Adoption Day

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Every time we take in a stray animal, we enter into the search for owners hopeful that we’ll find a happy place for the cat or dog quickly. There are reasons for this.

First, let’s face it, animals that have been abandoned have often been abandoned because they lived with people who didn’t know how to train them and they’ve developed bad habits. While I enjoy training dogs (I don’t even try with cats), habits that disrupt my sleep wear on me quickly.

Second, there is an attachment factor. The more time I spend figuring out the particular quirks of a particular dog and how to work with them successfully, the more I get to know them, the better they start to behave, the more I feel like we’re working together as a team, the more attached I get. I’ve found there is an interesting pattern in the relationship that goes something like this:

I’m not sure what canine instinct makes a stray dog behave like the best dog ever at first. It’s as if they know to be cute enough to rope you into keeping them.

The dogs themselves seem to start out feeling complete adoration towards us plus nervousness about being in a new situation. Then, as they lose their nervousness and increase their confidence, they also let their guard down much the way a human might be the most polite person to a perfect stranger and then turn around and snap at a cherished family member.

By the time the dog really feels at home, I feel the frustration that led to their abandonment. When all the bad habits surface, I know it’s time to crank up the training.

With Rex, we had run into a few bad habits–he ate both our power supplies for our laptops, so if I don’t post tomorrow, my battery died. 🙂 But really, he was just completely lacking in training.

Sitting on the bench at the adoption center while Rex’s new parents filled out paperwork, he came and laid his head in my lap. I petted him and talked to him quietly. Then, his new dad came over and sat down on a nearby bench and Rex walked over to him and laid his head in his lap. His new dad leaned down with his face close to Rex’s, stroking his ears and looking at him with the kind of wonder parents show newborns. It was obvious that this man was in love with Rex.

This man struck me as the embodiment of calm. His wife was sweet, too, although I suspect she’s a little higher strung, like me. But the bonding that was taking place right in front of me between Rex and his new dad was what gave me confidence that Rex was going to a good home.

But you know what? I’m still sad.

Going Small

Macro photography is one of those fun things I love to do but rarely find the time for.  This is not because it actually takes longer than shooting anything else, but rather because the possibilities expand infinitely as I keep finding subjects that I would never find interesting at a normal distance.  I have spent an hour shooting a single link of a chain.

Not only does shooting up close allow me to extract out a single shape from a conglomeration, but an extremely shallow depth of focus creates an even smaller view of what’s in focus within the frame, creating all kinds of interesting effects.  In “Spiny Plant”–only one small area of the top edge of the plant is in focus because I shot perpendicular to the plant:

“Blossom” also shows this effect:

I almost scrapped this picture because only the very edge of the blossom is in focus, but I kind of liked it after experimenting quite a bit with editing.  “Flower Cluster” shows how this effect puts only one of the berries (or whatever they are called) in sharp focus:

 

“08 The world in a single drop” is one of those shots I really want to be spectacular, but it’s not:

I would prefer to fill the frame with just the drop against the pink background.  I am excited to try some of the tools discussed in the workshop (a close-up lens and extension tubes) to see if I can, in fact, fill the frame with a water drop.  I suppose it will only reflect my lens at that point, though.

I’ve often struggled with the depth of field issue.  As much as I like the effect of a wide-open aperture in macro shots, when I’m shooting something living and moving this way, I find I often get the focus just in front of or just behind what I actually was trying to focus on.  I learned three important things about this last night:  1)  Don’t use autofocus when shooting macro, 2) Shoot parallel to the subject if you want more of it in focus, and 3) Make use of the diopter on the viewfinder if you need it.

The milestone of reading glasses is something that no one really celebrates.  I usually rely on autofocus to solve my vision limitations.  I found when I was shooting the moon (I love saying that) and I was forced to focus manually, I got my sharpest focus by using the LCD on 10x magnification and wearing my reading glasses.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well for a subject that moves faster than the moon or that doesn’t accommodate the use of a tripod.  I’m going to have to do some googling on photography, focus, and reading glasses.