Saturday, December 03, 2011

christmas trees

This is more a test of posting a longer photo than anything but also wanted to put a few images up of helping a group move 700 christmas trees from a woodlot into town. Great day.
I walked around for a bit with a 24mm lens and took about 200 photos. At the end of the day i met and had a long talk with a very interesting 80 year old man who showed me his camp and told me all about his woodlot and the history around it. What i really wanted to do was photograph him in his camp but would have had to walk back to my car to get my camera which was not close at all.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

fun group

I shot these individually on a white background and stripped together in photoshop.
These jobs are always fun and i love doing them.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

fun night

Had a great time at state of the city address tonight and got a few good photos too.
I will post a photo in the next couple of days to explain why i have not been posting lately.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Hard to show the stash as it was very light in color but did some selective burning and dodging and put two heavy vignettes on it and masked out the areas i wanted light.
Just used one light here, softbox up high to right side. I retouched it out of the glasses.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

hdr at dusk

I shot this building for a client and they requested it be done at night. That to me means go just before the sun goes down and shoot until its dark out. There is a time when you can get that nice blue in the sky and still have it look like its at night. On this one i blended 9 images in photomatix and then played with the photo quite a bit. I cant really remember what i did as i was just playing. Now i want to photograph my son and his friends on their skateboards at night and strip then into the scene.

Friday, November 04, 2011

quick portrait

This portrait took all of about 2 minutes to shoot. I set up an off camera flash and when i took the first photo i turned it off. The remainder of the shots (about 10 in total) were with natural light. The raw photos were really flat and blah. I spent far longer in photoshop tying to go a little into the dramatic. First of course was a conversion to black and white, and then multiple layers. I would duplicate my background layer and then darken it, or whatever, and then create a mask to bring her face through from the original layer. I probably did this 5 or 6 times and then went into gaussian blur and did the same thing. I blurred everything except the face and a bit of the shirt. I then did some selective burning and dodging and sharpening and pretty well had it. I really was not sure on how to crop it and still not 100% sure that this one works. The birch tree in the center of the frame really throws the composition for me.

Friday, October 07, 2011

available light

I heard someone say once when asked if they use available light or flash, "i use both, whatever is available". In my opinion, 90% of the time when shooting a portrait, you need flash. Even if its just to pop the eyes and you let ambient light do most of the heavy lifting, you still really need it.
The photo above did not need flash. It honestly was one of those fluke shots that i was not required to shoot but when you see a background like this and light hitting a subject like this, you need to shoot it.
Thanks to my subject for letting me post it to my blog.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

family time

Used 2 sb flashes here pointed direct and self timer so i could run into photo.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

something new

I am planning a self project with portraits and text, written by the subjects. I have the concept, have the people, and just need to play a bit with the design. This is just a test.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

another skydome shot

I am still playing with panos i took at the skydome on vacation. I havent done the one yet that i really want to try but hopefully that will be next. This pano was made from 33 photos, shot left to right in three rows to get the whole scene in. I exported from lightroom to photoshop for the building of the pano.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I took a very nice, very needed vacation this summer. I didn't shoot much but managed about 1200 shots on a trip to toronto.
Here are a couple panos. I have another pano i will strip together of three rows of photos and then am going to make it look like a model scene.

Monday, August 08, 2011

engagement photo

My baby sister is getting married and i took a quick shot of the happy couple today for the invitation.
I used a sb flash bounced into a small silver umbrella, mainly just for a bit of light in the eyes, placed to the left and balanced with the ambient so it would not show up much.
I did a fair amount of work in photoshop mainly with color correction and retouching. Where i shot it on the lawn it was quite green from light bounce.
Now i am excited to see the invitations and even more excited that the wedding is getting closer. Should be a nice day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

color casts

As you can see the title of this post may be a bit of a play on words.
My sons casts come off tomorrow and my neighbors on wed this week. We of course had to get a shot of them together while they were still on. I was very happy with the shot photographically. I used one sb flash bounced into a big 60" umbrella (which the wind caught and destroyed during the shoot). The flash was on full power and in fairly close to them. They were standing in the shade and i think the camera was set to f8 or f11 and 1/250 sec at 100 iso. This of course darkened the sky and background down a bit but made everything from foreground to background in focus. In photoshop later i created a new layer and put a strong gausian blur on it (if i was being fussy i would have blended the layers better, you can see the problems in the grass). I then masked out the kids to keep them sharp. I applied a curve and a vignette, sharpened and was done. Time now to order some new umbrellas.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

