Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

What a year it’s been. All my camera gear is enjoying a little break over the holidays; time to do some cleaning of equipment, reorganizing the virtual dark room and making plans for 2013.

At the start of each year I set out some goals and objectives that I hope are realistic but the truth is that in some cases I really have no idea how to achieve them. Most of the time I am lucky enough that with just a little bit of effort and by keeping my ear to the track the goals and objectives are met.  Maybe not exactly has I envisioned them but close enough that it feels like a small triumph.   For 2012 I had hoped for three things; (1) at least 1 out of town assignment (I did two) (2) get some photos published (There were a couple of trade journal cover photos, a weekly newspaper story that featured several of my landscape photos and  (3) a small exhibition somewhere – preferably one that would not cost the earth and take too much time (I’ve had a series of photos hanging in a an eco-hair salon for three months).

From a pure business development aspect I was hoping to do more work for my existing clients as well as finding a few new ones; this too came about as I’d hoped; I have a core group of established clients who kept me very busy pretty much the whole year and the new clients who came aboard in 2012 have been very enthusiastic and fun to work for.  

I believe that in any field of endeavour repeat clients are the most telling sign of success. My intent is to give my clients images that are better than they thought possible with the least amount of effort on their part. By meeting this objective they reward me with more assignments which is great, but they have also passed on some very kind comments and given my name to others. I have to tell you that is the true reward in all of this.

Portrait photography is a passion of mine in addition to photographing all those buildings. I did a count the other day and in 2012 I photographed around 250 people in a variety of settings; at work sites, in the home studio, in offices and public buildings etc. Often people – almost always women – will say ‘I hate getting my picture taken’...or ‘I always look terrible in pictures’. So I have to rise to the challenge in these situations. Once I get them settled in and give them a few tips we are off and running and they are usually pleased with the least they say they are; maybe they’re just being polite!

There is always some new gear acquired over the year. For the last several years my go-to work horse camera has been a Canon 5DII. It will still get many outings, but a Canon 1Dx has recently been added to the fleet. It’s a very big, heavy camera that is a delight to use. When in the company of friends the subject or books-recently-read sometimes comes up; most of my reading is camera manuals!

So what was the best gig in 2012?  Depends on how you measure it; photographing Steve Martin in the summer was pretty cool, spending a few days out shooting the Broadmoor Golf Course was great as was being asked to photograph 20 of Edmonton's heritage buildings.  These assignments have a little more status associated with them but coming up with some great photos of buildings that need a lot of help to look good or that for one reason or another are particularly difficult to photograph can be just as rewarding and in fact more challenging.

For my favourite photo of the year I'm going to leave you with this shot taken at a large energy sector construction site in Calgary.  It's been featured on the blog before but I think it's worthy of an encore.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Edmonton Architectural Details

Next up in the Edmonton Architectural details series; part of the entrance screen at the downtown post office.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Edmonton Architectural Details

Here's the next sample photo sent to the art dealer in Vancouver for possible use in an Edmonton Hotel.  I expected they'd be more interested in black and white photos but colour is what they wanted so...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Edmonton Architectural Details

A few weeks ago I got a call from an art dealer in Vancouver   They had found my contact info through my website and wanted to know if I could provide them detail photos of significant Edmonton buildings for possible use in the guest rooms of an Edmonton hotel.  I wasn't sure I had what they were looking for ready at hand but they were more than a little desperate   In the end I sent them about 50 photos that I thought with some editing could meet their needs.  This is one of them; Canada Place on a fine July day.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recent Projects

Here is the companion photo to that which was featured yesterday.  In these facilities one cannot be going about taking photos unescorted; the chap in the photo was my guide during my visit and volunteered to step into the frame to give things a bit of scale.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recent Projects

 My client for this assignment was the contractor who performed many updates to this oil and gas facility.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

There's a tree on our regular dog walking loop that is decorated every year.  It provided a nice bit of colour in a landscape that can be quite underwhelming.

Merry Christmas to all who regularly follow along here on my blog; may your holiday be safe, sublime and enjoyed in the company of those most important to you.

Monday, December 24, 2012


A year ago we were awaiting the arrival of our pup, Banjo.  He's a Welsh Springer Spaniel and he's a very happy lad.  Here he is on his regular walking trail.

