Sunday, May 30, 2010

After the promise and before the party...

I was asked to take some pictures of the decor at a wedding reception, which is something that I haven't done before, so I thought that I'd give it a try.  Most weddings that I've been at, I'm singing, so I don't get to see the full show.  In fact, the last wedding that I've actually been invited to was just over five years ago. 

Lighting was problematic, as in there wasn't much of it.  Of course, it didn't help that its been overcast and raining and/or snowing all weekend.  Probably, the solution to this would be to use a flash, but I'm not at that stage yet, so I tried to use lower F-stops and longer shutter speeds.  The most difference is seen in editing the raw pics into final photos.  Lots of playing around with fill lighting, highlights and shadows.

The Wedding was organized and designed by Cathy MacRae of Creative Weddings and Occasions.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Where the Road Less Travelled Takes You...

As you leave the parking lot, you follow the asphalt trail until you come to a red gravel trail. Then you follow the red gravel trail until you come to a dirt trail. Then you follow the dirt trail until you come to a hidden path through the brush. And on and on until you either fall down a rabbit hole or stumble out of the brush onto one of the dirt, red gravel or asphalt trails before finding your way back to your car.  Today's trek was at Fish Creek Park, one of the largest Provincial parks in Canada which falls completely within city limits. 

It's on these urban treks that I've been testing the waters with photography. Today I was playing around with depth of field, while still getting a hang of shooting with manual settings.  I think I'm still getting lucky in getting some nice pictures, so as I continue on my current path I somehow have to learn how to manufacture good photos instead of discovering mistakes.  Oh well, for now I'll call my mistakes "artistic choices" and continue on...


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Greeks might not be good at economics, but they might have been onto something...

Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music at the Boston Conservatory gave a welcome address to the freshman class which included the following excerpt:

The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks.  And it is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin.  Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects.  Music has a way of finding the big invisible moving pieces inside out hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us.

Mozart, even though he was an absolute jerk to tenors (another post for another time), either consciously or subconsciously understood that music had the power to move the hearts and souls of people.  His two masterpieces from the church repertoire are the Requiem Mass, and the Great Mass in C-Minor.  The Great Mass in C-Minor is great, but its not brilliant...  Maybe if the tenor had more than a trio and a quartet, it could the the Brilliant Mass in C-Minor, but I guess that was not meant to be. 

This weekend, I sang the tenor solos in Mozart's Great Mass in C-Minor as part of the Bow Valley Chorus' 10th Anniversary Celebrations.  Aside from the sore back and sore feet, from standing throughout the entire word, the music can be refreshing for your soul.  The little harmonic twists and turns that Mozart writes into his music give a depth of genius to words that have been set a thousand times by a thousand other men (and women.) 

One more performance to go, next weekend in Banff, at the Banff Centre... 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Focusing in on Dr. Doolittle

A few weeks ago, before the winter weather returned, I broke out the camera and headed off to the Calgary Zoo.  Where else can you find people, plants, animals, landscapes and dinosaurs in one place?  Well, I didn't really take any shots of people or dinosaurs, and no landscapes caught my attention, so I ended up with some shots of wild and plant life.

My goal with these photos was to "create the picture" in my mind before pressing the shutter release.  Trying to capture the subject in interesting poses without having a distracting background.  A lot of things to think about, but it seems to be one of those unwritten essential rules.  It probably IS written, but I haven't read far enough along to find that chapter yet!  These are taken with a Canon 40d with a 70-33mm telephoto lens.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Best of Before the Blog

In the past, my taking photographs was very hit and miss.  I remember (mentally) one trip to England where I took a total of three photos... and two of them were on the ferry over the English Channel.  Another trip to Italy, I returned with probably 20+ rolls of film (before digital media.)

In the fall of 2008, I spent four months in Germany (with a holiday stop over in Costa Rica) and I promised myself that I would actively pull out my camera and take pictures.  Pictures for myself, as well as pictures to share with others. 

At this time, I had not really looked into how to improve the composition of my photos, so I make no apologies for the quality of the photos.  I took pictures of things that I thought were interesting, or that would be memorable.  Interestingly enough, most of the better pictures could have been taken anywhere, but there are some of the stand outs.

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Salzburg, on top of the 'Burg'

Salzburg Cathedral


Charlottenberg Palace, Berlin

New City Hall, Hannover

St. George Park, London

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica

Orchid, Costa Rica

Costa Rican Traditional Ox-cart

Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Learning to let go of the crutch

Technology has made photography, and good quality photography, accessible to anyone and everyone who has the desire to snap & click the shutter release button.  Yet I keep reading that it's that same technology that can hold you back from achieving your true potential. 

As I journey down this path, my next step has been to turn off the camera's pre-programmed "auto-mode", and start understanding how the shutter speed, aperture, focal length and focus all work together (or work against each other) to reveal the final product. 

It's like the HUD canopy of a 21st century fighter plane, where all of the relevant information appears in front of you so that you don't have to take your eyes off of where you're going.  Suddenly your mental focus is not just what you see through the viewfinder, but all those numbers and symbols that appear around the outside of the viewfinder.  You're no longer thinking "Hey, that's a nice tree!", but "Hey, what F-stop, combined with the ambient light is needed to use the appropriate shutter speed to capture this nice tree blowing in the wind?"

Lets just say that I'm not going to be taking off in an F-16 anytime soon.  It might take a few more sessions to become more comfortable with changing all of these settings on the fly, but I did capture a few pics that I'll share.  These were taken at Marshall Springs, the newest addition to Fish Creek Park, with a very basic (back to basics) 50mm f-1.8 canon lens.


The first step... the first post...

I signed into Blogger over two months ago, and literally sat in front of the laptop for 20 minutes trying to figure out what I should blog about...   Honestly, I'm still not sure, so this is all a living breathing work in progress, or a blog in progress.

Today, I had to opportunity to meet up with some wonderful and talented photographers and accompany them on a midday impromptu photo shoot in Calgary's beltline.  Thanks to Elaine, for modeling for us.

Right away, I look at some of the pictures that I took and I say to myself "Hey, some of these are pretty good!!!"  Then I look at some of the pictures of the other photographers, who were at the same shoot, and I think "Hey, heir photos are amazing, artistic, gritty, real... professional... Why don't mine look that good?!?"

I guess for now, this blog will be a place to express my journey of learning the rules of photography, and at some point, finding the courage to thow them out the window and figure out what want to say through the lens.
Here are "Chekov's Angels", the other photographers from today, with how they saw today's shoot through their own lenses.