Happy Birthday

There are pets that come and go into our lives that mean more than some friendships or, in some cases, family members. A few years back my wife lost her favorite cat Max due to swallowing thread. She was devastate and felt that there would be no other cat who would be a Max to her. That Friday, which was the 13th and a full moon, a little black kitten cried until my wife found him and took him in. Once he had a bottle of food he balled up on her lap and fell asleep. That is when we knew he was ours and his name couldn’t have been more clearer, Triskaideka.

As he grew up he became a cat who loved he have his portrait taken. At first portraits were just of him but as time when on we added props to the portraits. One winter we upped the anti and added a hat, he loved it! A cat that will wear a hat was almost too good to be true. My wife was besides herself. My wife had always love the photos of cats with top hats or any type of hats but thought she would never have one that would wear a hat. So more portraits with hats and sunglasses were taken of this cat with so much patience to put up with such craziness.

Well it has been just over 5 years, June 13, 2014 since that cat became the next Max. He has been a great companion to my wife and will mean so much more than I will ever know. In this 5 years Triskaideka has experienced being a model wearing hats, camping, and a loss of his big dog Star with a replacement of a new dog Stella. I’m not sure he likes her as much as she liked Star but Stella is growing on her.

After the loss of Star we had hoped to find another dog with similar personality and demeanor. Star was part Aussie with a mix of a few other breeds thrown in. The Aussie was the part that she expressed the most and that was what we hoped to find again. As we looked we of course found Aussies but for far more than we were willing to pay. As the years ticked away the more we grew in the notion we were most likely were not going to have another dog like Star in our lives. Well that was until we saw a friends post about their new Aussie mix.

Once we saw that post of the dog we ask where they got it and if there were more to adopt. After getting the info we contacted the breeder and came to find out there were no other females left but there was another littler born on the 4th of July that had a few females. Oh and they were purebred Aussies. Once we found out their asking price we asked if we could visit and see them and put a down payment on one.

The day arrived and we drove up to the house and were greeted by a group of very friendly dogs ready to play. For me this was a good sign that if the parents were like this then the pups will be friendly too as they got older. We met the owners and after some discussion about ourselves and what we are looking for, we were taken to meet the puppies. They were still young and not walking much but I found one that was a beautiful black and white puppy that seemed to bond a bit to me. Both Buffey and I agreed this was the one and place our down payment. All we had to do now is pick out the name and get a few items she will need.

Stella came home to us on September 24th which happened to be a Wednesday and quite a crazy day. A few days earlier my wife ended up in the hospital, my employer was just about to change and I hadn’t gotten a kennel for Stella yet. So after work I went and picked up Stella and ran into Theisens with Stella under my arms. We walked around and found a kennel and a soft fuzzy woolen mat bed for her to sleep on. We paid for everything and headed home and a day later Buffey got to meet little miss Stella once again.

So today, July 4th, Buffey and I set up a background and created portraits of Stella for her birthday. Of course we did a few images on a plain white background of just her and a few that showed off her new collar. Once that was done we put together the Red-White-Blue background for her big birthday portrait and dressed her up. Stella’s collar and outfit came from Pampered Whiskers. Like Triskaideka’s 4th of July portraits, we ordered a jesters like collar with stars. When it arrived we were got a bonus gift of the hats which we were dying to try out. Our session went so smoothly and with both Stella and Triskaideka we got the best images to put into our family album.

Pets are so important in our lives. They are our camping companions, snuggle buddies, our keeper of secrets and comfort us when we are down. Both Stella and Triskaideka make me laugh with the things they do, so that is why I always create images of them, to keep the memories of them for as long as I am alive. Shouldn’t everyone?

12 Portraits of 2018

Like most people, the end of the year is about lists. A list of things like goals that I have for the year, things I need to change or photos I love. Well I thought I would bow to peer pressure and create a list of 12 portraits that I love and had fun creating this year. Now don’t fret, if your session did not appear that doesn’t mean I didn’t like any of the images or enjoy creating it. I just didn’t want to have a list that would go on and on and bore all 5 of my readers.  The reason I chose these images is that I tried something different, it came out great and now I use the set up as part of my other sessions. So here are my favorite 12 portraits in no specific order.

My nephew. Besides being my nephew and good looking, this pose turned out perfect for him. He looks strong and confident looking into the camera lens. I used paramount lighting which I hadn’t been able to do well until I bought a boom light stand. The paramount lighting is dramatic because his face and upper portion is lit creating dramatic shadows that helps him blend slightly into the background. And making this image black and white just adds to the drama.


