Monday, December 20, 2010

Band Promo Shots

After about two hours of shot selection, post processing and re-post processing, I've got a series of promo shots and headshots for my friend's band. I've shot them before but this was outdoor shots, and properly lit indoor work as opposed to the dive bar from last time.

The band members have changed up a bit too, so I was shooting some of them for the first time.

First, we did a quick series of headshots for promo use. I shot this with a three light setup: Key to camera high left, fill to camera low right and hair light subject high right and behind, all fired with pocket wizards. The key light was shooting through the Lumiquest SB3, the fill in a 43" shoot-through umbrella, and the hairlight was snooted with a Honl collapsable snoot.

All headshots were taken with the 70-200 at focal lengths around 130mm.

Lead singer - Jack
Jack Grass - Jack

Lead guitar - JJ
Jack Grass - JJ

Bass - Keith
Jack Grass - Keith

Drums - Mitch
Jack Grass - Mitch

After, we headed out into the Winnipeg winter and shot some outdoor group shots. We hit the back roads and went looking for trucks, tractors, or wide open spaces.

Initially, we shot a bit on a nearby back road, but there was a bit of a lack of interest in the shots. One worked well enough to keep, but Mitch had stepped slightly forward in the frame. Not a huge deal, but noticeable and annoying in the shot to my eye:

Jack Grass - On the Road

A quick note on this shot and the following ones. I sharpened in post, cranked up the contrast and colour and then applied a very light texture from Totally Rad Actions called 'Dirt Bag'. This is a bluegrass band, and they wanted a rough look to the shots, and I found that this touch helped to capture the feel.

Our big break came when a friendly trucker gave us ten minutes or so to shoot with his rig while he was in a service station. We moved quickly, picked a few angles and started shooting:

Jack Grass - Truck 1

Jack Grass - Tires

Jack Grass - Truck 3

My favourite shot of this session was taken down low, at a wide angle, with (to my eye) the best composition of the session. I'm quite fond of this one:

Jack Grass - Truck 2

I just wish I had got that one boot all the way in frame! Gah!

Anyhow, thanks for reading, I'd love any opinions on these shots!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Gym Kids

As Christmas draws closer things are getting busier but I've been getting the camera out regularly, and have been shooting whenever possible. Today I did some promo shots for a friend's band that I should be able to process and post tomorrow.

Tonight I managed to process some shots I took yesterday at my daughter's final Gym Kids session. I shot some earlier this year but this time I brought a flash to deal with some shutter speed and exposure issues.

Just more pics of my kids, but I thought I'd share them.

Gym Kids - Skinning the Cat

Gym Kids - Japanese Bar

Gym Kids - Crouch

Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Safety is job five!

Just a bit of an odd shot, taken from my office window this morning.

Safety Fail

My building is having some HVAC equipment replaced and this old piece was being cut down with a cutoff saw, on a ladder... I think this qualifies as a safety fail. I would like to have taken a shot of the cut itself but had neither my telephoto lens or an ability to get closer. So be it, this one amuses me!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

They grow up so fast!

Nothing technically or artistically interesting today, but tonight I shot a few pictures at my daughter's first Christmas, oops I mean 'Winter' Concert.

I didn't expect too much, as I was dealing with horrid lighting, a position too far away at a bad angle, a spotlight moving all over the place, harsh direct flash lighting, and a microphone stand that looks like it's coming out of her head in some shots. Still, I think she's cute :)

Winter Concert - #1

Winter Concert - #2

Winter Concert - #3

All shot at 200mm with the 7D, 70-200 f/2.8L IS locked in at 1/100th shutter, f/2.8 at ISO 400 with the flash in E-TTL mode a +1/3 stop. Can't complain!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My day job meets my wannabe night job...

In my day job, I'm an IT monkey for a branch of the provincial healthcare organization here in Winnipeg. A lot of my co-workers know about my hobby/wannabe other job so I've done a lot of shooting around for them here and there.

Today, I actually had a commission of sorts from a friend and co-worker who is the lead web developer for our organization. He needed a shot of a keyboard and stethoscope and had already blown their photo rights budget for the fiscal year. So, perhaps this isn't a paid job, but maybe when the budgets refresh in the new year, they'll consider some in-house photography services.

IT and Healthcare

The backdrop was left off-white since the shot is going to be overlaid on a as-of-yet-unselected backdrop colour. There is a clear difference in lighting between the rear 'wall' and 'floor' of the lightbox, but perfection there wasn't really required in this instance. In addition, popping the lights at even brighter settings blew out the chrome on the stethoscope and presented a whole new range of problems.

