The calendar says Spring is here but the clothing I needed to wear while photographing Pointers and English Setters in the field deceived me! A steady 30 mph wind blew relentlessly from the west as John and Austin carefully set up the homing pigeons in a grassy area of his property. Secured from the dogs, the pigeons settled while the dogs, hitched to a strip of chain, barked, whined and waited for their turn to scent and point the birds.
The first two dogs, seen below, came down the mowed path, picked up the scent, and like a trained Marine in a drill team, pivoted sharply to their left at the first sniff of the pigeon scent, and assumed the statuesque point of a bird dog. Beautiful – simply beautiful!
This scent test was sponsored by Illinois Bird Dog rescue (IBR) and they hold these tests to see how their rescue dogs are doing. All of the dogs that enter their rescue are tested for tick-borne diseases. Since May is Lyme disease month, it’s important to know that Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Erlichiosis, Babesia and other tick-borne diseases are increasing in both humans and dogs. Once a disease like Lyme is discovered through veterinary care, the long process of treatment is begone.
One of the clinical manifestations that IBR sees in infected dogs is that their nose doesn’t work as well until the treatment process progresses. A few dogs came down the path and barely scented the bird but none were scared. Time and medication are on their side. One of John’s dogs below displays a calm, steady point as I am at the level of the pigeon. Take a look at that ‘flag!’
The were even a few ‘fresh’ rescues that participated and while they were working on their point, this one took the time to show off the typical Pointer personality and temperament. What’s not to love about a Pointer? John should know, he owns a few of them, and this one is up for adoption.
As the day wore on, the sun started popping out and the landscape of east-central IL took on a painterly quality to it. The dogs were done with their scent test but that didn’t stop them from picking up the scent of free-range pheasants that wafted through the strong winds. Genevieve (English Setter) and Athena (English Pointer) had just come into the rescue the night before and in spite of little rest, they showed off their best looks for me. Chloe has already been adopted and Genevieve will not be far behind! Sweet dogs!
A big Thank You goes to John and Rita for opening their home and property to us. They also have hunt horses that they care for. The dogs can also be in the field and hunt out ahead of the owner/hunter on horseback. It’s a team approach! Here’s John and Rita with one of their great Pointers.
I hope someday to photograph a hunt that occurs on horseback. Maybe in the Fall when the light, and wind will make for gorgeous photos! If you’d like more info about adopting/fostering an English Pointer or English Setter, click here.
At my recent SNOW DOGs event, we were blessed with a fresh layer of new snow to make the landscape complete for new paw prints. Oliver, a year-old Standard Poodle arrived with his owner, Cheri, and he was sporting a recent grooming, complete with a beard. Just what every male Poodle needs! He looked charming and masculine. Cheri arrived in a red coat and as a landscape architect, she was aware that the dogwood would be starting to get red again as the daylight was getting longer. Everything came together for a good session – white dog on white snow with a splash of red!
Oliver and Cheri embraced the deeper snow and immediately set about demonstrating the depth of their relationship – running, balls, jumping, and showing off his groom. The two of them together are a perfect match and I love it when the dog’s and owner’s energy levels are the same. I wondered who would tire first.
Recently Cheri came for the View and Order session to pick out her images from our session together. Trio Panels are a popular way for dog owners to take home a nicely designed piece of wall art for their home. As I worked with Cheri’s Trio Panel, I wanted to tie in her relationship to the landscape since she noted the color of the dogwood in the photos. Here’s a contemporary look that I created for her that ties in snowflakes and the yummy, red color. Tell me if you think it works, or not!
Winter’s losing it’s tenacious grip on the Upper Midwest and as I walk/run with our dog, Helen Jane in the early mornings, I can feel the soothing warmth of the sun again against my face and clothing and see the melting of the ice and snow. Ooh, it feels so good! Besides the coming of Spring, the weather changes signal the preparations for the upcoming WINE and PAWs 2013 event at my studio. It’s an event that I always look forward to as many different dogs and their owners come to be photographed for a good cause – a dog rescue or humane society. It’s fun to meet and photograph all the various breeds that attend!
This fun event is an opportunity to have memorable, artistic images made of your dog, with maybe a few images of the two, or three of you together. (c’mon, you can do it for your dog!) After losing our two dogs in three months last year, we’re grateful for the photographs we have to remember them by. They were such great dogs and members of our family! Your dogs are no different.
