Monday, January 31, 2011

Quest for the Family Photo

We have been working on our group stay with the objective of someday shooting a nice dog family portrait.

 We have the group stay a point.  Now, if Camera Face could just get the photography side of things right, we might have a decent shot.  

The hard thing about shooting the dogs like they are arranged in this picture is the 'depth of field'.  What is depth of field (DOF)?  In photography the depth of field (DOF)  is the distance in front of and behind the subject that appears to be in focus.  

If you look at the picture below, the only dog in focus is Brynn.  That is because I was shooting with a relatively narrow DOF (f5.6).  Everything in front and behind Brynn is blurry.

The 'F' stop or aperture setting on your camera determines the DOF.  The smaller the lens opening (the larger the number e.g. f10, f12.0, f20) gives you a broader (deeper) DOF - more things near and far will appear acceptably sharp. 

The larger your lens opening (the smaller the number e.g. f1.8, f4.0, f.5.0) gives you a shallow (narrow) DOF - less things near and far will appear acceptably sharp - instead it will focus on one point (in this case - Brynn) and the things in front & behind are blurry (bokeh).  

Only having one dog in focus is not the objective.  It is a lovely technique to use if you want to isolate the dog/person from their background

I am not sure how far/deep your focus goes with each f stop, but I like to pretend and reference my actual f stops as a key.  F5.6 gives me approx 5-6 inches deep of focus.  f1.8 only gives me 1.8 inches of focus.  For example if I am shooting a dog face with f.1.8, the dog eyes will be in focus but the ears and nose are out of focus. 

f5.6, shutter 1/500, ISO 640

f4.5, shutter 1/250, ISO 500  Brynn's nose is in focus, but her eyes are slightly out of focus.  The distance between the tip of her nose to her eyes is about 4 inches. 

Here is a good example of a very narrow depth of field.  This is a image from a photo shoot I did of two Staffordshire Bull Terrier's right after Christmas.  This is Lilly. 

f.2.2, 1/2500, ISO 320  You can see her eye is in focus, but her nose is out of focus, that is how shallow the depth of field is with a f2.2

You can also isolate your subject from the foreground

Whoops...I lost track of the point of this post.  

I was saying, Camera Face needs to learn how to set her F - stop with a broader (higher number) depth of field/aperture in order to catch a decent shot of the dogs lined up like they were, or position them better, such as in a straight line so they will all be in focus.  

Getting them to stay in a straight line, is not easy.  This shot gives you a good idea of what happens.  

I can get them to lie down in a line, but I have to back up quite a ways to fit them all in the shot.  Why?  Because Beth REFUSES to be anywhere near the rest of them.  Apparently a family photo is beneath her.

While pondering the problem of getting them close together I had the brilliant idea to shoot them all looking over the back of the couch.   Armed with my camera, 50mm lens and a large pile of cheese I tried to get them to cooperate. 

"Hello!  Look at Camera Face!  Hey BETH?    Bonnie, stop making faces at Beth." 

Bea amazed me.  While all the other dogs misbehaved, Bea stayed.  She remained propped on the back of the couch the entire time.  She is just a puppy and I have hardly worked with her on "stay's yet, but she figured out FAST she got yummy treats if she stayed there.  She didnt move while the other ones bounced around like jack rabbits on crack.  

"I am the perfect puppy."

"Dammit Bonnie!  Get back here!"

"I am the cutest puppy".  

"Ranger, Bea!  Yoooo hoooooo!  Look UP!" 

"I am the smartest puppy!"

f1.8, shutter 1/50, ISO 1250


What they are really thinking...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brill -AKA- Kiddo

A while back we fostered a young pup named Kiddo

(Let's pretend this is a picture of Cindy & Brill because it goes so nicely with my story.  It is actually Cindy & Kael, but if you sorta cross your eyes and squint them you can almost believe it is Brill.  Thanks!)

I met Cindy for the first time when I brought Brill over to meet her and to be tested on sheep. Cindy fell in love with him and adopted him on the spot.   
Brill almost turned himself inside out with joy when he met Cindy. 

