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Sunday, 18 October 2015


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I'm familiar with where you live. Why on earth can't Butters go with you? Is obedience training needed? You're in the country, RURAL country for goodness sake.

[Because then he just goes apeshit in the car every time I get out of it, and the problem is amplified. In fact he goes crazy at the sound of the parking brake--he doesn't even wait for me to get out of the car. --Mike]

Lovely photos. I like the tone of the first three. Just noticed the quarter moon in the last one. A little post and that's a good one too,

Harry the Dog, my favorite dog ever, ( sadly no longer with me), didn't like being left home alone either. But he did like the car.
So I got this big hammock like rear seat protector from Duluth Trading (he had 3 legs for the last 2 years of his life).
He became quite happy to accompany me on short trips. I came to enjoy it more than I can describe, and so did he.
Plus, I always had company who enjoyed scintilating conversation and the occasional donut.
Highly recommended.

I feel your pain.
For years I traveled everywhere with my full photo kit (two cameras, ~6 lenses, big tripod) living in the trunk of my car, on the off chance I'd stumble across a good photograph. And, sure enough, plenty of worthy photos presented themselves (well, at least I liked them).
Perfect Ossian Center tree
I have to keep the barrier to photographing as low as possible, or it just doesn't happen.
Other activities have been intruding for the past couple of years and I haven't taken many photographs worth printing. It became too big an 'event' to take pictures, and I wasn't getting around to it. And when I did shoot, my eye was so rusty, the results were pretty dismal.
Well, my photo gear is back in the trunk. Took some photos this morning before wind and snow (?!) chased me indoors. Mostly this morning's pictures suck, but now I'm itching to shoot more. Back in the game!

Those photos are a pleasure to look at. Thanks.

Have you tried the old "a tired dog is a calm dog" approach? If I wear my dog out with lots of running, chasing a ball or whatever gets a particular dog going, he will forget his worries and nap peacefully.

If all else fails, medication can work wonders. A vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medication, which can teach the dog a new behavior. Once the behavior becomes habit, the medication may not longer be needed.

There are entire books out there on how to deal with anxious dogs, and trainers who specialize in working with them. I suppose you already knew that.

Good luck. I hope to see more photos before too long.

These are really lovely images, Mike. I can hear the drying leaves rustling in a cold breeze. I think I hear a dog barking somewhere in the distance. Really lovely.

Believe me I understand the separation anxiety that a beloved pet can have. My wife and I have a 16+ year old cat in chronic renal failure. We've not been able to travel together for any period longer than a day for a long time. Guilt, resentment yup. But the bigger over-arching emotion for us is love. I'm sure it is yours, too.

Really lovely images. Remember, photography is principally about seeing and only secondarily about going. Andre Kertesz took some of the most poignant images of his career -- his Polaroids -- from his apartment near the end of his life. Got light? Then you've got potential for many pictures! Especially with today's super cameras, such as your X-T1.

Thank you for sharing these photos and reminding us that you are, in fact, a damned good photographer. As for output, many of us understand how difficult it can be to shoot as much as we'd like, especially if it requires long periods of time alone, without wives, children, and pets. It sounds easy enough in theory but is often difficult in practice.

Mike, I'm sorry about the anxiety issues. Isn't it ironic that you got a companion, Butters, who shares that with you?

I've followed your blog for about 3 years now, and from what I can glean from your stories, you've been mainly a city guy. Does the quiet of a truly rural area provide calm or agitation? My neighbor's wife grew up in a small town nearby surrounded by farm country but when she moved next door in the woods she thought it was creepy because it was so quiet.

Your best rock & roll question yesterday prompted two more for me: What was the first record (45, LP) that you bought, with your own money? and; what was your first acquisition of "good" audio gear?

When people ask me what kind of photographer I am, I reply: "Irregular".

That seems to cover all the bases.

My Dad's dog follows him everywhere, and doesn't even like it if he just pops out to the car. Gyp is a rescue dog, and was badly treated before my dad got him.

While my dad was in hospital recently Gyp was most unhappy; no dogs allowed in hospital no matter how good they might be for the morale of the patient!

Gyp was a most anxious dog when my dad first got him, but the old boy is very good at bringing poorly treated animals round. Usually Gyp's worst problem is the cat swearing at him, but what does he expect when he tries to feed from the cat's food bowl?

I love the shot of the building. Including the expanse of asphalt and the stripe on the road is not something I would have thought to do, but I think it really makes the picture. The moon peeking through the wires in the last shot is also fantastic.