Besides some distinguishing photos, another reason the participants like about WINE and PAWs is the chance to make a donation to a 501(c)3 dog rescue. It’s their way of giving back to the rescuers/volunteers that work tirelessly everyday to make the lives of stray and abandoned dogs better. Many participants own dogs that have come from rescues or humane societies and love to show their ‘thanks.’ The tax deduction is just a bonus.
We adopted our new rescue dog, Helen Jane (aka Hellie) from such a place – the Illinois Bird Dog Rescue (IBR). We wanted another English Pointer and we’ve been rewarded with a wonderful, youthful specimen who had phenomenal veterinary care and loving foster homes. Initially rescued as an emaciated, tick-infested dog in Indiana in June of 2011, she has recovered from Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever and Erlichia – 2 tick-borne diseases – and continues to thrive while keeping her chronic Lyme’s disease at bay. Her care was costly and WINE and PAWs is my way of giving back to IBR, who brought her back to good health and behavior.
Now it’s your turn to step up and call me (414-550-5340) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a session time for you and your dog. I’ll give you some hints about how we can make the session go smoothly and what you can expect to happen. Tell me your if you prefer ‘red vs. white vs. rose’ and we’ll be all set. While we don’t consume the wine during the event, the wine exchange has become a fun way to try other wines when you get home. Let’s reach my goal to raise $1000 for IBR!
In June 2011, a very sick German Shorthair Pointer/English Pointer dog showed up at a rescue in Indiana. She was emaciated and ticks were helping themselves to a warm, blood meal at her expense. She was initially treated and then fostered through Illinois Bird Dog Rescue (IBR). It was there that they discovered she had Lyme’s disease and after her initial treatment for Lyme’s, she also tested positive for Rocky Mt. Spotted Fever and Ehrlichia. Poor girl! Because of IBR’s emphasis on tireless testing and treatment of all their dogs prior to adoption, I can tell you that Helen Jane (aka Hellie) is doing VERY well these days!
She’s been with us for 2 weeks now and I can report that she’s made an amazing recovery! Very athletic, eager to please, and yet calm, mellow and loyal – in spite of all she’s lived through. While we still need to watch her health closely, IBR continues to guide us, as they have worked with many dogs with tick-borne diseases. We’re thankful for another “save” by IBR and the foster family that gave her a home for almost a year!
Here’s to a healthy Helen Jane after her romp at the Runway Dog Park this morning!
What fun it is to photograph dogs in fresh snow! Throw in a newly groomed white, standard poodle that loves to be outdoors as much as it loves its owner, and you’ve got a chance to make some enthusiastic images.
Meet Oliver and Cheri! A woman that adores her standard poodles and shares a zest for life outdoors with them. When she showed up in a red coat, I knew we were off on the right foot, or paw.
One of Oliver’s specialties is ball playing. His ball is as accustomed to his mouth as his tongue. With a light snow falling, Cheri started tossing the ball and Oliver not only caught the ball consistently but did it by earning hundreds of ‘style points.’
I think my favorite of the jump shots, however, was this image:
After a little rest, Oliver was treated to some yummy treats. As he waited patiently, he threw his head back and jutted his chest out as if to say, “hey – look at me sitting so pretty!”
As one of my Snow Dogs, it was a pleasure to meet him for the first time and make some memorable images of he and Cheri together. Thanks for the laughs, Oliver!
Luck was with us this past weekend when the owners of Kaya and I scheduled our outdoor session for the morning after one of the most beautiful snow falls that I’ve seen in a long time! With 7 inches of snow that fell heavily and set itself up the exoskeletons of the trees, the scene was “Christmas card” perfect for Kaya to show off her propensity for fun in the snow. As a Long-Haired German Shepard, she had plenty of fur-power to keep her warm in the cold snow.
After a few shots of Kaya with her owners, Marielle & Ryan, we decided to bring out the toys and Kaya gravitated to the bright, orange ball.
We started by working on her more “classic” leaps that mimicked an Olympic diver, with her paws held together. You’re a perfect “10″ on that Kaya!
Next was the “freestyle” portion of our shoot with that “I enjoy life to it’s fullest” pose. I think she was just showing off her good ‘core’ muscles.
After playing in the deep snow it was time for a real “cool down.” Nothing like a long snoot into the snow to start that process!
So now it’s your turn! Just contact me to sign up for my SNOW DOGS sessions coming up on Feb. 23rd from 9:30 – 3:00. I’ll be photographing your dog(s) outside in a local park and enjoying the fun in the snow. Bring your favorite toy, fashionable coat or snow booties and away we’ll go! For $65 you’ll receive your 30 minute session, an 8×10 and 8 wallets. This could be your answer to 2014′s Holiday Card!
