Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Double Rainbow over Manhattan

Jul 22 2011

Double Rainbow over Manhattan
5DMKII + 16-35mm, 1/5000 at f/3.5, ISO 200 + Photomatix.

I’m always chasing rainbows. Any time I see rain clouds part and a burst of sun stream through I think, “there is a rainbow somewhere!” Fight or flight kicks in, I grab my camera, and I race against the clock to grab the perfect shot.

I was in my living room when I see the thick thunderclouds break with a bolt of sun and I instantly lunge for my camera (which of course has no memory card in it). Gah! I frantically search my apartment and find one… that is completely full. Arg. I delete some photos and dash out of my apartment towards the elevator.

After a few agonizing minutes it arrives and I head up to the sky deck. I open the door and BAM — the most vibrant double rainbow I’ve ever seen. It’s still pouring out and I’m getting drenched, but I have the biggest smile on my face. This shot is perfect. I turn on my camera, look through my 24-70mm lens and realize, with utter dread, that this lens isn’t wide enough to get the whole rainbow in the shot. I’m gutted. I feel the floor cave in while my perfect shot is slipping away. I pout. Maybe swear a little. I reach for my iPhone and I grab a few shots. They are cool, but I need my 16-35mm.

Taken with Camera+, FX: Vibrant.

I decide that I can’t give up and book it to the elevator. As I’m heading down again, my stomach is literally sinking. I know the rainbow is fading. I get off the elevator and run to my apartment. I turn the key in the lock and it doesn’t work. Wrong key? I try a different one. Wrong FLOOR. Ahh!! At this point I nearly lose it.

The elevator is taking ages to arrive again. Each second that passes, I feel my dream photo vanish. I finally get back to my apartment, grab my 16-35mm and head back up. I burst through the sky deck door and start shooting furiously. The rainbow is fading rapidly, but I manage to catch it’s last few breaths before it dies.

Behind the scenes of The Heist trailer for our new #1 app!

May 29 2011

My evil twin, Sophia has been stirring up all kinds of trouble in tap tap tap’s new app, The Heist!

I am truly excited to be a part of this amazing puzzle game app! It has been in the works for a long time for tap tap tap, but within 20 hours the app was #1 in the iTunes store. Pretty incredible!

I had so much fun creating this trailer with an amazing crew lead by Joe Lindsay. Joe shot with a Canon 5DMKII with a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 100mm f/2.8.

Behind-the-scenes from The Heist trailer-2

Setting up the camera on the dolly –Director of Photography, Joe Lindsay, 1st Assistant Director, Carl Sturgess, Grip, Dana Shaw & Gaffer, Art Phelan.

Behind-the-scenes from The Heist trailer

Our awesome Sound man, Shawn Doyle, who braved the rain & the possibility of getting electrocuted to make this shoot happen :|

Behind-the-scenes from The Heist trailer-3

Interior shot with Lane Genzlinger at Rebel Unit Media’s brand new office.

Joe sets up the shot.

Dana claps, “take three!”

Sam Barber seems to enjoy his role as the evil agent dude a little too much!

Oh! And don’t forget to enter to win a limited edition iPad!

In honour of the Royal Wedding…

Apr 28 2011

iPhone 4, Camera+, Clarity, HDR, Cross Process, thin black frame.

I’m Canadian, but I have two British parents. In my mind, this makes me mostly British, so I thought in honour of the Royal fever sweeping over the entire interwebs, I thought it would be fun to post a few pictures from my trip to London earlier this year where I visited many famous spots. :)

Harrods Double Decker Bus & bokehHarrods Double Decker Bus Bokeh.
5DMKII+16-35mm. 1/60 at f/2.8, IS0 2000.

Westminster Abbey HDR, LondonWestminster Abbey.
5DMKII+ 16-35mm, 4, 8, & 15s at f/8.0, ISO 100 using Photomatix.

Golden Jubilee Bridge & the London EyeGolden Jubilee Bridge & the London Eye.
16-35mm. 6s at f/8.0, ISO 100.

iPhone 4, Camera+u, Contessa wi/ Vintage Frame.

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, UKHouses of Parliament.
3 shots combined in Photomatix 8s, 10s, 15s, f/8.0, ISO 100.

London Eye.
iPhone 4, Camera+, Clarity + Cross Process + Vibrant.

Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace.
5DMKII+16-35mm, 15s at f/9.0, ISO 100.

While I’m not too keen on watching the wedding itself, I’ll be really interested to see both the official wedding photos and all the unofficial photos of the celebration. If you happen to be in London town, make sure you get out and get some shots and share them with all of us!

