Masthead header

This is blog post number 3 on the subject of photography. Go to “Rule of Thirds“  and “Getting down on their level” to read the previous two post.

Today I am going to cover infant puppy photos.   If you are going to take photos of young puppies, it is best to start out with a blanket of a solid color and please make it a different shade to the puppy you are photographing.  Pick a background with some weight.  A sheet makes for a poor background choice because every fold or wrinkle will show and it really does look tacky.  You will not be happy with your photos.  White is hard to work with, as it will cause the subject in front to be either to dark or totally overexpose the background creating glare.  White is suitable as an accent (lace, toy, etc) but do not use it for the entire background.  White can make some amazing photos, but takes perfect light, which is unlikely if you are new to photography.   Black can be amazing as well, but it also takes a lot of light, especially with black puppies!  A safe background for infant black puppies is a cream, grey, brown in solids.  You can do a texture but keep it simple like tweed.  If you use a color like pink for girls and blue for boys, just be aware that the color can change how the pups look.  Your blue background will add a blue haze to black puppies, as an example.  I do not have a big issues with this, as I think it adds interest as long as it isn’t overdone.  However, if you want true color to show, you need to stick with more earth tones and move out from there.

I’m going to show you some photos of my typical infant puppy setup for photography.

STEP ONE:  Look around your house for a location that has good natural light.  A large window is perfect for infant pups.  You do not want anything drafty, so no outside shots or open doors.  The puppies safety comes first.  I have a large wall of windows in my computer room that gets direct sunlight in the morning.  Just after the sun peaks over the roof and the direct light is defused, I take photos.  OR on a cloudy day, I take them early in the morning.  The clouds defuse the light.  If you have studio lighting, great.  I do not, so I make do with what nature provides.

Now that you have your location, you need to set up a place for the pups to rest and create a backdrop.  I like to raise my babies up so that when I sit on the floor I can take eye level photos of them.  To do this, I use two laundry baskets and back them up to two computer chairs right in front of my light source.

Next, take a large dog bed and place over the baskets and bend it so it creates a backdrop against the chairs.


Next (NOT SHOWN) put a heating pad on the dog bed and turn it on so it can start to warm the area.  This keeps the puppies very very happy and sleepy.  Lastly, add your basic background.  It can be a blanket or section of heavy fabric, etc.


Now take a pair of socks the same color as the pups you will be photoing and use it as a test subject.  See how the shadows are going to fall, make sure in your mind you know where the best angle to take the photos and what level you need to be on to achieve your goal.  If you have a DSL camera, you can play around with your F-stop and see how much depth of field makes for the most interesting photo.  You can test multiple backgrounds with the socks.  The best way is to just leave the large heavy background and add in other items like scarves, baby blankets, sheep skin, or other props.  The large brown blanket I have above is really nice because it grips whatever fabric I place over it and I can use it to safety pin other backgrounds up behind.   Using the socks while you are just starting out puts less stress on pups.  Once you have experience, you can usually go right to using the pups as I did here JAZZ AND RIVER PUPS- 3 DAYS OLD.  You can see there are many many options to create some really amazing photos.  This setup will allow you flexibility at a low cost.

A note on flash.  I do not like to use flash photography in most cases.  It is to harsh and removes all shadow from the subject creating a flatter image.  If you need extra light use something white to reflect the light you have back on your subject from a different angle.  A large piece of white cardboard or poster board could be placed on each end of the setup above to reflect a lot of the window’s light back onto the puppy.

Things are getting a bit busy around here, with the movers coming in a week.  It might be a while before my next post on the subject, but I still have a lot to cover.  Keep checking back for more interesting doggy photography tips!





In the previous post I talked about Rule of Thirds to give a photo balance and flow.  If you haven’t read the post, go here << Rule of Thirds >>

In this blog I will cover another important aspect of photographing animals.  Getting down on their level.  A common mistake people make is standing over their dog and pointing the camera down to snap a photograph at a 45 degree angle.  Sometimes you get a good one, but it is pretty rare.  If you drop down to the level of your dog, the chance of getting a great shot increase tremendously.

Here are a few photos to look over.  Notice where I am in relation to the dogs.

Georgie’s boy pups from her litter back in 2012.  I have them on a small table and I am squatting down to their level.

Same four boys about 7 weeks prior!!  This time I was at Courtney’s home.  We had placed a blanket on the floor (with a heating pad under to keep them warm and comfy!!!) and I was on my belly snapping photos on their level.

Jazz on the couch.  I’m inches away from her face.

This was when Zelda came to stay with us early 2012 when she had her first and only litter.  I am actually a touch lower than she is, which also gives a nice perspective, allowing the sky to be in the background.

This photo of Shadowfax (from the Ziva and Jordan litter) was taken today with my smart phone, a Galaxy S4.  I’m going to include phone photos in as many of these as possible so you can see they can and DO produce quality photos.  This is right outside on my front porch.  I had just finished watering the flowers and had Shadowfax out front with me.  He was chewing on my shoes, and as I crawled down on my tummy to start taking photos of him, he blessed me with this little jewel.

