Puppy Love

I’m not sure where August went but the shutter on the camera seemed like it was under going stress testing.  I’ve had so many fun senior/kids/dog sessions that I thought now is the time to go back and catch up with some of my activities and share them.

What a better topic to start with than puppies!  More specifically, 3 week old Australian Shepherd puppies from Integrity Aussies.  Can’t you just smell that puppy breath and fur??

One, Two, Three, . . .

I had photographed Jennifer Stagg and her dog Folly (not pictured above) about a year earlier when I recently saw a Facebook post that Folly had a big, beautiful litter of puppies.  Off to Jennifer’s house I went when they were just 3 weeks old and had just opened their eyes.  We took them outside for their first time in the grass and watched them sniff around and then cuddle into one big, sleeping puppy ball.

Sweet Faces

 

What's that?

 

My Sleep Comfort number is . . .

 

I'll Take Two!

 

Needless to say, these little fur balls were all spoken for already so even if I wanted to take one home, I couldn’t.  Oh well, photographing them was the next best thing!

Equipment used:  Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 lens & Nikkor 50mm 1.4mm lens

 

 

Bird Dogs on Scent

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!

English Setter on point

English Setter on point

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!’

Whoa!

Whoa!

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.

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

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!

Genevieve

Genevieve

Chloe

Athena

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.

The TEAM

The TEAM

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.

White on White

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.

Oliver and owner, Cheri, enjoy their play time in fresh snow during the SNOW DOGs event.

Oliver and owner, Cheri, enjoy their play time in fresh snow during the SNOW DOGs event.

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!

Trio Panel AA

 

 

4th Annual WINE & PAWs event

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!

4th Annual WINE & PAWs !

4th Annual WINE & PAWs !

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.

Helen Jane showing off her point 'stuff'.

Helen Jane showing off her point ‘stuff’.

Now it’s your turn to step up and call me (414-550-5340) or email me (peggy@peggymorsch.com) 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!

Helen Jane catches some air as she romps at Runway Dog Park - Milwaukee.

Helen Jane catches some air as she romps at Runway Dog Park – Milwaukee.

Style Counts

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.

Let's Race

 

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.’

Catching with Style

 

I think my favorite of the jump shots, however, was this image:

It's All in the Ears!

 

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!”

Sitting Proud

 

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!

 

 

You Did What For Your Vacation?

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!    Image

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)

Image

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.’

Image

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.Image

Image

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!ImageHere a dredge barge works to keep the locks deep enough for the ships.

Image 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.

Image

ImageFurther 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.

ImageOur 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.

ImageIn 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!

Image

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.

ImageAnother 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??

Image

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.

ImageVanna 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.

Image

Bennett and I are still looking pretty good about halfway through the week.

ImageWhile 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.

ImageTahquamenon 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.

Image

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.  Image

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!

Image

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.

Image

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.

The Best from BARKS

If you’re a dog, hot, humid, sunny weather is perfect for laying around under a big, ‘ole shade tree.  Last Sunday was one of those days and in spite of the hot, humid weather, dogs and their owners came to the the outdoor church service for pets and their owners at St. Mark’s Episcopal church.  Praying was in order instead of laying under the shade tree.  While the dogs were blessed outside by Fr. John Allen, I was also blessed with the well-behaved dogs that came to be photographed as a benefit for the church.  So much fun with all the different breeds!

I’m always trying something new and thinking “what if.”   This year I decided that some dogs needed to wear tutus.  I have them in the studio for toddlers and I thought the dogs would tolerate them for a short time.  Here are a few images from some accommodating dogs:

Modeling the purple tutu at Barks event,

Brown tutu for the Golden Retriver.

There was a Chocolate Lab that literally ‘sat’ for me.  When she plopped herself down against my backdrop, I got the feeling that this girl was saying, “It’s been a long, hot morning.  Let’s get this shoot over with.  I’ve got a date with the couch!”  I love the body language she shows here.  If you’ve got another caption running around in your head, please share it!

“Let’s get this shoot over with!”

Lastly, there was a 12 week old Vizsula puppy that bounded in to be photographed.  Loved his furrowed brow and puppy breath!  I could have photographed him all day but here’s a fun shot.

At this age, everything is interesting – including a photo session!

If you missed the Barks at St. Mark’s event, keep this in mind.  During the months of July and August, I’m running a “$75 Thursdays.”  Any Thursday session (up to 1 hour) is $75 at the studio or within 25 miles (round trip) of the studio.  Now THAT’s something to bark about!  You can contact me about this special here.

Mad Hot Ballroom 2012

For just a few minutes I ask you to step into a pair of tap shoes and transport yourself to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.  For those of you out of town, it’s our home to the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team and other indoor professional sports teams.  Allow me set the scene which you are about to enter.

Over the last 6 weeks, you’ve been attending tap dance lessons as part of the Danceworks, Inc. program with Milwaukee Public Schools.  Your gangly, growing body has been learning swing, latin and funky styles of tap once a week.  Any other practice is on your own.  After some final coaching tips, it’s time for the taps to hit the floor in a large inter-school competition.

You’ve got your best dancing clothes on – dresses for girls and ties on the guys.  You go over your steps one more time, mouthing the count under your breath, and then you step out onto the floor with the huge Jumbotron showing your every move overhead as the roaring crowd of parents, teachers, volunteers and judges ready for your performance.

