Value Village + Rethink Reuse

We were commissioned to cover the creation of an art installation for Value Village. The art installation would be set up in Graffiti Alley in downtown Toronto over the course of a day. We were asked to shoot as the project unfolded with uploads periodically sent over for use on social media. Our challenges on this gig would be both logistics and the ability to shoot in a small area for two days, while capturing a fresh perspective each time.

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The point of the installation is to raise awareness of the amount of water wasted for the production of new clothing. I am all for reusable and renewable products. It was amazing to see the piece come together over the 8 hours. It was cold and wet, and when the sun finally made its way into the alley, all of us, both video, sound, and photo, did out best to soak up some vitamin D.

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We worked with an amazing team that catered to the content that was needed. It’s a wonderful feeling to see our work be posted as you shot both on social media and the website. I am not completely sure where else the images went, but when work is showcased, nothing else brings me more satisfaction. Back when I started, I just wanted my work to be part of something bigger. Working closely with Kae, we were able to edit and send images for use almost immediately. As time passes, you learn that you can’t do it alone, it takes a team. More perspectives honestly produces better work.

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Look Organic: Cosmetic Campaign

The most rewarding projects are definitely the ones where you are part of the planning and execution. Mind you, this project might of been on the rougher side, but never the less, there was art direction and a plan to build a powerful site for the launch. Check out Look Organics.

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The premise of the brand is hydration and using the least amount of ingredients possible. We ran with the hydration part of the brand here. It’s amazing what a borrowed fish tank, carbonated water and some lightings can do.

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Last but not least, the product shots. All products are shot one by one in studio. A series of light shaping tools and bounce cards help control unwanted reflection and reflect light to fill shadows as needed. My biggest tip fo shooting products is to have patience and take the time when creating the photo to fix lighting problems. You will be glad once you get into photoshop.

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Multiple Exposures - ACP Customs

One of the first realizations when it comes to lighting cars and motorcycles is size. These subjects are way larger than a person. The only way to combat this issue is either to use many lights or the much cheaper way, light painting. Combining multiple exposures really helps create a more balanced photo. 

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Making sure everything is placed the way you like it by taking the time to compose the shot. Cementing that tripod in place is key. Slight shifts of the camera, even when hitting the shutter button can spell hell later in Photoshop. Having to alight and free transform until everything lines up can be tough. Prevent this issue by using a remote trigger. 

Once you are happy with your composition, leave everything as is. When it comes to workflow, thinking ahead will save you a ton of time.  As I lite the bike by section, I was mindful of the key light position. Lighting the bike completely would result in a flat image. 

 Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 63mm f/2.8 merged Pano

Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 63mm f/2.8 merged Pano

In post-production, the best thing about having multiple layers is the control. You now have full control over how bright any section of the bike can be. Fully lighting the bike wouldn't be as interesting, but this is subjective. The first image consists of about 6 images combined together. It's a fun test of my computer power, where 6 images stacked is a whopping 660MB o,r a whole bootleg movie from Kazaa. And that's just the working files. In the end, the extra effort placed on lighting and combining allows you to create a tailored image. 

Basketball Under a Freeway

It will always be a compromise, use a DSLR for the autofocus and speed or go for the medium format and get more detail, colors and depth. When it comes to speed, nothing beats a DSLR, the autofocus is lightning fast but, it falls short with it comes to color and dynamic range. I chose the Fujifilm GFX 50s for this shoot. When it came to action, we had to redo it multiple times, but when you grab that shot, it's all worth it. 

 Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/3.6 @ 1/100th/sec

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/3.6 @ 1/100th/sec

For this shoot, I chose two Profoto B1s with midi octabank from Elinchrom and Profoto Zoom Reflector. We were shooting around 11:30 AM on a sunny day, but since the location is under a freeway, it was completely shaded. The light on the side acted as a natural rim light. The octabank was the key light for this shoot. A bit of flash goes a long way when it comes to separating your subject from the background. In the image above, there are two flashes, one camera left with the zoom reflector at its' lowest power and another in the octa camera right. Adding @drkev_hybrid in the foreground camera right really helps build a scene as well. Having someone playing basketball with a friend is more powerful in this context. This is my personal feeling, Kev did not object. 

 Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

This shot took multiple tries. Moving onto an EVF (electronic viewfinder) has its pros and cons. A DSLR is a real-time image produced by a mirror, an EVF is a screen and when you consider all the processes needed to create that image, there are some delays. I am sure with practice it will become easier, but for now, it is still a little challenging to nail shots like these. Since I am using flash without the Profoto TTL remote, I am trapped at 1/125th/sec which isn't the best for freezing action unless you press that shutter at the moment of inertia. It took a couple tries and a missed shutter clicks on my end, but in the end, we came away with one useable shot. 

The lighting set-up for this shot is a little different. Adding more rim light wouldn't benefit this scene, there was plenty to be had from the sun. Instead, I opted to bounce light off the ceiling with a Profoto B1 with the Zoom Reflector. This helped reduce the exposure and retain some of the detail outside the underpass. Flash also aids in freezing action, something I needed desperately. There is an octabank camera left as well to help separate the shooter.  

 Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm - f/2.8 @ 1/125th/sec

If you can pose a shot, go for it. I start with the actual action and go from there. Considering that medium format cameras are slow, it's a must. Trying to capture this at its actual speed is nearly impossible or would take much longer. I am sure if you look, you can tell my light set up for this one pretty easily. Octabank camera left and the ceiling is a dead give away for the second light. If I could go back, I would have turned the power of the flash located camera right down just a tad.

These images were created for Myodetox. There was a book published and printed that I am waiting to get my hands on. Once I get it, I will update this post with some tear sheets of the design work. There are a couple of IG stories from the event I saw, it looks amazing. Seeing my work printed is why I do this. On to the BTS. 

 iPhone X

iPhone X

The Jungles of Toronto and a Loading Dock

Deep in the jungles of Toronto, we shot for Umoro's new line of camp joggers. On this excursion, I brought the Fujifilm GFX 50s with the 63mm and 110mm. In all honesty, all I used was the 63mm. Wide angles seem to suit my style of shooting. As always, I push for sunset because a directional light is way more flattering to work with. On this shoot, @jaylee.tv will be modeling the jogger. I always find it extraordinary how you can see the same location in many different ways along with exploring a new one. We went to the valley and followed the paths carved out by stoners. 

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Remember, Tell a Story

After some coaching from a close friend, he reminded me that I need to continue to push my creativity. Being able to tell as story through our photos will always be more powerful. I was finding it tough finding a way to shoot cars in an interesting way. Car photography is a whole other animal. Composition is always important, but with such large subjects and even a larger environment.

With ample research, you can tell strong automotive photography has a story to tell. The environment plays a big roll. The more simple, the better, as that it doesn't detract from the car itself. These shots were taken in a mall parking structure one hour after it closed. Security wasn't an issue, even though they did question us being there. He just said make it quick and he never came back. 

Lighting for the shots involved bouncing light off the ceiling and floor to get highlights and help kill reflections. Since cars are huge, these shots are comprised of up to 8 shots. The results are well worth the effort. Let me know if you can figure out the proposed based on these iconic automobiles. 

 IG:  @don_wolf
 IG: @terryeas

IG: @terryeas

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Copy of Quick Profile: Scott

Sometimes you meet someone who takes your interest completely. Over the years, I have learned to listen and put my views on reserve while taking in another prospective. Scott is one of these people. He explained his work, and how me makes a statement everyday as he meets numerous people. It was sunset, so I asked if he could give me some time to photograph him. 

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Street Photography with the Fujifilm GFX 50s

It has been a long time since scheduling off an afternoon to wonder the street. Street photography was the tool I used to get familiar with new gear and techniques. This time, it was gear, the Fujifilm GFX 50s. The camera is particularly slow and out of its element for quick focus acquisition, but once you figure out that it's you who must slow down, each shot composed is almost a masterpiece. Taking the time to stop and figure out why this scene caught your eye is what street photography is about. This time, with the GFX 50s, there is no fear of blown out highlights or lost shadows. Going medium format is freedom. 

