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Showing posts from 2015

Toreador

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Everyone needs a muse and my partner with his handsome features inspired me to go into the studio to shoot him in his latest flamenco costume.    I take flamenco classes with my muse, Rolando and he scored a part in the school's latest company show of Carmen.  He looked so good in his Toreador costume I was hoping he could keep it for a special occasion.  Since that was not possible, I documented it instead.  We had a lot of fun working with flamboyant poses.  I chose this fairly classic pose as my favourite from the shoot.
I kept the lighting fairly frontal and flattering with a little soft shadow so mimic the old graphic bull fighting posters.  I further made it "vintage" by making it black and white however I kept the contrast "as shot" unlike old photos that tend to be very contrasty.  To finalize 'the look', I added an effect that is a plug in, in Photoshop called 'Edge FX Pro'.  It adds cracks mostly around the edges to create the illusio…

Wesley Snipes

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I had to dig deep into the archives to find this image of Wesley Snipes aka Blade the vampire hunter emerging heroically from a fire unscathed after setting ablaze to one of the undead in the film "Blade Trinity".  I had a lot of fun shooting the stills on this film back in 2004 as the sky's the limit for visuals when dealing with the supernatural. There were a lot of stunts, pyrotechnics and blood of course.  The dark and dreary winter weather of Vancouver was a perfect backdrop for this script.

I barely remember shooting with film stock as it was such a long time ago but I do remember the stress of waiting to get the film back when shooting  irregular fire light.  There is a lot of guess-work in determining your exposure when shooting fire,  especially at night because it does not balance with the ambient light.  The strength of the fire light hitting your subject could vary by a few stops depending on how the special effects department wants the fire to behave.  It l…

Grizzly Bears

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In September, the area around Bella Coola BC, has an onslaught of Grizzly Bears catching the parade of salmon swimming upstream to breed before dying.  The Grizzlies are trying to put on as much weight as possible to survive the oncoming winter.  The salmon and the bears are so plenty you may see a few bears at once eating only the extra rich salmon eggs and throwing the rest of the fish away.  We made a special trip into the BC wilderness to capture this phenomenon.  The bears are so intent on the task at hand that the humans wielding cameras at them are not even a small curiosity to them.  I love this shot of the Grizzly eating his salmon because of the minimalist quality of the dark shape against the green water.  I used a  few photoshop techniques to bring out the details in the water ripples and the course fur. 
In September

Fitness Instructor

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I have been enjoying my heavy duty work outs taught by the fit  man you see featured here in this photo. He approached me about getting some promotional photos for his business and I was happy to oblige.  I wanted to come up with a signature look for his company.  Something that echoed the intensity of his classes and the blood sweat and tears required to survive a session.  I chose a very hard edge  light coming from behind and a somewhat directional light from the front to show off the contours of his muscles.  I used HDR in photoshop to bring out strong detail in the image to heighten the potency in this image.  I let the shadows in the BG fall as they may to add more grittiness. 

Thing

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Gotta a love a large orange humanoid-looking creature amongst all kinds of urban rubble.  This is “Thing” in the movie “Fantastic Four 2, The Rise of the Silver Surfer”.  I had a lot of fun shooting stills on this film because super heroes and stunts and explosions make for a very interesting day at the office.  We took over a couple square blocks in downtown Vancouver and made quite a mess to film the climactic ending.  It looked amazing with all of the neon lights!  There was so much light coming off our set! Everything was so lit up from sunset to sunrise that I doubt any neighbouring condo dwellers got much sleep.  
Because there was more light than usual when filming at night, I was able to shoot at an ISO as low as 800.  The light that was hitting “Thing”, was at a high enough level that it balanced out nicely with the neon signs, I did not have to worry about them blowing out.  Light bounced of of the smoke particles blown in by the special effects department so that the lower…

Antelope Canyon

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Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located in Navajo territory in Arizona.  I am one of many people to be drawn there to shoot the shapes carved out of sandstone by rushing water.  Flash flooding and erosion created these narrow passageways to the delight of many photographers including myself.  From the ground level looking down, it looks like a wide crack in the the landscape;  however when you shimmy through the causeway, the beauty of light and shadow playing over the textures and contours is awe inspiring.  I was fortunate to have arrived at this geological phenomenon on the perfect overcast day.  The medium cloud cover was perfect for diffusing the light coming from above.  If it was a sunny day, there would have been and overly extreme contrast between the shadows and the illuminated sandstone.  Instead, soft light bounced around the canyon walls leaving some detail in the shadows.  I wanted to have a lot of depth of field so as to keep all of the graceful lines sharp in my phot…

