PawPrints Pix Photography: Blog en-us (C) PawPrints Pix Photography (PawPrints Pix Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:49:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:49:00 GMT PawPrints Pix Photography: Blog 80 120 Beware of the Cat Burglar The PPA Print Competition Results are in!

"The Cat Burglar" was accepted into the Professional Photographers of America 2015 Loan Collection!

Cat BurglarCat Burglar
What is the PPA Print Competition?

Every year the Professional Photographers of America conducts a photo competition.  Images go through 2 levels of very tough judging.   The judges panel is made up of 6 master photographers.   Each image is judged first for a standard of excellence based on elements such as composition, technical excellence, color harmony, impact, storytelling and more.  Each is judged for it's own level of excellence.   Images which meet these standards are awarded a merit and are accepted into the PPA General Collection.   Of the thousands of images that are submitted only a small % merit.

Merit images are then judged in a 2nd round to select the best of the best.  These are accepted into the annual loan collection which is printed in the prestigious loan collection book and displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions and other photography events.   It is a huge honor to be selected for this collection.  The 2015 collect will be unveiled at the annual imaging convention at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia Jan. 10-12, 2016.

Why enter?

Competition is a great way to improve your skills and to challenge yourself.   Last year was my first competition and I've grown tremendously by trying different things and getting critiques from the masters.   It's all about growing and bringing this into my client work.   Entering competition is also the route to work towards a Master Photographer degree from the PPA.   It requires 25 merits, earned through competition, education and service to earn the degree.

Cat Burglar

Cat Burglar will be displayed side by side with images from some of the best photographers in the country.   Needless to say I am thrilled and honored, and not to mention excited beyond belief to be part of this amazing exhibit.   Thank you to Jaye Nichols for being the best cat wrangler and getting Zazu in just the right place.

Yes your cat can be a star

I love to do storytelling images and am building up my portfolio to work toward offering these types of sessions to my clients.   Cat Burglar was shot in my studio in Oswego Illinois.   Many people say "My cat wouldn't do that."   Zazu (my burglar) is not a trained cat.   He is your average house cat.   He can be cautious in new situations but he loves to play and is very curious.   I use this when setting up the story and entice him into the scene.   They say it's difficult to herd cats - all true but if you can convince him that it's his idea then magic happens.


A 2nd image, "Catitude" was accepted into the General Collection.

Catitude - 2015Catitude - 2015Merit image - Professional Photographers of America - Print Competition
While Catitude won't be part of the traveling collection it is a great honor to be admitted to the general collection.   Thank you to Susie Blaho for sharing Allie with me.

To see More images

See more competition images :

See more storytelling images:

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Cats General Photography PPA PPA Print Competition Photography Tue, 01 Sep 2015 02:49:49 GMT
Run Fur Fun Thrilled to photographing tomorrow's 5 & 10K Run Fur Fun race in South Elgin.   The run is a fund raiser for local animal groups.

I'll add some photos tomorrow.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Sun, 31 May 2015 03:13:26 GMT
Cooper Cooper's first year

Dog Photo - Cooper - 05298Dog Photo - Cooper - 05298

Can you say AHHHHH?   Cooper is just 3 1/2 months old and is oh so sweet.   He was in for his puppy photos with his humans.   Curious but very shy he wondered around to check out the studio while the humans talked but never strayed too far from mom.

Dog Photo - Cooper - 05329-EditDog Photo - Cooper - 05329-Edit

He's still trying to figure out what to do with a tennis ball but after a few minutes decided to claim it as his own.   We even had him bouncing around going after the ball.   He's starting to discover the spring part of his inner spaniel.

Dog Photo - Cooper - 05316-EditDog Photo - Cooper - 05316-Edit

His favorite by far, though, was the squeaky!   Here he was trying to say it was his and he's keeping it!

Dog Photo - Cooper - 05289-EditDog Photo - Cooper - 05289-Edit

Cooper is a gentle soul.   Every time I sat down on the floor to get some shots down really low he would come to sit in my lap and give me doggy kisses.    I look forward to seeing this handsome guy grow into full dog-hood.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #ChicagoDogPhotographer #DogPhoto #DogPhotograper #KimStephenson #PetPhotographer #Photog #Photographer #Photography #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Chicago Dog General Photography Pawprints Pawprints Pix Photography Pet Pet Photographer Pets Photographer Photography Pix animal Sun, 31 May 2015 02:49:59 GMT
Lily Meet Lily

A beautiful, bold, curious and adventurous senior cat.    She brought her best friend, William, to the studio for her glamour session.   She walked in and immediately made the studio home.    Part Siamese, part torti she is soft and so friendly - she doesn't know a stranger.

What a great day!

Cat Photo - Lily - 00167-2x3Cat Photo - Lily - 00167-2x3

Cat Photo - Lily - 00317Cat Photo - Lily - 00317

Cat Photo - Lily - 00320Cat Photo - Lily - 00320

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #KimStephenson #PetPhotographer #Photographer #Photography #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cat Cat Photographer Chicago Cat Photographer General Photography Pawprints Pix Photography Pet Pet Photographer Pets animal Wed, 20 May 2015 02:35:36 GMT
What's your superpower During the golden times our heros often wore their superpowers on their sleeves.   But today those with such powers often hide behind a mask or normalcy.  They walk among us waiting for the moment when they needed most then spring into action.   They look like every cat and every dog but deep down.....


Superpower = Defrost
The heart may need to be persuaded but Bonnie can melt a frozen heart with just a look.

Cat Photo HELP - BonnieCat Photo HELP - Bonnie

Superpower = Invisibility
Sleek and invisible in the dark Raven will guard you through the night and keep those things that go bump far from your door.  

Cat Photo HELP - Raven - 05182 -_Cat Photo HELP - Raven - 05182 -_

June Bug
Superpower = Mind Master


June bug can get her best friend to do just anything by thinking it to him.

Cat Photo HELP - June Bug - 05160 -_Cat Photo HELP - June Bug - 05160 -_


Superpower = Fast Claw

See Tori snatch a whirling feather toy from the air within a blink of an eye

Cat Photo HELP - Tori - 05215 -_Cat Photo HELP - Tori - 05215 -_


Superpower = Maestro of Words

Poe knows all the best sonnets and will PURR you to sleep while reciting them (in cat of course).

Cat Photo HELP - Poe - 05195 -_Cat Photo HELP - Poe - 05195 -_


Superpower = Reads the Future

She sees a forever home in her future.

Cat Photo HELP - Astra - 05083 -_Cat Photo HELP - Astra - 05083 -_

All the cats pictured here are available for adoption at H.E.L.P. (Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets)




















(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #pawprintspix #photographer Cat Photographer Chicago Cat Photographer General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Wed, 13 May 2015 01:12:29 GMT
Cuteness Rules - Sammy will steal your heart Colors Abound and Cuteness Rules

Last week I had the honor of meeting and photographing Sammy, a Shitzu / Yorkie / Poodle mix.   It was a beautiful fall day and the leaves were in full color at Fabyan park in Geneva.   It was a perfect day for fall photographs.   In fact we weren't the only ones who thought so.  There were many families having portraits done.

Sammy was enjoying all the attention from the passers-by but mostly he enjoyed exploring with his dad. 

Here are a few preview photos from the session.  

Dog Photo - Sammy -  by the riverDog Photo - Sammy - by the river

Dog Photo - Sammy - with the windmillDog Photo - Sammy - with the windmill

Dog Photo - Sammy and RichDog Photo - Sammy and Rich

Dog Photo - Sammy and Rich watching the dayDog Photo - Sammy and Rich watching the day


(PawPrints Pix Photography) #AuroraDogPhotographer #ChicagoDogPhotographer #DogPhoto #DogPhotographer #KimStephenson #PetPhotographer #Photog #Photographer #Photography Aurora Dog Photographer Chicago Dog Photographer Dog Dog Photographer Pawprints Pix Photography Pet Photographer Pets animal Tue, 28 Oct 2014 03:46:45 GMT
Scouting locations for fall colors Location Scouting

This weekend I went location scouting.   The goal was to find a good location that would really bring the colors of fall into the background for a on-location photo session with Sammy, a Shitzu/Yorkie/Poodle mix.   The location that immediately came to mind is Fabyan park in Geneva along the Fox River.   It's a beautiful park with an island in the middle of the river.   There is a bridge that crosses to the island from both sides, lots of trees, grass, bushes and the river for the background.   There is a windmill, lighthouse, benches, boathouse, stone wall and plant covered tunnel which could create an interesting setting.  

The colors haven't started to come in yet but you can see how this area will shine when they do.

Sammy is such a cute dog.  I am looking forward to photographing him.

The location -

 Route 31 Side - West

fayban park stone wallfayban park stone wall fayan park tunnelfayan park tunnel fayban park bench stonefayban park bench stone fayban park boathousefayban park boathouse

fayban park pathfayban park path fayban park treefayban park tree

The Island

fayban park riverfayban park river fayban park bench woodfayban park bench wood

fayban park lighthousefayban park lighthouse

Route 25 Side - East

fayban park rockfayban park rock

fayban park bridgefayban park bridge

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #AuroraDogPhotographer #ChicagoDogPhotographer #DogPhoto #DogPhotographer #KimStephenson #PetPhotographer #Photog #Photographer #Photography Aurora Dog Photographer Chicago Dog Photographer Dog Dog Photographer Pawprints Pix Photography Pet Photographer Pets animal Tue, 23 Sep 2014 03:12:58 GMT
2014 International Print Competition - The results I am so new to print competition.   Those who know me well know that I started this journey at the beginning of the year.    The international competition judging was held in August.  It's been a long journey but what a fantastic learning experience!   All 4 of these image were taken for HELP.   The cats in the photos are all rescue cats.  I'm already planning for next year.

Local Photographer Named Silver Medalist at International Photographic Competition

Kim Stephenson of Pawprints Pix Photography is honored by peers and jurors for high-quality photography.

Aurora, IL – Kim Stephenson of Pawprints Pix Photography in Aurora, IL was named a Silver Medalist during Professional Photographers of America's 2014 International Photographic Competition. Stephenson's work will be on display at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 1-3, 2015. This International Photographic Exhibition is held in conjunction with Imaging USA, an annual convention and expo for professional photographers and several photographic associations.

A panel of 45 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from nearly 5,000 total submitted entries at Gwinnett Technical College in Georgia. Judged against a standard of excellence, just over 1,800 images were selected for the General Collection and 918 (roughly 18 percent) were selected for the esteemed Loan Collection—the best of the best. The Loan Collection images will all be published in the much-anticipated "Loan Collection" book and over 200 selected General Collection images will be published in the "Showcase" book by Marathon Press.

The level of the award is determined by how many of those four images receive the highest possible honor: acceptance into the PPA Loan Collection, which is displayed at photographic exhibitions, conventions and other photography events. Stephenson was named a Silver Medalist, meaning that one of her four merited images entered the PPA Loan Collection. In 2014, she was one of only 104 Silver Medalists.

About PPA:
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the largest international non-profit association created by professional photographers, for professional photographers. Almost as long-lived as photography itself, PPA has roots that date back to 1869. It assists more than 27,000 members through protection, education and resources for their continued success. See how PPA helps photographers be more at

Contact: Kim Stephenson

The Lookouts - Cats at playThe Lookouts - Cats at playThe Lookouts - Cats at play

Got Tuna - Cat photoGot Tuna Got Tuna - Cat photo Double Trouble - Cat photoDouble TroubleDouble Trouble - Cat photo Testing the Domino Theory - Cat photoTesting the Domino TheoryTesting the Domino Theory - Cat photo






(PawPrints Pix Photography) #cat #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cat General Photography cat photographer pet photographer photography competition ppa Sat, 06 Sep 2014 04:19:07 GMT
Ready for a new home - Cats of HELP Searching for a home...

As a pet photographer one of the things I look forward to every month is doing the adoption photos for the cats of Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets.   I attend their adoption event at a local pet store (usually Healthy Pet in Aurora), set up a very small studio and photograph each cat or kitten.   In the spring I can do 15-20 cats/kittens in a few hours.

