Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Second Day of Shooting

I'm tired!  This has been a fast and tiresome trip and I'm still sick after my PA trip.  I just can't shake this nagging cold.  Perhaps a little rest will finally put an end to it.

I wanted to show you a few more photos from yesterdays shooting.  My folder of photos from this assignment tell me that I've shot just over 900 images.  I can see more hard drives in my future if I keep this current pace of shooting for the remainder of the year.

You can tell when your getting close to a den of Arctic Foxes, the body parts of smaller animals increase.  Found this bird feather resting at the shoreline of a lake just a few yards from a den. 

The images below is one of perhaps two photos I shot using strobes on this assignment.  The first shows the placement of the strobe in the core sample shed and the second photo with it cropped out.  The strobe was placed on the plastic foot provide with the strobe with the omni dome attached.  The wall in front of the subjects was flat and I had to resort to placing it on the top row of samples at the right.  My first exposure told me that I need to flag off the light striking the core sample while still allowing the light to strike the subjects being photographed.

The next photo here is a shot of sample cataloging on the back deck of the core shed.  I noticed the repetitive design of the plastic bags and asked for a volunteer to pose for me.

I than notice a naturally occurring event I simply documented.  I used my a long lens, (80-40 VR) to compressing the scene for a more graphic effect.

I spent about an hour with 3 environmental engineers taking water sample and stream monitoring at various locations. I took lots of photos similar to these.

I also shot aerials of the property, drill rigs and other specific shots that dealt with more operational needs rather than artistic.  This was a wonderful trip which I would love to do again.  Perhaps as the project grows and production begins at this site, I'll once again be sent to create new images.  DT

Monday, July 28, 2008

First Day of Shooting

Yesterday I was able to get a few shot in the can.  When I arrived at camp, I had to go through the usual safety and regulation training regarded of all new camp arivials. Though out my career I have probably sat through about a hundred of these thing but I had never been told "not to get eaten by a bear" 

After my training was complete and they had my signature of about 20 forms, I started to looking at maps of the site to get oriented.  It was becoming clear to me that the camp had not made plans to provide an escort for my visit and it was going to be left up to me to find my way around.  I was given a radio and was sent on my way to do "what ever it is you do".  When ever I needed to go somewhere, I would radio Keith the helicopter pilot and he would take me there.  How cool is that!

Since this is an exploration camp, the only real activity up here is drilling and the associated activity that comes with it.  You have drillers, geologist, surveyor's, environmental personnel such as biologist's.  

I assembled a group of three individuals to photograph, a surveyor and a couple of biologist.  I radioed the pilot and had Keith toke us to some of the more scenic areas on the property.  We flew for about 10 minutes to a remote (it all remote up here) location that had some cliffs and nice relief.  I set placed a surveyor on a rock and used cliffs and water as backdrops for a photo. I also used this location to set up a biologist with a gaming scope to photograph.

Did I happen to mention how bad the mosquito are up here.  I've been provide a bug jacket like the one here being worn by this biologist checking out native flowers.

Another very important aspect to the work that is being done in the field in caring for the wildlife.  This is Michelle, she is a one of the lead biologist in charge of monitoring the animal movement and safety.  We have stopped here to look at some arctic fox dens and other areas that she monitors.  

I've actually just finished shooting my second day here in the north.  I'll be headed to Winnipeg tomorrow morning and spending the night. I'll post several other photos from todays shoot tomorrow.  DT

Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to Ferguson Lake

I spent last night at the CoOp hotel in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.  Rankin Inlet is a very small community which got it's start back in 1957 with the discovery of Nickel.  The hotel had less quality than a motel 6 and yet it cost $235.00 a night!

Had a wonderful flight this morning out to Ferguson Lake in a Twin Otter aircraft.  I was the only passenger on board along with about 2500 or so pounds of drilling mud and pipe as well as some camp supplies.  The flight was about 1 hour and 15 minute northwest of Rankin Inlet.

Then landscape was spectacular, the closest way I can think of describing it is as follows:  Say you are looking at a surface of a completely soaked sponge.  The edges of the cells of the sponge would be the land mass and the cells are of course filled with water.  There was more water than land, bodies of water in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

In the winter months when the land and water are covered with ice and snow, Ice Truckers make the trek to the mining camp.  As a matter of fact, the Discovery program Ice Truckers has been filmed up here in the Rankin Inlet area.