Lighting on the right side is an LP160 through the Lumiquest SBIII at 1/16th power. On the left is another LP160 at 1/16th power through the side of the lightbox. The left light is at a higher intensity to really make the chrome pop and to get a nice drop shadow. Both were optically triggered by the 580EX II on-camera at 1/32nd power, pointing up with the Omnibounce for a nice soft fill light from above.

Shot with the 7D, EF-S 60mm Macro at f/5.6, ISO 100 and 1/200th shutter.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Backyard Buns!

Hey all!

Another length of time between posts, but this is just a matter of lack of free time. My passion to shoot is surely back, but I'm realistic about just how busy the next month will be.

I had a good opportunity today though. We fill our bird feeders all winter, and one reason is actually the bunnies! It's quite a sight to see, the rabbits dig in the snow for fallen seed, and when they leave, the birds come and scope out leftovers in the burrows. All winter long we have little guys popping out of the drifts.

I'm sure the rabbits know us by now, they are pretty fearless and he let me get quite close:

Backyard Bunny

It's nice to see wildlife in the backyard, especially in the winter.

Taken with the 7D and 70-200mm at 200mm, AV mode at f/5.6 and ISO 100. Post processing to dull the blue in the snow, heighten contrast and sharpen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gotta shoot, gotta shoot, gotta shoot!

Hi everyone!

How long has it been, two weeks or so? The bug is coming back and today I finally had an instant inspiration, grabbed my camera, and shot something on the way home from the office. Oh, and it felt *good*.

With the Holiday season coming, maybe Santa will bring me back my inspiration.

Anyhow, here we go:

...nor snow...

The parking authority here, like in most cities, is a brutal regime of heartless monsters that prey on the innocent and weak. No matter the weather, they are out looking for more victims. Well, maybe they are not that bad, but man they aren't good!

Pretty simple, a little bit of street photography, a hit of selective colouration and a slice of life in downtown Winnipeg in November.

Monday, November 8, 2010


My Daughter started kindergarten this year (and I've been sick every week since she started!) and her two new best friends both have short hair. Of course this means that she went in to the hairdresser and had a foot of hair lopped off this weekend.

I think she looks rather impish with the new cut:


Of course, the expression might have something to do with that.

I needed my fill light (camera left) a little higher as there is a bit too much shadow on that side of her face, but I like this shot a lot :) This was shot with the 70-200, a four light setup (primary, fill, background and hair) and processed in a vintage style. Fairly standard for my portrait stuff now.

On the business side of things, there *is* no business side of things at the moment. I'm okay with that, it's there if I need it, and all it costs me is $13 a month for hosting at the moment. I don't have as much time to devote to it as I'd like anyhow, so another year or two of practice won't hurt me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Woof! Pt 2!

A while back I went to take a few quick shots of a friends' new Sheltie, Rascal. They have two Shelties and wanted some more pictures taken, and a pic of both together for submission to a fundraising calendar. Hopefully it gets selected :)

I shot with the 70-200 and a single flash on-camera, the 580EX II using a Sto-Fen Omnibounce to diffuse. The lighting is simple but for a fast moving critter, setting up lighting would be an exercise in futility. All in all they worked out well!

First, they wanted a similar shot to the once linked above of their other dog, Roxy:


Roxy wouldn't lay down, but the look is similar enough that the two would look cohesive if seen together.

Roxy was happier to pose on the couch, and gave me this shot:

Roxy on the Couch

The couch was also where I tried to get both together. This was by far the hardest shot to get since they were trying to play together and any noise made to draw their attention pulled them off the couch to investigate.

Still, I got one that was half-decent :)

Roxy and Rascal

Not direct eye contact, but at least they have their ears up and look interested. The point to learn here is that whoever is making the distracting noise should be *directly* behind the camera!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Tonight, after two weeks of exhaustion, I got out my camera. Two weekends ago the bug the family had came back with a bit of a vengeance and we ended up at the ER with my little dude. He vomited for seven straight days before we finally shook the bug.

This last weekend was my daughter's fifth birthday, so we had a party with her kindergarten classmates, and one with our family. I took some pictures then as well, but those are just for us :)

So, the subject today was a case of bright red pomegranates that finally came back into stock at our local Costco. We are big pom fans in our house, so this was a joyous occasion.

The first shot is the cutoff stem, which tend to be full of these curled little fibers that remind me of the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi :)

Pomegranate Stem

Second, I was just playing around with contrasting subjects, and my wife pointed out that our composter was full of little garden slugs. How could I resist giving one a chance to sample such an exotic treat?

Sluggy Slug

I named him Sluggy Slug. Good boy, Sluggy Slug.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A few birds and a girl...