night time hdr

I was driving by a building i have shot a few times now and thought i would try a night shot, and of course feed some mosquitoes while i was at it. I bracketed 9 shots and chose 5 to run through photomatix. It was pretty much as easy as that. I did a curve but nothing fancy and sharpened and that was it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

another welding shop

I shot another welding shop recently and was very happy with the photos.
For this shot i placed a sb flash behind him and pointed it directly at his back.
I placed another sb flash, into a silver reflected umbrella, high and to camera right.
I did not have much time to fiddle with the light as my vast experience in welding shops has taught me that welders are not fond of having their photos taken. They will tolerate the camera for a few shots and then walk away. I dont complain about the light not being at the exact setting i would like on these occasions. I am just happy to get the shot.

Friday, May 20, 2011

same angle, different light

I was coming back from lunch today and noticed the sky was very grey and mottled with dark and light.
I had my camera in the car and took a minute to snap 9 bracketed shots (camera on a tripod).
I ran three of the exposures through photomatix and then opened the image in photoshop.
I retouched dirt spots in the grass and then used the dodge and burn tool, alot, to create some dark and light areas and give it the feel i wanted.
I was very tired tonight after a very long week but i could not stop on this one till it was done.
I am glad i stuck with it and was able to stay awake.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

watching the light

I was mowing the lawn last night and noticed my neighbor, who is a very talented artist, working on a wood carving.
The sun was high and not in the right spot but was moving in the right direction. I would mow a strip and look at the sun, mow a strip and look at the sun, etc, etc. It was still probably 20 minutes from being where i wanted it but my lawn was done and he was about to mow his, so i was going to loose him. I grabbed a 50mm f1.4 and my 80-200 f2.8 and started shooting. The long lens was ok but the 50 set to 1.4 was where i wanted to be. I shot a bunch more to the front of him and was pretty well done when i thought i would try a side angle into the sun. Flare was an issue of course and i had to use a bit higher angle than i wanted and hold my hand above the lens as a shade. I was waiting for him to hold the carving in a way that i could see it a bit better but i didn't want to instruct in any way. I wanted this shot to form up all on its own.
In photoshop i did a couple curve adjustments, a couple vignettes, retouched a bit with the healing tool, and used the burn and dodge tool quite a bit. I dodged, set to highlights, around his right eye and the highlight on the front of the birds face. I wanted to try and create two points that would attract the viewers eye.
As usual i was very glad i grabbed my camera or it would have been another one of those shots that got away.

Monday, May 02, 2011

one light after dark

I haven't shot much lately and have been itching to get the camera out.
A new profile photo for facebook is always a good excuse and it worked tonight.
I set up one light (sb flash) bounced into an umbrella and up fairly high placed to the left of frame.
I wanted to capture some blue in the sky and there was not much there so had to shoot at f1.4 with a 50mm lens.
I set the flash to its lowest setting and used a long shutter speed, 1/10 sec i think to bring up the sky.
Hardest part was focusing as it was dark out and camera was searching alot. I had a couple shots that i really liked that were out of focus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

on my way to a shoot

Just on my way to a shoot and thought i would throw up a photo of the day.

Monday, April 11, 2011

nothing special

Nothing special today, just tired and heading to bed.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

new hdr

I haven't shot an hdr image in awhile so thought it was about time.
I was going into an awards shoot and the doorman was looking to see if anyone was coming.
I hand held as i did not have a tripod with me and blended three exposures in photomatix pro (new version out by the way).
I was not centered and the right side was trailing off into the distance so i used the transform - skew and made it so the lines in the photo were straight and even and the right side looked more like the left.
I also used the dodge tool a fair bit over the doors where the text is.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

