Sunday, 23 January 2011

Oslo Postcards

Oslo 15Oslo is a nice place to shoot; everyone speaks English and Canadians are welcomed (as you can see from this hoodie in the local H&M). I was back in Oslo in the fall and of course I went out to shoot. It felt good to get out of the studio and back to my "home turf" of street shooting.

It's not that I do not like the studio. Unlike the street, it is a safe, controlled environment, but you have to think every shot out ahead of time. In the studio, you are usually shooting portraits or fashion so you also have to pay very close attention to colour and hues. It is pretty much the opposite of the "run and gun" that I do on the street. Differences aside, I think the studio has had a positive influence on my street shooting and I will explain as I go through this Oslo Postcards post.

I was out on the street again and loving the return of that feeling I get when I wander around with a camera in hand. There is something intoxicating about the anticipation of seeing photos set themselves up and then capturing the moment.

There was a street musician panhandling in front of the Lindex store on Karl Johans Gate and I grabbed this frame.

Oslo 16

I am always amazed how a scene can change so much and produce totally different images with a few changes in the environment. A couple of years ago, I took a shot at this same location. The above shot was composed in the afternoon on a dry day and the one below was composed in the very early morning in the pouring rain. With only those differences, I was able to make compositions that are worlds apart.

Oslo Lights (2)

Speaking of street musicians, I came across another panhandler singing "What a Wonderful World". Now you might know this song as a Louis Armstrong standard. Indeed, the song has quite a history. The composer offered it to Tony Bennett who turned it down (he did later record it). He then offered it to Satchmo, who recorded it in 1968 and it became a hit. Imagine having a chart topper when you are 66 years old!

Anyway, this is not why I love this song. I love this song because when Anne was a little girl, she was ALWAYS smiling and laughing. Her world was truly wonderful and I used to play this song for her all the time, so it became a "daddy/daughter" song.

So when I heard this song performed by two panhandlers (who I assumed to be father and daughter), I had to stop and make a short recording for Anne, which I then posted from my Blackberry straight to Facebook for her.

It's too bad my clip is so short. You really don't get the optimistic mood of the song from it. To make up for that, here is a video of Satchmo himself singing it.

After listening to the panhandlers for a bit, I went back out on the streets prowling around for shots. I came across this amazing "sculpture".

Oslo 1

Not only did it defy definition as to what it was, it gave me fits trying to figure out how to shoot it. I never really did come up with anything too impressive.

I took a short walk over to the Akershus Fortress to look at the setting sun and spied a person on a bench looking at that very sunset. He was up on the rim of the earthen wall and I was below at the base, shooting up for a simple composition.

Oslo 5

Curious to see what the sunset looked like, I ran up the berm to the tree that you see on the right of the frame. I then used the branches of that tree to frame the setting sun.

Oslo 14

When out street shooting, your head needs to be on a swivel. There are often very different, but just as compelling, compositions behind you. In this case, the sun was still quite bright. It was bright enough that I was able to capture these two people up on the castle wall behind me, as they made their own sunset postcard. I was amazed at how the warm sun complemented the yellow of the leaves on the tree. The second person might be hard to see, so look closely for the dark coat that almost looks like another tree trunk.

Oslo 9

By now I was feeling pretty comfortable and back "in the zone", so it was over to the Opera House to see what could be had there.

As I approached it, I was drawn to the geometric lines created by the glass facade and the stone supports. I was thinking that it would be a wonderful place to get some abstract shots. Here is one of my approach shots so you get a feeling for the structure.

Oslo 13

In the shot above, the dark dots on top of the building are people looking out over the harbour. The sun was setting and it was quite a popular place. The public can get to the roof by walking up long ramps on either side of the building. It was while shooting the ramps (below) that I realized that my eye has changed following my studio time.

Oslo 4

Previously, I would have waited for the people to leave the frame before taking the photo, but I realized I was quite enamored with the formal structure afforded by the geometry of the building and the random "organic-ness" brought to the image by the people.

Another change was my approach to colour. Previously, I would see shots only in tones, which is why the above shot is in black and white - that's how I saw it. However, I noticed I was now more struck with how colour worked in what I was seeing. For example, I loved how the setting sun painted red and yellow hues in a light tone in one part of the sky, while the darker blueness of the glass of the Opera House anchored the other side of the sky.

Oslo 7

The above is my favourite shot of the series, although I also quite liked this composition that I made as I walked around the building.

Oslo 3

The setting sun gave just the right amount of light for the glass facade to act as a mirror. Walking up the ramps on either side of the building gave me a chance to play with the reflections, such as this shot of a couple looking in the Opera House. Rather, he is looking in while she is fixing her hair!

Oslo 8

There was a performance on that night and people walking the red carpet gave me another composition using reflections from the glass curtain wall.

When I was half-way up the ramp, I turned around and made this image using Radhusgata (the street opposite) as an anchor and the reflection for the right 1/3 of the frame.

Oslo 6

From the roof, I was still seeing lots of images with the structure of the building providing a framework for some random placement of people. I like how even the rectangles have a random element.

Oslo 2

I will close with an image of the setting sun bouncing warm light off of a jet's contrail, as seen from the top of the Opera House.

Oslo 11

I am now caught up with my backlog of shots that dates back to last spring! Over the next couple of months I am going to focus on print making, but hope to also get in the occasional shoot.


Sunday, 16 January 2011

Zoey's First Postcards

Zoey's 1st PostcardsThis post has been a long time in the making. I started preparing for it back when I was shooting photos of Anne when she was pregnant. I wanted to include shots from Christmas, which was Zoey's first, so I haven't published her first blog post until now.

I've taken quite a few "belly" photos of pregnant women up to now, and I usually start off with a 3/4 profile of the "mom-to-be" or shots with her favourite puppy.

