Lessons From A Dog

Writing about “Lessons from a Dog” is a way I can pay tribute to my beloved, Bailee, a 17 year old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, who very recently passed away.

She was 55 pounds of sporting breed energy and of course adorable and very smart. I got her initially for companionship, protection and something to motivate me to get walking. She provided all those things and so much more.

I was incredibly fortunate to have this dog in my life. I have no children, so of course she became “my girl”.  Pets are the perfect child substitute; they love you unconditionally even when you drop them off for boarding  and return days or weeks later to pick them up. They are always happy to see you.  Another great benefit is no college tuition to pay, although Bailee did require her share of obedience schools and private trainers due to her willful nature. But that made her all the more human to me.

She loved to do the outrageous, she could dive to the bottom of our 10 foot deep swimming pool and retrieve a toy. She would hunt squirrels in the yard in Maryland and lizards in Florida yielding the areas completely barren.  I think her proudest moment was when a wild bird had gotten into the house and she caught it midair.  Her bite was so soft, she didn’t even hurt the bird, just released it when we requested. (Of course I was frantic and screaming.)

Although I knew her passing was near, it is still a painful experience, but also a thought provoker.   As I think about her, and our life together I am reminded of the many great personality traits she exhibited daily. Here are a few lessons from a dog I learned:

Trust Your Instincts
Whether hunting in the yard or protecting her human pack, she operated instinctively.  I do this also, but sometimes I question my own gut feeling. In photography, if I see a great shot I vow to stop and take it. When my gut tells me to light a certain way in the studio, I will take the time and effort required to do exactly what my instincts are telling me to do.

Time Is Inconsequential
I do my best work and am the happiest when I live and work in the moment,  A dog does that EVERY single moment of their life.  This was so evident  living with a dog experiencing declining health. One day she may be near death and the next day running jubilantly through the yard totally obvious to her previous bad day.  But we humans often are looking towards the next thing we are going to do or recounting past experiences unable to fully embrace the moment we are currently experiencing.  To be present in the moment and enjoy each one is worth the extra effort.

Take time to Stretch
A good stretch feels good any time and is good for you, which is why animals do it all the time. It is good for your muscles, ligaments and organs. But let me take it further and use my imagination to stretch my thinking and creativity.  I plan to stay out of my box.

Eat Your Vegetables
Up until her final years, Bailee loved carrots and broccoli and I firmly believe eating those, along with generally a healthy diet, good exercise and lots of loving extended her life. The breed’s expected lifespan is only 12-14 years. So eat up!

Be Fearless
This is perhaps my favorite. Bailee attacked life. From the moment she came into my life at 8 weeks till her passing 11 days shy of 17 years, she was so inquisitive and would try anything. Once she escaped the yard and was found on the beach close to the house. Well, I know she didn’t walk on the path. She undoubtedly ran up the street,  cut through the private golf course (probably dropped a load along the way) and trespassed though some private beachfront properties to get to the beach to sniff, run and play.  I am sure there was not an ounce of fear in her. She was a true adventurer. Now I am not recommended trespassing, but if a questionable or risky opportunity arises, I am going take it and think of  Bailee.

My man and I feel a huge void in our lives since her passing.  I know as time goes on life will fill the void and the pain will diminish, but for this week I am content to reminisce and savor her memory.  To view more images of “my girl” or learn about Wirehaired Pointing Griffons check out her website.

wirehaired pointing griffon phoyo
“Bailee”   © Susan McAnany, All Rights Reserved

Visit my website to view more of my work.


Master of the Month

Master of The Month

A few months ago I started making a conscious effort each month to look at an Artist whose work inspires a level of excitement deep inside me. I find looking at different Artist’s work takes my work to a higher level and helps me define my personal vision.  I haven’t really sought out a specific artist, they usually just show up in my life. All I have to do is take notice.

One month a friend wanted to visited the new Dali Museum just built in St Petersburg, FL. I was so taken with Salvador Dali’s work, we spent all day there, which is odd for me because I usually  can only handle a couple of hours in a museum and my mind begins to roam. In addition, I bought books and continued to research more on the internet when I came home.  At the time I was very focused on compositing images and Dali’s work unleashed so many ideas in my head I felt on fire.  He was ahead of his time in thinking and creativity and would certainly be a superstar in today’s Photoshop world.

Another month I stumbled across a PBS special on Francesca Woodman, a dedicated Artist and Photographer best known for her black and white images mostly of herself and female models, often nude. She would use long exposure and movement to capture incredible blurred images of her subjects and their environments. In her short life she produced a huge volume of work that is unique and quite powerful.  Unfortunately, she committed suicide at age 22, but  her life and struggles touched me as I too struggle with the mental aspect of  balancing that inner artist with the outside world.

