52 Week Project | Fantasy

The 52 Week Project is a blog circle with a theme for every week (which means we all link to each other, links are found at the end of the post).

This week's theme for the 52 Week Project was fantasy. Last year Bender encountered a plethora of dinosaurs and a pair of pygmy dragons as we wandered around the woods by the lake. (Read about it here).

This year Axle encountered a pair of drastic transformations from the depths of the cold and dark of winter. His first transformation was a kindred of the light, raising him from the status of a dog to one akin to the leagues of flight (complete of course with his favorite half of a rubbery frisbee). 

The second transformation was a friend of the depths of the darkness and beyond the realm of the sky. He arrives in darkness, a flicker of flames from his underbite, the stars mapped on his wings and legs. His mission: to indulge in the abundance of treats to be had. 

The references: Black bird wings |Dragon wings | Galaxy on dragon wings | Fire 

Reference image by me - Cahlean Klenke | Colorado 2013

Original image for bird winged Axle. 

Reference image by me - Cahlean Klenke | Crested Butte CO 2011

Original image for night dragon image. 

52 Week Project | Depth of Field

The 52 Week Project is a blog circle with a theme for every week (which means we all link to each other, links are found at the end of the post).

Depth of field was the theme for this week's 52 Week Project. Depth of field is the blur (good blur) in an image. It can be narrow and isolate subjects (as in portraits) or it can be deep to include more of the scene in focus (as in landscapes).

The easiest way to adjust depth of field is aperture. Using a WIDE open aperture (f/1.8, f/2.8) will make the depth of field narrower (= more blur & subject isolation), while a stopped down NARROWER aperture (f/8 etc) will make the depth of field deeper ( = less blur, less subject isolation). Additionally a NARROWER aperture will let in less light, which means there is the possibility of capturing motion blur if your shutter isn't fast enough.

(Aperture isn't the only thing to affect depth of field...)

A beautiful thick hoarfrost greeted Bender and I in the morning.

We rushed to the lake in the hopes that the small patch of woods was going to be sporting the hairy white frost. The woods had little to none. A gawk at the lake showed stunning hoarfrost on the trees along the shoreline. The lake was flat, crisp white, crunching slightly under foot as we walked farther out onto the lake.

Bender doesn't like the cold and holds a sit/stay very loosely which makes it a challenge to use the 135mm with him. Luckily, a random branch of driftwood had been frozen to the surface of the lake and acted like the perfect hitching spot for Bender. (He's also rocking his new Pack Leash! Want one of your own? Use jointhepack for 15% off your purchase! Plus Pack will donate 4 lbs of dog food to rescues!)

Wide aperture at f/1.8 = lots of blur/narrow depth of field.

The difference of a narrow depth of field (f/2) and a deep depth of field (f/8). Notice how the trees start to become more crisp and defined at f/8 and you can see the fish houses that are just off shore.

I do prefer the look of the narrow depth of field that makes a subject pop off of a scene. Huzzah for subject isolation! (Below is f/1.8).

The look of the hoarfrost wasn't quite what I wanted so we adventured away from the lake to a quaint back road just down from a Charolais cattle farm. The grasses and bushes were the perfect backdrop with their fuzzy hoarfrost and golden color.

The difference of f/2 to f/8. Since Bender is closer to the background, its easier to see how the depth of field gets deeper and the subject isolation is lost with the bushes and grasses. You can also see the pole of the barbed wire fence he was leashed to.




Did you know the focal length of a lens also affects depth of field?

In the regards of depth of field, wide angle lenses (wider field of view than 50mm) will naturally have a deeper depth of field than a telephoto lens (narrower field of view than 70mm) even at the same settings. This is mostly due to some elaborate math and the magnification/compression that happens with a telephoto lens.

Want more blur aka a narrower depth of field? Reach for your telephoto lens!

