how to direct pets and their parents into poses that are more likely to showcase all of them better on film.

halloween portrait of a woman and her two toy poodles

Pet Portraits at Only Natural Pet

On Saturday, October 28th, 2017 I joined Only Natural Pet in Boulder for their Howl-o-ween party.

I offered portrait sittings to customers and their pets.

I had a ton of fun working with my new baby: my Nikon D750, and learned a ton more about lighting while working.

My favorite part of the event was meeting all these excellent dogs and hearing their owners’ stories!

More of the photos can be found on my Facebook page, and all of them can be found in my store.

bride and groom near red rocks with a "beware rattlesnakes" sign

Live Wedding Tutorial

A few weekends ago I had another opportunity to learn from my two favorite photographers: Moira and Jesse of J. La Plante Photography.

Jesse and Moira are my idols when it comes to adventurous photos and creative lighting. They, and the awesome couple invited me to help them photograph a wedding and I had a blast.

I learned so much about lighting from them in just a few hours. My favorite part of this experience was seeing how much work they put into scouting the location beforehand, resulting in some really amazing outdoors and night shots!

Plus it was seeing them work that convinced me to buy my first full-frame camera!

You can check out Jesse and Moira’s amazing night shots and more on their website.

portrait of a yellow Labrador retriever in front of a yellow, orange backdrop

Pet Portraits at Gunbarrel Center

Recently, Gunbarrel Center Apartments invited me to take portraits at a puppy party they threw for their residents.

I had so much fun meeting the residents, their dogs, and taking their photos!

My first client was Holly and her dad. Holly is the first deaf puppy I have worked with, and she was a delight! Super smart, energetic, and patient. Everyone at GC loves this dog!

To light this scene I used two off-camera flashes with MagMod gels pointed at a muslin sheet. I changed the colors of the gels in between shoots, and you can see the different background colors below.

I also had one off-camera flash with a shoot-through umbrella pointed at my subjects. This provided a nice, diffuse light, especially since my subjects were rather mobile!

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Photo taken by my lovely boyfriend of me in action!

Another fun thing I played around with at this event were the props I made. I created little fishing-pole-like devices with dog toys and treats to suspend in front of pets to get their attention. Not sure who had more fun with these, the dogs or their humans! ūüėČ

Overall, I had an enormously fun time creating portraits for all these puppy parents. I can’t wait to do it again at Only Natural Pet on October 28th!

Three Years After the Flood

This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Great Colorado Floods of 2013.

I was flying back home from England via Iceland, and saw the storm building as the plane approached DIA. I was stunned by the storm and took a shitty video. While my family is lucky enough to live outside of Boulder, up a hill so we didn’t face any flash flooding, we did have severe damage in our basement.

I joked that I brought the rain back with me from England.

I ventured into Boulder the day after the flooding and rain stopped to see what I had missed. I took this photo somewhere along the Boulder Creek. I don’t know if the measurement is any sort of accurate, but that combined with the rushing water gives you a sense of how intense the situation was even after the rain had stopped. Plus this graffitoed expression probably captures the sentiment of many Boulderites at the time pretty well.

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I also took a photo of some debris trapped along the creek path that was featured on one of my favorite sites, Earth Science Picture of the Day:

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Another shot of mine, featured in an article about the flood, captured (for me) a moment of hilarity post-tragedy. This jogger was somehow unaware of the depth of the mud and just plowed straight into it, knee-deep and cartoonishly got stuck.

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Another unforeseen bonus of the flood: I got to see Boulderites being stupid about a black bear momma and her cub!

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Storm over Boulder

Last night there was a beautiful lightning storm over Boulder and the foothills. I stood at the the bottom of my street for almost an hour taking photos.

I played around with exposure between 6 and 30 seconds. Two of the shots I decided to edit were pretty straight forward edits:

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You should click to embiggen this one to better see the stars:

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The other two images took a bit more work.

This first one is two exposures stacked on top of each other to bring out the stars and multiple lightning strikes:

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The last is actually the first I edited. It’s four exposures stacked to bring out different lightning strikes and cloud forms:

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I love the illuminated rain bringing out different parts of the foothills in this last one. I also love that you can see the Flatirons on the left edge and NCAR lit up in foothills in the right third.

I definitely want to experiment with lightning photography again sometime!

My Business Cards Arrived!

I ordered mini-cards from Moo just a few days ago, so I would have something to hand out at Denver Comic Con this weekend. They arrived today and I am super impressed.

The cards are well done, the card holder seems pretty nice, even the packaging was super cute and classy.

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I went with Moo because of a friend’s recommendation and I still remember getting a mini-card from someone at an event a couple years ago!

Moo has some other formats/sizes of cards, as well as templates aimed at many different professions.

If you’re at Denver Comic Con this weekend, come say hi! I’ll be the Hall Captain (blue shirt) of the 500s hall!

Sometimes your smartphone just has to do…

I didn’t bring my camera while just walking my dog and immediately regretted that. It had been stormy and the view from the bottom of my street was breathtaking.

Thank goodness for smartphones and their ability to take awesome panoramas!

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The drama and color in Colorado skies will never cease impressing me.

Throwback: How I got Started

I decided to take the plunge and buy a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera, the ones with the interchangeable lenses) in July of 2013. I had owned a couple of point-and-shoots and they just didn’t have the capability to do some of the more artistic things I wanted. I wanted to be able to manual focus and utilize better flash. I liked the idea of being able to buy different lenses and upgrade parts as I learned and grew (and could afford it).

Using the advice of my main photography mentors, Moira and Jesse, I decided to go with a Nikon D5100, and I’m so glad I made that choice.

At the time is was living in Norwich, England finishing my master’s degree in history at the University of East Anglia. I decided to buy a DSLR then (despite the poor exchange rate), because I was planning a three-day stop in Iceland on my way back home, and I wanted a camera worthy of legendary Icelandic beauty.

I didn’t fully realize what I was getting myself into, but luckily most DSLR’s have very good auto settings for photography n00bs.

This was the first photo I took with my new camera:

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I shot some wildflowers at sunset with just a hint of UEA’s unique ziggurat dorms in the background.

By the way, in another shot I took of the Ziggurats at sunset, you can see on the left the Sainsbury Centre which served as the new Avengers headquarters in Age of Ultron!

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Looking back at these first images, I realize that the featured image on this page features some rare undulatus asperatus clouds and virga hanging over the Sainsbury Centre and Ziggurats at UEA.