When you’re photographing people outside in the Fall, you’re always at the mercy of the weather. Will it be cold, windy, hot, or rainy? Fall is a time of vast change and if I’m working with little ones, weather can make all the difference in the mood of the images. So last week, when the weather didn’t cooperate for an active 18 month old, named William, I told Amy, the mother, “the weather’s surely going to get warm again.”
So with the temps in the mid 60′s this morning, I headed out to Cedarburg and had lots of fun with William and his apples!
He was so enthusiastic and enjoyed playing with his parents as we maneuvered quickly through 3 clothing changes and some time with his beloved Sammy. The warm, morning light was pouring through the white birch leaves, while a steady breeze kept him cool in his warm outfits. Even Sammy, the family pooch, gave me a spontaneous moment that they will cherish long after William’s buddy is gone.
It was a exhilarating morning with William and his family and we all were blessed with the wonderful, soft kisses of warmth that Fall can bring. A great joy accompanied me all day as I thought of the fun I had in the company of William and his apples. I hope you can find time to go outside and breath it in over the next few days in the Midwest. Be sure to eat an apple while you’re out there!
There’s an old saying that I’ve always loved. I first heard it in my 20′s and it’s echoed again and again as the decades have morphed into my 50′s. ”When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” It’s a simple saying packed with deep meaning.
Today, it came me to again after talking to my neighbor, Swarnjit, as he walked home from the local university, where he’s a professor of Economics. Swarnjit and his wife, Nimmi, are Sikhs and it’s a little more than 48 hours since 6 of their fellow Sikhs were gunned down inside the holy confines of their temple on a beautiful Sunday morning in Oak Creek, WI. In this whirl of time, their lives have simultaneously been filled with acting as spokespeople for the Sikh religion as well as helping their faith community plan for funerals, grieve, and hold community-wide prayer services to honor the dead and praise the first-responders, who prevented further carnage.
Earlier in the day, I had listened to Swarnjit speak on Wisconsin Public Radio about his religion (click here for the audio archive) - how it started and what the main principles of Sikhism were. He spoke of how his religion began because there were people who didn’t believe in the caste system of India. They felt that all people were equal under the eyes of god. In my sidewalk conversations with Swarnjit, he’s talked about how they believe in the goodness of everyone and how they pray for everyone. In the interview, you will hear him say that they embrace the beliefs of equality, tolerance and patience, and in spite of the atrocities that befell them recently, they still believe in the goodness of all people. I think you’ll be moved at his humility and dignity.
It takes a strong, spiritual person to be able to push away anger and accept the recent shootings as part of god’s plan and pray for his soul. As the student, I watched the Sikh’s talk to the local/national news media as Sunday’s horror unfolded. Most were calm and their beliefs were fully integrated in watching them offer the news people food or water, as they bright sun of the day poured down on them. Who among us non-Sikhs, in our grieving, would find the grace to care for others while our heart breaks for those who are gone?
Tonight, some neighbors and I listened, huddled closely around Swarnjit on the sidewalk, as he reconfirmed his belief that all are good – that environments people are raised in can make them do horrendous things. I saw a young 13 year old boy, that had recently done a school report on Swarnjit’s life, tear up as he watched him speak about forgiveness. I felt as if instead of us comforting him, he was comforting us! His melodic speech and warming eye contact attracted our attention to his every word.
At that moment, everyone’s god was present in our midst and I felt as if god speaking directly through Swarnjit. Standing there, we were all students, listening to our neighbor, the teacher. He was teaching us that in spite of all he’s been through, his inner peace was strong enough to blanket us with a peace that tolerance and understanding can bring – even if we’ve been wronged.
It futile for me to understand why someone targeted such a peace-loving, faith community. Swarnjit told us tonight to love everyone, everyday. To accept everyone, everyday. To pray for everyone, everyday. This student is thankful for my neighbor, the spiritual teacher.
Your comments are welcomed.
If your idea of a perfect vacation is sitting by a sun-dappled lake with a good book in hand, I couldn’t agree more. But that part is what I usually look forward to after pedaling about 60 miles on my touring bicycle. Yeah, the kind where YOU supply the power, not the Harley – Davidson. Each summer we embark upon a real road trip, the kind where the skinny tires meet the road. This year we brought along our 16 yr. old nephew, Bennett, to the eastern Upper Pennisula of Michigan for the MUP ride.
