Dogs are one of my favorite animal subjects, particularly as they relate to our human environment.
My collection of such pictures began with a roadside candid in Japan. There I saw a boy carrying his -- a large boxer -- piggyback. The dog was so big that it looked as if the boy had two heads -- one canine and one human.
The picture raised some questions: Why was the dog being carried? Was it ill? Didn't the boy have a leash? Or were the dog's feet hurting -- and the considerate young owner simply keeping its tender feet off the pavement?
Later, an almost identical scene caught my eye in front of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Again, a kindly owner was carrying a big shaggy dog -- this time, not on his back but hugging the dog like a baby with its face resting on his shoulder looking backward.
Was the dog being carried to keep it out of traffic? Was the carrying the dog's idea, or the owners?
In mexico, where I lived for a while, I had a chance to observe a different man-dog relationship. There the street dogs seemed to have a sense of wariness that caused them to side along, with one foot in the gutter, ready for a quick getaway when they met you on the sidewalk. I was inspired to take close-ups of their furtive faces. y
Amsterdam, a city of bicycles, showed a different relationship -- the canine adaptation to the two-wheeler. It was not uncommon to see a man (or woman) and dog whizzing together along the canals. The pet might be seated in a basket, behind the owner or, if a small dog, in a container hung on the handlebars. When parked, with the owner absent, the dogs seemed to have a proprietary air as they sat in the basket of the bicycle.
Here in the States the dogs have gone four-wheeler, of course. Sometimes as one follows another car, he's not sure just which shaggy head is driving -- canine or human. I saw one fun picture of the back of two heads both identically blond and shaggy. A companion photo from the front shows that the one behind the wheel is a girl and the other on Afghan.
Besides the chance encounter, a good place for dog-people pictures is at dog shows. There, with a discriminating eye, one can take shots that show a haunting resemblance between pet and owner -- as though dogs, through close association, are beginning to look more like people.
But you don't have to wander afield. Your dog is a suitable subject.
My dog, Fluffy (a name I don't like, but it was the kids' choice), has such long white hair that you can't see her features. With such a handicap one wouldn't think she would be photogenic, but that's not true. Her expression is in the way she holds her ears, wags her tail and sometimes actually grins with a mouthful of teeth showing, as though saying, "I'm sorry that I have no face -- but look at all the teeth!"
My awareness of our furry friend has been gradual. I think that I've learned about dogs through my camera.
Perhaps you too have observed dogdom but hadn't thought about recording Fido's foibles on film. If you haven't it's worth a try. Q -- I just bought a Canon AE-1, which is automatic. It works fine except when I put it on manual. Then I don't know where to set the f/stop and the shutter speed for the right exposure. The pictures come out too dark or too light. Please help! A -- When you have the Canon AE-1 set on manual you can use the red-light exposure display to correct your exposure. Two red bands at the top of the f/scale indicate overexposure (overexposure means that your pictures are too light). If the needles enters the red band, change to a faster shutter speed (such as from 1/30th to 1/60th of a second) and keep increasing until the needle is out of the zone.
To correct for underexposure in the manual mode, use the red flashing LED indicator at the bottom of the scale. If the red light is flashing change to a slower shutter speed until it stops (such as from 1/60th to 1/30th of a second). This will correct for underexposure (that is, when the picture is too dark).
If you want to find out all about how your Canon works, look at Carl Shipman's "How to Select and Use Canon SLR Cameras" published by HP Books, P.O. Box 5367, Tucson, Arizona 85703.