What’s a Pugfest you might be asking? Well, it’s a semi-annual gathering of *lots* of Pugs and their owners. Kids come along too so it’s fun for all. The host and organizer for Pugfest is Anne Moreside, and she has a website for Pugfest here. For a history of Pugfest, which started as the Pugnic, read this page.
But let’s rewind this a bit. The weekend of the Pugfest, Karen and I took her pugs Spike and Sophie over to the Mississippi River for a little walkabout in the water on Saturday afternoon. It was a hot day and the water was very nice. This was about 2 in the afternoon. I had the D700 with me, which I would have again the next day at the Pugfest.
There are serious issues with trying to photograph Pugs. The black ones like Spike are, well, black. There is little light reflecting back at you so you need to retain massive shadow detail to see anything of the animal. And the fawn ones have black faces, so you have very light colored coats and black faces … what do you expose for? My point being that photographing Pugs is just about as challenging as photographing a bride and groom in black tux and white dress. Very high dynamic range in the same frame. Heaven help you if the sun is out … because you are toast.
So Saturday was a warm up for me … shoot the pugs and see what happens. The sun was out (oops) and the images are not at all what I would have hoped for. There are enough issues that I processed some of them with Topaz Adjust for an HDR look, which helps mask extra shadow noise from pulling up out of the basement as I underexpose to protect highlights. Yeesh … this was tough.
So here is the Mississippi River … a rather pretty little thing that is not related to the big one in the USA.
A hazy day, but plenty of light to screw up the images. Looking across the river to the landing and fair grounds, we see a diver and some boaters.
If you want to see what the camera can see, here it is.
That is the D700 with 70-300VR on it. Ok … nerd break over.
Here is an incredibly difficult exposure. Spike facing towards me with the sun behind him. All the important stuff is in deep, deep shadow. Remember to click through on all these images to see the larger versions.
Here’s an image I really like, but found that Topaz made it more interesting to the eye. It brings out all sorts of detail in the river bed that is not otherwise visible. And Spike’s fur is much better defined.
Here, Spike is playing in the deeper water behind some reeds. He’s just so cute …
I was actually unable to rescue any images of Sophie from that shoot. The sun bouncing off of her coat was overpowering. My fault of course, I have not shot such challenging subjects outdoors in a long time. Being out of practice makes for a nightmare.
So the next day, Karen prepares the pugs by tying on a cute Canadiana scarf so that they are instantly recognizable. Once you are at one of these you get the purpose instantly. Dozens and dozens of fawn Pugs, and they all look awfully similar.
I shot the two of them in the house before we left. The light comes from a nice big window and there was cloud this day, which makes for wonderful soft light. Much better for photography, or so I hoped.
Sophie first … she is so patient you simply cannot believe it.
That’s the D700 with the spectacular 85mm 1.8 on it. And little Spikey is next …
This light I am definitely liking a lot more than the brutal light of midday by the river.
And so we are back at Pugfest again. I hope the detour was not too much of a bore …
As we arrived, there was a challenge running for the Pugs to get through the tunnel. Prizes had already been given and there was one left. Karen lined Sophie up to give it a shot as she had done it before, but alas she was bumped away from the entrance by a more aggressive Pug, who I presume claimed the prize. Sophie took the longer way around :-)
The first major event is the Pug race. The owners line the dogs up and have someone hold them while they back off across the race course (about 20 feet away.) Here they are at the start. Sophie stands at the left end being held by Karen’s daughter Mallory, who suffered a broken ankle requiring surgery in a freak ATV accident last week. This image you really want to click through … the larger one is much easier to see details in.
A close in shot of Mallory with Sophie shows that Sophie is relaxed as always, ready for battle. Although probably quite happy to take a nap should the situation call for it. Note the I Heart New York T-Shirt … the spoils of the NYC tour I took with Karen a few weeks ago. Blog for that still pending after last weeks computer disaster(s).
Here, we see Sophie on the far left (pointing towards me, we didn’t ask for a ruling on the interference of that other Pug :-)
Sophie was pretty close to 3rd if not in a dead heat. Fun to see them all trying to run when they don’t really know what is going on. After the race, Sophie needs a drink and Spike joins her. Here, it is obvious that the soft light is really helping. The Pugs are both nicely exposed and there it lots of detail everywhere (although truth be told, Spike’s face is not sharply detailed here – I could not make a large print of this.)
Here’s what it looks like when I unleash Topaz Adjust on it.
Each style has its charms.
There were numerous dogs in the park of other breeds. The park was not reserved, so there is nothing one can do if an aggressive breed should suddenly join the party. Luckily, the non-Pugs were very well behaved this day. Kudos to them and to their owners.
Of course … what do dogs do all day? Other than eat, sleep, poop, and lick themselves (because they can of course) …
I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate.
The water dish was left out for others to enjoy, and here is a very nice looking fawn Pug.
Some of the Pugs have the most interesting eyes. Marty Feldman eyes in fact …
See the expression? The resemblance is uncanny :-)
Right around this time there was a “stay” contest. Whose Pug could sit the longest? I don’t seem to have any decent images of the lineup … it was *really* jumbled, with owners everywhere holding their hands out and shouting “stay!” as they backed away.
Some of the dogs made 3 seconds … and some did fairly well. I think this one did well enough, as he happily sat for pictures for quite a while. Love that little tooth on the right grabbing his own lip. So cute …
There were a number of young children at the fest, as would be expected. Their pets were competing after all. The kids were not much heavier than the Pugs and there was a real mismatch in strength. Some had to almost sit on their dogs to control them.
Here’s a shot that just screamed for Topaz. I wonder if you agree? If these two were together (I don’t think they were) then this shot screams for being framed and mounted on a wall. Such nice expressions across the board.
