Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Message

Here's the final blog post for 2011 - Taken on a late fall afternoon with the iPhone and edited with Oloneo Photo Engine.
2011 has been a great year for my photo operations.  All my goals were met, financial and otherwise.  My wife and I were able to travel to some pretty great places; Jasper (Alberta), Scottsdale (Arizona), San Antonio (Texas) and Vienna (Austria).  Many of the photos from these trips have appeared here on the blog.

I got a lot of use out of the iPhone Camera particularly the Hipstamatic App and the Photostitch App in 2011.  The number one requirement - the only requirement in fact - for making great photos is to actually have a camera with you; the handy iPhone is a great tool in this regard.  Currently there are 5 cameras in the fleet including the iPhone; the others are the Canon G11, Canon 40D, the Canon 5DII and the newly acquired Holga plastic film camera.

There's been a fair bit of equipment added this year - both camera gear and computer software.  Great pictures are made not taken; there are many steps required before the shutter is tripped and many steps needed afterward to make the image look the way I want it.  In general I believe that photography is about cameras; the gear required 'in the field'; not computer wizardry.  But the fact is that the computer is the dark room of the digital age.  Film photographers relied on film processing techniques and the craft of the print maker to produce their final images; in the digital age it is done with keyboard strokes and mouse clicks so there is no getting away from long nights spent in my virtual dark room.  It's a messy place most of the time but I love going in there, but not nearly as much as I love heading out with a camera.  I liken it to a musicians instrument it many ways - they look (mostly) spectacular but there's nothing like holding and using these image makers that really appeals.  I have my eye and some new gear for 2012;  I'll let you know when something new finds it's way into the camera bag.

Photographically the low point in the year was having about $6K worth of gear stolen from a restaurant in Vienna.  All of this has now been replaced and a valuable lesson was learned...well 2 lessons really (1) watch your stuff closely cuz someone else sure is and (b) not having a big camera bag to lug around is rather pleasant.  Packing for travel in the future will be much different following this experience.

The high points are too numerous to mention but the key points are having great assignments given to me by great clients who are patient, appreciative and supporting and - more than any other single thing by far - having a wife who encourages and motivates me every day.  Getting to take my young golden retriever Parker along on the odd assignment is pretty great too, even if she has to wait in the car while I stand around waiting for light to cooperate. There's a new pup coming in February; I hope he is as patient with me as Parker.

There's no doubt that the biggest gig of the year was being asked to photograph Sir Sidney Poitier at his Edmonton presentation in October.  There was an 'after party' at which invited guests got to have their photo taken with the Great Man - by me.  So I got to spend about an hour with him.  At one point he asked me how the photos would be used; he was concerned that somehow they might wind up for sale on eBay or something.  I told him they were for the exclusive use of the guests and that they would get prints only - no digital files would be distributed or published.  He looked me in the eye and said 'You promise?' and we shook hands to seal the deal.  He said some very kind words to me that I will always remember.  So although this was a big deal and I have some great photos on file, I won't be posting them on line.   If you're around sometime ask me about it and I'll let you take a peak.

One of the things I am most pleased with from 2011 is my new logo (you can see it on the website .  I struggled with this for a long time.  The meaning in the logo is multi-faceted; the square shape is intended to replicate the making of a square with ones fingers to frame a potential image - a technique photographers sometimes use.  If you take your index fingers and touch them together then swing your middle finger tips together so the nails touch you'll see what I mean.  Then rotate the resulting'diamond' until it's parallel to the ground and you have a little window with which to frame a photo composition.  The diamond in the logo has a little piece cut out; that's to make it look a bit like a stylized J and a D fused together.  The grey circle is a tip of the hat to a lens - in fact on my business cards the grey circle is a die-cut hole.  Most people instinctively hold it to their eye  for a look-through, just like you would a camera.  As for the colours, the blue diamond is blue just because I like blue, and the circle is grey as it is neutral - just like a lens, revealing nothing and everything at the same time.

I plan to keep up the daily blog postings in 2012.  I am quite pleased that I did not miss a single daily post in 2011.   I try to keep it diverse and interesting and void of 'snapshots'.  Having the blog gives me a deadline everyday (although to be truthful the postings are usually queued up for many days in advance).  I hope you'll check in often and chime in with your comments anytime.

Happy New Year!  And to all my fellow photographers; here's a quote from American Photographer Richard Avedon to inspire you in 2012 - he is speaking about portrait photography but the thought extends to all photographic art forms I think:

"I've worked out of a series of no's. No to exquisite light, no to apparent compositions, no to the seduction of poses or narrative. And all these no's force me to the "yes." I have a white background. I have the person I'm interested in and the thing that happens between us"

Friday, December 30, 2011

Recent Projects

Car dealerships exist to sell cars not for me to photograph so it's no surprise that they are filled with cars making it a challenge to get nice architectural photos of the space.  Here's a decent attempt however.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Recent Projects

I think most of us envision big, shiny, black cars when we think of the Lincoln brand, so a shiny black photo of the dealership seems logical - at least to my eye.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Recent Projects

I think we all associate new cars with a 'big shine'.  So trying to capture that in the photos of the buildings used to house the dealership seems logical to me.  After a rain shower is perfect; in this case just before sunrise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recent Projects

Here's another photo from this utility infrastructure project.  Photographing this gear with the 17mm TSE lens gives it a rather grand look I think.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Recent Projects

When I first saw this scene it reminded me of a church.  What do you think?  You'll have to be satisfied with your own interpretation because for seucrity reasons I can't tell you where this is.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

I was digging around for an image to present on Christmas Day and I settled on this.  Taken on 2009 November 02 just after 8:00 am near Abraham Lake, Alberta, this photo has a nice etheral look to it. perhaps fitting for Christmas morning.