Getting a chance to play with these guys is a real joy.

I often bring props and try different things to try to make each cats personality shine so that when a prospective family is looking online for a cat to adopt they want to meet this cat more than any other.

With kitten almost season upon us the older cats are often passed by.   These guys are all looking for a new forever home.   Please contact Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets to meet them.  For more information about each and more images click here


MapleMaple - Orange TabbyCats for adoption at Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets. #CatPhoto, #CatPhotographer, #KimStephenson, #PetPhotographer, #Photog, #Photographer, #Photography

Maple is a big boy.  He is 8 years old and cool as can be.   With everything swirling around us at the pet store he took it all in stride to mug for the camera.

Sam & Seth

HELP - Sam Seth Sam & Seth - DSH White & Black; White & TabbyCats for adoption at Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets. #CatPhoto, #CatPhotographer, #KimStephenson, #PetPhotographer, #Photog, #Photographer, #Photography

Sam & Seth are brothers to the core.  Where one goes the other is right behind.   They are often curled up together in a ball at nap time.  They are looking a home that will take them both.


HELP - CallieCallie - CalicoCats for adoption at Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets. #CatPhoto, #CatPhotographer, #KimStephenson, #PetPhotographer, #Photog, #Photographer, #Photography Callie is a sweet year old cat who came to HELP with newborn kittens.   She was a great mom raising her own babies plus a couple of extras.  She is a lap cat and loves to cuddle and will quickly win her way into your heart.


HELP - EastonEaston - Brown TabbyCats for adoption at Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets. #CatPhoto, #CatPhotographer, #KimStephenson, #PetPhotographer, #Photog, #Photographer, #Photography Easton has a lazy eye but that doesn't slow this handsome boy down one bit.


HELP - ThierryThierry - TortiCats for adoption at Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets. #CatPhoto, #CatPhotographer, #KimStephenson, #PetPhotographer, #Photog, #Photographer, #Photography Thierry is a 2 year torti.  This spunky girl has long beautiful fur that will need to brushed regularly - which she enjoys as if she's at the spa.


HELP - Benji Benji - DSH BlackCats for adoption at Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets. #CatPhoto, #CatPhotographer, #KimStephenson, #PetPhotographer, #Photog, #Photographer, #Photography Benji loves people and has a purr that rivals any other feline.   She is athletic and active but also loves a quite place to nap.

All these guys are looking for that purrrfect family to call their own.   If that's you give HELP a call to meet them.   You won't be disappointed.



(PawPrints Pix Photography) #KimStephenson #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #petphotographer #photographer Animals Cat Cat Photographer Cat Photography Cat Photos Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Pet Photographer Pet Photography Pets Photography Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:27:38 GMT
Competing in the PPA district print competition It's been a while.....

Since I wrote last I've been on a quest.   A quest for knowledge to improve my skills as a pet photographer.   The workshop I did with Paw Print Divas inspired me to reach higher than I ever expected to.   Barbara Breitsameter with Poppy Blue photography has been a huge part of that inspiration.   Back in August, during the workshop, she encouraged me to submit some of my work to the professional photographers association (PPA) print competition.  

Photos go through 2 levels of judging.  First each photo is judged on it's own merits and given a score; this is at the district competitions or phase 1 at the international competition.   Photos that score 80 and higher are "sealed".   Photos sealed in districts and submitted to the international print competition are automatically included in the associations general collection and will be displayed at the annual convention; Imaging USA in February.   Then they are then judged for inclusion in the associations loan collection.   Photos accepted into the loan collection are printed in the PPA loan collection book for the year.    Merit points are awarded for photos that are included in both the general (1 merit) and loan (2 merits) collections.   These points apply toward earning you certified professional photographer certification.

This February I gave it a go.  I submitted 4 photos (the max) to the north central district competition.  It was an awesome experience.  

First image - Got Tuna?   Score: 83

  Got TunaGot TunaGot Tuna

Second Image - Double Trouble - Score 80

Double TroubleDouble TroubleDouble Trouble

Third Image - Testing the Domino Theory - Score 81

Cat PhotoTesting the Domino TheoryCat photo submitted to North Central PPA Print Competition

Forth Image - Squirrel???? - Score 78

Dog PhotoSquirrelCat photo submitted to North Central PPA Print Competition

So 3 out of 4 will be in the General Collection and judged for the Loan collection!   I was so excited I was bouncing out of my chair when the scores came in!

I can resubmit Squirrel reworked or a new image for the first level judging at the international competition.   I'm already working on my ideas!!!!


(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #dogphoto #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cat General Photography cat photos Wed, 09 Apr 2014 02:46:43 GMT
On the Road in Key West Florida There is nothing like getting away from the day to day and adventuring into a place you've never been before.   For me it's energizing and good for the soul.   And of course like any photographer you can't leave home without a camera to capture the events and sights along the way.   In September we ventured to the far south - all the way down to Key West - the southern most part of the US.    September you say?   Isn't it hot in September?   Yes!   Way too hot!

For all these photos and more click here.

Welcome to Key WestWelcome to Key West

Welcome to Key West

Key West is an island at the southern tip of the Florida Keys.  It's original Spanish name was Cayo Hueso, or Bone Island.   The tour guides say that when English speaking people came to the island the pronunciation sounded like Key West and thus over time it eventually became known as Key West.   The atmosphere on the island is "festive".   It reminded me of a tropical version of New Orleans with many places to have a good beer and party the night way.   More interested in the sights than the drinks we wandered to see what there was to see.

Sailing the Roadways on a Land YachtSailing the Roadways on a Land Yacht Been There Got the StickerBeen There Got the Sticker

Markets AboundMarkets Abound Mile 0Mile 0

Wild birds are protected in Key West so there are wild Chickens everywhere. 

Clucking the day awayClucking the day away

Yes Key West is the southern-most point of the continental US.   There is even a marker that says so.   It is a hot spot for tourist to pose with their cameras.   From here it is a 90 mile swim to Cuba.

90 miles to cuba90 miles to cuba SOUTHERN MOST POINT  - Say CheeseSOUTHERN MOST POINT - Say Cheese

Mallory Square

The highlight of every evening is sunset at Mallory Square.   Unfortunately on the 2 nights we went 1 rained right at sunset; or I should say POURED right at sunset and the other was so cloudy there wasn't much to see.   But the clouds in the run up the rain were spectacular!

Running from the RainRunning from the Rain

Cat Man

No self respecting animal photographer could go to Key West and not see the Cat Man.      He puts on a show every night at sunset at Mallory Square.  He is a real Showman with a capitol S.   He has 5 or 6 trained domestic cats which walk a pole, jump to pedestals and leap through a flaming hoop on command - or some of his commands.   Getting a domestic house cat to do any of those things on command is a feat but jumping through fire?  Wow.

Flames of deathFlames of death

Walking the poleWalking the pole Cat manCat man

Snorkeling, Dolphins and Sunsets

We may not have been lucky at Mallory Square but we took a sunset cruise that started with a stop to see a local pod of dolphins.    I'm not sure how many there were but it looked like quite a few.   They were just kind of cruising along - one even came right up to the boat.  


After that a dip in the ocean.   The wind was too high to go to the reef so they took us to a protected area off a small island.   There weren't as many fish there but there was some coral starting to grow so there were some fish.    There was a school of yellow and blue fish that decided I might taste good.   At one point they swarmed around me and start pecking at me.   A little frightening at first.   Jaye kept running into jellyfish - fortunately she was able to get out of the way without being stung.   

Then the sun set.

Sunset off the keysSunset off the keys

Having fun after a swimHaving fun after a swim

Hemingway House

Key West was home to Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s.   The house is now a museum and home to about 50 cats.   The cats are decedents of Hemingway's polydactyl kitties.  Many exhibit the polydactyl trait and have 6 toes on their front paws and 5 on the back.   The house and history are interesting but the cats were the best.

Sleeping in the shadeSleeping in the shade

5 toes on the back5 toes on the back Hanging outHanging out

Dry Tortugas

Ok if you want to go even further out you can take a day trip to the Dry Tortugas.  The Tortugas are about 67 miles west of Key West.   Once a fort and prison the Tortugas are now a National Park.   A great place to snorkel and scuba most of the park is actually under water.   On the main island stands Fort Jefferson.   The fort was intended to protect the mainland from attack by sea.   After the civil war it became a prison and housed Dr Samuel Mudd, the doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth after assassinating President Lincoln.   Difficult to supply, as everything including fresh water had to be shipped in, it was abandoned and then eventually established as a National Park.    A daily ferry goes out to visit the island.

Fort Jackson as a prison - Sign of the times Fort Jackson as a prison - Sign of the times Fort JacksonFort Jackson Long HallLong Hall

Snorkeling along the moat wallSnorkeling along the moat wall Mudd's cellMudd's cell

The best part of the day was practicing action shots with my new zoom lens.    Off one of the seawalls there was an old set of pilings.    The sea birds hang out there.   I sat for about an hour watching and photographing the pelicans as they fished for lunch.   One bird would take off, do a circle, hover and then dive straight down.   When he got his catch the seagulls would land on his head and try to steal it.   The day was terribly overcast and grey.

Diving for lunchDiving for lunch Feathered thiefFeathered thief Splash downSplash down

All in all it was a good week.

To see these and more photos from the trip click here.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Cats Chicago Cat Photographer General Photography Nature PawPrints Pix Photography Sun, 20 Oct 2013 01:47:09 GMT
PawPrint Divas Photo Workshop A couple of weeks ago I spent 3 jam packed days at the PawPrint Divas Dog Photography workshop.   It was by far the best photography class I've ever taken.   The award winning instructors, Barbara Breitsmeter, Kim Hartz and Jenny Froh, really know how to put on a workshop!   The class was in beautiful Lake Tahoe Nevada/California.  

Shooting on locationShooting on location

The Class

The class covered;

  • shooting techniques
  • composition - what sells
  • dog handling
  • photo sessions with a client
  • photography business topics
  • post processing
  • AND lots of shooting

Shooting Techniques

We focused on 3 lighting techniques; natural (only available light), with a reflector and with an off camera flash (in studio and on location).   With only 9 students to 3 instructors we got lots of hands on shooting and feedback.  We had 5 extremely well trained dogs with us throughout the workshop; Ada, Taya, Agador, Ruby & Karma.  In addition for most sessions we had special guest models to give us practice with many dog temperaments and training levels.  Saturday Jenny was able to bring in 2 special dogs from a local animal rescue group.   Getting to work with a variety of dogs and training levels is one of the things I was most looking forward to.   I wasn't disappointed.

Natural Light   

KarmaKarma smiling for the camera YorkieGuest Model

With Reflector

Karma waiting on the stairs AgadorWaiting for Dad

Off Camera Flash

Taya to the rescue Relaxing after a long day as a model

In Action

I'm coming Mom!

Lake Tahoe

There was a big fire that started in Yosemite shortly before the class started.   Before long the smoke from the fire rolled in.   It made for very interesting lighting conditions.... but that didn't slow us down one bit.

The lake Sun through the trees

All said it was a successful 3 days thanks to our amazing instructors, Barbara, Kim & Jenny!   I had a great time, learned a lot and made some new friends.   Now I get to practice the things I learned....

Sunset on Lake Tahoe

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #dogphoto #dogphotographer. #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Chicago Cat Photographer General Photography PawPrintsPix Photography Sat, 14 Sep 2013 01:47:09 GMT
{52 HeARTs} Vintage This week > Vintage

When I think of vintage - I think of old "stuff"; clothes, furniture, cars....

To me, vintage photos are images with very faded colors on scratched, folded and sometimes torn photo paper.   I have a lot of these from when I was first learning to take snapshots with a Kodak 126 instamatic.   Most of these really early shots are black & white and some of have holes punched in them.    I'll never know why the photo lab used a hole punch on my photos but .... there you go.    Later photos, from when I graduated to color, are now all faded to yellows, orange and some blues.

