February 26, 2010

The Lines You Amend

Depending on the type of event I’m shooting, I’ll either move around for the sake of variety or stay in one place for the sake of courtesy. With a few exceptions, courtesy was my primary concern at yesterday’s Canada Reads event in the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon. As a result, I didn’t move around too much; unfortunately, this approach can result in a monotonous set of photos.

I usually shoot photographs as close to a horizontal or vertical orientation as I can, especially when straight lines are involved. In other words, given the circumstances, I usually take photos like the one below. The lines aren’t perfectly straight, but that's not a big deal in this case.

Toronto Celebrates Canada Reads #10

As I said before, an album of similar photos would have been mundane, even with different people sitting in the chair. Fortunately, while Roland Pemberton (a.k.a. Cadence Weapon) was being interviewed by host Mary Ito, I got the notion to play with orientations. As a result, I started taking photos like this one.

Toronto Celebrates Canada Reads #17

In this example, thanks to my placement of Shakura S’Aida (the main subject), the lines lead your eyes directly to her body. Mind you, this would have been true if the lines were straight, but these slanted lines are more likely to grab your attention and “coerce” your vision. If I took this picture in a similar fashion to the previous one, it wouldn’t have been as interesting.

I enjoyed using this technique throughout the photo shoot, as you can see below in this photo of Mary Wiens.

Toronto Celebrates Canada Reads #26

Still moving onward and upward, learning as I go...

February 25, 2010

Toronto Celebrates Canada Reads (Feb 25 2010)

Authors and literary enthusiasts alike took part in this celebration of Canada Reads at the Toronto Reference Library's Appel Salon.

Click this post's title to see all 36 photos at my Flickr site.

I Go Blind

Yesterday evening’s shoot at Freedom Clothing Collective was, for the most part, business as usual. Despite my sudden loss of social skills (perhaps resulting from this entry), I managed to shoot some pretty good photographs. There was one moment, however, where I literally couldn’t shoot anything.

I’m in pretty good health overall; thankfully, this includes my eyes. However, they sometimes become very itchy and irritated to the point where I can’t keep them open for a few seconds. Worse, since I don’t know when to expect these sudden itch attacks, I can’t really prepare for them. These attacks are relatively infrequent, but their occurrences are unpleasant and potentially dangerous. I don’t have a driving license yet, but if one of these attacks happens while I’m driving, it could turn into a life-threatening situation.

That didn’t happen last night, but the experience was nonetheless agonizing. I was taking pictures of Mason Bach during Airheart’s performance when the eye irritation suddenly started. For about thirty seconds, my next shot was not the most important thing; I wanted this episode to end. When it did, I saw that the irritation caused my eyes to turn red. Thankfully, this was the last attack I dealt with for the night.

The resulting set of photos didn’t take a hit. Having said that, if I ever have the opportunity to photograph the shot of my life, I hope it’s not ruined by eye irritation.

Art & Music Exhibition (Feb 24 2010)

Freedom Clothing Collective, in partnership with Sleeping Giant Gallery, presented this exhibition featuring musical guests Vangel and Airheart.

Click this post's title to see all 30 photos at my Flickr site.

February 24, 2010

It's Getting Hot In Here

Every photo shoot comes with its set of challenges. I encounter some of them every time, like adjusting my camera’s settings to achieve optimal exposures. There are others, however, that are unique to a few shoots. For example, consider Monday’s night’s opening event for Fireside Culture Week. In addition to the problems I experienced with my rangefinder, Lady Luck Productions presented me with challenges of a different kind.

Consider the following photos.

FCW Opening Night #28

FCW Opening Night #34

Given the sexy outfits and dance moves, it was tempting for me to let my imagination and hormones run wild. This not only could have led to photographic indiscretions, but personal ones as well. On the former front, despite my desire to accurately reflect the happenings of any given event, I don’t want my photos to be mistaken for any kind of pornography.

Having said that, for transparency’s sake, I’ll display what I think is the raciest photo of this shoot.

FCW Opening Night #22

On the latter front, my purpose in covering events is shooting ‘em up, not picking ‘em up. In layman’s terms, at the end of any given photo shoot, I only want to bring my camera gear home with me. No matter how beautiful my subjects are, I can’t afford to give up professional integrity for the sake of pursuing sexual conquests. My Christian faith and desire to be a virgin until marriage play significant roles in this endeavour.

Even if they didn’t, think about what could happen if I put the moves on someone right after gaining their trust while photographing them. Being a lothario probably doesn’t do wonders for repeat business.

February 23, 2010

Caught By The Fuzz

As I’ve previously said, my 50mm lens doesn’t autofocus on my D60. This isn’t usually a stumbling block; even when my subjects are constantly moving, I manage to take a good number of decent shots.

Yesterday evening’s shoot at Fireside Culture Week’s opening night presented me with a different kind of challenge. Even though Lady Luck Productions’ performance involved moving subjects, it wasn’t nearly as tough to shoot as the concert by Najjah’s World. A few factors contributed to this predicament – namely, the dim lighting and Najjah’s movements. There was also one other factor at play, but I won’t explicitly mention it because some people may misinterpret what I’m saying.