Canon 1Dx with Canon 70-200 f2.8 ISM lens; ISO 400, 1/320 sec, f7.1.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Recent Projects

This newly renovated restaurant and bar received an entrance upgrade but the rest of the building, a hotel, did not.  To disguise this and the winter conditions I opted for a series of dusk photos.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Recent Projects

This is the dining room side of this modernized restaurant and bar in Sherwood Park.  The space is lit by light sources having different colour temperature, this is a composite photo made from about 6 images.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Recent Projects

The contractor who modernized this popular Sherwood Park restaurant and bar commissioned a series of photos of the completed project; this, as you've probably figured out, is the bar.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recent Projects

I might seem an odd comparison, but this cavernous building has an almost cathedral like quality to it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recent Projects

A few days ago I posted a photo taken in this heavy equipment maintenance facility.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recent Portraits

Here's the last in this short series of head shots.  John Wayne once said 'Life's tough - even tougher if you're stupid'; the opposite of that would be 'Life's a breeze, more so if you're good looking' which I think about sums up this photo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Recent Portraits

There wasn't time to fiddle about with the lighting set up for this portrait assignment so I had to find ways of achieving a little variety just be altering the direction if was giving the subjects.  I wanted them all to have a professional looking expression; content, confident and serious at the same time.  Overall then photos all have that look; I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recent Portraits

Here's the next example of this recent portrait series.  Some folks fight the camera and others always seem perfectly posed and ready for the shutter at all times; this gal is definitely in the second group.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recent Portraits

I was recently asked to photograph a group of folks who all work together.  There was about 100 in total and they wanted traditional head and shoulders shots.  My goal was to have consistency in the images and to not have them look like passport photos.  I did a lighting test before the first subject arrived to test for exposure, light intensity and light placements.  This is the first photo in the series, three others will follow in the next couple of days.

Canon 1Dx with Canon 85/f1.2 lens.  F6.3 at 1/80 sec.  Elinchrom Bx500 lights camera right and left at varying intensity and distance from subject; both fitted with umbrella modifiers.  Canon 580EX flash behind the subject.  All remote strobes triggered with Pocket Wizard wireless transmitters.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Recent Projects

I was recently asked to photograph this newly completed heavy equipment maintenance facility.  Here, vehicles that work in the oil sands are serviced.

Canon 1Dx with Canon 17mm TSE lens; composite image.  B&W conversion made with Oloneo Photo Engine.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Broadmoor Golf Course

Here's the last in this series of selected photos of the Broadmoor.  This is the approach to the 7th green taken just after sunrise.  The morning mist hangs over the water hazard to the left of the fairway.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Broadmoor Golf Course

A print of this photo will hang in the clubhouse at the Broadmoor.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Broadmoor Golf Course

Here's the next of the par three holes at the Broadmoor.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Broadmoor Golf Course

In addition to the photos that will hang in the clubhouse, the course wanted photos of the par 3 holes; a print will be given to anyone lucky enough to score a hole on one.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Broadmoor Golf Course

Like yesterdays post, this photo has been selected to hang in the Broadmoor clubhouse.  There is a tall but narrow segment of wall that needs to have a simply composed, tall and narrow piece hanging thereon.  This view of the green on the second hole seemed a natural choice.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Golf Course Photography

Back in the summertime I featured a few photos from my assignment to photograph the 'signature' holes at the Broadmoor Golf Course in Sherwood Park.  The assignment was wrapped up in September and I've been working with the client to select the final photos.  This is the one they've selected to be a major focal point in the clubhouse.  To me this is kind of different from the usual golf course photos that customarily feature loads of green grass and blue sky.  It has kind of an English country side look to it and the warm yellow glow from the early morning light gives it a sort of John Constable ( appearance, which is appropriate for a golf course in a hamlet named so similarly to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England.
This photo was taken just after sunrise on an August Saturday morning - you can see the last of the morning mist in the distance.  It had rained the night before so the mosquitoes were abominable particular in the tall grass from where this photo was taken.
Canon 5DII with Canon 24mm TSE lens.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recent Projects

Most folks - I believe- don't really think much about the parking garages they drive into everyday.  But they are in fact rather special places; expensive to construct (deep holes in constrained spaces present all sorts of issues) and challenging to plan (they must respect vehicle turning circles, overhead clearance requirements in an environment where the floors are sloped in every direction).  So the contractors who build them often want images turned over as part of the overall building photography package.

