editing, photoshoots, Project 52, Toby

Project 52 – Digital Darkroom

It’s Friday! And even better than that – it’s a Friday to conclude a wonderful, wonderful week. Things have been busy over in Dog Breath land – but the best kind of busy! I’ve been shooting, editing and printing so many images that I think photos are going to start coming out of my ears!

Anyhow, it’s Project 52 time again and I am so excited about it because it keeps me on track with keeping you all updated on what’s going on over here!

I was super excited about the theme this week — ‘Digital Darkroom’ — a figurative room that I spend copious amounts of time in after photo shoots.

The most important thing to address when talking about the ‘digital darkroom’ or ‘post-processing’ or any of the other number of terms that people refer to when speaking of digital editing – is to do your darndest to get in right in the camera. That is the most important step of all.  Because despite all of the fancy editing tools and expensive software that is out there nowadays – there are still certain things that can only be changed within the camera itself. (If you haven’t seen it yet – I have a super relevant post that goes into more detail about this very subject. You can read it here.) The two most important in-camera factors that come to mind are depth of field and point of focus. These two things, combined with good exposure and artful composition are integral to making a solid photograph.

That said, a photographer’s post processing technique can be a major part of their overall trademark and style. And I know when it comes to my work – shooting photos is only the first half the battle. I spent countless hours in programs like Aperture, Camera Raw, Photoshop and Lightroom tweaking color balances, adjusting curves, sharpening, dodging, burning, cropping and cloning. And this post is so super awesome because I am going to give you an inside look at all of those things that go into making a photo beautiful…

Before your heart spontaneously melts all over the ground  – I will be kind enough to warn you that you are about to feast your eyes on the cutest thing that has ever existed on four legs. (Okay, okayyyy – I’m a bit partial since the fuzzy model below is my own happy little furchild. But you know what I mean – just beware of the cuteness.)

Recently, Toby and I had an outing to the beach. And I got to photograph him doing his favorite thing on the planet – playing in the water. (Alright, maybe his second favorite thing. He really enjoys a good butt sniff.)

After shooting these photos and unloading them onto my computer, I was pretty darn satisfied. The exposures were generally where I wanted them to be, the depth of field in each image was super shallow as I typically like it to be, and the points of focus were spot on. Great. Now starts everything that’s not so satisfying about them:

1.The white balance is just yuck. Things that are supposed to be white are tinted a grungy yellow.

2. They are the tiniest bit too dark.

3. There are some harsh shadows and bright whites creating overwhelming contrast right smack in the middle of Toby’s best feature (his face). (I could have avoided this by following the one cardinal rule of shooting outdoors – and that is to never shoot at high noon, or anytime while the sun is too blazingly direct. Ideally, the sunrise and sunset are the best times to shoot.)

4. There are some distracting elements such as his leash and the random strangers in the background. (How dare they come play at the public beach that Toby and I were so clearly at first!)

5. The blues in the water that were so gorgeous in reality are looking really dark, dull and ‘blah’.

So, in conclusion – Yay for Photoshop!! 🙂

I am going to show you the images from Toby’s ocean play day in sequence. First, the photograph straight out of the camera. (SOOC, as photographers like to call it.) No editing, slider bars or processing of any type.

Then, I’ll point out everything that I think needs to be fixed.

Finally – WALAH! The final image. The one I’ll hang on my wall and show to every stranger that walks in my house and rave ‘Isn’t he just the most wonderful thing you’ve ever seen?!’ and ‘He is the best thing that’s ever happened to me!’ and ‘He sometimes likes to dance on two legs with me in the living room while listening to ‘Wings’ hits from the 70’s’, etc. etc. etc. until they run away screaming ‘Crazy Dog Lady!’

ha. anyway. I got a little off track there. So, check it out:







Now don’t tell Toby I let you in on the secrets that make him beautiful!

