Last week I found myself called at short notice to cover a business networking event in San Francisco. I gladly took them up on the offer and set about preparing for the shoot. It finally gave me the push I needed to build the flash bounce I’d been meaning to make for the past couple of months. New piece of gear in hand I set out for the job.
The space was lofty and beautiful with big windows that created some challenges around lighting, but after some experimentation with fill flash I got that under control. The new flash bounce worked wonderfully creating nice soft light to photograph people with. The discussion at the end of the night posed some challenges as well since the speakers weren’t well lit, but again I managed. More experience for me, and some great shots for the organizers.
This past weekend I had the privilege of shooting for the Terrain Mud Run outside of San Jose. The Mud Run is part of a growing field of “adventure racing” where runners have to contend not only with a 3 or 5+ mile run (in this case 6.9 miles), but also a slew of obstacles that range from walls and ropes to mud pits and jumping over fires. Some people wear costumes, some are serious athletic competitors and everyone has fun.
I’m pretty sure I got hired because of my experience at the Montreal and Toronto Spartan Races, though the weather was immeasurably better in San Jose than it was when I did the Montreal race. Thank goodness.
Went back to BoomBox this month for another PULSE event, this time with a 24-70mm f2.8, a 50mm f1.8 and my new flash. Got some great shots and learned a lot of new things about how to shoot in the dark.
I also got some video footage that should be coming out soon.
Did a job shooting PULSE with Laughing Buddah on Friday the 13th. Great party with great music and great people. The focus of my “assignment” was mostly to capture the vibe of the event rather than the typical photobooth style shots that most nightclub photographers do.
Since my 50mm broke when I was moving I was running with my 28-105mm and 10-22mm both of which worked well despite the low light and use of fog machines. Also used the monopod as a boom pole to get some cool overhead shots of the DJ and crowd.
Post processing in Lightroom saved me from the noise inherent in shooting at high ISOs but I’m definitely going to be replacing my 50mm ASAP as well as adding a strobe or six to my arsenal. I’ve got some neat ideas for rockin’ these kinds of events even more in the future. Stay tuned.
This summer I took on the job of being an official shooter for the Montreal and Toronto Spartan Races for Nuvision Action Image. For the uninitiated a Spartan Race is sort of like a triathalon, only instead of riding bikes you have to jump over bonfires, crawl under barbed wire and battle past gladiators with foam staves. I hear at one event there were even paintball snipers. Its pretty extreme, but also in a spirit of great fun. Lots of people get dressed up in costumes and for every extreme warrior out to win there’s probably a dozen others who just want to have a good time doing something physical.
The first day in Montreal it poured rain for almost the entire race. They went ahead anyways and I shot, squatting in the mud with my camera in a plastic shopping bag. I think I endured about as much as the runners, muddy, wet and sore as hell after six hours of continuous shooting. At the end of it the sun broke through, we had a BBQ and headed home. Toronto was better weather, but there I got a sunburn after forgetting my hat at home. Still, great fun and great events.
Now because I was sub-contracting with another company and because they sell their images to the racers I can’t post many photos, but I’ll give you a teaser, just so you get an idea of what it was like. I plan to shoot them again next summer.
TEDxMcGill was a resounding success by all accounts. The room was packed with curious people, the stage graced by wonderful performances and fascinating speakers and a lot of my photos came out pretty well too.
It was fun running back and forth to get different angles, trying to anticipate the movements of the presenters and capture them just at the right moment. When you click the shutter and freeze someone in mid-speech you can end up with some pretty unflattering faces. It takes practice and concentration to each presenter’s natural rhythm and idiosyncrasies to capture the best moments. The 2.8mm lens I rented was amazing and it was great to get better acquainted with it in a real life situation. I think overall I underestimated its ability to produce sharp images wide open and shot too conservatively early on making it harder to freeze the motion in the speakers. By the end of the day I’d gained a new confidence in the lens and was shooting crisp shots with a huge aperture. I’m amazed at what this lens can do!
I’m happy with the results that I got but as always came up with a few things for future shoots that will make my life a little bit easier. For one I’m going to get a quick release plate for my monopod. Switching from shooting speakers up on stage to navigating the crowds in between sessions was a bit of an adventure with the monopod. I also bought a new 500GB hard drive for my laptop since shooting rapid fire RAW images on the T2i’s 18MP sensor fills up space pretty quick. I had to transfer a bunch of older files to my external hard drive before I could download and edit any photos which killed my workflow. Now I have room to breathe.
Already I have a couple of new video projects in the pipeline – coming up fast! Old friends of mine from Calgary have developed a new gizmo for real estate agents, lawyers and the like to make their paperwork a bit easier. They’re launching the device in January and are hiring me to produce the video loop that will be playing in their trade show booth. We might make some other related videos as well for the website and other media. That’ll take me back to Calgary for a few days but I’m happy to do it, especially for old friends.
On the more creative edge I’m also working on a music video with the Montreal band ‘Ol Savannah. This is going to be a real treat since music videos are one of my favourite formats to work with. Its going to be a relatively simple 2 or 3 day shoot, next to no budget, but I think we can produce something pretty slick if we plan it out right. I’m working on storyboards right now and we’re hoping to have shooting done by the end of the year, though with this other project in Calgary also due by the end of the year I may have to stretch that a bit. We’ll see how the schedules for both the band and the guys in Calgary mesh up. It might not be a problem at all.
Finally this afternoon I’m having another writing session for a web series with my co-writer/producer Keith Waterfield. We’re working on story outlines and the script for a pilot episode. Both of us are pretty excited about this project and dedicated to seeing it come to fruition early in the new year. With any luck we can get some funding to produce the whole series, or maybe we’ll start playing with new Internet marketing and revenue generating strategies. I’d be very interested to hear peoples’ thoughts on that. Would you pay $1.00 to watch an 11 minute episode of a funny and well produced show? Would you rather watch ads? How about each episode is only released after a certain dollar value has been met in pledges? Let me know what you think, its a whole new ball game out there.