Burlington On Ice

While this has been a very cold winter, you can still get some very different scenes all within 24 hours. These two images were taken less than two kilometers and almost 24 hours apart. It pays to visit the same site many times: you may be able to craft an image that is completely different in mood and message.

The Hamilton ‘shore line’ was just after sunset and a battery-sapping -17 Celsius. The second is off Burlington’s ‘pier’ at 5 pm during some freezing rain.

I treated the two images differently as I wanted to accentuate the feeling of the moment.


Remember, if you are heading out to shoot during the winter, putting batteries inside your coat will help revive them. Also make sure your supportive (long suffering?) spouse is warmly dressed or that the car is near for her to wait patiently for you while you do something patently insane: sit for long periods on cold rocks watching a little light blinking.


Dodge GTS

I love photographing cars. And I can easily spend an afternoon crafting a few images. But sometimes you do not get much time. I only had 30 minutes to complete this shoot including setting up, placing the car and trying 5 angles. Luckily I had some familiarity with the location, so already knew what the light was going to do. I also only had a portrait lens and a ladder: the low light also made the lack of a tripod somewhat problematic.


The lesson here? Keep an eye out for photographic locations: they’ll really help you when it comes time to photograph cars, weddings or anything where you have choice of location.



Enchanted Falls

With the explosion of smart phones and the almost unlimited flexibility of photo-editing apps and filters available on those smart phones, the world of image post-processing is a lot more ubiquitous than it has been in the past. But one thing still stays true: if you can see the final image in your mind before you press the shutter button, you are much more likely to create a better image. Sure you can spend 4 hours fiddling with “fix it in photoshop”, but do you have those 4 hours? I do enjoy exploring options and seeing what surprises will leap out at me, but my time spent exploring the abilities in post processing allow me to anticipate the use of them before I take the photo. So save yourself those 4 hours: try to get it right “in camera” and you can spend more time shooting. You will be happier with your results.


It turns out that finding waterfalls can require a bit of driving. Google maps helped me find this seasonal and small falls only 30 minutes from my home.


Urban Abstract

A compelling image can’t always be found everywhere. However if you slow down, plunk yourself down in one spot and spend some time soaking in the atmosphere of a place/space/spot, you will begin to see things that might make for an interesting image. You might need to look up, look small or look sideways at something.


So give it a try: rather than reading on the bus while going in to work, look at everything and the people. What would a close-up capture/pair away? What lives do you see in the faces of the people around you?


Barn Find

Every car enthusiast dreams of finding that ‘barn find’: a long-forgotten car that they can buy cheaply and then sell it or drive it. For many, it is just the act of walking into the barn (or warehouse) and seeing the vehicle for the first time that gives them the greatest pleasure.

In order to recreate the scene as you might see it, if you walked in on a ‘barn find’ you first need to find a possible location. And finding a barn is the first step: but finding a barn that is accessible, available and not completely filthy has been a bit of a challenge. Thanks to Mike G, I now have regular access to a suitable barn that isn’t too far away.

To capture these three, I used a combination of post-processing techniques. The image with the sky, barn and car required an HDR treatment. You’ll notice that it isn’t ‘over done’. Rather I aimed for a more natural result to more closely reflect what we see with our eyes. The others have had local and micro contrast adjustments to recreate the same rough and abandoned feel.


Developing A Style?

I believe I am settling on a style for portraiture: hi-key. Or to be specific, very hi-key where a lot of the image is blown out and the subject blends into the white. If you’ve been following me on this photographic journey, you may already have noticed the trend. It doesn’t always fit with the subject, theme or environment of the shoot, but where it does, I’m more than likely to give it a try.


To get the very hi-key look, I expose correctly, then bump the ISO by two stops. Sometimes I stop will do it, but usually two stops. You will then need to bring back some saturation and contrast in post, but not much.


Print Plant Pretties

I had the good fortune to participate in a photo shoot located at a local printing shop. The organizer had arranged for 3 models: April, Cass and Al Isha. I’ve included a fun photo from each of the models. That is Cass ‘thrown away’ in the recycling bin. I can just hear the shop foreman: “who threw away a perfectly good apprentice!”

Inspired by the vision of a grimy and dirty industrial shop, I aimed for gritty. I made sure the lighting generated harsher shadows and the backgrounds were less exposed compared to the subject.


