Whitehern Historic House Interior

I just developed and scanned a roll of Kodak T-Max 400 from my Pentax 645.  This is an interior shot from Whitehern Historic House in Hamilton, ON.  I normally shoot on Ilford, but Henry's was only selling T-Max, so I gave it a try.  I pushed it up to ISO 1000, which allows for much of the drama in this photo with the bright highlights and deep blacks.

Whitehern is a real gem.  Unlike many stately homes at which the curators simply buy period furniture to fill the rooms, almost every single item at Whitehern, from the books, clothing, photographs, paintings, plates, cookware, beds, and the hat in this photo below, belonged to the original family who lived in this house.  It's well worth a visit.

Volunteer MBC 4th Annual Awards Ceremony 2014

On April 10th I had the pleasure of covering the Volunteer awards ceremony and AGM for Volunteer Mississauga Brampton Caledon at Greenbriar Recreation Centre.  VMBC promotes volunteerism and runs an excellent volunteer-opportunity search engine (think Monster.com for volunteering) at http://peel.cioc.ca/volunteer/.  Once a year during National Volunteer Week, they honour volunteers who stand out for work in our community.

I've covered several events for VMBC including awards ceremonies, open-houses and the opening of their office in Caledon, ON.  Besides the good work they do for the community, I have always been eager to support them for my own personal reasons.  When I first came to Canada, I was able to find two volunteering opportunities through their database – one as a volunteer teacher, and another doing grants research for VMBC.  Now that I'm more established, I still donate my time and energy to them in the form of my photography.

Snowy Owl: Sun & Flight

Last Sunday, I went out to capture some more images of the snowy owl from my previous blog post.  I spent about five hours freezing in the snow, and getting more than a bit sunburnt, but it was all worth it.  Bright sun and freshly fallen snow contributed to a beautiful setting for some spectacular photos.

Linkedin & Hispanotech Event Photography

Photography always takes you to compelling and thought-provoking situations.  Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing Perry Monaco (Twitter: @elvisrun / Linkedin: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/perrymonaco), Strategic Product Specialist for the major social networking site Linkedin, give a talk on how best to leverage his employer's network to more effectively search for jobs.  The location was the sleek Bay Adelaide Centre on Bay Street in the central core of Toronto.  It was a lively talk, with much useful information, given as part of a series for Hispanotech.ca (Twitter: @hispanotech), a non-profit aimed at supporting the Canadian hispanic community in the technology sector.

Photographing events like this is in some ways straightforward documentary photography, but there are definitely challenges.  Photographing people in the act of giving a speech requires precision, to ensure you get photographs that show the speaker comfortable and natural, rather than mid-word/mid-blink/mid-gesture.  Fortunately, everything seemed to work out, and Mr. Monaco has now updated his Linkedin profile to one of the ones I created at the event.

Snowy Owl 2 : Preview

I ran into my friend, the snowy owl, on Sunday, 2 March.  I came back with over 700 photos between two memory cards.  I plan to post a full set.  This is a special one, though.

How to Fake a Selfie

So I've needed a photo of myself for my website for a while now.  Like many photographers I spend much more time on the business end of a camera rather than in front of it.  I knew what I wanted – I've always liked Stanley Kubrick's self portrait that he took in his youth.  It has many of the features I like in my own black and white photography: dramatic lighting, deep blacks, a few highlights in the right places, shallow depth of field, and a bit of grain:

 Source: http://www.ananasamiami.com/2012/03/stanley-kubrick-self-portraits.html

Source: http://www.ananasamiami.com/2012/03/stanley-kubrick-self-portraits.html

I don't have a suitable mirror in a suitable place to try to make this shot the easy way, and I really don't like the idea of photographing myself in a mirror if I can avoid it.  I tried once before to get this shot of myself using my digital camera on a tripod, while holding a film camera.  It's a cumbersome process, mainly due to the shallow depth of field; a few inches one way or another can completely throw off the focus.

Thankfully, this time my wife was willing to help out, and the whole process took less than ten minutes.  After getting the right settings on my camera, I could pass it off to her to press the shutter.  I used a corner of our basement next to our laundry room.  I could get a nice sliver of light by turning on the laundry room light, and adjusting the folding door, or my position, to get the light to hit my face just right.

The next step was the editing.  After importing to Lightroom and making some minor adjustments there I opened it up in NIK Silverefex 2.0, which is one of the best programs out there for simulating black and white film.  I used the curves tool to bring up the whites, crush the blacks, and a few control points to darken my white walls and bring out the catch lights in my eyes.  The last step was to add some simulated film grain and, of course flip the photo horizontally, to give the impression it was taken in a mirror.  Final result:

An Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F stands in for a M39 screwmount Leica quite well.

Snowy Owl Encounter

Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time.  Working on some information from a good friend, my wife and I decided to track down a Snowy Owl he'd spotted that hunts in Caledon, ON, not too far from our home.

Naturally, I packed a couple camera bodies and lenses, but I knew we'd have to get very close, as the telephoto lenses I have are better suited to creating portraits and landscapes; I don't have or need paparazzi-style super-telephoto lenses.  A white bird sitting in a snowy field, a hundred metres away, is just going to be a speck.

As we approached the spot we hoped to find our owl, we saw a parked van; we weren't the first ones to try to catch sight of this bird.  The owl was about two hundred metres out in a farmer's field, hunting.

After catching a meal, she flew off, and we followed her to a new post, perched in a tree just on the side of the road.

This was the opportunity I was waiting for.  We observed from a distance that she had no fear of cars; several zipped past her, not causing the slightest reaction.  Knowing we wouldn't disturb her, my wife maneuvered the car into position, and - with a freezing wind blowing through the open window - I was able to take several photos that really showed her form and grace.

It was such a treat to see this animal in the wild, up close, hunting, going about its routine.