Kira The Gentle

Kira came to be part of our family in a funny way. I had been volunteering my time at the Chemung County SPCA to photograph the dogs and cats there that are available for adoption. I love just about all the dogs that I have worked with there. But when I photographed Kira there was just a connection. I went home and posted her photos online and I half-jokingly commented with the photos that someone better go adopt her before I do. We were not looking for a dog at the time and despite the connection I felt with her I was not seriously thinking about adopting her. At this time my wife, Debby, was working at the Chemung County SPCA and shortly after I photographed Kira she said she thought she really liked Kira and maybe we should adopt her. And that was all it took. I was fully on board and Kira went home with us.

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Kira at the Chemung County SPCA

Kira might have been the perfect adoption for our family. She was just the right dog for us. We have always had multiple dogs in our home and adding another dog to the mix can be complicated. Kira was the perfect fit. She got along fine with all our other dogs. She didn’t need to be crated. She didn’t cause any problems when left alone in the house. She might have even been too well behaved for us. We love to sit with our dogs all snuggled up on the couch and we had to teach Kira that it was OK to get on the furniture at our house. One thing I did learn quickly is that Kira was not a dog to let off leash. One day shortly after she came home I unhooked her from her leash thinking we’d just walk the few steps to the door and into the house. Wrong. She bolted across the yard and down the road. Luckily she was a big dog and I caught her pretty quickly. And that is how our lives together began.

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It’s really tough when you adopt an older dog. There is this ever present feeling of uncertainty. You never know what to expect. While nothing in life is certain, when you commit to an older dog you know that there is a god chance that their best days may be behind them and the life you experience with them might be short and limited. It is something that you try not to focus on but it is a consideration. We tried to make the best of things with Kira and for the most part she was healthy and loved to do all the things that any other dog would love to do and we tried to get her out there doing as much as possible.

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She enjoyed walks, and hikes, and going to events with us. She loved us and loved being with us. We tried to give her the best life we could and she ave us everything she had until her last day. It’s hard not to feel like it was unfair that we had such a short time to spend with her. She was such a loving and comforting dog. She didn’t want to do anything but sit with you. The only thing on Kira’s agenda was sit with my humans. Be with my humans.

Kira at Seneca Lake
Kira at Seneca Lake

It’s funny now thinking back on our time with her, that there aren’t many crazy stories to tell about her because she was just that kind of dog that didn’t require much. She didn’t do crazy things. She was just mellow and melted into the background of the home. She was the calm one. The one that waited her turn and when all the other dogs were done she would approach to get her turn with you and be petted and loved on. When you lose a dog like that you have lost something special. A dog that didn’t require any extra work. A dog that was just there for you and accepted whatever you had to give. I think that my favorite memory of her is after finishing my first half marathon Debby and Kira were waiting for me at the finish line. She was there to cheer me on and support me just like family does.

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It’s odd how much an impact it is or a void that can be left by the quiet and calm presence of one dog when they are no longer there. There isn’t this huge dog who quietly saunters down the all to my office and nudges my hand while I work so I will pet her and then lies down quietly on the floor while I work. I won’t have that warm heart just a few feet away as I type or edit photos anymore. There is more room in my office now, but I would give anything to be crowded again and have to type one handed.

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I spent the last week we had with Kira wanting to get some photographs of her. But as a photographer I have this need for the photos to be perfect. Even if they are just personal photos that I might be the only person to see them. I still want them to be nice. I want the photos to be as good as they can be and I want my dogs to look good in the photos. So I kept putting off taking photos until I had time to get out my cameras and lashes and take some nice indoor portraits of Kira so that I would have really nice photos to remember her by. Then one night I decided to lie on the floor with her and just snuggle her. It was then I decided I needed to just take photos now and capture the moments as they were. The real moments that we had together. Because we never knew how much more we would have. I am so glad I made that decision. I took photos of her with my cell phone two nights in a row and then she was gone. If I hadn’t taken those photos I would not had any images to remember her in her last days by. So don’t wait for it to be perfect. Don’t wait for the best possible circumstances. If you have an opportunity to create memories do it now while you have the chance. You never know if you will have the opportunity again.

