Tuesday, September 29, 2009

High Wire Act

With the crazy things you see when you're driving around, it's always good to have a camera handy.  The guy sitting on the edge of the helicopter is a high voltage lineman, and he's changing the little thingys that go between the wires on those mega transmission lines.  The rub is that they haven't turned the power off to the lines, and he's doing it from a hovering helicopter.

I've done some pretty crazy things in helicopters, but this far the stupidest I've ever seen done from a chopper.

Tech Stuff:
I liked the way the the wires crossed each other and made a nice pattern, and framed the lineman and helicopter nicely.  I used the Nikon d2x  for it's 1.5x conversion factor, and still had to crop about 50% of the image away to get this shot.  A 300mm or 400mm lens would have been ideal, but all I had was my 70-200mm.  

Camera:  Nikon D2x
Lens:  70-200mm AF-S  f/2.8

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mountain Woman

I spent the afternoon shooting pictures for a story on the development of Britannia Beach, which is a funky little spot built on the site of an old copper mine about halfway between Squamish and Vancouver.  The mine closed in the early 70's, so the company rented out all the company housing for cheap, and it became a low cost town, mostly full of hippies and artists.  It was used widely as a location for the X-Files, as it's full of run down, creepy looking, industrial sites.  They were filming the new A-Team movie while we were there today.

The company that owns the property is starting to develop the site for high end residential housing, which is displacing the existing community.  This lady has a fish & chips stand that runs out an old school bus, called the Mountain Wo-Man.  The food is amazing, but they're worried about being displaced by the new development.

Tech Stuff:
I love shots that have framing in them.  I always look for something to put around the subject that shows what they're about.  All the ketchup bottles just say 'diner'.

While the D700 will shoot really well at ISO 3200, I find the most useful jump in ISO is being able to get nearly perfect files at ISO 800.  It opens up a lot more opportunities to shoot with the available light in situations where I would normally have to put in some flash.

Camera:  Nikon D700
Lens:  Nikon 17-35mm AF-S f/2.8

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Garibaldi Times - Issue #1

Alan Forsythe is a newspaper publisher friend of mine in Squamish.  I worked with him on his first paper, the Sea to Sky News, which met a sad end at the hands of our corporate newspaper overlords.  A couple of days ago, he called me up and asked me to shoot pictures for his new Squamish paper, the Garibaldi Times, and if I could do it that Tuesday, as the first edition was coming out Thursday.

It was a pretty good first shift, as I was driving down the highway past the Chief climbing lookout, I saw a group of people looking up with worried expressions on their faces.  I pulled off the road, grabbed my cameras, and ran over, thinking that a climber was stranded on the cliff face.  I looked up and saw a tiny figure throw itself off the top of the mountain and realized it was a group of BASE jumper flying off the 1800' Squamish Chief.  That made for way more interesting cover than Alan's idea of a feature on the under funding of the boat canal dredging.  After that we were invited to a bonfire on the Squamish water front, where our friends wished us good luck on the paper, and welcomed us back to the newspaper world.  I think I'm going to enjoy this.

Tech Stuff:
Camera:  Nikon D700
Lens:  Nikon 17-35mm AF-S f/2.8

Camera:  Nikon D2x
Lens:  Nikon 70-200mm AF-S  f/2.8

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meredeth and Jay's Wedding, Whistler Mountain

After a summer of beautiful weather, I finally had to shoot a wedding between heavy rain showers this past Saturday.  We arrived at Rebagliati Park in Whistler with a big thunder cloud brewing, and within five minutes, we had to run for cover.  It turned that was all the time we needed.

Tech Stuff:
Point the camera, push the button, couldn't be simpler.

Camera:  Nikon D700
Lens:  Nikon 28-70mm AF-S f/2.8

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

R-ONE Fourcross Bikes

This is a multimedia presentation I did a few years ago when I was the photographer for the late, and lamented, Sea to Sky News.  It was a dream gig for a photographer, since they pretty much let me do whatever I wanted, as long as there were enough pics to fill the paper.  One of the things I started to do was recording audio while on assignment in order to make multimedia slideshows.  Since the Sea to Sky folded, I've gotten out of the habit of doing multimedia, but I happened to come across some html code that lets me paste the shows onto my Blogger page, so I thought I'd give it a try.  This is more of a test, but I like the show, so I've dusted it off.  Now that I've got a medium to publish my shows, I'll start doing some new ones.

Stacy and Johnny Wheels are a couple of bike builders in Pemberton who started making four wheeled bikes for wheel chair bound riders.  They're pretty crazy machines, and the dudes who build and ride them are pretty nuts as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pemberton Stock Car Races

All the motor heads in Pemberton got together and built themselves a combination Motorcross and Stock Car track. Tonight they were having an evening race, and some friends talked me into going.