In talking with Jaye about this challenge she suggested using the Hoosier as the stage.   A Hoosier is a piece of kitchen furniture.   Before the era of built-in cabinets and counters a Hoosier was used to store stuff and as a counter top of preparing food.   

The Scene:   Making cookies with a bit of help.  
Recipe:  Floor, Sugar, Eggs, old bottles and bowls + 1 helper - Zazu


Of course after I set this scene my model didn't really want to participate so I added a bit of catnip to the recipe.     When I originally set this up I was thinking of shooting from a higher angle so I had put some flour in the bowl.   Zazu took a big whiff of the stuff in the bowl and got a nose full of flour.   Poor guy sneezed for 4 or 5 minutes.

I probably should have faded these out more but I kind of like the tone.


(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer. #pawprintspix #photographer 52 HeARTs Animals Cats General Photography HeARTs Speak photographer Sun, 19 May 2013 05:10:51 GMT
{52 HeARTs} Framed This weeks challenge was "Framed".    A few years ago I saw some images with a cool technique that I thought it would be fun to try.   When I read the theme for the week I decided it was time to try the technic.   So yesterday at the adoption event I was shooting at I enlisted one of the foster families that had a litter of bold kittens.    I am very fortunate to work with families who are always happy to "experiment" and try different things with the photos we do.   Thank you Carly!


The Great Escape - Feline Style .... "Framed"


Behind the scenes

The kittens, Katnis and Fin, thought this game was great fun.   Carly had them running through the frame then picked them up and put them back behind it to go again.   After a short time they were literally leaping through the frame so quick they were a blur.

Then an image for the frame above.

And the scene of the escape.

Add a little photoshop magic and you have the great escape feline style.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer. #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Sun, 12 May 2013 18:05:37 GMT
{52 HeARTs} Celebrate [Week 9] Zoe is a 7 week old lover.   She was born outside in the bitter cold of early March in Chicago to a feral mom.    The kittens were left outside with the mom for the first 3 weeks and watched closely.   When it became clear that the cold was a bit too much and they might not make it Zoe and her 4 siblings were brought to Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets [H.E.L.P.].   Mom could not be caught so these little guys were bottle fed for the first couple of weeks of domestic life.

We decided to document their journey from bottle fed baby to full kittenhood by taking photos every week to watch them grow.   The photos will be used to help local rescue folks age very young kittens.  For me this has been a special project.   I love getting to know these little guys.   And they now know me!  As soon as I sit on the floor to shoot, a couple of them run into my lap and purr.    Doesn't get much better than that.

Let's Party!!!!

This weeks theme for the 52 HeARTs challenge is celebrate.  Zoe is all dressed up to celebrate!  She and her siblings are 7 weeks old and best of all 4 weeks with her foster mom.   Happy birthday little guys!

Zoe at 7wks Dressed to PartyHELP Zoe - 2013.04.25 - 08376

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer. #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Kitten Newborn Pet Adoption Sun, 28 Apr 2013 03:56:20 GMT
Heroes As you know for the last couple of years I’ve been volunteering my photography services with a local animal rescue group (H.E.L.P.) here in the west suburbs.   This group rescues cats and dogs from kill shelters, surrenders from local families, and many other sources.   They have a network work of families that take the pet into their homes and foster them – often providing medical help and socialization - until the animal can be adopted into a forever home.


Working with H.E.L.P. is very rewarding and fulfilling.   It brings together 2 things that I truly love; animals and photography – how can you beat that?!  


Next Friday, 3-May, H.E.L.P. is hosting their annual fundraiser dinner and auction.    I’ve put together the video that will be played during the event.   The video, Heroes, features H.E.L.P.s cats, dogs and foster families along with many success stories from the families who’ve adopted from the group.   The last 6 weeks putting this together has been quite a journey so I thought I’d share.  :)    The video is long since it intended for the dinner – click the image to check it out.

Or click here >

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats Dogs General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Sat, 27 Apr 2013 22:23:42 GMT
{52 HeARTs} Black & White [Week 8] Week 8's theme for the 52 HeARTs challenge is black & white.


I've always liked black & white photos.   You see the subject in all its stark detail.    Recently I've been playing with images that are "black & white except a single focal point". 


Lily is a 7 month old brown and grey tabby with white patches.   She is shy and slow to warm up to people she doesn't know.   This photo was taken at last weeks adoption event.   Lily has the most striking golden eyes.  I thought it'd be a perfect photo for the b&w theme.

Lily with the golden eyesHELP - Lily - 2013.04.13 - 07967


This is the original photo.

HELP - Lily - 2013.04.13 - 07967

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer 52 HeARTS Animal Animals Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Rescue Sat, 20 Apr 2013 04:45:35 GMT
{52 HeARTs} Blue [Week 7] As you know I am a member of the photographers group HeARTs Speak and have been participating 52 HeARTs, a weekly theme-based photo challenge.   This weeks theme is blue.  

Immediately I thought of the newborn kittens I started photographing last week for HELP (Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets).   Lisa, the foster mom, takes in kittens whose feline mother can't take care of them for one reason or another.  She bottle feeds them every two hours until they are old enough to start eating on their own.     

This is Finley.  He is 1 of 5 kittens.   When they came to live with Lisa (last week) they were 3 weeks old.   Now at 4 weeks they are already starting to eat some wet cat food + milk mix in addition to their regular bottle.   They really get into it - literally - they had it all over their little faces.  We plan to photograph them once a week and follow their growth from bottle feed babies to unstoppable, energetic kittens.

Newborn kittens often have blue eyes.   This changes as they get older.

Finley (4 weeks) had just finished his dinner and wasn't sure it was time for a bath or sleep.

Got Milk?HELP - Finley - 2013.04.11 - 07668 - Milk Mouth


Finley at 3 weeks old --- just learning to walk.   He was still pretty wobbly but it didn't slow him down one bit!

HELP - Newborns - 3wks - 2013.04.02 - 07208


(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Sat, 13 Apr 2013 00:21:51 GMT
{52 HeARTS} Texture {52 HeARTS} Texture

This weeks HeART challenge is texture.  

The first thought that came to mind was the rough texture of a cats tongue.  But how do you get a cat to open his mouth and say me-ahhh on command?   My boys certainly weren't going to cooperate with that so I moved on to my 2nd thought - feathers.   These unique delicate wisps are all different.   Up close the textures really stands out.

I wanted to try something different with the lighting so I shot these with the feathers laying on an LED light and a speedlight with a snoot/with honeycomb grid to direct the light.

Feathers52 Hears - Texture - 2013.03.24 - 07154


Of course no photo session is complete without my furry helper.   He believes the feathers belong to him.

Zazu52 Hears - Texture - Zazu - 2013.03.24 - 07150


(PawPrints Pix Photography) #pawprintspix #photographer 52 HeARTS Animals HeARTs Speak Sun, 24 Mar 2013 23:05:38 GMT
{52 HeARTS} Humor This weeks 52 HeARTs theme is humor.   

Last weekend I went to both the cat and dog adoption events for H.E.L.P.   I was hoping to get some funny expressions.   So these weren't really "scripted" but more accidently on purpose.

 Sally was having fun playing ball with us.

HELP - Sally - 2013.03.09 - 06531


These 3 little puppies are Bam Bam, Pebbles and Clark.   They'd been napping before we brought them over to get their photos done and once they woke up they were all a blur of motion.    I wished this first one had better focus but I loved the expression on Pebbles and Bam Bam.

HELP - Bam Bam Clark -2013.03.09 - 06599


JD is deaf and cross eyed.   He foster mom doesn't believe he sees very well.   Between not being able to hear or see it was a challenge to get his attention.  We were using treats to get him to work with us.   His nose works VERY well!

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #dogphoto #dogphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Dogs General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Sat, 16 Mar 2013 20:04:20 GMT
{52 HeARTS} Shadows This weeks theme is shadows. 

There are so many ways you could take this.   I’ve done a lot of dark shots where part of the face is hidden in shadow.   To challenge myself to try something different I decided to go literal – the whole image is the shadow.

Cat Shadows - 2013.03.07 - 06434

I used a photo cube designed for product photography.   All I had to do was set it on the table and I had 2 eager volunteers to be my models.   Add a flash on a stand with no modifier and I was ready to go.   The fun part was – shooting the outside of the cube with the cat on the other side of the screen I couldn’t see what he was doing so I got quite a few with just a tail or a leg.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Thu, 07 Mar 2013 20:33:34 GMT
{52 HeARTs} Symmetry One of the best ways to learn and grow is to talk to and network with people; to look at what and how they do the skills you are interested in improving.  As an aspiring pet photographer I’ve joined an amazing group, Hearts Speaks.   The members are photographers and artists from all over the world dedicated to helping rescue animals through photography and art.

For fun and to get creative a {52 HeARTs} challenge has been issued - to capture a weekly image based on a theme.

This weeks theme: Symmetry

I have always found it fascinating to look closely at the markings on the top of a cats head.   In so many breeds the markings are completely symmetrical.   Then there are others that look like someone dripped paint or ink on them randomly.

Zazu in {52 HeARTs} - Symmetry


Zazu in {52 HeARTs} – Symmetry


(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats General Photography Sat, 02 Mar 2013 14:38:33 GMT
Photo Paws and Family Tails 2011

Meeting Santa

Family Portraits & a Good Cause

On Saturday November 19 the Hotshots photography club for held our 2nd annual Photo Paws and Family Tails photo event.  Not your typical photos with Santa – we offered studio quality portraits for families and their pets to celebrate that special bond between fur-baby and family and help to raise money for Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets (H.E.L.P.).

H.E.L.P. is an all-volunteer organization that rescues stray and abandoned cats and dogs, providing medical care and shelter until the animals are adopted into loving homes. H.E.L.P. is not an animal shelter; the animals live in volunteers’ homes. Each dog or cat is spayed or neutered, vaccinated, treated for parasites and microchipped.   All proceeds from the photo paws event went to H.E.L.P. to directly support the animals.


2nd Year and Running

This is the 2nd year that we’ve held this fund raiser.   It was a very good day.   Waiting and ready for our furry visitors we had photographers; Brian, Rob, Claudia, Don, Kim & Karen.   And the many volunteers from H.E.L.P. were the guide elves to shepard our visitors through the pole to Santa and frosty .  We had 24 families come in; some to see Santa and ask for the latest cool toy.

Santa I really want that new squeaky toy that looks like a hamburger

While others were more interested in hanging with frosty in his winter wonderland

Me, my little brother and frosty - How Cool is that!

And A few were just wanted to hang with the photographers and get a non-holiday portrait done.

I'm ready for my close-up.

Just look cool!


As in any event of this type there are always a few youngsters that who don’t know the big red guy and are completely freaked out.   But we humans just laugh and try to get them to relax – fat chance on the relax part when you’re a cat.

Who is that???? I don't know you! Get me out of here! MOMMMMMM

and eventually … sometimes curiousity wins out

I'm ok... I'm ok... Hey what's that?



Thank you Mom!

After a long day

Santa had his list….

Checking the list twice

our fur friends had had their close-ups and H.E.L.P. had a bit more funding for food and medical care for the cats and dogs under their care. All in all it was a very good day.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #dogphoto #dogphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Family General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Tue, 13 Dec 2011 21:07:22 GMT
Adopt Me – I’m Cute! If It’s June it MUST be Kittens!

Is it YOU??????

Say hello to Saturn.   Saturn is one of 6 kittens born in April.   These adorable little balls of fur are active, curious and friendly.  And as you can tell are not camera shy.

The 5 boys are; Saturn







And Vulcan

And their sister Mora

Looking for someone a little older?

Pasha, 1 year old, just loves people.  She’ll even go for walks with you on a leash.

Tippy gets his name from the white tuft of fur at the tip of his tail. 

Thaddeus ; is a handsome 3 year old who was a bit shy in front of the camera – he wasn’t ready to become a screen and film start quite yet.

Pedra is an affectionate, quiet and sweet 2 year old.  On this day she was into making faces for me.

