Project 52: week 29: Backlight

First of all, my apologies to the other photographers for my late entry into our project 52 challenge. I've had an exciting couple of days and I have been distracted. I was really excited when I saw the challenge for this week because I love images with backlight. I had the pleasure of working with Charlotte Reeves of Charlotte Reeves Photography when I was in Spain in April at Barkelona. She is famous for the way she backlights her subjects so I got to learn from the best. However learning and then actually doing proved to be 2 different things. :) backlight

Here is the story of my shots for this week.

I've been working on getting a new logo made for BARKography. My thought was to try and use my lab Moose (you know.... the crazy one) as the model for my logo. My goal was to use him in these backlighting shots and also create an image to use for my logo. I had been texting with a friend about this and she offered to help me with crazy Moose.... get this, at sunrise! She is a good friend.


We met at Freedom Park which is a nice park, with a large lake and stone bridge. I have an app that helps me see where the sun is going to rise, it gives you the golden hour times (the app is The Photographer's Emphemeris) so I felt pretty prepared.  The app is fairly complicated (to me anyway) and what it would've told me but I failed to do was check the elevation. It will determine elevation and the surrounding terrain and factor that in and I skipped that step. If you've been to Charlotte NC before, there are lots of tree.  Lots. Of. Trees. Said trees were interfering with my sunrise shots.



My biggest takeaway from the weekend was to assess the location and work with what it is giving me. I'd gone into the session thinking that I could take photos of Moose with the lake in the background and the backlight behind him which was perfect because the sun was rising behind the lake. What I didn't learn until after the session was that all that water and sky behind my dark brown dog was tricky at best to get the proper exposure.

This is a blog circle. Click the link at the bottom of each post and you'll end up right back here. I can't wait to see the other's photographs using backlighting. Next up is St. Cloud based & serving central Minnesota, About A Dog Photography.

Pet Photography Project 52: week 26, 27, 28: See the Direction of the Light

For this week's challenge, we are talking about the direction of light. Using front light when taking a photograph is usually the easiest and what most people do because it evenly lights the front of your subject. Side light can be more challenging especially if you're only using natural light because whatever part of your subject isn't lit, will be in the shadows. This week we are to post images that use both front lighting and side lighting. I also have another purpose for the photos that I am taking this week and for those photos, my intent is to use my dog Moose. Remember him from a few weeks back? I used him as my model and we had a few instances of chaos, broken sunglasses and a photography assistant who ended up on the ground when Moose started running too fast and she was the one holding the leash. Does that ring a bell? If not, find the blog post entitled Horizons and you can read about our escapades.

Why do I want to even attempt to get another photo of Moose? I want an image of him that can be used in a new logo I'm creating. The logo that I use on my See Spot Run page is actually an outline of our yellow lab Willow's head.

See Spot Run logo

Why am I creating a 2nd logo? I made a BIG announcement this week and for those of you who have either "liked" me or my See Spot Run page on Facebook, you've seen the news. See Spot Run Photography has a new name.


BARKography was officially launched on June 11 which also happens to be my mother's birthday and she is probably my biggest supporter so it seems fitting.  My new facebook page is BARKography by Kim Hollis. Please visit, if you feel so inclined 'like' the page and comment. If I haven't liked your page, please feel free to send me an invitation. We need to support each other! I commit to doing better at commenting on others' facebook pages. Too often I wonder if anyone is ever reading what I write. I promise to comment more often so you'll know someone is reading what you write. :)

I am so excited for this I can't stand it and I'll blog about all of this soon but back to Project 52 and the Direction of Light. With the photographs of Moose, I needed a background without a lot going on so we went up to the top level of a parking deck. I wanted a side shot of him so I could use an outline of him. This was the result.

direction of light

This next photo is an example of what the graphic designer could do with the photograph. I can tell that this is definitely Moose but to me it looks like clip art I could get anywhere on the web. Back to the drawing board and trying to get more photos of Moose. If anyone has any suggestions on what might look good, I'm all ears!  btw - Moose was leashed up this entire time and he was very well behaved. It was super hot outside so I think that zapped some of his energy. That also explains the tongue hanging out of his mouth here. I definitely got some great photos to post for "Tongue Out Tuesday" on Instagram!

