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Challenge 85 – Domestic Animals

Welcome to another round of Photo Challenge!

Winning Image: Stalker in the Snow – Jeannie Gane

For this challenge, the goal is to capture domestic animals (pets, livestock, etc.) in their environment or exhibiting their natural behaviours.

Challenge set by: Glenn Hubbers 
Submission Deadline: Sunday November 30, 2014
Voting Deadline: Wednesday December 10, 2014 

  • KathyDecember 3, 2014 - 9:44 PM

    One of my pictures is missing!

    Great photos everyone!ReplyCancel

    • GlennDecember 3, 2014 - 10:27 PM

      Yes, I guess I missed it. This would be why I ask for separate emails for each submitted image.ReplyCancel

  • KathyDecember 4, 2014 - 10:34 AM

    totally my fault! Thank you for showing mercy 🙂ReplyCancel

  • DonnaDecember 4, 2014 - 8:26 PM

    Wow, so many great pictures. This topic sure sparked interest in our members!
    1. Stalker in the Snow – Jeannie the clarity in the photo is amazing and I like the cropping you used.
    2. Snow Dog – could photo of the lonely life of the guardian!
    3. Day Off – I can’t believe you caught this photo. It’s hard enough to see one horse lying still but TWO! – wow

    Arctic Exposure – Bill that was a wonderful photo but you got caught like I have previously with a tilted horizon. It would have been in my top 3 otherwise.ReplyCancel

  • JeannieDecember 6, 2014 - 9:43 PM

    Wow … it is so much harder with this many photos that represent the theme so well and so many that I like!. Certainly all the pictures satisfy the theme “Domestic Animals”, so that does not help narrow the field at all this time. I am wondering if everyone else goes through this thought process? For me, I do a once-through viewing of the pics, deciding if they each represent the theme in my mind (and let’s face it, sometimes the photographer thinks outside of the box and while it works for them, it doesn’t always work for the viewer. Anyway, I digress …. ).Then with a narrowed field (usually) I look for pictures that evoke an emotional response in me. Do they make me sad, happy, laugh, want to cry, want to be there etc. And at the same time I evaluate for technical correctness. As I sit here and think of my thought process, I wonder if I am doing it backwards? Should I be looking for the technically correct pics and then from there evaluate the emotional response?? Nah, I don’t think that would work for me! lol! All that being said, even if a pic makes me LOL, if it is completely out of focus, or under or over exposed, I take that into account. Sorry for the rambling, I am just curious if others evaluate the same way?

    Going back to study the pics again ….ReplyCancel

    • WendyDecember 6, 2014 - 10:38 PM

      I guess first i react to the the emotional feelings i get from the photo then i go back to the theme to see if the ones i had that reacted to first to fit the theme. then i start all over. usually the emotions rule. lolReplyCancel

  • GlennDecember 6, 2014 - 11:00 PM

    Jeannie, I go through a similar process which I find even more necessary as the number of submissions rises.
    – I go through them quickly and decide which ones are worth considering and which are obvious cuts. To be considered they have to represent the theme as well as have some emotional pull. – – I will then further cull those on the basis of the strength of that emotion and/or on technical merits, though I tend to favour the former over the latter. (Remember, some of the most iconic photos of the last century would be considered crappy in technical terms by the standards we have today.
    – From those, I continue to cull through the highest ranked trying to eliminate one at a time till I’m down to my top three.
    – Only when I know the three do I rank them.

    This is, of course, unless we have a situation where one image stands out from the start.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle ChiuntiDecember 7, 2014 - 3:52 PM

    As I noted to Glenn upon my submissions, this is a category that I could not pass up. Saying that, my time constraints left me taking a few shots the last day of the challenge. Life for me, fortunately or unfortunately, revolves around everyone else’s problems with their animals, and not whether I have time to take a few pictures.

    Despite the multiple submissions in this category, my top three choices were easy with the theme being to “capture domestic animals in their natural environment exhibiting natural behaviour.”