Ian McShane

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One of my favourite villains of all time is Ian McShane.  He was the super villain on “Agent Cody Banks” that I photographed the stills on back in 2002.  I would later become an even bigger fan of his watching him play the town bad guy in ‘Deadwood”.  He has has that wonderful British charm that translates well into his nasty characters.  His charisma and sense of humour on set always made the crew smile despite the abnormally long hours we worked on this particular feature.  

He has a very characteristic expression with the raised right eyebrow and slight snarl on his lips.  I wanted to capture this exact expression nice and close with him looking right at the lens.  When filming on set you are photographing while the actors are performing so you must set it up later if you want to get a shot of them looking at you.  We were filming in this very futuristic bad guy lair which was an ideal spot to get the perfect portrait.  Ian was happy to accommodate my wishes and I got the desired …

Wild West Coast

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I have the fortune of living in the Pacific Northwest which has an abundance of wilderness whether it be mountainous, coastal or forested.   This photo was taken near Ucluelet BC which is on the West side of Vancouver Island.  My partner and I took advantage of this past May long weekend to load our motorcycles up with camping gear and of course camera gear and headed out to the windswept coast.  This beachy area is not exactly like the blue skied sandy and tropical spot that most people think about when they vacation, but it is our home and we love it. 
I feel like this image encompasses all that is the west coast.   It is rocky, dreary and wild.  We went for a coastal hike so I could “hunt” landscape photos.  The day was overcast and a little misty so details in the rock surfaces were a little subdued.  The cloudy sky was quite bright in contrast to the trees and crags on land.  I knew it would take a few different layered exposures and some Photoshop magic to bring out all of the …

Angelina Jolie

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Here is something you do not see everyday.  Angelina Jolie as a blonde.  Strangely enough it suits her.  Well let’s face it.  Everything looks good on Angelina Jolie.  This photo was taken in Seattle Washington on the set of “Life or Something Like It” in 2001.   It was an interesting experience working on this film because having Angelina on set turned a normal production day into a “Hollywood” adventure.  There were paparazzi hanging around every corner.  Tons of fans had to be held back by barricades so the crew could go about our jobs of making a movie.   I was still relatively new to the film industry as I had only worked on a handful of movies before this one so I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of activity that surrounds such a high profile actress.  On most of the sets I had worked on, I was free to shoot whatever I thought would make an excellent still image.  On this film, Angelina was in control of her public image and only allowed certain rare opportunities w…

Death Valley Dune

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I admit I absolutely love, love, love shooting the desert or anything dry.  It could be the minimalist aspect of it; or it could be because a barren landscape is very exotic compared to my home in the pacific northwest which is very wet with very big trees.  I find that a photo of a landscape lacking in plants or objects becomes a study of light, shadow and color which appeals more to the emotional side of the brain than the figurative or logical.  
I took this photo in  Death Valley Nevada.  I was on a climbing and hiking trip with my brother in May of 2011 when we drove from his home in LA to spots all over California, Utah and Nevada.  At the end of our trip we treated ourselves to a night of the not so civilized world of Las Vegas and then he went home to LA to work.  I stuck around another week because I felt like I had not taken enough photos of dry rocks so I rented a car and went to Death Valley.

I had a wonderful time wandering around the sand in over 40 degrees celsius with my…

Car Cannon

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Have you ever wondered how those cars in action movies get launched in the air and explode?  They actually get shot out of a gigantic car cannon.  Yes it is true and extremely cool.  I wish I could give you more details but alas I am not part of the special effects department.  I am the person with a camera sent to capture this awesome event.  There is a scene in XMen 3 where the character, Magneto uses his metal controlling superpowers to toss cars off of the Golden Gate Bridge.  One may think that this would normally be a Computer Generated Image,  however, why miss such an opportunity to actually toss cars through the air!!!!
Now shooting cars out of a cannon is not a very precise science however they do the best they can.   We spent many hours setting up for this iconic shot and there were many different motion camera teams there to catch as many camera angles as possible.  I was the only still camera so I needed to do a lot of research during the 8 hour set up to make sure I had …

