Tag Archives: pets

Tips for Photographing Your Pets

by Shannon Esposito

Today is the official release day of FOR PETE’S SAKE (A Pet Psychic Mystery no. 4)!

Because the victim in this mystery is a wedding photographer–who also takes photos of shelter animals to help them get adopted–I thought I’d celebrate the book’s release by sharing some basic tips on how to get great shots of your own pets.  

1)      Background: Be aware of your background. Is there something behind your pet that’s distracting? If you want your pet to be the sole focus, you can use a neutral background like a plain wall, grass or window. 

Tip: Use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field (like the example above). To do this, set your camera on “aperture priority” and set the aperture to the lowest f-stop number (ex: 1.4 or 2.8) This will blur the stuff in the background, so your pet will still be the focus of the shot with minimal noise. Just make sure your camera is focused on your pet’s eyes.

2)    Perspective: Get down on your pet’s level. Shooting from a standing position aiming down doesn’t make as nice a photo as shooting them at eye level. Don’t be afraid to lay on the floor with them, get in their world and get a more intimate shot.

3)   Lighting: This one is more complicated. The easiest way to have great lighting is to utilize natural light. Shoot outdoors in either early morning or late evening sun. (Midday sunlight is too harsh.) If you’re shooting indoors, use the natural light coming through a window and have your back to the window.

 If you must use a flash, never use the on-camera flash pointed directly at your pet, as it will cause ugly shadows and harsh lighting. Fill-flash is fine. It’s just a little burst of flash that will fill in the shadows and give your pet’s a little “catch light” gleam in their eye. (Example above)

4)      Shutter speed: Pets can be hard to photograph if they’re active. The best way to combat this is with a fast shutter speed. You can set your camera to “shutter priority” mode. Keep in mind that the faster the shutter speed, the more light you will need. Or if your camera has a “sports mode” this will also automatically set a high shutter speed for you. I also recommend shooting in continuous focus mode instead of single shot.

That’s the basics. Have any other tips or tricks to share?

FOR PETE’S SAKE (A Pet Psychic Mystery No. 4):

A picture perfect wedding in paradise…what could possibly go wrong?

Pet boutique owner and reluctant pet psychic, Darwin Winters, is looking forward to watching her best friend and business partner, Sylvia, say “I do” to the man of her dreams. But when their wedding photographer turns up dead on the big day—and Sylvia’s superstitious mother believes his heart attack is a sign their marriage will be cursed—Sylvia’s dream wedding quickly becomes a nightmare.

Darwin only has a week to help her detective boyfriend prove the photographer’s death was not from natural causes before Sylvia’s family jets back home to Portugal, and the wedding is off for good.

As more than a few suspects come into focus—including Peter’s model clients, a rival photographer and the director of an animal shelter being investigated for fraud—time is running out. With just one clue from the photographer’s orphaned Yorkie pup to go on, can Darwin help save Sylvia’s wedding and capture a killer? Or will both justice and Sylvia’s wedding cake go unserved?

Get your copy here!     AMAZON      BARNES & NOBLE      iBOOKS

Posted by Shannon Esposito. Shannon lives in a magical gulf coast town with fluorescent sunsets, purple dragonflies and the occasional backyard alligator. Her mysteries transport readers to Florida without the hefty price of airfare. She is the author of the Pet Psychic Mystery series set in St. Petersburg, Florida and the Paws & Pose Mysteries set on the ritzy, fictional island of Moon Key and featuring doga instructor Elle Pressley and her canine sidekick, Buddha.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Doggy Drama

by Kassandra Lamb

I haven’t been on social media much lately. I haven’t gotten much writing done either. We’ve had quite a bit of drama at our house the last few weeks, related to dogs.

First, our totally lovable, ten-year-old Alaskan Husky/Shepherd mix died. Rather suddenly–she was only sick for three days. I’ve never had a dog go that quickly. It was a shock, as well as very sad.

Amelia, last spring

Amelia, last spring — Note the high, solid fence and big yard; they will be significant later.

And the timing couldn’t have been worse. My husband was leaving the next day for Paris–just five days after the terrorist attacks there–to present at a conference.

I’m thinking, “Oh goody, I get to stay home, all alone, and grieve and worry.”

So even though I knew it was too soon, I went to the animal shelter to check out the adoptable dogs. It was definitely too soon. I was too heart-sore to feel anything for even the cutest of them.

The adoption coordinator suggested I foster a young dog who was waiting for heartworm treatment. Perfect solution! I’d have a dog companion while hubs was away, but I hadn’t committed to loving the little guy until death do us part.

Where hubs was hanging out while I was chasing a rambunctious puppy.

Where hubs was hanging out while I was chasing a rambunctious puppy.

Well, he turned out to be a handful and a half. He definitely kept me too busy to worry for the two weeks hubs was overseas.

Wednesday I took him back to the shelter for his treatment to begin, and while I was there I made the mistake of popping over to the kennels to see the new arrivals. Guess what, not too heart-sore anymore! (Although I’m still grieving my sweet Amelia).

This guy seemed perfect. He was two years old–so not such a rambunctious puppy–and absolutely gorgeous, with a shiny, copper-colored coat. The right size (medium), with short hair (not so many hair balls gathering in the corners–Yay!), and a calm, friendly disposition.

DSC02322

Our new Redbone Coon Hound/Retriever mix–too bright for his own good!

