Sunday, April 25, 2010

Top of the layer cake

This a local three bedroom townhouse that is going back into the rental pool after a major renovation. While it's not the fanciest place I've been in, it's fairly typical of the work I do on a day to day basis. While it looks fairly straight forward, it's actually three separate photographs stacked on top of each other.

Here is the base image, except with the colour target in the frame. The lighting is very warm because of the halogen track lighting, and the colour target gives me a neutral tone to use to get an accurate colour balance. The biggest problems with this photo is that the light outside through the window is totally blown out, there is a big reflection in the painting of the strobe's softbox, and the fireplace is dark.

Here is another version with the strobe turned off and exposure set for the outside lighting. I dropped in the view of the exterior overtop of the original photo to balance the light outside. I also copied out the painting above the fireplace to fix the reflection in the glass.

In the final image, I turned off all the lights, and lit a big fire, and then dropped the image of the fireplace onto the final image.

The image was lit with an Alien Bee strobe with a medium softbox.

You can see more of my architectural work at

Tech Stuff
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8
Lighting: Alienn Bee B1600 640 w/sec strobe with a 24x16" softbox. Radio Popper radio slaves.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vancouver Buffoonery Workshops

Trilby Jeeves and her VanArts class of Buffoons.
Based on the teachings of Jacques Lecoq of Paris, "Le Bouffon" is a clown of sorts- an intelligent clown, perhaps, from the depths of our earth. Its pleasure is to mock and to imitate the absurdities of the human being (we do strange things!). They get sheer joy at playing their opinions (and they tend to be exaggerated in their appearances!) There is no limit to the expressions of "Le Bouffon".....

I had a great time shooting this story for the Urban Pie. It was actually the first story I had come up, but I wasn't able to catch up with Trilby Jeeves, the course instructor and champion of Vancouver Buffoonery,  until yesterday.  This is the last Buffoonery class of the VanArts acting program, and I was able to sit in on part of it.

I've been working on multimedia slideshows and did a quick one from this shoot.  There's some extra photos and an interview with Trilby here.

Facial expressions are a critical part of the course

The Buffoons don't break character for anything, not even a photo shoot.

Trilby Jeeves

Costumes left over after the class

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Terminal City Rollerderby

I'm starting to really enjoy shooting for the Urban Pie, and it hasn't even started to publish yet! Last night I got to spend the evening shooting a Roller Derby match at the Kerisdale Arena between the Faster Pussy Cats and Atomic City, presented by Terminal City Rollergirls. It was an absolute blast, and about 1700 screaming Vancouver hipsters came to enjoy the show.

Tech Stuff:
While the event organizers had provided lighting for the derby, it was woefully inadequate for normal photography, especially of an action sport. For the first time I set the ISO on my Nikon D700 all the way to ISO 8000, or 0.3 boost from the maximum native ISO of 6400. I have to say it worked really well. There was a mix of lighting sources in there, so I did a custom white balance using an Expodisc.

Camera: Nikon d700
Lens: AF-S 70-200mm VR f/2.8

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet Soul Burlesque

Crystal Precious and Burgundy Brixx
I've helped to launch two independent newspapers based in Squamish, both published by my friend Alan Forsythe. It's been so much fun that he decided to start another one in Vancouver, the Urban Pie. A part of our lead up to the first edition, I spent yesterday shooting for the first feature stories, Sweet Soul Burlesque and the Rio Theatre.

Crystal Precious, leader of the Sweet Soul Burlesque Troop and Burgundy Brixx are a big part of the vibrant Vancouver burlesque scene, and can be seen in live shows around the city.

MC Purrfessor, Burgundy Brixx, and Crystal Precious

The Rio Theatre

Daniel Gagliano, Alex Chisholm, Corinne Lea, Paul Hendriks, and Chris Redmond.
This is an assignment for an upcoming edition of Urban Pie that we're hoping to launch at the end of April. The Rio Theatre is an old 30's era movie palace that's been restored as a movie theatre and live event venue, and is a really cool looking place. It's right in the heart of Vancouver's Commercial Drive area, and well worth stopping in for a show.

In the projection booth.

Corinne Lea, the diminutive and energetic owner of the Rio

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Executive House Photo Shoot

I spent a busy day shooting this brand new executive Whistler house for CR Contracting, the builders of the place. The house contains some amazing timber framing, with entire tree trunks being used for the upright posts.

This first shot is the front entry, looking towards the kitchen and breakfast nook. One of the great features of this house are the three story high, floor to ceiling windows, but that also caused me huge problems, as it's such a bright light source that almost everything in the room is silhouetted. To balance the light, I used a 640w/s strobe with a large softbox on the second floor landing to camera left to light the the centre and camera right posts, another 640w/s light on the floor to camera left aimed at the bar, and a third 640w/s light with a small softbox behind the post on camera left to light the kitchen.

Actually, the biggest problem with this shot was the $35,000 Steinway baby grand piano that was in the middle of the room and generally in the way of everything. I grabbed a couple of painters who were finishing some work, and we moved it off to the side of the room by the window. The thing weighed more than an old Buick.

This is a shot of the living room from the top mezzanine. Although it looks fairly straight forward, it presented a number of problems. First, there are some very strong vertical lines created by the wooden posts. With a regular wide angle lens, when you aim it down into the room, you get downward pointing converging lines (as you can see in the bottom version of the photo) that make it look like the posts are splaying out. I used a special perspective control lens that allowed me to keep the focal plane parallel to the posts, keeping lines on the posts straight.

Second problem was that there was a large canvas painting on the wall that was bright blue, conflicting badly with the earth tone colour scheme in the room. To fix that, in Photoshop I selected the painting, then I sampled a tone from the coffee table and used it for a gradient overlay to get the painting to match the surrounds a bit better.

The kitchen and library were also problematic. The dark wood panelling looks great, but sucks up light like a black hole. To get any definition, you need use some serious strobe light.  In the lowest photo, you can see the room sans the strobe.

The other problem is that the light outside was several stops brighter than the inside, even with the strobe. To deal with this, I needed to take a shot exposed for the light outside, and then make a special Photoshop mask so that only the outside part of that photo shows through the window, and then overlay that shot on the original image of the inside of the room.

This was actually pretty easy to shoot. The perspective control lens kept the lines straight. I still have another day of work on the house, so there's still a few shots still to come on this one.

Tech Stuff
Camera: Nikon D700
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8 and Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 PC
Lighting: Alien Bee B1600 640w/s strobe units X 3, 48x32" Photoflex Softbox, 24x16" Photoflex Softbox, 22" Alien Bee Beauty Dish with diffusion sock. Radio Popper Slave Slave Units.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One year anniversary

It's been a year since I started this blog, and that's no April's fool. As a present, here's a couple of shots of probably the last snowfall of the year, which although it was really annoying, it did look kind of cool.