Always Have Your Camera Ready

The phrase ‘the best camera is the one you have’ is very true. However in this case, I had my trusty and well-loved Canon 50D in my hands when I spotted this opportunity.

I’m not saying I didn’t put the camera down at a future point, so get that thought out of your mind. My intent was solely to capture the image. And given that it was in a mechanic’s hop, I decided it needed to be grungy to fit the whole cliché. In reality, the bathroom is very clean. But after a short bit of post-processing, reality is twisted into a dirty, grungy and less savoury scene: all which was in the photographer’s mind and intent.

I hope you like it. I don’t think Standard will be beating down my door to license the photo.


Low-key Pontiac

Capturing those magazine ‘studio’ shots with a car isn’t too technically challenging: just a lot of work if you only have one small light.

Photographing an automobile takes a lot of work to make even a simple shot look good. In a low-key shoot, you can’t just point a light at the car as you can with a model. You need to aim the light so that the reflection bounces off the car and is seen by the camera. And ideally you want these reflections to highlight the lines and detail of the car.

If you have only one or two lights, you need to take multiple exposures then combine them. With only one light, the Pontiac 440 photographed here took 21 images to capture and highlight all the lines and curves. And don’t forget the wheels and ground as well.

Combining multiple exposure images can be simplified by using an HDR (high-dynamic range) program. HDR has gotten an ugly name in the photographic world by would-be photographic snobs. In reality, with the advent of digital cameras and post-processing apps on phones, HDR images have proliferated. HDR was invented to create a larger dynamic range then cameras can accomplish in one shot. The output can be realistic or it can be exaggerated. In the second photo here, I ran my HDR program (Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro) on the 21 images. Sometime later, I discovered the neon-style image was the ‘normal’ result. It was totally unexpected. It looks neat, but is the closest the program would get to realistic. I’m not surprised the program had difficulty, because HDR programs by their nature are designed to take images shot at _different exposure settings_ and not all with the same values. So back to the drawing-board and combining the images by hand in Photoshop.

Overall, it took 2 hours of shooting and 3 hours of post-processing to get the final image.

I’ve also added a third photo taken with a high-key style.


Arnprior Canada Day Car Show

East Side Mario’s and the Quality Inn Arnprior have been hosting the Arnprior Canada Day Car Show for a number of years. As a result, it is a decent size with a very broad cross-section of eras and catagories of vehicles. There is very little European machinery, with that market represented by a Sprite and a Morgan. I’ll have to take the Ferrari there to really shake things up. To be honest though, the Ottawa Valley is a hotbed of hotrod tuners and there are any number of cars that have been built up from their origin as a ‘barn find’.

As with the previous post, the key to getting good images from a car show is to get in close: focus on some detail, or a shape. Try using a very shallow depth of field. Or try shooting up: there is usually much less clutter and distractions above a car.



Eurocars Family Picnic

Organized by the Jaguar Club of Ottawa, 8 of the local car clubs got together at the Aviation Museum for an all-day family-oriented event: free passes to the museum, over 90 cars from prominent european marques and lots of new friends.

When photographing cars at a car or automotive show, you will find that there are major problems to overcome: the cars are too close; there are reflections everywhere; the sun is causing major glare and washing out large sections of the cars; there are people in the way without a care in the world outside their own head (do I detect a bugbear?); and your own reflection is in the shot!

To overcome these challenges, there are several things you can do. Get in close and focus on specific elements of the car, exaggerate for effect or maintain a simple less cluttered image. You can also get down low and shoot up. You will still need to watch out for lamp posts and other distractions, but you will have removed most of the close-in clutter. Finally, take a polarizer: glair and reflections are not your friends. A polarizer will cut out a lot of it if the sun is in the right position, and there are not too many angles or curves in your shot.




The annual Ottawa Orchid Show allows tripods in on the Sunday morning before the main doors open. If you aren’t using a flash, you’ll need to bring a tripod.  And events that are ‘photographer friendly’ and allow tripods, are few and far between.

Here I’ve used an off-camera fill-light to illuminate the flowers from the side. This accomplishes two things: it allows me to add character and depth to the flower by using shadows; and it also allows the exposure to ‘black out’ the background, effectively only exposing for the flowers.