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Coming home from work to find that Kira had passed was not how we wanted it to go and it might have been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced. But, Thankfully we have amazing family and friends that when we shared the news of Kira’s passing were so supportive and loving. There really are no words to express how grateful I am to have all these people in my life. I don’t know how we would get through the times like this without them. So many people shared words of compassion with us and told us exactly the right things that any dog lover needs to hear in these tough times. We also have the most amazing vet who took the time to talk to us and share her thoughts and kind words with us. Knowing that she didn’t believe that Kira suffered meant so much to us.

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In the end Kira died at home the way she lived. Without fanfare and without drawing attention to herself. She died peacefully and in a way that we didn’t have to make that most terrible decision that any dog owner has to make. In hindsight I believe Kira was hanging on those last few days for us. She still got up and followed me to my office even though it was obvious she was laboring. And that was when we knew it was time. But she had other plans. For the last few nights once we knew the time was close, before I went to bed I got down on the floor with her and whispered in her ear. I told her I loved her and if it was time for her to go tonight that it was OK and that she didn’t have to hang on for us. And that is what she did. Once we were gone for the day and she didn’t have to be with us anymore she could leave us for the last time. The hardest part is just not being able to be there in the last moments and say goodbye.

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Running partner day 2

Earlier this year I took this crazy mutt for a couple of runs. She is a beginning runner. Much like I was not to long ago she struggles to keep up. I really want to run with her more but she has a hard time keeping up. She can barely go 3 miles with me. Normally I would think this is great, but right now all my running goal have me training for long races that require me to have long training runs. Not as much time for short runs she can accompany me on. I need to train her up like any runner gradually increasing her distance so she builds endurance. But I am not sure ow to find the time. Brynn also struggles with something many human runners strugle with and that is pacing herself on a run. She just wants to sprint and pull and run. Then before we finish she is exhausted. But I am looking forward to more runs with her.

Woof and Wine Fest

For me there is not a whole lot better than an event with dogs. The only thing that can make that better is if it is an environment where I can take photographs of all the dogs. Last year we went to this event for rescue and shelter organizations at a local winery. It is so much fun to see all the shelter/rescue dogs out int he public getting attention.

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The event is not designed for photography so it takes some creativity to capture the nice images that these shelter dogs deserve. Shelter dogs are such amazing animals. They deserve to get the best I can offer them. So I really strive to capture great images of them. It makes me so sad that I didn’t get around to sharing these photos until now.

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I am sure that by now all these fine dogs have found warm loving forever homes. They were all at the event with great organizations that were taking great care of them. Getting to play with dogs and photograph them is pretty much a day in my own personal heaven. The only downside is when you meat adorable friendly dogs but you already have so many dogs at home that you can’t take one of these adorable shelter dogs home with you.

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That is one reason I try to photograph the dogs and share their photographs. I would love to take them all home but we have already done our fair share of rescuing and adopting dogs so there is no room with us despite what our hearts might want. So I need to share their photos and help them find great new homes. This is something I have collaborated in with our local shelter and the more I think about it the more I need to find a way to get back to the shelter and photograph more dogs and share their stories so they can find a way home. If you want to help support me in that mission you can support me on Patreon so that I can spend more time working with the shelter pets. https://www.patreon.com/KRNaturalPhoto

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If you are anything like me just seeing cute and friendly dogs out and about melts your heart and I just love the opportunity to capture nice images of dogs in general. But then there is a chance to help a shelter/rescue dog find a home it might not otherwise find I think my heart grows three sizes like the Grinch and I strive even harder to capture images that really capture the personality of these dogs and presents the best they have to offer so that potential adopters will get the best look at them that they can and maybe be persuaded in part by my photography to look into one of these dogs and maybe go meet them. And sometimes just one meeting with a shelter dogs is all it takes for them to steal your heart. Then off they go to a new home. I love the idea that I could be a part of making that happen in any small way. But it is really about the dedicated staff at the rescues and shelters. They make it happen.

