Lens Experimentation

I’ve been experimenting with Nikon’s 50mm f1.8 lens the last few weeks.  The following images were taken with it and while I love my 18 – 200mm f3.5 for almost every shooting situation I come across, it lacks the ability to sharply capture action indoors in low light situations.  For pet photography, this is imperative.  For pet photography in New England where the majority of winter shoots may occur indoors due to inclement weather, it’s even more important.  The 50mm is a fast lens and I have to admit, I really like the depth of field and the quicker than quick auto focus.  Being able to blur an undesirable background and put all the attention on the pet is fantastic.  It serves a lovely purpose for tight portraits of one pet but when you’re indoors and shooting two or more pets, I find it almost impossible to be able to back up enough to get a composition I’m happy with.

Here’s Max…how beautiful is he?  I love this image.  It shows exactly what the 50mm is capable of.

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Next up, Valentino…look at those blurred polka dots…perfectly soft background and body draws your eye to this handsome boys little pink nose.


Onto Georgia Peach in front of her very first Christmas tree.  Has the same feel as Valentino’s above but the colored ornaments add accents.


Last but certainly not least, Pippin.  Here, outdoors, the majority of the image is in focus with the exception of the fence and because it’s a not so pretty fence, that’s exactly what I was looking for.


Enjoy the Simple Pleasures


Santa Paws at PSP; A Great Success

Thanks to everyone who came down and had photographs taken of their dogs (and cats) with Santa.  The turnout was fantastic and all of the dogs did so well.  We even had two cats come down and considering the circumstances,their surroundings, not to mention the presence of the jolly one himself, we didn’t have to pull any cats off the ceiling and no one clawed their way up or down any part of Santa’s body.

Funds raised $900.  All of the funds will benefit Quincy Animal Shelter.  You folks rock!

Um, Excuse Me Sir Lancelot

But since when has this been okay?


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This just goes to show, new and even dangerous habits, if not nipped in the bud, can develop into old age.  I came up from the basement after cleaning litter boxes to find him here and before he received a slight scolding that included a lecture on the dangers of catching fire, I had to grab my camera.  His dainty little feet all gathered up under him on the precipice of the warm stove just cracked me up.  Guess he just couldn’t resist the aroma of his dinner for the week, wafting from the oven.


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Santa Paws is Coming to Town

I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with Quincy Animal Shelter, PetCo and Pet Supplies Plus this year for their annual Santa Paws event.

You get to choose from two different dates, so come on down and bring your pets to have their photos taken with Santa and get a 4×6 holiday photo card and a photo cd.

Your $15.00 donation goes directly to Quincy Animal Shelter.  Looking forward to seeing you.


What’s better than an Australian Shepherd Puppy?

TWO AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD PUPPIES both of whom I got to photograph Wednesday morning.

However, the story really begins with Mitso (on the left) and Tansy (on the right).

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I’ve been hesitant to tell their story for fear I wouldn’t do them justice and also because as I recollect their story, the stories of my friends that have moved on to the next life come vividly back and I relive the grief as if it were only yesterday. But now I understand, that it’s a gross injustice to the memory of Tansy and the life of Mitso. So today, thanks to Hedy Mae and Dunn, the story of Mitso and Tansy can be told.

I had the honor of photographing this lovely pair of friends back in July.   It was a beautiful day and they ran around the yard as if they were in their adolescents. Tansy, clearly the boss, yipping at Mitso’s heels. Mitso, always so accomodating, showed no signs of putting her in her place. It was like watching an old married couple, familiar with each other and lovingly teasing.

Not long after the photo shoot, I was shocked to hear that Mitso was in declining health with neurological symptoms and in the hospital having a barrage of tests to try to determine what the cause.

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Even more shocking was the call I got a week after hearing about Mitso.  Tansy, Mitso’s sidekick and best friend of almost 13 years had, quite unexpectedly, passed away.  One day, Tansy was in perfect health, the next she was just a tad bit off her game.  Unfortunately, like it is with many pets, self preservation is a genetic trait and by the time any signs of internal distress is prominent enough to come to the surface, in a lot of cases, it’s often too late.  She was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  The loss of this beautiful girl was a devasting shock to the entire family and all of their friends and as I write this while looking over the images from our past session, the pain feels brand new.