This is Duet, from the Jazz and River litter early 2014.  She is up on the high part of my backyard.  I’m standing up, but still slightly below her level.

Next I would like to show you a few photos I have taken that do not fit in the above category.

A Zelda puppy from her 2012 litter.  This little gal was being cradled in Keith’s hands (with a heating pad under.  WARM!! It keeps them sleepy).  You can take some amazing photos from above with planning.  Rarely do that just happen from standing over your subject and taking a photo at 45 degree’s.  Generally you need to be near 90 degrees to get something ‘artsy’.  It takes some planning and experimentation, but loads of fun.

Another Zelda baby.  This one was curled up in my lap, snoozing away.  I decided to see how it would look and was happy with the results.

Here is a photo of Libby I took with her off center.  I used the blank area to the side to write a farewell note a day before I put her on a plane to Minnesota.  I rarely ship my dogs and then only to people I know well, so I wanted to mark her departure with an interesting ‘hallmark’ type setup.  I hit on this by putting her up on the same table as the boy’s above and sitting on the ground below.

Photography isn’t cut and dry, but if you get really good at taking photos at or near eye level to your subjects, you can move to more interesting angles.  Some of the best photos are ones taken from a perspective completely different that what you see in real life.

MORE READING ON PHOTOGRAPHY:   Post 3: Infant Puppy Photography


  • Marlane - Very nice shots and thank you for the pointers! Will be putting them to use immediately :) Shadow’s a cutie!ReplyCancel

I know I was going to wait a few weeks to start this series, but I just couldn’t stand it.  I needed a break from cleaning / repairing the house today, lest I go a bit crazy.

This is the first in a series of blog post I will be doing on Photography.  As stated before I am no professional, but I’ve been doing this for a few years now and feel I can break this down to something even a point and shoot camera user can utilize.

There is a lot to photography.  To become good at anything, it takes practice and knowledge.  People often contact me asking what camera I use so they can take nice photographs just like me.  It isn’t the camera, but how you use what you have.  I can get nice photos from your phone.  With a few simple techniques you can improve your photography by a factor of 10.   The most important thing to me is how a photograph makes me feel.  Without the emotional impact, the rest is irrelevant.  How do you capture emotion?  Well, first you do it with balance and flow.

The Rule of Thirds. What is it and why is it important?  The Rule of Thirds states:  An image is most pleasing when its subjects or regions are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally.

What does this mean?  A picture is worth a thousand words so let me show you.

This photo does a lot of things right and why when you look at it you get warm fuzzies.  It has good color, texture, changes in light (lighter in the upper left, darker in the lower right).  It is balanced with a clear focal point that draws the eye.  The puppies head is in crisp focus while the rest of the puppy is blurred out and doesn’t not draw the eye.  This my friends is what photography is to me.  Art

I’m going to be using this photo over and over to describe why you love this photo (because you DO love this photo, right?).  For now, it will show the Rule of Thirds.  I have placed a grid over this photo breaking it into 1/3 sections both vertically and horizontally.   Take a minute to just look at the photo with the grid overlay.  The vast majority of my photography has a center focus.  I do this because my subjects are rarely abstract or story telling in nature.  With portrait photography, which is what I typically do, it is easier to just stick to the middle.  Now, how you frame the person/dog/cat/item is up to you, just remember to break the photo into third sections in your mind before you snap the shutter.  If you get it close, you can use a photo editing program to make it perfect, but the closer you get it in the view finder, the less editing time you spend later.  I hate editing, so I try to get it right in camera.   Ok, back to the Rule of Thirds.  If you look at the above photo, you will notice my subject matter (the puppy) takes up about 1/3 of the entire photo (or 3 of the squares).  How the subject is arranged in the photo does not matter.  They can be off to any side.  When you cut the photo up as a grid, does the photo still work?  Is there a clear top, middle, bottom?  Left, center, right?  If so, you will have an appealing photograph.

Here we have Mica.  She is taking up the middle 1/3, with some overlap on the side that doesn’t detract from the photo.  It is fairly balanced and that is what makes it appealing.  Ideally, I would have been back just a hair, but it still works.

This photo of Cadence is also balanced, if you include the leash and ear, she is taking up about 3 full squares.  Balanced and appealing.  The leash/color add color and interest, as does those pretty white teeth and pink tongue!  The grass is an interesting texture but does not distract from the subject.  WIN!

Lina is also taking up about 3 of the squares as well, meaning she is taking up 1/3 of the entire photo.  Balanced.

Here is a photo without a lot of background and the section that is in clear focus is the hair, not the face in the center.   It is more abstract, yet still it feels balanced.  Why?  Because of how the photo is broken into 3 sections.  The top with the pants and hair.  The middle of face and hair.  The bottom of dress, hand, cup.  Break it up horizontally and it also works.  There is clearly three sections to this photo both vertically and horizontally, so it works even if it isn’t a portrait.  This photo tells a story so the subject can be blurry and still work.  The light and texture of her hair is amazing, providing a focal point to draw you down into the rest of the story of a child eating shaved ice.