So the family illness continued until Sunday afternoon, and on Monday we were all eager to get out of the house for some fresh air. We opted for a drive back out to Oak Hammock Marsh because that's the kind of thing that we do at our house :)

Before going, I had to try and get a nice goose shot at the little park at the end of the street. There were thousands, and all flying low so you could shoot some nice clusters of them:

Cluster o' Geese

Oak Hammock was a nice walk but it was geese, geese and more geese, so I wasn't particularly thrilled with the shooting opportunities, except for *one*. Right when we arrived and hit the first trail, we apparently startled a Northern Harrier in a nearby bush and it took off with gusto. It was only fifteen feet away or so, but I didn't have my camera in hand, and my settings were not all dialed in yet, so the only shot I got was pretty disappointing:

Northern Harrier

*Soooo close* I have to say that the 70-200mm is great, but the 1.4x really kills the AF speed and it's killing me when shooting birds at a distance. I'm still going to try, but the limitation is noticeable. That 400mm f/5.6L is in my future, even if it's ten or twenty years away.

Anyhow, it was a fun walk even though it was short since we had no energy to speak of. My little girl was in the best mood, and immediately started collecting sticks as is her tradition. She's a bit of a butt sometimes, but I still love her, so she got a picture in today's post:

Pretty in Pink

I would have posted all of this last night, but the boy started exploding with puke again and we were off to Children's ER. He's still going tonight, but the docs say it's just a bad case of Gastroenteritis.

Poor little guy :(

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ah, fate...

Have you ever felt punched in the face by fate?

I was really excited about this weekend, I had my first paying portrait customers lined up for an outdoor session on Saturday, and I was looking forward to it, and to sharing my shots here with you. So of course, that couldn't happen smoothly could it?

Thursday night my son got sick and was vomiting through the night. My daughter started at 4pm on Friday. My wife at 9pm. Myself at 3am Saturday.

Guess who had to cancel his very first paid photoshoot? The clients were not impressed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Every have one of those days where to take a silly snapshot of a goofy co-worker, you take it home and apply way too many filters, and end up with something odd, slightly disturbing, and completely unexplainable.

I have.


I don't know what this is, but it make me giggle and feel a little bit creeped out at the same time.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A quiet fall walk...

Have I mentioned that we like to go to Fort Whyte Alive? I think this is our fourth trip this year.

It's nice to get out, walk for an hour or so with the kids, take the camera out for a while, and get some fresh air. I didn't spend as much time shooting this trip, but I still managed a few shots that I liked:

Autumn Path
Fort Whyte Path

Curious Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel

Shaking Off
Mallard Shake

Three posts this week. That has to be some kind of record :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dark Autumn Water

I decided to do a set-up shot tonight trying to capture a bit of the fall season.

I found a leaf that had a nice golden colour and just a hint of curl from drying out. I use a glass casserole dish on a black sheet, got the camera low and had the flash off to camera left nearly parallel to the water surface to pick up some of the minute surface ripples.

Here is the result:

Dark Autumn Water

I'm really, really happy with this shot. I expected the leaf to look nice, and the ripples just blurring off in the foreground and background are what I was hoping for on the clean black background. Where I got lucky was the crisp reflection. I was dropping the leaf and clicking away madly, so to catch it just at the point of contact with the reflection was a real bonus.

I'm just happy that I had an idea, shot it, and can be this proud of the result. Consider me rekindled!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blowing the dust off...

Hi everyone!

I'd be lying if I said that I'm not a bit embarrassed about my lack of posting lately, but man have things been busy. The good news is that I actually have real paying customers lined up for family shoots in October, so things are not a total disaster in photography land!

I took my daughter to her new GymKids class today and brought my camera with me:

Marching and Shaking the Shakers
Gym Kids - #1

Stretching Time
Gym Kids - #2

Parachute Game
Gym Kids - #3

We went to St. Vital Park in the afternoon as well, just to go for a walk, but I was lucky enough to see a male wood duck that was pretty much fearless and came nice and close for a portrait:

Wood Duck

I'll try to post again sometime before the next three weeks :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pics from the weekend

Had a couple of trips out this weekend, and here's a few favourites.

We went back to the zoo for the third time this summer, this time with friends and their son. I promised them at least one family picture, but their little guy was not in the best mood and basically refused to make eye contact with the camera. Still, I managed a fairly nice shot:

Family of Friends

The goal in this shot was just to keep it informal and loose, but still a nice family shot. I just wish we could have got a smile out of their little dude. He *did* smile for me later, in a shot that I like much better that was taken on the playground in the zoo:

King of the Mountain!