It was a tricky thing to shoot, as the light was coming from a few rented light towers (the same thing you see road crews who work at night using), and they don't throw a lot of illumination. Only the corners were lit, and most of the light was on the corner where they head away from the spectators area. You can see in the lower photo that the crash barrier is just an old log laid at the edge of the track, which didn't instill a lot of confidence in the safety of making my way around to far side of the course. In the top photo, I waited for the cars to come into the little spot of light, which made for an interesting, while in the bottom image, I thought a back lit shot might look cool.

Tech Stuff:
I bought my D700 camera this summer hoping to try out it's famous low light capability, and ran straight into the hottest and brightest Summer in years. I finally had a situation where I could push the camera up to ISO 3200, which is the highest you can go without boosting the ISO (by comparison, my D2x doesn't even go to ISO 3200 in the boost mode).

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon 70-200mm AF-S f/2.8

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I love shooting black and white landscape images, especially old derelict buildings. I'm always pulling off the road to grab a shot of some old ghost town. This is the boat house from the old Britannia Beach mine site that's halfway between Vancouver and Squamish, along the Sea to Sky Highway.

I started my newspaper career in the days of B&W film in darkrooms, making 8x10 prints in open chemical trays, which makes me a dinosaur among my peers. A big influence for me was Ansel Adams, who not only was an important artist, but also a brilliant photo technician who literally wrote the books (The Camera, The Negative, and The Print) that modern B&W printing is based on. I often think that if Adams was around today, he would be out of his darkroom and using multi Photoshop layers to do his work.

Tech Stuff:
I included the original, rather flat, colour image that came out of the camera as a good before and after view. I used several adjustment layers in Photoshop to apply varying levels of contrast to different parts of the shot.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: 70-200mm AF-s, f/2.8

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Trite, but True

This is a shot I see a lot of, the couple driving off into the sunset in a convertible. The problem is, being in a resort, doing mostly destination weddings, most of my clients don't have cars as part of their wedding. Luckily for Paula and Adam, one of the guests had rented a convertible Mustang at the airport, which we appropriated for the photos.

To get the shot, I sat on the folded up canvas roof of the car. I had one toe hooked under the armrest of the right rear seat to keep from rolling off the back of the car. The fisheye is so wide that I was having a hard time keeping my body out of the picture. You can see my toe behind Paula's seat.

Tech Stuff:
I stopped the lens way down and used a really slow shutter speed to blur the scenery. I used a fisheye lens to accentuate the blurring of the scenery.

Camera: Nikon D2x
Lens: Nikon 10.5 mm DX, f/2.8

Bless this Mess

When I shoot the 'getting ready' part of the wedding day, I always call ahead to make sure it's okay to come to the room. The answer I almost always get is, "sure, but let me clean the place up before you get here". I tell them for this part of the day, the messier the better, as it makes for great photos.

Tech Stuff:
When a subject is heavily back lit, there's two ways to deal with it, balancing the exposure with flash, which tends to flatten out the image, or expose for the subject and hope for the best. The latter makes for interesting photos, but you never really know what you're going to get.

Camera: Nikon D700 (both)
Lens: 17-35 mm AF-S f/2,8 (top), 28-70 mm AF-S f/2.8 (bottom)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Embrace the Weather

One of the truisms of working in Whistler is that often you're not dealing with the best of weather conditions. The top photo was probably the hottest day of the year, while the bottom photo had to be the coldest and wettest of the summer season. I like to emphasize the weather in my shots, as it's a big part of day (it was raining and really cold when I got married).

In the top shot, the guys had picked up a box of the worst sun glasses I'd ever seen at some dollar store. The lenses were like polished mirrors, and I thought that they might make a cool looking photo.

The lower shot was totally the opposite. It had been raining hard all day, and the temperature was nearly freezing. We had been running from one covered location for photos to another all day. I don't know where the umbrella came from, but the flash of red against the green background really made things pop. The couple was literally running from the photo location to the lodge for dinner, and I was able to grab one frame that worked from the sequence. Since I was out in the open to get the correct angle, I was completely soaked by the time I made it back to the lodge.

Tech Stuff:
Both shots are fairly simple, with no extra lighting added, and really not a lot of planning either.

I used my fisheye for the distorting effect on the top photo, and asked all the guys to look straight into the sun. I was at a right angle to the low afternoon sun, which gives the guys a real chiseled, macho look. The glasses were so crappy that they could only look into the sun for a few seconds at a time.

The lower shot was done with my old Nikon D2x camera at ISO 800, which is right at the end of the line of how far you can push the camera sensitivity (with the D700 I'm using now, it can shoot nearly perfectly at ISO 1600). Even then, the shutter speed was still about 1/60th of a second, with the lens wide open at f/2.8. The 70-200 telephoto zoom has an image stabilizing feature that I hardly ever use, as it costs you some image quality. However, at the time I figured there was no way I was going to get anything without the stabilizing, so I flipped it on. The shutter speed was so slow that the rain in the photo has turned into long streaks.

Camera: Nikon D2x (both shots)
Lens: 10.5 mm DX, f/2.8 fisheye (top), 70-200 mm AF-S f/2.8 (lower)