Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Suki and Miru

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Having two shibas in the house over this past weekend has been a very interesting experience, especially since one of them is a puppy! In spite of the fact that our home is absolutely overrun with shiba fur, we had a pretty good time baby sitting Miru. We capped off the weekend together with a hike this morning:

So long, Miru!

Images: Canon 1D X | 300mm f/2.8L II | Canon Extender 1.4x III

Written by Jonathan

January 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Champi the Akita

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If Suki was as big as she thinks she is, she’d probably look just like Champi, the most adorable Akita ever! We finally had a chance to meet this giant puppy over the weekend.

The best way I can think to describe Champi is, well….she’s like a massive Shiba.  She looks like what would happen if Suki ate one of those Super Mario mushrooms. Can you hear the sound effect in your head?

Look at that face! So cute it’s ridiculous. Whenever Champi would get close enough, I’d try to give her a great big Akita hug. But just like Suki, this pup is well versed in the art of evading human affection.

Evasive maneuvers!

A couple of Japan’s national treasures right here, apparently discussing which smaller dog to chase together:

The larger, Clifford-sized Champi would periodically take breaks from all the action, unlike the smaller Suki, who prefers to stay on her feet.

Despite the sun being out, it was freezing at the dog park, and high winds blew dirt all over my camera as well as Suki’s eyes. Not good for allergies (or for lens changing).

Trying to get both dogs in the frame is harder than you might think. More often than not, Suki and Champi would be moving in opposite directions. Most of my shots from the meetup look like this:

We humans had to duck, spin, dive, and spray bursts of frames to catch these two together!

Make sure your you check out the very epic 52 Weeks of Champi project! Of course, Suki has one as well ;)

All Images: Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-30mm & 30-110mm VR lenses

Written by Jonathan

January 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Wide and Fast

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Nikon D700 + Nikkor AFS 24mm f/1.4G | 1/1,600 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200

My poor DSLR has been on the bench ever since I added the X100 to my bag, at least for personal photography. Feeling a little guilty about it, I hauled it along with me today on our regular outing with Suki. Heavy? Oh yes.

But I had almost forgotten how much I love shooting with my favorite wide lens. Pretty much fell in love with the 24mm all over again this morning.


Nikon D700 | Nikkor 24mm f1.4G AFS

Written by Jonathan

September 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm

It’s Good to Be Home, Sorta…

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Fuji X100 | 1/70 sec, f/2, ISO 800

It’s good to be home. A week is a long time to be without Philz coffee.

Nikon D700 + 50mm f/1.4G AFS

Besides my welcome home cup of Mocha Tesora, I was able to install Fuji’s newest firmware for my X100. Version 1.10 fixes a lot of bugs, and adds a few enhancements as well. So far I’ve seen a definite improvement in the look of the Velvia and Astia film simulation modes. Provia seems to look better too, but I need to test it a little more.

Now for the big bummer of our return:

Fuji X100 |  1/340 sec, f/6.4, ISO 400

Our first order of business on arrival was to take Suki here. It looks like her allergies flared up while we were gone and she ended up with some pretty serious skin inflammation on her tummy.

Fuji X100 | 1/680 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

After having her examined, picking up some medication, and paying a heinous vet bill, we took Suki home, looking ultra-hip in with her not-so-stylish cone of shame.

Fuji X100 | 1/50 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

Unfortunately, Suki is pretty miserable right now. The inflammation is very painful and she’s under a great deal of stress. Really hate to see her like this, but I know she’ll recover soon.

Until then, it’s cone of shame for you, Suki! =P

Written by Jonathan

June 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Meeting Zuko the Shiba

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Nikon D700 + 24-120mm f/4 VRII

Say hello to Zuko, Suki’s brother! They’re not from the same litter, but they share the same father. This was a wild experience because I haven’t met a Shiba yet that looks this much like Suki. The pictures don’t really give you the full experience though. When you see them together in person, the way they walk/run, and the expressions on their faces, you know for sure these dogs are related!

We met up at a local dog park in San Francisco. I was a little concerned about Suki because we recently brought her to the vet to get more treatment for her seasonal allergies. You can tell in the photos that she’s still dealing with some itchy eyes. It was also unusually warm in the Bay Area, so our sheebs weren’t as active as normal.