Cindy began training Brill on sheep.   When Brill came into rescue he was extremely hand shy, timid, submissive and worried about everything.  He came from the Klamath Falls area of Oregon.  The story was he was allegedly dumped at a border collie breeder's home.  They decided not to keep him because they had several bitches coming into season and he was not fixed.  So, they surrendered him into rescue.   Who knows what happened to him prior to rescue.  

All that has changed for Brill.  Under Cindy's handling he is a happy, confident dog.

Around 10 years ago Cindy was an accomplished open handler.  She fell away from trialing when things in her life went topsy turvy while she worked her way through nursing school.  

Adopting Brill brought her back into the world of sheepdog trials.  

Over time Cindy has become my mentor in addition to one of my closest friends. 

Cindy adores Brill.  Brill adores Cindy. 

However, this particular sheep is not particularly fond of him.

A couple of weeks ago I was thrilled to watch Cindy & Brill take first in the Ranch class at the Rocky Ewe Trial in Roy, WA.   Last week they placed third at Kearney Creek.  Soon, she will be moving him up to Pro Novice...and eventually Open.  He has the talent and the moves to go all the way. 

Placing this little guy with Cindy,  changed his life & mine.  He has a home where he can work every day, doing what he loves & I have a cherished friend.

Serendipity through adoption & a very happy forever home for Brill.  Now that, is a happy ending.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fat & Sleep

I can identify with Bonnie.  She and I are kindred souls when is comes to food.

Over indulgence has ruined our waistline

In Bonnie's case, it is my fault.   In my case... awww heck...It is my fault too. 

Since I control the food, and the amount they eat, the tubby Bonnie issue lies squarely in my court.

All the care I put into feeding them a raw diet, I have been paranoid over getting enough calories into them & balancing the vitamins, protein sources, veggies, fats, oils.  Then the kitchen scale broke, again.  So I started eyeballing their portions.  And forgot to reduce them on the days they did not get exercise.  The result?

Tubby Bonnie.

When you look down on your dog from above, you should see a waist.  A nipped in area behind the rib cage before their hips.  You should also be able to feel their ribs.  The ribs should not be buried under a thick layer of fat.

  When they run across the field, the vibrations should not set off seismic sensors throughout the river valley.

 The pitter patter of paws should not echo a stampede of mammoth moose.

That reminds me of last week when my teenage son watched me work Brynn.  He was amazed when he saw me run.  He told me later when we got home "Wow, when you run., you made the ground shake."

Gee, thanks son.  I love you too. 

Teenagers, why were they ever invented?

Like Bonnie, I am tubby.  As my son says "Mom, you are GINORMOUS!".  Is that even a word? 

However, the meaning is not lost on me.

I will share a bit personal information - something I have been hesitant to share.  As many of you know, I have been battling my weight for years.  I could blame having babies, raising children, depression, my husband, unemployment, or anything else that comes to mind.  What it really boils down to is the amount of calories I stuff in my mouth are disproportionate to the amount of calories I burn off.

I had quite an 'awakening' in December. For years, I have been exhausted.  I wake up in the morning exhausted.  I go to bed at night exhausted.  I have a headache that never goes away.  I have been bone crunching weary for 20 years.  My doctor finally suggested a sleep study.  I relented.

What I found out is there was a valid reason for my unending exhaustion.  I have severe central apnea.

Apnea (literally, "without breath") is a pause in breathing that typically last between 20- 40 seconds and cause a drop in the blood oxygen level (saturation).  There are two types of sleep apnea:  Obstructive and Central.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by an obstruction of the upper airway, such as your soft palate relaxing during sleep & blocking your airway.  

In Central Sleep Apnea, the basic neurological controls for breathing rate malfunction and fail to give the signal to inhale, causing the individual to miss one or more cycles of breathing. 

To put is simply, I just don't breathe.  There is nothing obstructing my airway - my brain doesn't tell my body to breathe - so I don't.   There are many different causes and explanations for why this happens, which I do not need to get into here. 

During the sleep study they found that I wasn't breathing for periods of 1.5 to 3 minutes at a time.  My oxygen saturation was dropping into the 60's several times a hour.   To put this in perspective,  patient whose oxygen saturation drops into the 80's would be in the ICU.   A normal oxygen saturation should be in the 90's - all the time. 

The only thing that can help me right now is a machine.  Since my apnea is so severe a plain old C-PAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine is not sufficient.  I have a special machine and beside oxygen. 

