Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The first cover

The other day I went looking for, and found, the original slide from my first North American cover. It was a portrait of Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull for The Sporting News from March 13th, 1996. Almost 20 years ago! I can hardly believe it!
The original is on slide film so saying I went looking for it was no easy task. I have thousands of slides and lets just say it took me a while. 
My how things have changed in those twenty years and I'm not just talking about the digital work flow. 
The whole business of photography has changed. Back in 1996 there were only a handful of photographers in the Vancouver market. Now there are hundreds I'm sure. All competing for those coveted cover shoots. 
Companies aren't hiring photographers, they are shooting "in house" and putting the images onto their websites and around the world in minutes.
Other things have changed as well. The people in the photographs now have more control over the final image. In this shot I chose the above angle and pose but today on a lot of my shoots I have clients let me know what the final image should look like. Not saying that's all bad, just saying it's a different photo world.

So it's coming up to twenty years since I shot this cover.  
Oh and did I tell you I was really, really young when I shot it. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Portraits, portraits and more portraits!

As a photographer who shoots events, announcements and corporate awards I also do my fair share of Corporate portraits.  A large company like The Bank of Montreal wants to make it as easy as possible for its employees to have their portraits done. So as a result I come to them with a full studio. Backdrop, lights, reflectors and laptop to view my images in real time.
The only thing I need at a location is about 10-15 feet shooting area and a plugin for my lights. Simple and easy for the client. My set up takes about half an hour and I'm ready to go!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

2014 C.F.L. Grey Cup Championship

It's hard to believe this was my 5th Grey Cup and my 3rd Cup shooting images. For the 2014 cup ( as well as the 2011 Cup )  I was hired by The Canadian Press and CFL promotions to shoot the on field promotions. This is different from the action shots that you see in the newspapers the following day. These are images for the CFL to show their advertisers how the adds were used and how much exposure they get during the big game.
Sounds easy, right? Not!
BC Place in Vancouver holds 55.000 fans and is a huge stadium! Walking around, up and down flights of stairs, back and forth on the field numerous times, all while holding three cameras and lenses and a belt full of other camera gear takes its toll on the body.
Talking to other photographers after the game I was not alone in my pain. Sore backs, legs and shoulders are the norm after a big game.
Having said this, there is an excitement to being on the field, the best seat in the house but you are so busy shooting images that there really is no time to watch the action.

This image was taken after the game and even though I was pretty tired I still could muster a smile.
This image was taken before the game in warm-up. Same smile, pre-tired body.

I did have time before the game to have a great chat with Anthony Calvillo. A CFL hall of fame quarterback and Pro football all time leader for passing yards. Not just CFL leader but NFL as well!
And just for the record the Calgary Stampeders won the cup. Here they are holding up the Grey cup after the game. Even though my day was over by then, I could not leave without getting a shot of the celebrations. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The world in HDR

HDR ( high dynamic range ) is nothing new to photography, it's been around for many years now.
But the problem I'm having with it is some photographers can't do without it. Landscape, portrait, street photography, you name it, and HDR is all the rage.
I bring this up for two reasons. The first is that I recently was on a sports photographers website that had almost all of his images in HDR. Second, I teach photography on the weekends and quite a few of my students like to add HDR to an image and then tell people that's what the scene looked like in real life.
Hold on, HDR is a filter of sorts and can be added to an image for effect. Like below.


I have nothing against HDR. I use it as well. But I do try to tell people that I added it to the image.
How about another example. This image has less of the filter strength of the first image and I think works better but I'm still going to tell the viewer that it was used.

Like I said I like the HDR look, it's fun. But lets not pretend it's real life and fill our portfolios with ninety-five percent HDR. 
Years from now I don't want people saying "why did the world look so weird back then". A simple "processed with HDR" should bring us back to reality. 
My two cents.  

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Blast from the past

Here is a blast from the past!
A promotional photo I did in the 1980's for CKVU TV in Vancouver.
The show was called "Acting Crazy" with host Wayne Cox.
As I was scanning it for the post I was thinking how long it actually took me to get the image originally. It's shot on film so I had to get the B&W film processed ( one day ) and then get it back to the TV station so that the promo people could look at it,( another day ). They look at the contact sheets and pick the shot they wanted then I took it back to my darkroom and printed up ten 5X7's to send out to the media. At least another day gone.
With today's cameras and Wi-Fi you can shoot the image and have the image out to the media in about five minutes!
I love looking at my old images but I don't miss the time and trouble involved in getting the images.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Toronto Star Masterclass

I thought I would pass along a link from the Toronto Star and their Masterclass series. If you want to know how we  ( I say we as photographers and as I've had images over the years in this newspaper, although I do not work for the paper ) make some of the images that the Toronto Star runs.
You're never too old to learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Work station blues

Last week I was working for The Canadian Press and Environment Canada at the Globe Conference in Vancouver.
But that is not what I would like to talk about today.
I would like to touch on a little known issue to most people who do not work in the photography business.
It's called "Photo gear envy"!
I like most of my counterparts in the business try to keep up with the newest trends and photo equipment that is required in our line of work. And that's not an easy thing today with the blistering pace of the constantly changing photo equipment market. 
Case in point, my work station. As I waited for my images to be sent to Toronto I started to look around at other photographers equipment and realized that even though my cameras, lenses and laptop are perfectly fine and do the job they are intended to do, I was starting to think about upgrading. 

What is he or she using?
How much do I spend?
Do I change camera makers?
Is their's better than mine?
Where can I get lunch in this building? Oops, not part of my rant. 

I shoot Canon and to change my equipment over completely to another camera maker would just cost too much. 
Constantly upgrading in small increments in my opinion is the answer.  
The days of when a film camera would last you 10 years have long since passed into the digital age. Buying new equipment on a one or two year cycle and constantly upgrading is now a fact of life.
Even though I'm a Canon shooter this new Panasonic looks pretty enticing. 
Twelve frames a second, 4K video, fastest auto-focus,
 Wi-fi transfer and control, half the weight of my equipment. Hmmm!

Keep your head down in your computer Michael and stop thinking about "Gear Envy".