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In his weakened physical and mental state, it’s hard to say whether or not Mitso understood or grasped the notion that Tansy wasn’t coming back.  I believe animals grieve.  I’m certain of this because I’ve seen the process first hand.  While Mitso’s physical and mental condition may have masked what his heart was feeling, I’m sure that he was aware of his loss.

Always a two dog household, it didn’t take long before little Heddy Mae, just shy of four months old, entered into the family.

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She immediately took matters into her own paws and brings a lot of pizzazz to the occupants of the Hefner household.  Like Tansy, she’s a pistol with a tenacious and take charge personality.  It didn’t take her long to start keeping Mitso on his toes.  Hedy Mae, has no time to stand around pouting and has no tolerance for those who do.  She insists Mitso play with her on her terms, whenever she feels the need.  And Mitso, being the steadfast, trustworthy, never capable of harming anyone Aussie that he is, obliges her as best as he can.  But like any 90 year old Grandpa with their way too intelligent for her own good, three year old granddaughter, it doesn’t take long to tire…it’s just life…it gets hard to keep up.

The solution…chubba wubba Dunn to Mitso’s rescue…….

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Dunn is only one month shy in age to Hedy Mae and has a temperment much like Mitso.  Together, the two of them knitted the frayed fabric of this family back together.

While they are both Red Merles with distinctive patterns, it’s uncanny how similar they also look.  From separate litters, they both even have the same eye coloring which is really odd when you consider one eye is blue and one eye is green.  And if that’s not bizarre enough, the same eyes are the same colors…their left eyes are blue while their right eyes are green.

Fate?  Perhaps.  Destiny?  Could be.  But whatever you want to call it, these two bring out the puppy in our old friend Mitso.  He was romping and dancing about the yard with them and as I watched, I saw the years melt from his frame.  He looked stronger, jumped higher and whirled about as if he were just a pup.

When he’d had enough (which wasn’t very often) he would go to stand on the porch and the pups would turn to each other for entertainment leaving him the rest period he wanted.

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As I look over the images from that day, I see the boundless energy and cuteness of those two little fluff balls juxtaposed by the elegance and grace of our white muzzled friend and can’t help but think how perfect things are for everyone.  If there ever comes a time where I may doubt the ability of animals to communicate effectively or to have emotion, I’ll only have to look at this image of Mitso’s deliriously happy expression.  It’s a reminder to me that if the communication is ever off, it’s me that is at fault.

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And to my little friend Tansy, may you be in peace.

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Autumn with Georgia and Pippin

Ahhh, Autumn.  The air is brisk and the scent of the damp, cool ground is in the air.  The wind that dances amongst the trees has a purpose.  The harder it rushes along the branches, the easier it is for the leaves to release their seasonal grasp, fall to the ground and give nutrients back to Mother Earth where they’re reborn in the Spring.

The kids love this time of year because hikes in the woods are longer as the risk of overheating diminishes.  Animals scurry about the trail preparing for the hardships of winter and that’s always fun for them.  We saw a gaggle (I think it’s called a gaggle) of wild Turkey as we came around the bend the other day.  And the colors, well, I don’t think there’s a paint pallet or crayon color that compares to what nature can create.

Seeing Fall, through their eyes, allows me a greater appreciation of a season I was never a very big fan of.  Their antics make me giggle as they continue to show me how much fun the simple things in life really are.  Today, I was reminded of what it felt like to be a little girl diving into a gigantic pile of leaves freshly raked by Dad.  Thank you Georgia and Pippin for the trip down memory lane.

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Ari the American Pit Bull

All my life I’ve been able to eat however much of whatever I wanted and burn it off almost immediately.  Growing up, everyone kept telling me to take advantage of that while I could because once I “aged”, it would all change.  I didn’t believe them.  Now in my early forties, the reality of their long ago words rings oh so true with the extra 25lbs that I gained over the last two years.  While determined to shed the extra weight, I’m not foolish enough to think it’ll be a piece of cake (mmmhhh, cake).  But here to inspire me is an American Pit Bull Terrier named Ari.

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There isn’t an ounce of excess body weight on this stunning boy from his head, built like a a concrete cinder block to his toes.  He should be the poster boy for extreme fitness.

