Labradoodle Ear Cleaning

Australian Labradoodles have inherited beautiful thick ears leathers from the Labrador Retriever and hair inside the ears from the lovely Standard Poodle… Therefore they have a risk of ear infection caused by yeast inside the ears.

Cleaning the ears a about once every two weeks or as needed will help keep your dogs ears clean and free of dampness that causes ear infections. See this video that will help show you how to do this… the only thing I would add to the information on this video is that after a dry cotton ball cleaning the big chuncks of dirt out of the ear, I would use an ear cleaning solution to help get the ear as clean as it could be before putting the powerder inside the ear.

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Amazing Opportunity at Humanitarian Photography benefiting the Working Equine

In October I had an amazing opportunity to photograph a equine humanitarian effort In Mexico. Now I’ve photographed a few humanitarian subjects like horse auctions and horse rescues, but this was a life changing experience and I hope I can write this and describe this amazing adventure adequately.

I was approached to photograph for a non-profit equine organization called Equitarian Initiative.

MISSION STATEMENT

Equitarian Initiative prepares volunteer veterinarians worldwide to deliver health care and education to improve the health, nutrition, productivity, and welfare of horses, donkeys and mules, and to empower their care providers for sustainable change.

This group was planning their annual trip to South America to provide care to horses, donkey and mules in the rural part of central Mexico.  The plan was to travel to 5 locations in 5 days to very small villages about 2-4 hours east of Mexico City. They would talk to villagers to discuss their needs and problems they have with the health and welfare of their animals and then set up camp at each of these locations to provide actual care for the equines of that area. Some of the locations we went to they had been in previous years.

Equine Initiative hired me to photograph so they had images to use in their print marketing and web media. This was an opportunity of a lifetime for me. The Equitarian Initiative “workshop” as it’s called, was organized by a woman named Julie Wilson, DVM from Minnesota, whom I have known for years but didn’t realize until recently that she was involved in this project. I was so surprised to get a call from her wanting me to attend this workshop and photograph for this effort, what a shock!

So with my “gear” all packed, the animals taken care of by my Mom and my friend Linda, I headed to Mexico City on October 22nd, 2012. At the airport I met over 80 other members of the group participating in this workshop mostly from the US, but there were also some from the UK, Canada and one vet from Portugal. The group consisted of veterinarians, vet students, farriers and volunteers. We traveled in 5 vans to a Hostel in the town of SANTA CRUZ, TLAXCALA STATE, Mexico. When arriving Santa Cruz the group joined about 80 Mexican veterinarians, farriers, and vet students which brought our group to about 170 people all working together to provide care for these animals.

I am not going to go over every day of the workshop if you want to read more about the exact happenings of each day you can go to the Equitarian Initiative blog.( This blog was written after each day by a different person on the trip, I took almost all the images they posted.)

Now we were not in the touristy part of Mexico, no margaritas, no 4 star hotels, no beaches… we did however stay at the nicest hotel in the area (it’s all relevant… we only found one scorpion.. ahhh). It was a hostel, which meant dorm style rooms and shared bathrooms by all. Each morning we would set out in the vans for about a 2 hour drive to a our location. Some of the towns we traveled to were, Capula, San Jose de Villarreal (a beautiful mountainous area), San Juan Tepulco. At each town we set up 5 covered tents; Reception, Teeth, Internal Medicine, Saddle/halter fitting, and farrier. The volunteers would then be divided into groups and rotated throughout the week so everyone got a chance to work each tent.  As we arrived at a new location each morning there were many animals and owners waiting for us, tied to trees, trucks, each other, some had traveled many miles on foot for their equine to be looked at by our veterinarians.

Now in these rural areas of Mexico, there are no veterinary services, and even if there were vets that would travel that far, owners could not afford the cost of care. But on the other hand these animals are an important part of the culture and survival of these families that own them. They are used for riding, pack, plow and many essential jobs and without them the families could not survive. Most of the mules and donkeys are cared for by women or children. It was a haven for photo “opps”!

As an owner would arrive, they would bring the animal to the “Reception” tent, were they would be evaluated and sent to the tent they needed depending on what their issues were. Some owners went to almost every tent but it’s funny that owners never said their equines teeth needed done, but after the evaluation by the vet most equines had their teeth floated and it was always the longest line. Some animals were in good shape and just needed maybe their feet trimmed, others seems to have many problems. The most common procedures were feet trimmed, teeth floating, castration and saddle/halter fitting. One of the most amazing things that I noticed was that all of these animals were loved and even if they looked starving or hurt to us, the owners had a genuine care for them. I sure learned a lot about human nature on this trip.