** Also look at the quality of the blur - wide angle lenses have "sparkly" blur while telephoto lenses have a "smooth" blur. **

Additionally, the closer you are to a subject the narrower your depth of field will be. Which is why I can still achieve narrow depth of field with my 20mm lens. I'm literally thisclose to my subject (which Bender thinks is annoying and gives me the bald old earless man look). Closer to your subject = narrower depth of field. Farther is the reverse affect.

20mm at f/1.8. 

On the right a comparison of f/2 and f/7.1. Due to Bender being closer to the bushes & grasses, they are more in focus at f/7.1 than the trees on the lake at f/8.


Whew! That was quite the bantering about depth of field! Next visit Elaine Tweedy, I Got The Shot Photography, Northeast PA Pet Photographer to learn about her take on depth of field. 

52 Week Project | Catchlights

The 52 Week Project is a blog circle with a theme for every week (which means we all link to each other, links are found at the end of the post).

This week’s theme was catchlights. Catchlights are the adorable little reflections of light in an eye. They can vary in size and shape depending on the light source they are reflecting. Catchlights help make eyes look “alive”.

Since I had focused on Axle & Bender last week for fill the frame, this week I turned to Lilly & Tootsie, my parent’s two cats, for models. I did a two part series to capture artificial light catchlights (from the lights in the ceiling) and natural catchlights (from the windows).

First up was Lilly, the brown and white more dog than cat. She can be tricked into a look in my direction from a faux throw (she chases elastic hair ties and little spiky balls) as she anticipates said object to be thrown and sees that it hasn’t been thrown.

“Oh hi hooman…. ”

An example of how catchlights make eyes more alive. In the image below I removed the catchlights, which makes Lily look a bit creepy and sort of dead. The image with the catchlights is definitely more pleasing!

After Lilly, it was time for those split seconds of pause of Miss Monkeypants, part moose (she weighs in at 14 lbs!) Tootsie! She was situated at the top of the cat perch and closer to the lights in the ceiling. This casted some heavy shadows on her eyes and under her chin while giving her singular catchlights (instead of the “galaxy” catchlights of the image of Lilly above)

Then activate action kitty! Tootsie is a total monkey on the tiers of the cat perch. 

Lilly retired to her bed.
“Ok hooman, are you finished?”

The morning came. The same rug, but this time the light was from a pair of bigger windows and the front door of the house. See the difference in catchlights?

Below is the same rug and a similar pose. The artificial lights are dot catchlights while the natural light is more of a subtle singular light. Plus look at the difference in her pupils!

I had an actual ponytail holder this morning which had Lilly’s attention. In classic Lilly manner, she chased the ponytail when I threw it, but did not pick it up and bring it back. When the ponytail is picked up Lilly has already

moved up the stairs to pounce. After she gets it, and leaves it on the stairs, she then moves up to the landing.

And crouches into a classic cat stalking pose.

Tootsie was awake, though much more mellow than the monkey pants she was the night prior. You can see out the window in her catchlights! (The soft haze on the left side of the image is from my 50mm f1.8D lens – yay flare!)

Lilly and the window catchlights. 

Next up see the catchlights captured by Lynda Mowat from Heartstrings Photography in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photographing pets and their people.

52 Week Project | Fill the Frame

The 52 Week Project is a blog circle with a theme for every week (which means we all link to each other, links are found at the end of the post).

The theme for this week’s 52 Week Project was fill the frame. It literally means filling the frame of your image with your subject. This can help ward off distracting backgrounds and focus on emotions or elements in the image.

Filling the frame isn’t my fondest rule of composition. I much prefer breathing room and a scene to the image vs a tight edge to edge image, plus I like seeing a dog’s full head with nose and ears. If I fill the frame is a tight image of a dog’s face, especially in the eyes (or if there’s drool…).

Both boys were the models for fill the frame. Bender is a bit more expressive with his ears and eyes, while Axle is much more stoic with a dash of drool.

