Sunday, May 30, 2010

Outdoor Self-portrait

Over the last few days, I've experimented with the commander mode of my D90 with my SB600 flash. Commander mode not only allows you to wirelessly trigger your flash but also allows the D90 to control the output. In essence, you could allow the camera to completely determine the flash output.  The results I got with iTTL (i.e. where the camera completely controls the output of the flash) were okay but not quite what I had in mind. In the end I set it to manual mode.
I had intended to use my Sigma as a second flash for fill but the preflash that the commander mode uses fires the Sigma before its supposed to.  As such, I used the SB600 as the key light and used the on-camera flash for on axis fill.

I have to say I enjoyed the results. They turned out pretty much exactly as I had hoped. Granted I would have liked a more attractive model to work with...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

6,697 Polaroids

6,697 Polaroids.  Jamie Livingston took one Polaroid picture a day from March 31, 1979 until he died on October 25th, 1997. What started out as  a fun project turned into a visual biography of the photographer's life. In fact the last picture is of him on his death bed.  Touching and sad but also encouraging as well.  I think any of us would be proud to have a legacy like this. 

The pics can be found here:

And this blog speaks about the story behind the images:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oh the places you'll go (Little Red Lowe Pro)!

I suggested "Camera Bag" as the challenge topic over at It was chosen but a lot of members really REALLY didn't like it.

When I thought of the challenge I looked at my little red backpack I take with me everyday to work. I've had it for 4 years and I've taken it with me to some pretty cool places. My wife even commented that she had better not see it on our wedding day or she would walk right back down the aisle without me. :)
So 3 replaced snaps, a little salt and dirt, and thousands of miles and that bag is still with me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mountain Majesty Exhibit- Resolution Gallery in Kensington

Its been an exciting week so far with my first wedding shoot and now I am doing my first gallery showing at the Resolution Gallery in Kensington.  The Mountain Majesty exhibition runs from May 5th to May 31st with the opening gala scheduled for Friday May 7th from 5 - 9 pm.  I'll have a couple of images in the show so I am quite excited!

For more information, phone (403) 452-5285, or email (You can also go to

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First wedding shoot done!

My first wedding shoot is done and I am currently uploading the pics to my computer so no pics. I did however want to record my impressions of the day while they are still fresh in my mind. (The impressions are fresh however my mind and body are quite pooped).

First of I really really want to thank my wife for her help. She performed admirably as a MILS. (Mobile Intelligent Light Stand). Actually that was the least of her contributions. She gave me confidence in my abilities when I doubted myself. She pointed out things for me to shoot and gave ideas on how to shoot. She thought of things to bring like blankets which turned out to be brilliant. (12 degrees isn't bad but you are wearing a sleeveless dress? Chilly!) She has that remarkable attention to detail that most women seem to have.

I was able to go to the rehearsal which was great. I was able to speak to the gentleman who was handling the music and he was able to get me some more light. I did a few test shots without the lights on and I was shooting wide open (f/1.8 on my 50mm) and 3200 ISO and I still couldn't get a decent shutter speed. With the lights on I was able to shoot at around 1000 ISO with no problems so it made a huge different.

I know photographers don't normally go to the rehearsal but it really helped me out. I was able to know the sequence of events and where everyone was going to be coming in from and where they were going to stand. It also gave me an opportunity to figure where the heck I was supposed to go.

No one ever tells you that sort of thing by the way. Here's how to pose them. Here's how to light them for the formals. But for the actual ceremony? No chance. Its something you have to figure out yourself. The biggest concern I had was getting the shots I wanted without blocking the view of the ceremony.  While I might have buzzed all over the place hopefully it was as a fly on the wall.

The gear? Very nice. I rented an extra body and a 24-70 mm f/2.8 and a 70-200 f/2.8.  An extra body was a must I think. True, I didn't shoot nearly as much with the 70-200 as I did with the 24-70 however there was no way I was going to be able to switch lenses that quickly. For some of the procession shots I would shoot with the telephoto and then drop that body to my side (thank God for the Black Rapid strap!) and grab the other camera and start shooting again with the wide angle.

Speaking of the telephoto. That sucker was heavy. In an attempt to lay back and get my shots from further away I ended up using it a lot for long (or what seemed to be long) stretches. My arm would tire and my hand would start shaking.

There were some tricks I tried out and some I figured out. The first one was one of the cooler ones. My friend Sig is often hard to photograph because he always seems to have his eyes closed or closing. One trick I read about was to have them look down and then after a count of three look at that camera all the while keeping your eyes open. It worked really well. Nice big open eyes without having a crazy surprised look.

One problem I had which I came up with a trick for was getting everyone looking at the camera.  Kids especially seem look every where which of course is what kids do.  I had everyone actually point at me and look where they were pointing. When they put their hands down everyone was looking right at the camera. It was amazing! Not sure if it was fluke or this brilliant idea I came up with is anything new or not but I am going to put it in my bag of tricks for future shoots.

What else? I learned you have to move and shoot very quickly. Everything happens quickly regardless of how slow people try to do things. Kids get impatient as do their parents. Heck I wouldn't want to sit around watching a guy fiddle with the controls on his camera either.  Again, the two camera system for the ceremony was a god send. My wife helped keep things moving quickly and efficiently for the formals.

Some final thoughts. It was a great day and I couldn't have asked for a better couple to work with. Devon and Brenda were so much fun and had so much energy it made my job so much easier. Clearly, the two are in love with other and I hope the images I took today reflect that.