Last week you met Tucker. This week I present to you his roommate Hildi, a capricious little pup who is actually much more advanced in years than what that adjective might imply. Still, her size and agility merit the description of a dog much younger than her actual age would imply, thus the three-letter description remains quite apt. She has lived with my in-laws for several years and, much like her white-haired counterpart, I wanted to take advantage of our Christmas visit to get a picture of her. Also like Tucker, I initially thought I might try to get some kind of close-up with my 105mm macro lens but soon realized that I don’t really know how to create a compelling image consisting of just the eye of a dog. Maybe one day I’ll get it figured out but for now, I was content to just scoot back a bit and do more of a traditional portrait as it were.
The trickiest part about getting a good shot of Hildi was finding a way to make sure she was well-lit, relatively still, and looking in my general direction. All three conditions, in ascending order, presented somewhat of a challenge. Finding a spot to take the picture wasn’t that difficult, though with the other activity in the house (mainly from my two kids who were running around with Nerf guns) it did take a bit of patience from both me and Hildi to find a spot where we could have a few minutes of solace to shoot the photo. We ended up in her favorite spot to sit and sleep: an old chair which has belonged to my wife’s mother for decades. A fitting place of repose, especially for a furry four-legged friend such as Hildi.
Since my wife and I don’t have any pets I am not in the habit of taking their photos, and thus when presented with a seemingly simple scenario such as this I found myself a bit confused: why didn’t Hildi remain in one spot long enough for me to take her picture? Why did she feel the need to constantly turn her head from side to side, shuffle around on the chair cushion, and occasionally jump down only to want to get right back up? Dog owners are probably used to this kind of behavior and might be chuckling at this post right now, but the experience did leave me just a bit flustered and confused, though I did enjoy it and tried to take it all in stride.
The final piece of the puzzle, then, involved finding a way to get Hildi’s attention such that she would look in my general direction long enough for me to snap the shutter. I tried whistling, calling her name, snapping my fingers, and even enlisting my kids for help. It ended up being an exercise in trial and error, mostly the latter as opposed to the former, but the result is a photo that I think works quite well. Her eyes are tack sharp and the pattern of the chair behind her lends a nice bit of color contrast to her dark fur. When the puppy portrait session was all done I patted her head, thanked her, and let her be with a few things to think about for next time :)