Dog Photos in Alberta Canola fields – How I shot it

Two weeks ago I was invited last minute to attend the Shape Up Agility Summer Camp at the RexPlex dog training and agility centre. Usually I show up to events like this, take a bunch of agility shots, post them on my SmugMug site, then hope to make some sales. I have been increasingly aware of return on investment and my goals for this year are to improve my art while increasing profitability. I decided to approach the event a little differently than in the past so I posted on the Facebook page for the event and offered mini portrait sessions. I was very surprised at the almost immediate response. Within 1 hour  35 people commented they would be interested. I had only been to the location once in the middle of winter so I was a little unsure as to what the location would offer but I am confident I’m my environmental pet portraiture skills.

Saturday morning came and I did my usual packing OCD and ensured I had all of my equipment ready, including my trusty StrobePro battery powered strobe,  octabox, and heavy duty roller stand. I pulled up to the location and I could not have asked for a more perfect Alberta scene. Amazing blue skies with puffy white clouds over top the most amazingly brilliant yellow canola fields in full bloom!! One of my goals for this year is to improve my skills combining off camera flash with daylight and I could not have asked for a better opportunity!

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I wanted the dogs to be above / in the flower parts of the canola which is about 4 feet tall. As I had not been expecting this venue, I did not have a table or platform for the models. I searched around and was able to borrow a table from one of the competitors that put them at just the right height.

I set my shutter at 1/200 to be within my strobe’s sync speed and my f-stop at f/11 to endure decent focus and depth of field. I used my Canon 24-105mm f/4 L at 24 mm to get that nice wide angle effect I was looking for. Lunch break came for the competitors and I had a line of customers waiting for their turn. They were all super patient as I was not prepared for the huge rush!
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I could not be more thrilled with the results!!!!! The final product did need some work in post processing to get the images you see here. I only shoot in RAW so I have as much information as possible to work with in my files. I imported all the images into Lightroom and created a preset to use as a starting point for each image. This preset included a mild sharpen, lens distortion correction, increase in blue saturation, decrease in blue luminance, a shadows adjustment and a moderate dehaze adjustment. Each image was then further adjusted individually.

The first is the RAW image and the second shows the final product:

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Border Collie in Canola

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I was so busy that I decided to rearrange my Sunday so I could go back and offer more people the chance to take advantage of my mini sessions in this amazing location. I was beyond excited to drive up to see this immensely dramatic storm cell moving over the canola field! This provided me a completely different feel for the portraits!!! I had to pack up my gear two different times to save it from rain but the results are worth every second! Shape Up Summer Camp-795-2 Shape Up Summer Camp-646-2

 

I have been lucky enough to have several more shoots with clients wanting this type of shot for their fur babies. Here are some more samples of my Canola series:

Upcoming Courses!

Upcoming Pet Photography Courses

I am thrilled to have partnered up with the Edmonton Humane Society for 2 pet photography courses!!

First up is a beginner course on January 14th aimed at people who just want some basic pointers on how to turn those cute snapshots into photographs! We will cover basic photography tips and tricks, how to work with animals, and  you will get some hands on practice with some test subjects! More information and signup here.

Next is the Advanced Pet Photography full weekend workshop January 16th & 17th. This two day in depth course is perfect for the photographer interested in advancing their skills. The first day of the course will dive into advanced theory and technique, with the ability to practice what you’ve learned in the afternoon with an outdoor portrait shoot with live animals. During the second day of the course, you will have time to discuss your photos, pratice indoor lighting and photography techniques, and end off with an outdoor action shoot with live animals. The course will end with a live shoot demonstration from Darcy and a take home flash drive of the course material. Sign up here 

 

Indiegogo Campaign featured on CTV News

Edmonton Pet Photographer on CTV News

Local reporter Des Melenka came and did an interview on the limited print sale of one of the poker dog shots.

My dog Samantha swallowed a squeak toy and it got lodged in her intestines. She required surgery to remove the blockage and save her life. I am a professional pet photographer and recently did a shoot inspired by the famous Coolidge painting of dogs playing poker. I am selling a limited run of signed prints to pay the medical bills from her veterinary care.

See the CTV News story

Click here to see the campaign or contribute!

Best Friends Animal Society Trip

My Trip to Best Friends

I took a few days out of my recent trip to WPPI in Las Vegas to drive to Kanab, Utah and visit Best Friends Animal Society, one of the largest animal rescue / sanctuary organizations in the world. You may recognize them from the popular television show Dogtown on the  National Geographic channel.

