Monday, April 30, 2012

In Anticipation of an After Storm Shoot

Good Monday from Prospect. Okay, so I was psyched to shoot Prospect after the storm on Saturday. Unfortunately as any photographer knows, if you are shooting the great outdoors you are at mother natures mercy. 

Stormy Clouds overhead 5D markII  f11, 1/15, ISO 50
Well Saturday's weather was no exception. Wind blew alright, straight out of the North West and brought with it solid cloud cover and chilly temps. Not much coming with that sky, just white and grey and not much contrast either.

5D mark II f11, 1/30, ISO 50
But, since I was in anticipation I had shot a few cloud backgrounds for my stock the evening before. The light was great with the cloud cover trying to break with the 35 knot breezes from the south east. Wonder where these will end up. Maybe on their own.

Anyway, as time will have it, that opportunity will present itself again and who knows what I'll find once again on the Great East Coast of Canada.

Tomorrow I may put my 2 cents worth in on where photographic technology may be headed.

Until then, Enjoy, Derek.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Last Summers adventure

Deanne acting up the sign as we entered Massachusetts.
Out of the car for a leg stretch.
Good Friday from Prospect. Yes I didn't do a fresh post on Thursday morning, but I did do two on Wednesday, right?

Another stormy spring day with gails here again. Looks like another chance for after storm photography tomorrow morning.

Anyway, this is what I was up to last summer, and thank goodness the winter is gone.

To start this off here's a sad note. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer in March. No hope and not a year to be himself.

Funny how your mortality tends to surface at these times of your life. Kathy (my wife) and I had been looking for the right boat, and right price, for quite a few years.

This event sparked my final drive, now or never. I wasn't waiting until 65 to do the retirement boat trip. Wasn't going to happen.

Through shear luck, and probably my Fathers want for his children, we found it in Connecticut. Just what we seem to be looking for. Last thing he asked me was where our first trip would be.

My wife Kath in Conneticut.
I think she's happy with our choice
We went down to Essex after making the deal online and on the phone. All was in place. Wish I could have shared this with him, he grew up on the water in Prospect village, as did his Dad, Grand Father and Great Grand Father before him, but that was not to be. On July 15, 2011 my Dad passed away (6 days before the boat would arrive here). I'm not going to bring up all the things he's responsible for that make me who I am here, but suffice to say I was proud to call him Dad and gave him a kiss on his cheek every time we met and left each others company. Yes I Loved him and he is missed

But to carry on with this story, which is now one of my new adventure into what would seem to be my last third of life. Maybe - who knows for sure.

We bought Thursday's Child and had her shipped back here to Halifax. Gave her a great cleaning and set her in the water August 21 2011. We had the chance to sail her inside Halifax Harbour for the remainder of that year with a lot of good times already.`

Here are a few photos of our trip down, but mostly of her arriving and us enjoying her sail.

A special Thanks to a dear friend and fellow photographer, Jamie Morrison, for the photos of us sailing her in Halifax Harbour (next to MacNabs Island). Obviously I couldn't take them myself.

I hope to include lots of stories of the Nonsuch group and the places we will be visiting along the East Coast of Canada.

Her arrival in the boat yard at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron in July 2011
So onward and upward to new adventures. She should be back in the water by the end of May. As stated in my book, if you don't get my response right away, you'll probably find me traversing the great coast of Nova Scotia on Thursday's Child and shooting the boundless beauty of the East Coast. Don't worry, I'll get back to you as soon as I stop with cell phone in hand.

Thursdays Child with the Queen Elizabeth in the background
photo courtesy Jamie Morrison
If you read this blog and see us in an anchorage or sailing along, don't hesitate to give us a shout. In the words of the Canadian comedian, Ron James, I'm in a boat and you're in a boat too... SO WAVE!

Enjoy and have a great weekend.  Derek
Just off MacNabs Island in Halifax Harbour
photo courtesy Jamie Morrison

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

And the WINNER is!

Part 2 of todays shoot. You saw the out of camera originals, now here are the final shots I was looking for the day. Which is your favourite?

Click on the LINK to see it LARGER. Check out the ducks flying in on the right.
Hope you like them. Derek

A Village between storms

Prospect NS 5D MK II, Canon 70-200f2.8 -  f11, 1/50, ISO 50

Good Wednesday from Prospect. Today I thought I'd share the mix of weather here.

I planned to sneak down to Prospect Village in the morning between two weather systems we are experiencing here.

