Dakin Humane Society 9/29/14

Dixie

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Riddick

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Mercy, beagle puppy. Sorry, I can’t post just one.

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Zoe, 10 years old

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Garfield

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Rufus, an 11-year-old extremely friendly cat who responds to his name.

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Screech, 15 years old :(

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All animals available at Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.

Dakin Humane Society 9/22/2014

China, a sweet, submissive pitty

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Winnie

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Baby

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Hero, 14 years old

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Lucky

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Lady Guinness, 8 years old with a heart shaped nose

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All of these animals can found at Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.

I wish I could save them all

A year ago this December I started volunteering at one of our local animal shelters. Once a week I take photos of the dogs, cats, birds, bunnies and guinea pigs that are available for adoption. Life was leading me to a point where I felt like I needed to do something that made a difference.

“The meaning in life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Not that I am of the opinion that I have a gift, I have a passion for photography and I needed to give that passion a purpose beyond capturing memories for my family. I was first inspired by this post on Design Mom. In her post she discusses a photographer who went to her local pound and asked for the animals least likely to be adopted, she then set out to capture their unique personalities. Each of the dogs she photographed found a home.

I contacted our local shelter and found that they were indeed looking for photographers, I even went through volunteer training only to be told, “Thanks, we’re all set.” Luckily it was only a setback of a few months. Later, I happened to be on Facebook one day when I read in the comments on a post from the shelter someone complaining about the lack of photos of the animals. One of the employees responded that they didn’t have enough photographers so I immediately contacted the person in charge of volunteers who said she wasn’t aware of the issue and after confirmation regarding the lack of volunteers I was ready to go!

I did a little research regarding animal photography, especially dogs. What stood out to me as most important was focus on the eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul and their unique personality. I wanted the viewer to be able to make a connection with the animal right there on the shelter’s website. Also, a shallow depth of field which means a small focus point with the remainder of the image blurry. The blur allows the background to fade away so the potential adopter doesn’t see the cages or chaos that a busy shelter can endure. I want the viewer to picture that animal in their own home.

My goal is to make that animal shine! Inside the shelter (for cats and small animals) the lighting is not ideal so my ISO setting (making my camera more sensitive to light) is usually pretty high and in the courtyard (for dogs) the lighting is a mixed bag of partial midday sun/shade, overcast and in the winter snow and oftentimes dirty snow. Superb editing tools are a must! I use a combination of RadLab for Photoshop and Aperture (soon to be switching to Lightroom since Aperture no longer has support from Apple).

So now every Monday I team up with with my photographer friend Michelle with a list of animals who need photos. I’m going to try to start blogging about the animals I’ve photographed on a weekly basis. In a future post I’ll choose some of my past favorites to share.

This week:

Bree

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Yara

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Moola

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Sasha

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Mama Stormy

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Boo Boo and Smokey (2 fur 1 bonded pair)

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Gail

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All of these animals are available at Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.

Summertime, Adventuretime

The start of a school year is somewhat like the beginning of a new year (only much warmer). It’s like starting with a clean slate and a bucket list of inspiration. On the list is getting back to blogging on a regular basis. In order to blog I’ve got to let other time and mind sucking things go and I don’t mean the laundry. I worked on letting a few of them go over the summer and I hope to stay on that path.  Structure is not one of my strengths so I will have to give this some (a lot) effort.

Here it is 2 weeks into the school year and that blogging goal has already been delayed, life happens, the new school year was a tough transition for all of us, especially coming off an epic summer. I took so many photos, I would really like to tally them up and I think I will – maybe even start a poll to guess the total? But even beginning to share them is overwhelming. Where do I start? So today I’ll just post some highlights and then later get into more detail.

The summer kicked off with our annual participation in the Vermont City Marathon.

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Lots and lots of baseball.

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A fun run.

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I mentioned in a previous post our trip to Chicago.

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Weekly volunteering at our local shelter (more on this to come).

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Then there was this.

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And last but definitely not least, Maine.

