April 25, 2012

Week 17

I had no idea what I wanted to do this week for our photos. Until I looked out the front window yesterday and saw the field of sparse winter wheat calling.  Given Dazzle's reaction to the soybeans seen in this video from 2009: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-xv6_IeAFg) I had a feeling he would like the wheat too.

The field is normally planted for soybeans or corn and the wheat is so sparsely planted we didn't do any damage to it. At first I thought it was just the weeds growing up, but they are too evenly spaced and look like short wheat stalks. I'm sure it will be harvested any day now because all the other fields around us are already plowed and planted. Since it was all soybeans last year, it should be corn this year.
When I saw this photo, I thought it was just calling for a quote.
So I added one I made up

I picked this one for the Flickr group. I love his smile and muscles and pose.

This was the best close-up I got as he was zooming around on his own.

I love this one too, but his smile kind of blends into the background.  I did lighten that area of greenery, but it wasn't enough.

For this (and most of the shots) I had him on a stay to my left, then threw the ball to my right and released him from the stay which caused him to go bounding past me :-)

This was almost my pick, but when it is enlarged, you can see that the focus is actually slightly in front of him so he's very slightly out of focus.  In this photo he is on a stay after I threw the ball. Frozen like a statue watching the landing point till he hears the release word.

Some parts of the field were deeper than others :-)

Pouncing on the ball. The wheat and weeds are sparse enough that he had no trouble finding his ball. Only the green parts are wheat, the yellow is various weeds. 

This one just makes me laugh!  He was zooming around and I think he was checking in to see if I still had his ball.

Blooper!  More zooming on his own and I wasn't quite fast enough with the panning.  Too bad because I really like the focus on this one.
It's a really beautiful day today, but storms are predicted for 2am.  :-(

UPDATE: The storms went through around midnight and dumped a LOT of rain and hail but we are fine. The winds were driving it right against the back of the house so it piled up in the corner.  VERY loud against the windows!

I took this at dusk as the clouds started to roll in

Also took a few photos of Splash just for fun

I tried to get one of her in her favorite pose (on her back, watching us from upside down) but they were either out of focus or her eyes reflected the flash badly.

April 19, 2012

Week 16

I saw a photo taken through a cut piece of (I think) wall paper that looks like linen.  I really liked the effect, so this week I wanted to try to recreate it. 

I cut an X into card stock and after I made the cuts, I rolled the center pieces to get them to curl. If I do this again, I think I would put it in a frame to make it more stiff and less effected by the slightest breeze.

I had a heck of a time getting the camera to focus on Dazzle and not the paper- even when I would press and hold the shutter and then move the frame into position. Which has worked in the past, so I'm not sure why the camera was SO adamant about focusing closer. I even tried to move the frame into position really fast (after holding the shutter) which worked a couple times.  But trying to get the framing correct, focus right and not have the frame blow over in the slight wind all while capturing Dazzle looking the right direction was too much. :-)

As a result, I ended up layering a photo of the cut paper "frame" I was holding over a photo I took without the frame held up. Which meant both were in focus and I think I like that better anyway. I guess everything happens for a reason :-)

While at the lake for the above photo, I spotted a small playground and let Dazzle play a bit.  For the following shot, I started on the ground and put Dazzle in a stay while I set his ball at the top of the slide.  I knew he could run up the slide, but just wanted to double check.  He had no problem and got up in about 2 strides. 

So then I put him on a stay, took his ball and myself to the top (not an easy task with bad knees and on equipment sized for little kids!) and then told him to "get it" (the ball).  After he got it the first time, I used distance/directional control to get him re-set for the next shot so that I didn't have to get myself in and out of the equipment again :-)  His advanced training skills come in handy!  Because Dazzle was moving so fast, even with the camera on continuous, I only got 3 or 4 frames per run. So this series is a mix from both runs. (Click on the photo to make it larger)

In the Working Dogs Facebook group, the challenge was "warning sign".  I had already done the "if you break in" shot I posted for last week, so I went for a different shot. The goal I had in mind was to make it look like he was defending the yard. But since he normally wags his tail and wiggles his body at me when I'm outside the fence, I had to improvise. 

I pulled out his favorite tug toy and beat it with a whip.  As you can see, he was NOT pleased about that!  A short burst of shots and I had what I needed.  And as soon as I stopped beating his toy he went back to wiggly body language begging me to get back in the yard to throw he ball. :-) 

I changed up the sign a bit (changed "xing" to "on duty" and fixed the silhouette). Then put a few photos together. In these out of sequence photos he was going for and biting the fence in frustration, but it looks like he could be snarling and barking.  

This lone tree caught my eye when I was on my way to Columbus for a weekend seminar. I didn't get any photos during the seminar, but did get some I liked of this tree (without even getting out of my vehicle). 

The dust behind the tree in the photo above was from a farmer plowing the field.  It was quite windy, so the dust dissapeared fast.  When I first saw the tree, it was enveloped in the dust and looked eerie.  But of course I couldn't get in position and get the camera out in time to get that shot.  The one below was taken only about 1 minute after the one above.  The farmer had moved on to another part of the field and the dust was gone.