The next one is my son looking down on the city. The Crow is a character that he wanted to create and be photographed as. A lot of the solitary hero’s seeming to be ones that always perch themselves above the city to look down on it. I wanted to create that with Colin, but I wasn’t 100% that I was going to convincingly pull it off. I first photographed Colin on a bench and lit him in a with a light that would look as if it came from the street. Then I photographed the city scene a few days later. With the two image I combined them into one. I chose a blue, cold look because he is looking down at the city with some contempt and revenge for those who wronged him. After creating this image, I became motivated to create more cosplay like portraits.


Colin and Rose. I had never felt that I had posed couples well but with Colin and Rose I really had an easy and great time creating these. I hate to admit but when it comes to posing, I feel I don’t do this well. Rose and Colin agreed to work with me which opened some new posing ideas to me. There were so many images that I really liked, but this portrait of the two of them was my favorite. A simple pose that has symmetry as well as conveying emotion to the viewer. The bonus of this session it that I was able to work in a park that I had never considered until then. The park has great light at this time as well as spots to use.


Rose. Not only is she pretty, but she is a great model to work with. Again, I struggle to pose people, but Rose posed herself opening the possibilities that I could use with the next person I work with. Not only is this a great pose but I felt that the lighting looks so natural even though I had to use an off-camera flash. With that kind of success, I gain confidence to off camera flash into my kit for outdoor portrait sessions.    


Morgan. I have always wanted to created portraits with a dancer since photographing my first dancing session. This time I got to do this with Morgan and as you can see, we did this outside in nature where, typically, you don’t see. In this spot I wanted to create a portrait that emulates a painting, something you would see in a Rembrandt or Degas and I feel I pulled it off with the lighting, color and the softness of the background. I think this spot would also look great with family and pets, don’t you think?


Jack. My first encounter with Jack is when he was 5 and now here, he is, a senior in high school. I really liked all of his portraits but this one grabbed me. Not only is his pose and expression fit him perfectly but the lighting and his placement on the door works so well. I have used this door before but I finally feel I have discovered the best setup for this particular spot which excites me and want to create this again.


Myles and Anna. I was dreading photographing at this park because it is so popular, but it is a popular place because it is so beautiful. We got a lot of great portraits with bright yellows and oranges of the fall colors, but I wanted to create some drama portraits that didn’t have color. That is when we went down to the beach and used the light and dark of the trees across the river. With the combination of flash and rim lighting of the sun I feel I have created this soft dramatic painted like portrait.


Girl in Blue Dress. I have always loved the Rembrandt light because it has drama built into it. Most of the time when you set up this lighting situation, your subject blends completely or almost blend into the background. The hard part of this lighting is when you try to do this outside a studio an in a person’s home. This particular setting, I had the room to create this portrait and with her expression, background, and dress, it all came together and made an excellent image. Here sister’s portrait created with the same lighting came out just as good.  


John and Family. John is, was a coworker and an all-around good guy. I don’t pose families well but with his group, I got a great group of portraits. This one was done in a wooded area using off camera flash that I believe has a natural light feel to it. Of all the technical aspects of this image, the grouping I am happiest with.


Little Girl. I always love the soft expression over the great big smile that everyone expects. I created this portrait session of a good friend’s daughter. We started out with simple poses and big smiles but before I ended the session, I set up a pose with a soft expression and out of all the images, this was picked as the best by everyone.


Stella. I have a lot of great images of Stella but this one is my favorite of them all. Just the fact I caught her in mid motion catching her tug. It is motion and energy caught in one image which you don’t always get to see.


Triskaideka. I love to photograph this cat. He is expressive and know what I am looking for, and most of all, he is willing to have his photo taken. Not many cats put up with me taking their photos but Triskaideka really enjoys it. I love his expression and the light I caught in this portrait. This image is also my first time I used my new toy, a Nikon D750. All the rest of my images were created with an older Nikon D80 but because it is so old that if it breaks that is it, it is a brick. Now with the new toy I don’t have to worry about renting a camera for a portrait session, I have the D750 for my main camera and the D80 as a backup.


By now you have noticed I don’t have 12 portraits but 13, the last is a bonus portrait I am compelled to add.

My parents. I created this portrait of my parents on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. That is 60 years of life’s ups and down along with three kids. They were loving and supportive of all that we did and gave all that we needed. My parents are why I am who I am and the values I have, without their love and guidance, who knows where I would be. 


It was a great 2018 and I am looking forward to 2019, there are a lot of changes and goals I have made for the new year. One is for this site to hold only my landscape and photographic art while another site will be for my portrait work. I will continue to work on my style of portrait while challenging myself in