The Blog Ring

The blog ring! Originally a 52 Week Project, this blog ring features pet photographers from all around the world. Start here at About A Dog Photography and once you’ve made it through everyone’s blog you’ll land back here!

Spooky season safety with your pup!

Spooky season is upon us, with Halloween landing on Monday. EEEEEEK! 

I LOVE Halloween!

Once the month of October arrives, the Halloween wardrobe is assembled – nothing overly exotic, just long sleeved tees that range in oranges, some with cute Halloween designs. There is one doozie of a zip up sweater that is an UGLY Halloween ensemble (yes ugly sweaters come in the Halloween variety) that is rather over the top. Paired with an orange hoodie and orange Chucks and we’re ready for spooky season!

This is Blue’s first Halloween! He’s got a multitude of collars perfect for spooky season and a hand me down monster costume with backwards velcro. Being soft, squishy and stuffed, Blue thought it was best to eat and play with the costume vs wear it. What a nut! Luckily with some persistent “leave it” I was able to wrangle the costume, velcro and Blue into collaboration. 

What better background than the Halloween decorated shelves in the living room? Placed Blue on the bins with the extra Halloween decorations and man is this pup superstar! He posed easily, not at all worried that he was two bins high off the ground!

Headed outside and Blue demonstrated the best way to wear a costume then got a bout of the zooms around the yard. 

With it being Blue’s first Halloween it had me thinking about how we would do trick or treating and Halloween activities. 

First – safety tips!

  • If you are handing out candy, secure your dog or cat in a separate room away from the front door. Halloween has the second highest rate of lost pets (4th of the July is the highest). 
  • Make sure your dog’s microchip is up to date and they’re wearing an ID tag just in case they slip out of the house
  • Going trick or treating with your pup? Remember that costumed running, loud kids can be quite scary as they don’t look “normal”. Plus the lack of light can make it harder for a dog to see dark costumes. 
    – If your dog is shy, go slowly. The ideal might be going out earlier in the day with loads of treats and getting the weird costumed people to be rather regular. 
    – If your dog is happy to meet people, make sure to work on some training so they aren’t tempted to jump up to hug every kid walking by because Halloween is awesome, people are awesome, everything is awesome!
    – Otherwise leave your pup safe and cozy at home!
  • Beware of CANDY! Chocolate & raisins are toxic to dogs but did you know sugar free things with Xylitol like chewing gum  MEGA toxic? Gum might not be handed out as a treat, but if someone spits it out in exchange for a piece of candy and it lands in the grass at nose level, your pup might be tempted to eat it. 
    – If you have kids who will be bringing home candy, make sure its stored somewhere out of the reach of dogs to avoid them raiding the stash & getting tummy aches or worse. 
  • Additionally wrappers for candy might be inappropriately discarded and can be picked up by a pup who thinks its a tasty treat. If noshed, they can land in tummies and intestines and possibly not pass.
  • Your pup can help with pumpkin carving, just don’t let them eat too much of the pumpkin. It is good for firming up poops but too much can cause the runs!  Keep your pup away from sharp tools & carve away!

With Blue, I’ve decided to negate handing out candy to trick or treaters.

Blue has stranger danger and his watchdog sense kicks in when he sees people. Big baroos of barks follow. He has a crate in the living room, though being able to see the door and people coming may be a big stressor (and a night full of barking!). There’s a pen in the bedroom but being open topped the little Mister can jump out of it! 

The costumed kids and people most likely will be a bit much for him, especially in the dark. 

Perhaps we will observe a trunk or treat… though I feel Blue will bark at everyone regardless if its light or dark out.  So we may stay home and binge Halloween movies instead!

If you want to do a trunk or treat here are some local ones you can check out in the St. Cloud area (I’m not sure if any are dog friendly, call ahead to check!). 

  • Boo Blast at Lunds & Byerlys – Thursday October 27th at 4-7 pm
  • Minnesota Truck Headquarters – Friday October 28th at 4-7 pm
  • Miller Auto Plaza – drive through style – Friday October 28th at 4:30-6:30 pm 
  • Tri County Humane Society – dog friendly! – Friday October 28th at 5-6:30 pm
  • Prince of Peace Lutheran School – Friday October 28th at 5:30-7 pm
  • PumpkinMania at Hope Covenant Church – Friday October 28th at 5:30-7:30 pm
  • Holy Cross Lutheran Church – Saturday 29th at 5 pm
  • Redeemer Lutheran Church – Monday 31st at 5-6:30 pm
  • Life Assembly of God – Monday 31st at 6-8 pm 

No kids aside from those with fur and not going trick or treating? Spend some time in the kitchen and whip up some classic Halloween treats. Make some dog friendly cookies in classic Halloween shapes, craft some popcorn balls (share the popcorn with your pup) and break out a tub of water + apples and let your dog do the bobbing for them! 

Cider & doughnuts are Halloween classics as well – in fact in years past October was dubbed National Doughnut Month! (This shows up in the 30s with no modern notation.) Plus there are TWO national doughnut days – June 2nd & November 5th!

Classically cider & doughnuts aren’t dog friendly but if you do some Google digging you’ll find a few doughnut recipes that will make your dog drool – we found these: Easy Dog Donuts, Apple Peanut Butter “Dognuts”, or Banana Doughnuts.

Googling dog friendly cider will get you to places you can pop in for a cider with your dog! (Plus you might even find some Halloween events where your dog can flaunt their costume!)

How are you going to celebrate Halloween? Is your dog going to dress up?

We’re in a blog ring of dog and pet photographers around the world. Next up Toronto dog photographer Terri Jankelow of Terri J Photography shares how she handles Halloween photos without costumes.

The Lookdown Shot

There are many various angles that you can photograph a dog. 

Eye level, lower than eye level, lower than the ground, on a diagonal (don’t do this…) and from looking down on a pup – aka the lookdown shot. (Yes a lookdown shot literally means an image where you are looking down on your subject from above.) 

A lookdown angle pairs lovely with textures and patterns on the ground – leaves or cobblestones – or if your dog is tucked between your legs. 

What makes a lookdown shot special? This is the angle we see our dogs in 90% of the day at our feet, while they give us the biggest puppy eyes for a taste of whatever morsel we are noshing on. Essentially, this is how our dogs look to us in daily lives.

My thoughts on lookdown images? 

They aren’t my favorite angle to photograph a dog. Looking down at our dogs is… regular. We see them every day this way, and point our phones at them from our high above angle as the images in our phones can attest. While being eye level to our dogs is far from regular, unless we sit on the floor or they sit next to us on the couch (pending of course on the size of your dog). 

Here’s a comparison of a lookdown image and an eye level image of Blue. Both are adorable with the touch of fall behind him, though I prefer the look of the eye level angle (and that head tilt, come on!).

Which do you like better?

Below is another lookdown angle. By this point Blue was getting a little bored being a model and would have rather been munching on the stick in my hand – hence the ear positions. 

And on the topic of Blue, he’s now 16 weeks old! 

He’s gotten taller and longer, roughly 29 lbs (I haven’t weighed him recently) and is still whip smart. Biting is starting to get more controlled, though the morning and evenings tend to be wild cards. He poses well with a headntilt for popcorn, handsome, hungry and when I generally talk about things at time. 

The day we did the lookdown pictures we did 16 week pictures with Hickory the fox. 

EEEEEEEK! Look how much bigger he’s gotten from 10 weeks! You can really see how much height he’s gained. Plus he looks less like a smooshy puppy, though he’s got awesome smooshy jowls now. 

Man is he ever a handsome puppy!

And for fun – Blue’s 10 week pictures! My how he’s grown!

And even more fun… 7 weeks to 16 weeks!

Ok, enough about Blue! 

To recap: The lookdown angle is when you are literal capturing an image as you are looking down at your dog. It can be rather cute, though it doesn’t frequently capture my fancy – eye level angle is totally my jam though!

Why I love dogs

Why I love dogs… oh let me count the ways! 

Sidenote: The phrase: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” comes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) and her poem written in 1843 “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)”

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Indeed the full poem. Bet you didn’t know it held more depth than the opening line… nor did I!

Each of those ways love is expressed pertains not only to a fellow human, perhaps an intimate acquaintance or storied old friend, but also to the dogs we love. 

Why do I love dogs?

