i'll go crazy if i don't go crazy tonight

I had an unanticipated nap after work today. I am now in a weird hyper-alert yet wholly unfocused state that does not bode well for getting to bed on time tonight.

There is at least one benefit: I started cruising Lightroom catalog and came across this photo that I had marked but not finished editing for some reason.

I'm struck how incredibly appropriate this image is for where I am right now. Take a step back...

I've been thinking a lot about this blog and where it fits into my life. Obviously it's been a while since I've updated...at some point the Facebooks and Twitters and Flickrs and Tumblrs and other mangled wordmarks tend to run together and it's hard to find where each subject belongs.

The problem (at least for me, anyway) is that I end up writing the same thing over and over again, but skewing it slightly based on my perceived audience. What I post on Facebook is inevitably different than I post on this blog; likewise, I'll post stuff on Twitter that I wouldn't post on Facebook, and vice versa. Some of my posts on this blog have come almost verbatim from that photo's description on Flickr, while some are completely unique.

Frankly, I don't even really know who I'm writing for.

I've also been doing a lot of studying into some of my favorite photographers, and I've come to a realization: the best of them blog ALL OF THE TIME. And not just about weddings or families or babies or whatever it is they are shooting at that time; they will write about themselves, their travels, their likes and dislikes. It's like a conversation with a friend rather than a brochure.

The words show you what is going on behind the camera.

Sarah Rhoads does this brilliantly. Jonas Peterson doesn't even have a gallery, and simply uses a running stream of commentary. Stacy Reeves, Ben Godkin, Mary Dougherty are but a few that I follow on a regular basis to get inspiration and learning.

This is the kind of photographer I want to be.

I'm getting a little scattered here, so let me try and bring it to my main point.

I think that, for the most part, this blog has fulfilled its purpose. My photographic journey has already surpassed my wildest expectations, and this blog really helped me sort my way through it. But it's time to move onto the next step and put on my big boy photographer pants.

I'm working with my utterly brilliant web guy to completely redo my blog concept for my website. This new blog will be more of "professional" blog, with recaps of all the sessions that I do. I'll be blogging more often, and with many more pictures.

It's the next step. It's stepping back and looking at the whole picture. It's examining where you've come from and where you're about to go. It's getting your brilliance out there for all the world to see. And I've got a bucketload of brilliance, dang it.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting back. Thanks for clicking through and looking at the rest of my pictures. Thanks for coming back time and time again.


the unforgettable fire

The following is my account of the Glenrosa, Rose Valley and Terrace Mountain forest fires in July 2009. These pictures and words first appeared on my Flickr account.

(18.7.09. 7:45pm)

My city is on fire.

It's been seasonably hot lately...no rain for at least a week, and temperatures consistently above 30C. Can't lie, I was beaming at the thought of a weekend spent on the beach.

About 2:30 this afternoon a fire started in the hills above Gorman's Mill, in an area called Glenrosa. It started to spread quickly through the dry forest. The winds started to gust. Within two hours it had grown to 15 hectares large. Helos started to appear on the horizon first, dropping their buckets on the blaze.

Then the winds changed direction. The fire jumped the highway, and started burning down towards the lake. Evacuations started coming fast and furious. 4000 homes are currently evacuated, approximately 10000 total people displaced. 5 hours later, the total size was pegged at 50 hectares. Bombers started to appear; according to local radio, every plane in the province has been called to fight this blaze.

The worst part is that only 6 years ago we had a similar fire in this area, directly across the lake from this one. 45000 people were evacuated, 239 homes were lost. Driving across the bridge with the ash coming down and the smoke coming trough the air vents, it felt like reliving a really bad dream.

An overnight bag, my computer and camera gear are sitting at the door. The blaze is 6 km away. Radio just announced it's at 200 hectares wide.

(18.7.09. 10:12pm)

Three local radio stations (Top 40, easy listening, and talk) are simulcasting updates.

Second fire further north announced, near Fintry. Currently 55 hectares large. Sparsely populated, but also growing fast.

Lists of evacuated streets are being read out. Including Reece Rd, unnervingly enough.

Air support has been suspended for the night.

The command center for battling the blaze actually had to be relocated due to advancing flames.

Third fire announced at Rose Valley dam.

Won't be sleeping tonight.