This big baby is Wilbur.  He a big, lean, shy, marshmallow.   

A Visitor

This little guy is not a HELP cat but had been adopted and came to visit when we were shooting this months photos.   He’s just too cute not to post.

And a Graduate

Danny Boy was adopted…..   A happy day!

More information for each the cats and kittens here can be found on the H.E.L.P. (Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets) website at:
(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Mon, 11 Jul 2011 21:13:00 GMT
Our Last Day in Yellowstone Heading Back into the Park

So after spending a day in Jackson Hole we headed back into Yellowstone for our last day of vacation.   The plan: head for the geysers, mudpots and prism pools.

Most of the side roads were still closed due to the snow so we couldn’t get to any of the waterfalls.   I think they are supposed to reopen sometime a week or 2 after we return home.

The big attraction for day was to be the mudpots.   This is one of the features of the park that Jaye remembers best from visiting as a kid.

The day is pretty overcast and it’s threatening rain/snow.   There’s a chill in the air and not very many people on the roads.

One Stop Before Heading into the Park
When we got back from Jackson Hole Thursday we drove into West Yellowstone (the town at the west entrance to the park).   There we saw a great IMAX movie about the park then visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discover Center right next door.

The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is home to 6 grizzly bears and 8 grey wolves.   These animals were rescued when they could no longer live in the wild and given a home.  The facility is right outside the entrance to the park – so the habitats are as close to wild as is possible.   The center focuses on giving the public the opportunity to observe and learn about the grizzly and the grey wolf.

Of the 6 bears we got to see 2 of the youngest.   The bears hang out in their dens most of the time.   When it’s feeding time the dens are closed locked down and the keepers enter the enclosure hide food all over.   Then they let the bears out to eat 2 at a time.   Each pair is on a staggered feeding schedule so only 2 are out at a time.

Thursday night we got to see Sam and Illie.  They were rescued in Alaska as cubs when their mother was killed.  Alaskan grizzlies are larger than the Wyoming grizzlies.  I think the keeper said Sam was 9 feet tall and weighs over 1000 lbs.


This is Sam.  Illie was shy and hanging out in the back so I didn’t get anything good of her.  




The following morning, on the way into the park we stopped again and got to see 101.   101 is 29 years old.  She got her name because she was the 101th bear to be radio tagged within Yellowstone park.   After living 20 years in the wild she got too fond of human food and became a danger to people and herself so she was brought to the center.    She is much smaller than Sam and Illie.

In the bear enclosure there were also a whole flock of Ravens.   These intelligent birds watch the keepers hide the food and before the bears come out they are getting their fill first.  101 does not like Ravens and took a swat them – apparently that’s pretty common for her.   The Ravens are quick enough they aren’t afraid of the bears at all.

The wolves were all sleeping except 1.  He was watching the people as closely was we were watching him.   You could see the intelligence in his eyes.  These guys all looked well feed and healthy.

Just a few more Buffalo
Of course I couldn’t resist just a few more shots of the buffalo. 

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #pawprintspix #photographer Nature Travel US Wildlife Tue, 24 May 2011 20:58:00 GMT
Jackson Hole Wyoming & the Grand Tetons National Park  

Heading South
Eventhough we’d hadn’t yet seen it all in Yellowstone we took advantage of the better weather to the south and headed to Jackson Hole for an overnight “day trip”.   The plan was to get there by lunch, explore the town, do a little shopping and then go on a sunset wildlife expedition into Grand Teton National Park.

Town was fun.  Most of the shops were open eventhough it’s between ski season and summer season.   We walked and ate our way though.

It’s an artsy community with lots of galleries and jewery stores.  And a few that specialized in stuffed critters.  One shop owner assured me the animals weren’t killed just to stuff and sell.  I struggled with all the stuffed animals.   Fortunately most of the statues outside were bronze.

Jaye took this one

And then there is the antler archways – there are 4 on the main square.  The elk shed their antlers every year so I guess there are a lot of them laying around.   What’s a better way to put them to use than to make a gateway….

We stayed at the Alpine Inn.   We were booked into a regular room but they bumped us to a 2 bedroom cabin.   It was a beautiful place to stay!   Had a full kitchen, the most comfortable beds you can imagine and a great view.   I highly recommend them if you are going to Jackson Hole.

Going on Safari
At 5:00 pm we were picked up at our cabin by our guide, Brad.  We’d booked a sunset safari with the Teton Science School’s Wildlife Expeditions.  They are a non-profit group dedicated to educating the public about the local wildlife.

The tour started in the National Elk Refuge just outside of town.

Elk have been wintering in the area around Jackson Hole since back before our recorded history.  They winter in this protected valley then migrate back into the mountains during the summer when the snows have melted and the grass is growing.  As the town of Jackson Hole grew up around the elk people realized that the animals needed this place if they were going to survive – so the refuge was established in 1912.   This 25,000 acre refuge is 1 of 548 across the country.

Besides being a winter safe haven for the animals it is beautiful country!


 There are upwards of 12,000 animals that winter here.  Look close.   Do you see any?

Maybe a little closer?

Not yet?

How about now?

This is only a fraction of the elk was saw.   They were everywhere.

Don’t Forget to Look Up
Also in the Elk Refuge are herds of Bighorn Sheep.   I’m not sure how many there were but there were quite a few.   These guys watched the van we were traveling in closely but they weren’t afraid of us at all.   They didn’t particularly like the joggers on foot but vehicles weren’t a problem.

With a good long telephoto lens I could get pretty close while they were intent on eating dinner.

For the Birds
One of the birds we were fascinated by was the Kestrel.   We saw quite a few of these guys flying around hunting.   The kestrel is a type of small falcon.   But they can hoover like a hummingbird.   According to Brad these guys can see in the infrared light spectrum so they can see the urine trails from the mice and voles that they hunt.   They fly around until they see something promising then they hoover high overhead until the time is right —- then dive.   The mouse doesn’t know what hit him.   It’s quite a sight.

Next Stop – Grand Teton National Park

On the way we saw …
A Yellow-bellied Marmot

A lot of Mule Deer

these guys were hanging out on the side of a hill along the road

This guy was in the park

Then of course there were tons more elk!

Saved the Best for Last
But the best part was the MOOSE!   I (we) finally found a MOOSE and not just 1 but 19 MOOSE.   Back last May I went looking for moose in New Hampshire.   I’d heard there were a lot of moose up there in the National Forest so I took my camera on a day trip while out in Boston for work one weekend.   It turned out to be my great “wild moose chase“.   I saw 1 moose as I arrived in the area – and that was only his butt as he walked down into the forest.   At the time I figured great, I’ve been here 5 minutes and already seen a moose – I should be able to get some good shots.   BUT NO!   That was the only moose I saw all day!

So this time was different.   First we saw 1 moose from a far distance.   And further up the road we saw 2 more.   Then JACKPOT – 14 moose all in one area munching on the grass near the road.  They are just starting to regrow their antlers so they don’t have that characteristic profile we all know.   The sun was starting to set behind them and the mountains were in the distance….. priceless.

And then it was time to head back and call it a night.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #pawprintspix #photographer Nature Travel US Wildlife Mon, 09 May 2011 20:58:00 GMT
Yellowstone – Life Abounds

A First Visit to Yellowstone

For me, this is my first visit to Yellowstone.   Jaye’d been here a long time ago.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Getting on the plane I had high hopes we’d see some animals.   I was pretty sure we’d see the geysers, mud pots and prism pool but animals roam.   After my “Wild Moose Chase” last May when I drove traveled a full day and only saw 1 moose and at that it was only his hind end as he walked into the woods – I was expecting to have to search and search.

Then about 15 minutes in to the park…..

How do I express the excitement of seeing my first buffalo? 

They are EVERYWHERE!   They are coming down from their winter pastures.   There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground so they use the roads – it’s so much easier to walk the roads than trudging through the snow.   They seem to be pretty used to the cars going by as long as you pass them slowly.   Just don’t startle them – don’t want a dent in the side of the rental car.


They eat the grass on the side of the road.

It’s calving season.  The babies are cute.

Then there are the Elk

The elk herds have come down from the mountains.   The grasses taste good in the valleys.

We’ve seen mostly females and young animals.

Monday we drove out of the park and a ways up into the surrounding mountains to find bighorn sheep and a herd of Elk one of the locals told us about.   Then we went into the park and the elk were everywhere.   Guess we should have stuck to the park to find them!

Of course I’ve been into taking photos…. and so was Jaye!

Going to See Old Faithful
This first day our destination was Old Faithful.   This seemed like a very good place to start; one of the icons of Yellowstone.   Because I stopped at every buffalo and elk along the way it took us a very long time to get there.   It’s all about the journey right?!

But the destination was phenomenal.   The snow is deep but the paths are clear.


We got there with enough time to walk through the visitor center then get a front row seat.  20 minutes later Old Failthful was true to it’s name – and the show was outstanding!


Right before it went off the rangers came by and told the crowd to check out the Beehive Geyser after seeing Old Faithful.   Apparently they run off the same subterrianian pool of water and Beehive shoots much higher than Old Faithful.   They weren’t kidding!

At this point the clouds were starting to roll in and were threatening more snow —- so we started heading back.   It took hours to get here so it seemed like a good idea.   Little did we know I’d miss the exit turn and we’d take the scenic route…. but on the way out….

A Fox on the Plain

On the way out of the park we pulled up behind a bunch of stopped cars.   Out on plain, along the river we got to see this silver fox on the hunt.   He caught something while we watched.   What a sight to see.

Second Day – On to Mammoth Hot Springs

We took a round about way into the park Monday.   One of the local guys at the resort told about a rock slide area where we’d likely find the bighorn sheep so we took that route into the park.

Again we were fortunate and we found them!   The drive was gorgeous.  So — no elk but lots of sheep and beautiful mountains!

They are so graceful as they work their way up and down the side of a steep slope covered in very loose rock!

On to Mammoth- Nope – Had to Stop for an Osprey

Once inside the park we came upon more stopped cars and photographers with 500-600mm lens.   We stopped to see what they were looking at.  It was an Osprey in the tree with a fish.   We jumped out with all my gear and watched this magnificent bird eat his lunch.

Next Stop Mammoth … Nope More Buffalo
And Jaye Befriends a Raven
I’m absorbed in photographing the buffalo and this raven comes walking up to the side of the car on a high snow bank and starts talking to Jaye.  It wanted food.   Since you’re not supposed to feed any of the animals Jaye didn’t give it any but asked for quite a while.   She got this shot of her new friend.

On to Mammoth … Nope … Now We Stop for the Black Bear

We’re almost there!   Wait there are a lot of cars pulled over to the side of the road – on both sides —- couldn’t pass them if we wanted to …

What are they looking at?   What’s that up there?   IT’S A BLACK BEAR!!!!  

We pulled over and got out the gear and stuck near the car.

I couldn’t believe it – one dad put his kids up on top of the snow bank off the road so they could see the bear…..   Can you say “LUNCH”?   Fortunately the bear wasn’t interested.

But he was watching.

On to Mammoth … This Time for Real

It was a long drive but what a sight!!!!

The water is heated by the magma below the surface.   As it bubbles up through the limestone it deposits the limestone as to rolls down hill leaving behind a stairstep terraces.   The superheated water steams as it hits the surface giving the area a other-worldly feel.

The bacteria that live in the pools give the terraces their brillant colors.

The birds dance through the scalding hot water as if it was “room” temperature looking for food.  How do they do that without frying their feet?


We enjoyed the lower terraces – then began to climb.

We didn’t go all the way to the top – but nearly.  Other climbers on the way told us that we’d already found the best part.   What a view.

The Afternoon is Nearly Gone – Time to Head Back

All along the way I keep seeing the old dead trees towering over the new growth.   We stopped for a quick photo.

Then turned around to see this coyote hunting in the field near the road.

That’s it for this post…..
Some of the shots here were taken by Jaye!