My job was to document in photography the happenings of the week. I had many assignments, first I was to get photos of all the injuries, wounds, etc. Then the people, the volunteers working on the animals, the owners and their equines. As I walked around each day trying to find my best subjects, angles, and lighting, I always had to keep in the back of my mind the mission statement, so I would not get sidetracked to just shooting procedures or cute kids with donkey’s. I wanted to come away with many types of images for different usages; images vets could show to other vets of injuries, diseases, and wounds; some that could be used to entice people to donate money to the cause in their fundraising efforts; images that could be used to get students and other volunteers involved in the cause. I wanted to come away with images that could be useful for many applications of advertising and marketing for this equine humanitarian effort. I sure had the opportunity and I sure had the time… five long hot days! It was very hard work, carting my heavy equipment everywhere over dirty rocky terrain, carrying two cameras over my shoulder for 7 days, thinking… my wrists were aching by the end of the week but I loved it. I had to always be thinking of getting the right shot, with the right lighting, at the right angle… fun but exhausting work. Then at night I would charge batteries, examine all my camera’s, download all the days images to my computer and provide a few images for the blog. I was so tired that worrying about scorpions in the bed was the last thing on my mind when hitting the pillow.

I did get to wonder away from our working site a few times to try and capture the communities and people of the villages. These people I met along my long walks were the most friendly I have ever met, they brought me into their homes and although I didn’t speak much Spanish we did communicate somehow. I was taught from one woman how to make tortillas and got to eat fresh warm ones right off the stove top in her outdoor kitchen.  Another woman I met on the street with her two boys, took me to her sister’s house where the daughter knew how to speak English so we could communicate better, from there they showed me their home, their cattle and I photographed them. Later that day the daughter helped us out at the worksite translating for some of the vets. The Mexican people are proud and very family oriented.

The most amazing thing about this trip for me was not the equines worked on but the people! I was so impressed by the kindness of the volunteers, these people were all professionals, some of the top veterinarians in our country and the UK, top farriers, including one supplement company called Full Bucket that did soil tests from our location prior to the trip and gave out 6 months of vitamin supplements to every animal. These people all had careers and families, they worked 10-12 hour days and we never left until every animal had been seen and cared for. All these volunteers made time in their life for 8 entire days help working equines in rural Mexico.

Anyway, the adventure ended with a little  bit of sickness, I guess my stomach cannot handle the homemade Mexican food we ate when away from the hostel. I did get home safe and sound and was asked to photograph another equine project in Peru next August! Cant’s wait. Below are some of the images, if you want to see more images of this trip go to my website at Equitarian Workshop images.

Enjoy,

Karen Kennedy

Icon Studios Photography

Sunrise Australian Labradoodles

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Photographing Product – In this case… Saddles!

Since I’ve been photographing product this month, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss. I will try to cover a bit about how to photograph product and what to consider when taking on a clients project for photographing this kind of product.

One of the big projects I had this month was photographing about six saddles. The client was Verhan Saddlery and they wanted images for their print advertising and their website.

One of the first things I consider when accepting a job like this is studio space, timing, and basically if I can do a good job for the client. Although I do most of my photography outside in natural light, this job required dedicated and specific lighting that I need to control! Ahhh, lighting! Exactly where I want it… yeah. For the studio space, I do have enough room for this job. The timing on this job was a couple days so it gave me time to shoot the job and do all the post production for them as well.

Let’s Start this Job!

First, I hung my white backdrop up. Then I set up a stand about 6 feet in front of the background to put the saddles, a pole with legs at the bottom for stabilization and a small angled bar at the top with a non-slip pad so the saddle would just balance on the pole and not slip off. This way in post production I could just erase the pole coming up from the floor to the saddle. The client wanted an outlined image to place on different colored backgrounds or photo images, so a white background was chosen for ease of deleting the entire background. This basically gives the graphic designer more flexibility using the images.

Then after I had the first saddle in place I set up my lighting. Now I don’t have fancy lights, but I do have capable lighting for a job like this. I set up two lights, one above the saddle and slightly to the left, and one off to the right coming pretty much straight on. The light above made sure I had highlights on the top, catching the back rim of the cantel, the thigh blocks and the pommel. The straight/right light provided fill mostly so the texture and the side of the saddle did not get too dark. I also placed the saddle far enough from the white background so not to get a shadow from the light on the right.  Gee, I hope this makes sense and you can picture the set up.