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First day with the Fujifilm GFX 50s

Have you ever bought something, and not have buyers remorse? I have found the one thing, the Fujifilm GFX 50s. From the moment you take your first photo, you will be smiling inside and out. It only gets better once you get these photos into post-production. The detail and flexibility just open the doors. You will never see a highlight and shadow recovery slider work so well. I had no shoot planned for today, but I grabbed @vinnierehab and shot a few by the back of the lab. I for one welcome the decreased speed of shoots. Quality over quantity always. 

Equipment used: Fujifilm GFX 50s + Fujifilm GF 63mm

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 IG: @joe_umoro

IG: @joe_umoro

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Product Work

Shooting products are honestly one of harder subjects to shoot. Once you decide on the background and the base, it honestly becomes a game of inches with lighting. I usually tend to work with large modifiers that produce soft light, but when it comes to product, the opposite is needed. Hard light tends to produce the best gradients. To achieve gradients, grids are needed.  Almost all lights used were grided. A tight grid was used to highlight the company name on the lid. I cannot stress the importance of using a modeling light, its the only ay to see what you will if you are placing the light

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Experimenting with Color

Working with gels can be as fun as it can be frustrating. Usually, when choosing colors the colors, I refer to a color wheel or mix colors which are similar. For this collection of photos, the use of grids is a must. The grids help restrict the spread of light, allowing the colors to be separate. As soon as the weahter lightens up, the gels will be used on location.

Myodetox + Nike

When it comes to last minute shoots and tight deadlines, I usually get booked. All Mike had to say was its a collab with Nike and I'm all for it. Since we had minimal time, we shot at one of Myodetox's clinics. When it comes to shooting in small spaces, light leaks and spill pose their challenges. Everything that can be gridded was. Light spilling onto the background would highlight all the unevenness and take away from the dramatic feel we were chasing. 

 IG: @alya_myshka

IG: @alya_myshka

One of the major differences between this shoot and others was the amount of pre-planning. We had Mike buy outfits. All the shoes were brand new and color matching came into scope for every outfit. The effort pays off ten fold. I am a big believer in having people play to their strengths. 

 IG: @k8beast

IG: @k8beast

The end final medium for these photos was print. A booklet that would be handed out before a run in Miami, filled with stretches that would help participants minimize injury. Because it would be print, colors needed to be on point. The use of a ColorChecker Passport was a must. 

 IG: @drkev_hybrid

IG: @drkev_hybrid

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Thanks for looking. Now to see calculate when I can go medium format. 

Short & Cold Street Shoot

Finding time to go out and explore is a top priority this year. There is no better way to test your skills and limits in photography. Street photography happened more often when I first started out. It offered the most challenges when hunting for good light. If you wanted even more of a challenge, go out at night. Dressing for the weather is top priorty when going out in the winter, something we failed to do because we did not factor in the chilling wind. Enjoy the few photos we captured in Nathan Phillip Square. 

 IG: iam_karbon

IG: iam_karbon

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Product Creatives on White

Shooting products on white is a request that comes up all the time. It's funny how it seems like one of the more basic shoots but can be so complicated once you choose to refine it. As with many things, there are rules to ensure you get the cleanest photo possible.

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Space is an important factor when it comes to shooting products and people on white. The distance between the background and subject is important to preserve edges. Lighting the background is also important where shooting on a white backdrop is not enough. The power setting you choose for the background should not be too much. When lighting the background, I choose a power setting that blows out the background just around the subject. If the other areas are not completely white, I will push them up in photoshop. Another important factor is to have crisp edges to make selections much easier in photoshop. To achieve this, I use f/9 or above if possible. 

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Image review on the back of your camera is good, but there are settings to help you achieve the wanted effect. I recommend turning on highlight warning. The areas that are completely blown out will flash black and white. This will let you know if your exposure settings are correct. The last thing you want is your subject to be overexposed. Apart from losing detail, it would certainly make your life harder during the editing process. 