See those profiles? Definitely siblings.

Check out that long shadow being cast on Suki’s chest. Talk about harsh, mid-day sun. Turning on the Active D-Lighting on my camera and deciding to shoot JPEGS, I said “ok camera, YOU deal with the crazy lighting”

Too hot to bound around and play, Suki and Zuko eventually just started hanging out….

….and sniffing stuff….

….So we left the park and went out on a walk.

Oh my goodness, which one is which!?

Zuko, checking me out. Unlike Suki, who is very much used to having a big DSLR shoved in her face on a regular basis, Zuko seemed much more aware of my camera’s presence. After we hung out for a while, and after allowing him to give my lens a good sniff, he was a little more open to the idea of being photographed…just a little:

Suki is always acting like “Ms. Royal Highness,” and Prince Zuko wasn’t any different. It was a Royal Shiba meetup if I’ve ever seen one.

Zuko is a few pounds heavier than Suki. They’re both pretty large, at least as Shibas go.

I postulate that those triangle-heads are congruent!

After we parted ways, we walked a little further, and Suki found the nearest shaded area for herself…ah, the life of a Shiba.

Make sure you check out Zuko’s Blog!

Written by Jonathan

April 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

52 Weeks of Suki: Interview

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I recently took part in an interview about my photography for a Czech photography website, centered specifically on my 52 Weeks of Suki photo project. The interview answers some frequently asked questions I receive about the project, and now that I’m only three weeks away from its completion, answering some questions  about my work has given me an opportunity to pause and reflect on what sort of impact this year-long adventure has had on myself as an artist.

If you follow my work but don’t speak Czech, you’re obviously not going to get very much out of the interview.  Running the link through Google Translate helps a little, but you’ll run into some weird translation here and there (example: it translated “I come back from every shoot with soiled clothing” to “I’m always a dirty house”).  Therefore, I’m publishing the full English interview here on my blog. The following is the interview in its entirety:


Being a photographer, what makes you push the trigger and what are your influences?

I’m very much drawn to exaggerated perspectives. I love using super wide angle lenses as well as long focal lengths to manipulate the sense of space and depth in an image. I also try to seek out colors that resonate well together, like a warm-toned subject against a cool background, which makes for great contrast. Most importantly, it’s beautiful and interesting light that really makes me excited about an image, and I think photographer Joe McNally has probably been the most significant influence in my study of how light behaves. Studying his work has taught me to not just seek out good light, but to create and control it myself.


What inspired you to start your 52 weeks of Suki Project?

There’s a group on Flickr called “52 Weeks for Dogs.” The idea is to post a new image of your dog every week for a year. The image has to be taken and submitted to the group within each calendar week as well, which means I have to come up with something new every single week. A fellow Flickr contact invited me to join the group and give the challenge a try, and that’s how it all started.

Are you trying to pose your beautiful dog or do you have a more relaxed approach? Is it difficult to pose a dog? Has something funny ever happened to you while taking a portrait of her?

I often receive comments on Flickr or emails asking how I work with Suki to get images for the project. Some wonder how I get her to “pose,” others ask if there is a safety risk since she doesn’t appear to be on leash in most of the photos. With a few exceptions this year, all of the photos of Suki were the result of a team effort. My wife actually plays a key role as Suki’s handler as well as my lighting assistant during each shoot. Suki is always on leash to ensure her safety, and we either conceal the lead in the terrain or clone it out in post. As far as posing, we just place her in an ideal spot and she’ll sit, stand, and look around while my wife tries to keep her attention. Somewhere in between all that movement I try to time my shots to capture a look that gives the illusion that she’s striking a pose. More often than not, it’s a very difficult process, and I have a ton of failed images of her closing her eyes, looking away, or walking right out of the frame to prove it!

The funniest thing that happens to us when we’re shooting is that people will gather around and interrupt the shoot to ask what we’re doing, what kind of dog she is (for the record, she’s a Shiba Inu), or to comment on how much she looks like a fox.

What has photographing Suki for more than 40 weeks now given to you? Has it changed your perspective of her or your world?

