Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 The Year in Review

There are various tools one can use to measure success; for some it's about the accountants report and for others it's looking at the total hours spent or the sheer volume of work performed.  To be honest, I look at those things too but the real measure of success is to review the objectives set out at the start of the year.  These goals tend to remain the same each year: (1) Maintain the client base, (2) add new clients, (3) tackle some projects that are more challenging than usual and (4) have some fun without going stir crazy.

I was able to continue to serve some of my long time clients in 2015 as well as add 6 new clients to the roster, some from Edmonton but a couple from other parts of the country.  I also started my largest every assignment, interior and exterior photos of the new Edmonton Federal Building.  This project involved multiple visits to the building as I was tasked with photographing all the interior spaces (my there are a lot of them) and the exteriors from all angles and at different times of day.  So far there are over 200 images completed and turned over to the client, and I'm not done yet.

There were a few photo road trips to southern and eastern Alberta in 2015 - these can be very long days with a lot of time in the car hoping the weather holds and that the forest fire smoke dissipates .  As for assignments that were particularly enjoyable the Steep Canyon Rangers concert in February was a blast and I really had a good time shooting the Meadows Rec Centre and the new Victoria Park Pavilion.  I did an air photo assignment on Fathers Day that required chartering a helicopter - that was quite a lot of fun too.

We did not travel as much in 2015 as we've done in previous years.  Our summer trip to Washington DC was great.  I've said to many people that if you only have time to see one thing in DC go to the Holocaust Museum.  You will be affected for life.  And if there's time for a second excursion I recommend the Korean War Memorial - a true stand-out in a city of monuments and memorials - there are loads of things at which to point ones camera in DC.

For today's post I've included a shot of the aforementioned Steep Canyon Rangers concert - this was their final number of the night which makes this photo seem somehow fitting for the last post of 2015.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Winter in Edmonton at Victoria Park

A few years ago the City of Edmonton held a national competition open to architects for the design of a series of pavilions for a number of Edmonton parks.  The program for each was rather loose - one of the requirements was that the pavilion had to be appropriate for the normal use of the park.  The city was not obliged to build any or all of the pavilions but they have constructed several.

This is the new pavilion at Victoria Park in the River Valley.  Victoria is one of Edmonton's oldest parks and is a picnic park in summer and a skating park in winter.  The Edmonton Speed Skating Association trains here and are tenants in the pavilion which is open to the public as well.  Previously there was nowhere to put your skates on, nowhere to leave your stuff and no washrooms.   All that has changed now.  This design was executed by Rayleen Hill Architecture of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  This photo was part of a series of images commissioned by Rayleen.

Having officially opened on Dec 19, just in time for Christmas, this pavilion - and the others already completed around the city - are a great gift to the citizens of Edmonton.  Tax dollars can't be just for police, pipes and pothole repairs; both the body and the soul need to be fed after all.  No doubt many Christmas calories will be burned off over the holidays with a few laps of skating at  the new Vic.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Self Portrait

My friend Wei sent me a PDF album featuring photos from a trip he and his wife took to Spain recently.  In the album he made a comment about not taking any 'selfies' but he did include several photos taken of his reflection.  Two can play that game.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Art of Industry

Sometimes the industrial buildings I photography have an almost cathedral appearance.  Lord only knows what this apparatus is, but I was told that when it is energized no one can be in the building.  Something about loads of electrons in a big hurry to get somewhere else.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Look Back

I recently had occasion to recount some details of a photo trip I took in 2008; this photo was made on that trip.  This is the highway alongside Abraham Lake in west Central Alberta.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Mercer Buildimg

A perspective control or tilt shift lens is indispensable in architectural photography for a variety of reasons, one of which is the option of taking two or more images and fusing them together afterward.  This shot is made in such a way.  The very large tree at the top of the frame prevents simply moving back to get the entire facade in one image.

