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!
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!
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:
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!
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: