Working with Extras

photobombing dog
I have been both blessed and cursed to have three built in extras whenever I’m out on a photo shoot. Sometimes I’m out primarily to walk the dogs, and the photos are an added extra, and sometimes I’m out to try to capture a particular scene, and the dogs tag along. The dogs however see it differently, and as far as they’re concerned it’s always all about them. If I’m tucked behind my lens, lost in the beauty of my surroundings for too long, they have developed various strategies for pulling my attention back onto them. Molly as the youngest is the least sophisticated and simply pushes her way right up to the lens, completely taking over the scene. This is photo bombing at its best, and it always makes me laugh, no matter how long I’ve been lining up a potentially beautiful shot. This time the light was changing very fast, as pools of sunshine would peep out from small gaps between speedily moving clouds. I had just got my settings right……and Molly popped up for some attention, which meant I missed the shot. Don’t worry though, there was another pool of light along in a minute or two.

Isle of Skye grass shoreline
Maisie and Willow have been at this extras game far longer, and they are more subtle and sophisticated in their approach. They will wander into shot at a discreet distance, and I often won’t notice immediately. I had spent a while setting up this shot when I spotted my uncalled for extra, posing in a grassy pool. I took the shot anyway, hoping she would move, as she often does, once I stopped looking through the camera. However she wasn’t for shifting, as she wanted me to walk out towards her, so I just took the next shot, deliberately making her the focus. I never did manage a shot here without one or all three dogs in shot, but I still like the effect.

Bearded Collie on Skye
Yesterday I had walked out to a coral beach which can only be reached at low tide, and as the tide had turned I was acutely aware of having only a limited window of time to take photos before I would become trapped. This photo was particularly time pressured as I was standing on a narrow spit of sand and coral which was fast disappearing into the rising water. The gorgeous length of sand sweeping into the background would only be there for another few minutes. Behind me is water, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get all three dogs into the water and out of shot at once. The best I managed was two uncalled for extras, so I will just have to go back another day, perhaps with another human companion to help with the required dog herding.

20140614-084719-31639046.jpg
Sometimes it’s simply wonderful to have three willing extras to add interest and focus to a photo. Here Maisie is enjoying watching the waves and the seagulls, and she was so beautifully lit I could resist taking a rear view portrait. This reminds me of my childhood spent scrambling over these rocks and seaweed, usually with a doggie companion.

Beardie, enjoying the sea
This final photo, with added extra, was all lined up beautifully. Just as I pressed the shutter Maisie appeared from behind the coral bank, where she had been patiently waiting in hiding to make her entrance. Somehow she has positioned herself perfectly in the landscape, and I actually really like this accidental extra.

Bearded. Collie on coral beach Scotland
The dogs bring such joy and mischief to my walks, and despite many ruined or impossible shots, I wouldn’t be without them. There’s always another day for taking images, but the dogs are here in the present moment, adding extra emotion and engagement to each moment of life shared with them. On reflection they are always a blessing, and a great lesson in not taking life or photography too seriously, after all it’s supposed to be fun.

See more photographic Extras at this week WP Challenge

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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74 Responses to Working with Extras

  1. Line says:

    Oh, I love love love those dogs!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I especially love that first photo! It is so adorable! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. coltby says:

    We absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be what
    precisely I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content for you?
    I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write in relation to here.
    Again, awesome site!

  3. poppytump says:

    Such a great post Seonaid .. really made me smile this morning … ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Well I’m delighted to bring a morning smile to anyone’s lips, but especially lovely to think of you heading off into your day smiling…..because of Molly….she does that to me often!

  4. Oh gosh, I love these photos! My favorite has to be the first one, where it looks like your dog popped in unexpectedly. So adorable!

  5. LOL Love that first one!!

  6. Haha, that first photo is priceless. Huge grin on this side of the screen. ๐Ÿ˜€
    I love your extras!

  7. Ese' s Voice says:

    So careless and free…really beautiful. And made me smile…

  8. ladyfi says:

    It’s not easy to take photos with dogs hanging around! All these shots are just brilliant!

  9. Absolutely LOVE that first shot, Seonaid! That face and smile, totally makes me miss my doggie! You’re definitely blessed!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous shots.

  11. 2geeks3knots says:

    Wonderful! Bearded collie, and ??

    • All three are bearded collies, Molly the blonde one is an usual colour (Willow is her mum, and Dad was also a black and white beardie!)
      Delighted you enjoyed the collection of doggy extras ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Leya says:

    Oh, beardies are just wonderful…now you got me longing again! They are all adorable – but Maisie sounds really cute…The last photo is extra lovely!