This photo was featured on CBC.com as well as CBC Newsworld coverage.

(19.7.09. 6:50 am)

Awoke with the vague taste of campfire in my mouth.

Hear the whir and thump of helicopters outside my window.

Overnight they evacuated part of Rose Valley. Glenrosa is still fully evacuated. The highway is now shut down at the Gellatly/Gosset intersection.

Starbucks was closed.

(19.7.09. 12:35pm)

Press conference on the radio. 6500 residences on alert or evac'd. 17000 (of 29000 total) residents affected.

Glenrosa fire is at 350 hectares. Looks "much more promising" this morning, slower early morning winds helped to attack some major areas.

The Mill was saved by the work of crews and staff, a small but crucial victory that is repeated as mantra by spokespeople for the forest service and RCMP.

Rose Valley fire is at 100 hectares. Rough terrain has limited heavy machinery, but helicopters and planes have been hitting it.

Terrace Mountain fire is at 100 hectares. Few structures are threatened, guards are maintained, but the focus is on the other two blazes.

Air quality is deteriorating quickly.

(19.7.09. 9:02pm)

The winds stayed steady, but much calmer than yesterday. The Glenrosa fire is now 40% contained. Rose Valley is still burning, but the growth rate has slowed. Terrace Mountain is out of control, over 850 hectares large at last estimate.

Officials have now confirmed that both the Rose Valley fire and Terrace Mountain fire were human caused. No other details given through pursed lips.

Stopped by a producer and reporter for GlobalBC while taking pictures with The Girl. Brought them up to a vantage point from last night. Maybe it will still be glowing? Tune in at 11 to find out.

(20.7.09. 1:10am)

Heard the official opposition's public safety critic on the radio, smearing the government for alleged inaction. Then heard the host absolutely tear a strip out of him for grandstanding in the face of a crisis.

Air is smokey again after a period of clearing this evening. Satellite photos on the evening news show smoke reaching down into northern Washington state.

Every time I go out to my car, it's blanketed by a thin layer of light grey ash.

The night is absolutely silent save for distant sirens bouncing off hills. Highway is deserted.

Fire guards are established. No additional structures were lost.

A decidedly good day.

(20.7.09. 6:55pm)

The morning was surprisingly clear. The smoke hung high above the valley, but the sun shone through. Breathing seems a much more pleasant experience than yesterday, although I might just be used to the smell.

The Regional District declared a state of emergency late last evening, mostly as a precautionary measure in case the fire crossed territorial boundaries.

The fires stayed virtually the same size today, but still remain largely uncontained. Evacuation notices were extended for another 72 hrs. The Top 40 station started regular programming again, with regular updates between Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas.

The air started to descend around dinnertime, until it was impossible to see the other side of the valley.

It's getting hotter. 32 today, 35+ for the rest of the week. Gonna be a scorcher.

(21.7.09. 9:50pm)

Major press conference tonight. Both the Glenrosa and Rose Valley fires actually shrank in size, from 400 down to 290 hectares and 150 down to 100 hectares respectively. Both are now somewhat contained. Terrace Mountain exploded, growing from 850 to over 1300 hectares, but still a ways away from any structures.

6000 of the 11000 evacuees will be allowed to return home at 8am tomorrow morning.

The banner headline on all local news sites quotes the West Kelowna Fire Chief: "We had a really good day today."

As if to celebrate, the breeze picked up a bit after dinner. It blew the hanging smoke cloud out of the valley, leaving a night that almost felt...normal.

(22.7.09. 4:19pm)

The middle school behind my house has been turned into a secondary command center for the firefighters. The parking lot is packed with dark green BC Forest Service F350s, and the soccer fields play host to choppers. They don't appear to be the bucketing ones, however; these are used for chauffeuring bigwigs like Premier Gordon Campbell around the devastation.

Some of the evacuees have reported looting in their homes upon returning.

Friends of mine returned home to find ash covering the entire interior of their house. In the 10 minutes they had to pack up and leave, they had neglected to close the windows.

The cause of all three fires is yet to be determined, but all have been confirmed to be human caused.

(22.7.09. 8:35pm)

All remaining evacuees of the Glenrosa and Rose Valley fires have been allowed to return home. Both fires were reported to be 80% contained, with the goal of 100% by this evening.