As far as my photography is concerned, this project with Suki has given me everything. It has helped me shape and define my style as an artist. It has helped me increase my skill set because it pushes me to try new things and adapt to different environments and circumstances week after week. I don’t think I’ll ever take another photo that isn’t in some way influenced by my work with her this year.

What are the main differences between taking photos of dogs and people? Are there any?

You have much more control over the final image with a human subject, primarily because you can pose them and give them very specific instructions. You can take your time getting an exact placement of lighting and composition with a person because he or she will collaborate with you and work with you towards a common goal. Of course, on the flip side, Suki doesn’t feel awkward or self-conscious in front of a camera like a human might. Another difference is that to take an eye-level portrait of a human, you don’t necessarily have to be very low to the ground. Taking an eye-level shot of Suki requires my camera position to be almost all the way at ground level. Probably every single shot of her this year required me lying flat on the ground, which means I always come back from every shoot with soiled clothes!

Has the Flickr community helped your photography?

It most certainly has. Without the Flickr community, I never would have started this project with Suki, a project that, again, has had a tremendous impact on my photography. I’ve also been able to connect with many artists who are extremely supportive of both the project and my photography in general. Flickr is a fantastic resource and support system for artists.

What is more important in taking pictures the gear or the photographer?

Well, both need each other to create images, so I believe both elements are very important. Of course, a good photographer will create compelling images with any camera, but the right gear can allow you to push boundaries and do certain things that you couldn’t accomplish otherwise. That being said, I believe a photographer’s main focus should be, not on gear, but on the image. He or she should select the appropriate gear for whatever they are trying to accomplish. The “right” or “best” gear therefore varies from one artist to the next.


That’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading the interview. To see the entire 52 week project in full, head over to my flickr page. You can also see a high resolution gallery of the project at my website’s gallery page at

Also, check out other interviews of some amazing photographers at the website’s interview page.

Written by Jonathan

December 16, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Suki Meets Hana

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Every now and then we meet another Shiba on the street that Suki gets to interact with a little. It’s been a long time since she’s met another Shiba that she could spend the day with, however. A fellow flickr user and Shiba owner came to visit california this past weekend, and we were excited to get together with her and little Hana for an afternoon stroll along the coast.


This is Hana, not to be confused with Suki. Hana is a five year old female Shiba Inu, and she is rediculously adorable. While Suki is more of  a dog’s dog who loves interacting with others of her kind (often ignoring humans), Hana looooves people. As soon as I greeted her she gave me a bunch of doggie kisses. Suki never kisses me!

Above you can see Fox on the left, who had a chance to meet Suki briefly, but didn’t hang out with us for the rest of the day. I guess it was a “ladies” day out!

When Suki first met Hana, she wasn’t received very kindly. I was a little concerned that they wouldn’t get along, but was I wrong! As we walked along the coast in the late afternoon, they quickly became friends:

They walked together, climbed together, explored together, and took breaks together. It was hilariously cute:

Of course, we shadowed both doggies with our cameras the entire time:

I tried to take every advantage I could to get the two dogs together. They’re so adorable as a pair!

Suki: “Such a nice day, isn’t it Hana?”

Hana: “Sigh…yes, so beautiful”

Hana: “Psst! Suki! I think your dad is trying to take a picture.”

Suki: “Yeah, he’s always doing that…guess we should smile for the camera!”

I was cracking up behind the camera seeing them together like this. So funny!

At one point, we stopped in an area where a lot of people were gathered, watching the sun set over the water. We had our Shibas get on top of a higher platform for more photos:

Of course, with all those people around, it wasn’t long before the two dogs drew lots of attention:

What can I say? Shibas are irresistable!

We kept shooting and shooting until the sun went down. Had such a great time. Made me think…it’d be so nice to have a second Shiba around to keep Suki company. Suki and Hana did so well together, and seemed to feed off of one another’s personalities. It was really interesting watching them cooperate, navigate terrain together, and yes, pose for the camera =)

Until next time, little Hana!


Images: Nikon D300s + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G // Nikkor 70-300 VR

Written by Jonathan

October 4, 2010 at 8:56 pm