This job requires a tripod so you can shoot slower speeds and get more detail without the camera moving. I shot these at around 125 shutter speed, 100 ISO and my Apeture needed to be around above 10 or 16 so there would be enough depth of field so all points on the saddle would be in focus. I changed this depending on the color of the saddle.

Some things to do before you actually start shooting. One is to wipe off any dirt or dust so you don’t have to erase it later. Make sure the product is placed well, in this case I had to make sure the saddle was not sitting uphill or downhill on the stand (some I had to rotate in post production… eeekkk) make sure the pad holding the saddle in place on the stand was not sticking out, make sure you are showing the logo side of the saddle if the logo isn’t on  both sides. I also had to make sure the panel behind was not showing, these are things that you forget when you are trying to get everything else correct.

OK, now I started shooting!

Each time I shot the whole saddle I then took the camera in for a close up of features each saddle had like the flap, buttons, logo, stitching. All these close up shots make for good insets in their advertising. It’s nice I work in advertising that I think of all these things when doing my photography!! ha, those lucky clients!

OK, now done with all six! Oh, wait, now I have to shoot the girth and stirrup leathers. Girth was easy I just layed it out on the floor and stood on a stool. The leathers I tried different poses for, curling them up, laying them out. There where three different colored leathers so they wanted to show all the colors, I did a few different shots for them, they liked the curled one… me too!

After a few hours in post production I sent the proofs to the client and they loved them, just had to tweak a few of the saddles angles and I put them all on a jump drive and drove the saddles and the images to their beautiful Florida farm.

Job well done!

Karen

For more of my portfolio go to:

Icon Studios Photography

Sunrise Australian Labradoodles

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Tip on Photographing Water

Here is a photography tip on how to stop and blur water or any very fast moving objects.

On your camera’s manual controls you have an option to change the shutter speed and the aperture when you are taking photos.

First you will have to switch your camera off “auto” mode. Then you have three possible options, you can switch it to a “shutter priority” (on canon camera’s this is the “PV” mode), “Aperture Priority” (AV) or “Manual Mode” (M). When you switch to a “priority mode” whether it be “AV” (Aperture Mode) or the PV mode, you are telling the camera that you prefer to manual set the Shutter speed (or the Aperture) yourself and let the camera decide the other settings.  This is a good way to learn and explore your manual settings a little at a time.

When you change the PV mode or shutter speed priority, this controls how fast the shutter will open and close. A low shutter speed will blur your moving subjects (tip: when using a shutter speed slower then 1/160 of a second it’s a good idea to use a tripod). A fast shutter speed will stop the action and make moving subjects look sharper. So if you have ever taken photos of sports, water or any kinds of fast moving objects and wondered why your photo was blurry your shutter speed was not fast enough! Don’t worry it happens to everyone!

So, see the sample images below:

In the case of this water photo, I wanted the water to look blurry, dreamy and thought it made the photo look better. So, in the first image I set my shutter speed at a very slow speed 1/6 of a second. The second image here I set my shutter speed to a very fast speed like 1/400 of a second (or higher). When you are in a “shutter priority mode” the camera automatically changes the aperture to compensate for each different shutter speed you choose so you don’t have to think about that. When you are in total manual mode and you change your shutter speed you will then have to change your aperture to make sure the photo will not be too dark or too light.

Play around with this.

Changing settings on your camera manually is always a give and take … if you add shutter speeds you have to take from your aperture and vice versus.

Anyway, play around with stopping motion it’s really fun and each setting gives you a different look. Digital is great so don’t be afraid to experiment… you can always delete.

Remember to look at your settings when you view your photos so you can learn.

Hope this helps.

Karen Kennedy

Icon Studios Photography

http://www.iconphotosbykaren.com

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Goats!

Well, I’ve come to like Goats! Yes, I know they smell and they can be aggressive but after getting to know them they grow on you.