Future forest?  All these seeds are from a single Maple tree in the neighbor's yard.  I don't think it would take long for a forest to sprout up if we stopped mowing the lawn.

When leaving the lake after taking the paper frame and playground slide photos, I spotted two wild turkeys ahead.  I stopped well away from them and got the camera ready.  I tried to creep up on them in my vehicle, but they weren't going for that and walked into the woods.

I had some time to kill before a haircut appointment and there was no traffic, so I waited for them to come back out.  They moved along in the woods in the direction I had come from, but eventually they did move back out into the open.  This shot was from so far away I wasn't even sure what I got till after I got home and could crop and enlarge it.  

The seminar I attended this past weekend at Posidog was presented by Shade Whitesel and it was great!  She is a motivating and positive teacher with a wealth of knowledge.  I got tips to improve Dazzle's heeling, front position and broad jump performance. I have already been trying them out :-) 

April 13, 2012

Week 15

We had a challenge this week on the Flickr group- a photo that expresses "jpy" without the need for an explaination.  I thought about a water photo, but in the end decided to do a running photo since that IS his favorite joy :-)

Working alone, I had to figure out a way to get him away from me so that he would be running when he passed in front of where I was sitting on the ground.  So I set up a jump about the middle of the yard and was sending him to my right to the jump and then throwing his ball to my left.  This caused him to zoom past me :-)  but also gave me time to get the camera up and ready after throwing the ball. Based on where I threw the ball, I could control how far away or how close to me he ran since he made a straight line from the jump to the ball.

Here is the result:

This was another photo I really love from the photo session.  But I didn't think it looked as joyful as the one above.

For the facebook group, I wanted to do something different.  We had SUCH a beautiful sky on the day I took these and I thought it would look good in the reflection. This was the photo I chose from the group (turned 180 degrees from the original)

This was how the photos looked originally.  I tucked a ball under the end of the mirror to get him to look down.  But then I had to wipe drool off the mirror between almost every shot!  I like the clouds in this one, but it didn't look as good when flipped and I liked the way the flipped one looked, so I picked that one. 

I wrangled Mike into helping me with another photo shoot this week because I needed a photo for a handout.  I'm helping a blind friend with a conference for first responders regarding "dealing with service dogs".  I helped write the handouts for her and she wanted some photos of working dogs.  So off to the mall we went to get photos of Dazzle pulling the wheelchair. 

Not sure if it's been too long since I have had him do this or if Mike's presence was throwing him off or if I have been using power scooters too much, but he wasn't wanting to pull. Poor Mike, he's so tollerant! I did a little remedial training while Mike went to get a cell phone issues resolved. 

I put the camera on "continuous" for him and once Dazzle was again pulling, I had us go past Mike while he just kept the shutter pressed.  Good thing I had a 16 GB card!  LOL  I had a LOT of photos to delete, but I did get some good ones and used the one above on the handout. 

April 02, 2012

Week 14 - Happy Easter!

How about that?  Updating the blog on MONDAY! :-)  Since it is Easter week, I decided to make that my theme.  I tried taking the photos in the yard, but the full sun was giving me harsh shadows that even the editing couldn't correct enough for me to be happy with the result.  So I carried everything next door and used the shade of some big trees to get these. 

I had plans for more shots/poses, but the neighbor started his tractor and Dazzle was thinking seriously about getting that tractor, so I decided it was best to take him in.  Thankfully our practice in the sun made it easy to get the shots I wanted in short order once we were in the shade so I like the way these came out.

I know I have talked about Dazzle's thunder phobia on the blog before, but I think we have found the solution!  I have tried SO many things, but nothing I tried was working to relieve his stress during thunder.  So I bit the bullet and got some drugs from the vet.  During a storm early last week, I tried one of the pills (1mg alprazolam), but it didn't seem to have much effect.  The dosage range for the "doggie Xanax" is rather large, so we started with a low dose in case that worked. 

On Friday, I had to be at the training club since I'm running the Agility practice runs (and didn't want to leave it to Sarah again). But I knew a big storm was predicted.  I went to the club early to practice Dazzle's agility and he got in one official practice run on the full course before I needed to give him the meds.  He has to get them about an hour before the thunder so they have time to work.  Since I knew we were going to be in a metal building, I brought along benedryl as well.  I gave him 1 benedryl and 2mg of the Alprazolam.  I also put his thundershirt on him.  Given how loud the thunder was, he was still reacting a bit and climbed in my lap and shook a bit, but nothing like the basket case he would have been without the meds!  And as soon as the thunder was over, so was his reaction (instead of being stressed for an hour+ after the last boom).  So definite improvement!

Last night, more storms rolled through, but we were between two bad cells.  So the thunder was more distant, but definitely still audible at a level he would have reacted badly to. I gave him only 2 of the alprazolam and he slept through the storm!! 
He did raise his head a few times when there was a loud boom, but then went back to sleep!  I'm so happy I have a way to help him cope and there is a chance that after several storms with this help he could get conditioned to not have a stress reaction to the sound of thunder.  And then he wouldn't need the meds.   It does make him pretty sleepy (& gives him the munchies), but he's not in a panic and that's so nice.  I hated to see him so scared and not be able to help him.