A Surprise Birthday Gift – Greta and Koda :: Benicia Pet Photographer

When I received a call from Sadie about taking photos of her mom’s most loved two dogs as a surprise birthday gift from her family, Sadie was full of questions and concerns.  The dogs are a handful.  They don’t like other people or dogs.  They won’t like you using any extra lighting.  They don’t like men (uhoh- my husband Scott assists me with outdoor sessions). No one had been able to nice pictures of the dogs….and more!  While I can certainly not guarantee anything, I could provide enough reassurance that I can handle dogs like Koda and Greta (go slow and have fun!),  that I would be able to put Mom at ease (laugh a lot), that even the most jumpy dogs do surprisingly well with my lighting, and that I would  do my homework and scout the location ahead of time so that we could go as efficiently as possible.   So with the session booked I went to work!  First I scouted the location at the Benicia waterfront (see my scouting report here) and sent some sample images so mom could see how great the location would be.

My husband and I arrived early and were sitting in the car admiring the view, when who should walk my – mom, dad and the pups!  I introduced myself and Koda tried to climb on my lap – GREAT START!

When the session began, I held off introducing Scott and instead used Dad to run with the dogs for action images.  They were on leash the whole time and had a blast.

Benicia-2 Benicia-3 Benicia-4

Then we did some posed work – well they posed like champs and even were perfect in the family image.  How gorgeous are these dogs?

Benicia-13 Benicia-12 Benicia-11 Benicia-6It was pretty clear at this point that Koda and Greta were tolerating the whole process extremely well, so I brought out the lighting.  I think Greta looks stunning in this image – this needed extra lighting to properly expose Greta against the beautiful sky.

Benicia-9And then some magic happened.  As I was adjusting settings in my camera to properly expose for this amazing sunset, Koda stepped in front of me.  This image was meant to be a test shot, a throw-away!  Instead Koda’s gorgeous silhouette was captured in front of the lovely Benicia waterfront.  Benicia

Was this a simple, typical outdoor session?  No it was not.  Koda and Greta are both excitable and get worked up around other people and dogs.  But with planning and timing, lots of help from family, many laughs and underlying incredible good natures in both of these dogs, magic can happen and a lovely moment in time can be captured forever.




Location Scouting – the Benicia Waterfront

I scout all non-home locations before sessions.  This allows me to know what the sun is doing when, what kind of lighting I need and then plan the timing of the session to be most productive.  No one wants to sit around while the photographer is trying to figure out where to go next!  And the session I had planned that would be at this location included two dogs that would need to be photographed as efficiently as possible so that they would not get over excited.

So I snagged my A-number one model and cutie-potootie Piper and her mom and headed up to the Benicia Waterfront.  We found the perfect locations for action shots, the coolest old building which would do perfectly for posed images of the dogs and their family and the best spots for the most lovely bay views.   Here are a few images from the scouting session and you can read the blog post of the session that came about as a result of this scouting with Koda and Greta here.

benicia scouting
benicia scouting-2 benicia scouting-3 benicia scouting-5

Pinky! Action Shots of a beautiful German Shepherd Puppy :: Bay Area Pet Photography

As a surprise for her Mom, Cassandra set up a session for Pinky – her Mom’s beautiful Puppy.  Pinky was perfect – she posed, she ran, she chased balls and best of all; her portraits made her Mom very happy!  I am often asked how I get action photos of pups. One very effective way is to have the owner throw a ball right at me!  As you can see, this was a little close for comfort but take a look at the great action shots we captured!   These images were captured on a 70-200 Nikon lens at 2.8 aperture, 1/1600 shutter speed and ISO 200 on a Nikon D3s.  I use continuous auto focus with single point focusing.  I also use back button focusing to separate the activities of depressing the shutter from the action of focusing.  My thumb manages focus and my index finger manages capture. I toggle my focus point to the eye and move my camera to keep the focus point there.  When taking action shots I do not have time to change the focus point in the middle of a sequence so I decide the composition I want at the start.   Enjoy little Miss Pinky!

Pinky Pinky-2
Such fun!