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!

Shape Up Summer Camp-676-2

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!
Shape Up Summer Camp-61 Shape Up Summer Camp-608

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:

Shape Up Portraits-145-2

Border Collie in Canola

Shape Up Portraits-145
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:

Darcy Evans Photography goes to CreativeLIVE

Darcy Evans Photography Goes to CreativeLIVE


Hi everyone, Meep-Mo here!  A little while ago Darcy found out that one of the BEST photography instructional resources around CreativeLIVE was hosting renowned pet photographer and owner of Pet’ographique Arica Dorff to do a 2 day workshop. He was over the moon, it was all he could talk about (so annoying). He got to work immediately on a submission video to try to get selected as a live audience member. Our friend Dave from Second Sight Studio did a fantastic job on the submission video.  A ouple weeks later the submission deadline passed and one day I was napping peacefully on the couch when I was awoken by what sounded like a 8 year old girl when she hears the ice cream truck. It was just Darcy’s reaction to getting a twitter message that he had be selected to attend!!!!

He is a big fan of CreativeLIVE, and obviously pet photography is the main focus of his business now,  so this was a huge deal for him, and for me because I knew I was also Seattle bound!


We arrived at the airport super early because Darcy was just too damned excited to sleep. Darcy of course watched Sue Bryce on CreativeLIVE, while I lounged in some funky furniture then watched the planes…


The plane ride was REALLY bumpy, pretty sure it was just the effects of the shrink ray wearing off.


We took the train into Settle from the airport – what a unique and beautiful city



Darcy can’t read a map to save his life so we ended up getting off the train way too early and had to walk quite a ways to the hotel. Camera was in hand (big surprise ;)) and the walk went by quite quickly. Seattle is a beautiful city with an eclectic mix of old and new. We made it to world famous Pikes place just as it was closing and had a delicious meal right on the wharf beside the ferris wheel.



We headed back the airport and had a pretty good sleep. Darcy wanted to be well rested for his big opportunity. In the morning we woke up bright and early  and headed down the street for a nice breakfast. When we got to the creativeLIVE studio the Line Producer Lacee was right there to greet us and make us feel welcomed and at home. Arica’s delivery of the workshop was nothing short of astounding. I sat the whole time with my eyes just wide open watching her (perhaps my lack of functioning eyelids did not help).


The first day we spent covering pet psychology, how to shoot pets, marketing, the value of doing a consultation, and we observed Arica shoot 7 real life live pet sessions! I was blown away by not only her ability to project her calmness to the animals, but to the human clients as well. Her ability to direct and shoot with a  specific purpose in mind was inspirational. Darcy could not stop hogging the microphone and tormenting Arica with questions and comments. Pretty sure she is gonna file a restraining order.

The second day blew the first day out of the water. If you own any business at all you really should consider purchasing the download of her entire 2 day workshop, I guarantee you will not regret it. Is started with FRUITY PEBBLES! Darcy won’t shut up about it “this has changed my life” “I know what I want to do with my life” “I need to be here in one yea, five years etc” “blah blah blah” … I just tuned him out and went and got a banana, and then a bapple.

We were both a little star struck. Meeting Arica, then hosts Kathy Jakielski and Susan Roderick) who we watch all the time and love! They of course recognized me from such films as Despicable Me, Bannnnnaaannnnnna, and Meep-Mo rules the Universe – later re-titled Despicable Me 2. They all begged me for photos and autographs….


And then this really crazy lady with a funny accent wanted to take a photo with me. I got Darcy to turn around and he almost dropped his camera. Apparently Sue Bryce is some sort of big deal!


Ok Meep-Mo that is quite enough out of you..  sorry folks Darcy here again.

All kidding aside. I can not express how truly grateful I am to have had this experience. CreativeLIVE is such an amazing tool for photographers on its own, but the fact that I was able to attend such a specific workshop on what I want my business to be is just mind boggling. I am so inspired and feel invigorated and now driven to succeed. I can not thank my lovely better half Melissa, all my friends and fans that support me, the team at CreativeLIVe and Arica Dorff for the entire experience.




Edmonton Doggy Daycare Dog Mini Sessions

See Spot Run Doggy Daycare Mini Photo Sessions

We had the pleasure of setting up two full lighting and backdrop scenarios for our mini photo sessions today at See Spot Run Doggy Daycare. The owner Anelli Hilton is truly amazing with canines. If you are looking for a daycare for your dog, I highly recommend them , our Shepherd Samantha attends twice a week and loves it.

2013-04-14_0007 2013-04-14_0006 2013-04-14_0005 2013-04-14_0004