Ferguson Lake is just beautiful, water is clear and the wide life is abundant.  No fishing is allowed while in camp, they have hugh lake trout and other I can't remember.  Here is a look at the lake from the airstrip we landed on.

After arriving, we unloaded the plane, and than rode a helicopter to the camp.  They use a helicopter around here for everything.  No roads out here, no trucks only Quad's and snowmobiles with they don't use this time of year.

I logged about 2 hours in the copter today and most likely another 2 or 3 tomorrow.  They have two rigs drilling close by and some really scenic areas for shooting some surveying and exploration shots using geologists as models.

I'll leave you with this one shot from today.  While out flying to a location to photograph a surveyor, we spotted these two guy's.  GIZZLY!  The start of this journey can be found HERE

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Travel Day-Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

I was up early this morning, about 4:30 AM. Not because I had a flight to catch but rather due to the unfamiliar surroundings.  If you travel a lot you know what I mean, bed doesn't feel the same, air conditioning noises plus the vestiges of sore throat.

This was the view from my hotel window at the Four Points Hotel across the street from the Winnipeg airport.  Sound proofing on these windows are incredible, woke to find several planes at their gates, yet I never heard them arrive.

Packing light and compact is the name of the game nowadays!  I have one checked bag and two carry on bags.  I carry a small backpack containing my laptop, cables, ipod, G9, travel documents, chargers and various cold medicines.  Did I mention that I am recovering from a major cold that I picked up while in PA last week.  The center bag is my new Think Tank International case and the blue bag on the right is my personal bag which is check.

I use this bag to carry my personal cloths and some equipment.  I bought this bag a couple of years ago at Costco and I find it very useful for this reason.  The bottom of the bag has a separate compartment where I can store my tripod and stands etc.

In this photo you can see the compartment I speak of.  The first thing you see here is a 5 in 1 collapsible reflector. The red and black articles are jackets I use to cushion the contents.

In this compartment I carry the following equipment. Tripod, one 8 foot stand, 43" collapsible umbrella, white translucent ripstop nylon sheet (silk), Justin Clamp, battery charger, grip equipment (black bag) and a sensor cleaning kit (gray bag on the right).

As far as camera equipment is concerned, let's take a look inside.  Before we do that, I want to mention that this is the first trip I've taken with my new Think Tank International bag.  I am very impressed with the quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail they put into this bag.

I'm carrying the following items in this case. 2 camera's (D2X, D300), 80-400 mm VR, 12-24 mm, 24-85 mm, 50 mm f/1.8 (love this lens), 85 mm f/1.4 (really love this lens), 10.5 mm, polarizer, 3 PocketWizards, (2) SB-800's, 8 spare AA batteries, WhiBal gray card, cleaning cloth and blower, a viewing Lupe, Lee Filter system, and a SC-29 cord.  In the inside lid of the case I carry 3 form flags/gobos for the SB's, gels for the SB's and 2 plastic foot stands for the SB's.  WOW  This case hold a boat load, and to think that it's the smaller international case.

I had planned on writing a bit about building and maintaining client relationships in this post but have decided to save that for later on this trip.  I've been told that they have internet connection at the man camp, if so I should be able to make a few posts.

I've arrived here in Rankin Inlet, managed to get out for a walk and a few pic's with the G9.  More tomorrow. DT 


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Travel Day-Winnipeg

Fairly short day today, flew from Denver to Winnipeg, MB Canada.  I am on my way to the Canadian Arctic to shoot some exploration drilling for a new client on mine.  I actually have two days of travel to get to my final destination of Ferguson Lake.

I'll be spending the night here in Winnipeg and tomorrow, I'll take a 3 1/2 hour flight to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.  I'll have to spend tomorrow night in Rankin Inlet because flights to the man camp leaves at 7 AM and there are no flights that allow a connection so early in the morning.

You can see how far I have to travel just to get there.  I've never been this far north before and I am really looking forward to being there.  At this time of year the sun is up for 18 1/2 hours, sunrise at 4 AM and sunset 10:30 PM.

