Shelly Ellis Photography: Blog en-us (C) Shelly Ellis Photography (Shelly Ellis Photography) Wed, 13 May 2020 06:02:00 GMT Wed, 13 May 2020 06:02:00 GMT Shelly Ellis Photography: Blog 83 120 Deep Magic in Depth of Field Want some "Deep Magic"? Then control the viewers' attention and the impact of your image by using depth of field.

Pretty simple huh? Like all things it always seems simple until you try. Especially with studio lights. Since most studio lights constrain one aspect of the exposure triangle, shutter speed, it can get a bit tricky! Unless you have high-speed sync (which is on my Xmas list)

One of this weeks' sessions, with a senior dog (Roscoe) and a new puppy (Jasper), produced a few examples.  While editing a session it is always a bit of a treasure hunt for me. I try to be present and "see" things during creation. Sometimes in my attempt to not be attached to the outcome and corresponding results I miss things. But somehow I did know because the story that was captured was Roscoes' bond with his owner. 

Roscoe was so focused on her that his owner ended up in most of the pictures. She really did not want too, but while helping him be comfortable... ooooh what a story unfolded. She must be a dog whisperer because her new pup (Jasper) was equally as attached.

Fortunately for me, a couple depth of field examples for this blog were unearthed, after enough sniffing( just kidding). Check out Roscoe.. lots of depth of field, a soulful gaze; complete with catch light, showing space to look in to and ..rule of thirds. 

Jasper (below) is an example of a little less depth of field bringing focus to those dramatic and intense eyes. Not to mention filling the frame. I can just feel how soft he is!

And my favorite outtake shows Roscoe just loving Mom's touch! These artful moments, I daresay, will end up being timeless connections and treasured creations that Roscoes' Mom will hold dear for years to come. Too bad his Giants tag was not turned around!

Continuing with this weeks discussion is Lynda Mowat from Heartstrings Photography in Hamilton new Zealand. 

(Shelly Ellis Photography) chesapeake dog dog photography pets pit pit puppy portrait sellisphotography senior dog portrait studio Fri, 02 Feb 2018 09:00:00 GMT
Soul catcher On one of our daily sniffs, LeeLuu and I encountered a new gentleman "Willie". He was obviously getting on in years but could still joyfully muster some puppy dancing and even a few sprints! While Willie, Leeluu and a schnauzer pup "Misty Rose" introduced themselves. I took time to capture the wonderful interactions. 

Once the initial meet, greet, sniff and play had slowed I looked up. There was Willie taking a break basking in the joy! He was facing the right way, the background was beautiful and I was sure that his soul light would be caught. I am a self-proclaimed photographic soul catcher ( A bit of a strange thought right?). Artful moments of our pets but especially those in their golden days are why I love being a dog photographer or  "photographic soul catcher" and Willie graciously offered himself up for the catch. You can see his "soul lights' and how much he is enjoying the company on this beautiful morning.

It is amazing what "timeless connections" appear and are able to be coaxed out in a session.  Editing this session brought memories of my own recently passed senior lab and how grateful I am for the "treasured creations"  I still have of him. 

In fact, recently someone called me after losing a companion to see if I still had the digital images from seven years ago! I had lost a hard drive but did have them stored on my website...whew!  I can not stress enough to get those moments captured..better still print them, create some beautiful wall art.

If you want to explore more about the eye and transport of emotions, take the time to view this Dedo Weigert Film it is one of my favorites.

Don't miss checking out the next spectacular photographers' thoughts in this series on catchlights Kim with BARKography serving the greater Charlotte NC area. 




(Shelly Ellis Photography) artful moments catch lights dog play dogs lab leeluu photographic soul catcher schnauzer sniffing terrier timeless connections treasured creations willie Fri, 26 Jan 2018 09:00:00 GMT
No Rules in Art I think I am a rule follower and get the need for structure. But I question the need for rules in art. Guidelines yes, best practices maybe. Art is so subjective how can we apply rules? With the overwhelming volume of photographs today how do you stand out when following all the same rules?

Considering the rule of thirds, it always confused me. It seems ..well vague! What part of the subject intersects? What if the subject is negative space? What if the eye is cropped out? What part is then the focus or should be intersected? Really.. how far off the grid can/should things be?  Is a smidge over the line acceptable?  How big can that smidge or subject be? What about those awesome centered pieces? In a critic or judging is the art just thrown out, considered a terrible piece of work if it is not exactly where on the grid? This rule leaves me with more questions and lots of cropping anxiety.. Here? UUUHH how about here?  It is enough to create a state of paralysis.

