Category Archives Guest Blogger

Firstly thanks to Scott and Brad for the opportunity, and also thanks to Glyn Dewis for introducing me. Hi Everyone, My names James Hole, I’m from Brighton, UK and I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to guest post on Scott’s blog today. I began my journey in photography at the end of 2012, when a friend asked me to take a couple of DJ promo shots for him. I didn’t really know anything about photographing people or using and shaping light. So I chucked a speed light (I bought on eBay that same week) on a light stand armed with a snoot fashioned from a bunch of drinking straws, I watched a couple of YouTube videos and believe it or not the shoot actually went ok. I clearly remember that moment when I began looking at everything differently, realising that I wasn’t limited to just…

First off, I'd like to thank Scott for giving me the opportunity to share this invitation with you.  Next Saturday June 13, 2015 I will have a few of my images shown at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City as part of Canon's #FromLightToInk campaign.  As a NYer, born and raised - I can't begin to explain how exciting and humbling it is to have my work there, if for such a short amount of time.  If you are in the area, I would totally love it if you could stop in. I also wanted to share with you a little bit about the project - and why I was even happier to participate once I knew the social media involvement in it - not having it be about me. More Than Just Us The project came about as a partnership with…

A self-portrait of my Veterans Portrait Project location studio set-up Howdy Scott, Brad, Kelby-crew and readers! Can you believe it’s been just over four years since my last guest blog post? So much has happened since then I’d like to share with y’all. But first, I need to extend a thank you to Scott and Brad for inviting me back for a follow-up. Okay, let’s get to it! As you know from my previous post, I began a personal endeavor, the Veterans Portrait Project, while recovering from combat injuries I sustained in Iraq while documenting the war as a military combat photographer. After spending hours in Veteran Administration hospital waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service, I felt compelled to honor and thank them in the only way I knew how, photography. The Project became my new mission. In…

Photo by Sam Haddix

Hi! I'm Kaylee. And I'm going to tell you something that will knock your socks right off. Ready?

I love dogs.

And oh my gosh, I wish I could say this in a sort of casual, non-chalant, “Yeah I think dogs are pretty cool, no big deal,” sort of way. But you guys… I mean it. I mean like, in a totally and completely bonafide ‘crazy dog lady’ kind of way.

So, it's kind of embarrassing when I walk down the street and audibly and uncontrollably squeal with delight over every little wiggling, passing pup I see. My friends actually try and deter me from the path of an oncoming dog as we walk down the sidewalk – for fear that we'll get stuck in a 25 minute interaction that includes me excessively ogling, squishing and kissing a strange dog with a sometimes slightly terrified owner looking on.

The truth is, I find more beauty, purity and joy inside the iris of a happy dog than I do anywhere else in the world. When all else seems to fail me – I find solace in the smile of a dog. Dogs have this perfect ability to live simply – to live in the moment. And that just fascinates me.

Luckily for me, I was blessed enough to be able to turn my copious amounts of â˜dog crazy' into passion – and that passion into a profession.

Yup, you heard it here folks – I am a professional dog photographer.

I know, I know. â˜A WHAT?' (accompanied by a cocked head, big eyes and sometimes a giggle at my expense; this is the typical response I get when people first discover my job title.) A professional dog photographer. I'm wildly humbled and grateful to say that I've turned that passion into a very busy reality that has me booked almost one full year ahead with both private and commercial shoots. Who would've thought that could even be within the scope of reality for someone who only photographs dogs?! Good gravy! Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I wake up every day and smile. I smile because life is so silly and full of wonder. I smile because Im living my real live dream. And that dream is called Dog Breath Photography.

If you told my five-year-old self what my profession would one day turn out to be – I think her head would have actually popped off with joy. If you hang on just a sec, I think I can hear her squeals of delight from all the way back in 1990. Holy banana sandwiches.

So, after being invited to write this guest post on Scott's blog (but not before I finished the elaborate robot dance of joy that I executed quite fabulously all alone in my studio with my dog looking on judging me harshly), I thought how wonderful it would be to share some of my best tips and tricks. The little golden nuggets of wisdom that I've felt blessed to have learned over the past 5 years of my dog photography adventures. While getting great photos of your client's or your own pets sometimes feels impossible â” I can assure you with the utmost conviction – it's not.