The kids and the Pugs spend the whole day looking at knee caps. What an interesting world they live in. Very hard to imagine until you look at an image like this.
Most of the day is spent milling about anf mixing. Being a raging nerd, I shoot images while milling. And the dogs sniff each others’ butts and sometimes they play. And when they play they run like bats out of you-know-where. And when they run, they sometimes chase. And when they do that, they sometimes play Lion trying to kill Gazelle :-)
At least, that’s what this sequence looks like to me.
Top left was shot when they were running incredibly fast. Note the gait on the chased Pug …. it’s a full-on gallop with the rear legs crossing in front of the front ones. Wicked. Image two in the middle was shot 10 seconds later. They are running in a circle, so they’ve gone around me and are curving again. The chasing Pug has clamped his jaws onto the chased Pug … and is almost airborne :-) And finally, image 3 on the bottom right was shot 4 seconds after that. The chasing Pug had enough energy to unclamp from the chased Pug’s butt and leap forward to its neck. I’ve seen video of gazelles being taken down and it looks just like this … I am seriously impressed by the intensity of Pug games.
By the way … I simply pasted these three crops into this configuration with great gaps of empty space that I used Adobe Photoshop CS5’s new content-aware fill to fill in. I then selected some of the edges and asked it do replace the edges with something else. Just keep doing that until you get what you have here. I think it took me 4 or 5 selections. I did nothing else and fixed nothing up. CS5 is simply *amazing* at filling in backgrounds with reasonable guesses.
Here’s a rather larger dog that wears a red scarf just in case it is mistaken for a Pug :-)
At this point I am standing about shooting the Pugs as they go by. Here’s one that whooshes by me and I swoop the cam down by my feet, panning as I go. I let off one shot and it’s not half bad.
Some pugs looks a little like monkeys when held in certain positions.
But in fact this fella is pretty cute.
… and he’s got a nice dog …. ba da bing!
Humor’s pretty tough to get across in a blog …
Now …. remember when I mentioned about the value of having scarves on the dogs?
It’s like that *all* the time.
The odd Pug gets a bit over dressed. Although perhaps this is just a reflection of the wedding-like difficulty of getting good exposures.
Although many of the owners are in the older crowd … my crowd … there are a number of young Pug owners out there.
Here’s an owner just relaxing with his Pug … gently stroking its ears …
His Pug appears to have a damaged mouth … I’m told that the tongue is always hanging. It’s quite unique, and kinda cute.
Suddenly there is a bit of activity as Anne begins handing out awards for cutest wrinkles. Four dogs are named, but only two are here for me to photograph. Sophie is one of them, taking 2nd place if I recall correctly. Karen has to apparently wake her up for her picture :-)
That’s better :-)
I don’t know the name of the winner, but wow … that’s a lot of wrinkles.
Everywhere you look, someone has a camera. There should be a lot of good images from this fest as the light was pretty soft today. Not much of a challenge even for small sensors.
I happened to catch a pair of Pugs running with one of them appearing to say “hey! how’s it going?” … or maybe the Joey-esque … “How yoooouuuu doooooooinnnnnn?”
And yet another fawn Pug with a happy owner.
The young ones again … playing around with the Pugs and a camera.
Pugs are very gentle creatures (the Lion up above notwithstanding :-) and it is sweet to see them just checking each other out.
And another portrait of a fawn Pug and a happy owner.
Hey! Where the heck am I?
A lovely portrait of a red-harnessed fawn Pug.
Shake, rattle and roll. Click through to see hairs flying off the back. Cool …
And here is Mr. Red Harness with his owner.
A yellow-scarf Pug with Marty Feldman eyes …
A man in uniform ….. looks like a bruiser.
I believe that we are finally seeing Anne’s Pugs, Clancy on the left and Cora on the right.
Anne posing with Cora.
And now with Clancy.
I don’t remember this Pug’s name, but if you ever wondered where Lucas got the model for the Ewok’s face …
They get quite pretty as they get older.
I think this is the owner.
Some of the Pugs get a little big for their legs. Makes it awkward toi sit. But they manage.
I think the underwear might be overkill, but the bikini is kind of cute anyway …
Spike found a friend … I have many shots of these two playing, but I like this one.
Still checking each other out … a party is starting.
Gotta do what dogs do … else the relationship is incomplete.
Now … following each other to the bathroom might be a bit much …
See the oncoming pug as it approaches? Well …
Always time for a quick sniff on the way by :-)
Here’s a manly pose … helped along by the prominent “Bite Me!” tag …
A beautiful unmarked, untagged, unscarfed Pug … obviously having a disagreement in the elementary school yard :-)
Or maybe that’s just how it expressed its desire as it sneaks around :-)
At this point, I put the D700 away and took out the F70EXR as we prepared to leave.
First, I shot the lady who was at the registration desk with a poster for Royal Canin, a sponsor of this event and who graciously donated some prizes (reasonably large bags of dog food.)
My American friends can order directly from Amazon at this link.
A quick shot of Sophie.
This might be Cora in the lady’s arms with Anne about to do something …
I think this is a close up of Cora … it turned out ok, but clearly I would have preferred a faster shutter speed to cut down on the movement …
The red harnessed black Pug gets some attention.
Well … that’s all I got. Around 70 images … I hope you enjoyed this little trip through Pugfest.
There was a poster distributed at the end for the 3rd bi-annual PUGSTOCK, a fundraising event. This will occur on Saturday 13 June, 2010 from 1pm to 3pm at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre in Ottawa. This is in support of the non-profit Under My Wing Pug Rescue organization. Like the Pugfest, this is a biannual event (twice a year.)
Be there or be square …