Here is an abstract I took of a bush.  This photo works because it has an upper, middle, and lower portion, as well as a left, right, and center.  Also note it has a light upper right corner and a darker lower left.  Balance!

Least you think you need a high dollar camera to get some great shots, I took this photo I took on my Iphone 3.0 about 3 years ago and I added one of those little ‘borders’ from the little photo editing options to make it look old.  In any case, what makes this work is how you can clearly break the photo into sections, into thirds from either direction.

Again, this photo is balanced and was taken at the same time as the above photo.  I want you to realize you can get great photos with your phone.  What is the best camera?  The one you always have with you, and for most people that is their phone.  Use it to its full potential with the Rule of Thirds.

Here is a photo I took at a work picnic 3 years ago.  This one shows how to frame ground to sky.  I could have used a bit more ground, as having the skyline at exactly 1/3 is ideal, but this still works because it is darn close.   If I cropped sky, the dogs head would have moved up out of the center box, messing up the balance of the photo.

And lastly a pure abstract photo my nephew took a few years ago.  This works because it follows the rules of thirds even though the subject is NOT in the center of the photo.  The flower pedal takes up about 1/3 of the entire photograph.  The color gradient on the right makes the photograph work by maintaining the balance.   You have a clear left, center, and right.

Hopefully now you can see how the Rule of Thirds is useful.  There are time to ignore the rule to achieve a specific look, but for anyone just starting out it gives you a quick way to remember how to frame your photographs.  I encourage you all to do a search and read more on the subject, then get out there with whatever camera you have and start taking photos.

MORE READING ON PHOTOGRAPHY:  Post 2: Getting down on their level.  Post 3: Infant Puppy Photography




How many of you would like some tips on taking better photos of your own dogs?  I’m going to be in limbo for about a month starting in two weeks.  Keith will be holding down the fort in TX and our house in AL will not be closed on until mid July.  During this time the dogs, kids, and I will be staying at my sisters home in Arkansas.  While there we are planning a big time enjoying ‘no school’, but also I will have a fair amount of free time to devote to this blog.  Sure I can do more training video’s, but I thought I would see if there was any interest in learning a little basic photography.  I am no professional, but I think I can give everyone a few ideas on how to frame a photo, how to work with dogs, etc.  If there are people on here with DSL camera’s, speak up in the comments and I can get into more detail on getting the best out of your DSL without having to be a professional.  Also I can supply links to other websites I have found helpful with my own hobby work.

So, what do you think?  Worth diving into this summer or just stick to training??  Post thoughts below!

  • Heather McQuiddy - That sounds terrific!!!ReplyCancel

  • Valerie B - Yes, photography tips, especially as related to taking picyures of poodle, in particular, black and dark photos. You do a great job with those. Not to say training videos aren’t welcome too.

    On another note, best of luck with the move. I was very happy for you, though exhausted by the idea of all you went through looking for your new home. I was glad you found a new place. That’s always such a stress producing event, at least for me.

    And finally, the pictures of Cadence…one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve seen, I really, really suffered pangs of longing for her. Your kennel has produced such lovely dogs.congratulations on all of them, and thank you for sharing your trials, tribulations and joys on your blog. I hope one day to be a proud owner of an Anutta poodle also.ReplyCancel

  • Rae Irvine - I would love some poodle puppy photo tips.

  • Pamela Kay Griffis - I would glean and treasure anything you would teach about photography. Please do so!ReplyCancel

Here are a couple of fun video’s of the babies. First one is with them socializing a bit with Jazz, River, and Lina. The second is them attempting stairs for the first time. Every day is a new adventure!! I LOVE PUPPIES!




.  Jordan is our Sirius’ sire.  Gloria and Kelsey loved what he produced with their girl Kachina and we are happy with the COI being below 5% at 12 generations.






UKC GR CH Tintlet Livin’ So Divine.
Ziva is a lovely BLUE girl





 Jordan (AKC Ch Calisun Aris Satisfaction Guaranteed)
Jordan is a stunning black boy.



The COI (Coefficient of Inbreeding) is calculated up to a maximum of 12 generations. 10-generation COI 2.68%


12-generation COI 4.86%


Top 5 ancestors contributing to COI, in order of influence: AM CH Haus Brau Executive Of Acadia TP 0.64% AM CH Signature On File At Pinafore TP 0.38% AM CH Eaton Affirmed TP 0.31% AM CH Dassin Debauchery 0.25% AM CH Pinafore President 0.24%


These pups all have homes lined up, but if you are interested in future litters, please contact me. 
Next litter planned for 2015. 





  • Marlane - Love the way Elrond problem solved by going to the wider part of the steps when he hit the steeper corner on his way up. Good Boy! Really enjoy River’s reaction/responses to those little messes around his feet. Can’t wait to see them all in person :) ReplyCancel