Friday, April 30, 2010

Say Hello to my Little Friend...

The nice UPS man brought me a new best friend today.


After much thought and research I figured this was the best choice to succeed my 40D, which has served me so well for nearly two years.

The 5D Mark II is about one and a half years old but it is still considered top notch for both stills and video. It would not surprise me to see a 5D Mark III appear before yearend but I am happier going with a proven model. And I could not resist the deal on a refurbished unit from Adorama.

I have a whole bunch of sessions lined up this weekend so I am really excited to see what this baby can do.

Keep shooting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Working for the Weekend

I'm excited for this coming weekend. Lots and lots of stuff happening.

Saturday I am shooting a couple of yogis at my favourite yoga community, the Bodhi Tree Yoga Center. The main goal is to do a lighting test for a major shoot coming up in a few weeks. But I am also hoping that I can get a few stock images at the same time. It should be a lot of fun. After a few hours there, I disassemble the gear head back home and get ready for a portrait shoot with the lovely Cariann. With my number one assistant Jen by my side, the three of us should have a great time making great images.

Sunday I am back in action shooting the interior of the Bodhi Tree Yoga center for an upcoming project. And, maybe in between I can sneak in a yoga class or two.

And if my luck holds a new piece of equipment should be arriving on Friday. Just in time for all the weekend action. Very, very exciting!

I can't wait.

Keep shooting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mmmmmmm... Cookies....

Sometimes you're having a bad day and the Universe knows just what to do. It taps a friend on the shoulder and asks them to bake a few cookies for you.

That's just what happened to me today. My friend Celeste made me some cookies and left them for me to pick up before my yoga class tonight. What a nice thought and a yummy treat. Celeste is a friend of mine and co-owner of the most incredible yoga community in all the Calgary, the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre. She also has a gift at making even the most mundane items look completely amazing. Below is a shot of the bundle of cookies I received tonight.


Simply and beautifully presented. Even better, a quick tug of the ribbon revealed the delicious oatmeal raisin cookies within, fresh from Celeste's kitchen. Mmmmmmmm.


Celeste didn't know I was having a bad day but "something" intervened on my behalf and I got cookies. I don't often contemplate the mysteries of the Universe but it sure is nice when a little magic happens and a bad day becomes a good one.

And that wonderful package of goodness served as the inspiration for today's picture.

Keep shooting.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Best. Meal. Ever.

I had a long, tiring and perhaps tough week. I came home tonight a little bit cranky, worn out and just generally feeling less than happy. All my excitement and energy throughout the week had evaporated. But all that changed when I walked in the door tonight.

My wonderful partner Jen, who patiently models for me all the time and pays attention when I endlessly spew all sorts of photography jargon, surprised me with the most amazing meal tonight.


We cracked a bottle of wine and enjoyed the most wonderful meal I have tasted in a long time. I think it took me forty minutes to consume a single plateful - I didn't want it to end. I wanted to eat it as mindfully as possible, savouring every last bite.

My mood went from dull to happy, my energy from low to bubbly.

Thanks Jen, you made my night.


Keep shooting.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Fun, Colourful Session

This past Sunday I had a fantastic shoot with my partner, assistant and number one model - Jen!

It was a whirlwind weekend with two days occupied by a Stock Photography workshop but I was still full of energy and was up for something energetic and radiant. The general idea was to shoot Jen in her new coat and scarf on a yellow (buttercup to be exact) seamless backdrop. I figured the colour combination and especially the scarf would provide a good punch. I was right.


I was loving what I was seeing.

I fired up the iPod to keep the energy high and kept snapping frames. Jen started really getting in to it too and the creativity started to burst forth. Most of the poses I wanted specific looks but as things got going there was more and more experimentation. Jen was throwing out great poses with the scarf and I got some really colourful, fun images like the one below.


What a great time! So much energy and creativity - two things I would love an abundance of for each and every shoot.