A light breeze was blowing north, which took care of any residual smoke from either of these fires. The air was the clearest it's been for a week.

The Terrace Mountain fire, however, was still out of control and beginning to encroach on some far-flung homes. At 1800 hectares and growing, this one is far from tamed. Evacuation alerts have been placed for about 2200 people, mostly because there is only one road to escape should the fire change direction quickly.

The temperature is rising. 36 today, nothing less than 33 for the next week.


(9.9.09 4:32PM)

Weeks later, the Terrace Mountain fire continues to smoulder. It flared up several times over the following weeks, causing evacuations for residents between West Kelowna and Vernon. It remains contained at 9300 hectares, and the Forest Service continues to monitor it.

Yesterday, the provincial government announced they have spent over $300 million on fires since April, with another $100 million more expected. Over 3000 fires have been battled, and 1000 firefighters are still working on blazes.

The remnants of the fires are very obvious; when the air is clear, large dark swaths of forest can be seen on the mountains. Neglected store signs still proclaim their thanks to the brave men and women who fought the blazes. The fields where helicopters came and went play host to soccer teams again, but there still hangs a sign on the fence proclaiming "DANGER" - a darkly poignant reminder of what was.


no line on the horizon

My September thus far has been spent cleaning up after the craziness that was July and August.

Weddings, engagements, concerts, families, blogs, visitors...oh yeah, and my day job...made the summer go by ridiculously fast. I shot a ton this summer, and as I edit the thousands of pictures taken, I'm a little bit surprised to find that my style is changing rapidly.

It has become visibly different.

My composition has definitely matured as I better understand the mechanics of my camera. I'm more confident in my abilities to capture a moment, so I take 6 frames instead of 20. But my processing methods have changed fairly dramatically, and I really like they way it is going.

Through trial and error, I've developed a processing method that gives my pictures a modified sepia/antiqued look. Whites lose their glare as they become ivory. Skin begins to luminesce. Bright colours are still eye-catching, but no longer distract like they do in highly saturated pictures.

I used to hate shooting outdoors in "natural" settings. I always found the brown and green mountains to muddy up my bright, vivid pictures. Now, I've come to appreciate the subtle backdrop they create.

Paradoxically, it feels like a more accurate representation of a specific moment in time. It's not just a snapshot; no, it has become permanent record of what was.

There's a warmth to my pictures now. They invite you into the moment they are recording.

That, for me, is the key. As I flip through picture after picture after picture, I am unconsciously looking to be drawn into that moment. If I don't feel it, it won't make the cut. This new method has saved many a photograph from that unapologetic fate.

15.8.09. Temperature adjusted, increased vibrance, decreased saturation.
14.7.09. Temperature adjusted, increased vibrance, decreased saturation, increased clarity.
9.7.09. Color adjusted, increased vibrance, decreased saturation, increased contrast.
14.8.09. Blues removed, increased vibrance, decreased saturation, increased contrast.



Quite a while ago I had a fleeting chance to use a Polaroid camera. I loved it, and commented that I'd love to get my own to play with. The Girl remembered this, and purchased me one for my birthday.

This is possibly the greatest gift I have ever been given; the only gift that comes close would be the Super Nintendo I got for Christmas when I was nine or ten.

It is hilariously fun. Using this somewhat limited format presents new challenges, which is a welcome respite from my summer of wedding madness. I've been pretty deliberate with my frames though. Film is no longer available outside of Ebay, and it works out to about $2.50 per exposure. There's really no room for error. Each time one turns out blurry it hurts a lot more than usual.

The camera whirs and clicks after the shutter is pressed. The picture is spit out the front, and that's it; there's no duplicate copies. You don't get a second try if it doesn't turn out. It's limiting. But it's also tangible.

This camera is both incredibly maddening and wholly exhilarating.



flower child

My Lightroom library hit 25000 images the other day.

Obviously they aren't all gems. Hitting that arbitrarily important number actually spurred me on to clean out my photo library, and I ended up deleting about 4000 before getting bored with the task. The best part, however, was looking at all these old images I'd taken, with old gear, raw technique and an unsure shutter finger. It was an unabashed reminder of where I've come from on this photographic journey.