This is the restored Mercer Building in downtown Edmonton, photographed with my Canon 17mm TS-E lens on my Canon 1Ds camera.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Commercial Interior Photography

This may look like the interior of a stylish, modern office but it's actually the working show room of a major commercial office furnishings dealer.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Ghost Sign

There are several buildings in Edmonton that feature old hand painted advertising graphics on the exterior walls.  Some people refer to them as Ghost Signs.  This one is on the side of a derelict building called the Koermann Block.  These days there seems to be only one tenant left in this old building - a barber shop that, like the ghost sign, has seen better days.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Edmonton International Airport Fire Hall

This is the new airside fire hall at Edmonton International.  The building itself is not that imposing but the equipment within is pretty awesome; even more so with a foreboding storm clouds overhead.  Conversion to black and white made using Oloneo Photo Engine.

Friday, October 30, 2015

U of A East Campus Housing - Pinecrest House

A few years ago the architects who designed the first phase of this development at the University of Alberta commissioned me to photograph it.   My goal at that time was to get at least one shot that speaks to the 'home fire burning' aspect of a residential development.  Most of the residents are students living away from home so I wanted to portray their academic residence in a very warm, welcoming way.  I was pretty happy with the results from the first assignment so when I was asked back to photograph the latest phase of the development I felt an obligation to repeat the success from the first go-round.  This is Pinecrest House on the east edge of the U of A campus.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Leduc Civic Building

Most how-to books on landscaping photography will at some point make reference to using an S curve composition to draw the eye into the scene and then direct the viewer attention through the picture space.  Usually it is a foreground element that achieves this; something like a footpath, a piece of driftwood or a stream.  Seldom do elements in the top half of the frame contribute to the strength of this compositional technique like it does in this image.

Friday, October 16, 2015

YEG Iconic Structures

In October of 1987 The City of Edmonton erected this arch to mark the 'twinning' of the city of Edmonton with Harbin, China.  I photographed the arch recently as part of an assignment for the City of Edmonton.

Known as the 'Chinatown Gate', the structure marks the entrance to an area of downtown that once featured many Chinese businesses many of which have now closed or relocated making the future of the arch uncertain.  It looks rather glorious in the morning light don't you think?

Monday, October 12, 2015

From the Vaults

Every now and then I go back through older photo archives and often I come across images that I skipped past or set aside altogether that seemed to warrant a little attention.  This is such an image.  I took it with my iPhone in 2012 along the shores of Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park.  As you can see, it was nearing dusk and the light was fading.  I have found that the images taken with an iPhone are amazing even in low light, but they can be a little grainy.  Or quite a lot grainy when viewed on a larger screen.  None the less, I liked this scene and the photos I took that evening, mostly I like the coral-coloured fringe along the mountain top and the reflection of it in the water.

To get rid of the grain I used the 'Orton' technique; a method developed by Michael Orton.  Originally a fairly labour intensive technique used in film photography where 2-3 negatives were stacked to make a print, the photographer would make one image that was perfectly exposed and precisely focused.  Then a second image of the exact same seen would be made slightly out of focus and a couple of stops over exposed.  Then the two negatives would be sandwiched together in the printing process.  To achieve this look with film one had to decide to employ the process at the time the photos were taken and you had to use a tripod so that the negatives could be exactly aligned for stacking together later.  Knowledge of the technique and lots of advance planning and decision making was a requirement.  And you'd probably have to do the printing yourself - most labs would not want to be bothered with the fussing around and all that negative handling.  In the digital age, any single photo made with any digital camera (or phone) can be used to achieve much the same effect.  The steps are simple and the result is a nice, soft, slightly ethereal image.