Limited to 150 people, we hit some of the most famous highlights of the U.P. For you geography fans, we started in St. Ignace - Mackinac Island area and then pedaled our way over the rural roads, into small towns filled with pasties, fishermen and lumbermen, and dipped into 2 of the greatest fresh water lakes around – Huron and Superior. Towns like De Tour (Michiganers pronounce like ‘road construction” road sign vs. its French, fur trapper de’ tour), Sault Ste. Marie, Paradise (another name to get your imagination going while your seat is semi-numb) and Newberry greeted all of us that thought pedaling 60 miles into a head wind in mid 80 degree temps. was fun!
From the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island to the Soo Locks of Sault Ste. Marie, we got off our bikes and visited small museums and lighthouses that told the story of life in the U.P. One of my books was about the CCC camps in the mid to late 1930′s that told how these camps saved a generation of men in the UP and built the state parks, forestry lands, cleared roads and rescued those stuck in monstrous snowstorms. (Saving Our Sons – Larry Chabot)
Our accommodations were wonderful – our own tents. The photo above was made out my ‘front door’ as we camped on the Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. It is the International Peace Bridge at night. Some of my braver, fellow riders road over the two-lane bridge to Canada and back. I had not brought my passport along so was ‘skunked.’
It was in Sault Ste. Marie that we kayaked on our ‘day off’ after touring the Soo Locks. If you’ve never been here to see the locks in action, I highly recommend one of the boat tours. We got to go into the locks with the big boys – one of which was a tour boat out of New York City.
It’s something to see a 700 – 1000 ft. ship going by you in the locks! I learned that the Soo Locks puts through more tonnage each year than either the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal. Way to go Great lakes!Here a dredge barge works to keep the locks deep enough for the ships.
In Sault Ste. Marie, the old electrical station is the sight where the St. Mary’s River comes into Lake Huron.
While back on the road, the Dancing Cranes coffee shop/bakery/local meeting place, did a bang up day of business as many caffeine deprived cyclists stopped by for some “fuel.” You’ll note the colorful cycling jerseys and ages of the riders in the photo. Riders range from kids to seniors. A 10 year old pedaled her bike with her father and sister on this trip and the oldest rider, we had met on a previous ride in WI, was 78.
Further down the road we came upon one Point Iroquois Light House, outside Brimley, MI. This lighthouse is kept by a retired couple and they live there year round. As I contemplated the notorious storms that blow in off of Lake Superior, I spied a satellite dish as I rode away. One would need some company on those long, winter days.
The grounds were beautifully decorated with the pebble fence and flowers. Cyclists LOVE to stop and take in the local environments and historic places along the route because it’s a way to stretch your legs, and bum, and get a water/snack refill from the SAG wagon.
Our weather ranged from overcast to sunny but the temps. were mid 80′s all week. We delighted when two of the nights were 60 degrees – nice for sleeping in a tent. Here Kathy and I have fun making a mock Viagra commercial.
In Paradise, MI – a very small town that swells in numbers during the summer months. While exploring the town on my bike, I came upon a chainsaw artist – Edwin Lafitte. I watched as his put his chainsaw down and burned the dark spots onto Mr. Bear with a blow torch. After an application of wood sealer, Mr. Bear would be for sale. He ships them, so no need to worry about carrying one on your bike!
If you’re one of those cyclists contemplating the pros and cons of a newer, lighter bicycle, you can skip the ones we found outside of Sault Ste. Marie. When I saw this public art display, I knew we had a Christmas card photo! Thanks Bennett.
Another public art display we almost missed. We’d been told at the previous evening’s meeting that we should be on the lookout for this U.P. comfort station. I found it a wonderful place to check my messages until I realized I had no bars. Who says cycle tours are boring??
Some days the miles, heat and humidity can get to you. Add a full stomach after lunch and you have the perfect combination for a post-prandial nap – even if it’s on concrete. Gotta love that cycling jersey though!! Naps are allowed on cycling trips because you have all day to get to your next destination.
Vanna White (aka Kathy) models the tent camp outside of Lake Superior State University at sunset. It’s fun to see all the different style of tents and camping gear that people bring along. This year we packed some cards and crossword puzzles that we did in down time.
Bennett and I are still looking pretty good about halfway through the week.
While cycling into Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the most visited state park in Michigan, I came across a three-legged red fox. Most likely a trap victim, he seemed to enjoy part of my power bar.