    1. On the Run – Wendy Taylor. Anyone that is familiar with GSHP, knows that this is a classic picture and wonderfully executed. To capture this dog in mid flight running with her ears up and still maintaining focus is a difficult challenge at best. To have the setting in a corn field, portrays the perfect setting for this bird dog and the colors are exact. This picture stood out as the best in this challenge.

    2. You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours – Kathy Walsh. This also speaks volumes to domestic animal behaviour. Being that the the two horse involved are sorrel and black adds to the texture of this photograph also (including having their ugly winter coats on!). I ranked this second as it would have been nicer to see a bit more of the sorrel horses nose. Very nice and true animal photograph to be sure, though.

    3. Stalker in the Snow – Jeannie Gane The simple two color hue of this photograph is very catching. Plus this cats orange eyes are seeing right through the viewer. I put this third as it just did not portray as much action as the previous two pictures, but is technically perfect. It could easily have been interchanged with the first and second spot … maybe my subconcious rating of preferred animals!! 😉

    I just wanted to give honorable mention to all of Kate Potter’s photos … I loved all of the goat pictures as they are typical. I would have liked to have seen slightly different crops (more background with the billy goat and less with snow dog), and the lighter tan goat in the foreground with the other threw the balance of this picture off for me a bit.

    In addition, all of the “portrait” photos were excellent, but did not capture as much of the nature of the animal. Well done everyone!

    P.S. – For those of you who do not know me, I am a veterinarian. Therefore, the photo of “Frosty” my earless, wonderful cat rescued last year from death of frostbite. This is truly my favorite photo subject along with wildlife! Plus we have no lack of animals around here … including two teenage sons!ReplyCancel

    • Kate PotterDecember 8, 2014 - 5:52 PM

      Michelle, I appreciate your constructive comments. I’ll work on some of your suggestions and see what I come up with! :o)ReplyCancel

  • Kate PotterDecember 8, 2014 - 5:50 PM

    This was one of my favourite themes so far, and I’m excited at all of the submissions. I also go through things as what has been described above by others. When I have difficulty making the final decisions, I REVISIT the “Special Instructions” … which in this case was “exhibiting natural behaviours”. So the technical aspect is secondary to the theme.

    The submissions were great. Absolutely wonderful. There are some that I did not vote for that I would love to have on my wall! So difficult to narrow it down to 3….

    1. On the Run – Wendy. You’ve captured the temperament and mission of this breed. What’s blurred and what’s crisp is excellent.
    2. Stalker in the Snow – Jeannie. Stunning Stalker, Jeannie! The eyes are incredible.
    3. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours – Kathy. This really appealed to me as it made me look and re-look and re-look again. It was a special moment.ReplyCancel

  • […] the process of evaluating my choices in a recent Photo Challenge on the Camera Club page, I found that quite a few of my comments were about issues that could […]ReplyCancel

  • GlennDecember 8, 2014 - 7:43 PM

    For my votes, I quickly narrowed to my top three and then had to ponder for a while to rank them.

    1st – Stalker in the Snow
    Jeannie, this image jumped out at my right away. It is definitely worthy as a print and I feel would be a strong contest entry (take a look at The only thing I would tweak is the colour balance to try to eliminate the slight magenta colour cast in the snow.

    2nd – On the Run
    Wendy, excellent capture. You’ve done a great job at achieving focus given the obvious speed that he/she was moving at. Everything from the ears to the tongue to the feet off the ground make this a winner. I’d consider adding a slight vignette or alternatively a radial filter to lighten exposure on the dog to keep the viewers eye from wandering.

    3rd – Curly
    Kate, I thought this was an excellent example of an animal portrait, and could easily have been my second choice but for the obvious difficulty level of Wendy’s image. Very well done!

