Working Life

My Eyes Are Becoming Rectangular

by the glow of the computer screen

By the glow of the 21″ Sony CRT, circa 2004.

(1920×1080, specifically. I currently use a 21″ iMac.)

I reek of Starbucks. Client meeting. Another wedding delivered. Biggest print job ever: 742 photos. (The photo lab handed it over to me in a box.) Downloading a movie to forget about editing for one night, except that when I watch I know what will happen: my brain will launch Photoshop and my mouse will be editing the actors’ faces onscreen.

Is there a name for this disease? Repetitive Editing Eyestrain? Autopilot Mouse Hand?

The Photo Editing Toolbox

Beano (RIP), Mastermind

Beano (RIP 2011), Master Mouse Handler

As new software gets released and upgraded and digital processes (and hardware) improve, the virtual toolbox of software grows. My workflow is constantly changing to speed up the process and achieve the look that I want. This is what I use, currently, in general order from RAW file to the final JPG that goes to the client:

  1. Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits is the fastest application for managing RAW files, especially at the selection stage; once I download a card, I view all RAW files first in Photo Mechanic and send to other programs from there;
  2. Nikon Capture NX2.3: native RAW file editor for Nikon’s NEF RAW files (best for exposure and colour edits, much better than Adobe Camera Raw); convert file to TIF;
  3. TIF files are edited in Photoshop, the industry standard; I’m still using CS3 (Photoshop 10); all detail work and fine-tuning happens here;
  4. Within PS, I use Rad Lab by Get Totally Rad for their filters, which I tweak for each shoot (can also create a PS action that includes Rad Lab);
  5. Within PS, I use Pro Retouch 2 actions (for skin work), also by Get Totally Rad;
  6. I use Photo Ninja by Picture Code for those noisy images that need help;
  7. Edited image is opened in Lightroom (I’m on LR4), where I may do some final tweaking, but I use LR mainly as a catalogue/library and exporter to various end points such as Flickr, web galleries on my server, or print sharpening. I never let LR manage the native RAW files, only TIFs and JPGs. First of all, it’s slow with the NEFs, it doesn’t preview them properly, nor does LR handle major exposure or colour correction fixes well. There’s a reason why Lightroom is cheaper than Photoshop.

That’s seven different pieces of software. I don’t always need to use Noise Ninja or Pro Retouch 2, but I use the other five programs on nearly every image. Two of those programs belong to Adobe, which really dominates this industry between Creative Suite (which Photoshop is part of) and Lightroom.

Brothers

Leanne + Peter's wedding - photo by Ashlea MacAulay

Leanne + Peter’s wedding – photo by Ashlea MacAulay

I’ve been hunkered down editing nothing but weddings lately, but you’d never know it by the amount of Instagram cameraphone pics of food and the CN Tower flooding this blog in October and November. Soon I’ll actually get around to blogging more of these weddings, but for now one of my favourite pics from September — the groom’s two boys getting ready. This shot was taken by my assistant for that day, Ashlea, who is a wonderful people photographer. Check out her site!

Published! (Atlas Of The Great Irish Famine)

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

It’s here! Hot off the press — Cork University Press, published September 4, 2012. My copy arrived today, and at over 700 pages, it is HEFTY.

http://www.greatirishfamine.ie

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

I was surprised to know I’d receive a copy since I’d fully expected my photos to be tiny and hard to find amongst all the others in the section, but was I ever wrong! Here’s a full spread with one of my Toronto photos, taken in bitter cold on January 4, 2009.

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

The print is obscured by the snow, but my name is there:

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

And then there is a large landscape photo of the Toronto Irish Famine Memorial, taken more than a year later on February 21, 2010, which takes up more than half a page:

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

I’m also surprised they used this photo of the Irish Famine Memorial in New York City instead of this one taken last Christmas, but I suppose it’s meant to show the quotations, which most people probably don’t photograph.

my photos in "Atlas of the Great Irish Famine" published by Cork University Press (September 4, 2012)

In any case, I’m chuffed the photographs are larger than I’d expected and I’m especially chuffed they sent me a copy of this comprehensive atlas. It’s large format hardcover and weighs a tonne (OK, maybe five kilos or so) — definitely not transit reading material, but if you enjoy geography and/or history you will enjoy browsing this tome. I shot some of these earlier photos nearly four years ago, but I’m pleased with how they look in print. Also, I take pride in my stubbornness to brave the icy winter winds off the lake to make these photographs in a season that turned out to be most fitting for the atlas.