My first experience with goats was the day my new neighbor in FL who has many goats called me over to their pasture where one  the goats was having a baby. So, being a photographer and all I hurried over with my camera in hand and took lots of fun pics of the Momma and the new baby. Then, it was clear she was having twins. The next baby  only partly came out with one leg and not head showing. Usually they come out like diving, two front legs with the head inbetween. So my neighbor who is not goat savy by any means brings out a rubber glove and hands it to me… The answer is Yes. I put the glove on and to save the nanny goats life I put my hand up her and turned the baby around so both front legs were  out and after pulling for over a half hour it finally came out. I was in tears as the baby had no life in him and the nanny refused to lick the sack he was covered in away so I proceeded to clean him up as the Nanny kept cleaning the healthy baby. After about 15 minutes (or maybe it seemed that long) the baby started breathing and moving. After many times of trying to get the Nanny to clean him she finally did. The limp body of the poor thing was so sad, I thought for sure he was going to be paralized but after about 45 minutes he started to stir and move his legs. Yeah, our hard work had paid off!

Now this goat is about 8 months old, and his name is “Lucky”.

Once in a while my neighbor will put goats in my back pasture to eat down all the vegetation. I love this because they are like weed wackers they eat all around the trees and the jumps set up, even in the arena where some grass grows.

These photos are the “goats” I have in my back pasture this week

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. When taking photos of goats, have them a little clean, always use at least a 135mm zoom and showing their features is what makes the photos striking… the beard, the horns, the eyes.

Anyway, have fun with them and all small animals… next my new chickens!

Karen

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My Little Pony… Jet

I’ve always wanted a pony. Yes, I’m 47 years only and still wishing for a pony. Well I finally got one, and he is so cute. First of all he is actually not a “pony”, he is a Miniature Horse. Which is really funny to me  because my other equine partner is a 14.2 hand German Ridng “Pony”, yes that is his breed, he is actually a pony but looks like a small horse. So… I have a “Horse” that is as tall as my belt buckle, and a Pony that looks like a horse! Go figure…

My mini’s name is Jet, he is jet black with no markings. At dark when I go check on them I absolutely cannot see him, he is so black, sometimes he is standing right in front of me and I can’t see him. Jet is only a yearling, his registered name is Limited Power, he is very large for a Miniature Horse and when I go to finalize his registry at the age of three he will probably not be able to be registered because he’ll be too tall.

Jet is a spit fire with lots and lots of personality. He loves to turn around and point his butt at you then kick and run away tossing his head and bucking… we are working on this behavior. I am teaching him to be a solid citizen. Right now for a yearling that means, walking nicely on the lead, standing to be groomed, feet trimmed, washed. I do something with him everyday and twice a week I lunge him. He knows “walk”, “trot” and “canter” ques on the lead. But I try not to canter him too much at this age, maybe more next year. I also have my neighbors 8 yr old grandson come over once in a while to have him lead Jet and groom him so he is used to kids. So far his training is going really well. I eventually want to drive him (carriage/cart), I think that will be fun when I have grandkids myself.

I have had Jet for 5 months now and I am having a blast with him. He makes me smile everyday. These pictures were taken last week, I was just getting done riding my other horse Magnus and Jet was in the paddock by himself running around and kicking up a storm and the lighting was so great as the sun was setting. So I ran to get my camera and by the time I got out there to photograph him he was done and standing there looking at me like I was crazy that I wanted him to run around again. Ha, that’s a mini for you. Anyway, that’s my story with my Mini, he is Magnus’s best friend and they really like hanging out together. Magnus puts up with him and and Jet leads where they go in the pasture, that to me is funny and fun to watch my bigger horse (pony) follow him around.

If you want to see more photos of mine please go to:

http://www.iconphotosbykaren.com

Thank you,

Karen

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The USEA Young Event Horse Series

Today I did something really fun and interesting. I worked the warm up ring and took photos at the US Eventing Association’s Young Event Horse Series Horse show at Longwood Farm, in sunny Ocala, FL.

This event is unique in the sense that it’s kind of like a talent show of young eventing horses. Owners and breeders have the opportunity to showcase the potential of their four- and five-year-old horses while encouraging them to produce top-level event horses for the future. These youngst horses are asked to complete three sections: A Dressage test; Conformation and Type; and Jumping.

The goal of the Young Event Horse Series is to choose the youngster that possesses the talent and mind set, and who with proper training, will excel in the uppermost levels of the eventing world.

There were quite a few top eventing trainers and riders at this show not to mention their fabulous young horses. It amazed me to see these youngsters out there performing a dressage test and jumping and most of them handling it like pro’s. It was a beautiful day but I wanted to ride myself so I didn’t stick around to see who won. If you want to know that you’ll have to look it up on USEA’s website.

To view more photos from my recent shows go to my website at: http://www.iconphotosbykaren.com

 

Enjoy! Karen

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