This week I am sharing my latest brain tease with the rule of thirds. Now I am not sure if it is being applied in this series. It was considered a lot..maybe too much. Are they complying to the rule of thirds or are they bending that rule?  What rule do they follow if any?  My goal was to have them look like old photos and have a uniqueness to them with a little tension. The water droplets, the dogs poses all just seem to work(in my mind anyway). Especially the crops showing the dog jumping in or out of the frame like a dance. The feeling I get when looking at them is like finding old photos at a flea market.

This grouping is a personal project and work in progress.  My most recent thought is to attempt motion blur..would that work? What would it feel like? It was so much fun creating them and planning how to present them. The feeling of total immersion had engulfed me. You know the feeling when time passes so quickly while you are lost in your work. I learned something from them and look forward to adding to this collection on each trip to the river. 

Putting these in my photo journal I wondered if this would be the end of them or if they would find new life in yet another form or project. Looking for justification to my indecision on this rule and the selected cropping I leave you with this quote:

Breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules isn’t usually art; it’s just anarchy. And following rules for the sake of following rules is just mindless conformity.  BooksCraft & VisionCreativity and InspirationPep TalksRants and SermonsThoughts & Theory by David Duchemin 

I do wonder is this work anarchy?  Certainly with all the questions and struggles to crop them it was not mindless!

BTW if you do not own the book "The Visual Toolbox" by David Duchemin you are seriously missing out. It, in MHO, belongs in every artists library. 

Don't forget to check out this link for more thoughts and art on the rule of thirds..Tara Sutherland | Boutique Pet Photography in New Zealand 




(Shelly Ellis Photography) border collie dogs jumping dog no rules in art river river dogs sellisphotography water dogs Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:00:00 GMT
The "goddess of frolic"! Tabula Rasa.."Something that exists in its original state and that has yet to be altered by outside forces"

For me each journey or specific shooting adventure begins as a "tabula rasa". Then, when I step back and really look, the fun (magically it seems) appears.

This week I went to the river with a friend of mine. She happens to be a light guide, dog photographer extraordinaire especially at this spot. She has photographed the area for close to 10 years. The light was a little flat and not really what we were hoping to see. However...check this out: 

I love it when a moment happens because you just kept shooting. This dog, Sadie, aka "the goddess of frolic", made the moment. No ball, no problem..this stick will do. She altered the tranquility of the river and in doing so look what the universe offered up to be captured!

As for Bambi (the water beagle) in the background...the goddess seems to be saying" If you get in the water your going to get wet!  

Leeluu, and her sniff pack were busy looking for that interesting piece of dirt. Not too worried about what the "goddess of frolic" was doing. See you next week!

Check out Kim's blog for her take on tabula rasa- Kim with BARKography based in Charlotte NC.

(Shelly Ellis Photography) beagle dogs dogs in water dogs playing in water dogs splashing pets river sacramento river sellisphotography' terrier terrier dirt Fri, 05 Jan 2018 03:17:54 GMT
" You get the dog you need/or deserve"?


"You don't always get the dog you want. You get the dog you need and each dog teaches you the lesson you need the most" Cesar Milan

I have owned dogs, horses, cats, barnyard animals etc. all my life. While I do not think I am a "trainer" I did feel capable and able to control animals under my care. My family owned hunting breed dogs... Short Hairs, Labs etc. Over the years many unique and wonderful personalities have graced our lives. 

I have wonderful memories of learning, working and also humorous moments from puppyhood forward with each pet. There are great family stories about our assorted pets and their respective escapades. 

After my move to town and the passing of the most beautiful lab in the word "Roscoe" aka "Big Sexy", I thought to downsize even in pet choices was wise.

  • 26 Acres to town=  Less cost, less maintenance ..check
  • Truck to Prius=  No horses to haul so, less gas, fewer fees, cheaper tires etc..check.
  • 110-pound lab to 18-pound rescue terrier mix= Easier to get in the car, less food, and the corresponding by-product, loving lap dog.....wait what?

In training past puppies I would use a long leash during the sit, stay and come training. A little tough on the come command when loose in a field?  No problem hide from them, worked every time. As I stated above NOT A TRAINER! These things always worked for me in the past. Never had a hard case and since our dogs were always family pets as well it always worked out for them and us.

Leeluu is a definite problem solver..her problems, not mine! Come? (sure when I want!). Where did she go? (who needs you look at this dirt to dig in)

After a year of growing, testing and learning we are getting this. Sit, stay, walking(sniffing) on a leash. Come...maybe:) if you are more interesting than dirt!  

Now maybe my lesson is you never stop learning in life. But did I really need to learn to be more interesting than dirt to a terrier? 

What I see!

(Shelly Ellis Photography) dog art by shelly ellis dog portraits dogs labrador pets portraits sellisphotography terrier terrier love terror" Thu, 30 Nov 2017 18:51:05 GMT
"Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go"


Is it just me or did Autumn fly by? While walking my muse, the most amazing dog model "Leeluu",  I was thinking about how I had not done any fall color work.