The last photo is a compilation of 15 images. This technique is called focus-stacking and allows you to have an almost unlimited depth of field: perfect when you just can’t get the depth you want with the available aperture settings.


Japanese Bodypainting

This photoshoot was something special. Organized by Josephine from Vixen Mayhem, there were 7 body painting artists, 3 models, a hair-stylist and a makeup artist. Throw in 7 photographers and a church and you’ve got the recipe for a pretty amazing day of photography.

The body-painters outdid themselves: they interpreted the theme by painting the three models into three separate scenes that extended across the three models but also allowed them to standout when solo.



If you get the chance to participate in shooting with body painters, grab it!

Shooting body-painting is more than just shooting portraits or just the human form. You need to work with the body-painter to ensure you get art that works with the shapes of the body and the angles you want to capture.


Athletic Man

Looking to broaden my experience (and convince my wife that there are models who aren’t women), I recently organized an Athletic Man themed meetup. It was well attended, we had a great time and Colin was fantastic. Many thanks to Ashley Murfin Studios for the space and support.

Colin was a great model to work with, and I hope you like this first round of photos done in low-key.

Photographing male models, and men in general, requires different lighting than women: they can handle harsher light, don’t need to look softer and generally need to look rugged. And more obvious, require completely different poses to portray that ruggedness.


Hi-Key with April

Continuing to develop my current style, I participated in a shoot with April. Rather than a pure white backdrop with hi-key lighting, I decided to experiment with a black background. These are the results.

You can plan ahead of a shoot by exploring that wonderful oracle in the sky: google. Browsing through the work of other artists and photographers can give you a lead into your own photography by recreating theirs, but it can also increase your awareness of the possible.


Lounging at Home

You often see boudoir shoots and glamour shoots and any other kind of photography shoot. But most of us don’t pose around the house. Instead we lounge in some comfortable clothing that we’ve worn since our first years living on our own. Well, I expect they’ve been well washed though those years of lunging.

So I set out to organize a shoot to do just that: capture the lazy days of soaking in the sun.

Another advantage of this type of shoot is you can use natural light if it co-operates. We did need to provide a bit of fill light in a few locations. And the high-key style lends itself nicely to providing that sense of enveloping warmth we get from direct sunlight.

Mary June provided the modelling and Josephine of Vixen Mayhem provided the studio. Sunshine was provided straight from the source.



Kitty Kin-Evil is a member of Capital Tease and she is also a very confident and accomplished model. I suppose you’d have to be confident to carry off a great burlesque routine.

Ashley Murfin had organized a huge photoshoot with 10 models and 12 photographers: the theme was burlesque and the costumes and personalities ran from 1920′s glam to over-the-top stage performer to 1950′s coca-cola girls.

Working with all of these models was a pleasure, whether it was in a boudoir setting or playing around with an ungodly amount of collector coke products (some people collect the weirdest things).


2013 FCA Ottawa Ferrari Festival

The 2013 FCA Ferrari Festival is taking place on 14-16 June down on Preston Street (Corso Italia on the local signs). It will again be an amazing event with over 40 Ferraris on display Friday and Saturday nights, an Italian car parade on Saturday just after noon, a BIA FCA speed demo zone with the engines screaming on Saturday afternoon and the Scotiabank Charity Dream Drive on Father’s Day where you can get a ride in one of the Ferraris and the money all goes to charity.

In addition to the banners I designed a short while ago: http://2hphotography.ca/uncategorized/ferrari-festival-banner/, I’ve just completed the flier/brochure for the event.


Following the same visual style and a reuse of specific graphical elements, the brochures are connected to the banners and other visual branding styles we’re now associating with the Festival. Visual weight is also applied to specific aspects to draw the eye: Italian flag and larger outlined text on the front panel; and days and events on the back panel: consistent theme, quick reference, all the significant information, and ease of access being the design brief.


Photoshopped is Not an Ugly Word

My friends at Flirt And Flutter organized a recent Fire & Ice themed photo shoot. All the models were made-up to represent fire or ice: red hair and make-up, ice blue make-up and dresses and more. However without owning or having access to an infinite variety of props or scenes, sometimes you need to head to photoshop to achieve the final image you had envisioned as the photographer. Photoshop is not an ugly word.

Photoshop is a means to an end: the end vision that the photographer had in mind.  In these two examples I wanted to emphasize the cold aspect of ‘ice’, and to put ‘fire’ into a context supported by the costume and prop.