    Other comments:

    Arctic Exposure
    I agree with Donna. A bit of post processing could easily push this one into the top three. I would try straightening the horizon and bump the exposure to make the snow more white. This has the appearance of an auto mode where the camera decides the exposure, which typically makes snow appear grey. I normally set my camera to manual for winter scenes and then only adjust settings if the light conditions change. If you bump the exposure you might blow out the clouds a bit, but this can be fixed in Lightroom (or other) with various tools like a graduated filter. I would also add clarity (with a radial filter or brush) to the dogs face. Whether to add or subtract clarity for the legs and body is a matter of personal taste.

    The Hunter
    Bonnie, capturing a black cat on a bright day can be quite difficult, but you’ve managed to keep detail very well. Nicely done.

    Squirrel Hunting
    Bonnie, I think this one definitely has a white balance issue. Your camera was set for an artificial light source while taking your photo outdoors, likely in overcast conditions. If you are shooting in raw this can be fixed in LR, though it’s easier to get it right in camera first. If you shoot jpeg then it’s even more important to remember your while balance setting.

    Pondering Life
    Donna, I think I remember you saying that you were fairly new to Photoshop. Some more practise with the selection tools is in order for this one. Nice effort though. It’s always difficult to do this with hair and easier if you start with sharper lines.

    Gliding on Air
    Jacci, I really liked the composition and sharpness of this one, but I feel it needs to be punched up quite a bit. All of the whites appear grey and the rider is lost in the background.

    By the way, I have attempted some of the editing suggestions made above myself in Lightroom and have posted the before and after images on my blog so please drop by and have a look. You may not agree with my choices and I’d be happy to hear either way.ReplyCancel

    • Lisa BourgaultDecember 9, 2014 - 6:20 PM

      I think your edits are well thought out and well done, Glenn, especially the work you did on On the Run. I must admit, though, that I shouldn’t have read this comment or looked at the edited photos before I voted, because they absolutely swayed my thinking. Next time, I’m ignoring you until after I vote! :o)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa BourgaultDecember 9, 2014 - 6:17 PM

    Oh so many wonderful photos! What a treat!

    In terms of evaluating the photos and choosing which ones make my top 3, I do pretty much what Glenn and Jeannie do. I survey them all, eliminating those which I don’t respond to or those which I feel don’t fit the theme.

    Then I go back and carefully review the remaining photos, looking for an emotional reaction PLUS technique, composition, focus, light, and so on. Because this is a photography challenge intended to help us all improve our skills, I give both emotional response and technical merits equal weight.

    Ideally, all my votes go to photos that score high on both scales, although sometimes I have to go with photos with more one than the other. When that’s the choice I have to make, I just go with whichever photos I’d most want on a wall to view every day.

    My votes for this round:

    #1…Stalker in the Snow. Jeannie, this photo leapt out at me immediately as an outstanding photo. It’s well composed, in perfect focus, and gorgeous. Now that Glenn has pointed it out, I do see the slight magenta cast, but otherwise I think this is professional quality. Incredibly well done. I’d certainly want this photo on my wall!

    #2…Snow Dog. I like the way you composed this photo, Kate. The fences and road draw my eye through the photo, the tree adds a sense of depth despite the falling snow, and the three animals make nice points of interest. The photo is a touch overexposed at the bottom, but what I see is a peaceful scene. Love it!

    #3…On the Run. Good shot, Wendy! This photo captures the joy of a dog running full-speed, and is well composed and amazingly in focus. I’d love to know if you were using a burst setting to capture multiple photos as the dog ran towards you—and what focus setting you were using. I agree with Glenn that the dog’s face could be lighter and that more contrast between the dog and the background would draw more attention to the main subject. Still, I really like it. Well done.

    Honourable mentions go to Jacci’s Gliding on Air (underexposed but otherwise lovely) and Bill’s Arctic Exposure (tilted). I actually don’t think that straightening the horizon in Bill’s picture would necessarily improve it. I think that adding more (intentional) tilt (maybe 30 degrees?) would give the shot more pizzazz and sense of motion. I also might have cropped a bit closer to make the dog larger in the photo and recompose so that the dog is not centered.