Lollipop self-portrait

Apr 20 2011

24-70mm, 43mm,1/40 at f/3.5, ISO 100 + one TD5 Spiderlite, bare 24×32″ softbox.

Wanted to do something fashiony, and having no models at 3am last night I had to volunteer.

Photographing yourself is a nightmare. I see all these amazing self-portraits on Flickr and have no idea how these people do it.

To get in the right position, I turned on live view and held a small mirror behind the camera. Then, I switched back to camera view and used a shutter release to take the shot. Getting focus on the right spot was ridiculously hard. I pressed the shutter release button half-way to get focus, but I couldn’t tell what the camera was focusing on. I have about 90 shots that focused on my nose and not the lollipop :P Ahh well, maybe it’s just a matter of patience and practice.

The original pict wasn’t very special and pretty flat because I was lazy and only used one light & didn’t put any make up on :P so I added a pink fill layer in PS and some gradient lens flares across the photo.

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Gondola Ride on the Venetian Grand Canal, Las Vegas

Apr 16 2011

Gondola Ride at the Venetian Grand Canal, Las Vegas
5DMKII+16-35mm, 1/8 at f/5.0, ISO 100.

I always post my photos on Flickr, Facebook, Camplus… but never on my blog, so I thought I’d start to share more of my shots here, for those of you that still use a feed reeder :P

Vegas is certainly an interesting place to shoot. There is no shortage of colourful venues… The Venetian is perhaps my favourite place to shoot… It’s so faux fabulous in such a deliciously tacky way, you can’t help but snap hundreds of picts.

The lighting was uber crappy and dark, so I actually set up a 3 exposure HDR shot, but there was too much movement with the two boats, so I ended up using the darkest shot and fake HDR’d it in PS. The image isn’t tack sharp… something I couldn’t see in frame when I shot it, but I can’t go back now, so I’ll have to live with it… curse my perfectionism :|

Camera+… Now with Clarity!

Mar 29 2011

Presenting…. Clarity!!! I’m so excited to share this amazing feature with you. I’ve been using Clarity on my images for some time and the results are fantastic!

See before and after picts.

It’s a free upgrade, so definitely pick it up if you already have Camera+, if not, well get it silly! :P

Behind the scenes photos from the video all shot on the Canon 5DMKII to come!!!

8 Tips on How to Shoot the Supermoon

Mar 19 2011

Day 17: I have a dream... Moon over the Bay Bridge, San Francisco
5DMKII+ 100mm f/2.8 L, 1/40 at f/8.0, ISO 500

Photographers have a fantastic chance to capture a 14% fuller moon this weekend, so I thought I’d quickly post a few tips on how to get great supermoon shots!

1. Capture the moon is when it is close to the horizon

The best time to capture the moon is during moonrise when the moon is closest to the horizon line. This is considered the moon’s “Magic Hour” and gives you the best opportunity to grab a shot of the moon in a surrounding landscape with some sunlight. It’s also the best time to get interesting cloud cover over the moon and to capture a more orange coloured moon. You can use this site to find out when the moonrise is where you plan to shoot.

2. Place the moon in a scene

Unless you have a super telephoto lens, taking a shot of just the moon itself in the middle of the sky won’t be compelling. Instead, capture the moon as it rises over a scenic landscape or city scape. If you are in the country side, capture the moon as it peeks through large, gnarled trees, or over hills and mountains. If you live by the sea side, grab a shot of the moon and it’s reflection as it rises over the ocean. City folk, can get amazing shots of the moon rising between buildings or over bridges.

3. Use a long lens

If you have a telephoto lens that’s 200mm or longer, now is the time to use it. If you want the moon all in focus, make sure you set your aperture to f/8.0 or narrower. My longest lens is the 100mm f/2.8, so I have to be a bit more creative. If you are dealing with a shorter lens, focus more on the moon within a scene than the moon itself.

My view of the Lunar Eclipse December 2010
5DMKII + 100mm f/2.8, 2.5sec at f/4.5, ISO 640

4. Use a tripod

Say no to blurry moon shots! Use a tripod. If you don’t have one, find a post, ledge or something to lean your camera against. A shutter release trigger is always handy, but if you don’t have one you can always use timer mode to avoid camera shake.

5. Use low ISO and a long exposure

To minimize noise, set your ISO as low as you can go. Try to stay under ISO 800 if you can and use your shutter speed to compensate. If you are shooting at moonrise you won’t need to do an exposure longer than about 2 seconds. In the dead of night, it might be longer. Don’t go beyond 25 seconds or you will get star trails and slight movement with the moon that can cause blurriness.

