First image is Straight-Out-of-Camera (SOOC). The wonderful magics of shooting in RAW allowed me to still come out with the second image.

First image is Straight-Out-of-Camera (SOOC). The wonderful magics of shooting in RAW allowed me to still come out with the second image.

What is a "RAW" image, and why is it important?

If you bought a DSLR or a mirrorless camera to take photos of your own dogs, then you've probably asked yourself a question like, "what's the difference between shooting in RAW and in JPEG?"

And, more importantly, "which one should I pick?"

The short answer is RAW.

Let me try to explain RAW vs. JPEG in the context of food and recipes. Bear with me here because this is going to sound silly.

Imagine you're craving a delicious bowl of guacamole. I'll give you two options.

Option 1: I can give you anabundanceof raw ingredients for you to make your own guacamole.
Option 2: I give you a pre-made guacamole, but you can't add or subtract anything from it. Let's pretend there's no seasoning available in this scenario. You have to eat it as it is.

If you want to save time, and give up control -- you'll pick option 2, the pre-made guacamole. The upside is, you get a guacamole right away. The downside if you don't like how it tastes, you can't add or subtract anything to it because it's already made.

But if I give you option 1, you have all of the raw ingredients to create a guacamole. That means, with time and effort on your part, you'll create your own guacamole. In fact, because you have an abundance of raw ingredients, you can make 3 or 4 more bowls of guacamole just in case you messed up the flavor the first time. And, you can even try something different on the fourth bowl like adding garlic salt instead of regular salt, which I would personally recommend.

In other words, choosing Option 1 (i.e. RAW) gives you room for failure and creativity.

I know! This is such a bad example and the logic doesn't make perfect sense but here's what I'm trying to say about RAW vs. JPEG.

JPEG is fixed, while RAW gives you the creative control.

When you pick JPEG, you're asking the camera to make the final photo for you (i.e. the guacamole). You'll have very little say in how you want to edit the photo later, like making some parts darker or some parts lighter.

But with RAW, you have full and complete creative control. And that's where the above example comes in. Do you see that before/after picture? I couldn't have rescued it if I was shooting in JPEG.

In my "before" photo, I really messed up the camera settings so the photo came out much darker than I expected. But because I made a RAW image, I had an abundance of "raw ingredients" to work with, which allowed me to still create a jaw-dropping, stunning image out of it.

So when you take out your own camera to make a portrait of your dog, try shooting in RAW instead. You won't regret it.

Now, excuse me, I'm off to go make myself a guacamole.

Happy Weekend,


Are you letting Instagram limit you?


If most of your own dog’s photos are in the Square aspect ratio, or vertical orientation, then the answer may be yes.

Don't let Instagram limit you.

I'm talking about the vertical orientation of it.

I know, I get it.

We want to share images for those feel-good chemical spikes in our brains whenever someone likes our image.

But the Instagram interface is limited.

Don't let Instagram be the final destination of your image.

Let the print be the final iteration. Let your vision lead the way, not the Instagram interface.

Instagram, the most popular image-sharing platform right now, is limited by the vertical orientation of everyone's mobile device.

Earlier this week, I shared the photo you see above on Instagram. And I was so excited about it! As I finished my editing touches on it, I couldn't wait to share the joy of it with everyone.

But, sharing it on Instagram fell short of the true image -- my "author's intent."

Here's what I mean:

Optimized for instagram viewing

Optimized for instagram viewing

vs. this:

The actual photo.

The actual photo.

Now if you're reading this image on your mobile device, the first image will look better to you, of course. Because your device is biased for the vertical aspect. But if you have a large iPad, or monitor at home -- check out what the full landscape image looks like.

But can you see what's missing now? Two-thirds of the real image! Imagine going to a movie theater and seeing only a third of the movie.

Could I have included the landscape in my Instagram post? Sure...but then it looks so tiny now!

If I'm going to print this photo, there's absolutely no way I'm cropping this down. It's meant to give a bigger feeling.

You see, some images are meant for the horizontal, landscape, sweeping view that I love -- especially with images I like to create.

Instead of asking, "how do I create an Instagram image to get the most likes?" ask this, "how do I take a mobile phone image that truly reflects the personality of my dog, and truly projects the vision I have at the moment?"

Because, you see, tomorrow Instagram could disappear. Some hacker could take it all down. Some Instagram employee could accidentally wipe out all the code. Someone could hack your account (this happened to me). And all of your photos may be lost there with it.

If all your dog photos are just intended for Instagram, you're going to have mostly only square and vertical photos of your dog.

I don't know about you, but to me that's boring.

So when you take photos of your own dog, don't think of Instagram as the final destination. Think of a lifelong, lasting print as your final destination. Because those will always outlast whatever social media platform comes next.

If you're not paying for it, you don't own any of it. And it could all disappear tomorrow without warning.

Let the print be the final iteration. Let your vision lead the way, not the Instagram interface.

Happy weekend!

- Steamer

This Photo May Lower Your Stress Levels Right Now


When you have hundreds of images of your dog, how do you pick your favorite one to share?

Let me share with you how I do it.

I look for the images that makes me pause --
the kind that makes me pore over the details in the photograph

The ones that makes me pause, and “read” the photograph from left to right, from up to down.

That makes my eye wander, explore, and extract.

This photograph of Maya makes me do just that.

I look at the lines on the table, on the bench, on the chair, and how they create cozy 'box' around Maya.

I can feel my hands rubbing across the texture of the wood
The texture of Maya’s fur, the softness of it, the warmth of it.
Then the texture of the soft and warm blanket I laid out for her.

The summer evening
The feeling of enjoying an eventful day of hiking, and now it’s time to rest
The feeling of relaxing outdoors, in the summer, in the mountains.
It reminds me why I love summer evenings.

Something beautiful about the sunset sky,
there’s a quietness to this image.

There's a diagonal balance created in the image between Maya and the sunset.

There’s something intriguing about the blanket.

I feel like it’s the colorful blanket that makes this photograph.

All other colors are on the neutral side, while the color of the blanket itself brings life to the image

This image calms me down.

This is the kind of image that makes me want to create a gorgeous large print, like a 24x36.
The kind that makes me want to sit in a room with it, enjoying a warm cup of coffee, and a book in my lap.

When it comes to photos, we tend to believe more is better.

But what I'm looking for within thousands of photos I'd take on any given photo session, is that one or two or three that makes me pause, stop, and read.

You know you have a photograph when it becomes more than just a photo, but an experience that embracesyou.

Another thing: don't think about what others may think of the photograph.

Just pick the one that resonates with you, personally.

Happy weekend!

- Steamer