Thursday, 8 December 2011

Husky dog photoshoot in Middlesbrough by Hairy Dog Photography

Today found me in Middlesbrough taking photographs of Bruce the Husky.  Dog portrait sessions quite often end up with other family members involved and today was no exception.  They all said it; "Kids and animals son, just say no!".  But I didn't heed the advice and shooting dogs and children is just huge amounts of chaotic fun!  You can see Bruce's full gallery, along with other dog photo sessions HERE, in the Hairy Dog Photo gallery.

Photo of a husky with Christmas novelty toy.

First up is a Christmassy type of portrait - I have to admit that I pulled Santa's foot off whilst playing with Bruce.  Sorry Santa.  And sorry Joanne for ruining Bruce's new toy (not that he seemed to care very much).

Husky profile, Middlesbrough

What a very handsome chap he is!  I'm so used to seeing the larger Alaskan Malamutes when out walking my dog Kasper, that I was surprised to see how slender and svelte Bruce the Husky is.

Husky dog about to howl, North East

I was really, really hoping I'd hear a full on Husky howling session but the photo above is about as close as he came.  I even encouraged him by doing a spot of howling myself when I thought his owner was distracted by the kids, but to no avail...

Photo of a Husky dog standing, by Hairy Dog Photography

Bruce's owner had requested an all white background.  The portable studio takes about 15 minutes to set up, even in a room full of dogs and kids!  2012 might see me buying a new white backdrop though - the current one has had every type of half-chewed dog biscuit imaginable dropped onto it this year!

Lolcat Husky dog photoshoot by Jamie Emerson

The lolcat shot ^^^ :-)  "Do not want!".

Dog photo, unusual angle, NE dog portraits

Dude.  Buy some Colgate!

Husky looking like a wolf against a white backdrop

Not so far from Canis Lupus, but Bruce was a perfect gent throughout - he's incredibly good natured and endured the photoshoot with nary a complaint.  The Good Boy Chocco drops probably helped there.

If you, your dog, your family or all of three would like a Hairy Dog Photography photoshoot, why not get in touch to arrange a shoot?  There's still plenty of time to get prints made for Christmas if you're quick!  Or if you're stuck for a dog-owning friend's present, then how about a dog photography gift voucher?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Please Beware Printerpix!!

Avoid buying Groupon Printerpix vouchers!

Just a quick blog today to warn my photographic colleagues about Printerpixs' customer service.  I know most of us never use low end printers so this probably won't affect you, but nonetheless, here is my tale of woe.

I wanted to produce ten calendars for Christmas presents and when I saw the Printerpix Groupon voucher offering 10 calendars for £35 I jumped in with both feet without researching the company.  Bad idea.

The order went in on the 8th November 2011 and about eight days later, just ONE calendar arrived in flimsy packaging.  It was bent badly - a big crease right accross the top made it pretty much useless as a gift.  The print quality is actually very good.  The spiral binding is fine too.  It looks like what it is - a cheap calendar, but that's fine because it was cheap!

Needless to say, I emailed straight away and had no response.  So I got on the phone (0844 number, ouch!) and after a 10 minute wait I spoke to a member of staff who very politely assured me that Printerpix would look into my order and have a manager phone me back the same day.  No phone call came, so I called back the next day.  Got exactly the same spiel from a different staff member.  Three more calls over the next three days had the same results.  I always find that being polite and calm gets better results than shouting and stamping ones' feet, but I was beginning to feel a little fobbed off.....

About a week ago, another single calendar arrived.  To be fair, they had beefed up the packaging but I am still short of eight calendars.  Cue another spate of trying to get through on the phone, which eventually, I did.  All in all, I have now spoken to their reps six times, but have had to wait an average of ten minutes each time to speak to someone.  Each phone call has resulted in the same assurances - my order is being rushed through, a manager will phone me back in three hours, your order will ship by the end of the week.  Every single promise they make is broken.

I fully understand that they are very busy - they're still selling Groupon vouchers by the thousand.  It's coming up for Christmas and customers love the prices.  But they are very obviously not geared up to fulfilling orders in anything like a timely fashion, and the customer service is plainly impossibly bad.

All this is entirely my own opinion and I know others have been delighted with their dealings with Printerpix.  All my phone calls and emails have been logged, just in case they set their legal terriers on me.  As it stands though, I'd strongly advise never ever buying any of their products.

UPDATE 12th December. 

So, I emailed one of the management and linked to the blog post above, on the 1st December.  Within half an hour, he called me (this, after weeks of downright lies from the call centre staff, ignored emails and getting nowhere holding for half an hour plus on the phone).  He was very apologetic and promised to get the calendars to me by the middle of last week.  Nothing.  Zich.  Nada.  No calendars.