If you'd like to give this technique a try I recommend the instructions at:

Friday, October 9, 2015

Recent Projects - The Meadows Recreation Centre

The Meadows Recreation Centre in Southeast Edmonton opened last year.  In addition to the expected recreation facilities the building includes a library and spray park.  There's also an outdoor skating area which I will return to photograph when it's up and running this coming winter.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Recent Projects Edmonton Federal Building

We'll do one more photo of the Edmonton Federal Building - at least for now.  The Heritage Lobby has been restored to it's former glory and looks very cool.  On the wall behind the desk just under the clock is a plaque declaring that the building was officially declared open on March 8, 1958 by John Diefenbaker, 13th Prime Minister of Canada.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Recent Projects Edmonton Federal Building

Photography of the Edmonton Federal Building is the largest assignment I've ever undertaken.  The interior photos are not quite complete but the exteriors are.  I took this photo on a perfect July morning with the assistance of the Contractor, Clark Builders, who made a boom lift and operator available.  It was about 7:00 am when we started so there weren't a lot of people around.

Canon 1Dx with Canon 17mm Tilt Shift Lens.  ISO 200, 1/125 sec @ f/14.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Recent Projects

I've been a rather busy boy lately dashing all over photographing buildings.  This is the recently completed Spruce Grove Public Works building which I photographed for the contractor who built it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Art Imitating Art

If you take a picture of a piece of art is the photograph art too?  Something tells me that the answer is no, more like just a cool photo.  In this case, one made at the FDR memorial in Washington DC.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Hipstamatic at Night

The Hipstamatic app for iPhone takes amazing photos in very low light, like this one taken in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

Friday, August 28, 2015

DC Doors

I take loads of photos of fenestration (translation = doors and windows).  In Prague a few years ago we learned about the once-upon-a-time pastime of defenestration which is a 'polite company' word for throwing people out of windows.  Fun folks were the Czechs of by gone times.

So while out and about with our group in DC the subject of door photos was being kicked around and it became a bit of a game; others in our party selected the doors and windows and I took the photos.  I rather like this scene in Georgetown; it has a nice casual look about it the appeals to me.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Industrial Abstracts Courtesy of NASA

This latest addition to my industrial abstract collection is a detail photo of the heat shield on Gemini space capsule.  photographed at the Museum of Flight in Washington DC.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Korean War Memorial, Washington DC

Since returning from DC I've commented to several people that 'those folks in DC know how to build a monument'.  The Washington Monument, Vietnam War Memorial, FDR memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Jefferson Memorial...Lincoln...there are a lot.  My personal favourite is the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Work on the memorial commenced 1992 June 14 and the dedication occurred 1995 July 27 - the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war.

The memorial has a triangular plan and is comprised of a long black granite wall on the east into which are sandblasted images of the land, sea and air troops who fought in the war.  Along side the granite wall is a triangular park where nineteen 7'-6" high stainless steel statues representing a members of the army, marine corps, navy and air force are placed.  They are dressed in full combat gear and are dispersed among strips of granite and juniper bushes placed to simulate Korean terrain.  The western side of the triangle is open to the National Mall

The Korean War lasted from 1950 June to 1953 July.  The exact number of military and civilian deaths on both sides is uncertain but a figure of around 1.2 million is generally accepted as accurate.

I wanted to record a series of images that did not include any visitors and with persistence and patience I managed a few.  I also thought that rendering the images in black and white would be appropriate - one does not need the distraction of colour to come to grips with the look of terror depicted in the faces of the statues.

The photo was taken with my Canon G15 and the RAW file was edited in Adobe Lightroom.  I did the black and white conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro software.  Final Contrast adjustment made in Adobe Photoshop CS6.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

National Zoo, Washington DC

Usually visiting a zoo at mid day is a guarantee that you won't see many of the residents as it's nap time for most of them.  Pandas are an exception, in fact they seem to like the attention in whatever form they can get it.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Washington DC

We've just come back from a week in Washington DC.  There's loads to see and many things that a visitor can see close-up-and-personal but the White House is not one of them.  The lower photo shows the view along Pennsylvania Avenue and the veritable fortress that keeps unauthorized vehicles from getting too close.  The top photo shows the view across the south lawn; if you look closely you can see a person on the roof and several tri-pod mounted devices there too.  Everyone is being watched very closely when they are this close to the presidential residence.

