Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Behind the Paintbrush

So,  how does a painting begin, anyway?  Unless it's a commission, I need to start with an idea, and I get my ideas by going out into the field with my cameras to take photographs.  I've taken hundreds and hundreds of photos.  Sometimes the conditions are great, like a mini vacation, and other times they are not the best - freezing cold, way too hot, or pouring rain.  This past weekend we were at a wonderful Dog Facility about an hour from home, where they had a demonstration of a new dog sport called DOCK DOGS.  Although the sport was exciting,  the thing I wanted was the opportunity to photograph dogs jumping into water.  What's a series of Retriever paintings without at least one image of dogs going "splash!"  As luck would have it, there was water everywhere, a real downpour, and we got thoroughly wet.  My husband ran around after me, holding an umbrella over my head so that the cameras wouldn't get wet.  The cameras stayed pretty dry.  I didn't.  But I got some great shots, that I will start using soon.
Sometimes I have/want to photograph an animal that has a big voice, big teeth, and isn't really inclined to pose.   So I do what I do with permission, and as quietly, calmly, and quickly as possible, as long as the owner is right there. Read that again - it's important!  An animal bite can be nasty and is to be avoided at all costs.    I have to say though, that a couple of big toothed, big voiced  dogs I photographed recently were great - very  nicely behaved- it was the Miniature Pinscher that bit me several times!  Photographing animals sometimes involves a bit of calculated risk - it should NEVER involve a big one!!.
 In a controlled situation, I've stood in a field while the owner of a small herd of quiet, people friendly horses  sent them running straight at me just so I could get some good shots of horses running head-on.  I was pretty sure (and was assured) they would swing out and go around me, and but I kept my eye on them and my wits about me while I was out in front of them.  It's just a bit intimidating to see 6 or 8 horses coming at you full speed, and I remember hoping that I knew what I was doing. But I had done my research, the owner was there, and  I  felt it was a small risk.
Oh,  lets not forget the 8' python!  I'm scared spitless of serpents.  But I had a chance to photograph a Friesian stallion and the only little wrinkle was that I had to walk between the crowd of onlookers and the python around the owner's neck to get the shots.  Somehow, I managed to cowgirl up and do it. Once!
When I'm out photographing, I always make sure that I'm having fun, not getting in anyone's way or distracting an animal  if they are working.  I make sure I keep out of  trouble. A mild, calculated risk (like getting soaked, or splashed with unmentionable stuff) is OK, a big dangerous one is not.  Animal artists have died in pursuit of that one GREAT photo, and a photo is never worth risking your life or  getting injured.  My motto is 'Have fun, be careful, and live to snap another day.'

                                                                                         photo courtesy of Penny Sisson

Heather Anderson

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