This was a life changing experience for me. It really set home for me the difference between rescue and sanctuary. The ability to do amazing things for animals is truly awe inspiring. The available resources that Best Friends offers can restore ones’ faith in humankind. The sanctuary finds homes for over 600 dogs a year on average, and dogs are only a small part of what Best Friends does!

 

 

I spent the first day cleaning dishes and parrot cages in their Parrot Gardens.

 

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After lunch I spent the afternoon with my host and friend Haven, who is a caretaker in Dogtown. We took several dogs out for walks and I took photos of them for the Sanctuary…

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The second day, Haven was on a day off and he took his entire day driving me around the entire sanctuary. We visited every area of Best Friends:

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Cat World

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Bunny House

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Angel’s Overlook / Angel’s Rest

Best Friends has two areas dedicated to the remains of those that have passed over the Rainbow Bridge. The energy of these places are something that words can not possible describe properly.

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If you ever get the opportunity to volunteer at Best Friends, please do so. It will enrich your life.

My 2015 WPPI Experience

My 2015 WPPI Experience

I recently attended the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas. It is a week long “spring break” for professional photographers. Thousands of photographers from all over the world converge to take part in workshops, classes, shootouts, photowalks, geek talk, gear drool and maybe a little partying….

My focus this year was to learn more of the business side of things. My goal is to take my fledgeling business to the next level and have it provide for my family. I specifically wanted to look at studio management software, backdrop and prop companies, and possible constant light studio solutions. Studio management – there were 5 or 6 companies there, but to be honest the trade show is just too busy to really dive into this really well. Back  drop and prop companies- I took home some awesome catalogs and when finances permit I will be adding some cool options to the studio. Still not convinced constant light will work for the subjects I shoot. I may rent a system to test the performance.

 

I will have to take some time to name drop a little here. My amazingly talented friend Renee Robyn was actually speaking this year! She spoke several times at the Smug Mug booth, and had her very own first ( but not last) platform class!! If you have not seen her work you need to click here. Renee is partly responsible for me picking up a camera.

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I got to attend a workshop with  Nino Batista, an incredible fashion photographer and excellent photography teacher. We had two world class models and worked on mixing ambient light with strobes. Here is an image of mine from the workshop:

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I also entered three prints into the WPPI 16×20 print competition this year. I entered the pets category and I am THRILLED to announce my first ever Silver Honors of Excellence awards – 2 of my 3 images were scored at the silver level and were on display for the entire trade show to see!008-3 008-2 008

 

Walking around the trade show floor, I came around a corner to find one of my favorite suppliers. Simply Color Lab has been amazing to me. Their products are top notch and the customer service is just fantastic! I got to talk to the CEO and COO and they both recognized my name and were very happy to meet me (blush). Then Adam, the CEO turned me around the corner to show me something that I still get goosebumps about, they used one of my images as part of their trade show exhibit! I am humbled and honored.

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I have some amazing friends that push me and believe in my work. They go above and beyond introducing me to people and networking me with industry big wigs. I was introduced to the awesome folks at SLR Lounge, who just did a feature on my Poker Dogs shoot, and look for another feature on my work as a whole with them coming soon! If you are into photography at all, sign up – they have a plethora of amazing tutorials, tips, articles etc on photography – and its FREE!! www.SLRlounge.com.

 

All in all some amazing connections were made and I am so excited to see what the next year brings!!!!

 

Staying Ahead in a Growing Market

Staying Ahead in a Growing Market

This spring will mark 4 years ago that I picked up my first digital SLR camera. I was quite instantly hooked. I would spend countless hours out with my camera, taking photos of everything and anything. I am sure I annoyed everyone on my social media with a plethora of images and posts. I would stay up until wee hours of the morning reading photography articles and tutorials. I attended seminars, conferences, photowalks anything to try to learn. I did it all – landscapes, macro, flowers, fashion, weddings etc etc etc…..

After about a year I thought I was pretty good (little did I know how untrue that was) so I hung a shingle out on Facebook and started a website like so many other digital photographers. I thought to myself “hey people are willing to pay!” I quickly found myself bobbing up and down in a sea of mediocrity. I was unsure if how to set myself apart or what it was that made me any different than the thousands of other people just as passionate as myself about photography. So many of the successful photographers that I heard speak about making a viable business in photography talk about finding a niche.

“Find the thing you love to do, then find a way to make money at it”

About two years ago I took some random photos at a local dog park while walking my own dogs. BINGO. I found it! or rather it found me! Just like that! The reactions of my friends and fans was instantaneous – my pet photography was born.

Over the next few months I started from scratch – redesigned website, business cards, the whole shebang. I have not once looked back and I can honestly say that

I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing pet photography!!

It is my passion, my calling, maybe even my obsession. I would go as far as to say I am probably far too sensitive about my art.

The last year or so, pet photography has been gaining in popularity and it has become somewhat of a trendy thing for new photographers to get into. I now find a lot more ads and social media pages for local photographers trying to do pet photography. I am very much in favor of quality competition. Competition drives innovation and growth. It should also create market equality and stabilization. I found myself at a crossroads recently as one of the local photographers has actually gone out of their way to undermine my relationships with some local rescue groups that I had relationships with in the past.

So this brings me to the purpose of this long winded blog post (sorry!)

How do I set myself apart? What is it I do that is special??

First of all pet photography is NOT EASY. I think that some may see it as an easy dollar. That is not the case. If you are not prepared to get peed on, clean up poop, and sweep your studio daily it is not for you! Extreme patience is required with some animals. Sometimes it can take an hour just to get a couple good shots.

I am an animal person. When I say that – I do not just like animals – I relate to them, I probably prefer them to humans in many ways. I have a way with animals (dogs in particular) that I can not explain nor teach. I have always been able to connect with animals on some instinctual level. I believe this is what sets my work apart. One of the most frequent compliments that I hear when people talk to me about my art is the connection they feel when they look at my images. This is the single most thing that drive me to improve. I have a box of kleenex in my office because very often clients cry happy tears when they see the images of their fur babies.

I secretly love making my clients cry.

I am a print artist. What inspires me is putting large artwork in my clients’ homes. Images that will make them smile when they are having a bad day. Pieces that guests in their home will be inspired by. The look on my clients faces when they see their pet’s personality forever captured.

I feel forever connect to my clients in some way. Perhaps this is creepy, but it is part of who I am. I pour my soul into my work. When a client brings home a large canvas and sends me a photo of it hanging in their home, I can not help but feel immense pride.

The bottom line is I am going to focus less and less on what others are doing and just keep pushing myself to improve and do my thing.

In the two years my little home business has grown steadily and I am so very humbled and honored with each and every new milestone and I love my clients so much. I can now call myself a mediocre photographer aspiring to become excellent. I am so excited to see what comes next!

PS – I needed to get this out there, not only for people to understand me a little more, but as some sort of catharsis for myself. I have allowed the actions of others to dictate my emotions far too much in the past.It is my hope putting this out there in printed form is that beginning of change for me.

2015 Furever Friends Calendars Now On Sale!

2015 Furever Friends Calendars Now On Sale!

2015 Calendar FB Cover

 

This stunning 12 month calendar is a huge 12″ x 18″ and is conveniently coil bound with a hanger. $5 from every calendar sold is being donated directly to the http://www.abtaskforce.org/

The Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force (ASNTF) is a registered charity that provides onsite proactive, community based pet wellness clinics for communities that are experiencing pet overpopulation issues.  Our primary goal is to improve the health and well being of the dogs and cats in the community and to reduce human health issues that have resulted from pet overpopulation

Our volunteer based organization has the ability to set up MASH type surgical units to spay and neuter hundreds of animals over one weekend. The clinics provide veterinary care for dogs and cats including spaying and neutering, vaccinating, and parasite treatments that would not otherwise be available to these communities.

The Calendar is available for cash purchases at the following locations:

See Spot Run Doggy Daycare    –   7715 69St NW

Companion and Friends Doggy Daycare  –   5537 97 St NW

Doggy Style Deli  – 15131 Stony Plain Road

Credit card and email transfer purchases can be made by contacting me directly via email at darcy@darcyevansphotogaphy.com

Darcy Evans Photography to be Featured at RAW Showcase

Darcy Evans Photography gets Featured at RAW Showcase

I was contacted to be part of an amazing event put on by an organization called RAWartists.  They search out local artists in all sorts of media such as photography, visual art, musicians, performance art, and more. They love my work and are giving me gallery space to put some of my images!!!! I am so excited!

This will be an evening of visual entertainment with performances and displays from amazingly talented local artists. Tickets are only $20!!!!! Please purchase your tickets under my link so that it tracks back to my profile as there is a contest for the artist that sells the most tickets!!! I can’t wait to see you all there!

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Edmonton Pitbull Puppies Looking for Homes

Edmonton Pitbull Puppies Looking for Homes

Edmonton Rescue Pitbulls For Life  brought 8 pitbull pups and their proud mama over to the studio for some glamour shots. I had my talented friend Dave from Second Sight Studio  come do some video for me so that my fans can see a little of what I do and what goes on at a shoot! I hope you enjoy the video and make sure you scroll down after the video ends to see the final images!