I've done one full wedding and two receptions now, a half dozen engagement sessions and a number of various other projects. I've bought some new gear, tried some new techniques, and I'm starting to feel like it's all coming together, and in fact, this session was really the tipping point for me.

It felt like everything worked. The clients were relaxed and having fun. They LIKED having their picture taken. They looked great together. They thought ahead and co-ordinated their outfits...yes, plural; they deliberately brought multiple outfits.

They were willing to do things, to try stuff. "Get in the lake? Sure!" They didn't mind taking direction and brought their own ideas.

The locations worked beautifully, and suited their personalities. The sun was bright yet slightly muted behind a hazy high cloud which made everything glow.

I'm often really paranoid when I shoot. I never feel like I've 'got' the shot while I'm shooting; a photo session always ends with slightly forced enthusiasm that I hope hides my insecurity in my abilities. It usually ends up totally fine, but the feeling has always still gnawed.

Until now. As I was shooting Sarah Jane and Ryan, knew it was going to be amazing. I just knew it.

And that, dear readers, was a tremendous milestone.

14.06.09. Slightly increased vibrance, added vignette, slight colour correction.
14.06.09. Desaturated, increased vibrance, adjusted white balance, increased contrast.
14.06.09. Increased vibrance, desaturaded, increased exposure, slightly increase clarity.
14.06.09. Slightly increased contrast and exposure.


the playboy mansion

Sunday night is Man Night.

It started when some co-workers got together at a gaming center to play COD4 against each other. Word quietly spread both in and out of the company, and a regular group formed. It got to the point where it is just understood that any given Sunday night, you can find a group there.

One recent addition to Man Night is Dice in the Alley*. It began as a diversion while some of the guys had a smoke break, and has now become a regular fixture. We used loonies at first, but decided that American singles looked better, so greenbacks are now required for entry**.

I had finished shooting my first wedding at about 8:30, 11 hours after I started. I still had my gear with me. The alley was buzzing.

These are my bros. This is why I'm always booked on a Sunday night.

*technically a non-banking varient of Cee-Lo.

**if this seems farcical, keep in mind how ridiculous it is for a bunch of white, solidly middle-class tech company employees to be shooting dice in the first place.


the ocean

I was in Vancouver this past weekend shooting pictures.

(part two of two)

When I wasn't lurking around downtown, The Girl and I hit up some of my favourite spots in and around Van. She came down mostly to visit Lisa, a friend of ours who had broken both legs jumping off of the large white rock in White Rock.

Yep. You heard right.

I dropped The Girl off at Lisa's before going out Friday night, and picked her up again (late) Saturday morning. We met Lisa and a couple other friends and headed back to White Rock for sun, surf, the world's best gelato, and a chance for Lisa to express her feelings towards her assailant.

The next day, after another night of lurking, The Girl and I went to Stanley Park, walked the Sea Wall, lounged on some rocks, and took what I believe to be our very first 'couple' picture. Seriously, I tried to find another one, and I couldn't.

Other highlights of the trip:

- dinner, coffee and plenty of laughs with my sister and brother-in-law
- dinner at the world's greatest Chinese food restaurant with the Dericksons
- finding a linen suit and some sweet new kicks
- pistachio macaroons from a Granville Island bakery
- a dozen Krispy Kreme's for the road
- never once getting lost thanks to Google Maps on my trusty iPhone.

23.05.09. Slightly reduced exposure.
24.05.09. Increased temperature, increased vibrance, reduced saturation.



I was in Vancouver this past weekend shooting pictures.

(part one of two)

My friend Jeremy asked for my help. He is working on a photo project, but his original photographer moved away, so he asked if I'd step in and continue. I said yes...and so off to Vancouver I went.

Without getting into too much detail, the book is a small photo-heavy coffee table book about the aftermath of the Vancouver club and bar scene. So for two nights, we went out to capture all the goings on.

First lesson: if you have a camera, drunk people will ask you to take their picture.

Second lesson: some street musicians are legitimately rock and roll.

Third lesson: if someone is throwing up, their friend will assume the 'supportive friend' pose and put a hand on their back.

Fourth lesson: old friends are sometimes the best friends.

23.05.09. Increased exposure, contrast.
24.05.09. Increased contrast.
24.05.09. Slightly increased exposure.
24.05.09. Increased contrast, vibrancy, slight colour correction.
24.05.09. Increased contrast, vignetting.