Flamenco Dancers

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I am so fortunate to be the stepmother to these talented, young and beautiful Flamenco dancers.  They have been training since they were 6.  One of the choreographies that they have learned is called the Bata De Cola and it involves a large ruffled skirt.  It is a challenge to look graceful while throwing around all of that heavy fabric,  but the 13 year old girls pulled it off nicely.  I brought the ever so talented, Veronica and Thalia into my studio to take portraits of them wearing these gorgeous costumes.
Veronica is wearing a black top and Thalia is wearing a white one which meant I would have to change the lighting slightly for each one.  I chose a black backdrop for a more classic look.  To make sure Veronica's black top did not disappear against the black BG, I had to put a hard edge light angled on either side of her coming from behind.  These lights were set at about head height.  A light softened with a chimera at a side angle from camera right, illuminates her face a…

Zac Efron

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Working on films can expose you to places and situations that you may never find yourself in otherwise.  I had the privilege of being the still photographer on "Charlie St. Cloud".  There is a lot of sailing in the storyline which meant I spent a lot of time trying to stabilize myself in a boat and shoot photos at the same time.  It sounds quite pleasant being out there in the sun and sea, shooting photos of hunky Zac Efron but it is was not easy.  I was lucky to find a spot in the "camera boat" while we shot the action in a boat holding the actors beside us.  Most of the time I was shooting with my Nikon 70 to 200 zoom lens while our boat was moving and rocking.   I tried to root myself by standing with my legs wide and holding the lens steady and shooting the actors who were also in a boat that was moving and rocking.  Putting a camera on a monopod would only make the camera jerk more.  Then I often had to look out of the corner of my eye to duck when the motion …

Kiss in Rio

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Many times when I have traveled to countries where people are not as financially fortunate as the people in my home country of Canada, I have felt compelled to photograph the contrast of wealth.  But what really strikes me is when I can find joy and love amongst the lacking.  This image was taken underneath an overpass in Rio De Janeiro where a group of 8 kids made their home.  I had been in Rio for a few weeks exploring the dynamic city.  I met locals who took me to places off the beaten path and went to an amazing party in a favela!  I shot this photograph while I was waiting for a bus leaving Rio to explore other parts of Brazil.  One of my local friends had escorted me and we were wasting time near the bus station when we met these enthusiastic kids underneath the overpass. They wanted me to take their photo and they were smiling and striking poses.  After a little socializing over the lunch we had given them, I found out that we were standing in their living room.  The bedroom w…

Babies!

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When photographing a baby, most parents want you to capture a moment when their sweet child at his/her best, meaning sleeping, smiling and just generally being calm.  Sounds easy right? This is a photo of the lovely Sophia looking like she is as calm as a mini Buddha in her mother's arms.    Most babies have a very short time limit of patience so usually the best photo happens within the first few minutes of shooting.  I wanted her to be as naked as the day she was born so we had to lose the diaper which of course opened up a whole realm of possibilities.  Soon, little Sophia was doing her best impression of a fountain.  Good thing my back drop was paper and all I had to do was cut off the newly slightly damp piece of paper.  I am not sure mom was as easily made dry though.      
I had this idea that I wanted it to look like she was floating in a black back ground so I asked the parents to wear black.  Babies have such lovely pudgy little folds in their skin so I wanted to accent…

Blake Lively

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This photo is the most used image for the advertising of the feature film that recently came out, "The Age of Adeline".  It was wonderful to work on this period film for the costumes and hairstyles and locations were stunning.   Blake was the star of the production and I was interested in meeting  her again as I worked with her when she was just 16 on the film, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants".  Now all grown up and beautiful as ever,  I had another 2 months of filming to find the most flattering light and angles to bring out the best in her.
This close up  was actually taken not only on the first day of filming, but the first scene!  I arrived to the location at the top of the Hotel Vancouver and got my gear all prepped; then squeezed my way into the small office we were filming in; said hello to some crew members I had worked with on previous productions and took my first few frames which are what you see below.
I chose a long lens at a focal length of 20…