  • Companionship
    Starting eons ago with the first domestication, dogs have been kept as watchdogs, hunting dogs and as companions. They listen to our stories, our rants about bad days, the hopes & dreams we have with interest. There is no interruption offered, only head tilts and slight quizzical looks for new sounding vocalizations from us (or perhaps that’s only from puppies like Blue!). The depth of dogs’ companionship lends to the ample happiness for us, no matter if we’ve been gone slightly or greatly in time. 
  • Humor
    “The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.” – Samual Butler. Humor and dogs tends to go hand in hand. Harking back to their ancient ancestors again, one of the characteristics that makes dogs a different lineage from their wolf cousins: neoteny.  Neoteny is the retention of juvenile behaviors & traits in adult dogs – a huge marker for the difference between dogs and wolves. And a key trait in neoteny: playfulness. Dogs LOVE to play. Zoomies, playing with toys, opinions of new veggies and their responses to certain problem solving events lends towards ample moments of humor throughout the day. 
  • They are FREAKING ADORABLE!
    Thanks to selective breeding since domestication, and those Victorian & Edwardian era (1830s-1910s) collectors who defined & refined many of the modern dog breeds we know, modern dogs have VAST diversity. From towering giants in danes & deerhounds, to minuscule midgets in Chihuahuas & toy breeds, there is every size of dog for every person. Add in the diversity of coat color, ear and tail shape and the results are adorable! Purebred, mutt, every dog has a cuteness level that makes me swoon! 
  • They teach us.
    What do they teach us? Patience. How to problem solve and how to return to a place of play. They teach us how to love greater than we are, and how good of leaders & parents we are (strict to lax, consistent to half assed). We learn what makes them tick and what each bark and sound means. They challenge us to grow. 

And mostly I love dogs… for the amount of love they have for us. Their love for us as caretakers, family and friends, is infinite beyond the scope of space. We are the best things in their eyes and have no reserve in showing us how much they love us. 

I love dogs for so many reasons! Why do you love dogs? (Or cats? Or a different style of pet?)


It’s a blog ring featuring dog & pet photographers from around the world! Next up visit Seattle Dog Photographer Holly Cook wants to share her love of dogs and has developed a Dog Personality Quiz to help you figure out which job is best for your dog!

Line

Ever have one of those photography themes where you can’t think of a jazzy blog title?
– Get in Line
– On Line
– On the Line
– Lining Up
– In the Lines

Hmm… each feels a bit vague for the way a line can be a quintessential part of photography.

Commonly found as a rule of composition in leading lines, these types of lines lead the eye of the viewer into & around the scene of the image, frequently landing on the subject. Done correctly they have huge impact, done poorly your viewer will miss the subject in your image or miss where you want them to look. 

This image is by my friend Kristine featuring her German shepherd Reilly. The day was hot, the shot a quick one. Reilly is very regal. The leading lines in this image don’t quite work well. The dashes lead you out of the frame with the road, while Reilly’s eyes lead you out of the frame on the left. 

I did a couple of “dirty” edits to show her (and you) how different placement of Reilly within the frame would have changed the impact of the lines. 

The first “dirty” edit shows a better placement of Reilly farther down the road so that the road and dashes lead to him. BAM! Instant impact with regal Reilly!

The second “dirty” edit merely has Reilly flipped. The impact is a bit more subtle, but his gaze leads you into the road and dashes that move out of the scene. 

The general “rule” I have for dogs is to give more space in the direction they are looking. If they are looking to the left side of the frame, the dog should be positioned from the middle to the right of the frame. If they are looking right, they should be in the middle to the left of the frame. This gives the leading lines of the eyes some room to lead the viewer instead of just dropping them out of the frame. 

Crazy how head placement or placement of a dog can make lines work or not work in an image!

More on lines!

Basically lines move from point A to point B. They can be straight, curved, diagonal, horizontal, vertical, organic, manmade, subtle, bold and implied. 

  •  Horizontal lines. Typically found in the horizon of an image. They are calm, relaxed & static. 
  • Vertical lines. Lines that go from top to bottom instead of side to side. They imply power, strength and are dynamic.
  • Diagonal lines. Lines that move on an angle within the image. They create movement, are dynamic and add tension to an image. Diagonals also create depth when they converge at a point. 
  • Curved lines. Lines that flow throughout an image. The classic example is a winding road in the mountains or a river that flows lazily across the landscape. 
  • Organic lines. Found in & made by nature. Trees, shells, animals, rocks etc. 
  • Manmade lines. Created & crafted by a human hand or machine. Fences, playgrounds, roads, bridges, and beyond. 
  • Implied lines. Lines that don’t physically exist but are implied. Frequently found in spaces between objects and in the direction of eyes. That dog sitting and looking up at something that makes everyone stop and look to see what the dog is looking at – that’s implied lines in motion. 
There are tons of ways to have lines in your image, and you can have more than one line as part of your image too! Try not to go too overboard and have the lines work for & with you instead of becoming a hinderance & messy!
 
How many different lines can you see in the images of Blue?

Vertical lines! Both Blue & the gate to our fence! The edge of the sideway is a diagonal, and Blue’s eyes are implied diagonal lines. I have no idea what he was watching but it caught his attention solidly! 