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With all that power behind him I can almost (but not quite) understand a person who might shy away from him and the breed.  To me, he’s soooo impressive and I’m awed by the contrast of his formidable appearance and his laughing, playful, and curious nature.

Ari was a rescue who spent the first two years of his life tied up in a backyard as a “guard dog”.  When his mom adopted him, he had no idea what it was like to live in a home, play with other dogs or be loved.  But with time, he learned how to do not only these things, but so much more.

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With such stark contrasts, Ari provides the perfect example of why you should never judge a book by it’s cover.  Under that rock solid exterior, lays a heart intent with only one thing, giving and receiving love.  I’m grateful to his mom for working with him and teaching him that not all people are heartless and that there are many people that can be kind.  I honestly believe, he knows that his life has changed for the better and he thanks her every day.

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Gentle Pop

How magnificent is this giant boy?  Pop is a Rottweiler mix with most of his genetics leaning much to the Rottie side.  He was enormous.  Very long and lanky yet very tall.  Almost the height of a Great Dane.

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One would think with a dog this large, he’d be a little less than graceful but not Pop.  He lumbered among the pines with ease and elegance.

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When I think about Pop, I think about ambling lazily along winding wooded paths.  Something about him conjures up images of dangling legs off slatted docks into cool lake waters on hot and hazy summer afternoons.  When I think about Pop, words such as “gentle”, “soulful”, “kind” “knowing” and “regal” come to mind.

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It’s hard to describe the instant connection I feel towards animals.  And sometimes, there are certain animals in which that connection is so strong that it leaves me completely speechless.  Pop is one of those animals.  He touched my heart in a way I’m unable to express.   It was an honor meeting you my friend.

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My Friend Pippin

The road that Pippin travelled to reach me was a long one.

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He arrived in my life a year after Georgia, at a time when I was contemplating a companion for her. I volunteer at my local animal shelter a few mornings a week and on a day in August 2002, I came upon a dog in one of the kennels that looked strikingly like her. So much so that I thought she had gotten out of the house and that the animal control officer found her and brought her to the shelter for me. It was only until I was at the kennel door that I noticed the slight differences; shorter, more compact, longer ears, not to mention the major difference; he was a he.

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Any hesitations I had in regards to adopting a second dog were immediately quashed by Pippin’s amiable character. The fact that he had remained so good natured, even after what he had previously endured in his short two years, only made me love him more. He was brought to our shelter by the local groomer who told us his previous owner dropped him off to be groomed and never came back for him. Can you imagine? What is wrong with people? After many phone calls to the owner, we found that Pippin had been through three different homes in two years. His last owner kept him tied to the kitchen table during the day and told us that he was too hyperactive and was beginning to make their other dog just as “crazy”. It took no time at all to get them to officially surrender him to us.

It took even less time for him to integrate himself into my clan. When I first brought him home, I was nervous about how Georgia would react to him and secretly praying that everything would work out because he deserved someone to finally do right by him. I needn’t have worried. Georgia took to him immediately. They began romping and tumbling about like they had known each other since they were babies. And he did just as well with my cats.

That was seven years ago and today, Pippin is an integral part of my pack. Almost the bipolar opposite of Georgia, he is the court jester. He loves and trusts everyone and everything; almost to a fault. A true hunter by nature he’s a fly by the seat of his pants kind of dog; always ready to go.

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In October of 2007, Pippin had a serious injury while playing in the backyard that left him paralyzed from mid back, through both back legs, to the tips of his toes. It took three months of rest and a year of physical therapy for him to heal to about 90% of what he once was. Now that he’s nine, he has a bit of arthritis that adds to his aches and pains but he doesn’t let it stop him. He never turns down the opportunity to go for a hike, swim in the lake or chase a ball and enjoys running but when he tries to keep up with Georgia on an off leash run, he ends up paying for it later with aches and stiffness, so I frequently take them for walks separately.  Summer last year he was only able to do a mile.  Today, with a consistent routine of exercise, stretching and the help of Dr. Tranberg of Scituate Harbor Chiropractic , he can do three.  Our goal is to get to five by January.

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Pippin is my inspiration and I am blessed to have him in my life. He constantly motivates me to reach further and teaches me to strive harder and not to sweat the small stuff. Pippin, another of my best friends, always keeps things light hearted and never, EVER allows me to take myself or life too seriously.

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