Follow by Email

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eerie Landscapes in Yellowstone National Park

Today is Thursday, so that means I am throwing it back to when we headed down to Yellowstone National Park for the big federal government shut down. Which, was very fortunate. Although we couldn't stay long, we had the whole park to ourselves. It was cold and steamy.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Head Shots w/ Natural Light + On Camera Flash.

Welcome to Calgary - a barren land stricken by salt, dirt, and a continual onslaught of freeze and thaw. Our unique weather patterns lend to a slushy, and downright dirty town. Outdoor shoots become difficult to shoot either due to sub zero temperatures, or the never ending sea of brown dirty snow.  

Stephen needed headshots, but he wasn't keen on the usual studio portrait. He needed something a little more rugged and relaxed. We headed to Fish Creek Park.

f/6.3 | 1/125s |ISO 320  Canon 5D Mark III 100mm Macro
This shot is all natural light. I used a soft gold reflector, as I knew I would like a cooler background. When I changed my white balance in post production, the overall image was able to shift cooler.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Aveda Spring Collection, with Lighting Diagram

One of the best ways to tune-up or hone a skill is to practice by copying. Reproduction in it's very essence can be quite tricky in any medium. Some may say that to create beauty is actually quite simple, but any master must be able to reproduce it with the same efficiency. Artists should have a plethora of skills behind their vision and style. Any painter will tell you the unfortunate truth - mastery by the mundane. For instance, to better understand portraiture in painting or sketching, it is best to start with still life. There are certain appreciations one will grasp. For painters, it is imperative to disconnect the brain from what it thinks it sees, into what is actually there; it is important to see the relation of negative space to positive space, rather than to simply draw the resemblance of a shoe, or flower etc... if the painter wants any sense of realism. 

To freshen up my skills in studio lighting, I often tear out pictures in magazines or search for interesting online publications. I study the picture. Where are the highlights? How hard is the fall off? What do the catch lights look like? As I study, I begin to understand how large the light sources are, how close to the subject they are, approximately how many lights there are, and even what shape the light modifiers are. This study often allows me to follow the similar teachings I had when I studied shadows rather than light in my painting and drawing classes. 

These exercises keep me fresh and excited to try new things.

And that's exactly what we did. Megan Janigan was our makeup artist, with Lisa and Erin being our lovely models 

These were our final images:

To get here though, we wanted to reproduce something similar in fashion to Aveda's Spring Collection.

The key elements to these shots were soft. Really soft. Softer than I ever really shoot.
I knew I needed a very large light source, not too close to the subject. I took the shot with the blonde hair as my main inspiration. I eventually ended up with a lighting set up that I've demonstrated in this diagram for you:

In closing, I hope you can enjoy looking through photographs with the attempt to recreate the look. I find it helps me to reevaluate my tried and true techniques, and gives me a fresh perspective. Perhaps you would like to try out my lighting set up here.
My general thoughts on studio lighting is that less is more. Start with two, and add modifiers before you start adding more lights. Your math skills will thank me. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

So We Drove to Yellowstone

So the government shut down. 

Our timing couldn't have been more impeccable. Somewhat on a whim, we decided that a short trip to Yellowstone would be a fun and adventurous trip; we packed our cameras, made a last minute reservation and headed south. Hours upon hours of prairie is a tedious drive, full of endless vistas and great blue sky. And a long straight road, for as long as the eye can see.  We convinced ourselves it was worth it. I am the type of person to fly to a polar continent, and then jump on a twenty-something-hour bus, and endure frigid weather, just to see a wild penguin after all.

We arrived approximately 1000km later at the park on the evening of Monday, October 30th - the day before the government simply decided to shut down. We drove blissfully through the park, basking in our ignorance and taking photos of sunsets and geysers. A beautiful two bedroom condo in a lodge awaited us at the West Gate. 

The next morning we heard grim news. They had in fact followed through with the strange act of dominance, and closed all National Treasures down. No one was to enter the park. Even us, the weary travelers that had not been warned or apparently educated enough to know this was a possibility. Not even the Korean fellow who came all the way from Asia to see this wonder. An inconvenience indeed. I mean, those people who just lost their jobs were incredibly rude telling us to turn around. My tenacity got the best of me though and we came up with some B.S story that actually worked.

