I am sooooo proud!

I’m not even going to try to pretend that this is a small thing for me – I just can’t believe there’s a whole episode of the pod Drinking from the toilet with my voice in it! And I’m saying some good stuff! I have decided that my accent is charming and not annoying at all and that I’m actually doing a decent job – with a lot of help from Hannah – trying to explain my Swedish thoughts in English.

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We talk about what makes a good photo, a few tips on what to think about when you want to photograph your own pup, a bit about why I feel strongly that no photo is worth a sad dog, and about the training of a good Top Dog Model.

There’s no photo worth a sad dog! There just isn’t!

And it’s free to listen to. Let my (not so) soothing voice join you in your next car ride (that’s the time in my life when I listen to podcasts), train ride, or dog walk. I hope you get some new ideas!

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Studio work

Winter is coming, and I’m trespassing on my husband’s garage…Why? Because it’s nice and warm – and has room for a (very simple but still) studio!

Yep! I’m all set for winter. It’s not a lot of fancy stuff, most of it is second hand, but it works! Two large softboxes with continuous light. Some backgrounds. A fake-floor. Some cheap props.

I’m having so much fun!

My own dog is really easy to photograph, a trained model who loves to work with whatever I bring home.

Do you want to train your own dog to be a Top Dog Model? There’s an online course in the making right now… Just saying… 😉

I’m learning about studio lights, fixing the background in post, trying to get that personality showing.

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It’s really fascinating. And I get to work with different kind of breeds, colors, and furs.

I just love finding the right ways to combine training and photography. It’s all about happy dogs!

So…All set for winter! And one step closer to my dream 🙂

Pug mania!

I’m getting to know some of the sweet photography spots in my forest by now. It’s a really cool place, within 30 minutes of walking I have some very different areas. Today, I worked with a special model.

Meet Johnny Pug – the coolest Pug in the forest!

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his is about 20 meters from the main road. Already the forest is all around us, no sight of any cars. No sight of anything man made in fact…(except the pathway).

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A bit further is the deforestation site I’ve used before. At the edge of it, the stones are covered in moss.

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Perfect lookout place for a small dog!

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At the end of the site, the pathway divides in two. We started to the right.

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After a short bit, there grows a lot of these plants – perfect as a shelter for a pug!

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A bit of play and fun with Mom on the way.

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Johny here is ninja-trained. Do not try this with an untrained dog.

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And sometimes not all lights are on Johnny…His human “brother” is just as cute!

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Not only lions live in the high grass that we found about ten minutes later. 

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And to top it all off: heather! Loads and loads of heather!

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“Luckily I’m secure in my manlihood. I can pose with pink flowers just as good as any bitch!”

I feel like I’ve moved to photo paradise… 😀

Puppy in Dystopia

I would never place a puppy in an unfriendly environment for real. But I had this idea of a puppy, all alone in a world gone bad, alone with just a toy.

This is my first session with a customer in “my” forest. We went to a deforestation five minutes into the forest, and just let the puppy loose to follow his own desires (of course, Mom is nearby all the time!). It worked like a charm.

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Of course, we also did some “normal” portraits!

It’s awesome to have these two environments literally side by side…

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Yes, there is a stick flying through the air. We were trying to get him to look up. Well…

Puppies grow up too fast. Totoro will never be nine weeks again. These photos are precious, they freeze time and create memories. And he had a GREAT time!

Christina and Fant the Fant-astic!

I’ ve known Christina on the web since she took one of my online classes, and I’ve admired her work. She and her beautiful cocker Fant lives in Paris at the moment (enjoy her insta! ), and as they were passing by Sweden she asked for a private session. Some new ideas on street photography, and how to pose Fant in order to not make him look posed, was on the wish list.

We met in Västra Hamnen in Malmö (a beautiful part of the city, do not miss when passing by!). I know the area fairly well, and as Christina wanted to work with the composition of lines and shapes with her 16mm wide-angle, I added the idea “dog goes on an adventure in town” to give a bit of backstory.

And then we got to work. For me, one of the keys is to really “work through” an area. Different angles, compositions distances, poses…Little by little that makes me realise what I want from this scene, and I often end up with something completely different than my original idea. So that’s what I had Christina doing.