There is a trend these days to dismiss any image done in photoshop as ‘not photography’. Well, the people that say that are idiots. Flat out, no compromise: idiots. Why? Two reasons: 1.the famous photographers from days gone by (darkroom days) always touched up their photos. They just did it the hard way: dodging, burning, varying chemicals and processes used…2. every single camera out there post-processes the image before you see it: even if you’ve shot RAW. In that case, it is post-processed before you share it (jpg conversion). I’m not implying you don’t need to ‘get it as right as possible’ before you shoot, because that sure does reduce the amount of work you need to do after. And if you shoot a lot, you’ll know this already.

Photography, like any other type of art is based on the vision of the photographer. And the preference and preconceived notions of the viewer. So if you believe that photography should be ‘straight out of the camera’, that is your preference. Rather than reflexively denigrate a photo or an artist, step out of your own skull and try and understand or feel what the artist was trying to create.

Here endeth the rant or life lesson as your pre-inclination filters it :-) So get back out there and create!



Rosie The Riveter

I’ve always preferred strong women: strong of opinion, not willing to follow ‘traditional’ roles and comfortable in who they are. So it was a natural that I chose that as a theme when I organized my very first Meetup photo shoot.

To provide some focus for the theme, I wanted to recreate the famous Rosie The Riveter “We Can Do It” propaganda photo from WW2. While hanging out on the DL Networking facebook group (an invitation only resource for local photographers, MUAs and models), I saw a photo of Teresa Burd by another photographer Jim Riley. Already having the “We Can Do It” image in mind, I instantly decided that I needed Teresa as my model.

Having a theme also provides some context for props and poses. I brought along an absolutely huge Snap On wrench (5 feet long), a sawmill, grinder, oil-soaked gloves and some goggles. Mike G (who provided the studio) also brought a few toys to the shoot including a huge power drill and some metal to grind into sparks. When shooting a session, ensure you have a series of poses or scenes already planned out. Additional tips I’ve learned to have in the studio: music helps relax everyone; and a mirror: a mirror helps the model get into a pose as well as provides a great prop.

I will most certainly be organizing more photo shoots around the strong woman theme.


Ferrari Festival Banner

I recently designed a tri-panel stand-up banner for the Ferrari Club of Ottawa’s Ferrari Festival. The design brief included: a clean design, easily recognizable as representing the Ferrari Festival; reusable every year and able to work in isolation or together as a triplet.

To make sure I understood what the client needed, I was involved right up at the front of the process when the client was determining possible products, placement, usage and requirements and the creation of the design brief itself.

In order to produce a clean and recognizable piece, I identified several key visual characteristics: the ferrari cars, italian flag, club logo, location and date and the name itself. Moving on to the design, I wanted the banner and Festival name to be prominent and easily seen during even the most crowded situations (over 200000 people will stream past the banner in 2 days). To do this, I chose white as a vivid and bright background: darker colours just do not stand out in a majority of locations. Yellow was a possible colour as that is a common colour for ferraris, but it would be a little ‘over the top’ in my mind, and would also require strong art in order for any message to get across. And the cascade of stronger an stronger elements would have overwhelmed the title.

To do all that, I started with the main art itself: the cars had to be the largest portion, as the festival is all about the cars. I chose clean photos, simplified them down to line-art for a classier look, then roughly coloured the lines red. The rough colouring adds character to the art and suggests dynamism. It also prevents it from being just static lines. I then placed the title right at eye level (the banner stands 7 feet tall and when unfolded is 3 panels each close to 3 feet wide) for maximum visibility. The remaining components (date, location, logo etc) is then also near eye level and follows the natural tendency of western readers to track across and down. To help make the title stand out, I used the same stroked font used by the chapter in their previous art, and placed it in front of a waved Italian flag. The triple-colour scheme draws the eye but not the eye’s focus. That is left to focus immediately on the title.

I also placed a QR code to point viewers to the FCA Ottawa Ferrari Festival website for more information including dates, event schedule and latest updates.

The sample image above is down-sized 2000% so some of the detail and fonts are blurred.



AAA Senators In Action

Last week the AAA Senators defeated The Wild 6-2. The score sounds one-sided but it was a good game and the Senators played well. It was my first AAA level game and the play is pretty intense. And doubly so when the kids are 13: they played hard for 3 periods.