We (Leeluu and I ) took a turn around a path and bam! There it was in full glory right in front of me. The most beautiful gold and red colors I had seen yet this year. Right in my backyard.  After staring for some time I made a slow turn around of 360 degrees. Fall was not only here but going to be gone soon I realized.

Then I was on a mission to not only walk Leeluu at this beautiful place but to observe what I had been missing right in front of me all along.  I looked for the light, checked it out at different times of the day, looked at the big pictures and the small details. I realized that there were a lot of people doing the same thing. Kids playing in the leaves and soooo many photographers. I must have been sleeping through our previous walks.

It seems it was only a few weeks ago and already the peak has passed.  l am still practicing being more aware and searching for the last pockets of color. I wondered if there was a lesson in all this...surely:)






(Shelly Ellis Photography) autumn colors awareness dog photograhy dogs fall jack russell leaves leeluu letting go little white dog sellisphotography terrier Sun, 26 Nov 2017 22:51:37 GMT
MCCourtney Road Equestrian Center Went to a new, to me, facility on Saturday, July 20th. McCourtney Road Equestrian Center, Lincoln, CA.  I went to watch my daughter and saw a lot of old friends and made a few new ones. It was a really nice covered arena. Which btw, made it a little difficult to shoot in. The event staff was very nice and the show ran quick smooth and without a hitch.

Because I was there to watch my daughter I did not get shots of everyone. I assume they have a regular "official photographer" and they were just not there that day. Not wanting to step on any toes, I asked the show staff and they kindly allowed me to take pictures. It was great fun.

There were some great barrel times and beautiful horses. Lots of "Bling" on the tack.

If your looking for an event center this place would be at the top of any list. Check out their Facebook page


What I see!



(Shelly Ellis Photography) CA Equestrian Lincoln McCourtney Road barrels horses Mon, 26 Aug 2013 17:04:11 GMT
Its a parade! Its a Parade! And it is done so well in Lincoln. Having lived here for the last 20 plus years (still a new comer) there have been a lot of changes. But Lincoln has managed to hang on to that hometown feel and all things "Americana".

Family values, community pride and Patriotism were on display. It was wonderful. Hard to say who had more fun, the kids, the adults even the event helpers and vendors were having a great time.

I loved the local club entries, the fire trucks and most of all the horses!

But my most favorite moment was the standing ovation and applause that rippled through the crowd for our troops and veterans as they passed.

America... and all that we hold dear still here in Lincoln.

What I see....

(Shelly Ellis Photography) 4th CA July Lincoln horses kids of parade patriotism Sat, 06 Jul 2013 17:34:22 GMT
2013 Penthalon: New Leash on Life


What a great day! This was a small town, down home style event. It seems that every year PDIA and New Leash on Life just make this better and better. The months of work and preparation were evident and every where you looked the attention to detail was noticed and appreciated.

Filling in for the official photographer Judy Stansbury; Wag The Tail Photography, was a tall order.  Especially since we were both there last year.  It is pretty evident that a good time was had by all.  Where else do you get to see so much good will, color, action and emotion in one setting?

From the color guard tribute to the great performance events, food and wonderful raffles prizes (donated by some amazing sponsors) it was a wonderful time! Put together by great people for a great cause. 

 What I See.....

(Shelly Ellis Photography) PDIA americana cancer community dogs flag leash life new on performance Sat, 29 Jun 2013 13:12:39 GMT
Labor Day Parade Yes its true. I am a sucker for a parade!

I love the down home feel, all the colors but most of all the diversity. Even in the smallest of towns its there. What has always made America great. The common belief that family, friends and community are the most important things. That we can all be different yet united in this one great belief and this wonderful country.

Everyone was carrying, wearing and waving our flag. People wearing shirts, cars sporting flags, vaqueros and their beautiful parade horses flashing and waving them. I am always glad to see that patriotism in spite of all the things we hear is still alive and well.

I love that everyone comes to share, support and celebrate together. Nicholaus has got to be the biggest little parade in the state.

Check out the pictures here and on my facebook page http://facebook/







(Shelly Ellis Photography) americana flag horses parade vaquero Tue, 04 Sep 2012 03:40:15 GMT
Splashing at the State Fair!  

What fun! I spent July 12th-16th at the State Fair photographing Splash Dogs. Besides being a great learning experience the people, dogs, and atmosphere made this and outstanding event.

Jeff, Serena and Heather ran a wonderful show. The area included a nice shady relaxing area for the dogs in spite of the heat. Misters were on the pop ups for the spectators. Canine Companions was on hand and Dave Sacco and Buddy raised over $1000 for the Humane Society  in Colorado. They need a lot of help for displaced animals from the Waldo Canyon Fire. Not sure who had more fun the people or the dogs.