I've got some stuff up my sleeve that you just might find helpful – especially when you've got Rufus set up for the most perfect shot, arranged meticulously in the gorgeous, golden afternoon lightâ” and he suddenly runs off in the direction of that squirrel for the 45th time. (Let me tell you now, as much as you try to reason with them, dogs just don't appreciate the nuances of really good light.)

So, let's dive into some content that will help you get amazing shots of your pets, that will create the illusion that you're working with a perfectly trained dog every time.

As we all know, your average dog is anything but stagnant. No, he moves. And when I say â˜he moves,' I mean like, 65mph moves. Like with more quickness and speed than the fastest, angriest ostrich on the savannah.

And not only does he move – but he drools. He barks. He chases his tail in endless circles. He has the attention span of a gnat.

But most significantly, he speaks an entirely different language than you and I. I know what you're thinking. Not the easiest subject for a photograph, right? Precisely.

Some of the first things that people ask me when they see my images are:

â˜How do you get all these dogs to pose so perfectly for you like that?' â˜Do these dogs just sit there, hold exactly still and smile for you?!' â˜Are these magic dogs from a magical land?'

The answer to that last question is an enthusiastic â˜no.’ While I've had a few dreams about this (these elusive, magical, still dogs), I photograph regular dogs. Real dogs. The dogs you see walking down the street every day. The dogs that fly through the dog park at about a gazillion miles an hour. The naughty dogs that dig holes in their owner's tulip gardens and bury bones in their backyards. Dogs that sniff other dogs' butts. Dogs that lie on their family's couches and fart.

You know, those kinds of dogs.

In addition to working with lots of regular family dogsâ” I also volunteer my time to busy, overburdened animal shelters – photographing homeless and abandoned animals who are waiting for a new family to adopt them. Some of these shelter dogs can be rife with a whole different set of behavioral and emotional issues due to the transitionary states of their lives – fearfulness, abandonment, aggression, loneliness, confusion. Even with these sweet, sweet lost souls who lack the stability of a home and family to call their own – with enough knowledge, kindness of heart and patience â” you can get a winning image.

You wouldn't travel to a foreign country and expect them to speak your language right? The same thing goes for dogs. Don't enter a dog's world and expect them to speak your language â” you need to speak theirs.

Dogs talk through their eyes. Their ears. Their tails. Their body posture. Dogs talk with sounds – growls, whines, barks – you name it. If you want to understand the language of a dog – you need to immerse yourself in their world. Be quiet and listen. Once you spend enough time with a dog you'll learn about what most motivates them. You'll find that canines tend to go totally gaga over one or more of the following things:

  • TREATS (because, you know…yum!)
  • PEANUT BUTTER (this stuff is most dogs' kryptonite, I’m serious! For dogs that can't have peanut butter, cream cheese or canned pumpkin will also work just fine.)
  • TOYS (ask me how many Barbie dolls I had when I was 9…I totally get this one.)
  • SOUNDS (things that go squeak! The most successful way to evoke the elusive and highly coveted â˜head tilt.' And a great way to get the mouth closed and ears pricked up at attention.)
  • PRAISE (dogs LOVE praise. â˜HEY DOG! YOU ARE AWESOME!!')
  • THEIR OWNERS (oh HELLO my humans! I want to love you forever and ever and ever and ever ::slobbery kisses::)

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge. -Albert Einstein I have come to believe that my job, why I was put on this earth, is to tell the truth and see the pretty. My job is to walk all over the planet and allow myself to be taken by the moment and to record the truth, beauty and moments of abandon with a camera. Interesting work if you can get it. What I discovered is so long as I stay on this path I (mostly) stay out of trouble. What I have also discovered is that coincidence is the universe’s attempt at remaining anonymous. I live in a world where my fantasy as a child has come true, to make…

Let There Be Light
Thanks Scott for the opportunity to be a quest blog writer this weekâ¦it's such an honor dude.  And perfect timing as I am preparing for my own Lightpainting Workshop on May 28-30, in Loveland, Colorado.