The day started completely enveloped in fog. Could barely see the end of the yard.
Around 9:30a the fog rolled back with clear sky's at the studio.  I happened to be on the deck with coffee in hand and could hear the roar of the surf 4 miles away. It's quite common after a big windy storm. That got me itching to head down to the village to see what it was looking like.

So off I trekked with gear stowed in the back of the car for the 4 mile trip. The scene didn't disappoint in the least. From the top of the hill looking into Prospect village you could see how far the fog had rolled back to reveal the tranquillity of a 258 year old Irish Catholic fishing village. Founded after Halifax in 1754 by the British, used as a fishing stop over and safe anchorage since before 1612 by the French, and inhabited by the local native Mi'kmaq* for longer than we know. 

Anyway, as you can see I had to get to work on the scene since I didn't know how long the weather would hold. The day presented me with good overcast sky for lighting. Since I was breaking rule one, morning and evening light for landscape, I thought I could use the next best thing in over cast conditions.

5D MK II, Canon 70-200f2.8 -  f5.0, 1/320, ISO 50
5D MK II, Canon 16-35 f2.8
f2.8, 1/500, ISO 50
The sound I heard was definitely the surf just outside the village but I'd have to leave those shots for another time. With the fog position it kept the surf in a haze so I'd do more of those some other time. Trust me, lots of opportunities here to get shots of surf and breakers on the shore.

As well, I only came prepared to shoot what I could get close to by car (short waking distances anyway). I've ordered a new sling bag to let me trek off to get closer to that stuff but it hasn't arrived yet. I'll show you that when I get it. All my gear was still in the pelican case for now.

Here are a few shots of the morning. I mean I couldn't come back empty now could I.

BTW, by the time I post this it should be raining again with the fog back in.

Enjoy and we'll see you tomorrow. Derek

The full scene taken from the cemetery when I arrived. 5D MK II, Sigma 50 f 1.4 -  f11, 1/50, ISO 50 
*Note: There are still references to the reserve in the mid 1950s on government maps. As a matter of fact there is an ancient Mi'kmaq burial site just north of my studio. If you're interested in finding out more about Prospect you can go HERE.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Getting it on the LOW

Good Tuesday from Prospect. I didn't get a chance to write yesterday, I was out running the streets and taking care of business. When you work for yourself you have to wear all the hats and yesterday was schmooze and delivery day.

Today I just want to leave you with one little note. While I was shooting my son's GTI the challenge was to get the right angle and stay out of the shot. One thing you need to be prepared to do is get low. When I shot the Beetle (whale car, LINK to that post and the gallery) I was lying or sitting on the ground, as well as eye level and from above, to get the right angles .

Although I didn't get a shot of me shooting the VW my son did get a shot of me shooting his car.

As you can see it's a little tough sometimes getting back up with gear in your hands. But as you saw from last week, the position was worth it and no "me" in the reflections. It was the surrounding elements I wanted, which you can clearly see in the final from last Tuesday.

Enjoy and see you tomorrow, Derek

Friday, April 20, 2012


Pentax 35-105 f9.5, 1/2000, ISO 800 (manual settings including focus)
f11, 1/500 ISO 800 Pentax 18-55
So here I am once again. A little later than usual, but here none the less.

I was a little short on content today, not sure why, just a block I guess. While looking for things to share, without giving next week away, I started looking through my archives from 2005. 

Brief history: I took the digital step in 2005. Put my film body away and bought my first DSLR. Since I was shooting Pentax at the time it seemed like a logical step so I bought an istDs (6mp) with the 18-55 f3.5-5.6 kit lens. I already had a great 35f2, 50f2 and 200mmf4 I was using for film and thought I'd stick with that for the learning curve.

At that time I was shooting slide film and using them for layouts as backgrounds for everything from brochures to Pop-up displays (7 feet high). Yes the images were that sharp. I shot 100 and 50 ISO only.

Now remember, this was when 6 mega pixel was "WOW". I was pretty content. I got my shots in my little hands right away, so to speak, and off I went.

Pentax 35-105, f9.5, 1/1500 ISO 800
First commercial endeavour with this camera was the summer of 2005 (got the camera in May 2005) shooting the production process of a pottery studio for the interpretive panels I was designing.

I shot the whole thing as RAW and processed in Aperture 1.We reviewed the shoot on my laptop on site.  All new and all COOOOOL. All went well. I may post photos of the store sometime in the future.

Since then I've used K10s and K20s, sticking with the Pentax philosophy, to achieve what I needed and invested moderately to heavily (I don't think you can spend just a little money on camera gear, not possible).