They present some challenges photographically, how do you make a compelling photo of a parking garage?  In this case there was an added wrinkle; the most of the lighting shuts off at intervals to conserve energy which is fair enough, but this meant that I had to compose the shot, set the focus and exposure then dash around to trip the motion sensors so the lights would come on before sprinting back to the camera to trip the shutter.  The floor was a little wet from the snowy cars coming in and out which looks a bit messy in colour but the black and white version made with Oloneo Photo Engine looks just fine I think.

Photo made with my brand new Canon 1Dx fitted with the Canon 17mm TSE lens.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Recent Projects

This high rise apartment building was recently completed in downtown Edmonton.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Here is the companion photo to the one posted yesterday...can you figure out what this is?  No?  Well 'round these parts the trails in the off-leash park get packed with snow that can be slippery so some folks wear rubber slip on ice cleats, and sometimes the fall off.  I found this one and decided the owner would have a better chance of finding it if I hung it on a low branch and when I did this this face-like image was staring back at me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Usually I have some sort of camera along with me when I'm out walking the dogs even if it's just the iPhone.  A week or so ago I came across this face looking back at me.  Tomorrow there will be companion photo to this one that may reveal the true identity of this all-seeing pair of eyes...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Show Time

Maybe I'm a bit weird (on the other hand I suspect this may be an established fact) but I spend a lot of time at events looking around at everything accept what is happening on stage; the events surrounding theses events are intriguing to me.

This is a shot of the Rexall arena roof structure.  Opened in 1974, the radiating giant trusses of Rexall Place are joined in the centre by a large bolt plate.   To construct this a scaffold is erected in the centre of the building and each truss is set into place.  It is all quite unstable until each truss is in place and securely bolted.  When the scaffold was removed the centre of the roof deflected by about 2 feet which is exactly what it was designed to do.

Modern rock concerts can achieve spectacular sound and lighting effects with equipment that is light when compared to was used at concerts earlier.  The structural engineer who designed this roof frequently got calls in the years after from the arena owners wondering if it was alright to hang many thousands of pounds of speaker and light clusters from the structure.  He himself is a fan of opera and not rock concerts ands so he usually had a disparaging remark or two about this kind of request, but permission was always granted.  Just think of all the big names that have performed under this roof!  Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Metallica and now Paul McCartney.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Show Time

Here's a another iPhone Hipstamatic photo from the Paul McCartney concert.  The lighting effects come at the audience at warp speed and the Hipstamatic shutter is a little slow to respond, so you only have a tiny bit of control over the resulting photo.  If the lighting is particularly intense it will be rendered as a coloured blob in the final photo.  This happened a lot in the photos taken during 'Live and Let Die' during which there was not only the intense stage lighting but fire and fire works as well.  Seriously cool stuff but a challenge for this imitation plastic film camera app.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Show Time

Our night out with Paul McCartney was spectacular in every way; a night filled with nostalgic memories, huge sound, spectacular lighting and pyrotechnics, quiet emotion and sheer musical energy.  With the Hipstamatic the resulting photo is always a bit of surprise as the virtual camera effects respond to light and contrast differently with every click of the shutter.  It caught good detail in this shot; you can see Sir Paul with reasonable clarity on the giant screen to the left.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Happy Accident

My wife and I attended the Paul McCartney concert in Edmonton last night and the iPhone Hipstamatic app got a bit of a work out.  This photo looks like a portrait but in fact it was an accidental shutter release that captured this image of what could not possibly look more like a face but is in fact a blurr caught by the moving camera.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recent Hipstamatic Images

Around our house Christmas references are welcomed anytime after Grey Cup; note the HOHOHO markings on the side of this Canada Post mail box.   iPhone Hipstamatic image capture with colour saturation made with Oloneo Photo Engine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Recent Hipstamatic Images

Here's another take on the bike rack from yesterday's post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recent Hipstamatic Images

Here is a detail photo of a bike rack in downtown Calgary.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Recent Hipstamatic Images

This photo of a grating in the sidewalk was made with the Hipstamatic iPhone App; I processed it with Oloneo Photoengine then did the black and white conversion in Photoshop.  Oloneo Photo Engine was selected because I could saturate the little bit of colour there was in the image.  Using Photoshop for the black and white conversion allows the use of virtual filters that effect the way the saturated colours are rendered.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recent Hipstamatic Images

The next six photos to appear on the daily blog postings were all taken withing about 1 minute of one another.  I was walking from a swanky Calgary camera store in back to our hotel and I was feeling inspired so I pulled the iPhone from my pocket and selected the Hipstamatic app.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Recent Portraits