Since I'm traveling along on this assignment, I've packed very light in terms of equipment.  Tomorrow I'll show you what I've packed for this trip and I'll talk a bit about the importance of maintaining professional relationships with your clients.  I am shooting this assignment as a direct result of past relations with the president of the company I'm shooting for. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lancaster County, PA

What a wonder place to visit! The scenery is stunning and the photo opportunities are plentiful. I'm back from a week vacation in the Amish land of Lancaster County, PA. Spent a week in Strusburg, PA doing the tourist stuff, Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Eastern State Penitentiary and the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, Also spent a day in the historic town of Gettysburg looking at battle grounds and learning some new history.

One of the really fun things that I did was to go on a ghost hunt at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  I had an opportunity to walk the dark hallways of the old place, the prison was build in the early 1800's.  Very Creepy!

Using a tripod, I shot this 6 second exposure of the guard tower,  I added a bit of light using my flashlight during the exposure. 

This is what the place looks like during daylight hours.  Long hallways with small cells on either side. It's really a cool place to visit if you have the chance.

As I mentioned earlier, the scenery around Lancaster County, PA is beautiful.  Here are some of the results from an outing shooting sunrise.  I only had one opportunity to shoot a sunrise and one sunset but I'm happy with what I came back with.

I might also mention that I have 3 more spots open for the August 23 Small Strobes, Big Results workshop in Denver.  If your interested in attending, please contact me soon. DT

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Few Spaces Left

There are just a few spaces left for both the August 2nd and August 23 Small Strobes, Big Results lighting workshop in Denver.

Don't miss out, if you've been thinking about it, it's time to act. Give me a call or drop me an email so I can hold a spot for you. I'll be traveling this next week and than up to the Canadian Arctic on assignment.

My intern, Ian recently shot some photos for some friends of his for a wedding announcement. Ian did not want to shoot the typical announcement photos of a hugging and kissing couple. He only agreed to do so if he could have complete creative control over the photos. These are not your typical announcement photos for sure.

I mention this because from what I've seen thus far, the photos are outstanding and are worth bring them to your attention. Ian knows the couple through his part time work at a local restaurant and after learning more about their interests, Ian came up with several photographic idea's for their announcement. I might also add that the announcement will be in the form of a web site rather than a printed piece. Ian came up with 6 photo concepts, he's finished 3 of the 6.

Ian is fairly new to lighting, He used my Qflash with one of my home made beauty dishes. Anyway, I just realized that he has posted a lighting diagram on his blog. Please take a look at these photos, let him know what you think.

You might say that Ian has taken my Small Strobes, Big Results workshop to heart! Nice work Ian, proud of you. DT

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

New Flash - Death Valley Mentor Series

It's now official, I've joined the Popular Photography/American PHOTO Mentor Series as an instructor.  I'm thrilled to join such an outstanding group of Mentors such as Dave Black, Joe McNally, Tony Sweet, Doug Menuez and many others.

Photographer/instructor Bill Durrence and I will be leading a winter trek to Death Valley, CA.  The trek is scheduled for February 18th through the 22nd. 2009.  I am very honored and excited to be part of the Mentor Series and hope that it will develop into a long term relationship.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I'm a bit Overwhelmed

I would like to thank all of you that have expressed interest in hosting a Small Strobes, Big Results workshop! I can't began to tell you how overwhelmed I am from such a response. I've had requests from all over the country and around the world, it just blows my mind. Locations from Arkansas, Atlanta, Maine, California, Texas, Washington, Detroit, Canada, Austria, Middle East, Malaysia and Nova Scotia.

I would love to hold workshops at each of these locations as time permits. I'll be in contact with interested hosts as my schedule allows. There is one location in Arlington, TX that I am very interested in and it could be the next location.  Details later.

As you know, I'm still actively shooting assignments for clients and my assignment work is my first priority and my main source of income. I decided to offer lighting workshops because of the numerous request from the readers of my blog and the fact that I enjoy sharing my knowledge with young photographers. I thought I could slowly dip my feet into teaching workshops and over time eventually develop it into a full time business, when I no longer no wanted to pursue assignment work. Instead of dipping my feet in, I feel as though I have jumped off the high dive.  I love teaching, and look forward to bringing Small Strobes, Big Results workshops near you.