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Fant is a very well trained model, and seemed to really enjoy himself! Lots of treats were involved 🙂

We deliberately chose poses that did NOT involve looking into the camera. The idea was to capture Fant’s view of the town – how would a dog explore? If he was a bit adventurous, and more about seeing than sniffing (I know, it’s not super realistic, but the images get better…)?

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This part of town has lots of big windows, and that means lots of reflections. So much fun to play with!

Of course, a dog visiting Malmö would want to look at the sea and the bridge to Copenhagen. We got him to look in the right direction with a little help from some strategically arranged treats.

I really liked the idea of him lying almost like a statue, overlooking the city with the Turning Torso behind him. Him – not so much…But hey, anything for Mom!

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And my last one of a very warm and tired Fant. He did not actually seek that shadow by himself, we put him there. It still tells the story 🙂

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My shots are a bit haphazard, I wasn’t there to shoot but to teach and give feedback and suggestions. I know Christina got some really good ones, and can’t wait to see them!

So. Lesson learned:

  • What’s the story?
  • Try, try, try!
  • Change something in every shot
  • Leading lines
  • Diagonals
  • Rule of thirds
  • Play with reflections
  • Avoid poses that look posed
  • Work with the light, make the subject stand out
  • Don’t be afraid to go close
  • Don’t be afraid to back up
  • Keep the dog happy!

And to finish: keep your eyes open. What happens around you?

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Releaseparty!

Today is a good day.

The reviews for my book are starting to appear – and they are great! I’m not the only one who loves it 🙂

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And tonight is my releaseparty! My friends (and publishers) are coming from Gothenburg, a lot of my friends around here will show up, I have bought ingredients to make tidbits of sorts (I haven’t actually MADE them yet – but how hard can it be?), and I’m going to do a live presentation with powerpoint and dog.

In short: it will be AWESOME!

And you know – it’s still not too late! Everyone who reads this is most welcome. Follow this link and click “kommer”.

Can’t come, but still want the book? Not a problem! Read more and order HERE!

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Behind the scenes

My work as a photographer sometimes brings me to new and interesting places, to do new and interesting things. Two weeks ago I went to Gothenburg, to work with Svenska Terapihundskolan (Swedish school for therapy dogs). My assignment was to take photos for their coming book about therapy dogs and their handlers – so much fun!

Sara made me extra happy because she took photos of me working! So you can see what the scene looks like, and then my photo 🙂

It was amazing to see the different dogs and handlers do their magic. Because it’s really magic! The way people relax, smile, open up…

And it’s not only the clients that smile – both the dogs and their handlers really love their work. The dogs are work colleagues and respected as such, never a “tool” to use. The dogs love their work, they may be trained in certain tricks or moves, but I think that what really moves the clients is that the dogs are having a really good time.

As a dog trainer, I also loved the nice and neat training that took place. All training is 100% reward-based. The clients love giving the dogs treats, and the handlers make sure that all clients know how to treat a dog nicely. No matter the age of the client.

And as there is a wide variety of clients, from children’s hospitals to elderly care facilities, the dog (and handler) get to work with the type of humans they love the most. Some are really calm and cuddly and love to just hang out and get cuddled with. Others like a bit more action, and work well with school children. There’s a place for everyone!

The book will be released in December. Worth waiting for!

Speedlight for dummies: part 2.

Pretty soon after my first speedlight-try, I realised what an advantage it would be to separate the flash from the camera. So I got a transmitter. On the list of what I love about Godox: it’s cheap. That means I can learn without having to invest a fortune (so far under 2000:- for flash and transmitter!).

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Lensbaby is too soft for this purpose and my taste at f/2,8, so the rest are taken with f/4.

Today I have been working with my Fujifilm t-x2, Godox tt350, and a transmitter. Lens: I made a bad choice. I couldn’t choose between working on my speedlight skills and working on my manual focus skills, so I chose the lensbaby. I should have gone with an af-lens, as I don’t quite handle manual focus yet. Oh, well! One sharp out of every ten isn’t too bad, is it? Love the look of the lensbaby when I get it right! 😀

Anyway. I wanted a controlled environment, so all photos are from inside my living room with a simple black backdrop.