Painted hills Oregon

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Hello readers, pardon my absence last week but I have been on a motorcycle road trip and I have come back with photos and stories.  I have a group of friends who love going on road trips with enduro motorcycles which are made for highway and off road driving.   We all happen to be riding BMW's with cases loaded with our camping gear as we love to rough it.  Our final furthest away destination was the painted hills in Oregon where the desert landscape explodes in colours.  I would love to tell you about the town of Mitchel that is cut off from the rest of the world with some pretty interesting characters living in it, or I could tell the story of how my partner harassed a rattle snake but for now I am just going to discuss photographing the hills.   I have never been a fan of getting up early in the morning, but more than once I have let myself down by showing up to photograph a landscape during the evening magic hour, only to find the the geographical feature back lit.   That mean…

Salvador Dali Look a Like

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I imagine that most photographers like myself, will often use their friends and family as subjects for their work.  So it is always in a photographers best  interest to surround themselves with interesting and beautiful people!  All kidding aside, I used my partner Rolando to pose for me in a way that is reminiscent of a photograph of Salvador Dali.  Last November, he grew a hearty moustache to commemorate Movember.  This is in the month of November when men grow their upper lip hair to raise money for prostrate cancer research.  Much to my horror, when December came around the moustache was still there.  Then came January and February;  it was still there and developing a curled up life of its own and I was developing a new appreciation of it.   It reminded me of an iconic image of the famous artist sporting similar facial hair.   So I dragged my willing subject into the studio asking him to channel Dali and strike the pose.   I must say that he is a natural. 
I lit my surrealist wa…

Jessica Biel

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Performers sometimes have to go through very strict training regimes to achieve a body that would befit an action hero.  Even though stunt performers often take over the most difficult of moves, the actors still need to be able to do a considerable amount of the choreography.  Jessica Biel spoke of how she ate no food with more taste than sawdust and worked out from sunrise to sunset for about 2 months before commencing the filming of “Blade 3”.  But wow was it worth it!  She looked great!  I photographed this muscled actress for the poster of this film.
I wanted to flatter her beautiful face as much as possible by surrounding her with soft light but I also wanted to show off her toned figure as well which often looks best with harder light coming from an angle.  So….for the close ups, I choose soft light and for the wider shots I used a little more shadowing.    She has a particularly nice jaw line so I brought the light a little higher to accentuate that.  I was shooting film in tho…

Kids in a Mexican Parking Lot

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Mazatlan, Mexico is the place where my partner grew up and a wonderful sunny, beachy place to have relatives to visit!  After struggling to communicate with an extended family in my terrible Spanish,  I grabbed my camera and went out into the night to engage in a visual language that I could understand.  I was searching for areas that had interesting night light that I could photograph time exposures of.  Rolando, my partner and guide took me to beautiful places overlooking the city showing the many night lights of Mazatlan.  Later, we got a little more up close and personal and just walked along the streets.  Then I saw them.  Three kids just hanging out in an empty parking lot.  It did not appear as though they were playing or waiting, they were just there; showcased by the colourful mix of orange sodium lights and fluorescent.  I felt the need to capture this image but I had to talk the the kids first.  They needed to stay still for a time exposure plus, it would be a bonus to plac…

Ben Kingsley

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There are moments when shooting on a film set when you can be completely overwhelmed by the performances from the actors.  Ben Kingsley is such a strong actor that sometimes I forgot I was holding my camera and instead was transported into the scene playing out before me.  Yes, he is that good!!!  This photo was taken at one of my favourite places in British Columbia;  Long beach near Tofino on Vancouver island on the set of "Elegy".  You have got to love a day of work that takes you to one of the most beautiful wild beaches with one of the most impressive actors!  I took an opportunity while a new shot was being set up for filming, to kindly ask Sir Kingsley, if he would mind posing for a few photos while we waited.  He graciously agreed and this is the result!  I feel struck by his strength of character in this image even though his pose is fairly benign.
It was a bit of a lighting conundrum that day.  Of course I wanted the ocean in the background but the sun was coming fr…

LA River

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In one of my extended visits to my brother in Los Angeles, I could not help but notice the irony of the LA river which winds its way through the city to finally empty out into the ocean.  This dirty flow of water is encased in concrete and the homeless usually find a quiet place to sleep along it’s banks.  Water is usually something to be celebrated and surrounded by high priced restaurants, decorated with parks and where people pay extra for a “waterfront view”.  I felt a little sorry for this neglected waterway so I sought out to photograph its hidden beauty.  