Shooting hockey in very low-light and challenging conditions requires excellent equipment and a certain skill level with that equipment. You also need to know the game so you can be where the puck is going, not where it has been: the game is that fast.

Many thanks to John Downing for inviting me to shoot the team, the team and coaches of the AAA Senators and the parents for permission to share these photos.



A Chinese New Year Valentine (Partial Nudity)

The Chinese New Year / Henna Dragon Tattoo photo session went exceptionally well: Josephine had organized an excellent day-long 2 shoot day. We started with a high-key lighting set-up then moved into a low-key set-up. With the two shoots lasting almost 8 hours there was a lot of opportunity to work with Lili, a variety of poses and a large variety of props.



I really enjoy shooting low-key as you can sculpt the image using shadows and light. It can really add a sense of depth to an image. And you don’t need much in the way of equipment. If you go with a table lamp, you’ll need some bristol board or some other way of stopping the light from illuminating the room behind the model. If you want a second light source, try a shiny piece of bristol board on the other side of the model. You may need a tripod to give you the stability for longer exposures.


Chinese Dragon (Partial Nudity)

The Chinese New Year is celebrated in the heart of February. The Spring Festival as it is translated directly is celebrating the transition from the year of the dragon to the year of the snake. Dragon and lion dances are common during Chinese New Year. The loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively can evict bad or evil spirits.

So the Dragon Tattoo photo sessions that Josephine Dahan of Vixen Mayhem has organized is doubly important: to represent the year of the dragon ending; and also scare the bad spirits that may hope to sneak into the new year..

These are a few shots behind the scenes. The photo shoot will take place on Sunday.


Photograph the Eyes

Well, the photoshoot is over, most of the photographers have submitted images and I’m just waiting now to see the complete suite of submitted photos.

Even though I created my best portraits to date, I’ve seen the competition I’m up against. I’m not particularly worried since I don’t expect to win. I achieved my main goals and they were to continue to get better, and to continue networking. After the shoot, one of the photogs I was shooting with invited me to participate in an invitation-only Dragon Tattoo shoot. I’m pretty excited about that since she’s an incredible portrait photographer: see Josephine’s imagery here: Vixen Mayhem.

These are three of the photos I submitted. You’ll notice that it is all about the eyes; even when the model isn’t looking directly at the camera.

If you find yourself photographing people, make sure you get the eyes: we all relate to other people through our eyes. Get the eyes sharp and everything else doesn’t matter.


Makeup Extravaganza

I took part in an interesting competition this past weekend. It was a three-way competition between photographers, makeup artists and models. Each group’s work is voted on by the other groups! With 8 models, 3 makeup artists and 16 photographers, the event was pretty hectic. Even with photographers staggered over the 8 hour period, it was non-stop as each model transitioned through each of the 8 shooting stations. Some of the models had been there for over 10 hours and were unable to eat or drink anything without smearing their makeup. It was a great experience working with 8 models, and a chance to network and shoot alongside some very talented local photographers.

The objective for the photographer was to work with the model to best represent the theme (Voodoo or Glitter). The makeup theme with the most fun was Voodoo: Aimee was completely outfitted as a Vodun priestess and Justine as a life-sized voodoo doll. With Aimee, I tried to capture the deep trance that the practitioners can achieve. With Justine, I tried to capture the essence of fright by stuffing her into a little box.

I’ve posted a few photos here, but am keeping the best for the competition’s unveiling.

This was also the first full on-location photo shoot where I got to use my lighting system.

Models and their Makeup artist (MUA): Paige by Leigh-Andrea Watson, Christiana by Alicia Duffley, and Simona by Allicia Duffley.

The other models and their makeup artists were: Becky by Bailey Chayse, Aimee by Leigh-Andrea Watson, Justine by Leigh-Andrea Watson,  Shyllean by Alicia Duffley and Karolina by Bailey Chayse.


Bodyscapes with Bianca (contains artistic nudity)

A few more photos from the same shoot:

Lighting in portrait photography can change the mood dramatically from sensual and intimate to aggressive and powerful. It can be used to imply motion and to infer detail that isn’t there. Basically mastering light is key to stepping ahead of the masses of photographers out there. So practice practice practice. I know I am enjoying the journey.