 

Todays tasks:

  1. Find out how it works.
  2. Try different settings (more or less flash, more or less natural light)
  3. Try different angles (because lighting dogs are NOT the same as lighting people. People don’t have huge triangular ears or very long snouts).
  4. Try to get the eyes sharp.
  5. Maybe get something worth saving.

I wanted kind of low key, and in my mind the photos were fantastic (of course). In reality…Let’s just say I need more practice!

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Flash straight from the side/behind her. “Are you done soon?”

I was worried the flash would be distracting for my model, or even frighten her, so the first thing I did was to flash it in a different direction and give her a treat a few times. Flash = treat. She got that really fast, and there were no problems at all!

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Flash behind her. I so missed the focus on this one, but wanted to show the effect. The light on her face is natural light from a window.

I started with TTL-mode, and adjusted the amount of light. I got the lighting of her really nice, but wanted to get a darker background so I changed to manual mode instead.

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Flash bounced in the ceiling. Nice, but too much light on the background.

In manual mode I set the exposure on the camera first, and then I added a tiny bit of light from the flash.

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Flash almost straight in front of her a little bit to the side.

I also tried to bounce it in the ceiling, and compare that with flash straight-on. The bounced one is much softer, obviously, but also harder to control.

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From the side, bounced in the ceiling.

Luckily, I have a very patient model who works for a handful of kibble. That allows me to play and test things! After an hour of shooting, I know A LOT more than I did an hour ago. And I guess that after a few more sessions, I may even start to know what I’m doing…:D

Play is good for you!

My lensbaby has not left my camera, I’m mesmerized. It’s so different from “normal” photographing. The combination of mastering the manual focus (hard!), the special soft qualities of the lens, the fact that I’m spoilt with the perfect technical quality of Fujinon lenses (they just deliver without any thought process from me), makes me feel like a beginner.

And I like it! I’m learning to see things differently, to use my camera differently. The images, of course, come out differently, and I edit them differently – realism is boring. Sane is boring.

I guess it’s a phase that gets old soon, but some of it will linger in my future work – that I’m sure of. But for now I experiment like crazy.

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My camera join me at every walk. I find Little things to try to focus on. I try different apertures, and play with light and colors.

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My husbands birthday tulips in front of my window. The short dof is interesting to work with, and the fact that the edges will be unsharp is an invitation to compose differently.

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Playing with shapes and structure. This session, the sweet spot of the lens was at f/4. I find that it varies with the light.

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Love the falling snow in this one…

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And with a smaller aperture (this one f/5,6) it’s really sharp – when I get the focus where I want it.

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I love the soft effect, but not in every shot. In this one…perfect!

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Is I mentioned, the editing of these photos sometimes gets a little…different. I love the matte retro-effect, and I allow myself to play as much as I like 🙂

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And I look at photos from other lensbaby-photographers, especially with the velvet 56, and OMG, the beautiful images! This lens will probably live on my camera for a few more weeks, Before I feel that I kind of master it.

I even tried some action shots…Interesting with only manual focus!

I think a slightly smaller aperture will be better…:D The photos are sharp, but the soft glow is a bit much.

So. I’ll continue to reject your reality and substitute my own! At least until it gets boring 😉

Friday – we meet JP in Fuerteventura!

I had one special thing I wanted to do this trip – I wanted to photograph dogs! Every nature photo is beteer with a dog in it. But…where could I finns models? I know exactly zero dog owners in Fuerteventura…

After our first trip, Ola started to browse the internet after more information and films from our newfound paradise. He quickly found JP in Fuerteventura, and we have watched every video from the beginning with great interest.

So I built up my courage, and in january I asked JP if we could meet him, and if I could photograph his dogs. And he said yes!

So friday afternoon we came to the meetingplace. Both of us a bit nervous (small talk is not my forte, and in English it’s even worse), but there was no need for that! JP is just as nice and friendly as he seems, and took us for a walk with the dogs at a dried-out river bed. This was a new side of the island, like a miniature Grand Canyon! I was busy with dogs and camera, and we enjoyed the company, the sun, and the stunning nature.

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When they found out I not only had meatballs, but in fact was giving them away FOR FREE, the two dogs started modeling like never before. We had a great time!

Morale of this story? Dare to ask. The worse thing that could happen is that you get a “no”. And there is a much bigger chance of “yes” if you ask, than if you don’t ask…;)