Where was that big grin earlier in the day?! I took a candid shot when he was racing his father as well, and I think it's cute:

Daddy Race

My daughter would simply not allow pictures to be taken without her chance in front of the lens, so she decided to jump for a picture:

Jumping Goof

Yeah, she's a goof.

A few animal shots from the day as well. First, a gibbon who decided to stare me down:

Gibbon Glare

And our Zoo's newly arrived Lioness, who was napping at the time:

Lazy Lioness

I think there is a universal rule that the coolest animals at the zoo are always asleep. They might be stuffed, I have no idea.

Our other day trip was back to Oak Hammock Marsh, but there were some high winds so despite it being migration season, most of the birds were hunkered down. Didn't shoot much and what I did shoot was just too far away for the 70-200 even with the teleconverter. I'm looking forward to the day I can land a 400mm+ lens for these birding trips.

I *did* take another bee/flower shot that had a nice colour contrast though:

Daisies And Bee

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm alive! Woof!

So I took a hiatus, and it was much needed. I felt like taking pictures was becoming a chore rather than a hobby or a passion, and I didn't like the way that was heading.

I took out my camera for the first time in about two weeks on the weekend, and went to visit friends who just brought home their new Sheltie pup, Rascal.


He's a cute little guy and it was fun to get down on the floor and play with him. Not a great picture, but I'm easing my way back int and just shooting what I feel like when I feel like it. It's a lot more natural and a lot less stress.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Project something-something-something...

As should be painfully obvious, I am really not able to keep up the Project 365 pace these days. I enjoy shooting every time I get my camera out, and I'm learning each time, but there are just too many demands on my time right now.

There is just not enough time in the day to allot an hour or more to shooting, editing, and posting a picture with two young kids in the house, a job, and a wife who works from home in the evenings. I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, but at this point I'm prepared to admit that I can't keep it up for the remaining 180 or so days.

So, my point (finally). I will shoot, edit and post as frequently as time allows and as inspiration permits. I will continue this blog, and I will continue to try and support my business. I will continue to enjoy photography as often as I can, but I am no longer going to frame my goals as a photographer with an arbitrary requirement to shoot daily.

I appreciate everyone who reads this blog, and I'll continue to document my learning journey for as long as anyone cares to follow along.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


Today, I combined my love of flower shots, water shots and inverted trickery. Day 188's shot:


In this shot, a blue background is placed behind my acrylic tank and lit with a speedlite off to the side, and a softbox is overhead of the tank. The flower if held down into the water, and air bubbles are blown up from below it. Invert the shot in post processing, and you get what looks like mercury drops on the flower.

I've seen this technique used before, and my shot is not up to to par of a lot of the other ones I've seen. My bubbles are too big, and I think my setup is a bit amateur compared to the others, but it was a fun shot to do!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I miss Carl Sagan...

Not much to say about day 187, but this is my take on the Pale Blue Dot.

Pale Blue Dot

This is the same paperweight used in this shot but lit more simply, and with (to my eye) a stronger composition. A blue gelled LP160 at 1/2 power through my SB3 softbox is above and to the right of the weight (a little to close thus the strong specular highlight) and a second gelled LP160 is shooting through the left side of the lightbox at 1/16th power, just to fill a bit but not blow out the shadow. Shot at ISO 100, 1/200th shutter, f/5.6.

A simple shot, but crisp, I like the colour and the composition works. I'm glad I got this shot, I was about ready to give up for the day before I reworked the entire light setup and reshot it. Perseverance!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fort Whyte Again!

Okay, okay I know that I've done this before, but my daughter loves Fort Whyte, and it's always a great place to go for a photowalk. So, day 186 is more pictures from Fort Whyte Alive!

The day we went, however, was a scorcher. We saw very few critters, and even the ducks and geese were hanging out in the shade. We saw two mallards actually sheltering under a bench, and they didn't move even with us within three feet away or so.

So here is what I managed to get for keepers. From critters:

Thirteen Striped Ground Squirrel

To birds:

Mallards in the Muck

To blooms:

Summer Thistle


To bugs:

Red Dragonfly #2

Blue Dragonfly

Dragonfly in Flight - Silhouette

I just wished I got that last one when the Dragonfly was heading towards me. The silhouette is nice, and I did get a Dragonfly in flight (which is *NOT EASY*) but it could have been so much better!

All taken at f/4, ISO 100, aperture priority on the 70-200 with the 1.4x extender. That in-flight shot was a nice, crisp 1/2500th shutter speed, the others varied on lighting, from 1/125th to 1/1600th. I find I use aperture priority 90% of the time in natural light now, that might change if I get a chance to shoot some outdoor sports this year, but for now it's the most natural method of exposure for me.