    • I really love how that last photo turned out, although it wasn’t what I had planned. I might post the shots I took without dogs once the extras had moved on…..but then they might not be such fun to look at ๐Ÿ™‚
      Maisie is very cute, and at 12 years is beginning to slow up a little, but is still full of more bounce than your average dog. She is very loyal, but has a mind of her own!

  13. Tina Schell says:

    I so enjoyed this one Seonaid. Your pups are lovely and I just love that they so want to be a part of your photography!! The scenes are beautiful but the dogs really add to them rather than detract. They are lucky to have such a patient loving mom!!

    • And I’m so lucky to have such wonderful happy doggy companions. You’re absolutely right that they want to be a part of everything we do….they are very curious dogs filled with a love of life….I really can’t imagine life without them ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. They must know they have a photographer for a mum – what sweet and cunning posers! That first one with ‘wee’ Molly is priceless. Winner of this week’s WP challenge, or you’ve been robbed ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • They do love to get in front of the lens, though it’s mostly to attract my attention….which clearly should be on them at all times ๐Ÿ™‚
      That first one of Molly still makes me laugh every time I see it!

  15. Such adorable extras, Seonaid. They are obviously so happy to tag along on your photo shoots. ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. adorable photo bombing ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Gaye Abbott says:

    I don’t think that your wonderful doggies believe that they are “extras” at all! To them the scenery is the “extra”. What fun and a blessing to have them!!

    • Gaye do you know what, you’re absolutely right. For dogs it’s always all about them, what else would be worthy of my attention when they’re around! It’s really wonderful to have the space and the time to share our lives with three gorgeous dogs, so yes always a blessing ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. cuervo says:

    Even solo photography has it’s missed moments!! Rarely can I do an activity and take photos at the same time, it requires planning, patience and total attention. The most recent beach hike was a prime example, I missed a bald eagle sequence by becoming distracted with shells and driftwood. A unique drama unfolded as I fumbled with stowing the wrong camera away and trying to get the right one in operation… I got one good shot just as it was all over… -cha-grin-

    • That’s such a common scenario for me! Time gets swallowed as I’m lost in the details of whatever I’m shooting. My husband will often point out things he feels would make a good subject…..but our eyes are drawn to such different things. He would have been following the bald eagles while I was lost with you among the shells ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. You are a better person than I Seonaid! To take your dogs along on your photo expeditions is clearly a real treat for them and you’re good to take them along … even if they can be distracting. I always enjoy seeing the dogs in your posts … they seem so happy and such a cohesive group. I did wonder, however, how you deal with the salt in their coats – do they ever dry off or do you give them showers in freshwater when you get home! D

    • I don’t know about being a better person David, but they add so much fun and pleasure to a walk, even if they do keep getting in shot, that I wouldn’t be without them ๐Ÿ™‚
      They are very happy dogs, it’s the breed, and of course they work as a pack….a herding pack at that. I find myself being herded and moved across the landscape by them!
      The salty coats is an interesting question. The salt water actually seems to condition their coats, rather than leaving it sticky and tangled as it does with our own hair. They are from working stock, registered as working Beardies, and their coats are considerably different to the coats you find on Kennel Club registered Beardies. They were bred originally as cow herding dogs, used to drove the highland cattle all the way down to the lowlands and even into Northern England. The old drove routes often involved swimming the cows across sea lochs so perhaps their fur is specially suited to salt water?
      Certainly they are soft clean and fluffy after a day by the sea!

      • Really interesting. Joanna’s Mr. Darcy is a Keeshond, and he has a remarkable coat as well. It doesn’t seem to get dirty! That is, it sheds dirt … sort of like it’s made of Teflon! Once he dries, the dirt just falls off. When he comes in from a wet and dirty time outside, he’ll lay down for a nap … and when he wakes and rises, there will be a ring of dirty dust around where he had napped. I’ll have to relay the story about your Beardies to Joanna. They are handsome dogs. D

      • That’s exactly what happens when the Beardies come in wet and muddy. Teflon is a great description, and very true. Their black paws will have returned to white once they have dried off, and there will be a dry puddle of dirt on the floor!