I've just sent him another eamil and copied in Groupon's customer support team.  I just want a refund now - it's become very obvious that Printerpix just do not care about their customers.

Worse, I am now concerned that their shonky business practices have finally put them out of business - their phone line now just goes to an automated recording telling me that they are having "system problems".  I'll say.

So just to reiterate, do not use Printerpix.  They are completely hopeless.  They will tell you everything's fine whilst their whole operation is in disarray.  Cold, hard facts.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dog Photography in the River Tees, Darlington!

Hairy Dog Photography is always happy to travel when it comes to capturing your dog's best side, and last Friday found me flying down the A1 to Piercebridge, a lovely, sleepy little village near Darlington.  The very lovely Joanne plumped for the less than half price, framed print offer which ends today, but which can be extended until the end of June if you mention this blog when booking your shoot.  You can see all the shots here on the dog portraiture website.

Sadly, the eldest spaniel has cancer, and Joanne thought it'd be nice to have a set of professionally taken photos for her husband.  The brief was simple, get some shots of the spaniel by himself, and some of all three dogs at once.  My heart always sinks a little when a client asks for dogs to be shot together - unless they're all very well trained, it can be close to impossible!  Here are some of the results...

These dogs all loved their sticks :-)

Just a quick techie, photogeek note: the Nikon 70-200VR lens makes photographing dogs so much easier - once the VR has settled on a subject, pin sharp results can always be expected, even wide open at f2.8.

A spot of sunshine on the way back to the car makes all the difference (quite glad they weren't getting in my car though!!).

All three dogs in the water at once - check!  Joanne quite liked the idea of a montage of six or so photos, so I've put together a quick first draft which I'm quite pleased with (below).

If you'd like a dog portrait shoot, or if you're planning a day out with the family and the dog which you'd like to have captured in pictures, please do just call me on 07866127732 or use the CONTACT page on the website, even if it's just to have a chat!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Two days, two dogs!

Hairy Dog Photography, based in the North East if England.  Specialising in contemporary lifestyle portraiture of your dogs and families.

Toby's photoshoot took place at his house in Sunderland on Saturday.  Believe it or not, he's 12 years old - you wouldn't know it to look at him!  Dogs are often at their best in the familiar environs of their own home.  They are relaxed and at ease, surrounded by their families and familiar sights and smells.  This was certainly true of Toby, who behaved like a true gent throughout!  You can see the whole shoot HERE on the website.

He didn't seem at all phasedf by the big black backdrop in his living room - in fact he trotted straight onto it and sat, looking expectantly at the studio light above him.

Seriously, what a cutie!  And as you can see, he doesn't look a day over six!

And earlier tonight, I got the studio lights out again to check over some issues I've been having with the remote radio triggers.  Once I'd sorted that out, I thought it might be fun to try and shoot a white dog against a white backdrop.  So the living room became a 'studio' within five minutes, and Kasper the hairy, white dog was pressed intop service as a model...

Kapser's not too keen on the whole studio experience, so I kept it short, and treat-filled!

This was really just a technical exercise - I wanted to challenge myself a bit (and the poor dog).  Just for reference, here's a photo of the lighting setup for Kasper's shoot;

In the diagram above, the key light was brought as close a possible to Kasper, without terrifying him, to give as soft and even a light as possible.  The fill light (just visible on the right of the door) is a silver reflector brollie, just to fill in the shadows and give catchlights in the eyes.  The brollie light behind the backdrop is set to nearly three quarters of its full capacity, to blow out the background.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Hurray! Dog portrait gift vouchers for all!

Hairy Dog Photography specialises in beautifully lit dog portraiture from our base in the North East of England.  We cover Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle - so many wonderful locations - so little time (for walkies!).

Give the long-lasting gift of fun memories with a beautifully presented archival print.

Pet portraiture gift vouchers are now available, starting from £40, although we suggest a £70 voucher which covers the shoot itself and also includes a rather lovely 21x17" black-ash box-framed print.  It's a very contemporary piece of wall art which any art lover, let alone dog lover will genuinely appreciate.

So forget the 'gone-in-a-day' groupon spa voucher, the scented candles and the posh choccies - your gift of a fun shoot for your special dog-owning friend combined with a piece of stunning wall art will be a long-lasting source of genuine gratitude. Just get in touch through the Hairy Dog Photography website or call Jamie Emerson on 07866 12 77 32.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Photographing Greyhounds is not easy....

Jamie Emerson runs Hairy Dog Photography, capturing stunning dog-related photos throughout the North East, including Sunderland, Durham, Newcastle and beyond.  Beautiful studio-based dog portraiture available - action shots / lifestyle portraiture a speciality.  Do take a second to 'like' our Facebook Page or have a browse around the Hairy Dog Photography website.  Thanks for looking in!

