This week's photography assignment taught me yet another essential key lesson: if at all possible, bring along a helper. I had the opportunity to do so, and passing it up was a big mistake.
Brimi the Icelandic Sheepdog is a beautiful animal, a breed still infrequently found in the U.S. At seven months of age, he is just beginning a competitive career that includes showing in conformation, tracking and obedience. His owner, Carol, wanted images that might work for calendar and specialty breed publications. So she needs to illustrate him properly stacked, show off highlights such as his beautiful tail, and of course, capture a portrait that truly conveys his delightful personality.
We met at a large park in late afternoon. We had hopes that the setting sun would highlight his brilliant color, and that the park would be nearly empty at the late hour. We were wrong on both counts.
While the light was good, clouds largely obscured the golden rays we had hoped for. But I was prepared - I had brought flash equipment and a gold reflector, enabling us to create our own ideal light. But with just two of us, the reflector was on a stationary mount, and persuading Brimi to remain properly positioned in front of it for more than seconds at a time was just a bit of a challenge. An extra pair of hands would have been a significant help.
We also discovered that the hour of our adventure was also a favorite time of day for dog walkers, joggers, and other active patrons of the park.
Among other elements, fine dog images depend on two key factors - beautiful catchlights in the eyes, and absolutely no sign of any collar or lead. We wanted action shots, and still shots. We were armed with tempting treats and toys for Brimi to chase and retrieve. But we over-estimated his obedience abilities just a bit - counting on him to remain in a sit-stay and then come when called from 60 or 70 feet away might have been a good plan had we been alone in the park. As it was, Brimi found the opportunity to race after joggers, and bound joyfully towards other dogs to be a bit too much of a temptation.
And so our session was conducted in a frenzy of containing an exuberant dog and ongoing adjustment for lighting conditions that were changing by the second. In other words - a typical environmental photo shoot.
Was it successful? I think so, as these shots may illustrate. To see more images of Brimi, and other dogs, visit the Dog Gallery on my website.