Now back to what I thought I'd talk about. Recently the buzz has been about lots and lots of mega pixels. I myself, have just switched over to a full frame 21mp body and a set of superior glass. No it's not Pentax, if you haven't guessed it's Canon. Time for my leap and start playing with the big dogs.

I have a good friend that just ordered the Nikon D800. He's been shooting a D70 since about the same time I've got the istDs. 36 pixel heaven he calls it.

So as I said, I was looking through my archives of 2005, and came across some early personal stuff I'd like to share. 

Pentax 35-105, f6.7, 1/4000, ISO 800

One being my first Superbike Nationals in Shubenacadie, NS. I'm a bit of a gear head and had fun but was no where near prepared for what I'd need to shoot. I had my 18-55 and a full frame film lens, Pentax 35-105 f3.5 macro (manual focus I picked up second hand). This is a 52-157 on the C size sensor of the istDs.

Got there and watched the experienced sports guys in action with the monster 3 and 400's still shooting film. Good thing I was there to watch the show and not shoot for money. Definitely a no go. The other subjects, I'm showing, I was a little bit more familiar with, boats and my kids.

Pentax 18-55 f16, 1/180, ISO 200
Pentax 18-55 f13, 1/180 ISO 200
All this is simply leading to that discussion of mega pixels. For the average guy that wants to shoot for fun, who needs 21 or 36. My friend needs 36, he says, because he wants to shoot landscape and print BIG. So he's got a point. I shoot to profit and for the love of it. I can't afford to miss that money maker.

But 6 or 10 or 12 should make most every body happy, with good glass of course. The ist Ds is now in my son's hands and the K20 in my wife's. I expect them to be happy for quite some time.

PS, I may go back this year and try my hand at it shooting the bikes again, now with a few more digital years under my belt. Maybe I can drag my friend along with his new acquisition, if he ever gets it (lots of orders ahead of him I'm afraid).

Hope you enjoy these. Comment if you wish. Have a good weekend.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Holiday Island shoot

Wood Islands, PEI
Good Thursday from Prospect. If you've had the chance to browse my new ibook you may have noticed a section entitled "There & Back on the Holiday Island" from 2011.

Well, those are from a trip on the Holiday Island ferry from Caribou (near Pictou), Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island. I was on an assignment for Northumberland Ferries Ltd (NFL) shooting from the Ferry for some promotional material I was also designing.

I met, the then marketing and sales coordinator for NFL, April Ennis,  on the ferry, April, has lived on the Island most of her life, and brought me in on the project. She also came to make sure the upper deck was clear for our shoot.

The trip started at about 9:30 am, on the Holiday Island, with the second crossing of the day. The first was at 6:30 am, no light for my purposes, on an overcast and cloudy day in Pictou. Since the shoot was only on the Ferry to Wood Islands and back I didn't need to load the car and left it on the Nova Scotia side parking lot.

10-17 fisheye from the upper deck towards the bridge

The day looked like it was going to be a bust with the weather chilly, overcast and looking like rain. Hard to get great shots from the open deck of the Ferry in that. Although this was the fourth of June it felt like March, brrr.

But, since I was there, it's a 2 and a half hour trek from my house to the ferry, I thought I'd set up the gear to shoot. Maybe push it in Lightroom and Photoshop when I got back. One of the major shots I was after was a panorama of one side of the deck looking over the water so the tripod and pan head had to be set up. I had both bodies with me along with my 10-17 fish-eye, 12-24 ultra wide, 18-50 f2.8 (for the pan) and my 70-200 f2.8. Just incase we saw any wild life on the water. Minke whales are common in the straight. I ended up using it for some shore shots.

As we left the Nova Scotia coast the clouds started to part and the rest of the trip couldn't have been better if I asked for it. Sunny with just about the right amount of cloud and early day light. Even the water co-operated and remained almost picture still. Just enough movement to make it interesting.

I spent the entire trip shooting from the upper deck. Northumberland Ferries runs two boats through the in-season. The Holiday Island with the wide open upper deck, and the Confederation, which has more closed in deck and more inside accommodations and space for more cars. Only one of these runs at a time in the off-season, to allow for maintenance along with the fact that since the Confederation bridge between New Brunswick and PEI was built there was really no need for both of them year round.

To give a brief history, until the bridge was built, the only way on and off the Island was by ferry. As a young lad the ferry was part of the big adventure to our family summer vacations in PEI. You see PEI is a great summer spot with almost endless miles of beaches, golf courses and camp grounds and motels.

The larger of the two crossings, ferry and passenger wise, was in the same location as the bridge is today (near Cape Tormentine NB to Bordon-Carleton PEI) and was retired once the bridge was complete.