new logo

I didn't have photos of Moose where the direction of the light would be side lighting so for those, I'm using a model named Ursa. She is a pet sitting client and I love her eyes.

direction of light

As I was writing this post, I got an email from the graphic designer. She is going to show me a couple of logo proofs today. I'm so excited. I've been up til midnight twice this week (and that is sooo late for me) working on my logo. There are a ton of fonts to choose from so I'm excited to see what the graphic designer has created. Once I get the logo finished, then I'll be on to creating a new BARKography website.  My See Spot Run dog walking and pet sitting site will remain but I'll have one dedicated specifically for photography.  AAAAHHH (angels singing emoji would be appropriate here!)

Remember this is a blog circle. Click the 'next up' link at the bottom of each post to see each photographer's take on our assignment this week Direction of Light. I always enjoy reading Northeast PA Pet Photographer, Elaine Tweedy's posts. Her sense of humor and personality come through when she writes. Makes me wish I could meet her some day... but I digress (as I always do!!) Keep clicking the links until you end up right back here. Happy reading!!

Moose and his tennis ball

Over this Easter weekend, I've had the chance to do something I love to do in my spare time: watch Moose play with a tennis ball.  There's not much better in this world in my opinion than watching a dog play and run around.  It's that look on their face and in their eyes.  I can just tell how happy Moose is in the images and that makes me happy. I love his long ears.  The first image catches his right ear with a little flip and the 2nd they are flapping as he is running towards me.   In the 3rd photo, he has a tennis ball in his mouth and then another tennis ball is tossed in his direction.  I'd LOVE to know what he was thinking when he saw the blue tennis ball.  I wish the next couple of photos after that one had turned out - he was trying to put on the brakes and stop for the blue tennis ball but his 90lbs of momentum wasn't able to stop on a dime.  As you can tell also, he was coming my direction so I'm sure the reason the photos didn't turn out was because I moved to get out of his way.  I did not want to be run over by a Moose!  I love this dog and his playful, curious temperament.

dogs at play


dogs at play

I love this boy!

Pet Photography Class

Yesterday I took a pet photography class. The good news is in the past year since I bought my Nikon, I have learned a lot. The bad news is, I didn't learn as much as I'd hoped I would yesterday. For anyone interested in pet photography and taking better pics of your own pets, here is my advice. 1. Have a lot of patience. (They did stress this a lot in the pet photography class yesterday.) When trying to take pictures of pets, it is really important to remember this. I don't consider myself an overly patient person but somehow when I have my camera and I'm working with a dog, I have all the patience in the world. It comes naturally to me and that is a good thing. 2. Have someone there with you who knows the dog. A lot of dogs don't like a camera in their face and won't give you very "natural" looks. When I'm photographing my own dogs, I experience this. I get a blank stare not the goofy smile I want. Even when I am making weird noises, if I have my camera ready to snap a picture, they don't respond like they normally would. Of course all dogs are different and I will add, some are easier to photograph than others. If you have someone to help you, have them stand behind you or in the direction you want the dog to look and make funny noises to get those cute expressions. 3. Don't use the dog's name to get his attention. Most often the dog will come to you when you use his name. If you want him walking (or running) towards you, then go ahead and use his name but if you're trying to get him to hold a pose, I wouldn't recommend it. 4. Put your pet up on something - a brick or stone wall, a park bench, etc. (Keep the dog's safety in mind of course.) Sometimes you can have better luck getting a dog to pose when he is up on something. 5. Try to capture catch lights in his eyes. To do this, have him facing the light source (the sun, a lamp, etc.) If you are using your phone, you may end up with the green glowing eyes however. Warning: Once you get a great photo of your dog with catch lights in his eyes, any other photo you see of him and he doesn't have catch lights, you won't like. Or at least this is what has happened to me. It is sad... I've not found great pictures of Sloan or Sam (my previous dogs) that have great catch lights. I will continue looking... perhaps I have some somewhere. 6. If you're using a DSLR camera, set the camera to Aperture mode and at F8 or F11. Try to focus on the dog's nose, particularly if you have a dog with a long snout. At F8/F11, you should be able to keep the entire dog in focus. (This is easier with smaller dogs... less to keep in focus. Ha!) 7. If you're using a DSLR camera and you are wanting to be more creative, in Aperture mode use F5.6 and focus on the nose. Part of his body and the background will blur. **Steps 6 and 7 are very basic examples and there are a lot of other factors to be considered really such as: how far away are you from the dog, how far away is the dog from the background, is the dog moving, etc.) 8. Don't use the built in flash on your DSLR camera. Ever.