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #pawprintspix #photographer Nature Travel US Wildlife Tue, 03 May 2011 20:31:00 GMT
There Aren’t Pelicans in Illinois Somebody must have forgotten to tell the Pelicans

The American White Pelican is a VERY large bird.  It weighs 11-20 lbs and has a wingspan up to 9 ft.  

Last spring some friends told me the every year the white pelican migrates Illinois.   They nest in Canada and the Northern US and winter along the Gulf of Mexico.  They pass through here in March/April staying for only a few weeks.

The Search
Yesterday we went out in search of the American White Pelican.   Some good friends had told us that the local newspapers in towns near Starved Rock State Park were reporting pelican sightings.  So I packed up my 400mm zoom lens, and tripod and we headed to the park.

It looked like it might be we might have missed them – that they had moved on.   In fact we weren’t seeing hardly any birds at all on the river.  There were a lot of fishermen out in their boats so we thought that might be the problem.

I did capture this one lone great blue heron.

We decided to try one more spot then call it a day.  We headed over to the IVCC cannel.    This is a much quieter part of the river – there were no fishermen.

As we came over the bridge headed toward the cannel we saw a couple of big white birds flying over the area.


Then we could see the river – and it was covered in birds — hundreds if not a 1000 or more American White Pelicans.

To get to a place were we could really see the pelicans we had to hike through the trees and what is normally a flood plain.   It was dry (sort of) and we were able to get up to water.

Flock of Groups
The whole flock was enormous but there appeared to be subgroups within the whole.   Before we arrived the flock had started to move on.   For the 20-30 minutes we stood and watched small groups of 20+ birds would take off to follow the others.

One bird within the group would start to run then the whole groups was on the move.

Within about 30 minutes nearly all of them had moved a bit further downstream.  We coud still see them – we think the fishing was probably better further down the way.


Look Up
In the sky it looked like an invasion.  There were sooooo many birds.

I never thought I’d witness a sight like this without going to Africa or some exotic location.  To see such a wonder of nature is truly awe inspiring.

More Information:
Here are a few sites that I found with good information about the pelican.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #pawprintspix #photographer Nature US Wildlife Sun, 03 Apr 2011 11:44:00 GMT
Help me find a Forever Home

The Cats of H.E.L.P.

Every month the folks at H.E.L.P. (Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets) do an adoption day at Healthy Pets in Batavia.   It is my honor to spend the afternoon playing with the cats and trying to capture the spirit and character of each cat and kitten in a photo.  As one of my photography instructors says you take what the animal decides to give.   And as with kids you never know what you’re going to get.

Last Saturday was the March Adoption day for this month.

This is Kitz, a Norwegian Forest Cat, she is quite a character and seems to enjoy being brushed – which is good since she has long beautiful fur.

These 2 playful brothers are Chip and TJ.   Chip (on top) was adopted Saturday.

Sugar is a cutey.   She’s photogenic and she knows it.


Most of the time they don’t mind the camera and the flash – some times they do.   But they always find a way to let you know when they are done.

These guys are not related but could be.





 H.E.L.P. is an in home foster rescue group.  The cats and dogs live in the homes of the volunteers.  They get tons of love and attention.

Help these guys find a forever home – check out the H.E.L.P. website at :

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals Cats General Photography H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Tue, 29 Mar 2011 07:01:00 GMT
The Parks – Epcot [Florida Pt 5]

Disney – Epcot

Ever want to go around the world in 1 day?     Well at Epcot you can.  There are 11 countries represented in the World showcase.   According to Wikipedia Epcot stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow”.   It opened in 1982.

We lunched in Morocco and had dinner in Germany – and we didn’t have to board a plane – how great is that!


Tarik our new Friend
Visiting with the local dragons
Many of the countries had some sort of entertainment to highlight their country.  In China we stayed for the acrobatic show in the main square.
Comedy – funny waiters in the square.
The drummer show near the koi pond was excellent. 
We ended the day with the fireworks show.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) Disney Wolrd Family Travel US Sun, 13 Feb 2011 15:22:00 GMT
What a Character [Florida Pt 4] 
Jaye with Mickey

 All Your Favorite Disney Characters….

One of the fun things about visiting the Disney parks is encountering your favorite Disney characters.   There are character encounter zones all around each of the parks.

Even adults enjoy getting a photo with Mickey, Chip n Dale or Rafiki.

What a hoot….

Kim with Chip n Dale
Photo shot by Disney PhotoPass

A Character Breakfast

On Saturday morning we went to 1900 Park Fare, a restaurant in the Grand Floridian for the Character breakfast.  We had a buffet breakfast with a fantastic selection of foods.   I liked the Mickey Mouse shaped waffles best. 

Mary Poppins, Alice (from Wonderland), Tigger, Pooh, and the Mad Hatter were walking around visiting with the visitors.

Alice in from Wonderland

Mary Poppins


(PawPrints Pix Photography) Disney Wolrd Family Travel US Sat, 12 Feb 2011 13:11:00 GMT
When it Rains – Go to a Dinner Show [Florida Pt 3]
Arabian Nights
We had only 1 day of bad weather.  They had been predicting a severe thunderstorm all day so we “horsed” around during the day then spent the evening at the Arabian Nights Dinner Show.
The pre-show featured a belly dancer.  She was very good but her ultimately challenge was to try to teach some folks in the audience how to dance.  All I can says is they did better than I would have – it was pretty funny.
The show features a prince, princess, a pair of genies and 25 – 30 horses.  The genies conjure different scenes for the princess.  The horses were beautiful and the stunts were great.  
 In the end … the prince rides to the rescue – of course.
When it was all over they let all the horse out to run around and play.  The rolled in the sawdust and raced around playing with one another.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Disney Wolrd Family Travel US Sat, 12 Feb 2011 12:42:00 GMT
Jaye’s Special Day [Florida Pt 2]

Family & the Mouse on the Wild Side

Jolie and Mike joined us the afternoon before Jaye’s birthday to spend the day with her celebrating.   We started the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.

The Animal Kingdom is a cross between a theme park and a zoo.   There are shows, rides and the star attraction, the animals.

The Hat

Jaye’s first surprise of the day was her birthday hat.   I saw it when we were at Universal Studios earlier in the week.  Mom distracted her for me while I bought it.  I gave it to her in the morning and no I didn’t MAKE her wear it.  :)   As she walked around the park, people, park cast members and tourists alike, wished her a happy birthday.   At one point (at the Magic Kingdom a couple days later – she wore the hat 2x) a tour group 30+ young adults from somewhere in South America (we think) broke into an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday”.   While they were singing everyone else close by just stopped what they were doing and joined in.

Shows & Rides

We spent the day working our way through the park, catching a few shows, doing some rides and visiting the shops in both “Africa” and “Asia”.

This massive “tree” is the icon for Animal Kingdom and the theater for the Bug’s Life show.   It’s made of concrete and other materials.  From a distance it really does look like a tree (except that the leaves have a funny color of green these days).   However, when you get up close you find that in the “bark” there 100′s (?) of animals carved into it.

We caught the Bug’s Life show – It’s Tough to be a Bug, Flights of Wonder free flying Bird show and Finding Nemo the Musical - they were all were great.

Jaye and I took a ride on the Expedition Everest rollercoaster while Mike & Jolie walked through the Asian Maharajah Jungle Trek.

Going on Safari
Running out of time we had to choose between the Kilimanjaro Safari or watching the parade.  Since Jolie & Mike had never been to the Animal Kingdom we grabbed our pith hats and went on safari.   On this ride you board a truck with about 30 other guests and ride through the savanna surrounded by free roaming animals.   At least the herbivores are free roaming but the lions, cheetahs and other predators are not.
Kouzzina’s by Cat Cora

After the park closed at 5 we headed out for our dinner reservations at Kouzzina’s by Cat Cora.   This was the big event of the day – the one thing Jaye REALLY wanted to do.   A fan of Cat Cora on the competition show Iron Chef on the food network, when Jaye saw that Cat had opened a restaurant in Orlando she told me that was where she want to spend her 50th birthday.
The fates were good to us that day – they must known it was her special day - Cat was in the house!!!   Our reservations were at 6:30 and Cat was there from 6 – 8.   She was stopping by all the tables but stopped to talk to Jaye twice!   When we saw the sign that she was there Jolie and Mike bought one of her cookbooks for Cat to sign for Jaye.

Jaye & Kim with Cat Cora
Jaye, Kim, Jolie & Mike
The food was fantastic!  The service was excellent and the restaurant was beautiful!   A great place to go!
You can’t have a proper birthday celebration without a cake!    While we could have chosen something wonderful off the menu – I figured we needed to end the day with a very special cake.   Jaye loves Disney and she loves dragons.  Kouzzinas is connected to Disney - all reservations are made through Disney, it’s located on the Disney Boardwalk near one of Disney’s resort hotels AND you can order a cake to be delivered to the restaurant through the Disney cake service.   Yes they really do have a pastry service dedicated to making cakes for all kinds of celebrations.
The restaurant gave Jaye a BIG OPA – Happy Birthday!  and although it was large enough to feed a large herd I believe the cake was a hit.     
(PawPrints Pix Photography) Disney Wolrd Family Travel US Thu, 10 Feb 2011 21:06:00 GMT
Dreams, Ears, a bit of Magic and a Special Birthday [Florida Pt 1]

Make a Wish

It was Jaye’s wish to celebrate her 50th with the Mouse and the gang.  So we packed up, stuffed a few suprises up my sleeve and headed south.  

The plan:
- Start with a visit with the folks
- A day with Harry Potter
- Time with Mickey and Friends
- On “The Special Day” dinner at Kouzzina’s – Cat Cora’s restaurant (of Ironchef fame) with Jolie & Mike.
- More time with Mickey
- Head home happy, rested and singing “It’s a small world” in our heads.

The Day with Harry Potter

I’ve wanted to spend the day at Universal since the Harry Potter part of the park opened last summer.   And I wasn’t disappointed at all!!!   It was like stepping onto the movie set or into one of the books.   From the Hogwarts castle to the Hogwarts express train at the entrance the attention to every detail was amazing.  

Mom & Jaye
Conductor of the Hogwarts Express

There aren’t a ton of rides in this part of the park but you don’t need them.  There are butterbeer carts – you got to try it – it’s fantastic, 3 broomsticks restaurant, the sweets shop and joke shop to visit.  

You can go into Olivander’s wand shop and let the “wand choose the wizard”.
 Or enjoy the local entertainment.
 The best part, though, was racing through the grounds on a broomstick.  The motion simulator ride inside the castle made you feel that you were racing along behind Harry through a Quidditch match and being chased by a dragon (who breaths on you at one point).   Amazingly effects that make you feel like you are really there!!!!   I don’t have any shots inside the castle – but I highly recommend the experience.
Finishing this section with a few more shots …
 Of coarse we did visit the other parts of the park …
(PawPrints Pix Photography) Disney Wolrd Family Travel US Wed, 09 Feb 2011 20:38:00 GMT
Eagles on the Mississippi Will finish posting the China series hopefully this week but I wanted to share yesterday’s adventure….

American Bald Eagles on the Mississippi River

Saturday the Focused Photography club made a trip to the Mississippi near Moline Iowa to try to get some shots of the Eagles that migrate through the area every year. We’d heard that the eagles were starting to show but not many had been spotted the week before. But like many adventurous photographers we took a chance.

The weather was cold but not bitter. The sun was shining with only a few wisps of cloud. AND… the eagles were flying!

All told we think we saw anywhere from 50 to 100 eagles. We may be estimating a bit high but there were so many in the trees, swooping out over the water and flying off in the distance that was our guess.

We shot at a couple of locations just on the Iowa side of the River at and between lock & dam 14 and 15 near Moline. Yesterday lock 14 was the best for getting good shots. By the end of the day there were scores of photographers lined up along the railing near the dam with super long telephoto lens all waiting for the birds to fly. As well as just standing along the edge of the water.

Early in the day we were shooting into the sun. Unfortunately the Illinois side of the river wasn’t a good place to get the shots. Still it was worth it.