At night, many details are hidden in shadow and can not be seen with the naked eye.  A good time exposure can bring these things to view but then of course you may end up blowing out the highlights.  This is when it is a good time to use HDR technology.  With a tripod, I took 5 different time exposures ranging roughly from 1 second to 10.  I sandwiched them using the HDR program in Photoshop.  It was amazing to see all of the …

Isabella Rossellini

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Isabella Rossellini was drawn to Winnipeg Manitoba to play the role of a legless Beer Baroness in the art film, "The Saddest Music In the World".  Her legs had been replaced by prosthetic beer filled glasses and she draws musicians in from all over the world to hold a contest for the saddest song.  Isabella is no stranger to unique film making and she braved the Winnipeg winter where it is common to have days that are -30 Celcius to work with film maker and Winnipeg icon, Guy Maddin.  I too was drawn back to Winnipeg where I lived from the ages of 15 to 20 to work with Guy who I had known from the past.  
The studio where we were filming was an old empty hangar which was only heated in a couple of areas.  While the crew were wearing huge Sorel boots and massive down filled parkas, the performers were sporting costumes of winter wear from the depression era. 
I was very excited to find out that I would have an opportunity to have my own photo shoot with Isabella for the poster …

Monsters

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Quite often it is the job of the studio photographer to flatter the subject as much as possible.  Women most often are lit and photographed in a way to make them look flawless and ageless.  It is not everyday that a real live monster steps into your studio and it is your job to glorify all of the gory details.  What fun!!!!  Here are 2 Zombies that I shot for the poster art for the film "Cabin in The Woods".  To transform these performers into Zombies it takes hours of laborious work from an amazing special effects team and a lot of patience from the ones being transformed.  My first inclination when photographing the undead would be to throw most of the creature into shadow and let the viewer's imagination take over.  However, upon looking at the incredible details of the make up and costume, I realized that I had light it is such a way that the details could be seen and still maintain a mysterious feeling with shadow.
I chose rim lighting from behind the subject on bo…

Wolverine

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I have gone back in the archives to bring you one of the most recognizable images of my career shooting in film and television.  On any given day of shooting you could capture a photograph that you end up seeing everywhere!  It may end up on a billboard, or on the  side of a bus or on the back of your morning breakfast cereal box!  This is Hugh Jackman aka the Wolverine on the set of XMen 3.  We were filming in the Vancouver Watershed that day.  I remember sitting on a tree stump waiting for the action to happen when I looked down to my right to see Hugh doing some pushups to get those muscles pumped up  just right for filming.  Visibly impressed by this display of manliness, I managed to gather myself together to capture this moment.   
It is surprisingly dark in the forest even in daylight, so I had my lens open to 2.8 at 200 ISO. I had a fast shutter speed of 250th of a second to capture the quick movements of Wolverine kicking but in the woods.  



Harrison Ford

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On the set of "Firewall" I had the pleasure of working with Harrison Ford.  Yes; Hans Solo; The Blade Runner himself!  He was more than a team player on the film set.  This photo was taken on the last day of filming outside a shack in the middle of nowhere some miles outside of Kelowna BC.  We had been at that location all week, swatting mosquitoes and spotting the cute marmots.  A rattle snake even found his way onto set and got picked up by a very brave kid in the locations department.  
Harrison Ford is not one to let a double take his place when conditions get uncomfortable and there was no complaining when he had to get out of a car surrounded by burning hot fires.  I did not even like it from where I was standing to get the shot!
It sometimes takes a bit of guess work to pick the right exposure of an artificially made fire. On a film set they may not let a fire burn until the cameras are rolling and the actor is in place so you hope you guessed properly.  I this case, th…

Kilauea Volcano

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Hawaii is really the land of wonders.  The  almost lunar like landscapes found on the "the big island" of Hawaii have an austere beauty.  Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to Kilauea Volcano which is famous for it's deep glowing lava that can be seen best at night.  After a sun filled day of frolicking in the waves with green sea turtles, I had to the lose the bikini and sarong in favour of a pair of jeans and a sweater and make my way up to 4,190 feet for Kilauea's evening show.  It is not cold in Canadian terms up there, but the wind can be a bit shocking after the sun sets.  You can see many tourists wearing hoodies with the national park logo.  Most likely an emergency purchase after showing up in a pair of shorts and flip flops.  
A much bigger problem is how to photograph this volcanic phenomena.  I find the most important skill in photographing landscapes is figuring out the best time to shoot them.  The angle and quality of light is everything!  I chose t…