"We understand the park is closed, but no one warned us yesterday and we need to pick up our friends who are camping near the north entrance".

The "don't stop at all. Don't even stop for photos" policy escaped from my memory within a mile. The timing truly was impeccable. Not too many people can say they've seen Old Faithful in peak season nearly alone. Or had the pleasure of driving leisurely through the park without traffic. Or witness bison reclaim the boardwalks as the herd saunters by in the steam. 

Just one of those "right time, smart thinking moments".... Yesterday was a good day

Thursday, June 27, 2013

#calgaryfortunate #calgaryauspicious #calgaryblessed #calgarylucky

Without detracting from the outstanding public worker's, and many of Calgary's volunteers, I still don't think that #calgarystrong is all that appropriate. When we first got news of the eminent flooding, people remained fairly calm here in Cowtown. Some people ignored the mandatory evacuations. I personally was at work, checking my $600 smartphone for updates on the rising waters. People were still going out to eat, drink and be merry, totally clueless to the idea that they might not make it home that night. The entire city watched helplessly as the waters swelled over their banks, and into peoples homes. Cars, homes, wildlife, park spaces, public spaces, roadways, the God Damn Stampede grounds were all in serious jeopardy as the waters overtook the city. One by one neighborhoods began to be evacuated. Friends that moved in with other friends were then evacuated; some had to move up to three times to escape the path of destruction. 
By 2am, the waters had supposedly reached their maximum swell. Manhole covers continued to be uplifted in certain areas however, and ground water leached into foundations even on high ground. The river may have been receding, but the water table remained too high. Sewers were backing up, and spewing onto the city streets. Water was everywhere, and there was no forcasted break. 
Through the rain, we attempted a tour of the destruction. We weren't the only ones with $2500 camera set ups. Bystanders flocked to the accessible views, some at a cost of rescue, all hoping to have their photo featured for a brief moment on TV.
Most roadways were closed. All bridges were closed. Downtown was closed - all the main corridors from east/west north/south were starting to close. It truly was a state of emergency. The City for the first 48 hours was in an almost blissful state; kind of like that moment when you submerge your head in a bath and revel in the quiet. There was no power. No transit. No mode of transport really. All was quiet while we simply waited for the water to recede.

Now back to this "#calgarystrong. Calgary is strong. It is resilient. It is amazing. However, it's also very rich. As I watched with great amazement at how quickly and smoothly the cleanup started, it really made me think of some of the other disasters around the world. How fortunate are we that we are able to have every cleanup crew in the Western Prairies come to help? How fortunate are we that the City can afford all of the street cleaners, pumps, road crews, and helicopter rides? Yes, Calgary is #strong, but it's mostly fortunate.
We are fortunate to have strong, able bodies. We are fortunate to all have access to news, and social media in a time like this. We are fortunate to have neighbours who are willing to help, rather than loot. We are fortunate to have good engineers to help plan for distasters. We are fortunate to have a government
that legitimately cares about it's people and their well-being. We are fortunate to have global news coverage, so even those Cambodian orphans can donate to our cause. We are fortunate that only half of 17th avenue is closed, so that even amongst a disaster, we can still get an $8 beer, at precisely the right temperature. 

Bring it on Stampede! Bring on the chance to forget! #calgarystrong? #calgaryfortunate

Friday, June 21, 2013

Calgary & Southern Alberta Floods 2013

These are all taken from the East side of the city.
Some are of the Inglewood Golf Course, Deerfoot at Southland, Ramsey, and Inglewood. More to follow

Deefoot just before Blackfoot, high waters

A pin stays upright against the current

The entire golf course has become a flood plain

Just another road closure



Industrial areas have been hit

Just north of Southland Drive

The river bend overflows into Stampede Park

The stables at Stampede park

The Grand Stand


Water flows into the city

Water flows right through the city

A river where there never used to be a river

A river path completely underwater

A 2M underpass completely underwater

Industrial piles float downstream 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Abstract of Several Flowers Pretending to be a Single Flower

This image is directly out of camera.
It is several white and pink flowers with a middle focus point through the flowers. Using a long exposure, I spun the camera around the focus point to create the multiple flowers into peddle like ghosts.
It is a two second exposure, at F/13.