Keep shooting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I hit my 100th image of my first ever 365 project the other day. Here is the shot.


It's hard to believe I am 100 days in to the project. But even harder to believe we are almost one third of the way through 2010. Man, where does the time go?

This first ever 365 project has been a lot of fun. A lot of work but yes, a lot of fun too! It was a little bit hard finding the rhythm at first but once I did, it's been full speed ahead ever since. The project has given me a reason to pack my camera more as well as encouraging me to be more creative. I suppose the only downside is I have not been keeping up with managing my images. Ooops, I'll get to that, eventually.

Projects are a great way to get you out there making pictures. So, give yourself a project and get out there!

Keep shooting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Muffin 2. Steve 0.

I wanted a muffin last Friday. It's the worst muffin day of the week because everyone else on the planet also wants a muffin on Friday. And, lemon poppy seed being the muffin, always sells out early. I was 5 minutes late for work that day. No muffin for Stevie. I checked two locations. No dice. I gave up. I was sad.

Today, Monday, I also wanted a muffin. So much so that I cut back one bowl of cereal to make extra room. Monday is not a huge muffin day. I guess everyone feels fat from a weekend of gorging so they don't want to pack on another muffin. Anyhow, today I was early and not only are there no lemon poppy seed muffins, it appears that my coffee shop has changed their muffin vendor. Nooooo! And, worst of all, it looks like the poppy seed muffin has been stricken from the lineup! Unbelievable.

I have been going to the same coffee shop for years. Maybe as many as five. I always glance at the muffin rack and nearly eighty percent of the time there are no poppy seed muffins. Why? Because they are so darn extra delicious everybody wants one! That's why. However, the rack is always littered with all sorts of second rate muffins with crazy ingredients that people will only take as a last resort to fend off starvation.

So, how is it that you can ditch the best selling muffin of all time? How is it?!? I certainly do not have that answer nor can I discern the logic behind such a brain dead decision.

Good luck coffee shop!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I am So Pumped!

I had a pretty exciting and lucky week. I had the opportunity to attend two amazing presentations that have restored my vigour and passion.

This could not have come at a better time. The weekend before I just got back from two weeks vacation in Indonesia. I had such a great time there, I felt inspired and came back with ten, 4 gigabyte cards stuffed with great images. But after arriving back at home all those feelings were replaced with overwhelming fatigue and just general feelings of "meh".

Everything changed when I received an email reminding me of The No BS Photo Success Cross-Canada Road Show. Two guys from Sudbury, Ontario - Rob Provencher and James Hodgins - put together a passionate, exciting and in-your-face, no BS approach to running a successful photography studio. And as a bonus, James shared some of his off-camera flash tips and tricks and some of his successful projects. It was the best $37 I spent in a long, long time. You could just feel their passion and energy and thankfully I walked away with a bunch of it too.

To cap off the weekend I attended Brad Wrobleski's Introduction to Stock Photography presentation on Saturday afternoon. Another couple of hours and a few bucks worth of pure gold! Brad makes his living in stock photography and was eager and friendly to share information for those wanting to pursue the same trade. I was so excited about the possibilities and potential that I signed up for his Stock Photography Workshop next weekend. I can't wait!!

What a turnaround for the week. Energy and enthusiasm has bounced back to 100%. I am excited for the days ahead.

Keep shooting.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hey Dummy! Clean the Glass.

This was my 365 shot for today.


I picked up this bottle of wine tonight on the way home from work. I loved the label. Sadly, nine times out of ten, I pick my wine by the quality of or my attraction to the label. As long as I don't hang out in sketchy liquor stores it usually works out. Anyhow, this wine was actually recommended by the fellow at The Ferocious Grape. It just so happened that I was attracted to the label too.

I digress...

I was tired at the end of the work week so I was not too motivated to create a complicated picture tonight for my 365 shot. However, I did know that I wanted a glass of wine. The rest just happened.

