Photo Essay: Ashland Bassets (October 10, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Pack photos

Multi-headed pack

This was the opening meet for the season, so everyone was well dressed for the occasion and the sporting parson was on hand for the blessing of the hounds.  This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Ashland Bassets, so it was a day of special celebrations.

You can get hunting action anytime but these dress-up occasions are ideal for pack photos, and on this day the weather and circumstances combined to throw up dozens of pack photo opportunities.

Formal pack shots with staff are useful all year round (for newsletters, calendars, etc.), but the informal ones are not to be scorned.  See how the basset with one blue eye peers through the circle set by two other hounds’ tails.  Not easy to tell where one hound begins and the next one ends.

Basset hounds, tall on the horizon

How often do you see a basset hound silhouetted against the sky?  Only some nice steep slopes allowing me to get below them made that possible.  Standard guidance says to get down to the level of the animal to get the best shot but, even if my knees allowed it these days, that is just not on the cards for basset hounds.

Bassets on high

It was appealing to take advantage of the grassy hills and unusual perspective to get shots that are not normally available.  For the example on the right, the long expanse of grass encouraged me to put the “basset horizon” unusually high and crop the scene as a vertical instead of the more typical horizontal orientation.

By the way, this photo from my husband’s point-and-shoot demonstrates that you don’t need fancy gear to get the job done.  While I prefer my shutter-speed priority settings to prevent blur with moving animals, his general purpose settings kept the grass in focus all the way, something I rarely achieve.

Whip silhouette

On the left the whip is made more dramatic by the unusual sky background.  Normally there is something else making the view less clear.

Finally we get (most of) the pack for a more conventional photo with one of the masters.  It benefits by my much lower than usual position, not only for the hounds but also for the master who is not tall.  Looking up at them this way gives them more mass and momentum, like a ship sailing by with the master as the mast.

In full sail

Rabbit trails

Autumn is the time of tall grasses, and neither basset hounds nor rabbits are tall.  The rabbits make trails that the grasses bend down and partially cover, and the basset hounds illuminate those trails by following the scent.  It’s as if some god-like hand took a black marker and drew dotted lines down the trails using bassets.

Along the rabbit trail

Lots of rabbit trails

Partnered with a hound

Two minds with but a single thought

Putty in her hands

On the right we have master and hound clearly united in a common purpose.

On the left, we have the always comical dance that goes on when trying to put the hounds back in the trailer.  Without collars, there are only so many ways of grabbing them, and it’s easier sometimes just to pick them up, even if you’re a bit height challenged yourself.

Notice that the basset hound is very cooperative about all this, submitting with her tail tucked well between her legs to whatever might happen next.

Some hounds can raise passive resistance to a fine art.

This first attempt has the human crane in position to hoist the fur-covered sack of potatoes.  The result resembles a stack of turtles and is just about as mobile.

Once the crane has hooked the object, it’s the sideways motion that’s a challenge.  Do I stagger the few feet to the trailer bent over with my back screaming, or do I bench-press this hound up to chest height so I can stand upright?  And just how many hounds can I lift this way in my lifetime?


A very heavy limp dishrag


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