Dogscapes -The Big Bang

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I was walking back to the car in the Kyle of Lochalsh Co-Op car park after buying some of the daily necessities when a nice couple introduced themselves “was I the chap from Landscapes365 who did the dog pictures?” I smiled and said that I was indeed the chap from landscapes365 (it helped that I was opening the door of a large 4 x 4 with “Landscapes365.com – Give The Gi t of a Day” written on the back. The”f” in gift had fallen off the day I had the sign done and the resultant spelling amused us)  and yes we do landscape photographs. They went on to say that they had seen our Dogscapes365 calendar in a cafe on the island but they couldn’t buy it as it was the last one and the proprietor wanted it for display. I arranged for them to get a copy from ourselves and they complimented me on my work.

“Your dog pictures are really nice, we have dogs too but we don’t have such nice photos of them”

“Thank you” I said “Did you look at the postcards of our landscape work that were displayed with the calendar? We mainly do landscape images, have you seen our website?”

“No, didn’t see any postcards. Loved your calendar. Do you do dog portraits?”

“Yes, but we mainly do landscapes, but yes we can do pet portraits. Have you seen our landscape work?

“Oh, we would love for you to do our puppies, they’re back at home in Leicester. Bit far to travel though”

“Yes, well we are Skye based, it’s where we do most of our Landscape work…”

“Oh, well. Never mind we shall have to make do with the calendar then. Cheerio, and thanks for the calendar!”

“You’re welcome and thank you too.”

“Oh, one more thing. Why are you called Landscapes365? Do you have a landscaping business too? Do you have a digger? Always wanted a shot in a digger.”

I politely left at that point. Rueful and bemused at what sort of genie we let out of the bottle. I can still remember the date we popped the cork on Dogscapes365.

It was the 22nd of March 2010 and I was out taking photos at Ronachan near where we used to live in Kintyre. It is an easily accessible rocky shore with spectacular views across to Islay, Jura and Gigha.  It has to be one of our favourite places to take photos anywhere. It is also one of the Assistants favourites. Lots of birds to chase and plenty of seals and otters to bark at.

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Ronachan is a fabulous place to stop and enjoy the beauty and drama of the Kintyre coast.
On that particular day I had arrived as both dusk and a storm were heading our way. The horizon was filling with dark, lividly bruised and angry clouds, the wind was rising as was the sea. Above us, for the moment, the sky was clear and changing colour spectacularly with the fast setting sun but the clouds were approaching. It was a race to get a photograph while there was still light and before the rain arrived. I managed, just, to get a shot and was about to pack up when I noticed that the gathering clouds and stormy sea would make another interesting and dramatic image. It’s fun to challenge yourself every so often to see if you can defeat the elements.

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The storm approaches. A long exposure taken on that Genesis of Dogscapes day.  

This was when the senior assistant thought she saw a seal and ran into the shot barking furiously. I released the shutter and took the fateful picture. The rain grew heavy and we ran for the car.

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This was taken just before the Senior Assistant decided to gatecrash my party.

Once home and downloading the images from camera to computer I was amused by the shot that had been intruded upon by our idiot dog. It was ripe for having fun with. Normally, it is dangerous to over-work an image in post production, it always looks…. overworked, I suppose. This one was different I may have gone a little crazy with it and the outcome to me looked a bit like a 1970’s heavy metal album cover, cool!

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Here it is. The infamous image. The source of my downfall. This is the birth of Dogscapes365…

I showed it to a few friends and we all agreed it was a mildly humorous picture. Mrs L365 thought we should send it to The Herald newspaper for their Readers Picture Of The Day, which we did and with a touch of serendipity it appeared on The Boss’s birthday (yes, of course I arranged for it to happen this way, as a special present, just for you).

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Long exposure shots were a high risk procedure when there were assistants about. They seemed to like to inspect proceedings from the wrong side of the camera

The picture became increasingly popular . We put it on our Facebook page and it immediately drew comment. We decided then to keep the shots that our doggy interlopers had ruined and post these images on Facebook. Previously they had been muttered at and deleted. Now they started to become popular and more and more people started to comment on the pictures starring an Assistant, or on a really bad day, two Assistants.

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                                        sometimes they were hard to spot…

I have to admit  where previously there would have been waving of the arms and shouts of “Bugger off!” or the like when the idiots had an incursion, now I was taking a picture to please the Dogscapes fans.

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                          Once you knew where to look they were obvious.

We started to notice that the pictures with Assistant in them were gaining as many likes and comments as our landscape ones. People were following us for the doggy stuff in as well as the mainstream landscapes. When announcing an Assistant shot on Twitter or Facebook we started to précis the post with “Dogscapes365” and the name stuck.

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Even the most iconic of views weren’t safe.

Twitter confirmed that the Assistants were becoming more popular when we asked Tweeters what images they would prefer if we produced a calendar. The outcome was that Twitter and indeed Facebook preferred the dogscaped out-takes to the images on our website. Now one of our most popular products is the Dogscapes365 calendar.

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                                                         Nothing was safe.

All of this is rather galling as these images are rejects not good enough for our website. Discarded because there’s not meant to be a big daft dog in landscape pictures. Or so we thought, it seems we were wrong. Not for the first time I should add.

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                 I have to admit some images were a little more contrived…

Dogscapes has become hugely popular. Not only was there a calendar there was also a Dogscapes365 greetings card that was almost as popular as the calendar. People now look past us when they find out who we are and hope to see the Assistants. Sometimes they can’t hide their disappointment when they aren’t there. What do they expect when they meet us in the fruit and veg aisle of the Co-Op?  The Assistants are recognised when out and about and enjoy doggy treats from their admirers. I get nothing. But I suppose having such recognisable dogs helps, we don’t need to wear Landscapes365 branded clothing when we have the dogs with us. In fact we do have Dogscapes365 branded T shirts. A good friend on Twitter designed a logo for the Assistants and t-shirts bearing his excellent design can be bought Here

We are still getting comments on how much our Dogscapes365 images are being appreciated. So we are beginning to regard Dogscapes365  not as a joke and something to amuse our friends but an integral part of our business. But still…stupid assistants hogging the limelight!

        Sometimes the lengths senior Assistant will go to are a little extreme.

Some time after the Dogscape image appeared in the Herald we received a letter, which in itself was of interest. Who gets letters anymore?

Anyway, it was from a lady who for many years ran the post office in the village near Ronachan and had cut out and kept the Pic Of The Day from the year before. They had retired elsewhere and liked our picture as it reminded them of their old home and a dog they once owned who played on the same rocks that the Senior Assistant had posed on. It brought back many happy memories. As their 50th wedding anniversary was approaching they decided that a better copy of the picture would be an ideal gift to themselves.

They tracked us down, without the internet! Since they knew we had moved away they sent the letter to the local Royal Mail sorting office in Kintyre hoping we would have set up a mail redirection. We had and the letter found us. A print was arranged  and we hope they enjoy it.

We now have sold a few more prints of dogscaped images and have come to terms with the fact that some people prefer the Assistants to us. It hurt’s but every time someone orders a Dogscapes print it hurts a little less.

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Senior Assistant has even made it into images on our website. Can you spot her?
There is now a Dogscapes365 Ebook available for the iPad and iPhone for only £1.79. Click HERE to buy a copy.

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