6. Use AEB bracketing for a supermoon HDR

Set your dSLR to auto bracketing and set it to -2/+2. Set your camera to 2 second timer mode. When you hit the shutter button it will automatically take the three shots sequentially. If you don’t know how to do this, pry open that coffee cup stained camera manual of yours, or google it :P By taking 3 shots, you’ll be able to capture a lot more detail in the foreground. Make sure you set your camera to spot metering for the best results.

7. Avoid digital zoom on point and shoots

Digital zoom on point and shoots and camera phones generally creates a pixelated hot mess. It’s better to take the shot full size and then crop in post.

8. Use live view to get focus

Switch on live view, zoom in on the moon, and grab focus on Manual mode. You might have to increase your ISO so that you can see the moon to get focus. Once you have focus, switch to camera mode and change your settings back. I find this the easiest way to get focus.

I hope this helps encourage you to get out and shoot. Now get out there and get some great shots of the supermoon!

16 Photography Project Ideas to keep you shooting every day!

Jan 21 2011

Taking a photo everyday can be a daunting task, but as I look back over the last 20 days worth of shots I’ve taken for my Mostly365 challenge I am really proud of the results. To keep everyone inspired I’m giving you 16 photo project suggestions for your 365!

1. Self portraits

Day 15: Selfie + 5DMKII
50 f/1.4, 1/30 @ f/2.8, ISO 640.

Give people a glimpse at the artist behind the camera and take a self-portrait. You can do a classic camera-in-hand mirror snap like mine, or get creative and put your camera on a tripod, set a timer, and run in a wheat field. There are so many options for creative shots and the best thing about you being the model is you can take your shot whenever you like and take as long as you want snapping it!

2. Moon shots

Day 17: I have a dream... Moon over the Bay Bridge, San Francisco
Bay Bridge, SF. 5DMKII+ 100mm f/2.8 L, 1/40 at f/8.0, ISO 500.

There are many faces of the moon and almost all of them make for spectacular photos. If you happen to own a long or telephoto lens put it to good use and grab some stunning shots. If not, consider renting one for your dSLR and go on a special nighttime shoot and capture both the moon and stars. You can even share the rental cost between friends and make a fun night of it.

You’d also be surprised at the shots you can get with your camera phone. Just make sure you prop your phone on something stable while you take your shot.

3. Nature Macros

Dew drops on grass.

There is so much beauty out there — leaves in puddles, dew drops on grass, snowflakes on tree branches. Head outside and capture all the little details of nature. Try shooting with a really shallow depth of field (f/2 and lower) to get dreamy artistic shots.

4. Portraits

*i found you*
5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8, 1/200 @ f/2.8, ISO 100.

I am most passionate about taking portraits. From candid street photos shots, to strobe light lit creatives, to magic hour back lit shots, the possibilities are endless. The only problem is you need a subject. If you are blessed with an understanding and patient partner or family member, start practicing taking portraits of them. If you are feeling a bit more bold, you can always head out on the street and try to get some candids of people walking by or even ask strangers to pose for you.

If you are looking to photograph the attractive sort then you can try finding a model through (more tips on photographinc  models here) or pester some of your good-lookin’ Facebook friends. Almost everyone wants a great Facebook profile shots, so offer to give them a nice shot for their time. More tips on taking great portraits.

5. Fun Macros

Day 13: Mini Michael Bay Movie Still
5DMKII+100 f/2.8, 1/200 at f/4.5, ISO 125 + 430EX  double CTO gel.

During bad weather days, dig around in your house for a fun little toy, keepsake or gadget to snap. You can light your subject with strobes to get a bit more creative, or just position your toy in front of a large day lit window and get great natural light.

6. Musical Performances

Day 1: Florence + the Machine NYE at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Florence + the Machine NYE at the Cosmopolitan, 1/60 at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

Every time you are out at a show grab a shot. Taking photos at concerts was actually how I started working as a photographer and all I had was my little Canon Rebel Xti and the 50mm f/1.4. Often, you aren’t able to bring dSLRs into concerts, so make sure you can before you head out. If you aren’t allowed to bring your gear,  try to grab a shot with your camera phone or small point and shoot.

7. Your City’s Landmarks through the Seasons

Day 18: San Francisco Union Square Heart
Union Square heart, SF. 16-35mm, 1/80 at f/4.0, ISO 4000

Every city has it’s famous landmarks. Set a goal to capture 10 of most interesting over the course of the year, and take a shot of each landmark during the 4 seasons. Imagine a a collection of shots of the same statue during fall, winter, spring and summer seasons. For more variation, you can take a shot during the day, night or sunrise and sunset. It’s always good to have your camera on you whenever you go out in your city, so that if you see a good lighting situation you can grab a quick shot!

