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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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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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.
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.
With a vast investment in gear behind me, I took a break from buying more lenses and cameras for a good amount of time. In my series of work, my weeks are spent shooting events and portraits. The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art seemed like the perfect fit. Not only would it allows me to put down my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, but make shooting long events less painful.
There is a lack of talk when it comes to the ergonomics of shooting and carrying gear. Every pound on you and in your hand adds up when it comes to 8 hour days, even 4 hour shoots. I am not saying, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is a light lens, but it weighs less than the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and most of the times, I can get physically closer to make 85mm work. After spending a week with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, it is a definite keeper. The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR doesn't even leave my camera bag, although there is a place and time for it.
I used the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art both in studio and on location.The lens is unbelievably sharp at f/1.4, but the sweet spot is f/2.0. This is my opinion, I haven't seen something this sharp since owning the Nikon 200mm f/2.0 VRI. If you would like to check out the rating, its has taken the top marks from DXOmark.
It has been a while since investing in a new lens, it brings me true excitement and wonder all over again. I know spending money and owning new things shouldn't be a reason to shoot more, but it's been so long. This is me convincing myself. Usually there's buyers remorse with gear, but after the first couple of shots, there is no doubt this lens will not become part of my arsenal. I look forward to leaving the 70-200mm in the bag, and moving to this lens as a lighter option.
Minimizing pain during a gig is paramount for me, because if you're not comfortable, there is no way you can preform your best. I know this from years of shoulder & back pain which adds up at the end of long shoots. This year, I have invested in supportive gear to help make sure pain in minimized. We all deserve a pain free career.
On behalf of Bold Magazine, I travelled to Cartagena, Colombia to cover the culture and food of such a historic city. Usually, I vouch for not taking a large amount of gear, but this time I planned and stuffed a Profoto B1 into my camera bag, In by checked bag, there was a disassembled Elinchrom 5ft octabank. One lightstand that barely fit diagonally and minimal lenses and cameras. I always travel with two camera bodies, this time I took my Nikon D800 and Canon 5D MKIII. Basically, it all fit and I passed through security with no problem. No questions about the B1 and what it is.
I absolutely love the Elinchrom rotalux system, its so quick and easy to set up, especially when your working mostly alone and the client is limited on time. We shot chefs and managers of the top resorts in the city. The last thing I wanted was to have them waiting on me to set up. By taking this gear on these trip, it truly allows me to come away with some great environmental portraits.
Partial.gallery is an art rental service for both residential and commercial use. I had the pleasure to capture some of the clients who proudly display their choice of art in their homes and places of work.
This day was a fun one, with up to five locations on a day. I absolutely love shooting everyday people. One thing I have found to be true is that when shooting working people, they are the most comfortable in familiar environments. This being their home, or work. It helps tremendously. When I'm on a white seamless, I can assimilate with my clients who shoot in video. When shooting on location, I am in bliss, unless studio is required and working with an experienced model.
This day, the challenge of balancing ambient light in tight and large spaces was welcomed. I will admit, some items may have been moved to build a more powerful photo.
Camera: Canon 5D MKIII Lenses: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 & Canon 50mm f/1.2 Flash: Profoto B1 Modifiers: Profoto Zoom Reflector, Softlight Reflector, Elinchrom Octabank 69", Stripbank
It has been years since going on a street shoot. Street photography used to be my go to experiment with new techniques which I have read about. Everything from slow shutter panning shots to high DOF photos using a tripod to burn in a wide scene. I was asked to go shoot some architecture for Instagram and these were the few images created from a one hour walk around the financial district in Toronto.
I have to admit, it was a pleasure to go out and street shoot again. It was a bi-weekly occurrence when I was learning techniques, and it should continue. There is always more to learn and more weaknesses to strengthen.
Camera: Nikon D800 Lenses: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED & Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
Practicing with the Profoto 1x6ft strip bank. The photos here are shot in Liberty Village, Toronto with a friends cafe racer style motorcycle. The images below are composites of over 10 images each.
Of all the seasons I worry about, it’s the winter. Its the time when work slows, sometimes to a halt, but not this year. I love working in studio and on location where flash is a must to get the look. The key, is to light situations so well, that people will question if flash was even part of the exposure. The photos shot here were shot in Tillsonburg, ON in a beautiful community arena. My client Chris Holister had sent me sample shots couple days before, and showed me the amazing roof in the arena. There is no limit when it comes to being prepared for a shoot. The more information, the better. I don’t like surprised too much when it comes to shoot day. This shoot would be one of my higher paced shoots, where we had about an hour and a half to make it all work. Regardless, I was up for the challenge and more than happy with the results.
