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The family I grew up in, we’re dog people. We had a couple hounds when I was very young, but then we got a Labrador retriever and stayed with the breed from then on. The first was Missy, and then came Shadow. The last of them, Abigail, was a rescue. She died recently. It was cancer. She was 12.
Here are photos from the day Mom and Dad brought Abigail to my house so we could meet her. It was March of 2011. That’s my brother in there, also with my dear friend Gracie, who passed in 2013.
Abigail’s muzzle almost immediately began turning white. By the time she died, her face was largely white. Here’s a black-and-white film photo I made of her in 2014, her muzzle about half white.
Abigail was a quiet and gentle soul, a perfect companion for my quiet, homebody parents. Since Dad died, it was just Mom and Abigail at home. Now it’s just Mom.
My, but do we become attached to our dogs. We’ll all miss Abigail. Thanks for indulging me today as I remember her.
A portrait of the doggo as a young pupper
Nikon N90s, 50mm f/1.8 AF Nikkor
Ilford HP5 Plus
This is our son Zach’s dog Obie, sitting regally on the rug by the door to the garage. We see a lot of Obie as we’re his default babysitters when Zach travels. He’s a chihuahua-rat terrier mix. This is as big as he’ll be. I’m much more a large-dog person, but Obie’s a charmer and we’re always happy to have him around.
It seems appropriate to photograph a black-and-white dog on black-and-white film. I’d never shot Ilford’s HP5 Plus before, but Analogue Wonderland sent me a roll to try (get yours from them here) in exchange for mentioning that they did.
I’ll have much more to say about HP5 Plus tomorrow, but for today: this ISO 400 film is just lovely, sensitively capturing the entire range of grays. This photograph required no frippery in Photoshop to correct anything. It is perfect just as it came off the processor’s scanner.
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Tired road-trip companion
Kodak EasyShare Z730 Zoom
While Gracie was still alive, she rode along on my solo road trips. When I had a friend along I generally left Gracie at home as her shedding would fill the cabin with tufts of her fur and it wasn’t an experience I wanted to force on my friends. But when my friend Michael and I made this particular road trip down US 50 in Illinois, I brought Gracie anyway because otherwise I would have needed to leave her home alone far too long.
Gracie loved to go out on the road! She’d leap into the wayback of my little wagon and off we’d go. But a long road trip always wore her out. Here, we were on our way back home at the end of the trip. Michael was driving, so I turned in my seat to photograph my dog. That’s definitely her tired face.
Pentax K10D, 35mm f/2 SMC Pentax-FA AL
This dog belongs to one of our sons. Obie could well be the littlest dog I’ve ever known. I much prefer larger dogs. My old friends Gracie, a Golden Retriever-Chow mix, and Sugar, a Rottweiler, were both about the right size for me. Yet Obie is such a great dog — well mannered, outgoing, and happy. And so much more easily transported than Gracie or Sugar!
Canon Canonet QL 17 G-III
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
It was on Thanksgiving three years ago that I lost Gracie. She was very old, at least 17, and had been in declining health for a few years. She was a difficult dog, but we were deeply bonded. I grieved her passing for a long time.
I took this photograph in 2009 while testing a Canonet QL17 G-III I had just gotten. I didn’t know it leaked light. I was disappointed at the time that the leak marred this photo, because I like this composition. Today, it feels like looking through the mists of time upon my old friend.