8. Bokeh shots

Day 3- Snap!

Bokeh shots are always fun to shoot whether you set up little lights behind your subject like I did here or just use what’s in your environment. This is another great project for a rainy day. You can also get great bokeh with street or building lights at night.

9. Architecture & Building shots

Gorgeous Interior of The Plaza Hotel, NYC
The Plaza Hotel, NYC. 5DMKII, 16-35mm f/2.8, 1/125 at f/3.2, ISO 4000.

Head to your local museum, parliament building, or city sites with interesting architecture. A wide angle lens from 15mm to 35mm is ideal for this type of photography. Most kit lenses fit the bill. Obviously a really wide angle like the 16-35mm or even a fish-eye yield the most interesting results. But, if you don’t have a wide angle lens, then focus on capturing the details. Close-ups of pillars, doorways, or statues can make cool shots.

10. Landscapes

Oxbow Bend foggy at dawn, Grand Tetons
Oxbow Bend, Grand Tetons. Xti, 7s at f/, ISO 100.

If you live near nature or are taking a trip out of the city then make sure you take some shots of breathtaking landscapes. Old roads winding through snowy fields, mountains jutting up into cloudy skies, or majestic trees lining a sunken vallies all make great photos. Pay attention to your composition and look for “S” shapes in rivers, paths, and rocks.

11. Raindrops on windows

Rainy day in SF, iPhone4 processed with Camera+.

Raindrops on windows make really cool and interesting shots. You can get really creative with these shots so really stretch your imagination and see what you can create.

12. Food Photos

Ginger & Polenta Waffles

It may be slightly annoying to your friends and family, but snap a shot of your food before you eat it, especially fancy foods and deserts. Mmm. Chocolates :) Try to light your shots, either by placing the food in front of a nice bright window, or with speed lights if you have them, or just turn on some ambient light and use a nice low aperture lens like the 50mm f/1.4. If you are in a really dark restaurant you can also try moving the candle light close to your food to get a bit more light.

13. Pet Portraits

Leo's Ozzie
Leo’s Ozzie, Xti, 1/100 at f/4.0, ISO 100.

Pets are often easier to shoot than most people. Plus, they whine less and can be bribed with snacks. Here are some tips to get great pet photos.

14. Sports & Action shots

Felions at BC Place
CFL Felions, 5DMKII, 15mm f/2.8, 1/25, f/5.6, IS0 320.

Whether you are at at a World Series showdown or a little league game, there are amazing sports photos just waiting to be taken. Freeze the action with a fast shutter speed and a long telephoto, take a tilt-shift of the entire stadium, or snap a fish-eye shot of the distracting cheerleaders at the game like I did :P If you can’t make it to the Superbowl, head to a local sporting event or even down the street to the nearest park. I’m sure you can find some impromptu soccer match for some great action shots.

15. Sunsets

iPhone 4, edited in Camera+.

From cityscapes to silhouetted figures in front of a sandy horizon line, everything looks magical at sunset. What’s great about sunsets is that every camera can capture the magic . I shot the above photo with my iPhone. :)

16. Night shots

My Birthday Night view of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate, 16-35mm, 10s @ f5.0, 1SO 100.

Grab your tripod and shutter release and head out into the night to take some stunning night photos. Take long 15s exposures of cars whizzing by creating trails of light, or ghost-like movement of people walking by dark buildings, or bright neon city signs. If you plan on doing regular night photography, you might want to invest in a small headlamp or LED flashlight to hemp you find your camera buttons in the dark.

Hope that this list helps keep you motivated and inspired to keep snapping a daily photo. Not every photo has to be a masterpiece. Remember to take photos that remind you of your daily life and the little things that make you smile.

If you haven’t already joined my Mostly365 project feel free to jump in anytime! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see your shots everyday. Getting a glimpse into the lives of so many photographers from all over the world is a wonderful thing!

I am also tweeting daily suggestions and showcasing some of the best 365 shots each day, so be sure to follow Mostly365 on Twitter.

Mostly365: Share a photo with the world every day!

Jan 1 2011

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field, and in the world of photography that roughly translates to about 100 pictures a day for about 5 years. It sounds daunting, but if you keep it light, stay passionate, and shoot what you love to shoot, you’ll look back one day soon at an incredible portfolio of work that is all you.

This year, I am encouraging everyone to shoot and share one photo a day for 365 days. To help you with this challenge, tap tap tap and I have created — a new website where you share your daily photos with the world with one tweet.

1. Take a Photo

Snap a pic with any camera that you have access to. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a state-of-the-art dSLR, your cell phone camera, or $10 toy camera, the important thing is that you start taking more pics!

