Friday, September 27, 2013

A productive week.

This past week has been a very eventful one for me.  Besides the two classes I teach at SAIT I also taught Monday morning at the Kerby Senior Center and Thursday morning at the Forest Lawn Senior center.  These are basic photography classes and due to the smaller groups I can work with them on areas that they want as questions arise.  It is a lot of fun and I enjoy sharing with the students.

I also will be doing some presentations for the Calgary Public Library on "Photographing Your Children".  The first is tomorrow, Saturday the 28th at the Signal Hill Branch.  Additional dates are Oct 15 at the Shawnessy Library, October 22 at the Thorn-Hill Library, and November 20 at the Crowfoot Library.  You can find registration at the Calgary Public Library web-site.

Here are some of the photo's I created over the past five days.

September 23.  One of the children had brought this feather into the rehearsal hall where Cool and Luke have their choir practices.  I liked the way it looked against the grain of the wood in the table they left it on.  Shot with the iPhone but with no post production work other then cropping and framing.
September 24.  While walking to school to big up my boys I passed this playground.  I liked the way the slide looked against the fall colours.  I added some grunge in Snapseed to give a softening effect.
That afternoon was parent watching day at the boys dance studio and I was able to get a couple shots of Luke during the session.  Here is one of my favorites.
September 25.  Cool attended my basic lighting class at SAIT and acted as one of the models. I had him bring his guitar as a prop and took this portrait of him at the end of the night.
September 26.  I took my wife over to visit a friend and found that they had an incredible garden still full of flowers.  I shot these photo's of the Dahlia's and was happy how the iPhone handled the colours as I have had problems with certain shades of pink and purple flowers in the past.
Before I left I noticed a wasp sitting on one of the daisies and the way it's shadow was being cast on the flower.  I was able to get fairly close in order to capture this image.
September 27.  Last week I had the good fortune to win an end table from  I have been following them on Instagram and Facebook and saw that they had been running an online contest and decided to enter.  Tonight Sarah and John brought the piece over and I asked them to pose with it in my small studio.  It is an awesome piece of furniture and if you are looking for something unique and are into comics and other retro items I invite you to check them out.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A few thoughts on ....

IOS 7, Apples newest operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPods.  Ill be looking at it from a stand point of how it works with older phones (I have the i4) and particularly the camera functions.  I used the iPhone to take the photo's for the first three days below and tried a variety of situations.  Right off the top is the different format of the native camera.  There are some simple changes with the two most prominent being the image shown on the whole screen with the info imposed on top.  Not sure I am a big fan of this as the top and bottom part of the image are covered with a darker transparent area that allows you to see the whole scene.  I would rather have the entire image in the middle so I can see it clearly rather then have to stare through this darkened area to check my composition.

They have added an easier swipe to go from video to photo and also the option to shoot square.  The first feature works wonderful as on the old version I would constantly accidentally swipe to video and have not had this problem with the new display.  The square option seems to be aimed at the instagram users and to me is kind of useless.  With the old version I would know when I took the photo how I wanted to crop it and would leave room accordingly.  Switching to the square just eliminates some of the scene which you then can not get back.  I would rather be able to make this choice myself in editing.

Some of the photo apps do have a bit of a problem with the new system and the i4.  Some of the photo sharing apps, have a problem as some of the buttons at the top get cut off by the new positioning on the full screen.  This makes it easy to hit the wrong button and then you have to revert or start over.  I'm not sire if this is due to the smaller screen size of the i4 compared to the i5, but it is something they should have taken into consideration.  Still it is not a big deal and I think I will still wait for a while before upgrading my iPhone.

Now for the photo's from the past few days.

