Project 52 - Week 13: Use Focus to Abstract

Our challenge this week is to 'use focus to abstract.'  As a photographer and a new photographer at that, trying to use a 'lack of focus' to create an image seems foreign to me, uncomfortable even.  I would imagine as I gain more experience I will become more comfortable with this idea but right now it isn't comfortable for me at all.  I think this concept is particularly difficult when dealing with dogs or perhaps I am just not extremely creative (and that could be it too!)  I can't wait to see what the others do with this assignment and perhaps I'll get some inspiration from them. Our instructions were to spend a day getting over our need for sharp focus.  I can without a doubt say I've spent every moment behind the camera trying to capture sharp focus.  TACK.  SHARP.  FOCUS.

We were instructed to create a body of art and post several images.  Here is the reason why I'm not doing that: As a new photographer, I am trying to attract new customers.  If a potential new client were to scroll through images on my blog and see a post of extremely blurry photos without reading the intention of the exercise, they would certainly get the wrong message.  I'm afraid my attempts at using focus to abstract didn't result in images I loved.  So, while I really appreciate the intention of this exercise and I love doing these each week, below is the one photo I'm posting.

I used curves in photoshop to draw your eye even more to my dog Willow's tongue.  (Let me tell you, that was trial and error.  I don't really get 'curves.')  With curves I was able to blur the majority of her white fur so you loose the outline of the top of her head but her eyes and pink tongue are still distinguishable.

And yay to Willow for being my model this week.  She is 10 years old, 11 in May and she has always been afraid of certain sounds.  The sound of a train is her biggest fear which took us awhile to figure out when we adopted her 4 years ago.  Over the past year, she has developed a dislike for the clicking sound my camera makes so she isn't my model very often.  (Even with the beep turned off when the camera focuses, she still doesn't like the clicking of the shutter release.)  Such a shame too because she has beautiful eyes.


I seriously can't wait to see what Northeast PA pet photographer, I Got The Shot Photography  does with this assignment.  Be sure to click the link to find out and then click the link at the bottom of each post to see what each photographer does!

our girl Willow

If you've seen the See Spot Run facebook page, you'll know that our girl Willow had surgery to remove a large mass on the top of her right leg on Wednesday Feb 10. Labs are known for having lipomas so our initial assumption when we first noticed the lump a year ago, was that it was a lipoma. It felt harder to me than your typical squishy lipoma though. We've had it aspirated twice since finding it but each time they could only draw blood out of it. We decided at the time to leave it alone but over the past few months, it has started to get really big. Atrium Animal Hospital recommended surgery and we scheduled the procedure for the first available appointment with the surgeon. Willow

Surgery was scheduled for 12:30pm and around 12:15 I got a call from the surgeon. He wanted to discuss some concerns he had before going into surgery. Based upon the size and the location of the mass, he was concerned that a major nerve in her leg may be going through the mass and trying to remove the mass could damage that nerve. If the nerve was severely damaged, she would lose the function of her front leg.

Willow will be 11 in May and she has arthritis in her hips. Loosing the function of one of her front legs and having to add additional pressure to her back legs was very concerning.

The surgeon said he was hoping the mass was on top of the nerve and the damage to it would be minimal but he wanted us to know so we could decide for sure if we wanted the mass removed. He also suspected that it could be a form of cancer of the nerve.

So in the middle of my work day of walking dogs, I needed to make a decision whether or not to go through with this surgery which could possibly affect Willow's ability to use her front leg. The mass was really large and it was painful. She didn't like for anyone to touch it. She was having problems going up and down the two steps to get in and out of our house and she didn't really like to go for walks anymore. So, do we go ahead with the surgery or do we leave it alone knowing that she is probably in some level of constant pain? The mass would continue to grow and we'd probably sooner rather than later have to make a decision about letting her go as the mass continued to grow. Luckily Don was home so I went home, we called the surgeon back and after talking with him, we made the decision to go forward with surgery.

The surgery lasted about two hours and she did well through the procedure. Around 4:30pm, I called the clinic back and they were just standing her up. We got great news. She was standing up and putting pressure on her front leg. That was a great sign and based upon this, we were fairly certain that there was no major nerve damage.

We brought Willow home that evening and hence the start of about 5 days and nights of very little sleep for Willow (and if I'm being honest for Don and me too.) The pain medication she was on wasn't working as effectively as it should so we took her back into the vet and they put a compression wrap on the wound. That worked great with the exception that it was up too high on her leg and was rubbing the top part of the incision so she wouldn't lie down at all. Looking back now, I wish I would've done something sooner. The poor dog didn't lie down at all that first night after getting the wrap or if she did it was only for about 10 minutes before she'd stand back up. Her incision was so sore standing was all she wanted to do. I cut the top part of the bandage away, put one of Don's long sleeved t-shirt's on her so she couldn't get to the incision and she finally slept.




She was still in a lot of pain so we took her back to Atrium and they gave her a patch for the pain. I believe the patch has opiates in it. Since then she was been resting much better and when they re-wrapped her leg, they didn't put the wrap up as high.

Yesterday I got a call from her veterinarian and the pathology reports came back. The mass is a lipoma. The veterinarian is cautiously optimistic that these results are accurate. I was shocked - as was the vet. There is a good chance that the mass will return. If it does, the minute we notice it, we will have it aspirated.

Last night Willow picked up her beloved squirrel for the first time since before surgery. Now we know for sure she is on the road to recovery.

PS The photos I'm posting here were taken with my cell phone. I have a photo of the mass after it was removed but I'm not posting it (for reasons I hope are obvious.) It is huge though - the vet tech said to us, "It is rather impressive. Do you want to see it?" It was the size of the palm of her hand.

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

Snow Day

We are having a snow day here and based upon Moose's behavior, I don't think he really likes the snow. I don't think he likes the way it feels on his feet. He seems a little unsure as he walks across it and he is hesitant to go outside. He is snoring behind me right now and sounds very content! He has short fur, I think he prefers being warm and cozy inside. He might be hoping this is our last snow day of the year! Willow on the other hand loves it when we have a snow day. She wants to play in it. We only have about an inch of snow so there isn't a lot of snow outside for taking pictures and it's really slushy so I've pulled out the camera inside.

snow day


moose trying to nap

Moose, part hound?

So here are pictures of Moose and Ollie. We adopted Moose from Lab Rescue of NC. He is 7. We've been trying to figure out what he is mixed with. Ollie pictured on the left is (I think) a Tree Walker Coonhound. Moose, we are fairly certain is part hound. He has longer ears than a lab, shorter fur, and longer legs. In this picture his ears look longer than Ollie's. I'm not sure if that is because Ollie's are cocked a little bit. Moose is just longer and leaner than most labs I know. His personality also reminds me a lot of Ollie.... they can both get into some trouble if allowed :) which also reminds me of my first dog Sloan and she was a lab and wemieraner mix. She was crazy wild until she was about 8. I was hoping that Moose might not have the lab shedding gene. Unfortunately he does. We still love him and all his craziness!

pet sitter, pet sititng Moose 100 Moose
hound Moose Moose's best impression of a treeing walker coonhound