We are looking after the rather lovely Mick for a few days whilst his owners are on holiday.  Mick is a retired greyhound and one of the sweetest, funniest dogs we've ever had the pleasure of looking after.

He only has three speeds; amble, fast trot and nuclear powered.  Our hairy lurcher Kasper is used to getting the best of all the local dogs in terms of speed and maneuverability, so he was shaken and stirred when this staggering, shambling old behemoth suddenly dropped the bomb the first time the lead came off!

With Kasper choking on Mick's dust, I began to realise that getting pin-sharp photos of Mick wasn't going to be easy.  Although he runs in a straight line (eventually turning to come full circle on himself - he still thinks he's on a racetrack), getting the auto-focus point to stay on or around his head is problematic, due to the up and down bobbing motion.

  Having got that out of his system, Mick returned to his default speed of 'fast trot', much to Kasper's relief.  Kasper's dignity had taken a bit of a beating but he made up for it by pretending to find and chase imaginary rabbits, all the while glancing over his shoulder at his lanky housemate.

Mick really is a statuesque animal - a true athlete, even in his golden years.  I think the photo below captures some of his debonair grace and easy elegance.  All he needs is a top hat and a bow tie.  Or maybe not.

Having Mick to stay has been an eye-opener, both for us humans and for Kasper too.  Grayhounds are the Bugatti Veyrons of the dog world and it's truly wonderful to see them in full flight.

If you would like some stunning photos of your dog, either in the studio or in action on his favourite walk, please do visit Hairy Dog Photography's website and hit the 'Contact' button on the home page.  We also offer Gift Vouchers - any dog lover will genuinely appreciate a thoughtful gift like this, so please do get in touch.

Friday, 15 April 2011

More off-camera flash and dog walks in County Durham.

Dog portraiture in the North East by Jamie Emerson at Hairy Dog Photography.  Strobist photography techniques applied to dog photography.  Covering Durham, Sunderland and Newcastle.

Following on from Wednesday's off-camera flash testing, the iShoot Sniper radio flash-triggers came out on yesterday's walk.  We parked up at Sunderland Bridge, a sleepy little village just South of Durham, and walked out into the rural idyll that is the Weardale way.  The section we were walking follows the River Wear - the return journey is a footpath on the opposite bank.

Kasper has learnt to be incredibly patient.  As soon as he sees the camera gear coming out, he hunkers down in preparation for a lengthy wait.

No flash here - just a snap of the path and the arches of the railway bridge beyond....

After crossing the river, we began the return leg.  Stopped after catching a glimpse of something extraordinarily blue on the far bank.  Opened the flask and waited - sure enough - a kingfisher!  Several times it flitted up and down the river and returned to the safety of a huge overhanging bush.  I'm guessing it has a nest in there - may have to go back with the long lens.  Nothing can prepare you for the magic of seeing a wild kingfisher!  As an aside, all these pics were shot using a 35mm lens for the sake of weight and simplicity.

The sun shone, the iShoot Sniper radio triggers behaved impeccably, Kasper behaved reasonably and what a cracking walk it was - definitely one to do again very soon!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dog Portraits strobist style in the North East

iShoot Sniper review, Jamie Emerson at Hairy Dog Photography, Pet and Lifestyle portraiture throughout the North East, tests a set of iShoot Pocket Wizard type radio controlled flash triggers.

About a month ago, Roger at UK Highland Photography was kind enought to send me a pair of iShoot Sniper radio controlled flash triggers for testing and review.  Although I plan to carry out a 'proper' review at a later date, I took them out with me today whilst walking Kasper the hairy dog.

It took me a while to figure out what the buttons do, and they are a bit fiddly for my sausage fingers, but once you work it out, they're actually very simple little units.  They look a LOT like Pocket Wizards.  When on the camera, they do look impressive and that's no bad thing!

For no particular reason, I took my Sigma 10-20mm lens (very wide angle).  With hindsight, perhaps not the best lens to test the triggers with, but hey-ho.

Just for fun, I tried the trigger off camera about 100 feet away, tucked behind a bush (photo above).  You can barely tell, but that's Kasper sitting in that pool of light.  The Sniper fired the flash flawlessly every single time, no hesitation, no failures. 

In the photo above, the flash was badly balanced with the daylight - the flash is very obvious and a harsh shadow is cast behind Kasper.  I quite like the effect though!  In the photo below, I just opened up the apperture by a couple of stops and powered the flash down, to give a slightly more natural portrait.  The shadow is still there, but would almost disappear if a brollie was used, and the flashgun was higher up.

The last photo is supposed to look as if Kasper has walked into a ray of sunshine!  The flash head was zoomed into the body to give a spotlight effect, also known as narrow flash.

