Saturday, March 31, 2012

Peace Bridge

Yesterday, once again, I returned to Calgary's Peace Bridge to make some more pictures. The goal was motion. Using slower exposures I wanted to capture the pedestrians and cyclists commuting home from a day's work in the downtown core. The light wasn't great but I still managed a couple of keepers from the effort. But rather than it being an immensely successful photographic outing, something much bigger struck me.

I setup on the bridge at the height of the after work commute. That was my intention. I needed plenty of pedestrians and cyclists to fill my frames with motion. A few minutes in to my session one of my friends gave me a wave while he rode by on his bike. I returned the wave and dug back in to my work. Moments after that another friend, again on a bike, stopped behind me and teased at me to stop disrupting bridge traffic. We had a nice chat before he peddled off on his way. I had a several brief conversations with other pedestrians before wrapping up my shoot and having one final conversation with a photography student before heading for home.

On the brief walk home I thought about my outing and it struck me that the bridge, more than a piece of art or architecture, is about building a community. If the bridge ultimately becomes a catalyst to pull more people out of their vehicles and on to the pathways and sidewalks, it will indeed have been a successful project.

Keep shooting.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Different Perspective

Last night I was out once again taking shots of Calgary's Peace Bridge. Now that it's actually open to the public it was great to walk across it and thoroughly check it out.

I wasn't entirely sure what kind of picture I wanted to make but I brought along one flash and a few PocketWizards to give me some options. I played around for quite a long time trying to make an interesting self portrait on the bridge but was not having much luck. The normally super-reliable devices were giving me trouble. I'm not sure if there was some kind of interference or low batteries or, I don't know, the cold temperature but they were not working reliably. However, what I thought was a bit funny and ironic was that I was not able to reliably trigger the devices from my pocket. Huh, PocketWizards don't work from pockets - weird.

Eventually after many, many unsuccessful attempts and freezing hands I swung my camera around and made this picture.

It is a frame that was not possible, well, not easily possible before the existence of the new structure.

Keep shooting.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

14 Hours

I took the two pictures below about 14 hours apart. The first, at night, was taken before Calgary's Peace Bridge opened to the public. The second was taken moments after the public was allowed to cross the bridge for the first time.

Calgarians seem quite polarized on their feelings towards the bridge. Some love it and others consider it a folly at the tax payer's expense. All politics aside, I think it's a gorgeous structure and I look forward to photographing it for many, many years to come.



Keep shooting.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm Lucky...

Oh, I'm sure I have posted something about this before but yes, it's true, I'm lucky.

I am oh so lucky to have such a supportive and understanding partner, one who is willing to patiently model for me while I practice my craft or experiment with some crazy new idea I want to try. She is one of a kind and I am ever so grateful for her love and support.


Keep shooting.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Yeah, I Did...

I bought the "new" iPad. But before to go thinking I'm just one of those Apple fanatics that will buy anything the Cupertino based company produces, please let me explain.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gear Kit: Maui

I recently had a two week stay on the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii. It was an incredible trip and it was very hard to come back to a cold and snowy Calgary. A few days before the trip I carefully put together an extensive yet compact kit of photography gear so I could record the adventure.

When travelling, I really like to be nimble. I don't want to be weighed down with excessive gear and baggage. I like to have the ability to carry it all on my person and still be able to make that last minute dash to a taxi or to the gate of a departing flight. And, more crap just means more worry about things getting lost or stolen.

Here is what I put together.Maui Kit

The Details…

Spiralling clockwise and inwards from the bottom left corner, here is the gear:

  • Two (homemade) gels each of 1/4 CTO and full CTO
  • Black Rapid camera strap
  • Canon battery charger
  • Two 580EX II strobes
  • Two Honl Speed straps for attaching the gels
  • 64GB Apple iPad for backing up pictures from the camera, post-processing, blogging and such
  • Crumpler Six Million Dollar Home - fits all the gear with the tripods on the side
  • Joby Gorillapod Focus with Ball Head X - this was my main camera support
  • Joby Gorillapod SLR - for a remote flash
  • Circular polarizer
  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon Remote Switch (RS-80N3) - This well worn remote is used for landscape shots to avoid vibration
  • USB cable with Apple Camera Connection Kit - for pulling pics from the camera to the iPad
  • Spare PowerEX rechargeable batteries
  • Canon RC-1 Remote - for the times when I want to be in the picture :)
  • Two Sto-Fen caps - I used them for times with indoor flash
  • Tiffen 8-Stop ND Filter - when I need less light during the middle of the day
  • Canon 24-105mm f/4.0L IS lens - pretty much my workhorse lens for everything
  • Spirit Level - for getting those nice, straight horizon lines.

Not shown is the six, 8GB compact flash cards I had also packed. Here is one shot where a lot of the pieces came in handy.


And here is how I set up the gear.

Waterfall setup

As you can see, the camera was on the large Joby and the flash was just off to the side on the smaller Joby. The flash on the camera was only used to trip the second flash via infrared and was set in ETTL mode. The main flash was gelled with 1/4 CTO to get a bit warmer skin tones. And, of course, the Canon RC-1 is safely nestled in my left hand to trigger the shutter.

The great thing about the Joby Gorillapods is you can stick them pretty much anywhere. The downside is a few times I wanted them higher off the ground and then you're out of luck unless there is a handy tree somewhere nearby.

For the most part the kit had everything I needed but I had a few regrets.

  • Hoodman Loupe 3.0 - Nearly everything I shot was in bright daylight, which makes it impossible to see the LCD. The loupe would have saved me pulling my shirt overtop the camera to check details not revealed in the histogram.
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS + Canon 1.4x Extender - I didn't need this lens all the time but it would have been great for the surfing and whale watching days. Also, this lens has fantastic bokeh. It is a little heavy and bulky though.
  • Twenty foot ETTL cable (or longer) - Canon's infrared system is good but not great outside, especially in bright sunlight. With the ETTL cable I could have forgone the second flash as I only every used one flash to light my subject.
Keep shooting.