Saltese Flats: A Spokane hike with just one lens

bella hiking for dog photos in liberty lake

My pet photography business in Spokane is still in its infancy, but I’ve had a camera in my hand for decades.

Where I am now has been an evolution of the way I see things and the jobs I’ve had. When I was young and had a point-and-shoot film camera, my rough collie, Princess, was the perfect subject.

My career in journalism took me through sports action, spot news and candid shots of people doing people things.

When I transferred to digital SLRs in the mid-2000s, I was hiking with Shep in the Rocky Mountains. You’ve probably heard or read me say “you can’t be in the most beautiful place in the world with the most beautiful dog in the world and not have a camera in your hand.”

I turned to landscape where I developed a passion for using a shallow depth of field. That’s a technique where a photographer keeps a subject in focus and the rest of the image is all blurry.

You can see it in this image I made last summer while bouncing around the dirt roads of Eastern Washington.

abandoned barn near davenport washington

An old barn

For the photography geeks reading this, here’s a great video from Jared Polin, a.k.a. FroKnows.

Shallow depth of field in dog photos

We’ve talked about shallow depth of field in dog photos before.

A shallow depth of field is this week’s topic for our worldwide pet photography blog circle. We are challenged to isolate our subject from its background through use of a wider aperture and distance between camera, subject and background.

Harumph … I lean more towards #lifeinwideangle where I keep gorgeous landscapes in mind for your dog’s portrait session around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

Like this one of Newt last summer at Tubbs Hill in Coeur d’Alene.

heeler at tubbs hill in coeur d'alene

Newt at Tubbs Hill

However, since I’ve stepped up to a full-frame DSLR, I have been leaning more towards softer backgrounds. The higher dynamic range of my Nikon D750 gives me a beautifully blurry background when I attach my Sigma 70-200 lens.

So, I said Bella and I would hit one of our favorite hiking trails, Saltese Uplands Conservation Area in Liberty Lake, with a one-lens challenge. We went Tuesday, knowing the weather would be unpredictable with chances of snow.

We got pelted by graupel instead. Graupel is a weather phenomenon that isn’t quite snow and isn’t quite hail.

Here’s Bella, surrounded by it.

bella the maremma sheepdog hiking at Saltese Flats

A graupelly day

See how Bella is tack sharp but the background, Saltese Flats and the southernmost Selkrik Mountains, is all blurry? That’s shallow depth of field.

So achieving great dog photos with gorgeous Spokane landscapes is still possible with a long lens. Harumph … maybe this blog post is more about how I get stuck in a mindset more than anything! Tell my husband I can be stubborn. He’ll laugh.

Now, remember, Bella is always leashed when we’re hiking. I remove the leash and collar in Photoshop so it isn’t a distraction. It’s just safer for everyone that way.

Here she is with her leash, coming toward me because she didn’t want to sit for a portrait.

Bella the Maremma sheepdog walking toward the camera

Tired of posing

And, of course, I can’t get out of a hiking adventure with a #dogsonrocks image:

big white dog poses on a rock for photos at Saltese Uplands Conservation Area in Liberty Lake, WA


Some sad news to share

It is with a heavy heart I let you know Sophie crossed the Rainbow Bridge on Tuesday.

I featured her and her mama, Jamie, in a blog post two weeks ago. They were the perfect example to talk about the bond dogs and humans share. My little beagle buddy had nasal cancer and started having serious trouble breathing.

Jamie made the most compassionate, loving choice a human can make for her best friends, letting little Sophie go.

special moment between Spokane rescue dog and her human

The best hug

Sophie lives forever in Jamie’s heart.

All around the circle

OK, tears flowing? Yes, here, too.

Now it’s time to see more dogs in a shallow depth of field. Let’s head off on a trip around the world to see my friends in the pet photographers blog circle. Start with Kylee Doyle Photography, serving pet parents in the greater Sacramento area.

Click the link at the bottom of her post to get to the next photographer, and so on until you find yourself back here.


Right where you belong.

10 thoughts on “Saltese Flats: A Spokane hike with just one lens”

  1. Pingback: Mirabeau Park: Another dog walk with just one lens | Noses & Toes Pet Photography

  2. First – I’m so sorry to hear about Sophie.

    Second, thank you for sharing about depth of field. I need to explore this because I love the idea of focusing on my cats instead of the background.

  3. I’m so sorry about Sophie, it is never an easy choice to let a loved one go.

    I am so glad that you included the bit about removing the leash in photoshop! It makes a big difference in the photos, but safety is always the most important factor.

  4. Such lovely photos. I always have such trouble taking decent photos of my dogs – but that’s what I get for not being a pro and using my cell phone. Once this pandemic is over, I really should consider getting something professional done.

  5. I was sorry to hear about Sophie. Even if you expect it when it comes it was hard.

    Your photos are beautiful. The grass in the barn photo is awesome. You are lucky that you have such beautiful places to take lovely photos

  6. What a lovely location and yet again I’ve learned something new from your blog; I’ve never heard of graupel! But on a sad note, I’m sorry to hear of sweet Sophie’s passing; I know her human will absolutely cherish that image forever.

  7. Bella is so gorgeous and the Spokane landscapes are too lovely for words, especially when seen through these prairie girl’s eyes. I am saddened to hear of Sophie’s passing. Your photos of her and Jamie are something that will be treasured.

  8. You live in a beautiful area of our country. I love the backgrounds, shallow or not. I am so sorry to read about Sophie.That lovely photo will sustain many memories.

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