Canon 40D with Sigma 10-20 lens.  F16, 20 second exposure.  Singh Ray 2 stop ND filter over the sky.

Astute followers will now that I give my special photos a name; this one is entitle 'Mystic's Dream'.

Merry Christmas everyone....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chrismas Eve

Generally I shy away from weird effects but every now and then I'll make an exception.  Here is a forest (well....urban forest) scene manipulated with Nik Silver Efex Pro software to give it an old faded and weathered photo appearance.

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Recent Projects

I was asked to take this photo in a manner where the donor's name was depicted I guess it's not big secret who the donor is...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Recent Projects

I had photographed this reception area a year ago or so, but the interior designer wasn't happy that the shot did not include the correct furniture so a re-do was in order.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recent Projects

My client for this assignment were also involved in the design of the Health Sciences LRT Station; a project I photographed for them in 2010.  So I thought it would be a good idea to blend the LRT aspect into the Edmonton Clinic north photography; here's the result.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recent Projects

This photo was made just a little after the one featured yesterday.  The sun was just setting and the light was indeed fading.  So I looked around for obejcts and a composition that would give the photo a strucuted geometry and sort of a straight-on aspect.  Oloneo Photo Engine enabled me to adjust the tone of the image to brighten it just a touch; too much adjustment using this software and the photo takes on a very weird look.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Recent Projects

This photo was taken just before sunset; there's still a little diffracted light to illuminate the north facing front of the building.  The grass is pretty brown but all and all I think this is a successful shot.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Recent Projects

Here's the long-and-low east elevation of the Edmonton Clinic North building.

Taken with the 17mm TSE lens; this is a composite of 2 images.  I really wanted that sign out of the frame but it is not possilbe due to...well...let's just say there are a lot of issues.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Recent Projects

This photo is taken of the opposite end of the same building as in yesterday's post; The Edmonton Clinic North at the University of Alberta.

The night before it has been overcast but the clouds were supposed to break near dawn.  They didn't exactly break but they were starting to thin out and when the sun came up it cast lovely magenta tone that is nicely reflected in the glazing.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Recent Projects

Late fall and early winter is a really awkward time to be photographing buildings; especially those with a north facing main entrance.  But as one highly respected landscape photographer of my acquaintance often says 'there is no such thing as bad light'; you just have to approach things differently.

We had to wait for the landscaping at this building to be completed, or at least be as complete as possible.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Family Photos

This photo is a happy accident.  The battery in the flash was running down and it didn't fire - I'm rather glad it didn't because the lighting is nearly perfect.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Family Photos

You'd have to look hard to find a cuter kid than this guy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Family Photos

The goal with any portrait is to make people look like themselves on their best day.  This wonderful family are a pretty happy group and I really wanted to capture that.  This is my 'pick photo' from this session.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Family Photos

These three kids are part of our honorary family.  This photo is a bit of an experiment; the shot was taken outside with a bit of fill flash.  The background was removed using Topaz Remask software and then exported to Oloneo Photoengine.  The final adjustments were made in Photoshop CS5.

I think it has sort of a vintage Sears Portrait look.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Family Photos

Colour photos are great but black and white is much better for photographing people.

Canon 5DII with lensbaby composer.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Family Photos

Everybody needs a nice portrait don't you think?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Family Photos

I wanted a photo of these two lads looking a little less posed - introduce an iPod and everybody chills.

Desaturation and tone adjustment made with Oloneo Photo Engine.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Freeze Up

This photo is a composite of about 10 photos taken with the iPhone and merged using the in camera PhotoStitch App.  Taken while out walking our dog Parker in Buena Vista Park.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meet Sophie

This is our new friend Sophie.  She's about 15 weeks old and she's 1/2 Maremma, 1/4 Akbash and 1/4 Great Pyrenees.  The forecast is that she will be a very gentle and soulful dog - and that she will be quite a large gal.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Big Splash

At the start of the year one of my goals was to get published - somewhere.  I had two design and building industry magazine covers this year; but this photo appears in the Edmonton Journal almost every day.  This is the new Sherwood Ford Dealership in Sherwood Park.  Usually it's the colour version but today on page A11 it is run in black and white in a full page advertisement for the  dealerships grand opening.

Canon 5DII with Canon 24mm TSE lens.

Recent Projects

Here's the last in the Strathcona Centre in the Park series; the south elevation on a crisp autumn afternoon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Recent Projects

Here is a detail photograph of the glass canopy at the entrance to the Strathcona Centre in the Park building.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Recent Projects

Yesterday's post was of a dusk shot rendered in colour so here's the opposite; a little after sunrise and in black and white.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recent Projects

In the modern age it is not fashionable to have buildings overly lit up at night.  But in the fall the lights have to be on during opening hours that often extand past dusk.  This photo was taken on an October evening around 7:00 pm.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recent Projects

The Strathcona Centre in the Park is a big building with many aspects to photograph.  This is the courtyard between the old building on the right and the new.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recent Projects

This is the children's section of the Strathcona library; hence the scary dragons and low furniture.

The colour version is fine but a bit chaotic; black and white versions edited in Oloneo Photo Engine.