Meet Philip.  He has the distinction of being the youngest person whose portrait I have taken; he was just 3 days old when he sat for down really.  This photo looks great printed on white fine art paper as it has a slight off-white cast and it is very soft, much like a babys skin.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Portraits on the Fly

This portrait was no exactly made on the fly but it was executed with a very simple lighting set-up; an on camera flash fitted with a modifier to diffuse the light.  The setting was the grand stair in the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy at the University of Alberta.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Portraits on the Fly

I had been asked around to photograph a new born baby and I was asked to take this portrait as well.  I had my 'big lights' along but was missing a few bits and pieces of my standard portrait set up.  We found a suitable back drop which was held be a couple of family members.  They also managed to get mu subject laughing a bit and we got this nice casual but work-appropriate portrait out of the deal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Portraits on the Fly

From  time to time I get asked to create an impromptu portrait of someone or even a group of people; sometimes I'm prepared and other times I'm not in that I don't have my preferred lighting kit or lens ready at hand.  This portrait was taken under just such circumstance; I had been asked to do an event assignment and it was decided that the organizing group should have their portraits taken.  All I had was a flash and me 24-105 f/4 lens.  I hunted for an uncluttered background, set the camera to program mode (60 sec at f/4) and got down to the task.  The flash had a modifier on it to diffuse the light.  Not a bad result.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recent Projects

The entrance of this hangar building has very strong geometry; I'm rather partial to the black and white version - looks great on high gloss photo paper.  If you look closely you can see the moon just to the right of the dark vertical element.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recent Projects

The closure of the City Centre Airport is a long slow process - some of the first operations to leave have now found a home at this new hangar at the Edmonton International.  STARS has settled in and some of the government aircraft will soon be housed here.

Lots of sky seemed warranted for this overall shot.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Recent Projects

Here's the last of the Arctic Shores Pavilion series; we'll let Hula have the last word.

I personally think that anyone who commits themselves to the care of animals in any capacity has the most noble calling there is.  It's a ton of work and other than the silent bond that develops with the creatures in their care it's kind of thankless.  Hats off to the staff at the Valley Zoo for their assistance and cooperation in recording these photos, and to Hula for being such a cooperative model.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recent Projects

This is one of my favourite shots of the Arctic Shores Pavilion.  When I walked the site with the project architect in advance of taking any photos we talked about including some winter shots in the final selections.  This is almost exactly the vision that came to mind; a photo from an elevated position with loads of snow on a bright winter day.

Canon 5DII with Canon 24mm TSE lens; f14at 1/60 sec.  This is a compostion of two photos; the bottom and the top.  This technique effectively doubles the resolution of the camera sensor; the 5DII is a 21 megapixel full frame camera so with merging the files the file size is 42 megapixels (or thereabouts).  I did this so the file could be printed at very large size with no loss of sharpness.  Lastly, I used the tilt function of the lens to hold the sharpness in the foreground and the distant elements. more thing; there was a Singh Ray 3 stop soft edge neutral density filter over the sky to hold the details and darken it a bit.  RAW files edited in Adobe Lightroom; merging and final edit made with Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Recent Projects

I did the Arctic Shores photos at two different times, late fall and winter.  I didn't expect to get the winter shots until much later in the year; possibly even January.  However we got a blast of winter early so I was able to wrap up the assignment early.  Here's an overview of the facility.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Recent Projects

The designers of the Arctic Shores Pavilion have done a great job of recreating a true arctic shors experience, complete with some man-made 'skeletons' poking up from the trundra.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Recent Projects

The Arctic Shores Pavilion is home to various creatures, harbour seals, arctic seals etc.  This is Hula and she is a harbour seal.  She was found along the shores of British Columbia and she suffers from seizures and was deemed not releasable into the wild.  So now she is a permanent resident of the Valley Zoo Arctic Shores Pavilion.  She's quite the gal and is very fond of her trainers and caregivers.  And she likes visitors.  And fish.  She really likes fish.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recent Projects

Anybody who knows me half well knows I'm a big fan of Black and White photos.  Here is an overview of the Arctic Shores Pavilion.  Canon 5DII with Canon 17mm TSE lens; black and white conversion made with Oloneo Photo Engine.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Recent Projects

I've taken my camera gear into nasty environments over the years; frozen lakes, up on man lifts, dusty industrial sites etc., but I've never had to watch to make sure a harbour seal didn't knock the tri-pod over.  First time for everything I guess!  Here is the indoor tank at the Valley Zoo Arctic Shores Pavilion.