Zoey's 1st Postcards -2

Zoey's 1st Postcards -4

Anne's eyes have always been a brilliant blue, and when I was shooting this series with her blue top, I noticed that it matched those bright blue eyes.

Zoey's 1st Postcards -1

Of course when Zoey came along, I started to take her photo as well. Because they sleep a lot, newborns are very patient subjects.

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You can take shots from all sorts of different angles while they snooze.

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You can even go through wardrobe changes and they don't bat an eye (or wake up).

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Even an inquisitive little puppy sniffing the baby won't wake her up.

Since they sleep so much, it's easy to piece together some abstract shots.

Zoey's 1st Postcards -14Zoey's 1st Postcards -8

Zoey's 1st Postcards -13Zoey's 1st Postcards -11

As you can see, Zoey was born with a full head of fine, dark hair!

When Christmas rolled around, Zoey was bigger and not as sleepy. Anne put her in her new red outfit and we took some photos around the Christmas tree.

Zoey's 1st Postcards -28

The red outfit looked quite nice in a black and white composition (this one is my favourite of Zoey so far).

Zoey's 1st Postcards

After a short pause for some food for Zoey and a wardrobe change, we took some more photos, although Zoey was still hungry and was more interested in chewing on her giraffe.

Zoey's 1st Postcards -25

Of course I have quite a few shots of Zoey and here is a slide show of the best of Zoey's first Postcards. You can move your mouse over this show to see an index of all of the shots, as well as commands such as "pause" and "play"


Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sunday Shoots: Five

Sunday Shoots: Tena 5I booked every Sunday in the month of October this year to do some in-depth studio shooting. I called the series "Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots" and I arranged my time in three blocks for each Sunday. A casting call on Model Mayhem for each slot brought a lot of offers from models to pose, but as usual with Model Mayhem, many of the models did not show up for their bookings. Fortunately for me, the models who did show were fabulous. We learned from each other and we bagged a number of great shots.

This Sunday was a full day of shooting with Tena.

After a month of shooting every Sunday, I was looking forward to kicking back and "relaxing" with Tena. Tena runs one pose after another without pausing or thinking. She is also a very creative person and fun to collaborate with. We had discussed what concepts we wanted to do for this shoot ahead of time and not surprisingly, I wanted to go back and re-do the Steichen "leg shot". This time, Tena would be in high heels, jewelry, and a red dress. Elle was along with us and helped set up the lighting and we came up with this composition.

Sunday Shoots: Tena 1

It is much more faithful to Steichen's composition than my previous composition from my first Sunday Shoot, but I prefer my first shot.

We all hated the mustard yellow background we used the previous Sunday, so we decided to explore the funny, blue coloured seamless. We shot "ad-lib" for a bit, with Tena using bits of coloured cloth as props.

Sunday Shoots: Tena 4

While I liked the colour combinations, I wasn't getting any compositions that I liked, so we added in a chest to the props we were using. Tena had fun "going through" the clothes in the chest.

Sunday Shoots: Tena 3

Tena loves fashion. When she talks about clothes and fashion, she positively floats on air.

Sunday Shoots: Tena 2

I still wasn't satisfied with the compositions I was coming up with, so I talked Tena into doing some head shots. Here Tena really shone; she used a couple of different coloured head scarfs and started running through poses for me and I just let the shutter go. I varied the lighting somewhat, but stuck mostly to soft, bottom lighting or soft, top lighting. I couldn't possibly publish all of the great shots I got of Tena, but here is a sampling.

Sunday Shoots: Tena 6

Sunday Shoots: Tena 8

Sunday Shoots: Tena 9

Of all the great shots I captured, I'm torn between these two for "best of shoot" honours:

Sunday Shoots: Tena 7

Sunday Shoots: Tena 5

This wrapped up my "Sunday Studio Shoots in October". I had a ton of fun and I learned quite a bit. My thanks go to Ashley, Sara, Jenn, Jade, Tena, Carissa, Elle, Trish, Morgan, and Nadine for their help and patience during the shoot and during the post-processing.

Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day One is here
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Two is here
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Three is here
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Four is here


Postcards: First Tracks

First Tracks 8Other than a quick course check before a race, I haven't skied in 4 years! When I heard there was snow at Kouchibouguac National Park, I was determined to get in my "first tracks" this week-end, coincidentally timed with this article on XC in the Globe and Mail.

Trish, Andy and Angie came with me on the 3 hour drive to Kouch in the search of snow and groomed trails. Trish hasn't been on skis in quite a while either (its been so long since I prepped her skis that I brought the wrong ones with us). As for Andy and Angie, they had never skied before, so this truly was a case of "first tracks". I brought my camera along to get some postcards of their first-ever ski.

First Tracks 9

First Tracks 6

There was a LOT of snow at Kouch. It had snowed heavily over night and more was coming down as we skied.

First Tracks 7

Skiing on the trails was like going through a tunnel of white.

First Tracks 1

The temperature was hovering around 0 C, which made for a wax challenge. Sometimes we would grip and sometimes we would slip.

First Tracks 4

First Tracks 5

Despite the weather and the stickiness, there were still smiles when we stopped at the Patterson hut for lunch and to warm up next to the wood stove.

First Tracks 2

While we were at Kouch, Anne and Zoey were at Martock where they made enough snow for a 1 km loop. Anne got her first tracks in there, and Zoey got her very "First Tracks" looking out the window at the skiers.

ZoeyFirstTracks copy

Since the Canada Games are there in about a month, Martock will likely keep making snow on their trails, and being only 45 minutes away, it is a more convenient place to get some tracks in than Kouch. I might even be able to convince everyone to go get "second tracks" this coming week-end!

Here is a slide show from the ski.