Kelley + Rob: Riviera Maya Destination Wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Now that the principal photography is out of the way for this season, it is high time I started posting the highlights albums… starting with Kelley and Rob’s beach wedding in Mexico. I posted some photos before (to illustrate how overcast is better for pictures), but here is a selection from the day and the rest will autoplay as a slideshow at the bottom.

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

Kelley + Rob's wedding

The set has 102 photos, but only 85 are public (the rest are behind a guest pass).

[full-screen slideshow] — best viewing
[thumbnails]

The set will autoplay as a smaller slideshow below:

Super Saturday

Norma + Johnny, Part II

capoeira at Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse Rodizio

While the weather couldn’t make up its mind today, I was all over town! This afternoon I joined some clients on their wedding boat to do a rehearsal tour around the harbour to prepare for their Labour Day wedding, then stopped by The Firm to change my shoes before heading north to the Danforth to set up my lights at Rodeo Brazilian Steakhouse Rodizio, where I was due to shoot a wedding reception dinner at 7. Even after setting up the lights I still had an hour before everyone arrived, so I made it partway through Taste of the Danforth until rain sent me back the other way. The Brazilian steakhouse had capoeira, Brazilian dancers, and live music all evening, which made for lots of shooting all night long. It was also my first time at a rodizio (I know, how can that be?? I confess, I never did make it to Samba in Vancouver), so I was blown away by the food!

My working weekend isn’t over yet, I have some wedding venue scouting to do in Hamilton, so here are a few pics of my Saturday in the meantime, starting with the top pic which is one of my favourites of the capoeira batch taken at the Brazilian steakhouse. Look at that air! He nearly hit the ceiling!

coming in for a landing

coming in for a landing

Taste of the Danforth 2012

Taste of the Danforth 2012

In The Sun

… Sun Media, that is.

Amidst the blur of the past week, one of my photos from Carla and Cheo’s reality show wedding on 10.10.10 was published in Sun Media’s publications across the country. It was given to the reporter by the wedding planner on the show, David Connolly. The reporter was trying to reach me to get more info about the picture, but I was shooting in New York and wasn’t able to get back to her before the article was published last Tuesday. The photo ran, anyway, but only in the print version, not the online versions. If you find it difficult to read the print in the JPG, I’ve uploaded a PDF.

Back In One Piece From Mexico

flying back from Mexico on WS2581

… with sand in everything, damp clothing (nothing totally dries in humidity), minus one white shoot-through umbrella that fell over and broke on the beach, plus sunburnt neck and shoulders (which make carrying heavy bags rather painful), minus one lens cap that went missing somewhere on the resort, plus nearly two thousand images and the valuable experience of shooting a wedding in the tropics, which comes with its own set of photographic challenges.

Here’s a sunset image from Friday that I caught just in time. It was taken in the front driveway of the resort, with the flash bounced off the driveway ceiling. I’ve also got some great trash-the-dress photos taken Saturday when I had them go in the ocean… more to come!

wedding day sunset, Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya, Day 2

I’m already at Day 3 and this is my first (and probably only) post during the trip. No point in being inside, except while I’m downloading and backing up images.

Yesterday was the wedding, and I photographed until the very, very end (“the end” being when the after-party closed down the Mojito Lounge) and outlasted most of the guests. My wedding photography work ethic doesn’t stop when I leave the country!

I’m only uploading a phonecam pic as it takes too long to process the RAW files on my road machine, an 8-year old PowerBook G4. I love this one of a bird joining me for breakfast yesterday.

ArtScience Festival 2012: Opening Reception Preview

ArtScience Festival 2012

Shooting for Subtle Technologies (where science meets art) once again, this time the opening (at 401 Richmond) to their big event which takes place all weekend. I’m only around to shoot a small part of it — their opening reception and Friday night — so it will be a tiny preview. Check out the Festival details here.