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I think it’s going to take me the entire school year to catch up on my photo editing not to mention the photos never edited from last year’s trip to San Francisco. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

The Dogist (a dream)

My favorite people to follow on Instagram are dogs. There’s Momo the border collie, Maddie the coonhound and The Dogist. The Dogist is a wildly talented photographer who takes photos of dogs wherever he travels. Based out of NYC it seems there is never a lack of subjects. I admire the photographers ability to capture their personalities, it’s all in the eyes.

Recently we were in Chicago and I day dreamed of becoming The Dogist, I even found a willing subject, Lindsay (who was kind enough to humor me) and Millie, the black Pomeranian.

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Hi

I’m here today, not sure I will be tomorrow. Social media only enhances my suspected ADD.

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I still take a lot of photos and can never determine where to share them all… Flickr is not for oodles of images, occasionally I use tumblr when I want to share images with family, I have a like/hate relationship with Facebook, Instagram is where you’ll find me most often but even there I don’t share everything since I’m trying with all my might to live in the moment which I capture and then don’t have time to edit for a couple days and then it’s not all that instantish and I end up not sharing. And then there’s the stories that go along with the images, like here on the beautiful Exposure. But most of the time I don’t feel like telling a story, writing does not come easy to me. So, for today anyway, I share a little light literally and figuratively.

Autumn Appreciation

I admit that I’ve never been kind to the fall. I admit that my perspective, which I have created myself over the years, is one in which I can’t enjoy fall because winter isn’t far behind. I’ve been working on accepting fall for what it is and being more open-minded and more glass half full about the whole change of season. It’s not perfected but I have come further in my acceptance of fall. Really, what choice do I have? Be grumpy and fight it when there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change the season or embrace it or at least make strides to be more positive in my attitude toward fall. What I’m really doing is trying to live in the present, not hating fall because summer is over or winter comes next but enjoying what the season has to offer. Some things that I love about fall… the bluest skies are in October, the most beautiful warm sunlight and angles of light are this time of year, pumpkin beer with a brown sugar and cinnamon rim thankyouverymuch, butternut squash and pumpkin cooked a variety of ways some of my most recent have been homemade pizza with goat cheese, roasted butternut squash, kale and greek olives, homemade pumpkin hummus, roasted butternut squash mac and cheese, pumpkin and chocolate chip pancakes and I have still yet to make a roasted squash soup.

The other thing that I love about fall and I’m certainly not alone in this admiration, are the leaves on the trees which are ablaze in the most vibrant color. Take for instance my backyard, I can’t help be be drawn to constantly look out the back windows and just stare at the color. And then the reflection from those golden leaves reaches right into my house and paints the white walls of the bedroom the warmest tones.

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One glorious day last week I decided to eat my lunch in a local park where the trees still held onto their leaves and there was a variety of color.

The saturated color of the leaves is so fleeting I almost always feel like I didn’t make an effort to really see and appreciate. On this day I tried to be as present as possible and really see the leaves, whether it be on the ground, in the air or still on the trees.

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Autumn is the hush before winter.

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Outstanding in the Field {Part 3}

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After picking up our dinner plates and returning to the table we found a bounty awaiting. Local breads, a chilled tomato soup with turnips and mutton jerky, pickled corn and mushrooms as well as black radish. All delicious.

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I tried to take a few different points of view of the table.

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Les, at first a stranger to us but by the end of dinner a friend (one that we will most likely never see again), sat with us at the end of the table. He’s the one in this photo with his back to the camera, he joked that the back of his head had never been photographed so much and that he hoped his hair looked good.

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I didn’t get many shots of the 3 courses since I was busy admiring and eating or chatting. First I have to say that I’m not much of a meat eater – I haven’t eaten red meat in over 20 years, no pork but I do eat bacon, on occasion I’ll eat turkey or chicken, fish I just don’t like – so after looking at the menu prior to the evening I decided that I would ignore all of my meat preferences, be adventurous and eat it all except for the red meat which there wasn’t much of other than an appetizer. On the menu: BBQ bacon (drool), rabbit bratwurst (surprisingly yum!), pork shoulder and duck breast all served with tasty vegetables and herbs. Many of the herbs were picked from the gardens surrounding the table. Each course was delivered family style on a large serving platter and passed around to the 9 members of our table, the 3 courses paired with a different wine.