Mike, there's nervous Butter and where's LuLu?

[Lulu is fine with being left at home; in fact sometimes I imagine she likes a bit of a break from her humans. --Mike]

Have you tried the dog calming pheromone product called Adaptil sold as collars, sprays and atomisers? It is a synthetic version of the pheromone secreted by puppies' mothers. I have not tried it myself but I believe it's been clinically proven to work and friends have used it apparently successfully. As it happens I discovered yesterday that my "new to me" yearling terrier is terrified by fireworks and with Halloween and Guido Fawkes night coming up I have spent some time fixing up a crate to make a fairly soundproof dark hole she could retreat to and shall be treating it with Adaptil.
As I write this I have just heard some more fireworks, fortunately distant, going off and have turned the television on at max volume in the hope of drowning them out.

I hope you and Butters can figure out what will help with the anxiety issues. The part that Butters freaks when he hears the parking break is just so darn sad. The recent moves may have caused more anxiety issues.

[No, he's gotten radically better since we brought him home. He was badly leash reactive and highly insecure and now for the most part he does pretty well. He's FAR better than he used to be, and quite a lively and happy fellow mostly. --MJ]

My Hurricane Katrina rescue, Rusty, has had a lot of problems with anxiety. It took some time, but I did learn how to care for him and he is happy even though he does not express himself like the average dog does (sad-eyed and does not speak). The good news is, Rusty's panic attacks went from seizures (paralyzing stiffness with foaming at the mouth) to just "actively concerned" in a few years.

Give Butters some time and try making a routine of his life and see if that helps. I think what helped Rusty the most was being at work with me for the past eight years and the boring routine of it all.

The first photo has a sloping horizon because the land falls from left to right. This throws your eye out. As far as I can tell by opening the larger version, zooming in on the screen and lining the silos up against my screen edge, the silos are vertical in the picture.

It's no use lining up the power line poles because they are seldom truly vertical. Lamp posts are not much better.

I've put photos in wooden frames where the wood grain was not parallel to the frame edges, and this makes the horizon seem to tilt, too.

Like your shots, Mike, they reward careful viewing. I'm sure your intention couldn't be farther from this, but seeing the last I couldn't help thinking on the opposition of the cross against the half moon. I'm not a religious man so it must be a very visual connection to me.

[And what does the cross and crescent moon signify? I confess I'm not at all into symbols generally and not very knowledgeable about them. --Mike]

When I first read your post I thought the first one would be the long term keeper, but other posters seem to have preferred different images, so now I'm not sure.

I like the last one with the wires and moon too, but I sooo want the moon to be more centred in its little trapezoidal area... Does it bug you at all, Mike? Maybe not.

@MikeR: (1) either Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells or Blondie, Parallel Lines, I don't remember which was first, (2) Quad 33/303 pre/power amps from another student at uni.

Nice shots. Glad you made it out and found time to post. About Butters... I find advice on dog-care almost as off-putting as advice on childcare. No one knows the dog as well as the owner and I'm sure you've tried everything. Hope Butters gets over the anxiety soon.

Of course I'm going to suggest the obvious... Take the dogs and the camera out at the same time? I have two kids, age 8 and 2, and two ill behaved dogs. I rarely get out by myself so if I want to practice photography I have to bring my camera when I go out with the kids or the hounds. Yes, it is a pain in the neck to bring a DSLR along on our outings, but it also produces fine results from time to time. I've almost grown used to having my 5D3 slung around my back all the time.

Here's one of my better camera outings with my toddler (http://www.photos4u2c.net/2014/11/02/born-sky/). I took the boy out for a morning of fun on the mountain above our neighborhood. . It wasn't a strickly photo trip either. We both had fun. The pictures just happened (OK, that might be stretching the truth a little).

And, here's an outing with the dogs (http://www.photos4u2c.net/2014/07/14/summer-moon/). While I lined up that cow skeleton shot, my dogs both found a bone to chew.

Forgot to say I really like the street scene photo. They are all good, but something about the light and shadow in the street scene keeps me looking at it.


I hope you resolve your issues with Butters, it will take some time but there is an excellent chance of success down the road.

I unexpectedly adopted a "mixed-terrier" (looks like a Pit-Bull), he was supposed to stay with me for 2 weeks but his owner, a drug dealer, tragically died from an overdose. So, Rex is with me for good now. He has a forever home.

It took almost 2 years to socialize him and control his food and space aggression problems.

Today he is a good dog in every respect.

You need to reward good behavior and ignore (not punish) bad behavior.