Once I got past the feeling of being an invalid (which I am not) and got used to using the machine, the difference in the way I feel is dramatic.  The biggest thing?  I do not wake up exhausted.  I am actually feeling better in the morning than I did at night when I went to sleep.  I do not yet feel refreshed, but over time it may come.

The biggest thing?  I do not feel like stuffing my face all day long with carbs & sugar in an effort to keep my eyes open.  I have been losing weight without really trying.   So far I have lost 13 lbs.  A mere drop in the bucket for the 100 more lbs I need to lose, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

Why am I sharing this with you?  If you have any issues with sleep, or feeling tired all the time, please request a sleep study.  I cannot emphasize enough the impact sleep deprivation can have on your health.  It is dramatic and frightening if it goes untreated.  It has been  linked to depression, high blood pressure and to increased chances of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, poor quality of life, stress...not to mention feeling cruddy all the time.

So, Bonnie and I are on a weight loss journey. 

Who knows where it may take us. 

Hopefully, to better health and happiness.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Morning Smiles

This picture screamed at me and said it needed its very own post.

Don't you agree?

What do you think is happening here?  What is going through Ranger's mind?

Border Collie Insanity...fur shur.  

Okay I lied.  If I only put one picture in a post my world would turn bassackwards and implode.  It would be wretched & messy.

Ranger's eyeball peepers would burst from his head.

Spit and slobber would be flung far and wide.

Let's be honest here.  I have nothing to say.  I am just looking for a reason to post these pictures, because they make me smile.

Speaking of Smiles - Someone who read my blog last week sent me an email & volunteered her uber talented husband to help me out with some web design search engine optimization (SEO) stuff.  Today, he spent a huge amount of his Sunday on the phone with me teaching me about search engines, analytics, meta data, links, and all sorts of other things I do not understand, to help my website move up the search engines which will enable me to get more work. 

Want to know the really cool part of this?  He is doing this because he wants to help out.  Someone helped him out once...and now he is paying it forward.  Two people I have never met, who reached out to help, just because.  Things like this help reaffirm your faith in people.

Tracy & Jared's generosity made me smile all day - Thank you!.

It is a great Monday.  Isn't it? 

I hope you smile too. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mini Me & The Sheep Motorhome

Check it out

I have a new shadow....stuck like glue to my behind. 

My very own Mini Me.

Camera face is really tired.  She went to a trial today where Brynn placed 5th in ranch.  I dont know why Camera Face is tired...when she just stood at a post.  Brynn is the one who did all the running around? 

Shot by Bonnie Block with my camera (THANK YOU BONNIE!)

Placing 5th was not that big of a deal because there was only 10 or 11 dogs in the whole class.  Camera face is happy that Brynn listened nicely & didnt try to put sheep into a motor home today. 

 Shot by Bonnie Block with my camera (THANK YOU BONNIE!)

Last week Camera face thought it would be a good idea to run Byrnn in Pro Novice.  She must have been smoking wacky tabacky, because it was stupid.  

 Shot by Bonnie Block with my camera (THANK YOU BONNIE!)

It was the last run of the entire day...the sheep were tired, and grumpy.  They wanted to go home. 

 Shot by Bonnie Block with my camera (THANK YOU BONNIE!)

Brynn lost control of the sheep on the fetch and things went down hill from there. 

 Picture shot by Bonnie Block with my camera (THANK YOU BONNIE!)

The sheep are transported to and from the field in a trailer.   They saw the door of Judy's motorhome was open and made a b-line for that..and tried to jump in.  Judy luckily blocked their entrance, but they were set on going into the motorhome and Brynn didnt stand a chance of lifting them off to finish the course. 

 Shot by Bonnie Block with my camera (THANK YOU BONNIE!)

Not that there would be any course finishing anyway...because Brynn was not listening by this point.  That is what Camera Face gets when she runs Ranch in the morning then sets sheep in the afternoon...a brain dead tired dog.  What was she thinking anyway?  Maybe that camera is growing into her brain. 

Oh well, trial and learn. 

Many thanks to Bonnie Block of Field and Farm Photography  for taking pictures of Brynn with Camera Face's camera & for showing her how to actually make the autofocus work on the camera...correctly. 

Bonnie you are awesome!