This month I came across a more current Artist/Photographer, Jerry Uelsmann, in my Digital PhotoPro magazine.  Uelsmann’s work is phenomenal and all done in the darkroom. I admired that right away. The darkroom is truly magical, but he takes it to another level.  Beautiful, thought provoking photo montages of surreal imagery, with the interpretation left to the viewer.  I liked reading about his unique approach to forming an image with the final step leaving it Untitled so not to influence the viewer’s perception. Now, that’s deep!  I definitely will be looking more into Uelsmann’s work this month.

View my work at http:www.susanmcanany.com.

The Camera Bag Search

Searching or researching a new camera bag can be both enlightening and a grueling experience.   It seems my gear is continuing to grow and  my shoulders and neck are oh so feeling the pain. Also, I have some trips planned so I thought this might be a good time to invest in a rolling bag designed specifically for camera gear.  After a quick look on line, I realized I better figure out exactly what I am looking for in this bag to be able to narrow down my choice.

Here was my criteria for a camera bag:

1) Had to be a rolling bag.

2) Wanted one I could work out of and did not require laying the bag flat and totally unzipping to access gear.

3) Had to accommodate my computer in addition to camera bodies and lenses.

4) I didn’t want anything too big. The bigger the bag, the more stuff I will shove into it and then I will have problems getting the bag into the overhead compartment on the plane.

5) I wanted some way to attach my tripod.

I had remembered reading something in my NAPP (National Assoc. of Photoshop Professionals) magazine about  “Think Tanks Airstream”. I like those guys and value their opinion. Unfortunately, when I looked at the bag, I realized I would have to totally unzip the bag to retrieve any gear. Also accommodating a computer required purchasing an additional case.

Next, I researched Lowepro and their line of rolling bags. The Pro Roller Attache X50 looked interesting with its two bags in one concept and it had been highly rated in an article I had read. However, after a closer look I realized my camera (a full frame camera) and gear would really be a tight squeeze. The bag was just too small.

I also realized accommodating a tripod with any these bags just wasn’t an option. I guess that goes into checked luggage.

I currently use a Tamrac bag and I like it, but unfortunately their rolling bags just seem to large.  I also looked at several other manufacturers and back packs and was beginning to get a bit discouraged when I remembered about Jill-E Designs camera bags. I currently own one of their  bags and I have always been impressed with their quality and style. Sure enough, there it was, the Large Rolling Bag, and it was love at first sight. A cute, stylish bag with a zipper on top to allow easy access to my camera gear and computer. And best of all, three color choices. I hope it looks as good in person as it does on the internet!

I have to make an update to this post, because unfortunately I had to return the beautiful red Jill-E Bag. It was just a bit too big and heavy for my needs. If however, my need was to wheel a lot of equipment to a location and leave it parked as I worked from the bag, the bag would of been perfect. It was very well made and stylish. Hope this helps!

One last word, what a special day it is; Feb 29. Once every four years we gain an extra day to make art and have fun!

Thanks for reading and more of my work can be viewed at susanmcanany.com.

Macro Mania

Recently I bought a new macro lens to take my photography to a higher creative level. I have to admit the Canon MP-E 65 mm macro lens is a beast I have never encountered before. I call it the mighty macro for it allows a 5:1 close up range, meaning I can photograph something as small as a grain of rice. The lens is not without challenges and certainly test my patience. It is manual focus lens and the depth of field is so shallow, image stacking is required but the creative possibilities are unlimited. Lighting is also a key factor, but I love working in my studio, so I am delighted to have this new tool. Once I master the basics, I plan to produce a series of abstract images, which I can add to my “Misconceptions” Collection or maybe I will start a new series called “Macronanay”.  Below is my first print available using this lens. It is a combination of 10 different photos.

Image shot with MP-E 65

Macro image using Canon's MP E -64
Well Aged by Susan McAnany

To view the print larger or purchase, visit my website:  http://www.susanmcanany.com

As always, thanks for visiting!


A New Presence

My boyfriend launched this blog for me and I must admit I am excited and a little intimidated. My plan is to keep it up to date with hopefully some interesting and amusing tales about the fast paced world of fine art photography I am involved in.  I can’t believe it is already the end of Feb, 2012. I feel like time is moving like a high speed roller coaster, with many creative ideas and projects and not enough peaks or time to create them all. Thank goodness for notepads!  To view my current work, check out  www.susanmcanany.com.   As always, thanks for visiting.