  20. restlessjo says:

    What a lovely piece, Seonaid! So much care and thought goes into your posts that it’s wonderful to know that you’re not phased by having the odd ruined moment (maybe a tiny bit exasperated). They are gorgeous, so how could you not forgive them? That last shot is beautifully ‘posed’. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh Jo it’s all chaos and mayhem behind the scenes really, but lots of fun. The dogs can bring all sorts of unexpected moments into walks and into life. Maisie found a hedgehog last year and she kept bringing it into the house to show me. I would turn round from say the stove and there it would be at my feet with her grinning madly and wagging her tail in delight! We eventually had to remove the poor creature into a neighbours garden to give it some peace ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Why?Matters! says:

    That is a really nice

  22. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I agree, life and photography should be taken as lightly as possible and dogs certainly help with that ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Lynne Ayers says:

    That first shot is priceless, Seonaid. We have two doglets and they do keep us smiling … when we’re not grumbling about wet footprints in the kitchen and tumbleweeds of dog hair in the hall. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Priceless is the perfect description of Molly’s photobombing! I have found that having three dogs has helped me focus on what really matters in life…..wet floors and dog hairs are just part of the deal…….but it really is incredible the size and speed at which fluff bombs build on wooden floors when you live with three very hairy hounds!

  24. Caro Woods says:

    Don’t we just love our extras? Photo bombing at its best. Wonderful interpretation of extras, extra specials.

    • Oh yes Caro, and I loved reading about your adventures on the island with your dogs. I have had a similar trip away on my own with just my dogs for company, and I loved every moment!

  25. icelandpenny says:

    Your ‘extras’ make magic in the photos (& I love & can see the distinction you make between the unsophisicated photo-bomber & the more subtle older dogs). I always loved walking my husky & love seeing dogs now for the same reason: look how their senses quiver & dig into (pun perhaps intended) the scene, I try to channel my way into that same sensitivity

    • Penny that’s a great observation, and I agree, the dogs are great at sniffing out all sorts of interesting (although sometimes disgusting….as they have a love of very smelly things) things I might have noticed otherwise. I find them great teachers of mindfulness, living so fully in the moment as dogs do! Mine just love to get their paws wet, and the feeling of running through soft long grass must be fabulous judging by the looks on their face as they bound up and down the hayfield ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. gwynnrogers says:

    I love your photos with or without your extras! However, the puppies add an adorable dimension to your gorgeous shots. I want to hug them! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Well Gwynn they would be delighted to receive some hugs from you. As far as they’re concerned there can never be enough hugs and pats in the world. Having three dogs and only two hands can be quite a challenge at times when they’re all looking for some love and attention! Especially if I’m also trying to juggle my camera ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. derrycats says:

    Lovely photos – and the dogs look like fabulous companions.

    • They really are, and there’s never a dull moment with these three hairy hounds around. They just love every moment of life, and it shows in their faces and in their bodies, which in turn keeps me smiling and laughing ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Your dogs are adorable. What a great response to the photo challenge! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Dina says:

    You have gorgeous dogs, Seonaid!! Young Molly in the first photo is my favourite shot, but all three of them looks like wonderful, great companions and a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Lost and lots of pats for Molly, Maisie and Willow and a big hug for your great writing!
    Dina xo

    • Thanks so much for the great big hug Dina, those are always welcome, and the dogs enjoyed their extra pats! They thanked you with lots of enthusiastic tail wagging!
      Molly’s photo bombs are always very funny….she gets right into the lens looking for me ๐Ÿ™‚
      There’s never a dull moment with three Bearded Collies around!

  30. Robin says:

    Your extras are so cute, and add a lot to the shots. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Stephanie says:

    Your dogs are the world’s best photo-bombers. I didn’t realize you also have three little fellows tagging along: my beagles, unfortunately, can’t be off the leash outside, ever, so I get a lot of unintentionally moving shots as they tug away. But the great outdoors would be so lonely without them.

    • They are very skilled photo bombers, with lots of practice!
      Would your Beagles just keep running if they were unleashed? What a shame, but great companions as you say. A walk just doesn’t feel right without the dogs tagging along, as you say, and they deepen my sense of connection with nature as they sniff out all sorts of curious things along the way! Yesterday we had an unexpected encounter with peacocks which I must share on the blog. Molly was dumbstruck and so confused she had no idea what to do, while Maisie tried to herd them ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Colline says:

    You have managed to capture some magical pictures of your dogs.

    • Thanks Colline, and all of these were unintentional shots…..not what I was looking to capture. When I’m deliberately capturing the dogs I try to catch them running with their fur flying…..that’s when they look their best ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. minerva says:

    Such a lovely post – I love the smile on your dog’s face in the first photo. It just sums up what your post is about!
    Alison

  34. I just love your dogs! Definitely blessed not cursed – let me know any time they want a holiday in Hexham ๐Ÿ™‚

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