Low-key Bodyscapes (contains artistic nudity)

I struggled for a bit trying to decide if I should post some nude photography here. I finally decided as they are tasteful, closer to abstract and some of the best images I’ve created. So there you go. I did choose to not put it on my front page.

Shooting nudes in a low-light setting can be very sensual. As with any photography lighting is key, but in a low light setting, playing with the light is a must: sculpting shapes out of the shadows for example. Portraits done in low light also look very sensual and intimate.

Thanks to Mike Giovinazzo for organizing the shoot through Ottawa Photography Meetup Models and for hosting the shoot at his studio. And much thanks to Bianca for modelling for us.

Shooting bodyscapes is all about abstracting the human body. Quite often we can tell it is a human body, but at the same time, we also see just the shape and the curves.

You don’t need a dark room, but a clean dark background helps. Set up some light sources that you can control the direction the light shines: you don’t want it shining on the background for instance. Set your exposure for the bright part of the subject and by varying the intensity of the light and your camera settings, you can get some beautiful photos.




Snow Can Inspire

Snow can take many shapes and inspire us to think of entirely different materials: sand, water, weather…Or at least that is what I was thinking as I trudged knee deep and more across a field to get to some wind-blown ‘dunes’. And sometimes there is ‘things’ in the snow.

All this is me working on seeing in Black & White. I’m not so good at seeing black & white when there are a lot of colours, but when it is primarily a tone-based scene, then I’m a bit better.

How can you see better in B&W? Look for contrasts. Winter is an excellent time because the snow is usually very white or bright and everything else stands out as darker.


Portraits with Jess

This past weekend I had the pleasure of shooting Jess for her portfolio. It was a low key affair and not just with the lighting :-)

These photos were taken at Mike Giovinazzo’s studio and used 4 lights: a main light, a hair light and two lights slightly behind the model as highlights.


Foodie Photography

I like food. There. It is out. I do. I particularly like the flavours and one of my highlights travelling around the world, is sampling the local cuisine. Photographing food is fun. Not as much as eating it, but the end result sticks around a bit more.

When it comes to culinary or food photography, there is only one goal: make the viewer’s saliva glands kick into overtime.

But photographing food can be tricky. You not only need the right lighting, but you also need to have the food presented well. And once you’ve got that all in place? You have maybe 10 seconds to capture it before it starts to wilt, cool off, or just loose that perfect sheen.

You can circumvent a lot of that by shooting still-life of just the ingredients: no real need to hurry unless you’re doing ice-cream of course. And an added advantage? You get to eat it afterwards!



Parliament Hill Christmas Lights

Most Canadians know that Parliament Hill in the nation’s capital is ‘decorated’ with Christmas lights. The trees are decked with strings of lights of course, but most impressively, the entire building is illuminated with huge snowflakes and coloured lighting.

As I was meeting a client downtown, I decided to go early and shoot the Christmas lights. My luck was with me as the weather was warm at just a few degrees below zero. And despite being what I would call warm, it was apparently cold enough to keep everyone else away: an Ottawa Photographery Meetup was scheduled but cancelled due to the weather.

I had taken two lenses: a wide angle 24mm lens and an ultra-wide 10mm lens. In the photos above, the Peace Tower was shot with the ultra-wide lens. You can get closer with an ultra-wide (okay, you NEED to get closer), but you can get distortion or a lot of extra surrounding area into the shot. The full Parliament building was taken with the 24mm lens: I needed to get way back, but it provides less distortion and cuts out a lot of the surround area by filling the frame with the subject.

So way way back that I was pressing hard against some fencing around the construction site on the hill. I’m sure the cops were keeping an eye on me as I shoved the heavy fencing back another foot to make sure I got it all in.

Photographing Christmas lights can be a challenge: very bright lights, dark night skies and often poorly lit surrounds. Some helpful tips include: shooting at an aperture of f16 will give you those great ‘stars’ around lights; using a tripod is a must to get any sort of good exposure; and shooting just before and just after sunset not only gives you that ‘sunset glow’ but it also provides enough illumination for the surrounding area. That and the sky is not too dark and you can see clouds to add depth to your image. Of course if you want stars, you need to be out at a later time.