The birds put on a fantastic show of aerial acrobatic flying and showed off their hunting skills. And after bagging the prey it was time to eat.

The population of different creatures was amazing. There were the eagles, ducks, geese, gulls and swarms of people (all carrying a camera). The birds ignored the people, other than watching them from high above.

There were adult and juvenile eagles. The young ones don’t have their white head and tail feathers yet. One person thought he might have seen a golden eagle but we weren’t sure – it could have been a juvenile.

When they weren’t flying, diving and fishing they were hanging out in the trees – all the trees – even the trees lining the parking lot. When we first arrived we noticed 2 adults in the trees along the lot. We all rushed to get out our gear to get the shot before they flew away. “If this was the only shots we got today getting up at 5 am for the 2 hour drive would be well worth it!”

We found it was only the beginning of a wonderful, awe inspiring day!

Finishing with one final shot – my favorite of the day
(PawPrints Pix Photography) #pawprintspix #photographer Animals General Photography Nature Wildlife Sun, 09 Jan 2011 12:02:00 GMT
Adventures in China : Great Wall 
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall stretches 5,500 miles from Shanhaiguan to Lop Nur along the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. 

Kim & Dennis on the Great Wall

The wall began as a series of stone and earthen fortifications in the 5th century BC.  Building continued through the 16th century.   The most famous sections were built by 220 and 206 BC by Emperor Qin Shi Huang.  The wall was built from stone, wood and bricks from the near-by hills.

While many sections of the wall have fallen in disrepair large portions have been repaired.   These are visited by streams of tourists.

Many people visit the Great Wall

 Northern Pass of Juyongguan = Badaling

One well visited section is about 45 minutes from Beijing in the Northern Pass of Juyongguan.   This section protected China’s capital.   It has many watch towers as it runs long some very steep slopes.
It was quite a climb.

Kim & Dennis climbed to on of the high watch towers – almost


Along the way we met many vendors sell various souvenirs along the way.
An artist selling engraved tiles with images of the wall

The View from the Wall
At Badaling there are 2 paths to take.  One less steep but much more heavily traveled.
And one very steep and much less traveled.
It was worth the climb – the view was fantastic.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) China Travel Thu, 09 Dec 2010 18:44:00 GMT
Adventures in China : Forbidden City / Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

Called Gu Gong in Chinese, the forbidden city served as the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.  It is in the heart of Beijing with the entrance right off of Tiananmen Square.

Everywhere we looked there were street vendors selling panda hats and Chinese flags.   The panda hats were selling well.

Across the street from the entrance to the palace you could see marker for Chairman Mao’s tomb.
The Forbidden City
To entering the Forbidden City you pass through the Median Gate at the North end.   Once inside you’ve stepped into the past.  Construction on the forbidden city was begun in 1407.  It took 14 years to build.   It is said that it took 1 million workers and 100,000 artists to build.  The palace was home to the Chinese emperor until 1924.
The palace is laid out in a large rectangle.   As you travel from the entrance gate to the exit at the far end you will pass a series of pavilions each more important than the previous.   In front of each pavilion is a large square – large enough to hold 100s of people without noticing.
Dennis in the first square

Hall of Central Harmony

Hall of Preserved Harmony

There are 9,999 rooms at that Forbidden City.

There are a couple dragon walkways.   Ornately carved these walkways are flanked by stairs and lead up to the next level of the palace.
Yellow is the color of royal family.   It is the dominant color in the city.  The roof for most buildings are made of glazed yellow tiles.  At the corners of the roof where the roof panels meet sit the roof-figures.  This series of figures always begins with a man riding a Phoenix and ends with the imperial dragon.   The number of the figures in between varies – the more figures the more important the building.   The maximum number is 9.  I was fascinated by these guys so I took a lot of shots of them.
Amid splendor of the ancient buildings you will find fabulous art works.
And people in panda hats.
And in the distance the modern city of Beijing
As we leave the Forbidden City and rejoin the present we once again find ourselves surrounded by street vendors.   Dennis ended up purchasing 3 books and 7 packs of postcards for almost nothing.
One last shot of the wall of the Forbidden City behind it’s surrounding moat.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) China Travel Wed, 08 Dec 2010 20:26:00 GMT
Adventures in China : Ming Tombs 
Emperor Yongle

 The Ming Tombs
Our first Saturday we took an all day bus tour – our first stop the Ming Tombs.

The Ming Tombs are located about 50km north of Beijing. The site was selected by Emperor YongLe in the 1400′s for it’s location between a mountain and a river according to the priciples of Feng Shui. This helps to keep the bad spirits and evil winds away.

 There are 13 emperors buried buried in this 40 square km valley.   It is the Chinese equivalent of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.   The tombs are pretty spread out - you can see others in the distance. 

View from the Tomb of Emperor Yongle

Currently there are only 3 tombs open to the public. The largest, the ChangLing tomb, is the that of Emperor YongLe, his empress XuShi and 16 concubines.

Once inside the Gate of Eminent Favor is the Hall of Eminent Favor. 
Kim & Dennis in front of the Hall of Eminent Favor
Painted Dragons
Stone dragons supporting the building
Or downspouts

This massive hall is supported by 43-foot Cedar columns so large in diameter it would take a couple of people to reach all the way around them.  The hall is now a museum filled with artifacts from the Ming dynasty.   In the center is the statue of Emperor YongLe (pictured above).
Empress Hat

Exiting the Hall, moving toward the tomb, you next encounter the gate of the dead (not sure the exact name).   On one side is life and the other is death.   When an emperor died the pall bearers that carried the coffin through the gate were killed.  We walked around it to go to the tomb.

Gate of the Dead

The next leg of the journey takes you to the Spirit Tower.   The Spirit Tower marks the entrance to the burial chamber.  

Spirit Tower

Spirit Tower

Inside, at the top is the headstone.   This one was painted red during the cultural revolution.  The guide said that the elements are finally starting to fade the paint and the stone is regaining it’s natural color.
Head Stone of Emperor YongLe

The tomb itself is a simple, but VERY LARGE, mound of earth covered with trees, grass and singing birds and according to the guide a snake or 2 for protection.

Back to the Light
Leaving the tomb we head back into the light, declare “I return from the dead” and head to our next destination.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) China Travel Tue, 07 Dec 2010 20:00:00 GMT
Adventures in China

So began my 3 week adventure in China.   I’m here for work but as always I travel with my photo gear and am ready to shoot. The work hours are long and exhausting but it’s worth it to get out and see what there is to see.

Well it turns out that I couldn’t post these while I was in China so I’m posting after my return.

Beijing is a beautiful, modern city.  Nearly every street is like walking through Times Square in NY.   There are LED billboards everywhere.   Everywhere you look it is an amazing mix of new set against the cities ancient past.  

10 years ago when I was in Beijing there were bicycles everywhere.   There still are but it is much more practical to use the subway to move around the city.  The subway looks brand new – there is no graffiti anywhere – and it is well used.   On some train lines it’s like stepping into a sardine can knowing you will be stuffed in so tight that you can’t move. 

Everywhere you look you see either offices, shops or restaurants.  Shopping is all about negotiating price.   Dennis, the co-worker I was traveling with, is quite good at negotiating.  

WangFuJing – Upscale pedestrian shopping area

 Most goods can be bartered but not all – especially when get off the large upscale shopping districts like WangFuJing.  WangFuJing is more like the magnificent mile in Chicago.   When you into the markets such as the 5 story silk market or the 4 story pearl market everything is open for negotiation.

The Silk Market used to be huge market made up of small open air stalls – all crammed together like a shanty village.   It went on for blocks and blocks.   It was very similar to this smaller open air market off a side street from WangFuJing.

Open Air Market

The Silk Market is now a 5 story building that spans a good city block or 2.

Silk Market

As a visitor everyone wanted me to visit their stall – “they all had the best prices and unique goods for sale”.  Often I was literally dragged by my jacket sleeve into this stall or that.   In shopping I learned some new words.   Jigga (not sure how you’d spell this but it sounded like “Jigga” to me) means “this one”.   As the ladies were showing me various items they kept pulling put more and more saying “jigga jigga jigga” in rapid fire with each new color or fabric or style that they pulled out of the pile.  Then if you saw something you liked they start throwing numbers by displaying it on a calculator – but you’d never really see the 1st 4 or 5.   They’d start by saying “the item is worth #” – flash that up then say “I could give it to you for #” – flash that up – “but no maybe this #” – flash – “but for you #” – flash and you get to see this one.   They may start at 500 and you end up paying 100 (which is about $15).   Half the time you say no and walk away and as you are walking they start shouting ok, ok I’ll take your price.

Food in Beijing is different from much of the Chinese food at home.   It is northern style where many of the restaurants in the US are more Cantonese or Schezwan.   It’s more spicey.    Some of the specialities are Peking Duck and Dumplings.

Outside a very famous Peking Duck Restaurant
Dumpling Restaurant
Dumplings at a street vendor

The food was very good.   We even found our way into a Texas BBQ place for Thanksgiving Dinner.   That place was a hoot.   They had live music singing 80′s American tunes, steak and burritos so spicey hot I thought I’d melt.

I didn’t try any of the more exotic fare – such as scorpions, seahorses or lizards.


More Walking Around
Beijing with it’s 33 million people is a fastinating place to visit.
Side street off WangFuJing
Small Restaurant

TV Station Building
Denny & Susan – New Friends
A Clear Night – the tallest building in Beijing
Want a Photo???
(PawPrints Pix Photography) China Travel Mon, 06 Dec 2010 20:53:00 GMT
Lion Around Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point Indiana

Lions and Tigers and Cameras – OH MY!!!!

I started this post in Sept.   Good intentions and a busy life don’t always mesh.

Well the photo club made a trip down to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in central Indiana.   

Focus ======= to get some close ups with good ambient lighting.
Challenge === the enclosures provide a lot of shade for the cats so the lighting was very diffused and the cats were often in shadow.

Our guide took us through all the areas describing each cat as we went.   He told us how old the animal is, the species of cat, their habits and where it came from if he knew.

Most of the cats came to the center sick and starving.  The good folks at the center nursed them back to health.   They are now healthy and well cared for.   They seem to love the attention they get – many of the cougars will come up to the fence and purr.   Yes some big cat species purr.   Cougars do purr but lions and tigers do not.   Tigers make a sound called chuffing – i’m not sure how to describe it.  And of course the lions roar.


We were able to put the lens of the camera right up onto the fence in order to blur it out.   The guide would call to the cat to get his/her attention.   He told us that if he said back away do it quickly - he was watching the cats to make sure they weren’t going to charge the fence – and some of them did.   But most of them just lazed around and watched us from a distance.



Or slept

Or played

And they talked to us….

Finally – it was a successful trip and I got some fun shots.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Nature Wildlife Mon, 01 Nov 2010 09:50:00 GMT
I’m Ready for My Close-Up!! H.E.L.P. Cats for Adoption

Last weekend I had the honor of meeting 25 beautiful cats. Everyone of these guys is looking for a place to call his or her permanent home.

This month the H.E.L.P. adoption event was held at PetSmart. There were at least 3 or 4 rescue groups there – H.E.L.P. was only 1 group adopting out puppies, dogs, kittens and cats. There were animals and people everywhere.

I loved it!

It was a 2 day event – I shot portraits on Sunday.  For photos of all 25 cats from this shoot check out:

My favorite was a little kitten named Annie. Annie was frightened by all the noise and commotion. I don’t blame her a bit. She was too scared to sit out in the open so I brought over part of a cat tree – the tunnel part so she could go inside and hide. I was able to coax her to the front so I could get this shot of her face.


This handsome fellow posed for me as if he were a professional feline model.


Grey & Whites Rule the Day
There were a lot of grey & whites in the group this month.   I didn’t notice that Deidra was polydactyl until I posted processed the photos.  Check out her 6 toes.


Ok so Carrie is not grey & white but she is such a cutie I had to include her with the group.
Carrie Underwood

Peace and Justice are curious and playful.   They were very interested in the camera, the lights, the cat toys – everything.




