Monday, March 18, 2013

Persistent Vision - part deux

I am still organizing my thoughts and I still haven't come down from the weekend. Work was just a momentary reprieve from all the things swirling in my head. Kinda like the snow on Sunday.

The whole event was really inspirational. I've never had a presenter cry and I shed a few tears too.  Just a lot of emotion and boy is that stuff ever powerful especially when it finds its way into your photography. David duChemin shared some of his images and I can't think of one image where I didn't feel something. I was either in awe of the beauty of the scene or caught up in the story that was unfolding or sharing something with the people inside the moment that was frozen in time. Never once did I think "nice shot".

I think photographs are one of the few "things" you can love.  The reason is that they really help connect us to our memories. And really isn't that what love is? That connection? Photos help us preserve places and people that aren't here anymore except in our thoughts and if they are still with us they aren't the same as when we took the picture.

If you recall from yesterday I wrote that I saw the quote "how soon 'not now' becomes 'never'". That one hit like a piano from a third floor window. One of the biggest things I got from the weekend and one thing David has said time and time again is that life is just too short to not be doing what you love. That quote really summed that up for me. I don't want to be at the end of my life and say "that's it?" or "but I didn't get to...". I want to say "Wow, that was a hell of a ride."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Persistent Vision thoughts (I.e. ramblings)

I had an absolutely incredible weekend. The Persistent Vision workshop I attended was phenomenal. We had great speakers including David duChemin, Darwin Wiggett, and Samantha Chyrsanthou. And the panel? Wow.

Today's shoot out at Vermilion Lakes was indescribable. The weather was absolutely crap and the roads suffered for it. When we got out to the lakes we couldn't see any of the mountains. So that just meant we had to check our clearly thought out preconceived images at the door and put our creativity to work. I have to say that there was a lot of stuff I saw and I didn't get a chance to shoot the way I wanted to. There was also stuff that I was missing but then I had a proverbial "aha" moment and found shots that were right in front of me. I mean literally hitting me in the face.

I'll be hopefully posting more of my thoughts from the weekend after I organize them but I thought it was eerie that I saw this quote while I was driving today because it was a big part of what I took away from the weekend.
“How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'"
- Martin Luther

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Funny stuff

The original Unforgiven poster - ©Wikipedia
At the beginning of January, I was able to photograph long time FCC member and great photographer Palle Kjar. As Joe McNally would say, the guy has a great face for a picture. When we started the shoot, Palle asked me and the other photographer (Heather Simonds) what we had in mind. We had a few hats and outfits for Palle so I figured we would start off with something simple like a single light setup and add more lights and gradually get more complex. Palle agreed and said he was thinking of doing a parody of the Unforgiven poster. I could sort of remember the poster but I figured I may as well Google it to refresh my memory.

Of course, that just meant that we had to start figuring out the lighting setup right away. Which meant we may as well set up the lights and heck...we may as well shoot it. So much for starting simple! This was probably one of my most challenging lighting setups I've done yet. It wasn't too hard but there were some obstacles to overcome.

I didn't have any problems getting all the lights to fire but Heather did for some reason. To troubleshoot we turned stuff off and then wondered why they didn't fire later. (Oh yeah! Turn that back on now!) We had light spill on to our background so we had to get some gobos in the mix to keep the light off the back ground. Then our nice little light on Palle's hands was off so we had to readjust. Challenging for sure but darn was it actually a lot of fun. It didn't hurt that Palle was incredibly patient so that made things go a lot smoother.  In the end it was a four light setup. Two SB700s to act as rim lights around him. We had to gobo them to keep them from spilling light on the background as mentioned previously. A SB800 to spot light his hands. The pop up flash threw a bit of light over his back to give some more detail. The setup Looked roughly like picture below.

Like I said, it was a lot of fun. Once we finished with this one we switched to simple stuff but this was definitely the most notable of the bunch. I liked the result so much I entered it into the Foothills Camera Club "Humor" competition where it took first. (And got a few laughs when it was shown at the meeting).  I have to give full credit to Palle though. It was his idea and I was just the guy who happened to point the lights and the camera in the right direction.

"The Unforgiving" - click on the image to go to the photoset

Friday, March 8, 2013

Let's make some mistakes!

I've been reading David duChemin's book Vision and Voice in advance of the workshop I am attending next weekend (So excited!). Naturally with a title like "Vision and Voice" he talks about vision a lot. One of the things he mentions is not being afraid to make mistakes and try out new things.

Let's think about that for a second. What exactly is a "mistake" in the photographic world? Certainly we have our technical considerations such as exposure and focus. We also have mistakes we can make with composition. (Hello tree growing out of Aunty Betty's head!). But let's assume that as we gain experience and knowledge, those types of mistakes go away. Where do we create our mistakes then?

I think that as we move along in our photographic and artistic journeys it becomes harder and harder to let loose and just create. As David  duChemin says, a 5 year old with a crayon has no problem finding his vision. And maybe that's where the mistakes are. We get stuck in the rut of capturing images of things as they "should be" and not looking for ways of portraying them as they "could be". Taking the example of the kid with the crayon, he will draw his family as stick figures. Maybe he will vary the heights to show the different people - Daddy is taller than Mommy; The kid is a bit taller than his baby sister. His house might be a basic box and triangle with a door and a window. That's not how it looks in real life though. If an adult were to draw something like that we would say that it "isn't right". But why is that? When you get down to it the crayon drawing matches what the kid sees. You can see immediately why he drew his family and what his vision is.

So back to mistakes. What errors can we make in our photography and art? I think that if we're not able to show the viewer our message then we've missed the mark. A pretty picture that is perfectly sharp and well exposed is not as effective as the one that might be technically less sound but tells a story, makes us dream or takes us to another place. And that, gentle reader, is your ultimate goal. Go somewhere and take us with you. Don't worry if you lose us along the way. We'll catch up eventually.

And because this is a photography blog I thought I'd share my vision of the Albert Memorial. I hope I've taken you with me to the early spring sunset in London where I shot this.

Friday, March 1, 2013

So social...

Well long time no write. At least here. I know there's a few of you who follow me on Twitter (, like me on Facebook (, have me as a contact on Flickr ( or have me in your circles on Google+. Throw in 500px,, and the stuff I submit to the Foothils Camera Club and I have pictures and thoughts floating in a whole bunch of different places.

Then there is this blog. The idea was to have this as the sort of central point where I would post my pics and thoughts and then re-post them in the other places. The thing is that I have been finding the other places so darn convenient to post to. I also have (had?) this weird idea that I need to put up long posts here with lots of words and pictures.

I guess the question is, what role does social media play in photography? For me, its about getting my images and my thoughts out there. I like to read about other people's approach to photography and seeing the fruits of their labors.  Every one of the social media formats I use has a little different audience and a little different offering.

So back to the blog. I guess initially I felt I was getting my idea out via social media so I didn't necessarily need to repeat myself on the blog. Then I realized that there are a lot of people who read this blog that don't follow me on Twitter, don't like my page on Facebook, haven't got me as a contact on Flickr, and don't have me in their Google+ circles.  Then came the realization that I haven't posted here in a very long time. Which strangely became an another reason not to post here. I mean I felt guilty folks.

To the folks who only see my stuff here? Very sorry that I've left you out. I'm not sure when I put a blog specific gag order on myself but its been lifted.