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Posts Tagged ‘IPO’

Schutzhund photography has come a long way since I started this blog in 2009 and since my friend and mentor Betty Lindblom taught me many of the finer points of shooting working dogs in action, starting in 2004 or there about. I am delighted with the quality of images I see, and I hope this blog has been helpful to you. But I can’t help thinking it’s time to take our photography to the next level. This is one of the reasons I spent a lot of time these past months learning to enhance photographs of dogs via digital painting.

Below are several new paintings. By combining digital paintings with textures and other enhancements, you can create photographic artwork that is unique and stunning! Not just another photograph similar to the thousands just like it. I encourage you to keep developing and learning!

If you’re interested in giving this technique a try, check out Scott Deardorff’s Mastering the Digital Canvas tutorials. Key points to keep in mind beyond those offered in these tutorials: Be patient, use a small brush so you can get in every stroke, be careful not to blend the tones too much as you brush, paint zoomed into 200%, and most important – have fun developing your own style.

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My final post before I start my graduate work in earnest will provide a list of the many resources that have helped me develop my artistic vision and technical skills. Until then, Happy Shooting!

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of shooting the Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club’s spring trial. Below are some of my favorite images. I shot all of the Obedience in RAW, but had to switch over to JPEG for Protection in order to get the burst shooting speed I wanted and not have deal with the memory card lag. I didn’t want to miss anything! In post-processing, I primarily relied on the Adobe Lightroom preset “PUNCH” in addition to tonal mapping in Lightroom. If you have Lightroom and haven’t tried this preset, I encourage you to give it a try. Marvelous for quick editing to up the clarity, contrast and vibrance. If time had permitted, fine tuning the images Adobe Photoshop would be beneficial; for example, removing light poles and other unwanted background elements. Also, in many of the Protection images, it would be good to balance the background separately from the dog. The full gallery of images is available on my website under the gallery name 2014 Spring Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club Trial (under the Dog Sport tab).

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

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These past few weeks have been restful and fun using digital painting, textures and other techniques to create unique photographic art. Below are some examples:

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There is so much you can do with these techniques to enhance images. So far I’ve primarily done head shots, but I think they will work well with action shots, too. The key, I’ve discovered, is to work with close up images that have a lot of detail, clarity and strong colors. I am not sure images with blown out highlights or deep shadows will yield good results, as there is not enough detail.  While I am in-between classes, I am accepting commissions and running a special, which you can view here.

Last weekend, I attended the USCA Southeast Regional Championship. The weather on the first day of competition was an awful (rainy and dark); better on the second day for photography. While I did not shoot the event myself, I did spy several other photographers snapping away. Remember when shooting from the sidelines, you need to zoom in to catch the action. In general, the camera lens does a much better job of focusing when it is zoomed in on the dog rather than trying to catch a more panoramic shot of the entire field. There are not many clear focal points on the IPO field so the lens will often focus on something other than the dog, especially if it is lighter than the dog’s fur. It takes some practice, but being able to anticipate the dog and handler allows you to zoom in, which in turn greatly increases the chance of snapping sharp images.

Next up is preparing to shoot the Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club trial the end of April and more digital painting. Until then…Happy Shooting!

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Hello! Now that my first class is done, I have a few months off before my graduate work in clinical mental health counseling gets going in earnest, which allows me some time to work with photography, digital painting – and yes – add a few more posts! I know, you’re thrilled. Seriously, I had a great time yesterday taking pictures at our local IPO (Schutzhund) club for the first time since November. Above are a few of my favorites, with more photos available for viewing on my website – 031414 Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club Gallery.

It was nice to get in some practice before the Chattahoochee Club trail the end of April, especially shooting in RAW. As noted in earlier posts, I’ve hesitated shooting in RAW because of the large file sizes and missing a crucial shot while the camera is busy writing the previous image(s) to the card. The technology is much better these days then when I first started taking photos of Schutzhund dogs at work, so with a fast enough card and camera processor, shooting a burst of images in RAW is not as daunting as it used to be. I only wish there was an effective way to shoot action in HDR. Something to investigate further while I have these few months off. Any ideas, please let me know!

My next post will highlight a couple of digital paintings I’m just now completing. I am very excited about sharing them with you. Until next time – Happy Shooting!

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Greetings and Happy New Year –

My first class as a graduate student officially starts tomorrow. I am very excited and a little nervous, too – a good nervous. To calm those nerves, I completed a redesign of my website – BJ Spanos Ink Photography. I invite you stop by and  let me know what you think. It’s simpler then the previous site, but that is in keeping with my change in creative directions. I am still very much available for photo sessions and would love to shoot your dogs, cats or other critters in action and being the magnificent creatures that they are!

When I get a free moment, I will share with you more about my new artistic direction – that is, using HDR, textures and digital painting techniques to create unique and dramatic photographic art. These techniques have been around for awhile, but I haven’t seen them used much in IPO photography. So, a new challenge. If you take up the challenge before my next post, please contact me. I would love to talk with you about your experiences and what you’re discovering.

It may be March before I can post again. As always, I appreciate your support, patience with my wacky schedule and your encouragement. I am so pleased with how the Art of Schutzhund Photography has progressed these past years and look forward to many new adventures!

Happy Shooting!

BJ Spanos

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Hello!  I wish to express my sincere appreciation to each of you for following my blog. I have truly enjoyed sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned about photographing IPO (Schutzhund) dogs at work. It is an adventure! After more than four years, however, I feel I need to change directions! Don’t worry! This blog will remain, and all the previous posts will still be available, but I will no longer post regularly.

Reason is I’ve been accepted to graduate school to study clinical mental health counseling. My goal is to work with patients who have been diagnosed with serious or life threatening illness and their families. These studies will occupy most of my time.

Yes, I will still be photographing IPO dogs as well as be available for photo shoots of your furry friends. And, on occasion I will post about my other types of photographic creative efforts; for example, digital painting. Below is an example. One of my goals is to use this technique to digitally paint IPO dogs in action, as well as portraits of non-working breeds. More about that in a later post.

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So, yes – do check back when you can!  Again, many thanks for your support and encouragement. Best wishes for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

BJ Spanos

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As all IPO photographers can attest, IPO (Schutzhund) fields are among the hardest backdrops for photographing working dogs in action. The lighting changes from one end of the field to other and from one side to other.  And, I’m sure each of us has one field in particular that bedevils us every time. For me, it’s the Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club field in Winston, Georgia. It’s a lovely place, very green, with many trees lining the field, plus horse pastures on two sides. As you can see in these images from the Chattahoochee Club’s fall trial, the horses graze very near to the field and keep an eye on what’s going on.

I really like photographing on this field. For example, I love using the horses as a juxtapose to the dog’s size and movement. I also like how the trees and pasture weeds add color around the edges of my images, and the field’s contours allow me to get some interesting angles and perspectives.

So, why is this field so challenging? For most of the day, especially prime shooting time when the light is just right, half of the field is in full sun and the other half is in deep shade. This is wonderful for handlers and dogs, but not so wonderful for photographers, especially as the action dances from shade to sun and back again. When the shade finally does retreat, the sun floods the field with bright, white light.  In addition, the dew is heavy here, as is the frost. As you might expect, until the field dries, there is a lot of moisture glistening and reflecting off the grass.

I have yet to figure out just the right balance of settings to get great shots every time. My goal is to create two sets of custom settings, so I can easily flip back and forth, depending on the lighting conditions. I’m working on it, and invite you to stay tuned for future updates.
As noted, the images above are highlights from the Chattahoochee Schutzhund Club’s fall trial, which was held October 12, 2013, Enjoy!
Until next time – Happy Shooting!

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