It looked like the end of the ferry for good. Fortunately someone had the foresight to keep the ferry running at this crossing anyway.
The Nova Scotia side that day
That trip is one you must take. Lasting 75 mins it adds just enough time for you to take that vacation breath (you know, the one thats says, work's behind me and I'll worry about it when I get back breath) to get out of the car and relax with the family or partner.

I know, this is starting to sound like a travel blog, which it is not, but I had to share the story. Oh, and I believe they are playing live music on board the Confederation during the on-season. Check the site to confirm.

Long story short, the shot went off without a which, got what I wanted, enjoyed the trip and made me realize not everything should be in a hurry as most things seem to be lately.

Here's a link to the ferries site so you can explore and book your trip to tranquillity.

Oh, BTW, when I got back to Nova Scotia the clouds were still there and still chilly. Funny, and me with a slight sun burn from the unexpected warmth on the trip. Hmm, maybe it was a message. I thought my wife would never believe the story…but I had pictures, ha.

Enjoy, Derek.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My book is ready and so am I

Well here we are, humpday. Middle of the week and lots going on.

The one thing I want to share today is my new portfolio book. It arrived last week, along with my first ibook version.

The book is primarily a portfolio of my photographic work over the last 5 years. It includes some creative spec, some whimsical, some event and some commissioned works with published layouts.

In the past 5 years I have been fortunate to create works for a variety of clients ranging from Fox Harb'r Golf Resort & Spa, Boating Industry Magazine, ADesign Studio and Northumberland Ferries to name a few.

I was also lucky to be a part of the the Bay of Fundy's bid for the New7Wonders of Nature contest as Marketing Director and Staff Photographer (yes the budget had a limit). Through this campaign I developed and implemented the branding and marking collateral (

As a Graphic Designer and Photographer I tend to fill in a lot of my own images when needed in my layouts, so my sense of imagery towards commercial use is quite defined. I really tend to understand how the story needs to play out and the design of imagery is just as important and typography. Mind you not everything I do has just my photography. I do use others work when it fits.

Until 2005, I've spent most of my career behind the scenes and shot only for personal pleasure with some work used commercially. But since forming Just That Communications I have pushed everything forward and strived to better my photo skills to a level of professionalism that satisfies the most discerning client.

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I have also noticed a shift in my creative work as well and have recently reintroduced film back in my work flow. Whether it helps or hinders only time will tell.

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Well, I hope you like the book. It's listed to the right of my blog page under links. Clicking the link will force the download and expansion to either your desktop or downloads folder depending on where you have your downloads configured. Once it's expanded just drag it to your Apple iTunes folder, add to your iTunes Library and sync with your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

If you like my work don't hesitate to contact me about discussing your next project. Maybe we can do something great together. Design or commissioned photo project, it's all good!

BTW, the printed version will be accompanying me on client meetings.

Thanks and enjoy, comments are welcome, Derek

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A little "Creative" HDR

Bryan's GTI
Here's a subject talked about a bit lately. HDR and its use. HDR modelling is a great way to add interest to an image for artistic interpretation.

My wife and I have been doing the house hunt as of late and came across its use quite a lot for everyday images and I gotta say this to all the real estate guys out there. STOP USING IT! People don't find an in-camera HDR shot of the interior of a house looking appealing. It doesn't increase the appeal of a space, it makes it creepy.

In camera HDR is uncontrollable and usually results in something weird. If you want to show the outsides coming in through a window with the interior exposed correctly than shoot for the highlight and lighten the shadow with a flash or post process. Better yet close the blinds and get a shot of the outdoors separately.

Here's a shot or two I find perfect for the use of HDR modelling but not in the "add highlight detail" sense but as one more filter at my finger tips. Artistic expression or just cool poster, you be the judge. Note: these are meant to be viewed large.

Click image to view larger sizes or here for the banner version

One tip I'll add. Start with a properly exposed image. It's the detail that makes it.Enjoy and we'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Morning 2012 with the Masons

Well my oh my, I'm finally back on. I've been a little busy outside my blog as of late and thought I should update what's up.

I want to start with easter weekend just past. What a crazy bit of weather. 4 inches of snow to zero by the end of the day.

As it turns out the bunny got here and left before it snowed. Seems he likes to make morning trails, not the smelly kind, but ones of yummy chocolate.

Thanks to my sons new girl friend who made our morning a little brighter. Thanks Laura.

I'm posting a few pics of the mornings discoveries for you to enjoy.

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