Haha! But seriously, I hope you enjoyed that inside peek at what goes into creating my final images. The ‘digital darkroom’ and all of it’s intricate algorithms really can be magical sometimes. And hey, who doesn’t need a little magic?

Don’t forget this is a blog ring! If you click forward, you’ll have the wonderful privilege of checking out the work of one my absolute favorite pet photographers in the industry, Anthony Helton of Purple Collar Pet Photography in Sacramento. You won’t be disappointed! 🙂

Until next week!


Project 52, Toby

Project 52 – Dogs In Our Lives


I say that because it’s Friday. And Friday of course means time for another Project 52 blog post! Just in case this is your first time tuning in, I’ll give you a quick rundown of exactly what that means. Project 52 is essentially a network of professional pet photographers from around the world coming together each week to photograph and blog about a common pre-chosen theme. I am simultaneously elated and privileged to work with a group of such incredibly talented people! So, when you’re done checking out what’s going on here at the Dog Breath Photography page – I urge you to click on to the next photographer and continue the adventure!

This week’s theme was very different than past ones. This week we were asked to create images based upon Paul Fersen’s beautiful ‘Dogs In Our Lives’ poem:

We aren’t house proud. 
If were, we wouldn’t abide the scratches on the door frame, the holes in the screen, the darkened shine of worn spots on the chair. 

We would wince at the mottled carpet and fret at the hair clinging to our clothes. 

We don’t.
 If anything, we lovers of dogs are a tolerant lot, finding greater value in the unabashed affection of our friends than in immaculate sofas. 
Shoes can be replaced, but heroic retrievers are timeless.
Without dogs, our houses are cold receptacles for things. 
Dogs make a fire warmer with their curled presence. 
They wake us, greet us, protect us, and ultimately carve a place in our hearts and our history. 
On reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

Paul Fersen

From the moment I began reading this poem I immediately thought of Toby.

Toby is the one-and-only wagging furbutt of my dreams. He’s my fuzzy child. And without him – Yes, certain parts of my life would be cleaner, simpler and  most likely less smelly – but there would also be a gaping hole in my heart the size of North America. Toby makes every day worth living. He eases my pain with one quick swipe of his pink tongue. He makes me smile brighter and bigger than anyone else ever has. Sure, I could do without the itchy white hair all over my furniture and clothes, the dog farts and the occasional dry kibble vomit. And yes, I can only dream of more than the 3 square inches of sleeping space in my bed at night and of a vehicle without puppy snots on all the windows. But, there is nothing more important in the whole world than that goober smile on Toby’s face or the feeling of his cold wet nose pressed into the space between my cheek and my neck. Quite frankly, I am willing to give up anything to be lucky enough to feel his sunshine in my life everyday for as long as he exists. So, if I could say one thing to our poet Mr. Paul Fersen, it would be ‘I understand’.

The biggest challenge this week was the directive to not photograph a dog. We were challenged to show the presence of a dog in our lives without showing the actual dog. So, in order to translate this into a photographic blog for you – I thought I’d share a very common scenario in my life. Here’s an idea of what it looks for me to go out somewhere nice. So here I am on a Friday night. I’ll spend what seems like an eternity getting dressed up and doing my hair. I put on the finishing touches and.. not too shabby right?

Wrong. Let’s take a closer look.

I get to where I’m going and then ‘Oh, hey! Remember that last over-enthusiastic puppy jump just before you ran out the door?’ … Yup. He got me. It all starts with just one tiny snag …

And ‘Oh! Just one more hug and cuddle before I venture out for the night! Ohhhkay ..and a belly rub!’

And as for me, I like to wear my shoes. But not Toby — he enjoys eating them. He has this uncanny ability to create a chew toy out of virtually anything.

But even still, despite the holes and the smells and the endless amounts of hair – there is nothing on the planet that I would rather have than a wagging Toby by my side. His multicolored face makes every single thing worth it.

