Sunday, September 26, 2010

Whistler Heli Wedding

Natalie and Steve, with the storm we flew through to get to the location in the background.
Helicopter weddings are a rare treat for me, and something I really enjoy doing. This one with Natalie and Steve from Kamloops almost didn't go because of the stormy weather we've been having over the last few days. Luckily, we got a small window of clear weather and Natalie decided she wanted to go for it. The original plan was to land on the Rainbow glacier, but the high winds flowing over the peak were throwing the little A-Star helicopter around like a toy boat in a storm tide, so the pilot took us to Sprout Mountain, a much lower peak, but much more sheltered.

Our window of good weather was very short, and after only two minutes of portrait shooting time, Andy the pilot was yelling at me "we gotta go NOW!" By the time we took off, the area had already started to sock in.

Since we had such a short time for portraits, we stopped off at the Green Lake board walk for some extra photos. The weather was much calmer.

Since they were staying at the Four Season's resort, and since it's such a beautiful location, I thought I'd do a few photos there to finish up.

Tech Stuff
During the helicopter ride, I put most of my equipment in the rear luggage compartment, except for a D700 with a 17-35mm lens. Sitting in the back of a helicopter is like having four people in the back seat of a Honda Civic, so you don't have a lot of room for shooting pictures. There isn't enough head room for a camera flash either, so you just have to let the outside blow out.

There's almost no flash used in any of the photos except the last on in the Four Seasons. For that, I used a SB-900 on a stand with a photo umbrella.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8 (inside helicopter, Green lake), Nikon AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8 (all wedding and mountain portraits), Nikon 85mm f/1.8 (B&W portrait and Four Seasons).
Lighting: Nikon SB-900 fill flash, SB-900 with SU-800 controller for Four Seasons.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sheri and Justin at Tantalus View Retreat

Sheri and Justin are a nice young couple from Grande Prairie Alberta who came down for a holiday by the mountains and oceans of BC. They booked a cabin in the Tantalus View Retreat, a really out of the way spot between Squamish and Whistler which is so low key that after 20 years of driving past the turnoff for it, I had no idea it was there.

The owner of the retreat makes beautiful wooden furniture, and has a big shed packed with interesting pieces of wood he's collected. I thought it would make a really cool photo. Getting the photo umbrella for the flash in there was a real chore, but the result was totally worth it.

Bungee Jumping Video
They decided to go bungee jumping as way to finish off the day. I go a few photos, but it's not my specialty. While I was putting the DVD slideshow together, I speeded up the sequence of them jumping, and I thought it turned out pretty well.

Tech Stuff:
One of the nice things about doing weddings with just the couple is that you can take a little extra time to try things that you wouldn't during a larger wedding with a a tight timeline. Nikon has just come out with a new 85mm f/1.4 lens that everyone is raving about. I've got an 85mm f/1.8 that I bought in the early 90's that's a pretty cool lens. Normally I just use it for working in the studio, but I decided to try some shots with it at this wedding, full open at f/1.8. I have to say that it's not as sharp as the big zooms I use, but the super shallow depth of field is a great look. The first two lenses in the blog are shot with the 85mm.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8, Nikon 85mm f/1.8

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jodie Emery and the BC Marijuana Party

These are from an Urban Pie story on Jodie Emery, the wife marijuana advocate Marc Emery who just started a five year Federal US prison term for selling mail order pot seeds.

We arrived at the BC Marijuana Party office, totally by accident, just before 4:20 that afternoon. 4:20 is the pot head tea time, and sure enough this guy pulled out a giant bong pipe, took a huge hit, and blew the smoke straight in my face. Apparently the pipe was packed with pure THC crystals (I guess they brought out the good stuff for the guests), and not being a smoker myself, I spent the rest of the afternoon wrecked out of my mind.

Tech Stuff:
Camera: Nikon D700
Lenses: Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8, Nikon AF-S 28-70 f/2.8, Nikon AF 85mm f/1.8

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vancouver Fringe Festival

Here's is a shot of Vancouver Fringe Festival Executive Director David Jordan I did for the Urban Pie magazine in Vancouver. The Fringe is the annual alternate theatre festival in Vancouver, and is home to some off the wall stuff, so we really wanted to get something crazy looking. We started in the festival office (seen in the background of the photo), but it really wasn't working so well. I thought the building looked cool, so we moved outside for a couple of shots. There were some parked cars that I couldn't get out of the frame, so David offered to climb up on a big bollard,and with a couple of rubber chickens grabbed off someone's desk, it all came together.

I was really busy with commercial work that week, so I called Pie publisher Alan Forsythe and told him "I can shoot anything you want, but I have to do it after 7:00". He called me back an hour later said, "we're all set to go at 4:30". As a result, I had to go tearing down to Vancouver and barely made the shoot, with only about 15 minutes to spare. Not having time to set up my regular studio lights, I jammed an SB-900 flash into a softbox, and hoped for the best. I think it worked pretty well.

Tech Stuff
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8
Lighting: Nikon SB-900, mounted in a 22x16" softbox, controlled by an SU-800 flash controller.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Split Light Exterior Exposure

The Whistler construction company Peak Ventures asked me to photograph this townhouse that they had done a major renovation on for their Georgie Awards (which are like the Oscars for BC home builders) 2010 submissions. I spent a day photographing the inside of the unit earlier in the summer, and had done a photo of the outside in early morning light. The exterior shot was okay, but because of the location of the unit, it never really got good natural light on the front of it, so they asked me to come back and do a dusk shot of the unit. This is one of the most technical photos you can do as an architectural photographer, as you need it light enough to see the details of the buildings, but you also want it dark enough for the lighting to show up, and in this case, as I was looking almost due west, dark enough in the sky so that the building isn't totally silhouetted. What you do is take a series of exposures as it gets darker, the first where it's light enough to see the details in the building, and then later as it gets darker to get the effect of the interior lighting. Once you have a series of shots with the proper exposures, you combine them in Photoshop to make one exposure. This is what's called a split light exposure.

Here's the set up for the shot. It's very important that the camera is absolutely still throughout the series of photos, or 'in registration' in technical photo speak. I locked the camera down on a heavy Gitzo tripod, and then tethered it to my portable computer. Nikon has software that controls the settings of the camera from the computer, rather than the camera itself. That way I can change the shutter speed without touching, and possibly moving the camera. The step ladder makes a handy computer stand.

The tri-coloured thing is a white balance target that I can use to accurately adjust the camera's white balance. The darker it gets, the more of a blue cast the light picks up, so you have to do constant white balance checks to ensure accurate colour.

This is my 28mm PC shift lens. It's a critical tool for keeping accurate perspective on the rising lines. If you tilt the camera back, it will make the rising lines on the building converge together and make it seem like the building is leaning backward. With the PC lens, you keep the camera parallel to the building, and shift the lens up instead.

Just for kicks, here's what the place looked like before the renovation.

Tech Stuff
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: 28mm PC f/3.5