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Monday, December 29, 2008

Empress Hotel Victoria BC Canada

This is the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, Vancouver Island. The Grand Old Dame of the James Bay inlet, she looks out at the comings and goings of locals, visitors, Cruise ships and seaplanes, as they parade before the Inner Harbour, as it's called.
It was starting to get dark and a storm was just clearing, making way for a peachy glow across the building facade which faces due west. It's a lovely spot and over a million visitors a year to the harbor must agree.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Toronto sunset

Toronto has a few, small islands that have a great view of downtown. I came to capture the lights of downtown at night from my island vantage point, but like this one better.
The contraption sitting in the water on the left helps to guide the ferry into the dock on the island.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Golf Resort in the fall

This one was from a few days ago. I love golf courses, some of the nicest landscapes you'll ever see.
You can hardly see the golf cart in the lower right corner and that's just the way I wanted it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hollywood test shot

I like shooting Spa subjects, and no, it's not because of semi-naked women - I have kids older than this and I already went through my mid-life crisis without getting a Porsche and a young girlfriend.

I've always liked Hollywood "Glam" from the 1930's and this is from an attempt to re-create that look and feel. The original shot is quite straightforward and I spent a lot of time in Photoshop trying to create the mood and texture of those bygone days, but without looking too dated.

Now that I've worked out the technique, I just need a client who'll let me use it on their shoot. Might be a while, I think.

PS - Okay, I had a look at this after I posted it and you can't see the subtlety of that "airbrush glow". Needs more work, but in the meantime, call this a work in progress.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Photoshelter Collection is dead

I was shooting in the Badlands in South Dakota (seen here) when a message on my Blackberry told me that Photoshelter was quitting the Stock business. I was dissapointed but not surprised.
They were/are good folks, who treated photographers fairly, but their business plan was more of a social movement than a real business. While we all want to change the world, we also have to eat in the meantime and that means compromise.
Henry Luce (the founder of Time Inc) was asked what the most important thing was for a magazine, and he replied, "To stay in business". Too true and too bad for the good folks at Photoshelter.
Now it's going to take me about a week to retreive my work and reorganize my files and life. Ah well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spa Resort photography

This is a nice young Russian woman called Vlada. From Siberia of all places, so the nice hot sun down at the oceanfront of this resort was quite to her liking.

I tried to teach her Spanish while she tried to teach me Russian. Didn't work out for either of us, so we stuck to English. She is only 25 but has been working for 10 years already, mainly in Holland. Now she's crossed the Atlantic to the land of milk and honey, and very little corruption, as she pointed out. Knowing a bit about Russia, I presumed that she wasn't talking about Holland.
The guy that we cast for this shoot turned out to be a dork. We found out too late though, so he became mainly a prop rather than a principal and Vlada carried the day for us. Phew!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunrise at golf resort

Not much to say about this except I like it. The sun was just rising above the tree line causing the very diffuse light in the background and the stronger light in the foreground, as beams of light made their way through the trees. Soon the warmth of the sun's rays would dry the dew on the grass and the golfers would be out in force. Right now, the place was all mine though.

I like golf courses. Even though the landscape is manufactured, they're some of the prettiest landscapes I've ever seen and the possibilities are legion. Now, if only I could play worth a damn!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Muskoka Resort

This is Taboo Resort in Muskoka, a few hours north of Toronto.

The region is rock and Pine with lakes carved out of the Canadian Shield by Ice Age glaciers. Long a haven for artists, American industrialists and Toronto bluebloods, "The Muskokas" as the area is known, has now been discovered by Hollywood thanks to Kurt and Goldie.

Three major lakes (Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph) and countless minor ones define this piece of Canadiana, which is now in a building boom of Condos and Fractional Ownership developments. Each new golf course is heralded as the best in the region and Mike Weir's home course is at Taboo.

The "old money" here must cringe as they sip their Claret and watch the onslaught of BMW's and Porsches every weekend. What's probably worse for them is that these "new" people drink Merlot, their wives drive Range Rovers, and don't even mention those obnoxious children of theirs. To one demographic, the area is booming, to another it's gone to hell in a hand basket.