Friday, July 24, 2015

PAW Centre University of Alberta

Regular visitors to my blog may recognize this building because I featured some pictures of it toward the end of last year.  I was asked to provide some summer photos as well and recently returned to take this photo and others.  When the winter exterior photos were taken if was very cold, around -25C I think.  When this photo was taken it was +30C or so - a 55C degree swing in temperature.  Such is life in Alberta!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Shops at Boudreau

This retail and personal services shopping centre recently opened on the site of the old Hole's Greenhouse in St. Albert.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Encore Assignment at YEG International Airport

I first photographed this building at the International Airport in 2012; shortly after it was constructed. Now that the landscaping as grown in the owner asked me to go back and create some new images.  The building is the operational base ofr STARS air ambulance and the Alberta Health Services fleet of fixed wing air ambulance aircraft serving the northern part of the province.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Edmonton from the Air

I recently completed an air photo assignment the purpose of which was to record images of the regional health care facilities.  This is an aerial view of the Royal Alexandra Hospital from the southeast.

The site is bordered by Kingsway Avenue running bottom centre to the upper left corner, 101 Street running from bottom centre to upper right and 111 Avenue along the top of the frame.  The Hys Centre (red brick building) is middle right, Glenrose Rehab Hospital top centre and Victoria Composite High School is lower left.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Commercial Interior Photography

One of the biggest challenges with Commercial Interior Photography is dealing with the extreme difference in lighting intensity - colour temperature - of the scene.  In this view there were areas of bright daylight outside the windows and fairly subdued areas within the space. Sometime I will use flash to fill in the dark areas but the larger the volume of the space the more complicated that becomes.  In these instances I find I have to use an assortment of images at different exposures to make the final photo look right - the interiors are bright enough and there is enough detail outside the windows.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Challenges of Architectural Photography

At first blush architectural photography seems pretty straight forward - point the camera at a building and press the button.  In fact there's a lot of thought and preparation that goes into an event that lasts 1/30 of a second.

Consider the state of the building; is it in fact photo ready?  Has the contractor cleared away all the bins and extra material left over from construction?  Is he planning on erecting a scaffold required to clean up deficiencies on the same day that I plan on coming out?  Is the landscaping done?  What if I show up and there's a delivery van parked at the front door?  Or if the landscaper chose that day for the delivery of a load of black dirt that has been placed in the worst possible location?  What if the owner has placed a huge 'now open' sign on the front of the building?  What time of day is optimal for photography?  What if the weather is dismal?  If the building is a long drive from home base all of these things can have huge implications.

This is a continuing care centre in western Alberta; all of these things had to be taken into account for this photo shoot.  Thankfully everything went off without a hitch.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Springtime in Alberta

I took this photo earlier in the week, first wild roses of the least that I've seen!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Anderson Burko Western Tour 2015

I took this photo of our friends Anderson Burko during their concert in Edmonton last week.  That's Roy in the centre and Darrell on the right.  Taken with the iPhone Hipstamatic app.

Friday, May 29, 2015

ATB North Hill

For this assignment the client wanted day and night photos of this recently updated financial services building.  Normally that's not a problem; I take one set of images in the day time and another in the evening.  In this instance this created a challenge because the building is a three hour drive from my home base.  And the front of the building faces north so daylight only spreads across the front of the building for a few hours in the early morning and again in the evening.  Lastly, when in full leaf the trees along the road obscure most of the new features on the building.