The aforementioned factors led to my rangefinder being inaccurate, particularly when I was photographing Najjah himself. As a result, when I thought that my picture was in focus due to seeing the rangefinder’s dot, it actually wasn’t. I ended up taking quite a few fuzzy pictures, so I resorted to focusing through the viewfinder itself. I also used the backup singer, Ammoye, as a point of reference for my rangefinder.

Despite these challenges, I was able to get a few good shots of the concert using my newfound techniques – like this one.

FCW Opening Night #49

This photo’s f-stop is 3.2, which is on the wide end of the aperture spectrum. With low f-stop values, my focusing needs to be particularly precise. Mind you, I can work around this fact by raising my f-stop to a value which forgives inaccurate focusing.

Then again, the resulting reduction of light passing through the lens is another challenge to resolve...

Fireside Culture Week 2010: Opening Night (Feb 22 2010)

Fireside Culture Week hosted its kickoff event at Snowball Gallery with the help of Lady Luck Productions and Najjah's World.

Click this post's title to see all 55 photos at my Flickr site.

February 12, 2010

Pump Up The Giambrone

I took photos at Adam Giambrone’s launch party for his Toronto mayoral campaign last week. I wanted to get a shot of him standing with his partner, Sarah McQuarrie, but I wasn’t able to do so. However, I did photograph them together at the end of Adam’s speech; here are two examples below.

Celebrate Toronto #18

Celebrate Toronto #19

As everyone in Toronto (and maybe beyond) knows by now, Mr. Giambrone thought that big pimpin’ was the better way. However, this entry’s focus isn’t the scandal per se, but its effect on my photos, particularly the above two.

Exhibit A: my Flickr stats immediately after the scandal broke. Trust me, these numbers were nowhere near what they were on February 9th and 10th.

Stats from February 9th.

Stats from February 10th.

Exhibit B: as of the scandal, these photos have currently been featured in eight articles at sites like The Globe and Mail, True/Slant and Spacing. They could end up in even more places before Toronto’s mayoral race is over.

See what happens when you accurately tag your photos (and use the right Creative Commons license)? Let this serve as more proof that there is more to the presentation of your photos than merely editing and uploading them.

February 02, 2010

The Fantastic Manual

I have a friend at my church who is an amateur photographer, like I am. A few months ago, he started reading Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. While we were talking one day, he suggested that I start shooting in manual mode in order to improve my understanding of exposure; he got this tip from Bryan’s book. When I first heard this suggestion, I thought that it was a bit misguided. Surely I could take good photos by shooting in program auto (P), shutter speed (S) or aperture mode (A), right?

Yes, I can – but I’m starting to think that I can take better photos when I turn my camera’s dial to “M.” In P mode, the camera controls both the shutter speed and aperture, though I’m still able to generate different combinations. In S or A mode, I control the corresponding setting, but the camera controls the other one. Relinquishing control to the camera can work either for or against you, especially if the composition of a potential photo is constantly changing. In M mode, I can have more control of my photographs and feel a greater sense of accomplishment when I’m done.

Case in point: at the WinterCity shoots on the weekend, I was planning to shoot in aperture or shutter speed mode. My thinking was that either option would have been easier on my fingers in light of the cold weather, even though I had my new gloves on. If I shot in manual mode, it would have been necessary to simultaneously scroll the command wheel and press a button in order to change the aperture setting. Nonetheless, after finding out that my new glove setup worked very well, M mode was the only way to go.

Mind you, since my DSLR’s rangefinder doesn’t work in manual mode, shooting becomes a bit more difficult, especially with moving subjects. The only way I know I’m in focus is the appearance of a dot in the bottom-left corner of my viewfinder. Having said that, I’ve gone manual for my last few shoots and this has proven to be a minor obstacle.

Chalk up another milestone on my quest to take better photographs. Thanks for the tip, Brian (and Bryan).

More Is Less

Last year, I posted photo albums which contained a lot of photos. Jully Black’s Cavalcade Of Lights concert instantly springs to mind; I kept 102 photos from that set (out of 300-something). In retrospect, that number was too high, but uploading that many photos seemed like a good idea at the time.

Recently, however, my mentality has changed. Starting with the WinterCity shoots, my strategy has been to shoot as many good photographs as possible without uploading all of them. What this means is that I’m now more judicious in editing and deleting photos than I was last year. For example, I took almost 100 photos at yesterday night’s campaign launch for Adam Giambrone, but I only uploaded 26 of them. It shouldn’t take one hour (or even thirty minutes) to go through one of my Flickr photo albums, unless the corresponding event has a large scope like Nuit Blanche.

The days of hundred-photo uploads are over. I look forward to measuring my turnaround time in minutes, not hours.

February 01, 2010

Celebrate Toronto: Adam Giambrone Campaign Launch (Feb 1 2010)

Toronto Transit Commission Chairman Adam Giambrone launched his mayoral campaign with a speech and party at Revival.

Click this post's title to see all 26 photos at my Flickr site.