When I was wrapping up for the day I got the chance to talk at length to one of the foster moms.   She told me that one of the cats I photographed last time was adopted recently.  Apparently the adoptive parents saw the photo on the help website and fell in love with him.   Even though they live near the city they came all the way out to Geneva to meet and adopt him.   Hearing that the photo made a difference for this 1 kitten just warms my heart down to my toes.

So I’ll end with these 2 photos.

1st Dutchess & her Mad Men.    This mom cat had 4 kittens.  They are cute, playful and full of energy.   Even in the cage with all the people going by they were a bundle of activity – until they crashed.   I was playing with a new software tool (Lumapix FotoFusion) to create this collage – I bought a license so when the software arrives I’ll repost this photo without the watermark.   I learned about this software in the seminar I attended last week and it’s VERY easy to use.

Finally we have JT - His expression just….  Well see for yourself.


If you are looking for a furry friend check out  You won’t find a better place to meet your next furry family member.


(PawPrints Pix Photography) Pet Adoption Animals H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Sun, 19 Sep 2010 21:53:00 GMT
Keeping Things Humming The Stop Action Shot

For years I’ve wanted to get a really good humming bird shot.  The problem is finding them.   Well mom and dad have a hmming bird feeder in the back yard and this year they are getting quite of few of the fast flying little birds.

So Sunday morning before we all got moving I took my camera out onto the deck and sat and waited, and waited, and waited.   Eventually everyone came outside to visit.  After all the people went back inside 1 little bird came to the feeder.   He was SOOOOO fast that by the time I got the camera pointed in the right direction he was gone.

I got 3 descent shots.

Of course after I went back inside there were 3 or 4 humming birds fliting around out there.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Nature Wildlife Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:30:00 GMT
Caught in the Light Posting Once a Week

I’m setting a new goal – post something new I learned once a week with at least 1 photo.

Tuesday Night Spotlight

This last Tuesday night I got to attend a seminar by David Ziser.   A while back I had purchased his book “Captured by the Light”.   He is a wedding photographer and his photographs are outstanding.   He’s on a tour to talk about different techniques and the ways of really good lighting. 

These techniques are not limited to wedding photography.   Good lighting is good lighting no matter what the subject is.  I walked away with a lot of great ideas and some cool seminar materials.

Check out David’s site.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:13:00 GMT
Test post from my nokia phone Testing

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Fri, 06 Aug 2010 09:07:00 GMT
Cats & Kittens Everywhere Photographing 27 cats and kittens in 3 hours

Last weekend I was thrilled to do my 2nd photo shoot for H.E.L.P. (Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets).   This group is a volunteer based not-for-profit organization who fosters cats, dogs and of course kittens and puppies in their homes.  They adopt the animals out at the local PetSmart and through  adoption events like the one last Saturday.

I you are interested in finding a new furry friend to bring into your family call HELP at 877-364-2286 or check out their website at

Being spring/summer there were quite a few young cats/kittens at the event this month.   Every one of them is full of personality.   Some are shy, some are curious, some are playful and some just wanted a nap.   The most curious loved playing with the cat toys while I was snapping away and one little guy wanted to see what was inside the lens of my camera. 

Here are some of the cats I got to meet and photograph.  Of course I’m tempted to post them all but I’ll restrain myself. 
For a slideshow of all best images at full size click here

Who can resist 3 5 week old kittens.   These little guys are being bottle fed by their foster mom.   They go by Simon, Eva and Wall-E.   They weren’t camera shy in the least!

Wall-E takes a bite out Simon
Young High5 got her name because if you put your hand up she will give you a high 5 with her paw.  She was too curious about all the activity to do it for me but her personality shined.   She even allowed her foster mom to dress her up for her photographic debut.
High5 dress for her debut

Orange Tigers Abound

There were several orange tabby cats.  I wrote down their names as I shot the photos but at one point we did several siblings in a row and it was very hard to tell who was who during post processing.


Going to be Big

Kya, Kaffa & Carib are part Maine Coon cat.  They may be little now but they are going to grow up and up.

The Out-takesThese speak for themselves

Jerry tries to escape
Nyjer – “Did you see that????”
Tammy – “You said it was ok to play with this thing”


These guys were a few of the lucky ones who got to go home with a new family.


At the end of the day one last furball came over.   This is Rosie.  She is one of the lucky kitties that got to home to a new family this day.  We put her down on the table and I got 3 photos.  Here is the first…


The other 2 photos were of her back side as she went streaking away.  She is fast – probably one of the fast cats I’ve seen – and she only has 3 legs.  She lost one of her back legs to an infection.   She is now very healthy and has a new home.

Don’t Miss

I’m going to stop here but check out all the cats at

Don’t miss Anna (mama), Ben & Jerry,  Berny, Brandon, Bunny, Jack & Jill, MacKinzie, Nyjer, Tammy & Tara and Wilbur

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Pet Adoption Animals H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Sat, 31 Jul 2010 08:19:00 GMT
Learning to Fly Can you believe it?   There is an American Bald Eagle family in Batavia Illinois.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) Nature Wildlife Fri, 30 Jul 2010 16:00:00 GMT
In the Wind Playing With the Light

While doing these travel photos I spent a lot of time experimenting with different settings and working to try get the best exposure.  I’m no longer relying on the auto setting on my camera.   As with my portrait work I’m using manual or apperature priority mode now.  I had my light meter in addition to the light meter built into my camera and was comparing the reading to see how good the camera meter is.   They were pretty close – as you would expect.  The photos from yesterday and the ones before are the results of my experimentation.

Parker River Wildlife Refuge

Since yesterday was so rainy today I went back to the Parker River WIldlife Refuge on Plum Island.  As the weather service predicted however the winds were screaming.   It was hard to stand still let alone fly.   The shore birds I’d hoped to photograph today were nowhere to be seen.  The few brave birds I did see were doing kamakaze runs with the wind or struggling mightly against it.   The whole area was a no fly zone today.

So I went back to the pathways, this time in the sun.

This boardwalk heads out to the beach on the Atlantic.  Out on the beach itself the wind was so strong it was picking up the sand – felt like getting hit with a sand blaster.   The long grasses were shimmering in the wind.   It almost looked like waves of green rolling onto the shore.  Would have needed a video camer to capture the full effect.  The still doesn’t do it justice.

New Pathways – Well Almost

From the beach I went back to the Hellcat observation area.   Not sure what a Hellcat is – did a search and it came up with; a woman, WW II airplane and something about marvel comics.  I expecting something to do with birds but now I’m not sure????

The Hellcat observation area is where I found the boardwalks I’d shot the day before.  Different lighting can make the same scene completely different…

On to Gloucester
When it became obvious the birds were a no show I headed back South into Gloucester.  America’s oldest fishing port, Gloucester is the town the ship sailed from in the movie “The Perfect Storm”.  The town was founded in 1623 and is what you would think of as a typical New England fishing village.
This statue is a memorial to all those from Gloucester who were lost at sea.
It’s a very photogenic town.
Of coarse when I saw all the lobster traps all I could think of was the scene in Julie & Julia where the husband is singing “lobster killer… lobster killer”
The seagulls in Gloucester didn’t seem to notice the wind – although it had reduced velocity a bit by then.   One of the locals warned me not to eat or even show that I had food – apparently they dive bomb you if you have french fries.  Since I didn’t have any food with me I was safe.
Heading Back
On the way back I went through some amazing scenic areas, including the small town of Rockport.
That’s it for this weekend.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Nature Sun, 09 May 2010 18:53:00 GMT
Photography in the Rain On the Road Again…

You never know what you’re going to get when you travel with your camera.  I’m in Massachusetts near Boston for work and had some time today to go out exploring.  Since I’ve been to Boston proper before I thought I explore out beyond the city limits.  

I’d read on the internet about the Parker River Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island.  Plum Island is a natural barrier island stretching along the Massachusetts Atlantic coast between the mouth of the Merrimack River to the north and the mouth of the Ipswich River to the south.   It is 4,662 acres of salt marsh, Atlantic beaches, fresh water ponds and dunes.     It is home to many species of birds and mammals, including the endangered Piping Plover.

Knowing that it was likely to rain – I decided to go out anyway.   And RAIN it did and RAIN and RAIN.   There were spurts of non-rain but not many.   I wasn’t the only one out walking in the rain either – there were quite a few bird-watchers out looking for Warblers.  Apparently they migrate through this area during the 1st couple weeks of May.

Sometimes shots in bad weather can be interesting.  These are the best shots I got today.

When the rain started coming down so hard it started soaking through my jacket I packed it in. 
From Plum Island I Headed North…
Didn’t they used to say “go north young person..”?   No I guess that was “go west young man” – well anyway I decide to continue my journey up along the Atlantic coastline up into Maine to see what there was to see.   Beautiful country – I can see how during the fall the foliage would be spactacular.
Stopped a couple of times along the way and got these.
The rain is supposed to end tonight so I plan to head back to Plum Island tomorrow – hoping to get some shore bird photos.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Nature Sat, 08 May 2010 20:27:00 GMT
Photography Website It’s Official is now

Since I’ve been trying to set up my photography site to make it more professional I created a domain name for it.   Both links work and will continue to work but I’ll be using in all future postings.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Sat, 24 Apr 2010 08:41:00 GMT
Volunteering Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets [H.E.L.P]

H.E.L.P. ia a rescue/foster group that places dogs and cats in “forever” homes.   They adopt out through adopt-a-thons, at PetSmart and direct calls.  This is the group that we adopted Nemo from a couple of years ago. I’ve been wanting to find a way to volunteer for this group for some time now.  2 years ago I tried to volunteer for one of the PetSmart positions.   Unfortunately my travel schedule didn’t allow me to give them a regular time slot so it didn’t work out.  

I always thought that using my camera would be good way to volunteer.  Jill, the teacher of the photography class that I just completed, does portraits for the local animal groups in Phoenix.  When I asked what she thought she encouraged me to pursue this idea.   It’s a win-win for all; HELP gets photos they can use on their adoption materials, websites, etc and I get a kind of photography bootcamp for doing pet portraits.  I also get to play with the animals.   What can be better.

So I contacted the folks at help and volunteered to go to the foster homes, PetSmart, where-ever and photograph the animals.   My contact recommended starting with the cat adopt-a-thon on 10 April.  The adopt-a-thon was to be held a local bank in St Charles from 10:00 – 12:00.

We were set – I had my first real, official photo shoot.   I was so excited I hardly slept the night before.   Not sure what to expect I packed up everything – backgrounds, lights, cameras, a zillion batteries, cat toys, feathers…..  I read more on lighting set ups and checked out pet portrait samples from other photographers.  I even bought a package of animal training clickers – you know those little plastic things that make a clicking sound when you presss the button.  I was hoping that would help me get the cats to look at me.

When I arrive at the bank I carried in my “portfolio” and the email I received from the coordinator.  I checked in the Marilyn, the woman organizing all the activities, told her who I was, why I was there and gave her my book to let her get a feel for the type photos I hoped to get for them.  Then I carried everything in and set up.   They had a large open room in the basement of the bank.   At one end they had 4 rows of tables set up with 25 or so cats in cages.  I set up at the opposite end of the room – away from all the activity and people.   Initially I put a white background with 2 speedlights on stands; one with an umbrella and the other a 15″ softbox.   Got out the toys and a clicker and was ready to rock and roll.

Now the fun begins..
The foster moms brought the cats over one at a time.

