Big Dog in a Flash

Today, a mysterious brown box showed up outside our door.  I hadn’t ordered anything and yet a package arrived.  The address was hand written like maybe it came from someone we knew.  It was addressed to both my husband and me.  When Pat came home, we opened it together.  It turned out, it was a gift for Tisen!

Tisen’s very thoughtful grandma sent him his own dog friend!  This is not just a little squeaky toy to add to his collection.  No, this is a life-sized stuffed dog that’s so incredibly soft, I tried it out as a pillow.  It makes a great pillow.

Since Tisen was at puppy daycare when we opened the package, we set Big Dog up on the couch with Lion.  When Tisen came home, he ran to the couch, grabbed Big Dog and threw him on the floor, snagging Lion in the process.  I guess he thought Big Dog had no business playing with Lion.

After a while, Tisen started carrying Big Dog around, which was pretty amusing because Big Dog is about the same size as Tisen.  Eventually, he settled down on the couch with Big Dog and discovered just how comfy a pillow Big Dog makes.

This gave me an opportunity to get a little portrait practice in.  Having just gotten my new flash before leaving for Columbus last week, I hadn’t tried it at home yet.  Interestingly, when I use my monolights (which can only be turned down to 1/8 power), Tisen gets up and leaves.  With my flash on an umbrella stand and turned down to 1/64 power, he seems to actually pose for me instead.  I could be onto something.

One of the challenges of properly exposing Tisen is that he is black and white.  As you can see from the last photo (taken with my iPhone), the whites tend to blow out and/or the blacks get clipped.  This is fine for an iPhone photo, but not really what I’m shooting for (a pun!).  I started with the umbrella on the white side of his face first because the black side of his face was in lots of ambient light.  Then, I tried speeding up the shutter to exclude the ambient light and moving the flash to the black side of his face.

One discovery from this experiment:  pleather makes a very bad background for shooting with a flash–the glare makes it pretty obvious that a flash is in use.  That said, you should now be able to tell which of the photos were taken with ambient light only and which of the photos used the flash on the umbrella stand.

Tisen was not too concerned about the glare.  He was just happy to have something soft and cushy to snuggle with.  He decided he liked Big Dog so much that when we went out to pick up a pizza, Tisen grabbed Big Dog for the ride.  Here’s a video of Tisen with Big Dog for your enjoyment.