Betty Page

I had a couple of photoshoots over the Christmas holiday period. The first was a Betty Page (A Not Safe For Work  inspiration image: you will be leaving 2Hphotography) inspired Christmas. Betty Page was probably the iconic 1950s pin-up model. She did all kinds of pin-ups including one of the most famous Christmas photos where she is nude and suggestively hanging a Christmas ornament on a pure white tree. That image was the inspiration for the shoot. We had two very experienced models at the shoot: Christine and Ella who knew how to deliver ‘the’ shot. It was a great pleasure working with them. The ice and snow storm coming back home…not so much pleasure. Don’t get me wrong: I love driving in snow storms. The opportunity for reduced traction is great. But there were too many cars around who were poking along. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’d rather they get home safe than hitting me. Just not as much fun.

The ice and snow storm coming back home…not so much pleasure. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving in snow storms: the opportunity for reduced traction is great. But there were too many cars around who were poking along. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’d rather they get home safe than hitting me. It just is not as much fun.


Boudoir and Victorian Dresses

The most recent photoshoot I participated in was split into 2: a boudoir shoot organized by Rick Millette with jessica as the model, and a victorian dress shoot organized by Fernando Farfan. All the dresses in this shoot were hand-made by Edith who was also the model.


Working with Jessica and Edith was a dream: both are very experienced models and when you have a collaborative shoot, involving them in the creative process, you get an extra bit of connection and photos with more punch.

So if you are working with a model, share an image with the model. Discuss different things she could do. Experiment and see where it goes. I’m positive you’ll get much better images from the collaborative nature. If you’ve got a less experienced model, it’ll also help put them at ease.


Leopard Body Paint

In my quest to gain more experience working with people as the subject of my photography, I had another opportunity through the Ottawa Photography Model meetup group. The theme for this shoot was “body paint” and Stephanie was covered in paint alright: she was a cheetah.


Organized by Mike Giovinazzo and hosted at Daniel Lamarche’s studio, Heather took 3 hours to paint Stephanie during which Stephanie had to stand for the entire thing. After that, she could roll around as much as the photographer directed. One aspect you do need to be aware of, is that eventually the paint does start to rub off. So shoot the standing stuff first, then onto hands and knees, then finally rolling around on the ground.

An interesting aspect that I am learning is that what looks good in photos, is really unnatural when the model is doing the posing.


Drag Bikes and Suicide Girls

I had an opportunity to tag along on a Suicide Girls shoot: Drag Bikes with Hazel. Organized and shot by Daniel Lamarche (his zivity link is here) at Hybrid Racing in Ottawa. 3 other photogs joined us and we had a great time listing to Korn, talking drag bikes, and occassionally photographing Hazel perched on top of a sub-9 second drag bike. Okay, so Hazel was kept busy working hard perched on the bike, and she was never ignored.

Daniel’s goal was to emphasize the fact that the shoot was in a bike shop, so he had positioned the bike very close to the bike accessories wall. He then tells a story over time during the shoot: a definite factor to consider when shooting in a public place with very dirty floors (gotta get the jeans washed now for sure). If you have the model rolling around on the ground early in the shoot, you’ll then have to contend with the dirt in all the wrong places from then on. Of course who cares if the photog gets dirty: I always say, ya gotta sacrifice the body to get the shot! Want lots of opportunity to shoot and practice your photography? Want to hook up with other photographers? Join the Ottawa Photography Meetup group.


Naked On The Farm Update

The Photography Matters’ Naked On The Farm show has just wrapped up at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte, Ontario.

The vernissage hosted 64 guests and showcases 36 images. The wonderful thing about the show was the connection between all the images: each image was of the same woman, on the same day, on the same location; yet every image, vision and style create a completely different end result and many of the visitors commented on that fact.

During the vernissage each visitor was asked to participate and choose a People’s Choice. The results of that vote are shown here. The owners of these images retain all rights. Unfortunately none of my well-deserving and stunning creations were voted to the top of the pile. I was however, very happy with my creations.