Tahquamenon Falls is 200 feet wide and is the widest river east of the Mississippi. In the late 1800′s, millions of board feet of lumber came over these falls on their way to Lake Superior. Fireweed dances in the breeze in the foreground.
Fireweed is an herb that’s usually found in open fields and burnt over land. It flowers from the bottom up and in Alaska, they say that summer is over when top part has bloomed. Tahquamenon Falls is in the background.
Along the route I spotted some blooms of water lilies. A quick hit on the brakes, I pulled out my nifty compact digital camera (Nikon S8200), zoomed in and made the photo. As a pro photographer, I’ve got to say what a nice job the camera manufacturers have done with lightweight, compact cameras. Perfect for traveling, backpacking and cycling!
Speaking of great, compact cameras, Bennett showed me some of his excellent images he makes in his iPhone 4S while we were on the Soo Locks tour.
Back in St. Ignace after a 67 mile day, we started to get packed up, head for the showers and then home.
If you’re interested in giving bike touring a try, let me explain that you don’t have to be in Olympic- athlete shape. The longest ride I had in before this 350/7 day trip was 15 miles. I road a lot of 8 miles trips that I fit in after work. Your first few days on the trip you pace yourself and stop at all the planned rest stops. (We stop at them whether we need a rest or not. It’s part of the fun!) The rest stops are usually 10-15 miles apart. For one St. Ignace woman on the ride, it was her first ride ever and she did it on a hybrid bike – alone. She met many new friends along the way, however!
Cycling is considered to be “the new golf.” A place to get in exercise, meet people and make business/pleasure connections. Just click on this highlighted URL for a list of all the National Bike Tour Directors rides. Pick one out and give it a try. We’ll be seeing you on the road making new friends along the way!
NOTE: all images made with Nikon S8200 and S9300 compact cameras.
Ten years ago this month we were expecting new neighbors. Word was that they had 3 girls and a dog, so we were excited to greet them. But first, we had to erect a fence between the lots because their youngest child was 2 and we didn’t want any unattended meetings between their daughter and our two rambunctious dogs. Little did I know that their dog would be known as “the best dog of Summit Ave.”
After meeting the family, we were introduced to Skippy, their beagle-mix dog. He was a calm-assertive type and I could see that he was a one-of-a-kind dog. You can’t help but absorb his calmness if you’re around him. He only barked when he wanted to get inside the house, or in his later years, when he was playing with or commandeering his other canine siblings. That’s pretty good for a hound!
At our annual block party, Skippy was the only dog on the block that could be kept off leash and he’d hang around – lying on the apron of grass between the sidewalk and the road. Darn, he put all the other dogs to shame! I do remember that after they first moved in, Skippy decided to explore the new territory, and or perhaps he missed his old Indiana neighborhood, and got an introduction to Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commisssion. Everyone was relieved when he was found. Seemed he got that wandering thing out of his system because he never tried it again.
As we all celebrated our country’s independence and endured the heat of the past week, Skippy’s time to go home arrived. Knowing I would be out of town, I asked one of the twins, who knows her way around a camera, to take one of my cameras and help me. She with the 50mm and I with the 70-200mm, together we made Skip’s last images on a cloudy morning while he meandered around their back yard. As I put the images together into a slideshow for the family, I saw that ever-present calmness in his eyes. Yoda dog – even at the end of his life! Just look at that peaceful jaw and alert, but relaxed ears. If you feel like giving him a hug right now, you no doubt understand what I mean.
Yesterday I spoke with Skippy’s ‘mom,’ Colleen, and she showed me a photo made of Skippy when he was 6 months old. There he was, sitting proudly in between his twin, human sisters, with that same look in his eye. It was the “Yoda” look and you might spy it in the photos posted here. Skippy – the Jedi Master! The puppy photo reflected his supreme confidence. It was as if he knew his role in the life of his family and he appeared serene – at peace. Life was good with his human family.
Even at 15 years, Skippy’s base personality never wavered. Always calm and open; ever the leader in his family of humans and fellow canines. But over the last year it was his body that was letting go of his beautiful soul. As I gazed at the 6 month old photo of Skippy, I thought of all the moments he shared with his family and how they all could look back at their lives and think, “Skippy was there with me.” The twins were 3 when Skippy arrived in their lives so imagine the steadiness he provided to them as they grew. The cuddling up next to his soft, furry body, the car trips to Maine every summer, daily walks in Lake Park’s curvy ravines, playing dress-up with the girls, . . . So glad I knew the best dog on Summit Ave. Excuse me while I cry a little. Gonna miss him!