As the quarterfinals became the semi-finals and the semi-finals became the finals, I can see the energy and the seriousness of the teams start to show.  Here I capture just one little series of a young couple who seemed to enjoy what they were seeing – on the Jumbotron!   As I edited the images today, I knew you’d enjoy this little glimpse into a big day for these young tap dancers.  Check out these faces and feel their joy, amazement and sense of accomplishment!

I like how they both see themselves and then separately take their turns peaking at themselves.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Birding in Orlando Wetlands Park

While in Florida, I always make some time to go out birding with a friend and wonderful, local bird expert – Don Chalfont.  I met Don through my mom, who spends 4 months at New Smyrna Beach, FL each winter.  Of course, I have to come and visit and after the first time of birding with Don, I wanted to come back for more.

Yesterday Elza, another fine birder, joined us as we visited the Orlando Wetlands Park.  It’s a vast area of managed wetlands where treated sewage (cleaner than the water in the St. John’s River!) is pumped into the wetlands.  Around 25-35 million gallons a day is pumped 17 miles to this location and the natural process of water settling through the wetlands removes excess nutrients from the water and provides an amazing habitat for raptors, wading birds, ducks, warblers and sparrows.  Besides birding, you can enjoy walking and bicycling on flat, dike roads and hiking through woods.

Don & Elza looking for a King Rail

One of the first birds we spotted with a fine Carl Zeiss spotting scope, far out in the distance, was a Crested Caracara.  A while later it came closer to us and I was able to capture it with my measly 70-200mm lens with NO tele-extender.  I sure wished I had a 500mm with me!

Crested Caracara

Another fine bird Don and Elza spotted was a Purple Gallinule.  It moves around in the reeds and didn’t give us a nice open shot.  However, my determination kicked in and I waited and was rewarded with a somewhat plausible image in flight.

Purple Gallinule coming in for a landing

If you’re a Limpkin fan, Orlando Wetlands Park offers numerous opportunities for not only viewing them, but listening to them.  Being a newbie birder, Elza shared a story that the Native Americans said the Limpkin sounds like a crying boy.  I heard a lot of crying!  This one let me get pretty close and stuck it’s ‘tongue’ out at me.

Limpkin

While many of you back home are also enjoying record, warm weather and seeing robins and other birds returning, I got excited to hear/see the Red-Winged blackbird – usually the first bird of spring for us.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, we pulled out some picnic lunches and decided to head back in for the King Rail.  Alas, it wasn’t to be today but while they were searching for it, I’m always looking around for another image.  I noted a small raindrop on my arm and I looked up behind me to see ominous clouds mixing with fresh, wildfire smoke.  The scent and scene took me back to the summer of 2000 when I lived in MT and the whole state was on fire from wildfires.  I’ll NEVER forget the acrid smoke smell and to this day, I’m very sensitive to detecting it.  This fire was likely a controlled burn and it was fun to see that it caused local rain drops to form.

Wildland fire darkens the sky

Thanks to Don and Elza, I saw some ‘life birds’ on this trip.  Now to save for that 500mm lens!!

Sniffing Down The Scent

You know how it is when you catch the slightest scent of something new?  Something you’ve never smelled before?  A slight waft of new possibilities brushes by your whiskers and moves towards your nose.  Millions of olfactory neurons fire in machine-gun like fashion and soon you’re nose is inches from the ground. Your legs start pumping with new intensity while your long, floppy ears move more scent up towards your nose.  Coonhounds get it!  It’s only a microseconds later that a good bawl comes pouring out from the lungs. The hunt is on!

This hunt started years ago.  I was at the Rocky Mountain School of Photograhy in Missoula, MT for their Summer Intensive class.  A a dog owner, my coonhound mix, Ellie, was with me for the three months that I was in MT.  We loved hiking trails, splashing through mountain creeks and smelling the sage brush.  The bond we created in those 3 months is forever strong!

For a long time, I’ve understood the relationship that happens between dogs and their people and have wanted to make that happen for others through the medium of photography.  You know – “a picture is worth a thousand words” kind of thing.  See those big ole’ dog eyes or a relaxed hand draped across a dog and your heart melts.

What the eyes can tell us

If you’ve seen an old black and white image of a dog and their family, spread out on the front porch steps of a worn, clapboard, ranch house, you know what I mean.  That dog was every bit of “family.”

It’s taken me a decade to sniff the scent down, even though I’ve been photographing dogs – pets and their people, all along the way.   But something’s been eating away at me – calling me (actually BARKING at me is more like it!). In 2011, my book Dogs and Their Women was completed and the scent has grown even stronger.  I can no longer ignore it or get called away by another master.  I think that the drive to the prize is so strong, that like a German Shorthair Pointer wearing a training collar, a good shock might not even be enough to call me back now!

A Woo, Woo, Woo, to all of you!  This year The Alpha Dog (me) is creating a new brand, a new website, a new blog, soley dedicated to all things canine.  It’s a work in progress right now but every single cell in my body is shaking with excitment as I get closer and the scent gets stronger.  I’m looking for your help, however.  A good coonhound needs a pack, you know.  As a fellow dog owner, you have insight into the dog world and the relationships with your own 4-pawed companion.

Tell me what you’d like to see, hear, sniff. Have some ideas for me?  Send them my way, as I’m in the process of designing from the bones – up.  I really want to hear from you as I feel like a new-born puppy right now – a little blind and a little deaf – just beginning to paw my way through.

I’m so excited about this and am looking forward to talking more about this with lots of folks that come by my booth at the Great Lakes PET EXPOon Saturday, Feb 4th at State Fair Park!  See you there!

The Drive to the Prize!