It rained a lot today. It does this sometimes in the Valley.

Some days though, after it's rained all day, the clouds dissipate and the air is still. The lake turns to glass, and the late day sun transforms the mountainous landscape into a painting.

I recently borrowed a film camera from a friend, and tonight seemed like a good opportunity to test it out. The Girl and I took an after-dinner walk, both cameras at the ready.

She doesn't consider herself to be artsy in the slightest, but she really has a natural eye for photography.

So we practiced.

20.5.09. Increased clarity, vignetting. Slightly increased exposure.


sometimes you can't make it on your own

Finally, another project is being realized.

I have little trouble coming up with photo projects. Most of them seem to remain ideas though; rarely do these projects come to fruition.

Lately I've started to actually execute some of my ideas, and the results have been promising. One is a collaboration with photographer friend of mine. Another is a long-awaited photo documentary of a fictitious band.

The idea is this: a series of photos depicts the rise and fall of a band, including various stages of success and documenting the inner workings of a creative entity. The catch is, I will be playing all of the members of the band. This requires a technique known as cloning (which I alluded to in a previous post).

I shot this using a tripod and timer, racing into position after each frame. I then picked my three favourite frames for each "character" and stitched them together in Photoshop.

So this is the first picture in the series, called 'Songwriting'. You can read more about the story behind the band here. I imagine there will be between 5-10 pictures in the series, depending on how the story writes itself.

10.5.09. Three separate frames stitched together in Photoshop CS3.


get on your boots

This weekend has been a little stranger than most.

Besides shooting an album cover and an art expose, I had the opportunity to shoot a private show with Joshua Radin. I'll admit, before I got the invite I could only vaguely place him as someone I'd maybe heard of before. Now? I only wish I'd started listening to him years ago.

I can't say enough good things about him; despite a long day of travel due to horrendous border issues (isn't it usually worse going FROM Canada TO the States?), his set was brilliant, heartfelt, and laid-back. And the dude was funny! His banter between songs was so good, I'd pay good money to see him do stand-up.

After the show, he mingled easily, signing autographs and posing for pictures. And he was gracious to me, the photographer. Any "hey, would you be willing to do..." was met with "yeah, no problems dude". This was very relieving, since this was my first time shooting anyone even remotely resembling a celebrity (sorry current BC Premier Gordon Campbell).

Although, come to think of it, what guy in his right mind would pass up a picture like this?

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to check him out.

18.04.09. Slightly increased contrast, slightly increased highlights.


when love comes to town

Wedding season has arrived in the Okanagan.

First up, my friends Matt and Sue. Since The Girl was in the wedding party, I was designated as wedding escort for two of her friends attending: Lise, coming in from Calgary, and Rachel, whose husband was out of town for the weekend.

After a fine ceremony, the girls and I ended up with nearly four hours to kill. Two pretty girls, one up-and-coming photographer...what else were we supposed to do?

I've shot this wall before, and I'd wanted to come back and shoot people in front of it. This seemed like the perfect opportunity; I was going for a cool contrast between glamorous subjects and a gritty location, and this wall provided the perfect backdrop. The fact that the colours in Lise's dress match up perfectly with the graffiti was just a crazy coincidence.

I haven't done too many photoshoots like this, but Rachel was hilarious, suggesting all sorts of crazy poses. Jumps, kicks, faux-gangster poses...all her ideas.

Sometimes the subject makes all the difference.

28.3.09. Slightly increased contrast, clarity and saturation.
28.3.09. Slightly increased contrast, exposure.




Awoke at 7:05 to a dog sniffing my face.

Not a usual occurrence, but I'm house/dog sitting for my parents this week. Roxy is used to getting her breakfast at 6, and her stomach decided it was time I got up.

The sun was beaming, Spring finally deciding to make herself known. After a solid half day at the office, I joined my brother and neighbour in landscaping the strip between our houses, transforming it from a muddy slope into a usable walkway; no longer will I ruin a pair of shoes simply by exiting my house.

While sweating and shoveling, I got a text from The Girl:

"What best describes me?