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I really need to focus on this part of my photography more and post photos in a timely manner so that they can have the most impact. If nothing else I hope that my photos help to give shelter/rescue dogs a better reputation. They are too often portrayed as broken scared dogs. Anyone who has been loved by a shelter dog knows that in most cases this is the furthest thing from the truth and if one person sees my photos and decides to check out their local shelter and falls in love with any dog then I have played my small part.

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But also, cute puppies. I mean come on. How do you not love that. Look at that face. That tiny nose and those cute eyes. That is all it takes to get my attention.

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After a long day at an event it is time for a puppy nap.

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Even the older dogs need their beauty sleep. So if you ever hear that there is a rescue event going on nearby do check it out. You might just meet your next best friend.

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Exploring Ithaca, NY

So apparently 6 months ago I started writing this post and never got back to it. Distractions, procrastination, just plain forgot. You name it. It happens to the best of us. I added all these photos to a draft and then never came back to it. I have no idea why.

I went to Ithaca, NY. One of my favorite places and I just wanted to explore the area a little more in depth than I had in the past.

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I went to my favorite locations, but I tried to focus on different things. Sometimes the little things. Sometimes things that are just a little askew. I wanted to look at things from different angles. Use my different tools that I had at my disposal. This included several different cameras and lenses all with their own set of capabilities.

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Sometimes you are lucky and nature simply grants you the perfect set up for interesting photographs. I love waterfalls and I love Buttermilk Falls State Park, but seriously can you beat to huge trees jammed up in a waterfall and one of them is at an angle so you can show it coming right at you. That was one of the advantages of my different camera set up on this trip. I would not likely have been able to capture that image with my traditional waterfall shooting set up.

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Sometimes you just need to get close to the subject. This photo was taken at the perfect angle to allow me to focus on the flower blooming inside the leaves an blur out the rest of the irrelevant detail in the image.

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And when you are walking around the Cornell Botanical Gardens there is an abundance of oportunities. And something just catches your eye and you see a tree with surrounding flowers and you just know that this is the image you want to capture. It just makes sense. You get the correct camera and lens combination and you create an image that matches your vision.

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I used my macro lens to get p close and personal with these flowers growing low to the ground. My lens is only 60mm so I was likely in some kind of strangely contorted posture taking this photo. I was either hunched over, crouched, on my hands and knees, or lying down. The things one will do for a photo.

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I loved this little grouping of flowers. I was very happy I was able to capture three of them in focus together with another flower out of focus in the background. The little twig adds another element in the photo from the time of year when flowers are blooming and pushing up through the dead debris of the past.

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Really this photo does not require much commentary for me. If you are familiar with our part of the Finger Lakes at all you know what this is a photo of. This is Taughannock Falls State Park. This photo is from the upper look out area near the visitor center. It is quite a majestic view. This is a place that must be experienced.

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This photo is from along the lower portion of Taughannock Falls State Park as the water runs away from where the falls pours down it creates this stream and nice rock formation through the gorge.

 

Another Running Goal

As a runner one thing that helps me stay motivated and get the training I need to enjoy the races I want to run is setting goals. The goal could be the race itself that I want to run or it could revolve around some other aspect of running. Goals can be time related, distance related, or taking on another specific challenge.

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After running multiple half marathons in 2016 I found that the half marathon distance is a a distance I like for road races. It is the perfect amount of challenging yet holding the possibility of improvement. I decided both training for the races as well as running them. I decided that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon whenever I saw a race that looked fun. I didn’t want to have to look far off into the future and plan and make sure I had time to train for a half marathon.

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I just want to see a fun event and jump on it and do it. This might sound a little crazy from some perspectives. But it seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I enjoy running half marathons. I want to be able to run any half marathon that sounds fun if I want to run it. I want to be ready for any opportunity that may arise.