In the pet photography class yesterday, they talked a lot about taking pictures of pets inside in more of a studio setting. Unfortunately, that isn't the type of shooting I do nor do I really want to do (at least not yet.) To do studio or portrait photography, you really need two off camera flashes, set on stands, and set to fire wirelessly. The external flash for my camera is $500. Until I am ready to really explore this option, I'll stick with mainly outside photography. Although I did purchase a lens for low light photography (which is generally what I am doing when I am shooting indoors.) I do have a favorite picture of Moose that I shot indoors. It's posted below.

Here are a few more dogs I've seen recently (and these shots were all taken before the pet photography class yesterday.)

Pet Photography Class

Pet photography class


Mother's Day gift from my dogs

I got a great Mother's Day gift from my dogs today and Willow and Moose had a great time. First of all, Moose got great news earlier in the week: he is heartworm negative. When adopted him in October, he was HW+. Because he was HW+, we have been restricting his activity. He's been getting "slow kill" heartworm treatment so he isn't supposed to run or jump around because that type of movement could cause the heartworms to break off from his heart, get into his lungs and basically suffocate him. He hasn't been allowed run and zoom around. Until today.

This was all set up perfectly. It was early this morning and I wanted to take some new photos of our dogs so I grabbed my camera and took Willow outside. I think I had snapped 2-3 pictures of her and then Don came down the street, just getting home from his run. Willow got really excited when she saw him. She perked her ears up and I snapped a few of those pictures and then she ran to great him. She is a really big dog to be running fast (and running isn't something she does often or for sustained periods of time.) I am really surprised there isn't a ton of camera shake b/c I think I was laughing at her. I love that I was actually able to get some "action" shots of her.

After Don and Willow got to the driveway, Don started petting her which she LOVES. If you look closely (or perhaps not too closely even), you'll see her fur floating off through the air. I snapped a few more pictures of her looking really silly and really happy.

All the while, Moose is sitting at the front door patiently watching all of this. Don went and let him out (this was the first time he'd been let outside in the front yard.) It isn't something we need to do regularly but he was very well behaved.

He and Willow immediately started posturing and I knew a game of chase was going to ensue. This is the first time they've actually played and acted like dogs in this manner. It made my heart smile. However, our large yellow dog didn't last very long. Fairly soon she was over by me wanting the crazy brown dog that was bouncing around to leave her alone.

One of our neighbors was walking up the street with his dog so we took our dogs Willow and Moose in the house. Both took a nap. :) It was a very nice Mother's Day moment for me. I am so grateful for my Mother's Day gift from my dogs.

Willow on Mother's Day Willow running faster than she has in a long time
Willow running and the photo isn't blurry - my mother's day gift Willow smiling
Willow and Moose getting ready to chase each other my mother's day gift from Willow and Moose

Happy Birthday Moose

Happy Birthday Moose!! His actual birthday was yesterday so I took a few pics of him then but the weather is so beautiful again today, I grabbed my camera and took Moose outside for another photo session today too. Days like today make me long for a nice fenced yard. I'd love to let him roam around so I could really get some decent shots of him. As you can tell from his expression most of the time, he becomes bored very easily when I'm trying to do his portrait. I would like to get some full body shots of him but the leash I have is only so long (about 25 feet maybe) and him being out of reach is not a good thing so I learned today. Our neighbors behind us were out with their dog and their yard isn't fenced either. Moose saw the dog and wanted to go say hi so he took off. I got a hold of the end of the leash with one hand (my camera was in the other hand.) He was dragging me through the yard so I had to put the camera down and grab the leash with 2 hands. I finally got him to stop after he'd made it all the way to their driveway. Crazy dog!! My lower back will be feeling this little escapade of his for a few days I'm sure!

These are the shots I got of him today. I really want to improve my photography skills so I am trying to practice a lot!

Moose's 8th bday

I love Moose's collar

dog birthdays

Happy Birthday Moose