Me? I like it here and think that the contrast between the old money and the nouveau riche just makes it more interesting. Taboo is a nice place just to hang out and being out on the dock front (seen here) at dawn was very soothing to the spirit.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Never, ever assume

This shot cost me $1400 to make. Ouch.

It was taken on the last afternoon of a week long Resort shoot in Cancun. I had checked out of the Resort and all of my gear was packed and in the trunk of the car. My flight was in two hours.

I had a rather large, 16 gig card in the camera and my laptop and extra portable hard drive were already both full and in the car. The laptop and extra drive carried redundant copies of the week's shoot, 150 gigs in all.

When I got back home, I copied all of the shots from the 16 gig card to the folder I had created on my Desktop, together with the Laptop files and went to bed exhausted. The following morning, I booted up the Desktop and discovered that the hard drive had crashed. A real nuisance, but I still had everything on my Laptop and extra hard drive, right? Not so, for my last few hours of shooting on the 16 gig card. After I had verified the copy to my Desktop, I had formatted the card!

Enter the computer nerds and their Clean Room as they dismantled my drive and slowly brought the data back to life. Three days and $1400 later, I had my 16 gigs back. Then I upgraded the drive in my Laptop to 500 gig and bought an additional 350 gig external drive for a backup, so I'll never run out of storage again while on location.
Never, ever assume that your hard drive isn't going to crash right now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This was my first sale from Photoshelter Collection. It went for a bus wrap for a mobile communications company.

I thought I'd give Photoshelter a try because I won't participate in the Micro Stock market and with Corbis and Getty buying up every one in sight for the last few years, the number of venues is shrinking. Alamy do well for me, but Photoshelter is still new enough that the jury is still out. Their editing is very inconsistent and they dislike shots that are "commercial" - isn't that where the money is? Instead, they favor funky and artsy is good.

This could be a very bright move, or they may be forced to change. Time will tell. In the meantime by the look of their Blog, the arsty fartsy look is firmly in place for now. I find it strange that a Stock Photo Agency's blog is mainly about Photo Art and Galleries. Generally speaking, Art Photography leaves me cold - lacking technical competance and requiring too much explanation as to meaning. The greatest artists in my mind are folks like Avedon, Rebecca Blake and Newton, who were masters of their craft and didn't require an interprator to tell you what the work signified. It was/is just brilliant and stunning and leaves one wanting more.
The Stock industry is in such a sorry state these days, becoming just another commodity fueled by weekend shooters who just want to see their name in print and are fine with earning pennies a piece. It took us years to move people away from the perception that Stock was the crap left over from an assignment (thank the Image Bank for spearheading that effort) and no sooner did Stock become established as a source of commercial grade quality, then the MS sites came along and lowered the bar.
Change is good and should be embraced, and when disruptive change like this comes along one needs to be a seer to see how things will eventually shake out. But shake out it will, just watch out for the falling debris and try not to get hurt.
In the meantime, we'll see about Photoshelter. Another photographer mentioned to me that he had gone with Digital Railroad and was disappointed, so he was considering Photoshelter instead. I'm sure the Stock industry is full of disappointed photographers, but switching isn't the answer. Finding new avenues for your work is.

First Post

Because this is my first post I'm sure I'll make a number of mistakes and wish that I had learned more before I started. Ah well.

I've hesitated in starting because, quite frankly, I don't know who'll bother to read this or why. There are a number of Photo related blogs that seem to have achieved stardom - Strobist, Chase Jarvis, A Photo Editor, Joe McNally and everything Scott Kelby related. It's interesting to see the "attaboys" that they give each other as if they're a closed circle of cognoscenti, all of whom, not uncoincidentally are in the workshop business too. Andrew Hetherington's Blog is the one that confuses me the most, mainly picture after picture of himself and someone else at an artsy function in New York. Does this man ever work, or does he just hang out with a drink in his hand and wait for someone who'll pose with him for a snapshot? Hmmm.

To be frank, the only reason that I started this is to increase my visibility and get more work. There, I said it - no meaningful highbrow - just plain old commerce. I'll try to be interesting along the way, hopefully more interesting than this post has been. But you have to start somewhere right?