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!