Sunday, December 28, 2014

Puppy Portraits: Christmas Presents

Santa brought some very nice presents to our house and there were some improved lenses to help take better photos for the blog.  So, today, I have some examples taken with one of my new lenses. (In case you are interested, I use a Canon Rebel T3 and this lens is a 24-105mm).  Our December meeting was a webinar by Jen Gerrity on dog body language, so I will use what I learned to evaluate the photos to see if our puppies are relaxed or not!!

A relaxed dog is indicated by a face that is squishy and soft.  The muzzle is soft, not drawn tight, not tense.  There are not whites of the eyes showing; the eyes are not wide open.  The ears are soft and crinkly.

Portrait of Jam, our career changed yellow lab.
Jammy, is always up for a photo.  You can see that his muzzle is soft, his ears are soft and his eyes are at ease.  He's a photo fan.

Corky, a black lab guide dog in training, looking off to the side. 
Here is a photo of Corky, our current southeastern guide dog in training. While he is looking off to the side, his face is fairly relaxed. You can see his underlip jowl, so his mouth is still soft. His eyes relaxed.

Willow , a chocolate lab, sunning in the garden.
Willow doesn't like the camera and it is hard to get a happy photo of her.  You have to get her when she is not watching or very relaxed.  I happened to get her relaxing in a dirt hole she dug in the garden.  Her face is relaxed, her ears are relaxed and her eyes are soft.

Photographing dogs in some ways is like photographing people.  Some like the camera and some don't and shut down.  If you know what to look for: tight ears, mouth, whale eyes (where the whites of the eyes are showing), you know the dog is tense and the photo will not be good or look natural and you can work to make your subject more relaxed.  Good luck!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Corky's School Introductions

I introduced Corky to lower, middle and upper division on three separate days in early December.  It was shortly after Katie Bandel's visit, so it was in actuality auspiciously timed as the students in upper had a more impactful idea of what Corky would be doing for someone later on in life.  

We are hoping to bring Katie back to Berkeley in Jan/Feb to speak with lower and middle and to do the exercise with the dixie cups with them as well.

Corky on stage in upper.  He did a nice sit.
 Corky was pretty good on stage.  He did sit when given the command.  Of course, he then immediately stood up.

Corky standing at my side as I talk about him.
 I figured you have to pick your battles.  I just talked rather than fight to keep him sitting.

What I love about this photo of me presenting Corky to lower is the smiles of the children.
 On a separate day we presented Corky to lower division.  He was a little stressed as you can see in the photo, his tail is a little down.  He normally carries it a little higher.  I think it was all the waiting and the fact that I was nervous as well.  But he did great.  Right up until the very end when he tried to nibble a little on the Christmas tree.  But no damage was done as we caught him right away!  He had a quiet rest of the day in the office.

All three divisions now have reheard the rules:

  1. If Corky is wearing the coat, he is invisible: don't call his name, don't pet him, pretend he isn't there.
  2. If he isn't wearing the coat, you can ask permission to pet him.  The question to ask is: "Is this a good time (We might be on a bathroom break!)?
  3. If we are in my office, Corky will usually have his coat off and chances are good you can pet him.
Depending on what Corky is going through at the moment, I may have students help me with a certain problem.  For instance, if he has a problem jumping or lunging (like Jam did) I would have a student walk by while I had Corky sit beside me.  Fortunately, he doesn't do that.  But if we find anything, the lower, middle and upper division students stand ready and willing to help out in whatever way possible!