They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

Halloween is rolling around and Leo is not going to be left out this year. Yes, the holiday has spread to the UK! Doggie costume are all the rage and my pet is not going to be an exception. They do make some ready-made items, but they are run of the mill, so I want to custom design a special one that might just become a regular.

Dogs can be ghosts and goblins like kids, and little devils. They can be cartoon figures, superheroes, movie animals, or space aliens. Just about anything goes, but I want something really different. I have seen a dog tarantula, a Star Wars Ewok, Wonder Woman/dog, and a pet shark. I have not been turned off by a canine bee, Batman pouch, or Chiquita Banana dog. My choice is going to be Dapper Dog in a tux and I am going to make it all myself. It will have tails so that there will be a total of three when he’s sporting it.

One week later: I have purchased some black fabric, kind of nice, and some white to make the shirt. All it needs are some buttons and a store-bought hat. I am going to do this the simple way using grandma’s old singer sewing machine.

I inherited the device years ago and wasn’t sure why. Did she see some budding designer in me? I think she saw someone who would have to mend a torn hem now and then, plus she didn’t want the machine to leave the family. I like the fact that the old model is simple. It is a smallish black metal gadget decorated in gold scrollwork with a foot pedal attached that rests on the floor, a place for the thread, and another on the side for the bobbin. You push down with your foot to go forward or back as the need requires. It doesn’t do button holes, knits (stretch stitching), or embroidery because there is no computer built in. It is just your basic sewing machine no frills no fuss style.

I am preparing my little outfit, cutting it down to Leo’s size: first the shirt with no sleeves, then the tux with minimum ones. The tux will have a pointed collar and snazzy gold buttons, and the shirt will have a perfect black bow tie. Not much to worry about on the sewing front so far. I can hand baste the buttonholes about a half inch in length. That simply means stitching over and over again to “finish” the edges. (Now I see why grandma did what she did. I’m totally into it.)

Another week later: Leo cuts a mean figure in his tux. It’s more like James Bond dog really. All he needs is a martini, a cigarette, and keys to a hot Aston Martin. He will be the coolest dude in the doggie parade—totally dashing as if from another era. Who knows, maybe Leo will need to dress up on another occasion and I will have the garment cleaned, pressed, and ready. I know that at least for Halloween he is going to have a doggone good time.

Pros and Cons of Detachable Showerheads

Dog-washingLeo is my dog and my ever-present companion. You may have seen photos as he is my favorite subject. In any case, from time to time Leo needs a good bath after frolicking in the yard, especially in the mud. Why he likes the outdoors after it rains, who knows? Why he loves to runaround in the sprinklers, don’t ask why. I suppose there is something irresistible about water, even if it does not apply to a bath. That is not his favorite pastime.

No, Leo is not thrilled about getting doused in the house. So I have often resorted to a shampooing on the patio with the garden hose. That suits him just fine, but he doesn’t always have a choice. When it is too cold out there for me, I move the entire enterprise inside. If my hands are frozen, they can’t give him that gentle massage that it is cleaning ritual specialty. If I am shivering, it does him no good.

So indoors is the place to be on bath day. I don’t really welcome them either. Getting Leo to agree to a washing is a chore. You have to work at it. There is a lot of coddling and coaxing going on plus a dog treat or two. When he finally gets settled in the guest room tub, I am ready to proceed. You can never really get a dog rinsed thoroughly with a normal faucet so I have installed a detachable handheld shower head. It is that European style fixture that is a bit odd in construction, but does the job just fine.

There are pros and cons with this method however. Let’s have a look. First of all there is less control over the flailing thing since it does not have a permanent mounting. It hooks onto a receptacle of sorts (not the sturdiest), and sometimes when finished, you miss and it falls to the bottom of the tub. If Leo positions himself just right, the neck will stretch and the showerhead will reach the pup straight on. If he goes to the far end of the tub, it will not. You have to deal with it! One other little problem is flyaway spray if the head is not cleaned often.

On the good side, the device is great for rinsing soap from his fur and it is adjustable for degree of spray and amount of water flow. You can get these detachable devices in different finishes to match your other fixtures for the appropriate degree of décor. They also come in styles from modern to old world to suit your fancy. They can cost as little or as much as you want to spend. For Leo, I will fork over any amount to give him a nice experience.

If you want to enjoy bath time with your pet, I recommend detachable showerheads since they can be installed easily and also removed when they are no longer needed. You obviously can’t put a pooch in an actual shower, so going this route will ensure optimum cleanliness and a pretty good time.

The Characteristics of a Great Photograph

composition05Lots of people will be able to recognize a great photograph when they see one, but they won’t always know why it’s a great photograph until someone like me points it out in the most boring way possible. You’re welcome!

Anyway, one of the most important characteristics of a great photograph is composition. The balance of elements of the photograph is important. Photos with the subject smack dab in the middle of the picture are ugly to look at, even if the subject itself has any visual appeal. The subject may be nice to look at in this case, but the picture itself isn’t going to be.

A better composition involves having the subject in the right or the left side of the photograph, with enough negative space surrounding it that it creates a certain degree of balance. The subject is still going to dominate the photograph as long as the photographer emphasizes its size or its lighting in the right way. However, this sort of composition overall makes for a vastly better photograph.

Getting a good contrast of light and shadow makes all the difference. The photographs that are visually compelling are the ones that really draw your focus in when it comes to the darker areas of the picture. Photographs that have flat lighting where everything looks exactly the same and there seems to be no shadow in the implied world of the photograph are not as interesting to look at as the photographs that are striking.

The photograph can’t be too empty and it can’t be too busy, either. Too much business is going to distract from the subject that you are trying to capture. If the subject is the only thing in the picture functionally, then the picture is going to look to flat and even too fake.

Establishing the balance of all of these elements is going to make photography sound hard and it is. However, it will eventually become intuitive for all people to balance all of these elements, and they will soon be able to recognize good and bad photographs instantly, for better and for worse.