So to this end I decided that since I had trained for a half marathon the past two years in a row now as my goal race I wanted to be at the point where I didn’t have to “train” just to be able to run the half marathon. I wanted to be in good enough running shape to be able to run the half marathon distance whenever. I may not be able to run it to the best of my ability but I wanted to be to the point where I could run the distance without suffering at any time.

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I decided I wanted to commit to running a half marathon distance at least once every month for all of 2017. That way My legs would build the muscle memory of that distance. My mind and my body would know how to run that race. I would fully know what to expect from that distance. I figured this would keep me prepared for any half marathon that I should decide I wanted to do. This lead me to mapping out a nearly half marathon distance run that I cold do from my house in a loop fashion that would include over 1,200 feet of elevation gain. I never thought I would be doing anything like that.

The toughest part of this goal came in May. I had been enjoying my normal running routine and went out for a planned 13.1 mile run with a friend and the run just wasn’t going well. I was exhausted and tired and slow. I eventually had to call it quits at 11 miles. It was a huge downer. My friend knew I was bummed about not getting to my goal distance and encouraged my to shake it off. Telling me that we all have bad days. Days when our runs don’t go as we would like, and that is true. But I still felt down about that run. I had this goal and now I wasn’t going to reach it. I never reached my goal of a half marathon distance run for May.

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I could have let that stop me. I could have given up on my goal of running half marathon distance runs and never run another one after that. Or I could have run long runs less frequently, But I didn’t I continued to run half marathon distance runs. I ran with friends or I ran solo, but I ran. I kept reaching for that goal even though technically I still wouldn’t reach it. But I would still get 99.9% of the benefit of trying to attain that goal. There is more to setting a goal than just saying you achieved that specific thing.

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I managed to keep up my motivation through the month of October. Other than the one month I didn’t run a half marathon distance run I did successfully run a half marathon distance every other month. In October I actually ran at least 13.1 miles three times and that included the hardest run I have run to date, a 25k trail run with over 4000 ft of elevation.  So don’t let one minor hiccup in achieving your goals create a real setback in what you are trying to achieve. You can still achieve a great deal without actually meeting the exact definition of what your goal was.

Reaching for your goals helps you feel better. It provides motivation. It provides the fodder that powers us on to bigger and better things. Set goals. Reach for them. Achieve them. And most importantly of all keep striving for them despite setbacks. You will be glad you did.

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Run, Photograph, Write

I have gone out and pursued more photography with a purpose this year than I ever have in the past. In the past I would go out and generally just search for something interesting to photograph. Then once I found a subject and photographed it I would come home and have to figure out what to do with those photographs.

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This year more than any other year I have had more of a plan. As my focus in my personal life has trained more on running, my photography has also become more focused on running. So I go out with intention. I go out to photograph a race that is happening, or I am running a race and I am planning to take photographs while I am out racing, or I go out for a run with he goal of photographing the places my run leads me to explore. Then once I run and photograph I generally have a plan to write about or otherwise share the experience that I have had.

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I really like this process. It has lead me to explore many new things. I have tried out knew processes and had to thing differently about my photography than I have in the past. I have tried out knew equipment. I am constantly thinking about ways to improve how I am experiencing the event. How can I capture moments better. How can I improve my experience as a runner and photographer and how can I create better content to share with you.

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I am photographing the Red Baron Half Marathon for the Southern Tier Running Club on Sunday November 5, 2017. I have been thinking about this event a lot. I am going to tray something different here. Normally I pick one spot and photograph the race from there. Since this will be a longer race. I am going to try to photograph from two different spots. I am also going to try to use a Go Pro camera mounted on a tripod to capture the race as a time lapse photography series. I am really not sure how all of this will turn out. There are still some moving pieces but I am hoping for a good result. I look forward to seeing everyone out there. Enjoy the run.

Need a reason to run?

Why Run?

  • For exercise.
  • For fun.
  • For peace.
  • For solitude.
  • For energy.
  • For fitness.
  • For health.
  • For a cause.
  • For friends.
  • To see new things.
  • To have new experiences.
  • To be part of a community.
  • To share in something.

Who cares why, just run.

Talking photography, dogs, and life.

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