I have an iPad app that tells me where the sun and moon are at in given location and day.  Using this app - and a reliable weather forecast - I was able to determine the optimal time of day for the photos.  The daylight photos were taken around 7 pm and it took me about an hour.  Then hung around for the sun to set and the lights to come on for the evening photos.  Then I saddled up and hit the road for home.  A late night, but such is the life of an architectural photographer.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alberta, 'Fortis et Liber' on Victoria Day 2015

Carved into granite at the Edmonton Federal Building, the provincial coat of arms of Alberta bears the motto 'Fortis et Liber' (strong and free).  The coat of arms was adopted in 1907 by Royal Warrant and was augmented in 1980 and again in 2008.  You can read more about the coat of arms att:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Impromptu Portrait

When people see me set up at an architectural shoot there's usually someone who asks if I want to take their picture.  It's usually some over refreshed joker who thinks he's quite hilarious.  It's always a guy, women never ask.

And then there are other times; when someone who's along to facilitate the shoot suggests that a photo might be in order.  This photo comes from such a request.

I was on assignment at the Edmonton Federal Building when Rennie - that's him on the right - suggested that a quick shot of him and his mates would be a good idea.  I almost always have my 24-70 f/2.8 lens with me so I grabbed it and set the lads up against this Tyndall stone wall.  I told them I wanted serious expressions with loads of attitude.  They came through in spades.

I don't know the fellow in the centre at all, but Rennie and Dave (on the left) and I have known one another for a while.  If you want to know what top class professional builders look like, here's your chance for a good look.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Buildings at Dusk

My client for this assignment asked me to take some photos at dusk to capture the effect of the setting sun on the back lit metal panels. Under these lighting conditions I have to be ready and get on with it; optimal lighting for these shots only lasts a short time.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Edmonton Federal Building

These have to rate as the coolest door pulls in Edmonton; renewed door hardware at the Edmonton Federal Building.  Design by Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning; construction by Clark Builders.

Friday, May 1, 2015


This board room photo is significant because it includes a view of the conference centre reception area in the background.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Search Dogs

On April 29 the American Animal Hospital Association posted one of my photos on their blog as part of a story on Search Dog/Handler teams.   You can read their post at:

Friday, April 24, 2015


Here's another photograph from my assignment at APEGA.

Friday, April 17, 2015


The Association of Professional Engineers and Geosciences of Alberta (APEGA) is the professional registering body for the engineering profession in Alberta.  These are their new office in Scotia Place in Edmonton.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Steep Canyon Rangers

 Here are the last few photos from my night with the Steep Canyon Rangers - both photos feature percussionist Mike Ashworth at sound check and a close up taken during the concert.

Thanks to the Steep Canyon Rangers for allowing me to carry out the assignment and to Name Dropping Productions for asking me along!

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Steep Canyon Rangers

We're almost done with this short collection of photos taken at the Steep Canyon Rangers concert; these shots of banjo player Graham Sharp were taken during sound check.

Come back to my blog on Monday for the photos that will close out the series.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Steep Canyon Rangers

Lest you think I photographed the entire concert in black and white, heres a colour photo of lead singer Woody Platt.  Controlling the depth of field allows him to stay in sharp focus while the near and far elements of he photo are blurred.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Steep Canyon Rangers

I shot part of this assignment on film cuz it just seemed like the right thing to do.  This photo of Mike Guggino was taken during sound check.  Canon 650 camera with Sigma 150-500 lens.  Ilford Delta 400 professional film.  The negative was scanned at 28" x 42" @72 dpi.  No post editing whatsover.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Steep Canyon Rangers

This is my hands down favourite photo from my night with the Steep Canyon Rangers.  Percussionist Mike Ashworth was - unbeknownst to him I think - playing to the camera all night long.

I think this might be one of the best photos I've ever taken - very pleased with this one.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Steep Canyon Rangers

One of my goals for this assignment was to get a series of black and white portraits of each of the band members.  There are six members of the Steep Canyon Rangers - the percussionist was giving me all sorts of great opportunities; for his portrait check back on Monday!

These photos were made with the Canon 1Dx and my Sigma 150-500 lens.  Black and white RAW file conversion made with Nik Silver Efex Pro software.