Dammit, gray. No, grey.
Ah, nuts. Canadian or U.S. spelling, it doesn’t matter. Grey skies can really bring out the blah in a girl’s world.
As I’m writing this, I look at my picture window, a cup of tea steaming on the coffee table, and the morning sky is more white than grey. My weather app says fog, but in Spokane Valley, it’s more of a hovering mist.
For most people, it’s probably pretty depressing.
What do I see? People! That’s a giant softbox in the sky.
The light is soft and even, most days minimizing the need for additive lighting, like a strobe. The sky still poses a problem, because it’s has little impact on any image.
Think about the drama you find in images with big blue skies or fluffy clouds.
Days like that are few and far between during winters in Spokane and North Idaho, so the key with great dog photos is eliminating the sky altogether.
I have to find backgrounds that don’t need the sky.
Like great stands of ponderosa pine, an incredible backdrop for stunning photos of dogs in action.
That’s right. I dug out my old sports shooting skills and put them to work. And because I like to give back to the community that is helping me build my business, I sponsored the 50th anniversary Priest Lake Sled Dog Races, put on by the Inland Empire Sled Dog Association.
Not only did I get some incredible action shots — many of which were included with my story on the races in the Spokesman-Review — but I also got some great portraits of dogs watching the races.
It’s a small, small world
Last week, I wrote a bit about my connection to Newfoundland and how it remains a big part of who I am today.
When I spied this Newfoundland dog at the races, I started asking questions. Who is he? Who is his human? Because I love all dogs but the bigger and floofier, the more drawn I am to them.
Notably, any breed of the livestock guardian line (i.e. Maremma, Great Pyrenees, Kuvasz, Cuvac, Akbash, etc.), Bernese Mountain Dogs like Sully, Leonbergers or Newfies … oh, the list goes on.
I snapped a few images and then found his mama, Shawn Gibson, who turned out to be IESDA president.
I asked his name, and she replied, “Gander. Gander the Newfoundland.”
I was surprised. My brain started reeling with confusion over how a dog in North Idaho could be named after the little town where my sports writing career began. It’s 4,000 miles away (6,000 km for my Canadian friends), including a day or more of flights and stopovers, eight hours on a ferry, and another six hours of driving.
Yet there sat Gander the Newfoundland.
He is named after another Newfoundland dog, who was named after the town where he was raised, Shawn explained.
But there’s so much more to the story, one I was surprised to learn of just a few days ago, one I had never heard in my four years of living in Gander, Newfoundland.
Gander, the original Newf, was a Canadian war hero.
Gander’s first name was Pal, according to a Canadian history blog, and he belonged to the Hayden family of Gander. (Hey, I knew Haydens!) He was 130 lbs. and loved to play with the neighborhood kids.
One day, though, Pal accidentally scratched the face of a six-year-old girl and the Haydens had to either give Pal up or put him down. They gave him to the air base, RCAF Station Gander and he became the regimental mascot for the 1st Battalion of the Royal Rifles of Canada.
He joined the Battalion on its mission to Hong Kong in 1941 during the Second World War. Gander “charged at any Japanese soldier who made the mistake of getting too close to the Canadians troops and tackled them.”
But then …
On December 19th just after midnight, the Battle of Lye Mun broke out. Gander fought off the Japanese as he always did, until a grenade was thrown near a group of injured Canadians. Knowing what was about to happen, Gander picked up the grenade with his mouth and tore off with it. The grenade exploded and Gander was killed, but in doing so he had saved the lives of the seven soldiers.
Crying yet? Dogs give us so much more than we realize or appreciate sometimes.
Along with the 1,977 Canadians who died in that battle, Gander’s name is listed on the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall in Ottawa. The Town of Gander erected a memorial statue of him in 2015.
No doubt, Shawn and the rest of her pack, including two senior Newfies, rest easy day and night with their Gander protecting them.
Sitting in the snow, next to Gander, was his pack mate, September.
Shawn said the husky is named September because she likes to show off her netheryeya while demanding belly rubs.
“No, not really,” she said with a laugh.
She didn’t show me any of her bits as I trained my lens on her.
Instead, she started doing what huskies do.
Don’t you wish I did video?
Snow day in Spokane
We didn’t just have grey skies in Spokane this week. It was full on snowing again, after a couple of weeks of mild, out-of-season temperatures.
And grey skies.
Bella, having suffered through six days of me not being able to do anything other than work, was treated to an afternoon at the Mirabeau trailhead for Centennial trail, one of our favorite spots to go walking.
Of course, I took my camera.
See? All trees for the background. In your face with your grey skies, Mama Nature!
All around the circle
I’m amazed sometimes by how small this world is.
Imagine, purely by happenstance, running into someone who brings me back to Newfoundland … in Priest Lake, Idaho.
The encounter left me smiling in my heart all day long.
Now fill your heart with images and stories from dog photographers all around the world. The theme for this week’s blog circle was shades of grey.
Start with Cahlean Klenke of About a Dog Photography in St. Cloud, Minnesota. When you get to the bottom of her post, click through to the next link and on you go, travelling around our world of dog photography.
And when you find yourself back here, you’re home.
Right where you belong.
If you’re ready to book a portrait session, click this button that takes you to my contact page.