Since I’m not well-versed in the magical art of being both behind and in front of the camera at the same time, this blog post wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of two of the most talented photographers I know – Megan Smith and Sam Haddix. Check out their work at Megan Smith Photography and Sam Haddix Photography – you won’t be disappointed!

Now you know the drill, click on to continue the journey! Check out fellow pet photographer Kelly Kennedy Coyle at Sweet Silver Photography to find out about the dogs in her life.  Follow the links all the way around and you’ll end up right back where you started! Here with me and my holey tights!

Until Next Time!

Project 52, Toby

Project 52 – Jumps and Cuddles!

This week’s theme for Project 52 is Jumps and Cuddles! And really,when it comes to four-legged fur butts, is there anything better than those two things? (I’ll give you a hint: nope!) So part one of this blog post is – you guessed it – Jumps! I have to say, I’ve seen more dogs soaring through the air in my pet photography career thus far than I ever thought possible. Here’s to canine flight!


© Dog Breath Photography


Part 2 is not only the best part of this blog post, but the best part of my life! You’ve probably seen him around here on the blog once or twice but in case you’ve missed him somehow – I’d like to introduce you to the one and only handsomest man in the land – my fur child Toby! Toby is my world, my peace and my heart all wrapped into one waggling fuzzy body. He is the greatest thing to have ever happened to me and he certainly deserves his shining moment of glory in this blog post because he is my number one cuddler. I can’t think of ‘Cuddles’ without immediately thinking of Toby’s smooshy face. On any given day you can find all 85 lbs of him curled up underneath the sheets of my queen sized bed. He sleeps like a mack truck and generally enjoys pressing his black nose up to my ear while at ultimate snoring volume. He dreams in brilliant colors of  puppy action movies and typically ends up paw punching me in the face in the middle of the night due to all the excitement. There is absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t do for this dog. He is my light. He helps me to see the world with the simplest, purest form of joy. He gives me everything and asks for nothing in return. There is absolutely no creature on the planet that I would rather cuddle.



So there you have it – the ‘Jumps and Cuddles’ that are some of the most wonderful and joyful parts of my life! Now, click on over to Georgian Bay Studios to find out what kinds of jumps and cuddles have been happening over there! Click all the way back around and wind up right here with Mr. Toby and I. We’ll be waiting!! 🙂



photoshoots, Toby, Uncategorized

The dog with the breath…

So there’s this dog … You may have heard about him once or twice before. But essentially, he’s the sunshine of my life. He’s the one of the best reasons for living and is the greatest teacher I’ve ever had.

His name is Toby.

Yup, the same guy that inspired this business. Notice the little guy with the multi-colored face in my logo? … That’s him! (in all his shining, wagging glory.)

At the tail end of last month I had a hot, muggy, and overtly wonderful photo shoot with Toby down at Wickham Park in Melbourne, Florida. We found our own private little field to gallop, wrestle and play in. Toby peed on every single thing he sniffed, claiming over 10 acres of land as his own. He also helped himself to endless mouthfuls of grass. (Not my favorite thing – but he’s a sneaky one and will wait until I’m set up a hundred feet across a field with a tripod before he misbehaves so that by the time I reach him, he’s posed as a perfect angel.) I can always tell when he’s been eating grass – or anything else for that matter – by what he’s got stuck up in his jowls between his cheeks and his teeth. If I can’t tell that way – usually he pukes it all up at some point for me to see (and then clean up) anyway.

After our time at the park we took Toby to go get his very own puppy cup! (Vanilla ice cream from Del’s Freeze down on Melbourne’s Atlantic coast – his favorite!!) His scarfed down his ice cream so fast that I almost missed the opportunity to take his photo! ‘Almost’ is the key word there – Luckily, I snapped a few before it all disappeared. 🙂

So, I would like to share with you the visual joy that my incredible pup let me capture that day.

All in all, it was a magnificent day – every barking, wagging, ice-cream-faced moment of it!