So whilst this is by no means a scientific or exhaustive review, here's a quick summary;

Good Points;
  • They look good.  Damn good.  And that makes me look good, non?
  • They work. They just do.  Without any fuss, mis-fires or annoying beeping noises.
  • They have 15 channels, so uncle Bob won't be setting them off using his compact camera flash half a mile away.
  • They 'wake up' sleeping speedlights.  This is certainly true of my SB-800s and SB-600s.  This is a great feature - some of my other (cheaper) triggers don't do this.
Bad Points;
  • The hotshoe connectors are a very tight fit.  This isn't too bad on the strobe mounted unit, but I really have to wrench the unit to get it off the camera.  Scary tight and definitely needs addressing -I fear for my camera's delicate hotshoe.
  • The + and - signs in the battery case are tiny, barely visible in good light and would be a pain in the neck should the batteries need changing in bad light.
  • The instructions are on a par with Nikon's own - nonsensical at best.
So all in all, well put together triggers.  More to follow, once I've had the chance to use them some more!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bella and Lulu's Shoot

Hairy Dog Photography - Providing dog and pet portraits throughout the North East.  Covering Durham, Sunderland, Newcastle and further afield.  Canine events and on-site printing, studio sittings or beautiful photos of your dog on his favourite walk all available.

Today's shoot was so windy that at times it was hard to stand upright!  This didn't stop Bella and Lu having a fantastic time.  As always, I was travelling light with one camera (D300), two lenses (70-200mm, f2.8, VR and Sigma 10-20mm for a comedy shot or two.  My Lowepro belt and pouches (rocking the batman / ninja look as usual) let me carry strobes, spare batteries, prime lenses and other bits and bobs close to hand.

It's hilarious watching two so very differently sized dogs playing.  Bella is completely fearless and didn't seem to mind at all being bowled over by Lu.

The wind really was blowing a gale and after a short time we dropped down the back of the hill, where it was a lot calmer.  Shooting two dogs together offers unique challenges, especially where the dogs are very different breeds.  I chose mostly to try and get clean shots of the dogs separately.

Aaaw!  How cute is Bella! 

Lu crashing through the undergrowth, straw flying everywhere!  I love the way labs just plough through whatever it is that's in their way!

 Got a STICK!  Happy dog.

Right - she's standing still - QUICK, get a portrait!

You see?  I did warn you there's be a comedy 10mm super wide angle shot...  Despite the crazy wind, harsh sun and fast-changing light, there's definitely a few 'keepers' amongst this set of pics.  Thanks to the owners and thanks also to Bella and Lu, who kept me grinning the whole walk.

Fancy some shots of your dog?  Just visit the Hairy Dog website and hit the contact button once you've had a look around.

Monday, 14 March 2011

So what is it you do, exactly?!

Hairy Dog Photography, providing very contemporary lifestyle photography for you and your dogs throughout the North East.  Photoshoots available in Sunderland, Durham, Newcastle and throughout the region.

Over the last week, I've been accused twice of making up the phrase, "Dog Lifestyle Photography".  Mea Culpa - guilty as charged.  "Lifestyle portraiture" is a phrase employed by contemporary photographers to describe a way of shooting their subjects in an unposed and natural manner.

This is something Emerson Photography been doing for some time anyway.  Hairy Dog Photography does exactly the same thing but includes the hairiest member of the family, usually as the main focus of the shoot.

The series of photos you're seeing here were shot a good while ago now, on Balmedie Beach near Aberdeen.  I wanted to give a full and frank account of a day at the beach with a much loved dog.  The family are now my in-laws but I don't hold it against them :-)

To ensure this picture of the day is complete, I made sure to record the surroundings with a few almost landscapey shots - they help to set the scene.

Your hairy dog doesn't necessarily have to be in each and every shot (although he will be the focus of the shoot) - I do like to get the whole family, or even just the one owner involved.  I love to see and capture moments of interaction between you and your pet.

This particular day involved a BBQ in the dunes - Kasper was rewarded with no less than two sandy sausages - this is probably why he looks so happy in all the photos!

This is just a very small selection from the days' shoot.  It was shot a long time ago (on film no less!) but was the beginnings of Hairy Dog Photography.  From that day onwards, I knew that as soon as I had the time, I would do the same for other families - everybody likes photos of their dogs, but dog-lovers really love photos of their pets enjoying a day out with the family!

There are several options after your shoot.  Perhaps a nice, simple, framed picture for the living room wall - a family photo and dog portrait all in one!  Hairy Dog can also produce beautiful little coffe table books for those who absolutely must have all the images - these really are lovely little keepsakes.  Canvasses and acryllic-sandwich prints are very popular too.

All shoots are FREE until the middle of April, due to high demand.  After this, they will be available at the very reasonable price of £40, complete with a free 7x5" print.  Bargain!  Please do feel free to get in touch through the Hairy Dog website.