Okay⦠Let's learn how to Lightpaint.

Humanity is drawn to light. It is in our DNA. We can't help but look towards the brightest part of a picture. As a photographer it is my responsibility to help guide the viewer to the subject in the picture, and I can do so with light.

But sometimes a flash or strobe just isn't graceful enough. That's when I turn off the studio lights and delve into the most creative lighting technique of all. Lightpainting⦠it's the perfect combination of photography and artistic expression.

The word photography in the Greek means "light writing." Simply said, Lightpainting is the revealing of the subject from darkness with light. In general, Lightpaintings make use of long exposure times like 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, or more.

Let's begin with some basics and Lightpaint a "Table-Top" Still Life. I will need a dark environment for my little subject â¦the Yellow Tail Fly. I will use a Manual Exposure of which I have a basic starting exposure that I begin many of my Lightpaintings with: ISO500, 30 seconds at f/8.

During the 30 seconds exposure time I will use a mobile light source to illuminate the subjects in the scene and reveal them from the dark with Lightpainting.

For my Table-Top still life and live model Lightpaintings I use a small Stylus penlight with a single LED bulb made by Streamlight.

First I arrange my subject and composing the scene. Then, like with all Lightpaintings, I secure the camera on a sturdy tripod. With the studio lights turned "on" I use Auto Focus on the subject and then turn "off" the auto focus. This is so the auto focus does not activate or "search" in the dark when you turn off the lights, open the shutter, and begin to Lightpaint.

I use the Auto Focus (AF) back button. By simply releasing your thumb from the AF button on the back of the camera it stops activation of the Auto Focus operation. Or you can also simply turn OFF the AF switch on the barrel of the lens or camera.

I also use a Manual WB of 10,000 Kelvin when Lightpainting with any LED flashlight. This setting helps add a warm color tone to the overall picture. And I will also activate the Long Exposure Noise Reduction mode in the camera. This prevents any noise speckles from appearing due to the long exposure time that generates heat inside the camera.

I'm now ready to turn OFF the room lights and make my first "TEST SHOT" without adding any Lightpainting to the subjects, just to see if there is any unwanted ambient light creeping in from a window or the door.

With a dark or "Blank" image on the LCD screen I'm now I'm ready to add some Lightpainting. I like to apply the light from off camera angles to create a dramatic lighting effect. In this image titled Yellow Tail Fly, the light from my Stylus is coming into the scene from the upper right corner of the frame.

Yellow Tail Fly: Nikon D7000, ISO400, 30 seconds exposure at f/32, Nikon 28-300mm VRII zoom lens at 300mm, WB 6700K, Manfrotto Tripod with 410 Gear Head, Stylus penlight, SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro Flash Card.

The closer the light source is to the subject, the brighter the subject becomes. Also said, the longer time I spend illuminating my subject the brighter the subject becomes. Too much light or too much time spent applying light can overexpose portions of the imageâ¦and vise verse.

I try to keep the light source (Stylus) moving while applying the light, usually in a swirling or brushing motion. This helps soften the transitional edges between light and shadow, which is key in creating a painterly quality to the picture. You are in effect "painting with light."

My basic Manual Exposure setting of ISO 500, 30 seconds at f/8 is a good way to begin, but it can vary depending on intensity of your flashlight and the distance from flashlight to subject, and also how large your subject is. Don't give up, I sometimes make 10-15 Lightpaintings before I get one that I like.

The Red Violin: Nikon D800, ISO100, 1 minute at f/6.3, Nikon 105mm MACRO lens,
WB 10,000K, Manfrotto Tripod with 410 Gear Head, Stylus penlight, SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro Flash Card.

Here is another "Table-Top" Still Life, but it has 2 variations from the Yellow Tail Fly. I used a lower ISO of only 100 and I increased the exposure time to 1 minute. Why? â¦because I felt I would need 1 entire minute to "precisely" apply Lightpainting from only a few inches away, and from multiple Off Camera angles. Lightpainting so close to the subject using ISO500 would result in way overexposing the subject.