f2 portrait

I took a portrait today that i was very happy with. Not only was the shoot fun but the results also met my expectations.
And I had some expectations on this one.
I had decided, before i arrived, that i would be using a 85mm lens set to f1.8 and two or three sb off camera flashes.
I turned the flashes way down (only used two in the end) and set one into an umbrella and the other pointed direct at the background from a sharp angle on the right hand side of the frame.
I set the main light (umbrella) as close to him as i could get it so the light would wrap around his face.
While setting up i had also decided to set this main light further around to the left and to shoot from a low angle. As much as i preach about having a idea before you start i also would say that if its not working then change gears. I didn't like the low angle but did not realize that until i shot from a higher one halfway through the shoot. I also moved the light around more so the light would hit both eyes and switched to f2 for just a touch more depth of field.
In photoshop i retouched a bit, not much, and added a vignette. I also increased the contrast using the method i have described in the past (new layer, desaturate,mode to luminosity,up highlights and lower shadows, and lower the layers opacity).
I had decided to shoot this in his living room as he has a house of color and was made to photograph in. That was my best decision of the day.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

a walk around town

I went for a little walk on saturday morning and decided to bring my camera along.
These are just a couple straight up shots, no fancy work done to them.
I thought they went together nicely.

Friday, April 01, 2011

stand out in a crowd

I photographed the president of a building association recently and this is one of the shots.
The client sent me two photos as ideas and wanted to have her in amongst a crowd of hard hats.
The shot was supposed to be taken from above but i did this angle first and then moved to the higher shot.
I liked this one and the client likes the other. I never have a problem with a client liking a different shot, no matter how much i like another. I would not be shooting the image to begin with if it were not for them and at the end of the day i want them happy so they will have me back for more.
I lit this with two sb flashes pointed directly at the subject. My main was more powerful than my fill by a bit and i was careful to place her in the light and not someones shadow. I did not have long for this one as all the guys gathered around as soon as we got there and i hadn't even set up a light stand yet. The doors were also wide open in this warehouse and it was freezing in there. My guess would be 10 minutes max on this from get there to tear down.
In photoshop i darkened everyone except my subject by creating a darker layer and making a mask. I also put a lens blur on that layer as well.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

baby photos

I was at an event tonight where a very good friend of ours won a very big award.
Her daughter and granddaughter were also there and I was trying to make the baby smile.
She gave me the strangest little looks so of course i had to take some photos.
I wanted to be in fairly close so used a 35mm lens. I wanted a shallow depth of field so i set the lens to f2.0.
In a recent little lesson i gave, i talked about deciding how you want your photo to look before you take it. I have talked about doing that alot on this blog and this photo was just another example of that.
If my camera had been set to program mode instead of manually setting the exposure, my flash would have popped up, my fstop would have probably been 5.6, and the background would have been black because the camera would have chosen a faster shutter speed. And i would not have been posting that shot on my blog.
Take the time to play with your camera, learn how to shoot in manual mode, and i promise you will enjoy your photos a whole lot more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

church two

another photo of my church excursion.
No photoshop on this one. Went pure photo on it.
I did do some work on a few images tonight i had shot awhile ago for a magazine cover.
I will post them when i run out of church photos.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cathedral walk

I got a chance to go for a little walk the other morning with some friends and took a couple photos around this church.
I did nothing to this shot other than expose properly in camera and crop it a bit.
Two more shots in the que for the next couple days.

Monday, March 21, 2011

window light

I have been away, so to say.
Now I am back.
I will post photos.
Today and the next day.
I setup a light stand with an off camera flash and a large umbrella tonight to take a nice photo of my daughter, and then i did not use it. The light from the window was very, very nice. I wanted to shoot it at f1.8 for a nice shallow depth of field with an 85mm lens. That aperature in the end was too shallow however. The eye on the left was nice and sharp and the other eye was way too soft. I increased to f2.8 to bring in the other eye a bit and was satisfied. In photoshop i desaturated, applied a vignette, and dodged and burned the eyes to bring up the contrast of them a bit. When you burn use a low tolerance, like 7, and set to shadows. When you dodge use a low tolerance, like 7, and set to highlights. A few passes over the eyes and you will notice a nice improvement.
Its good to be back.