This is Storm – He’s one of the first cats to come visit me.  He was pretty good.  When the foster mom set him down he didn’t immediately bolt although he was VERY interested in what was behind the curtain.   Must have thought the wizard was hanging out back there because every chance he got he tried to head back there.   We finally got his attention on something behind me and I got a couple good shots.
Bradley was also pretty cooperative which is good because I had to keep adjusting the lighting as to not completely loose him in the white background.  In the end I got about 3 descent photos before he had enough and bolted.  
China was probably the most relaxed of all the cats I did that day.  She seemed pretty easy-going.   She even layed down on the background and looked straight into the camera.
These 2 little guys, Brody and Luke, are brothers – probably about 4 months old or so.  Every time the foster mom tried to set one of them down he took off running, I mean like lightening fast running.  Catching them was a challenge – took 2 of us to herd Brody toward the foster mom to catch him.  I ended up shooting both of them while the foster mom was holding them.   Shortly after I took these photo both boys were adopted together.  I sent the photos to the their new family.
In the end I photographed 12 cats in about 2.5 hours.  If you want to see a photo of all the cats I did that day I’ve posted them on my PawPrints Photography website:   I couldn’t get one of the cats, Mama Cass, to relax at all.  She was angry and her photo shows it.
The H.E.L.P. folks were happy with the results.   I think they adopted out 7 or 8 cats that day.  The next adopt-a-thon isn’t until June – I can’t wait to do more.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) #catphoto #catphotographer #pawprintspix #photographer Animals H.E.L.P. HeARTs Speak Pet Adoption Sat, 24 Apr 2010 08:38:00 GMT
Where Did the Time Go — Class is Over Time really flies.  Class ended more than a week ago.   I’ve been meaning to do the final post on the class but well…

Week 4 Assignment = Anything Goes

Week 4 was to pull all the information together and show your own style.  3 shots anything goes.  

I had this crazy idea.   Cats like to dive into things; bags, into laundry baskeets, under sheets, pretty much any place that they can use as a place to pounce from.  So I thought that if I put my speedlight with a softbox under the white top sheet on the bed and get the cat to go under there it might make a cool shot.   The picture in my minds eye was Zazu playing under a billowing white sheet bathed in soft white light.  It would bring out the color of his coat and eyes.

Not quite what I got.

So what really happened was I was trying to control the light, focus on a fast moving object and billow the sheet so it wouldn’t block the light or the lens all by myself.   I really needed about 6 hands to get this shot.  In addition Merlin was on top of the sheet trying to pounce on Zazu who was under the sheet.
I still think it’s a good idea but next time I try it I’ll see if I can find an assistant.
In the end for my class I did use 2 shots I got after the experiment.  The first was after Zazu wore himself out.   Unfortunately I cut his feet off.   I need to pay more attention to that.
The 2nd was as the sun was starting to set.  The birds were chripping and the cats went to the window to check them out.

For the final shot I wanted to see if I could improve my formal lighting with the brown background.   Nemo was very cooperative and posed for me.

Jill’s final critique was extremely encouraging.  She pointed out a few things that I need to watch for – like cutting off Zazu’s feet.   She said that I could get Nemo to look into the lens this last photo would make a good one for my portfolio.   In the end she said that With a bit more practice that I’ll be ready to fly and be a real pet portrait photographer.
Coming from someone in the business who is so good that’s a real compliment.   I’m going to keep going and working at.
I’ve volunteered to do photos for the adoption materials for a local rescue/foster group.  Last Saturday was my first REAL photo shoot.   I did 12 cats in about 2.5 hours.   I’ll add more on that in my next post.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Thu, 15 Apr 2010 20:58:00 GMT
ASSIGNMENT 3 – WEEK 3 – It’s All About the Lights Assignment Complete

This weeks assignment was all about setting up studio lighting and formal backgrounds.  The lesson talked about single and dual strobe set ups, where to put them and how calibrate them for proper lighting.

We had to 3 1 close-up, 1 profile and 1 full body and 1 of the shots had to be with someone else’s pet.

I shot a friends cat; Simon with a 2 strobe set-up.   One used a softbox and the second bouncing out of an umbrella.  Simon’s fur is very white so it was a challenge to set the lighting so I’d get a good exposure.   I ended up getting quite a few bad shots.   He was pretty good about the whole thing.   For a while he even lounged in the middle of the table where we had everything set up.   I was pretty amazed.  When he was done – he was done.

The background was actually black but the final image looked too flat so I photoshoped some highlights in.
The 2nd session I did after work.   Came home all excited – I’d gotten a new brown painted background from EBay and wanted to try it out.   Took me a while to get everything all set up – this background is huge (10×20 feet) – too big for our living room.  I set up a 2 stobe + reflector environment.   I put a footstool in for the cats to sit on.  Once it was ready, the lights were calibrated, the throne was ready I went looking for Merlin, Nemo or Zazu.   They didn’t want to have anything to do with it – they were hiding under the dining room table and watching me from distance.   I took me 20 minutes to convince them to come out and play.  In the end the footstool had to go.   I replaced it with the cat tree and ran the laser pointer up and down the tree to get the furry ones to come into the light.   It was a long road but the results were worth it.
For the final shot for this weeks assignment I used natural lighting with a small silver reflector.   I got up early and was able to capture that nice early morning sun through the front windows.   It was a little be cloudy so the light was more diffused.   I got Zazu playing on one of the green chairs.
They were all three into playing but this was the best shot.
One more week to go.   I got the last lesson and assigment Friday and the photos are due next Sunday.   More as I get the last ones together….
(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Sat, 27 Mar 2010 20:55:00 GMT
ASSIGNMENT 2 – WEEK 2 Assigment Complete

Week 2 assignment is complete, submitted and critiqued.   All told I shot over 600 photos and got 46 that liked although not all 46 would really be concidered good portraits.   It’s still taking a lot of time to set up and get the light right.   I’m still getting a lot of bad exposures – I’ve not quite mastered the art of metering in the right part of the scene to get a proper exposure.   It was a lot easier to set the camera to “P” and shoot away but the results when it’s right are not as good.

Here are my 3 for this week and the feedback.   The first is an image of Zazu.   It was shot in the early morning with the sun streaming in the living room window.   I used a silver reflector to help fill in some of the shadows.

This is actually a crop of a larger image.   I liked the dramatic feel when it’s cropped down.   Here is the original.
The instructor liked both images.
The 2nd image was taken at the same time – early morning.  [Yes I know I'm not a early morning person but I seem to be catching the sunrise a lot the last couple of weeks - maybe because of the time change.]   I used the silver reflector again to illuminate Merlins left side, leg and tail.

Here Jill liked the photo – said it captured “classic cat body language”.  She recommended that to take the image to the next reshoot it with a white reflector rather than silver and only fill the shadows on the left side of his face and leg – then let the body fade in the dark shadows.   Going to try this.
Final shot for the week had to be someone elses pet.   Vicky was kind and let me shoot their cats.  I used this photo of Emily for my 3rd submission.
Emily wasn’t into the whole getting your picture taken gig.   I only got a few shots off before she bolted.  We got her attention with a bit of string.   The setup was a speedlight on a stand with a softbox to diffuse the light and light coming in the window.  I’d set up a black background to bring out her colors.
Jill comments here were – the light is good, she liked the composition.   Next step try another color background.
All for tonight.  More next week.
(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Mon, 22 Mar 2010 21:52:00 GMT
Pet Portrait Class Signing Up
A couple weeks ago I signed up for an online pet portrait class through one of the photo supply stores I buy stuff from.   I’ve been looking at their class line up for a while but this is the first one I’ve actually registered for.  It is a 4 week pet portrait class.  It comes complete with lessons and homework.   You post your photos for each assigment on the class site for the instructor to critique.

The instructor is a professional photographer out of Phoenix.   Check out her website – she is really good.

Week 1 : My First Assignment
The first assignment was to use only natural light; sunlight, lamps, etc.  I had to do 1 indoor, 1 outdoor and 1 photo in either environment.   I was so excited to get started I snapped off almost 700 photos in less than a week, then had to whittle it down to 3 to submit.   The goal is to create portraits not snapshots.  Wow this taking a real class is a lot of FUN.

Here are the 3 I submitted for my assignment.

Jill (the instructor) liked my photos.   She liked the light and posing.  She had some comments to help improve them as well.   She suggested using a reflector to fill in some of the darker areas for Zazu and Nemo.  Also not cut off Nemos feet.   For the Merlin photo she suggested brightening the photo – it’s a bit underexposed.
In the process I got a few more that I really liked but didn’t make the 3…
Week 2 – this week

In week 2 we’re allowed to add light using a flash and/or reflector.  For this lesson I broke out my backgrounds and lighting setup.  Not sure what I’m going to submit yet but here are some of the candidates.   The assignment is to use 1 or more of the lighting technics described in the lesson for the 3 photos.  The photos need to be 1 head, 1 full body and 1 3/4 body shots.  I also can only use my own pets for 2 of the 3 photos.

This one for sure…

These are some other candidates

His tail is missing so probably not this one.

and these are just fun….

Will add the next installment for this journal when I get my submissions figured out.   I still need to do another animal…. going to check with Vicky to see if it would be ok to photo Simon, Toby or Emily.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Thu, 18 Mar 2010 21:33:00 GMT
It’s Been a Year It’s only been a year since I took that first class on studio lighting with the Chicago Photography Meetup group.  Actually exactly 1 year from tomorrow.   In that year I’ve learned so much.   I’ve known for years about f-stop, aperture, shutter speed and white balance.   I learned all that from playing with 35mm film for so many years.  However, it’s so easy to take the path of least resistance and let the camera do it all and hope you get good results.  

This journey has taken me through many turns but it’s all been about controlling the light; controlling it by adding light with flash, reflectors and natural light and then controlling how the camera captures that light with f-stop, aperture,  iso and white balance.   I get more misses this way than when I let the camera make all the decisions but the hits are so much better than the snapshots I was getting before.  The right light makes a world of difference.  At this point I’ve collected a couple flash units, softbox and umbrella, stands and backgrounds.   I can’t light a stadium but it does nicely for a small group of people.

Since that first class I’ve taken a couple other seminars at Calumet Photo and other places.  Each gives me more ideas to try and thing I try leads to more ideas. 

I thought it would be fun to review a progression to see how far I’ve traveled this last 12 months.  Of course the cats are my most frequent subjects.

These were taken with a single off camera flash with a small Lumiquest softbox.

More experiments in lighting with the cats.  Here I put the cats on a piece of clear plexiglass and shot from below.  I used the same lighting setup as the Finding Nemo photos above.  The light was on the floor next to me pointed up at the cats.

In this portrait Jaye was sitting in front of the TV screen (TV was off :) ).  The off-camera flash was mounted on a stand with a larger Lumiquest softbox.  The light was very bright and we only did a few shots before Jaye couldn’t see anymore.

This portrait adds a blackground on a background stand.   I later photoshoped in the swirls and text from the book.

All natural light – late in the day.  Most of these shots were too blurry to use but this one worked out.



These were all natural light.  I was paying special attention to the white balance to make sure the colors were true.

Photos were my present of choice for Christmas this year.   The lighting setup has grown.  These were shot with 2 off-camera speedlights and an led panel against a black background.  My family and friends were very patient with me as I adjusted things to get the lighting just right.  Everyone seemed pleased with the results.




These 2 were taken with the on-camera popup flash.  The flash power was adjust so it would not blow out the subjects.  For these I was just trying to capture the moment.


My friends saw the Christmas portraits and liked them so much we set up a date to do their portraits.  Turns out we set up all the “mobile studio” and made a day of it.  They invited other friends.  In the end I shot 9 people and 5 dogs.  We had a blast.  I set up a site where they could have the touched up photos printed.  [Pawprints Photograpy via Zenfolio]  I learned more about doing traditional portrait touch-ups in photoshop.  This is Sophie.  Without permission I can’t post the people shots here but I’m very excited about the results.

This has been great fun so far and I plan to continue to experiment.  I recently joined the Naperville Area Photography Meetup Group.   Did an outing with them last weekend to the Joliet Steelworks.  Then the following day the group met and critiqued submitted photos.  I think I’ll be able to learn a lot from this group – there are some very talented photographers in the group.
I’ve started a pet portrait class last weekend but will post on that separately.


(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Sat, 13 Mar 2010 08:42:00 GMT
Learning photography is a life long journey. Starting to record the journey.

(PawPrints Pix Photography) General Photography Fri, 05 Feb 2010 14:47:00 GMT