All the lines! Playgrounds have ample styles of lines! This playground has orange horizontal bars, plus orange curved bars. Dark green supports make chunky vertical lines, while the wood of the steps and platforms is horizontal… except when its viewed at different angles!

In fact, the shadowed lines between each wood plank lend to a ton of diagonals! Another diagonal is found in the steps for the slide in the background plus the shadow from one of the vertical green columns! Plus the angle change of the horizontal orange bar adds even more diagonals to the scene. 

And we can’t forget the vertical lines of Blue when he’s in a sitting position!

Ample horizontal lines in this image of Blue! The sidewalk, the road, our fence and the edge of the garden along the fence! (And those rectangles of color? Spray painted repurposed picture frames!)

Not only are there strong horizontal lines, but a strong vertical line from Blue in a sit. Did you see the diagonal line of his tail? 

Lines are great elements of composition that can lead your viewer’s eye into the image and to your subject. Additionally they can create depth, movement, and add or calm tension in your image. Used well, they will amp up your images. Used haphazardly, they can make your image weak and your viewer’s eye might just bypass what you want them to look at. 

Huzzah for lines!
(Boo for hard to concoct blog titles!)

Location Spotlight: Theodore Wirth Regional Park | Golden Valley MN

One of my favorite locations to visit for sessions in the Twin Cities metro: Theodore Wirth Regional Park. 

Nestled minutes from downtown Minneapolis, Theo Wirth is a massive 740 acre park that ambles around Wirth Lake & the golf course. There is a big sandy beach, a playground, and ample trails looped throughout. Pair with big fields, wooded paths and an adorable bridge, this park has a MEGA ton of diversity in backdrops. 

I was introduced to this park in 2017 with a session with Suzi & Elli. Fluffy dandelions in golden hour, many textures of walking paths, a sandy beach and a calm pond, what more to love? Inspired, Theodore Wirth became a go to for the park setting while only being 16 mins from Minneapolis. 

Each time I visit, there are familiar spots to traipse: the beach & the bridge. 

The beach has a lovely beach house (the playground is here too) and this is the best place to find parking and coordinate. If we’re doing a session, we won’t be doing the beach right off the bat! Instead we’ll stroll around the park and leave the sand & water to the end of the evening when the light settles in to a brilliant sunset. 

Directly across from the park the paths start. Heading right the path is mown and it makes a giant loop around the park. If you continue on the path it passes Birch Pond and then leads you towards the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden (dogs are NOT allowed in the garden area). I’ve never followed the loop that far to know how scenic it is. 

If instead of going right at the first path fork you’ll be on a broad paved path with multiple paths jogging off to the right. Saying on the paved path will loop you up the hill to the Theodore Wirth Pavilion. Dogs aren’t allowed in, but the building is rather quaint. 

Following the path that leads from in front of the pavilion, you’ll head downhill to a smaller parking lot for the park. There’s a mega cute wooden fence that makes a lovely backdrop. You can head into the woods that flank the path to the right. The paths in the woods meet and make the same loops & connections to the main paved path – you can traverse them in either direction!

If you decide to turn left instead of right, you’ll cross a relatively busy road and head towards the water access. Go down the canoe launch for pretty views of the lake, or head up into the trees and hilly area. There is ample open space to explore plus the wide openness of the area is awesome for some running action shots! This is where you’ll find fluffy backlit dandelions in the early summer. There is one tree that actively turns orange well before the others, so if you’d like some color in your fall images find that tree!

If you pick up the paved path it heads towards the farthest edge of the park crossing Basset Creek as it does. Be mindful, this is a bike path! Make sure to move over or off the path to allow bike traffic to travel safely. 

Crossing Basset Creek is an adorable bridge, a must visit even if you’re just strolling. If you’re feeling surefooted you can explore the creek by traipsing down big rocks to the water’s edge. 

Continuing the path brings you to Highway 55. This busy road serves as intersection between the park area and the golf course. It looks like there is a trail that might loop around the golf course and turn into a mountain bike path (via Google maps) though I haven’t yet adventured that direction. 

After you visit the bridge, backtrack to beach and let the sun work its magic as it departs the sky. 

There is a trail that loops around the west side of the lake, but I haven’t yet travelled it to see how scenic it is. If you do, let me know if its pretty enough for a session! 

(Once you wrap up for the day, head into the north loop of Minneapolis and get some ice cream for you and your pup! MN Nice Cream has dairy free pup cups & is only 14 mins from Theodore Wirth Regional park!)