July/August 2017The Story behind the Cover ShotStory & Photos by Joey Frazier

There were lots of whistles, claps, hand signals and laughs on the sidelines as South Carolina Wildlife editor Joey Frazier positioned himself along the Lake Hartwell shoreline to capture the fantastic photograph of the five Boykin spaniels featured on the SCW July-August 2017 calendar cover. The Boykin spaniel owners, all family members, managed to hold the attention of their little brown dogs for seconds at a time as the camera clicked in rapid fire.

SCW Editor Joey Frazier gives the behind-the-scenes story - from the photographer's perspective.

"The action happens pretty fast photographing pets. I try to approach these shoots prepared with patience, filters and a sense of humor. Here's how I got this shot: I used a Nikon D750 equipped with a Nikkor 24-120mm lens set to 50mm. I wanted to use a longer lens to take advantage of shallow depth of field, but I could not position myself that far back and keep the dog owners out of the shot as they tried to keep their pets in position long enough for me to fire off a few frames.

I also utilized a Nikkon SB700 for fill flash because the scene was somewhat in shadow due to slight backlighting with the sun still relatively high in the sky at 3:00 pm. I wanted the pretty side of the lake to appear in the background, so that was the angle I was stuck with, at that time of day. The exposure was ISO 640 – to open up the shadows from the back light – with a shutter speed of 1/200 (fastest possible with the flash attached) and an aperture of F/10 to keep all the dogs sharp. I used a circular polarizing filter and a graduated neutral density filter hand-held in front of the lens to keep some detail in the sky."

The Boykins featured on the cover have a unique family connection. One of the owners, Michelle James, shares the story of her family and their long-running connection to South Carolina's beloved state dog.

"Our story with Boykins began when my aunt and uncle got Sally Girl from a breeder in the upstate about twenty-five years ago. When we would all get together, all of us fell in love with this happy, family friendly dog and so the story began. Because we had all fallen in love with Sally Girl, we were determined to start our family off right with Boykins of our own.

My husband Ladd and I got Sergeant right before we married and my mom and dad (Gail and Kirk) got his sister, Maggie. That was twenty-one years ago. Boykins weren't as well-known throughout the state back then. We got stopped a lot and asked, "What kind of dog is that????" We were always proud to teach them about our South Carolina state dog!

Those dogs went everywhere with us. If we went to the beach, they were jumping the waves and greeting everyone they met. If we went to the mountains, they were accompanying us on hikes. We never worried about them wondering off. Boykins are a loyal breed and want to always have their family in sight! A relaxing afternoon by the lake meant these dogs were splashing, swimming and playing with all the kids. A little bit of squirrel and bird hunting has been attempted, but mostly these dogs have been great family dogs adding much love to our large extended family. Anytime our family got together (aunts, uncles and cousins-gathering from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina) the dogs always came along and visited too, adding much entertainment.

Over the years, another aunt and uncle added Aby and Gabe and another aunt and uncle added Scout. All six of these dogs have since passed on of course. The new tribe was started with Bo, Brownie and Isabelle, all going on six years old from the same litter, who have grown up with a love of the water and the outdoors - never missing an opportunity to take a swim in the closest body of water or play fetch for hours on end. Later came our cousin's dog Wade, and then my brother's dog Lady. Our human tribe has grown with lots of babies, but our first babies will always be our furry, loyal friends - our little brown dogs."

A group photo was taken following the shoot to commemorate this special reunion! From left, owners Kirk and Gail Porter with their dog Isabelle, Michelle James with Brownie and Bo, David Rice with Wade Hampton and Sheldon Porter with Lady Bird.

Download this Month's Cover!

Looking for a new background for your cell phone, tablet, or PC? Download South Carolina Wildlife magazine's Boykin spaniel cover shot right here!

Photo by SCW editor Joey Frazier


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