He’s got just one teensy, weensy flaw.

He’s an escape artist!

We now have two pet gates, one above the other, blocking him from going into the rooms with the antiques (until we’re sure he won’t chew or pee on them). The first gate we put up, just one layer deep, he jumped repeatedly.

The newest in dog lover decor!

The latest in dog lover decor!

 

 

But he didn’t quite clear it, so things would go flying on the other side as he landed all skiddleywampus.

The first morning after we brought him home, hubs put him out to do his business in our big backyard, with its six-foot high, solid wood privacy fence. When hubs went out ten minutes later to bring him back in, the dog was gone!

The mutt was two doors down, checking out a neighbor’s garage. Turns out he’d dug a hole under the fence, in less than ten minutes!!

So now he’s on a tether to do his business, while I strive to make the fence dig-proof. I have now spent three days of my life and several hundred dollars on this effort, and I’m not done yet. I had to cut all our bushes back away from the fence first, so I could work in there to lay down wire mesh two feet out from the bottom of the fence, then cover it with heavy, paving stones. As an added deterrent, I’m sprinkling everything with cayenne pepper.

My vet suggested I just try the cayenne pepper around the fence line first. Ha! She does not know this dog.

While I was outside working today, I had him on his tether so he could watch me. He has separation anxiety from being abandoned, so he’s not happy unless I’m in sight. (What he doesn’t get is that his owners didn’t abandon him. I suspect they just stopped tracking him down when he got out of their fence for the umpteenth time and ran off!)

So while we’re out there, he figured out how to get out of his harness. He goes to the end of the tether, faces the post it’s tied to, ducks his head and pulls back as hard as he can. The strap around his middle (that hooks snugly BEHIND his legs) pulls forward over his head, and he steps out of it.

I watched him do it–TWICE, with two different harnesses.

I came in tonight, when it was finally too dark to work any longer, and hubs said, “Why are you doing this? Is it worth it?”

My immediate answer was “Good question!” (BTW, hubs would be helping, but he’s in the end of semester crunch with his classes.)

But then my inquisitive little psychologist’s brain got to chewing on that question. Why was I going to such great lengths for this dog?

The answer, for me at least, is that dogs are the world’s best companions. They will hang out with you, offering total unconditional love, asking only that you feed them, pet them and play with them occasionally. They are the definition of “loyal friend.” (They’re actually pretty loyal even if you don’t pet or play that often, say when you are in the throes of a writing jag because your muse has gone into overdrive. 😀 )

The bottom line is if I send this loving, otherwise great dog back to the shelter, he will end up dead. If we can’t contain him with a six-foot fence (did I mention he’s also a jumper?) then who can? He’ll either end up euthanized as unadoptable or he’ll be road kill.

Doesn't he look innocent?

Doesn’t he look innocent? You notice he’s always lying down when inside; that’s his fiendish plot to fool you into thinking he’s a sedate dog.

Not acceptable for such a wonderful fur baby.

So say a little prayer that wire plus stones plus cayenne pepper keeps him contained. I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, I had named him Cody, but he really doesn’t answer to it yet. I’m considering changing his name to Houdini.

How about you?

Are you an animal person? Do you have fur babies you’d go out of the way to keep safe?

Oh, one of our authors, Vinnie Hansen, has a giveaway going on for her book, Death with Dessert, that is about to be re-released under the misterio press imprint. I’ve read this book and it is GREAT!! So hop on over to Goodreads and check it out. Hope you win a copy!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Does Your Dog Love You?

All you dog owners know the answer to this question without having scientific proof, right? You love your pet unconditionally and you just “know” they feel the same. Or are we just projecting our human emotions like love and empathy onto our pets? Are they really just instinctual creatures that care only about food and survival?

One researcher set out to answer this question and came to the conclusion that yes, dogs do feel emotions like love.

by Noel Zia Lee, Wikimedia

by Noel Zia Lee, Wikimedia

Dr. Gregory Berns, Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University trained a dozen dogs to sit still in an MRI machine. These first-ever brain scans of non-sedated dogs allowed us to see what actually happened in the dogs brain when they were given scents of their humans. What they saw was the activity in the dog’s caudate brain region increased.

So, what exactly is the caudate region (shown above)?

Well, it’s a region that’s responsible for learning and memory deep in the brain, below conscious awareness. In humans, it lights up in anticipation of things we enjoy, such as food, love and money.

Obviously human brains are much more complex than dog brains with a more complicated network of parts, chemicals and reactions. And we have many different types of love that affect different parts of our brain: maternal love, romantic love, companion love, passionate love.

So which type of love makes the caudate light up in humans? Researchers found the caudate was especially active in people who scored highly on a questionnaire measuring passionate love.

Also, along with other parts of the brain, the caudate lights up in response to photos of their beloved in people who are “intensely in love.”

So, can we conclude that dogs are feeling intense, passionate love?

I don’t know, but I think it’s safe to assume that they are feeling something. Maybe not in the same way, with the same chemical cocktail, but they obviously do have feelings. Whether we call them love, passion, devotion, empathy… those are just labels. What’s important is that they are feeling something.

No, they don’t have the brain capacity to write us love poems. But, they do have the brain capacity to to be happy when we walk in the room, to stay near us when we’re sad or sick, and to give us affection.

Isn’t this the behavior of love?