Susan Cressy – Winner

PM Kavanagh – Barn Dance – 2nd Place

Peter Wright – Untitled 2 – 3rd Place


My honey also pointed out that for someone who is not necessarily comfortable photographing people, I’ve an interesting trend lately of photographing nudes. First there was the Naked On The Farm shoot and show, then came the Art Deco / Retro Glamour shoot, then most recently, the glam Drag Bikes and Suicide Girls (more on that soon). What is next? A Boudoir and Victorian Dress shoot followed by a Betty Page inspired Christmas Shoot in December. But don’t worry, I’m not straying far from my car roots: I’m just working hard on improving my comfort working with models. Early in the new year, I’ll have a car shoot. And don’t be surprised if models are involved! So stay tuned, lots more to come in this photographic journey of mine.


Art Deco and Retro Glamour

I recently had a chance to shoot some models in a retro glamour themed photoshoot. ElectricBitchManagement and Mondomedeusah had arranged the shoot, the models and the studio, so many thanks to them.

We spent a few minutes before the shoot re-familiarizing ourselves with the style of poses, props and final image treatment, then we went to it. It was definitely a good experience and I’m slowly learning how to pose the human form: while it is quicker than shifting a car around in minute increments, there are a lot more details to consider. For example, not only do you need to watch the usual like limbs and head, but you also need to be aware of fingers, wrists, eyes, chin, shoulders…all can go to making or breaking the mood of an image. So practice practice study study. To that end, you’ll be seeing more model photography from me over the next little while. But don’t panic. While I’m getting more comfortable shooting people..ah, photographing people, cars are still my thing and weddings are not. But never say never I suppose. Anyway, enjoy the images.

To achieve the final image, I did a variety of post-processing techniques. I started with Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro using a custom recipe I created, then back into Aperture for the final touches: exposure, dodge and burn, sharpening, spot corrections and maybe a few more depending on the image. One aspect of post-processing that I am starting to implement more often is selective dodging and burning: you can really increase the apparent depth of an image, the dramatic, or just where the viewer’s eye is attracted; all by careful dodging and burning. I’ve been learning from two incredible photographers that I would suggest you check out as well: David Duchemin (Canadian, yay!) and Cole Thompson.


Tiny Worlds

When I head out of the house, I carry my iPhone, but usually don’t take my dSLR (big, heavy, want to move fast and a whole host of other reasons). I usually don’t take photos with my phone, but I DO like some of the wee apps you can get for photo-manipulation. One of my favs is called Tiny Planet Photos (iPhone here and Android not yet).


The photos here are helped by having a clean, flat horizon; a uniform sky and a uniform foreground. Mind you, you shouldn’t be surprised: knowing how you want to edit a photo after the fact, helps you get the right photo in camera. just like any scene that you plan on post-processing.You can get some very funky images with scenes without the clean lines, and experimenting can be half the fun. Anyway, I like them and I hope you enjoy the wee sample I’ve included here.


BWM Club Street Survival

The BMW Car Club of America has been hosting and polishing the Tire Rack Teen Street Survival program for 10 years. The Ottawa chapter of the BMW Club Canada has just finished hosting one of these excellent courses.

The program is a one-day driving school targeted at teenagers and new drivers who’ve just gotten their G2 licence. The G2 licence is the second step in the graduated licensing program in Ontario. The school goes well beyond teaching the rules of road and how to get around town. The school has two facets to it: hands-on exercises designed to help the student experience emergency situations, loss of car control and how to get it back; and the second is a series of classrooms that address basic car control from how to sit to how to anticipate, in addition to basic car handling theory. The classroom sessions also emphasize responsibility, the risks of not paying attention, and some of the statistics that drive insurance rates sky high for young drivers.
What stats you might say? Well, they’re worse than I imaged and I’ve been teaching performance driving for 15 years: 58% of teens will crash in the first year; that climbs to 89% in the first three years; a sixteen year old is 20 times more likely to be killed than an adult; there is a car crash every 9 seconds (stats are US based). Helping just a handful (the classes are capped at 20 students) will save lives. You may notice that I do not use the word ‘accident’. 99% of the incidents on the road are NOT accidents, they are crashes or collisions. If you want to debate that, drop me a line.

But enough seriousness and back to the photography! We’d set up the schedule so that I could get out of the classroom and observe the students. That way I’d be able relate specific examples that happened, in the next class session. Getting out also gave me the opportunity to photograph the students in action. And of course photograph other things as I usually do.

And of course it was raining: good for the school as traction is lower and the exercises easier to learn; but bad for the camera and photography. Rain also creates opportunities you won’t get in good weather. So don’t be afraid to get out there and really see.


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