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 🙂

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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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Posing boot-camp

I never pose the people I photograph, I work with moment design and work with the poses that come naturally.

But. I want to be able to pose someone if I have the need, to have the skill! So in order to learn, I searched the internet after a photographer who works like that, and give classes. I found Meg Bitton, and am currently in her Posing Boot-camp.

This week’s assignment is posing a single subject. I borrowed a friend’s daughter yesterday, and got to work – trying to remember all the “do’s” and “don’ts”. My model was absolutely fantastic and tried everything I asked for without hesitation, despite mosquitos and nettles.

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Bend, twist, and turn. All limbs visible (at least partly). Hands relaxed.

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Take the photo slightly from above, to enhance the eyes.

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And remember location! Where is the light? How can I make her stand out?

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I love this photo, despite the flaws (her right hand is not placed in a good way). That look…

When I had tried all my ideas – some worked, some most certainly did NOT work, she got to play around a bit on her own:

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Really like this pose! Relaxed, with movement, twists and bends for interesting shapes. Hands relaxed.

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And this light! All limbs visible, slightly diagonal lines, beautiful.

So far so good! I look forward to more sessions and experiments! And yes, this will be in my repertoire. Soon.

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

Speedlight for dummies: part one

One of the things that I could see everywhere at Fotomässan was light.

Not strange, as a photographer is totally dependant on light! As I am outdoors most of the time, I use the sun as my lightsource, and if I need to I bounce the light in a reflector. (Wait, that’s a lie…I bring my reflector, and think I will use it, but never do. I just…forget…)

But sometimes I have felt the need for a second source of light. To brighten shadows on location, and save me some time in Photoshop. Something small and easy to carry. I know what you are all thinking: “you need a flash!”. But me and flashes don’t really work well together. I hate being photographed with a flash, and I have seen in my four-legged models that many of them feel the same way. Plus I don’t like how it looks. And the eyes get red or green.

Or maybe, just maybe, I don’t know how to use it properly…

Luckily for me, I could listen to no less than three seminars on how to use flash. Speedlight, Prophotos A1 (a speedlight/studioflash hybrid), and studioflash with softbox.

It actually seemed easy. It actually seemed like it could work for me! All of a sudden I knew what I had been doing wrong, and – maybe – how to fix it!

Although a prophoto A1 seems kind of fantastic, it COSTs about 10.000 sek. That’s way over my budget for “fun things to test”. Instead I got a Godox TT350 to use on my camera, just to give it a go! Price: 1100 sek.

All the photos today are straight from my camera, no editing whatsoever, just to show you what I did:

 

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No flash.

 

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How it usually looks when I try to use a speedlight. Terrible!

So far so bad – but I knew how to fix this! I switched from TTL (that means that the camera and flash talk to each other and agree on the best exposure. In this case they are wrong.) to manual flash mode, and used my flash compensation to turn down the intensity of the flash…

 

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Much better, but still not really perfect…

…and all the way down…

 

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Yes! That’s it, the result I have been looking for! Just a touch of light.

One of my biggest concerns was if my model would find the flash scary or uncomfortable, but she didn’t seem to mind.

 

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The Godox speedlight comes with a “catchlight-card”, that reflects a bit extra in the eyes. Works really well!

This is the effect I wanted – photos that doesn’t look as if Ihave used a flash, they just…pop…a bit more. Switching from TTL to M gave me the possibility to set my cameras exposure as I wanted it, and then just use a tiny bit of flash to fill the shadows. Nice!

This was my first attempt, and I have a lot more that I want to try with that small speedlight. But there is hope!

 

 

 

 

 

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…;)

 

Long time no see – here’s the reason(s)!

My blogging has been pushed to the bottom of my to-do-list for some weeks now. But it’s for a fun reason!

I’m finishing my new book!

Yep. I spend my days reading my texts over and over again, choosing the right photos, and I’m in close contact with my friend and publisher about all the tiny details.

The book is called “Klick – hundfotografering med glädje”, which means “Click – dog photography with joy!” (we’ll have to come up with a better title for the english version…)

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I’m as happy as Midori on her way to a tennis ball!

I have also started my last online-course for this year (obviously), and it’s so much fun! We concentrate on creating images that tell stories and show emotions, and my students are the BEST! I hope to have the time to create english online-courses for 2018!

And as my third thing I have released my creative side and made som printable dog training templates! You can find them in my brand new Etsy shop. I have big plans for this shop…wait and see!

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These cuties appear on the templates, and their friends 🙂

If you prefer the swedish version, you find them HERE!

And none of this would ever have been possible without these three. They support me when I work, laying at my feet. They comfort me when it’s hard and I’m stressed. They make me take them on walks, train them, and that makes my life better.

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