Not the first time I've gotten a text like this from her. She's doing a quiz, and wants my input (even though she almost never uses the attribute I chose). I reply "Graceful"


"Shut up"


I was serious though. Grace is one of those characteristics that seems rare today. It's one of the reasons Audrey Hepburn continues to enthrall me; whether in Roman Holiday, Sabrina, or My Fair Lady, she epitomizes grace. Poise. A sense of worth, satisfaction, comfort in and knowledge of who she is.


Sitting in a cafe after church. It's that time of year where her schedule is filled up with various bridesmaid-related duties, mid-terms and lab reports, while mine is packed with work and an ever-expanding library of yet-to-be-realized photography projects, not to mention this oft-ignored blog.

So we sit, her with her books and highlighters, me with my camera and computer.

Old men find themselves drawn to her. It's hilarious to witness as these silver-haired gentlemen approach and comment on her books, her hair, how she appears so much smarter than the guy sitting opposite her. She flashes her smile, chats with them, laughs at their clumsy (albeit well intentioned) jokes, and leaves them feeling like they've still got It.

Sweet is endearing, Happy is enlivening, Funny is desirable and Sexy is alluring, but I'll take Graceful any day of the week.

22.3.09. Slightly increased contrast.



This was the photoshoot that almost didn't happen.

I went to high school with Sharla*, and through the wonders of Facebook, reconnected over a shared love of photography. Now that her daughter is a little bit older, Sharla was moving into doing photography more seriously and was looking for some portraits of herself for her own website.

First we talked about it, then let it sit for several (read: many) weeks before finally setting a time to do it.

Then I got the date wrong, and sat waiting in the Blenz downtown, a week early.

Then the next week, Sharla's car wouldn't start.

Rather than cancel again, we changed the location and went up to Mission Hill Winery, right above her house. The only other time I'd been up there, we'd gotten kicked...rather, 'politely escorted out'...for taking pictures, but I guess they relax a bit in the off season.

Most of my favourites from this shoot ended up in black and white, which wasn't really my intention going in. Milanna's little houndstooth coat had a lot to do with it; the textures and patterns just looked so much better in b&w.

I'd purposefully avoided shooting kids thus far, simply because I think they're done much better by other photographers. Milanna was a breeze though; she's obviously spent much time in front of her mother's lens.

I was really happy this shoot actually happened. I'd gone through a bit of a dry spell, and it felt great to be shooting again. And Sharla was stoked with the results, which is always a boost to the ego.

Oh, and Sharla also shot some of me. I'll be getting those soon, and you can guaranteed they'll be plastered all over the Interwebs. I am looking f-i-n-e.

1.3.09. Slightly increased contrast and black clipping.
1.3.09. Cropped to 3X5, slightly increased contrast and black clipping.

*fun factoid: Sharla and I were co-emcees for our grad formal*.

**this has nothing to do with photography, yet seemed important for context.


love is blindness

My friend Sarah approached me several months ago with a photo project. She'd been to a restaurant in LA that featured gigantic closeups of eyes and lips on the walls, and she wanted to re-create the picture. Not just with anyone though - she wanted her own eyes on the wall. Was I interested?

Are you kidding me? Heck yes I'm in.

We did the photoshoot one Sunday evening at Sarah's house, and I was initially a little worried that I hadn't gotten the shot. The concept pictures I had been working off of had really clean lines, and no matter how I photoshopped, I couldn't get it looking like what I thought she wanted. In addition to my efforts, I gave her the raw files and invited her to give it to others to try; I figured she'd have a pro manipulate it a little better than I could.

Turns out she liked my version the best.

She had the picture blown up to about 5 feet long, and printed on canvas. I stopped by to have a look after work today, and I was completely taken aback.

It was huge. It was stunning. And it was my work.

This was the first time I'd really been taken aback by my own picture. I don't think I can adequately describe how it felt to see my handiwork so large on someone's wall. It was surprisingly emotional...and the smile hasn't left my face all evening.

I've been printing a few of my pictures now that I'm in my new house, and I've been wanting to blow one up large (maybe five feet long or so), but I've been nervous about the quality. Needless to say, I'm now convinced it'll be worth it.

Once I get a few more printed Sarah agreed to host a showing of my work at her place. My first exhibition.

17.10.08. Edited and manipulated in Photoshop CS3
3.2.09. Taken with my iPhone (please excuse the quality)


the ground beneath her feet

Selective colour is a technique best used sparingly. Essentially it involves removing most colour from a photograph or film, except for specific aspects of the frame. In a portrait it may involve leaving the eyes or lips in full colour while the rest of the face is monochrome. This effect serves to draw sharp attention to specific details in the picture.