Monday, February 28, 2011

bit of a break

I have not been shooting for the last two weeks as i had a little surgery repair on a small hernia.
It still hurts and i will be taking it easy for a few more weeks to recover. Today was my first day back to work and tonight i can certainly feel it. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and stronger.
As part of my recovery my son made me some cupcakes. He used a recipe from the "kitchen boss" show on TLC for the cakes and butter cream icing and they were incredible. These were the only photos i took while i was off and of course had to be made.
I used a low depth of field (f2 i think) and available light from my kitchen. Pretty basic and simple but effective i think.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

seeing in black and white

A black and white photo walked into my office today, and it had to be shot.
I knew exactly what light i wanted to use, i knew how to get the pose (a little music and some dancing), and five minutes later i had the image and was downloading.
In photoshop i desaturated in lightroom, upped the contrast in photoshop with a curve, retouched the background, and created a vignette. The only other thing i did was use the burn tool set to shadows and went over the dark side of his face to darken it up some more.
Thats it. Five minutes shooting, five minutes processing, and image complete.
It wasn't till the drive home after work that i thought of something i would have rather done.

Monday, January 31, 2011

do i hear 12 into 1

I went to an auction last weekend and took a few shots of the action going on. They had 300 vehicles go through their bay and it was pretty cool to watch, for an hour or so anyway. I ended up shooting from a bunch of different angles but the one your looking at was the first one i picked. I was using a 24mm lens and although it brought a great deal of the room to the sensor, it did not bring enough. I held the camera vertical with the 24mm and did a few panos. This shot was made from 12 seperate images. I usually try to shoot close to a 180 degree view just to give me the flexibility to crop later. You always loose a bunch on the top and bottom of the image also which is why i shoot a wide lens vertically.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

looking for an angle

I shot an event the other night where our premier spoke to 1000 people. I thought i would try some different angles and during the course of his speech i was pretty well all over the room. I really only needed a few shots of him but for some reason i decided that this was a good time to challenge myself. Motivation is a very good thing for a photographer. Some are motivated to do good work by money, awards, and other peoples praise of their work. And whats wrong with all that. Photographers are a weird bunch though. Their main desire, and what keeps them going and growing, is to please themselves. To look at a photo after you have spent time shooting it, and more time working it on the computer, and say wow. To see what you envisioned in your mind before you even took the shot come to life is a beautiful feeling. This is what motivates photographers.
I shot this at a wide open at f2.8 so the lights in the background would not have a hexagon pattern from the lens. I played with the composition so he was encompassed in lights and they were in a pleasing location behind him, not coming out of his eye or mouth. I set the camera to high speed motor drive and held my finger on the shutter release when he would turn his head my way as facial expression can sure make or break a photo. Camera settings were iso 800, 1/160 sec, and used an 80 - 200 lens set at 160mm, white balance set to tungsten. I took about 70 frames and ended up with one i liked.
There was alot of thinking behind the shot and even more patience used up but in the end i was very happy with it, and lightly, under my breath, all alone in my office, i might have even said wow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

adding "son" to the business name

My son had to take a photo for a school project tonight and i think he did a great job.
He needed a photo to bring in so he could write a story about it. Fred is his cat and only his. He sleeps on his bed every night and really doesn't pay much attention to anyone else in the family.
We used an off camera flash held to the left of the photo, that was my part, and he did the rest, as in taking the photo, doing all lightroom adjustments, and touching up in photoshop. I did add a vignette with his supervision but that was all.
Great shot, by a great young man.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

many me

I had to set up the studio this morning for a couple head shots and when i do this i take a couple test shots of myself where the subject would be to see how the lighting is. I took the couple shots and then had an idea, which you see before you. I had planned on taking a bunch of shots of me in different shooting positions and then having me again posing on the chair. Then my buddy walked by and I decided to make him the subject with me shooting and primping him.
I was lucky with my positions as they didnt overlap each other and balanced quite well.
To do this i just set the camera to self timer on a tripod and the focus on manual. I would just hit the shutter button and then get into position. I then just opened all the photos i wanted to use in photoshop and drug then all onto one image, i think i ended up with 5 layers or so. I then created masks on each layer and painted with the brush tool on the masks till i could see what i wanted on each and have the rest hidden. It was very easy and really took no time at all. The only tricky parts were the shadows created by my different positions but i just blended them in by painting on the mask with a lower opacity brush.
My only complaint was that i look bald in photos (ha).

Saturday, January 08, 2011

different shot to start the year

I thought I would start the new year with something a bit different.
I was going to use this post to talk about reflection on the past year and how photographers use the christmas break to analyze their work, past, present, and future.
Instead i think i will ease into the year by wishing all that read this blog the very best and hope we all have a fun and creative year ahead. I am very much looking forward to it.