Animals big and small

This Fall I took a six week class in photographing animals. I admit up front that I expected it to be about how to take an animal portrait of your dog or cat, that sort of thing. It was so much more. At the first class I quickly realized this was going to be about more than just learning to take a better pet portrait but about the interaction between humans and animals, of all kinds.

Our first outing was to a local homestead farm, Rosasharn Farm. The day was slightly damp and overcast but it didn't matter to any of us or the animals on the farm. The owner of the farm raises Nigerian dwarf diary goats, Great Pyrenees dogs, pigs and a host of various feathered fowl. The place was sprawling, we had access to everything and only had to watch carefully where we stepped or knelt. Despite any messiness, it was a great adventure. And I found it hard not to sneak one of the kids (aka baby goats) into my car! Honestly, how can you resist this face?

Twins @ Rosasharn Farm, Rehoboth, MA

The second outing had us taking pictures of foster dogs from Handsome Dan's Rescue out of Rhode Island. Our photo subjects were pit bull mixes along with one lone kitten and everyone was a real joy to photograph. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was fun to see these energetic, friendly dogs enjoying the sunshine and our company. And the work being done by this organization and the foster volunteers is really amazing.

Hobo Jack

Finally, our last outing was to Roger Williams Zoo and it wasn't one I was looking forward to at all. I'm not a fan of zoos, haven't been for as long as I can remember. I simply feel bad for the animals. Even if they were bred in captivity, their instinct has to be to roam and explore, but no matter how nice the zoo - and Roger Williams is a very nice zoo - they are still in a pen. I used the example lately that I love my house, it's a nice house and I've made it a comfortable place. But if I could only be in my house for the rest of my life and never leave it, I would go slowly mad. Maybe that analogy is too extreme but it's how I feel when I see animals in enclosures. Many in the class had the same feeling and we had discussions on it but in the end, we all seemed to realize that it's a topic with many facets.

Elephant Bathing Time
The outing to the Zoo was interesting and I enjoyed the day despite my feelings, enjoying getting to see Elephants getting bathed, the crazy facial expressions of the giraffes and trying to see the elusive snow leopard. So while I understand zoos have their place, I hope we ultimately evolve to a point as a human species where we realize that this may not be the best solution to species preservation.

The class is over now and I miss it. My fellow classmates were a great group and the final projects we each did were really interesting and diverse. I wish I could provide a link here to each and every one, really they were great. Mine is attached below. I chose to do a close up portrait of my cat, Felix. He was a cooperative subject who was paid in treats and lots of petting.

As the holidays approach, I'm planning a holiday shoot with Felix. So stay tuned… more to come. 


Oh Fall How I love Ya!

Fall is my time. I have friends who live for the Summer, I live for the cool, crisp nights of Fall that are followed by bright sunny days.

I'm especially happy this year to welcome Fall as I have the memory of sweating my butt off while taking a Landscape Photography class Thursday nights in July and August. Every Thursday it felt like it was the hottest, most humid day of the week and there I was in some woodland or beach area trying to move slow and keep the "it's hot" exclamations to a minimum. Because really, saying it doesn't make it any better and there is a point where you just have to resign yourself to the fact that you are in it, be in the moment and you'll take a nice long shower in AC later. Because really, is there anything better than a long, cool shower after spending hours in the heat, swatting at bugs and applying layer after layer of bug spray? Not in my book, no. 

I have to admit, I resisted taking this class for a while now. Not because of the fact it's in the heat of the summer but because I thought I would get bored of landscape photography after a few classes. I learned something though while taking this class. I have more stamina that I expected to deal with heat, humidity and bugs and landscape photography can be very Zen. It forces you to go slower, see things in complete and really take your time to make your best images.

And one of the most surprising things about the class was experiencing places that I've never been to in this area. I've lived in southeastern Massachusetts my whole life and thought I knew all the most interesting spots. But I was so wrong. I visited woodlands I never knew of, areas of the coastline I didn't know existed - it was fun to discover new places in my immediate area. 

So I feel like the theme of my "what did I learn this summer?" essay is this... push yourself to do those things that you least feel like doing, don't let a little discomfort stop you and be in the moment whenever possible.

Visit my website to see my top 4 images from my summer of landscape. 

2013 Summer of Landscape

And if you can, come to the "Earth, Sky & Sea" show on October 5th. Details below.