September 19.  Taken at SAIT and testing to see if there was any noticeable improvement to the camera because of the new software.  I tried some night, contrasty light and reflective surfaces.  There did seem to be a bit of an improvement, but nothing to outstanding. Here are three examples.
September 20.  Late in the evening I used one of the boy's stuffed animals as a subject and used only the overhead tungsten lights.  After taking the shot I used snapseed to post process the photo.
September 21.  Tried the new software in some low light with a moving subject as seen with my son Cool in the bumper cars at Calaway Park.  Although a neat effect happened here it was not overly consistent and no real improvement.
It did work better in bright conditions as seen here with the bumper boats.
 While waiting for Cool I took this photo of one of the flowers and converted to B&W in snapseed.
Calaway Park is all ready for Halloween and had some really good displays.  This one was my favorite, I loved the green eyes.
September 22.  The first day of fall and I took my Canon 7D with me on my walk to capture these images from around Dalhousie,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some new portrait work.

Teaching at SAIT offers me a lot of opportunities to share what I know and to watch the students gain new experiences.  Tonight was the High Key class and after giving my class the lecture on the set up it was time to let them shoot.  Watching and guiding them as the night went along I could see that they all were getting some good photo's. Of course it helps when we have two subjects as lovely as Breanna and Jenni.  I waited till the end of the night before I took a couple of minutes to grab a few frames of each of them.  It was nice to shoot some portraits once again.  All four photo's shot with the Canon 7D, ISO 100, 1/125 sec at f8.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Making the best of the mid-day sun.

I was driving home from an appointment at about 1:00 in the afternoon with the sun high in the sky.  Usually this is not the best time to photograph as the light is pretty flat and the shadows that are there are harsh.  Yet as I was coming down the road by Nosehill Park here in Calgary I could see a good number of clouds starting to come in from the west and I knew they could make for a dramatic subject.  Pulling in to a parking lot at the base of the hill I knew I wanted to photograph the clouds but needed to include some other elements as well.

As I walked along I saw some clusters of Milkweed plants and felt that these could look good with the sky and clouds behind them.  On the following two images I got down low to the ground to shoot up at the Milkweed with the sky in the background.  These were two different clusters as I liked the way both looked in their own unique way.
Next I looked at the well worn path and I liked the curve of it as it headed up the hill.  I tried a couple of shots at various heights and also tilted the iPhone as I am known to do.  This one with the group of trees on the left was my favorite.
After hiking for a while and not seeing much else that caught my fancy I started back down one of the paved paths to the parking lot.  As I walked along I saw this sign and felt there was a little humorous aspect by positioning it with all the clouds rolling in behind it.  It is obvious that there is more then 10 clouds coming into town.
Lastly as I neared the parking lot this small flash of colour caught my eye and I saw the only flowers I had seen the whole day.  Being that fall is near this is not surprising as the wild flowers have pretty well died away.  But I was enjoying to look at them and wanted a photo.  I used my own shadow to soften the harsh mid afternoon usn and make this pleasing image.
When I returned home I looked at the photo's and though I used Snapseed to crop and frame the final results, I felt that these images needed no other post production other then a little bit of exposure compensation.  So they are pretty well as I saw the scene this afternoon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The importance of moving around your subject.

I was walking once again in the belt line and had seen this sign on previous visits.  Unfortunately it was always busy and there were people in the doorway.  Tonight it was closed by the time I walked by and I started to shoot it from different angles.  I actually started on the other side and slowly worked my way around.  When I cam to this side I found the reflection of the neon in the window was the image I was looking for.  I had to move around and try different points of view before I was able to get the positioning just right.  Even though I liked some of the other image I shot, this was by far the one I felt was most dynamic.
As I walked back to the church I found the concrete in front had been cut and I liked the way it looked.  Triangles are always strong elements of composition and I like the small splash of blue and the leaves in the cutting.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

More photo a day challenge images.