The shot was pretty straight forward. Pop the cork, fill the glass and make sure the cork finds a place in the picture. I put one bare flash, gelled with a full cut of CTO at camera right, positioned a couple of feet behind the subject and pointing forward towards the camera at an angle. It warms the cutting board, adds some interesting shadows and puts some fabulous specular highlights on the wine bottle and especially the wine glass.

The main light, set at f/4.0, is shooting through a Lastolite Ezybox (Have I mentioned how much I love my Ezybox? I'm sure I have. Well, I do love it! It's incredible). I set up f/4 because I really wanted to emphasize the beautiful label of the wine bottle and have everything else begin to soften as the eye moves toward the background.

I set the lights. Tried a few test shots and loved what I saw so I kept on shooting.

Thirty or so shots later I was sure I had my shot so I disassembled the lighting set up and went to my computer for post-processing. So what was the first thing I noticed? Ummmmm, those nasty water marks and smudges on the glass? ARRRRRRGH! It was too late to re-shoot as we were heading out to dinner in 20 minutes so I just went with it. I am pretty darn sure I read way back when in a Scott Kelby book that if you are going to shoot a wine glass take the time to give it a good polish first. Ooops I completely forgot about that! And you and I both know those tiny, low-res LCDs on the back of the camera make EVERYTHING look good. It's only after you get the image back to your computer when the "yikes" moment strikes.

Darn it!

Well, next time I'll remember that for sure... I hope.

Keep shooting

PS Oh, and, picture first, wine second. :-)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring in Calgary

You gotta love spring in Calgary. Well, maybe not. A beautiful and a balmy 14 degrees Celsius at lunch with almost no wind. A lovely time for squirrels to pause on a bench for a light snack.


About four hours later the skies darken, the wind starts howling, the temperature drops and we go from the lovely 14 degrees to a shivering 1 degree. Wow, nasty!


It should get better by mid-May.

Keep shooting.

Four Hours in Tokyo

Jen and I had a brief stop over on our way back from Indonesia. We landed about 8:30AM and our next flight back to Vancouver was at 5:20PM. A nice break from flying and a chance to see an amazing city.

Immediately after arrival we head straight for immigration. First though we have to pass through another security check. Not much of a lineup and it moves quick. At immigration, no surprise to myself - big lineup and few people processing the hordes. ARRRRGH! That killed about 40 minutes but soon we are back in motion! A quick stop at the ATM for some cash, dump the luggage at baggage storage and the adventure is set to start.

Next, get a train ticket. For about $30 odd bucks each we get tickets on the Narita Express - a direct, one hour ride to Tokyo. Exactly one hour later we emerged in Tokyo station right in the middle of downtown. Awesome but completely overwhelming at first. We have no idea what to do, where to go or even where to get a quick bite to eat. We settle for the familiarity of Starbucks. Good enough.

We stop by the information desk and get a lead on the major shopping strip - Ginza. We take the appropriate exit, climb a couple of flights of stairs and emerge in to the bright daylight and the spectacular streets of Tokyo. Everything around us just looks wonderful, new, exciting and different. I can't stop snapping pictures of, well, everything.


We don't have much time so we just keep strolling down the strip, taking it all in. It was a beautiful day - sunny skies and 20 degrees celsius. After a bit we take a break and just enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air, savoring every bit before our 9 hour flight home. Not long after sitting down a group of photographers approach us, one by one, "asking" to take our picture. I say "asking" because they didn't speak English and we don't speak Japanese. A simple gesture though gets the point across and we happily complied. Once the group was done taking pictures, I gestured back that I wanted to take their picture but I wanted them to pose with their cameras up to their eyes. It took a little extra demonstrating but they got they idea and I got my picture.


Good fun.

Shortly after that we were back on the Narita Express bound for the airport and our flight home. Even though we had a very limited time it was so wonderful to get to see a city with such great history. I can't wait to visit it again.

Keep shooting.