If there is any doubt whether or not we enjoyed this evening (not that there would be after 3 blog posts) here’s us, happy and satiated.

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Our food directors, are part of the nine members that travel around the country in that gorgeous bus. Our guy was Karl, a foodie and jovial person.

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I did venture down to the other end of the table, just as the sun was setting and found this beautiful display of shimmering glass.

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Walking back to my end of the table the sun went behind the hills.

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A selection of melons was presented for dessert and just as people were missing chocolate, a plate of chocolate granola cookies was served.

The sun set and candle jars were added to the table. I’m not a detail person so if I notice that everything was set with intention then there was a lot that I was missing. Much thought and experience was evident this evening.

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As we were leaving we were treated with a gorgeous sky, moon and Venus.

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Leading us to the parking lot were paper sacks with candles burning, a last beautiful touch. Unfortunately there are no images to share since the evening went later than planned and we had to rescue our friends who were taking care of our kids, hence no time to get the settings right on my camera.

Would I do this again? Oh, yes.


“You must not lose one moment of time for you have none to spare”
-Shaker quote

Outstanding in the Field {Part 2}

After hors d’oeuvres Jim Denevan, the founder of Outstanding in the Field, gave a short speech. I was surprised to hear that he’s been doing this since 1999. At first he stayed local to California but then started traveling bringing his passion for farm to table across the country.

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After Jim’s speech we were sent on a short, informative tour of Hancock Shaker Village. First through the impeccable gardens where we learned that the Shakers were the inventors of the seed packet. Also, that the Shakers figured out that if they save their seeds and plant them in the same soil (albeit amended) that each year their crops would grow stronger. The tour guide said, “If you don’t believe in evolution I’ve got news for you, it exists right here.”

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A view through the gardens to the round barn.

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The path to the barn took us right by the grills where they were preparing the food for the evening. It smelled so good!

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The barn was amazing and really the visual focal point of the evening.

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The view from the barn looking into the sun and out towards the table.

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Details in the barn.

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There were several free range fowl that call the barn home.

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In the next post I’ll share more images from around the table.

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Stay tuned for {Part 3}.

Outstanding in the Field {Part 1}

I first heard about Outstanding in the Field when they were featured on Instagram several months ago. It’s a mobile restaurant (bus) that travels the country and sometimes outside of the country serving up local food from local farmers, farm to table. Most of the time the table, which seats approx. 180 people, is connected lengthwise and seems to go on forever, and other times the tables are curved to fit the landscape. They can be found in fields, on the beach, on mountain tops, etc. The chefs are well-respected and often locals. I have an affinity for farmer’s markets and farmers and whenever or wherever I can I buy local. So when I saw the original post by Instagram I was instantly smitten. I’ve followed their travels on Instagram throughout the summer and as the season was drawing to a close and my birthday was approaching I went in search of a meaningful experience. As luck(!) would have it Outstanding in the Field was hosting a farm to table dinner nearby in the Berkshires and it hadn’t sold out like so many of the other dinners on their schedule. I immediately purchased two tickets.

On an incredibly gorgeous evening the dinner was held at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, MA. Early fall temperatures have settled in so a light sweater was a must, at least until the sun went down and then it got chilly. The time set aside for the tour and dinner was 3-7 pm which for anyone interested in photography meant perfect timing for the best light on a sunny day.

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They have a tradition where diners are encouraged to bring their own plates which are washed and returned at the end of the evening. If you are unaware or forget it’s no big deal as they have plenty to share.

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Here is that gorgeous bus that was purchased online for $9,000 from buy a bus .com or something of the like. It’s been fully restored and the attention to detail inside is impressive. It serves as the sleeping quarters for 9! adults.

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Inside the bus.

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Looking outside the bus at the diners gathering for drinks and appetizers.

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Local beer.

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And local vodka was mixed in this Peach Lemonade.

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Three appetizers were served, this was my favorite; sweet corn pancake with chevre.

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Stay tuned for {Part 2}.

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