Good Luck, be 100% consistent, and don't lose patience, otherwise the dog's bad behavior will win.

The building: would that be Manchester?

Very impressed by the house. Did you wait until the dome shadow was aligned with the window? And, that guy leaning on the pole, parallel to whatever is hanging on top of it. And as Nicholas wrote, the stripe on the road that neatly frames it. Well done.

[Thanks. The guy is a dummy; they're all over town for Halloween. --Mike]

These are really nice, Mike, especially the first and third. Knowing the area, the slope of the field didn't disturb me at all. I'm really glad you got out. Especially at this time of year, it's really lovely.

Mike wrote "And what does the cross and crescent moon signify? I confess I'm not at all into symbols generally and not very knowledgeable about them." Evidently not very up on current international affairs either ;). Clue: "Middle East".

Looking at your pictures reminded me of an evening when a friend of mine was making fun of me because I kept telling her to "look at that beautiful light" as I was showing some of my own work. And indeed, the light in yours is simply gorgeous. Thanks for sharing them with us.

In the many decades I've been photographing I nearly always brought my dog along (on a leash), and during each dog's lifetime he became more adept at learning when he must sit quietly because I was about to press the shutter. Once he heard the shutter click, he was on his feet and back to sniffing around. For me, walks with my dogs and cameras just go together. I look forward to someday reading about such a happy outing for you and Butters.

My dogs seem to know the precise moment when to tug on the leash, usually about a half second before I press the shutter, so they only come along when I walk with my wife on trails where off-leash is ok. If I go out to shoot on my own they stay home. My border collie does not like strangers at the door, but she can handle staying home if I leash her where she sleeps upstairs in our bedroom with a teddy bear to hold. Left loose alone in the house is asking for torn up furniture.

I also like the photos by the way. I wish we had a way of sharing something that looked much more like the print online.

For Eric Erickson:

Eric, both lenses are optically superb; amongst the finest lenses I have ever used shooting at a professional level for over a decade. If I had to pick between the 23 and the 14, I would say the 23 is slightly better than the 14 optically (and that's completely subjective and anecdotal with no data), not only because is Fuji developing a truly meaningful lens system, but Fuji is getting better and better at making the XF lenses (for example, the new nano coating on the 50-140/2.8).

That being said, like Mike, the Fab Fuji Fourteen is my amongst my widely used lens, and has proven to be MUCH more versatile and useful than I ever thought it would be when I bought it. I would say I use it approx. 40% of the time on my camera, with the 18-55 being used about the same, and the 23 mm and 50-140 comprising the remaining 20% of my shooting. Also like Mike, I find that I tend to shoot wider on my Fujis than I have with any other camera systems I've used in the past. I don't know why, but I do. Even with my versatile X100T, it's 23mm with a 35mm-equivalent field of view often is too tight for a lot of my photography. The 14 is a superlative lens that is surprisingly useful and versatile.

Never a dog owner, I searched 'rescue dog' and found many UK sites for re-homing abandoned dogs. Naively, I had assumed it was one of those USA/UK word disjunctions, and that the word was used in the UK mainly for this kind of dog:- <http://www.mountain.rescue.org.uk/teams-and-regions/search-and-rescue-dogs> and the ones trained for earthquake rescue. Wrong.

What is outstanding about the 14mm is what it is not. It is not a typical, tricky wide angle lens with field curvature, distortion, soft edges, CA, flare spots, etc.

Instead it looks, handles and behaves much like any regular, well constructed 'normal' prime. It's entirely pain-free.

It's always in the bag, so I tend to 'see' far more opportunities to use it.

I would also say it's one of the lenses that ties me in to the Fuji system.

Excellent work, Mike. Good to see some of your images. I like them all but the shadowy building really makes me say 'Wow.' Great post. Bring more to TOP readers. We want to see!

I see you got as many comments about Butters as your pictures.
nice shots...and if it matters the world is not flat nor is the horizon.

for what it's worth take your pooch.
put a blanket on the seat.
roll down the window.
whatever it takes.

you will both be happier,

when you move away from the vehicle use an adequate leash.

snap a REAL carabiner around your belt (not belt loop) place the hand loop into the clip so you can drop the leash when you want to shoot.

I've had as many a six dogs out (ranging from an irish wolfhound to a rat terrier) at once. they liked the walk and I got some shots.

the anxiety issue is complex and difficult to resolve...kennels, body wraps, drugs (pharmaceutical and "natural") and if you are lucky time and love.

maybe get Butters a go pro so you can share the experience.

anyway good luck.

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