Ok… so I didn’t really fill the frame at first with Bender. I mean, those ears! How could I not have them in the image? (He’s also sporting his “I’m on to you mom” look that happens when I have a camera and use words like walk, car ride, ready, treat/cookie…)

Bender is fun for fill the frame because it accents his eyes.

Axle (also known as Puppy) is a master of the stoic look. If there isn’t a ball involved he’s very composed, with a deadpan look and a mild movement of an eyebrow or two. His underbite makes him look like a giant grumpasaurus or a cranky old man. His only non stoic part? His drool. Introduce something tasty smelling and those jowls will drip like a leaky faucet.

Notice any difference between the first image of Axle and the one below? 

Next up visit I Got The Shot Photography, Northeast PA Pet Photographer, Elaine Tweedy to see how she used fill the frame for this week’s 52 Week theme.

52 Week Project | Rule of Thirds

The 52 Week Project is a blog circle with a theme for every week (which means we all link to each other, links are found at the end of the post).

This week’s theme was the classic rule of composition Rule of Thirds. Set up like a tic tac toe board, rule of thirds is an imaginary grid that divides an image into thirds. Subjects that occupy a third, especially on line or point of the grid, have a stronger point of impact in drawing the viewer into the image.

The rule of thirds grid looks like this:

Additionally there is a rule for placing a single subject on the left hand side of the image to make the most impact (since we read from left to right – subject on the left and WA-BAM! Impact!). Pssht to this rule.

A high percentage of my images break the left hand rule and feature the subject on the right hand side of the image. We read from left to right, so it makes sense to have the negative space lead into the main subject of the image and help to convey the sense of the story and scene.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll use the left hand side as well. (The below image is a little less of a formal version of rule of thirds as Axle is closer to the center of the image than the left side.)

There just seems to be a better “read” to a subject on the right hand side of the image. (Its the same location as the above, Axle was repositioned a little more to the right on the path.) Do you like Axle on the left hand or right hand side of the image?

Axle and I were super happy to have temperatures higher than subzero and single digit temps (we’ve been wallowing in it since Christmas, mega ugh!) and took advantage of the mid 30s, snow and a brand new tennis ball for the rule of thirds images. (For those curious, all my images were taken on a Nikon D750 with Sigma 135mm f1.8 lens.) 

Rule of thirds isn’t just left hand and right hand sides, there are also the top and bottom thirds that can be used. I like to “push” my foreground (show more of it instead of the sky space which is typically a vertical shot with the camera tipped/angled towards my feet which makes the sky area smaller) or have a bigger sky and the ground be a third or less. The effect works well for landscapes but can be challenging to use with a dog as it can create too much sky or ground.

This image is an upper right hand side third (were you counting how many of the images were right hand sided in the ones above?) and it draws you right to Axle due to the rule of thirds and the “rule of sharpness” (not sure if its the formal name…). “Rule of sharpness” says the human eye is drawn to the sharpest point in an image regardless of subject and scene. In the image below your eye skips right over the blurred snow and leaves in the foreground and rests on Axle, who is not only sharp but a point of contrast against the white and browns. (Then there’s my crisp white logo haha!)

Does it mean the rule of thirds is effective in this image?

Does the above image have more impact than the below image? The location is the same, Axle is just farther up on the path and in a solid right hand side rule of thirds instead of an upper third. Which do you prefer of the two?

Below is more of a 2/3rds image (his left hand eye is on the left hand side rule of thirds line…) which makes the negative space a third of the image. Does it work? What if thirds not only involved the subject but the negative space as well? And if you really want some break the rule of thirds – check out these 10 myths about rule of thirds! (Just read them after you make it through the whole blog & blog circle!)

Next up visit Pet Love Photography, serving Greater Cincinnati and the San Francisco Bay Area to see how she worked the rule of thirds (and see if the others in the blog circle prefer the left hand or right hand side for their rule of thirds images!)