This has been an incredible year for me! Next week I will be honoring my father memory, his 1 year anniversary of his death. I miss him very much and wish that he could still be in my daily life to share all the wonderful things that have happened to me this year. Even though he's not here physically, I know that he shares in my joy and successes.  

Next week I'll be on vacation with family and friends in Pennsylvania.  Will be visiting Gettysburg  and the Amish county of Lancaster, PA.  If things work out the way I hope they will, I'll have an opportunity to meet Mr. Strobist,  David Hobby.   We've spoken on the phone once or twice and have exchanges several email, but have never met in person.  I hope to have that opportunity!

I have an up coming assignment that should be fun.  On July 26th, I'll be heading up to the Canadian Arctic to shoot for a new client.  I'll be on assignment until the 31st, back in time for the August 2nd "Small Strobes, Big Results" workshop. You can count on at least one post regarding this trip maybe even two!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Seeing the Possibilities

One of the hardest thing for me when I was new to lighting, was seeing the possibilities in a location.  When I first started in photography, I was lucky to have worked with a very talented photographer in Houston, TX.  Those who followed this blog my remember me mentioning his name in the past, Joe Baraban.

When I went to work for Joe, I had never been in a studio before, seen or used strobes let alone realize that you could actually make a living taking pictures.  It would just blow my mind to watch Joe walk into a drab location and absolutely transform it using light. Joe could see the possibilities in his minds eye and creating a dramatic scene which was not immediately visible me.  Developing this kind of skill takes time, practice and hard work.   

When I arrive on location, go through a process of location assessment.  What type of lighting is existing, tungsten/daylight/other.  Do I have control over those light sources, can I use any one of those or all of those lights to my advantage?  I mentally close my eyes to the existing light and imagine the scene lit differently using my light (the one's I have with me at the time) and what other light that may exist.  The amount of equipment you have on hand surly determines how far you can transform a location with light.

When I arrive in a location or space that is larger than I can possibly light with the gear on hand,  I still think BIG however I might light SMALL.  I'm going to let the existing ambient light do the heavy lifting for me, I'm going to use what ever ambient light that available as my fill.  I can than use my lights to accent the details.

I shot the above photo this morning.  I was walking through our master bedroom and thought this would be a good exercise in lighting. I'll show you the process of building this shot with the series of photos below.

Here is how the original scene looked before starting. Bedroom entrance is to the left of the frame. We have three windows pouring in light to the room. Two of those are at camera right on either side of the bed and the other directly behind me and to my right. In this shot the camera WB was set to daylight

In the photo below, I've added one SB-800 strobe on a boom zoomed to the 105 setting on the head in order to light the painting on the right.  I have also fitted the head with a foam flag to prevent the light from falling forward toward the floor and lens of the camera.
In this next photo, you can see that I have added another SB-800 on a boom to light the painting on the left side of the frame.  This was my first exposure with this added light and I realized that I did not put a full CTO (Color Temperature Orange) filter on the strobe. Remember that the WB on the camera is set to tungsten and any daylight (strobes) will have a cooler color temp. in the photo. 

I corrected the color of the strobe by adding a full CTO to it and repositioned it to a more pleasant position on painting on the left.  The results of those changes are shown below.

I than asked my son who was busy downstairs fighting an intense battle of Halo to sit in for a test shot.  I wanted to see what the scale of the shot would look like and how I might light a person seated in the chair.

I than grab another SB-800, put a grid on it and feathered the light just past and in front of his face.  The grid I use is one which was designed for a Novatron Snoot.  With a little gaffers tape and velco, the grid works well.  I might also add that I put a full CTO filter on this strobe as well.  The results of adding this 3rd light is shown here.

You throw a few Sterno cans in the fake fireplace and you have a real cozy environment. In short order, Chris was bored and and quickly fell asleep.  I wonder if it had anything to do to the fact that I gave him the Wall Street Journal to read?

The rest of the photos show the complete set up of lights and one showing a panel at the window at the far right.  I did so because this was a new window and we have not put blinds up yet, that's on my "honey do" list.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, look around your own home and pick a spot and practice with your lights!