2. Share it

Post your pic to one of the many sharing sites and tweet it using the #mostly365 hashtag. Here’s the big list of all the services we support:

You can even just tweet with a link to a .jpg image.

Two years ago I started a 365 project on Flickr and after less than 2 weeks I abandoned it. I felt overwhelmed with having to take a photo everyday and didn’t want to share pictures that weren’t “amazing” in my eyes. What I’ve learnt over the last two years is that every photo you take, good or bad, is a stepping stone to becoming a great photographer.

The beautiful thing about photography these days is that anyone can access the tools to take great photos. You don’t need professional photography gear or school-taught knowledge to capture life’s beauty. All you need is the passion to get out and capture life with through your lens and the courage to share it with the world.

I want to be a fun and inspirational place where you can share your photos, stay motivated to keep shooting, and connect with other enthusiastic shutterbugs. The most important thing is to have fun! If you miss a day, don’t get down on yourself, that’s why we call it Mostly365 ;)

Follow Mostly365 on Twitter.
Join the Mostly365 Group on Flickr.
Join the Mostly365 Group on Facebook.

Anatomy of a photo: San Francisco Bay Bridge Rainbow

Dec 24 2010

San Francisco Rainbow over the Bay Bridge 5DMKII+16-35mm, 1/80 @ f/8.0, ISO 125.

Mother nature is on fire these days! As a follow-up to Tuesday’s gorgeous lunar eclipse, I was fortunate to catch a shot of this spectacular end-to-end rainbow over the Bay Bridge. Since there is so much chatter about it being real or fake or completely imagined, I thought I would share the anatomy of  how I took and processed this shot.

When the rainbow first appeared it was quite faint in the middle. I actually grabbed my iPhone first and started snapping shots.

Over the next few minutes, the rainbow grew stronger and formed a complete end to end rainbow across the sky… I grabbed my 5DMKII and started furiously snapping away at around 1/80 at f/8.0 ISO 100 with my beautiful 16-35mm lens. After the rainbow faded, I imported the photos into Lightroom.

I always use compare mode in the library to view the images in side-by-side comparison. It makes it much easier to pick the best shot, which in this case was the one on the right with the most sunlight and vibrant rainbow.

After choosing my favourite, I did basic RAW processing in Lightroom. Straight out of the camera, RAW images look flat — lacking contrast and saturation of colours. RAW images do not represent what your eye sees, which is why you have to process them to bring out details, contrast, and saturation of colours. For this image, I wanted the contrast to be quite heavy. I increased the contrast to +100 so that the shadows of the building would stand out in the water and the clouds in the sky would be more distinct. I also increased the vibrance to +30 to liven up the entire image and make the rainbow look more like what it did in real life.

After I pulled a bit of colour and contrast into the photo, I exported the file into Photoshop (command+e). Immediately, I noticed all of the lovely rain splotches and streaks from the window, including a giant dark spot in the middle of the rainbow. I used the healing and clone brushes to zap those splotches.

The streaks were hard to completely clean up, but I used a fine clone brush set to a 50% opacity to try to preserve the details as much as possible.

On areas that were a bit too smudged I used the lasso tool to select the area and added a noise filter of 1.1% to make them blend a bit more into the original picture. After I cleaned the image up, I duplicated the layer and set the blending mode to Overlay 85% to bring out more details in the sky. I wanted the buildings to remain as is, so I added a mask to the layer and painted them out.

I’m a big fan of highly saturated colour, so I increased the saturation +30 at 75% Opacity. This is where I’m taking a few leniences with reality. I think it adds to the surrealism of the shot, but you can experiment with it to find a good balance for you in your photos.

I wanted the clouds to stand out even more so I created a Curves layer and pulled the middle up to 136, 113. Then, I inverted the layer (command+i) and used a white brush to accent the white areas of the clouds. I repeated this with a Curves layer set to 101, 138 to accentuate the darker clouds.

I then imported the photo back into Lightroom by saving the file. For the final touches, I increased the Clarity +11 (to give the bridge a bit more contrast and sharpness), reduced the Noise a smidge by tweaking Luninance +15 and added a Vignette -11. I always add a subtle vignette to all my photos to draw the eye into the centre of the image.

Before: RAW image straight out of camera

After: Processed with Lightroom and Photoshop
San Francisco Rainbow over the Bay Bridge

Hope this helped you get a bit of insight behind my work flow and how I created this image. Processing is subject to personal taste, and what looks like the perfect image to me might look like a hot mess to someone else. For me, vibrant colours, high contrast, and emphasizing certain eye catching points in photos is part of my photographic style that I’ve developed over the years. :)