    Lastly, I liked Jacci’s Maximum Stealth and all the ‘portrait’ shots of the cats, but disagree that they don’t qualify as being of animals ‘in their own environment’ or ‘exhibiting natural behaviours’ per the theme. Surely all cat owners will agree that sitting, sneaking, hiding, and staring with those biiig eyes are standard operating procedures for cats, indoors or out! :o)ReplyCancel

  • JeannieDecember 10, 2014 - 7:31 AM

    Hi everyone! Great selection this round. Thanks for the input on your voting process. Interesting to know how everyone does it. I am guessing that left brain/right brain comes into it to some degree for each of us! 🙂

    1. On the Run – Wendy. Love this one Wendy. You really captured Molly and all that she is! Did she run you over when she reached you or dodge around you?
    2. You Scratch My Back – Kathy. I kept going back to this one. I really liked the activity and and focus. And you certainly captured them doing what they do! Nice!
    3. Snow Dog – Kate. I really liked this one from the start and I do like the way it is cropped. I love the way the travels from the scene you captured through the photo following the road. A part of me would liked to have seen a sharper focus, but somehow the softness of it works.

    I could easily have placed some of the others in my top 3.
    Arctic Exposure, Curly, Gliding on Air, Maximum Stealth and Zoey were all favs.

    I had planned to make more comments, but must keep packing … 😉ReplyCancel

  • KathyDecember 10, 2014 - 8:51 AM

    This was a fun one!

    1. Stalker in the Snow…Jeannie….one word…WOW

    2. On the Run…Wendy. Great shot! Wonderful capture of action perfectly timed!

    3. Our day off… Bonnie. I guess knowing how rare it is to see two horses sleeping tail to tail and to be able to get a picture of it..well done! I agree with Michelle, personal preference of animals may play into this one a bit 🙂

    Great job everyoneReplyCancel

  • WendyDecember 10, 2014 - 9:56 AM

    Thank you all for the comments on my photo, I did take multiple shots to get the right one, and also was trying to center focus mollie. I like your idea Glen of adding a Vignette. We both had a great time that day, I took lots of photos and she got lots of treats. And yes Jeannie i almost got knocked over as i was at her level as she ran towards me.
    Was so hard to vote this time.
    1. Stalker in the snow, this one just stood out every time i looked at the photos. great shot
    2. The Hunter, nice shot of what cats do best when in the outdoors. like that the cat is focused and the background blurred.
    3. Pondering life. Like this shot. It make me wonder what he/she is thinking about or waiting for.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie BaileyDecember 10, 2014 - 7:29 PM

    Obviously this challenge has drawn a lot of interest ! I was please to see so many entries and happy I finally had time to contribute as well. I really enjoyed looking at ALL of them ! I am new to photography so it is difficult for me to critique on a professional level but enjoy reading others comments and the opportunity to learn.

    My picks were:

    1 – Stalker in the snow – at first glimpse it stood out – outstanding photo.

    2 – Curly – I love the expression and definition of the photo. Made me smile !

    3 – Snow Dog – I like the composition and the peaceful scene.

    Note: The Artic Exposure entry was from my husband Bill. He isn’t into photography and snapped the photo with a point and shoot while hiking on the lake. However, we both learned from your comments and they were all very much appreciated !ReplyCancel

  • GlennDecember 11, 2014 - 10:56 AM

    Congratulations to Jeannie for the win with Stalker in the Snow.

    I’m going to have to check, but this one may have set a record in terms of the number of first place votes, and that despite being in a very close race with On the Run by Wendy Taylor.

    Both of these images were excellent.

    Jeannie, please contact me with a new challenge. (There ought to be two new challenges posted soon as I am delinquent on the last one! Hint: It’s called “Odd” and I’m still looking for a sample photo to use.)ReplyCancel

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