In this shot, the players were light with a stripbank camera right and small octa high up camera left. I dragged the shutter to burn in the background. I did a considerable about of editing to get the look, which included the flares on the lights on the background. I have to admit, your attention to detail really needs to be there to make these effects believable. Most of my time is spend dodging and burning. Gotta love the wide angle lens sometimes, the ability to capture everything is definitely a pro.
The photo above and the following photos are all shot in the locker room. We went for the stages of getting ready for a game. The main lights here was the medium size octabank and strip bank that stayed camera right. The light from the strip bank would give me some seperation from the background and a three diminutional feel. Having just a little back lighting will help when it comes to post processing where I can go for a little more of a gritty feel. In editing, there was much time spent dodging and burning to get the shadow and highlights where I wanted them. For the colors, I trusted VSCO to help give me a suitable split tone.
All photos were shot on the Canon 5D MKIII and Canon 16-35mm f/2.8. I did not bother with using an ND this time where details were a must, I kept my lens stopped down. If interested in purchasing Hockey Jerseys, you can visit The General Jersey Co. at www.generaljersey.com.
Photographing catalog images is all about nailing the look and coordinating time to make the most of the studio time. This day we shot 109 items for OSC Cross in a 8 hour period with all prep included. Photographing on white paper is no longer the status quo when it comes to product photography. We choose a textured background and an interesting floor, one that did not take the viewers eyes away from product itself. Lighting with direction and making sure there are controlled shadows helps bring interest to the products. Not only does it help show texture, but dimension which is important to the both the client when viewing the product, but for the manufacture, demonstrating a sound product. Priority always goes to the product on these shoots.
Luckily, during a press day at Loding, I had the chance to set up some big lights and capture the works of art put forward by their patina master. We were the last ones for the day, so the little extra time allowed me to go the extra mile when capturing his portrait and one off works of art.
Being a petrol head, naturally I would of liked to dabble in automotive photography. I have photographed people for the majority of my career but shooting a static subject seems to pose a whole new set of challenges. Composition is important in all the photos, but it's more so when it comes to shooting cars. The attention to detail is paramount when it comes to using the best angles of the car itself and choosing an interesting but clean background. The same rules apply but trying to make it come together takes more preplanning then photographing people. I use flash in almost all my work and when it comes to car, it's the same situation. I utilize the Profoto B1 and an Elinchrom 1ftx5ft strip bank.
The image above is light with a strip bank and the B1. This is a combination of about 25 images. The car alone is 10 images and for the smoke its 15. Crafting the smoke took the most time so it would look as neat as possible. When using the strip bank, you can only light a section at a time so it is very important to place the strip bank at a proper angle. I like to remind myself that you would like to usually light the way the sun would fall on the car, so most shots are taken with the strip bank light held right above the panel. The Profoto B1 has enough power to over power the sun in the midday. Keeping in mind that modifiers are made to light people, so lighting the car must be done a section at a time.
As you can tell, we beat this location to death. The small strip where they test paint presumably is just beautiful for shooting cars. Its car related so why not. It is also located in the middle of no where with minimal light pollution. We learned of the location earlier in the day, so because we couldn't wait, we headed out later that night. Shooting these photos at night poses a number of challenges. If you would like a background, you will need to light it. When it comes to shooting the car, it is necessary to pay close attention to where you lit and whats left due the lack of ambient light. Shooting with the sun helps minimize how much you have to light and makes it easier to correct mistakes. The night and darkness is less forgiving. This would be the only shot I got that night, because soon after, it began to snow heavily and it would of been a nightmare to make it look clean.
Opportunities come and go, but when it comes to building an automotive portfolio, I try my best to make it out to all potential shoots. This BMW i8 was organized on the same day. If I had my way, I would of loved to shoot the car during the day, but to spite my needs, I made the best of the situation. Lighting the i8 did not pose many problems, but as mentioned above, night shoots can become tedious.
Before going out and asking, I tried my skills on my own car. I had just finishing detailing and with a fresh coat of wax buffed in the car, I lit and photographed my car. There was no wind, so I used a c-stand to hold my light and walked back and forth from my light to the camera on the tripod many times to make this shot. Using the high speed sync function on the Profoto B1, I achieved a shallow DOF in this light without a ND filter. Hopefully this year holds some exciting and unique cars. Now I need a new company name.
Photographing athletes was always an interest of mine. I was asked to photograph some fighters for an upcoming event. The photos would accompany the stats which would be displayed prior to the fight. I took my inspiration from UFC fights which I'v watched before. I did my best to use the proper lighting to showcase the body required for being fight ready.
I had the pleasure of working for Umoro to shoot Christian Guzman's Alphalete collection for the upcoming season release. It was to be a quick and dirty shoot. Gear that day would be the Canon 5D MK3 + 50mm f/1.2 and the Profoto B1 modified with the beauty dish. On this shoot, I was entrusted with creating catalog images and editorial images which would be used for their instagram profiles and web store site.