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Enough of the technical side. Since this was a rain jacket with a hydrophobic coating, why not make it wet. With the help of Ashley, we soaked the jacket realistically from top to bottom. The shoulders carrying the majority of the water. The speckled water effect helps make for a more interesting shot. These photos were eventually used in social media and the product page. When posted on Instagram, it's rare that your audience will linger on an image for an extended time. Getting the point across quickly will help them understand the product quickly as they scroll. 

Learning how to shoot photos on white took years of trial and error. Once you figure it out, you will have a mental checklist so you can get it right everytime. Once set up is understood, you can get on with making the most of the shoot creatively. 

CJ Anderson for MPC

I stand by it, not everyone has the time to have their photo taken. I found this to be true of most celebrities or people with a jam-packed day. I read this a while ago in Joe Mcnally's book titled "The Moment it Clicks". Lord, I wish I knew where that book is today. I think I lent it to an ex's friend and I have come to terms that I will never be seeing that copy again. 

CJ Anderson

When shooting portraits, I asked for 2 minutes max, but I'm sure I pulled it off in 45 seconds or less. Since this was not a photo shoot, my usual location lighting was not used. I do miss shooting natural light sometimes. 

CJ Anderson

I was asked by Myodetox to cover CJ's visit through some training. Most of the shoot was candids, which no one really minds. I try to wear black and blend into the background. Well, as much as a 6'2" man can. He didn't seem to mind either way. Getting close to the action makes for better shots as well. I tried for closer shots once I felt he was comfortable. 

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This morning's training session was on the tough side, where he had not eaten and was placed on a red-eye the night before. By following both CJ and his trainer, I was able to catch a shot of him resting outside. As a photographer, you walk a fine line when it comes to storytelling and intrusion. I kept my distance as to not bother CJ. 

 

Myodetox: Wedge Creatives

The biggest take away from this shoot was being kicked out of the location about an hour into the shoot. To be honest, we only asked one of the 3 landlords that run the place. Sadly, it wasn't enough. Luckily, we were able to get most of the shots done before we were forced to leave. One tip, if you are asked to leave, leave. At least they most likely won't ask for the images you already captured. At least you are leaving with something. 

We choose this location for the rustic feel. This heavily used loading area looks awesome on camera. having lights set up does not help your case when you try to explain this a small project.

Enjoy the images we were able to capture below. 

Equipment: Canon 5DMK3 + Canon 50mm f/1.2 + Profoto B1 + Profoto Stripbank w/ Grid + Elinchrom 69" Octabank

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Thanks for looking.

PC Designer Portraits

Location portraits are hands down my favorite to shoot. There is something about the challenges of balancing ambient light and flash and getting the best angle with the time given to the client that excites me. 

The one takeaway from this gig was the unending snowstorm that morning. Something people have to understand about working for yourself is that you cannot be late. There is no such thing as a sick day or even calling in sick. I have made my way to gigs through flat tires, storms, traffic and with a looming gout attack. That's right, painkillers have got me through an event that you just can't miss. Your name is on the line, and negative news travels fast. To me, clients come first, time is paramount, and I always strive to do my best with the assists provided to me. 

Enjoy this colorful collection shot for Loblaws. 

Equipment: Nikon D4 + Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 ED + Profoto B1 + Profoto Large White Umbrella + Elinchrom Rotalux 69" Octabank

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Thanks for looking

Track Day

It's been some time since I've done a personal project where there is no one to deliver to but myself. I decided to do a small shoot with some of the guys from the car club during a track day event for BMWTN. I know that most of us can only do a couple of laps before letting the cars cool down so, I look this off-time to shoot some of the drivers and their cars. 

Jan h. Westcott

When it comes to moving quickly, nothing beats the Profoto B1 and a few modifiers. The B1, when working indoors and alone can be a god sent. Here in Toronto, i was commissioned by BOLD Magazine to shoot a few portraits in the Four Seasons Hotel Jan H. Westcott, the President and CEO of Spirits Canada. 

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