I've only used this technique twice, mostly because it often looks tacky. It isn't really that hard to do, and has been made easier by improvements in even the most basic of digital post-processing software. The result is a glut of ill-concieved pictures with terrible execution.

In my ongoing campaign to reduce the number of terrible pictures in our world, I determined only to use these technique when it truly makes the picture better.

This is a case where I know the choice to leave the sash on Chelsey's dress in colour was the right one. The white lacey dress, white shoes and red sash just pop next to the clean lines of the black suits and shoes around her. It's striking, and mysterious.

Two things that perfectly describe her.

12.19.08. Cropped to 3X5, most colour removed, exposure slightly increased.


silver and gold

Grey Cup Sunday is pretty much a sacred day for Canadians. Unlike our beloved Coupe de Stanley*, the Grey Cup is guaranteed to remain in the True North**. For 96 years running, this trophy has been fought for, and your attendance at a Grey Cup party is pretty much required.

This year, I was a bad Canadian.

My Grey Cup Sunday was spent in an art gallery, surrounded by models and lighting gear as I assisted on a photoshoot for a local salon. The photographer is one of the most sought after in Kelowna, and I have the good fortune of working for the same company as he. It only took me several months of working literally outside his office to get the courage to volunteer as an assistant.

I learned I have much, MUCH more to learn.

For one, although I knew this instinctively, I realized I always see the world horizontally. When I picture what a scene will look like, that scene is always horizontal. Yet the photographer shot the entire day vertically. I simply could not wrap my head around it. I've made it my mission to start shooting vertically, even if it feels horribly wrong.

I didn't really shoot much. I moved lights and fans, organized models, fetched coffee, swapped lenses. Once in a while I tried it out.

And I learned that, despite what little knowledge I have, I'm doing just fine.

24.11.08. Cropped to 3X5, slightly increased exposure, slightly increased highlights.

*Which hasn't been in Canadian hands since 1993, when Montreal won.
**The only exception being in '95, when Baltimore took home the prize, only two years into the league. How embarrassing is that?!


love and peace or else

The thing I love best about the holiday season is the classy events.

Girls in cocktail dresses, guys in sharp suits, parties that are carefully built around a theme...I live all year for it. Each December a several of my friends host a cocktail party entitled A Classy Affair, and this year I brought along the camera to document the occasion.

This was a really fun event to shoot. It was the first time I'd ever shot a party, which can be a very good or very bad experience. People can be really awkward and uncomfortable when a camera is presented in front of them in such a small space. Or on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who will stay in front of your lens all night.

Additionally, I was able to borrow a flashgun, which I had rarely used before this night. With such low lighting (and odd colours too, since several lamps had red bulbs temporarily put in). The flash was vital getting definition and proper colouring.

I got plenty of cool pictures that evening, but these are some of my faves:

I've seen this type of picture done before, and usually it doesn't work at all. But I think this one turned out well in spite of itself. Quite unexpectedly, I happened to turn on these ladies just as they were snapping one of their own pictures. The fact I managed to focus perfectly on the outstretched arm is nothing short of a miracle, especially in low light.

Every good party has a live DJ. I like this because the lamp was focused on the left side of the picture which creates really interesting shadows on Adrian's face. Plus the shutterspeed was slow enough that the records are slightly blurred.

This happened towards the end of the night (shocking, I know). I love the colour in this picture, because you can see the effects of several different lighting sources. I was bouncing the flash off of the wall to the left, while a red bulb cast a glow from the right. This picture almost has a bit of a 3D effect, which creates some really interesting depth and texture. The only, ONLY thing that bugs me is the white electrical plate sticking out behind Dave's head. I've spent time in Photoshop trying to get rid of it, but all my efforts thus far haven't worked out very well*. Sigh.

Still learning.

*I ended up finding a suitable method for removing the white plate, and I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

16.12.08. Cropped to 3X5, slight colour correction, slightly increased exposure.
16.12.08. Slight colour correction, slightly increased exposure.
16.12.08. Cropped to 3X5, slight colour correction, slightly increased exposure, increased black clipping.