As I sat there taking what seemed like 1000's of shots and checking them for exposure etc... I started noticing a few small things. Like how different each dog was in their approach and attitude.  Some looked like they were grinning from ear to ear. And oddly how some closed their eyes just before impact.  I closed my eyes too when I jump in. (Don't like the water in my eyes). Others were so calm.  No matter how the handler tried to get them excited. Some definitely not calm! But even the not so calm seemed to at a certain point to just relax and accept the ride down.

I started seeing what a unique personality each dog had and how they reacted to the situation second to second in my 8fps. I love capturing those changing moments.

But while I was giving into that little quest the light began to change. The wind picked up and the misters started misting across the front of the dock. My daydreaming was interuppted with oh no! The combination of the harsh backlight and the mist was wreaking havoc on my pictures. The autofocus was going nuts, nothing was clear and all of a sudden I was struggling to figure out how to get these last shots. The finals!

Well, I panicked, tried lots of things. None of them seemed to work. It was hot. Getting hotter.  I was tired and thought of giving up. Again my mind drifted to each dogs reactions. A lesson here?

I relaxed. I could not change the weather, the sun or turn off the misters. How could I make lemonade out of lemons? Relax and accept the ride down? The last shots of the day were tough. But here is what I got by relaxing and accepting the light and water! How I see it !

(Shelly Ellis Photography) Photography community dogs Wed, 18 Jul 2012 21:13:42 GMT
Firecracker Frenzy- " Biggest Little Saddle Show" CGA District 8 hosted the "biggest little saddle show" July 6, 7 and 8th at the Monterey County Posse Grounds, Salinas CA. They awarded seven saddles to the top riders of this show. In addition to the saddles, saddle pads, headstall and breastcollar sets, beautiful stirrups, jackpots were included.  The list of awards was endless.
Because the 4th of July fell in the middle of the week this year, this perfectly organized show capped a wonderful week of patriotic style!

District 8, Tri-County Riders hosted this great event and went to great lengths to prep the grounds (cudos to Lea Demontigny!), organize what seemed like an army of volunteers, gather some great vendors and help support the community football team at the same time. They had some of the best awards and I would venture to say no one went home without something. The atmosphere was energetic, supportive and good old fashioned fun. Look for this event next year and if possible don't miss it.

I was invited by Jack Upton Photography I met Jack last year at the CGA State Show in Hollister. Jack has been the official photographer for the CGA State Show forever. (I remember purchasing photos from him of my daughter when she was not even a teenager.) Even as busy as he was shooting that event, when we stopped at his booth and asked him about some techniques to capture this fast action sport he was soooo helpful to both myself and my grandson. Now, I have approached photographers at other events and most were not to kind. I am sure they were busy but he took the time to answer my questions. It is apparent he loves the art of photography, photographing horse events and sharing. From what I have been told I was not the first photographer he has helped and I am sure will not be the last. Two and a half days of shooting great action and candid shots. I have and will continue to learn from him.

Check out Jacks' great action shots!


What I see is a great little club coming together to provide some good clean competition and fun for everyone. They supported a good cause and celebrated the 4th of July in a truly American fashion! Horses!


(Shelly Ellis Photography) Photography community horse events horses saddle awards Wed, 11 Jul 2012 22:40:40 GMT
Dog Lovers Coping with Cancer

Down the road is a great facility, Performance Dogs in Action, check out the website The owner, Nola Jones and associated trainers, train agility, herding, dock dogs, earth dogs and I am sure much more. She is a very talented trainer, provides a family environment, support and has a beautiful dog park where she holds some wonderful events.

But, what I find unique and uplifting is how she partners with different charitable organizations at each event. A New Leash On Life, lifting spirits of dog lovers who are coping with cancer, is always represented along with various other local cancer related non-profits.

Before the start of the 3rd Annual Pentathlon they held a special survior walk and presentation of colors. It was very moving and filled with many emotional moments. A lot of people worked hard to put on this event. They donated time, effort, money and it showed. It had the feel of a good old fashioned picnic.

Great fun was had by all. It was really hard to tell who had more fun the dogs or their owners. To see some outstanding photos go to;  Judy Stansbury is the official Performance Dogs in Action photographer. She has a rare and unique talent of capturing the essence of pets in the moment. After seeing her pictures, I am sure you will want to attend the next event. Check out this link to see when;

As it happens, Judy and I have a mutal love for photography, pets in action and people with their pets. She was very gracious answering all my questions. When she had time!

What I see is alot of wonderful people coming together for some simple fun, while leaving a legacy of care and love...





(Shelly Ellis Photography) agility cancer dog dogs events pet pets survivors Sat, 30 Jun 2012 18:41:00 GMT