September 14.  The music store is a wonderful place to find interesting items to photograph.  While I waited for Cool and his guitar lessons I was looking at the various musical instruments and their accessories.  My eye caught this banjo hanging on the wall and I liked the way it looked from the back.  I framed it up and took this photo knowing I wanted to do a little post in Snapseed to get this look.
I then saw this battery powered mini-amp and focused the iPhone on it.  I used snapseed once again and the grunge filter to start.  I then went back to the tune image filter and adjusted the white balance to give me the feel I wanted.
September 15.  I noticed that our rose bush out front had produced another single bloom even though it is late in the season.  I clipped it off the bush and brought down to the studio where I laid it on an old window frame that I have.  I placed the frame and flower on a black piece of muslin and then lit the flower with one of my Alien Bee's with a 3 degree grid spot on it.  This produced a wonderful reflection on the glass but there was one problem, that being the flower was way brighter then the reflection.  Since I was using the Canon 7D and 24-70 lens I knew I had a chance to use some of my specialty tools, in this case a Lee graduated split neutral density filter.  I was able to slide it down the lens until I was able to achieve an exposure on the flower that allowed the reflection to pop more.  Shot at 100 ISO, 1/125 sec at f10.  Other then cleaning up a few spots in photoshop and adding the frame using snapseed this photo was done entirely in camera.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A little bit of variety.

  Some photographer's feel one has to specialize in order to be successful. Other's feel you need to be able to shoot a variety of genres to give oneself a chance to be profitable.  It is a question that can be debate long and hard with both sides making strong arguments. Having been a photographer since I was a small boy I can honestly say I have come full circle.  When I picked up my first camera around the age of six I would take photo's of just about anything.  The world was new and photography was a way to explore.

  As I went through my school years, first high school then college I settled into different nithces.  I started with sport's and journalism, then moved on to landscape and nature.  At the art college people became my focus and I did portraiture and weddings for a number of years.  Now that I am teaching I have found that I have gained a new appreciation for where I started and thus have started to explore once again.  The last three day's efforts are a small microcosm of this. 

September 11.  I started the day walking my boy's to school with my wife and then heading out for a morning walk with her.  Using my iPhone I captured some of the scenes as they presented themselves to me during this time.  From our shadows as they appeared in front of us to a large flower in a vegetable garden and finally the reflections on a back of a truck, these were all subjects for my lens.  It was reminiscent of my walks in my childhood snapping away with my twin lens reflex camera.
Later that evening as I returned from teaching at SAIT I noticed how low the moon was in the sky and how large it appeared.  I took out my Canon 7D and put the 70-200 f2.8 with 2x teleconverter on it.  Shooting at ISO 400 1/100 sec at f5.6 hand held I was able to record this shot of the half moon. I then cropped the image in Photoshop.
September 12  My boy's were doing a demonstration of there "Stomp" dances that they had learned during the first week of school.  Using the 7D and 24-70 f2.8 lens I captured their moves and enjoyment of the dance.  After I downloaded the files and picked the two photo's I wanted to use I combined them in my iPhone using an app called Pic Jointer.  This allowed me to size them so I could show them entirely.
September 13.  The Calgary Flames were holding public sessions of their training camp and I decided to head to Winsport Arena at Canada Olympic Park.  When I first arrived I did not see anyone else taking photo's and since I was late I did not know if something had been mentioned about photography.  While waiting I grabbed a couple of shot's with the iPhone the first of the arena and the second of the back of one of the Flames players t-shirt.
When the second session started I did notice a number of the fans taking pictures with their phones and compact cameras so I figured it must be OK.  Now it has been 25 years since I last photographed the Flames and I don't think I had shot any other Hockey in that time.  Back then it was film pushed to high ISO's and then overdeveloped.  I shot 36 frames at a time and used prime lenses.  Now I had my 7D and 70-200 f2.8 zoom lens and it was very different shooting.  One of the big differences was I was not able to get by the glass and the second was that I had to shoot through the netting which I never had to do before.  I experimented a little bit before settling on 1600 ISO at 1/400 sec and f2.8.  This helped to throw the mesh out of focus that it was unnoticeable in most of the photo's.  I managed to  get a number of good photo's and share 7 of them here.