More about the opening reception at Red Head Gallery:

Cc: me is an installation of drawings, live bacteria, poetry, and sound by artist Elaine Whittaker. It is based on the content of a collection of facsimile thermal transfer carbon rolls, technological remnants of the rapidly disappearing world of the fax, collected at the Toronto Environmental Alliance over a ten-year period. The pieces contain the imprint of past faxes that included both campaign, political—and now historical—documents of the organization, and a plethora of unwanted commercial advertisements. For Cc: me Whittaker reuses the rolls as drawing material and montage, and as the base for the Bioart installations. A copy of the transfers traces and fragments onto prepared wax boards, sheets of mylar, and inserted into petri dishes cultured with Halobacterium sp. NRC-1. Sketched in the form of human figures, the artworks become shadowy iterations of the body, conveying images of mutable histories, degraded texts and transformative ecology. Several pieces are interpreted by four established local poets, transformed into evocative expressions of wit, longing, memory, hardship and life – installations of word and object. The carbon copy of yesterday becomes the transfigured art of today.

Poetry reading by Julie Roorda, Jim Johnstone, Ruth Roach Pierson and Larry Sulky. Ambient sound work by Tom Auger.

More photos to come!

ArtScience Festival 2012

More RadLab Edits

Not feeling so great today, it’s my third experience of I-feel-a-cold-coming-on in the past four weeks but I’ve managed to successfully stave off the first two incidences and woke up feeling fine the next day, despite being completely surrounded by sick people at the office and at my trip destinations. This time I may not be so lucky, but I’ve done everything I can to try and smother it with vitamin C (broccoli, tomatoes, oranges) and rest.

Otherwise, I’m still editing (surprise, surprise) and still enjoying RadLab. Here are a couple of before-and-afters. Click to view larger:

edited with Radlab

edited with Radlab

edited with Radlab

edited with Radlab

Edited With Radlab

Ashbridges Bay Park

Ashbridges Bay Park

Enjoying my latest editing tool, RadLab from Get Totally Rad (out of California, natch), in a bid to make myself enjoy editing more (or hate it less). Haven’t been using RadLab long, but it’s definitely user-friendly, quick, and lighter on the hardware resources — all the things I want out of editing software. It’s a plugin, not an action, so you can preview everything instantly, including strengths for all adjustments. So far, so good, Radlab!

The Secret Life Of Wedding Photographers

The Perception

perception of what wedding photographers do

I wish!!

The Reality

reality of what wedding photographers do

--plus other things, like training assistants.

Originally published by International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers. Full article here.

How I Use Hotel Rooms

can you spot the pair of Laboutins?

can you spot the pair of Laboutins?

Since I happily couchsurf my way around the world and have vowed not to ruin my love for travel by mixing it with work, most of my time spent in hotel rooms is with brides and bridemaids, choking on hairspray and perfume and trying not to trip over shoeboxes, makeup artists, and shopping bags.

I survey the hotel room, figuring out how to best showcase their wedding attire without damaging light fixtures, furniture, or — heaven help me — the wedding dress. I look for things I can stand on to reach doorframes, I’ve had mothers of the brides sit on chairs so I don’t tip the chair over or fall and hurt myself in the process of trying to hang a dress.

When you think of a hotel room, you probably think of, er, a variety of fun things, but the first thing I think about is “Can that curtain rod support a 10lb dress?” or “How do I hide that ugly air conditioner?”

I make use of lampshades a lot

I make use of lampshades a lot

not quite a hotel room but a meeting room

not quite a hotel room but a meeting room

my new favourite hotel room: the Tower Suite at the Gladstone

my new favourite hotel room: the Tower Suite at the Gladstone

here's another shot because I loved it so much!

here's another shot because I loved it so much!

the rented beach cottage in all its finery

the rented beach cottage in all its finery

I've scratched a few doorframes in my time

I've scratched a few doorframes in my time

room with a view (of Yonge Street)

room with a view (of Yonge Street)

And if I’m not in a hotel room, I’ll find a tree:

lace dresses are in season early this year

lace dresses are in season early this year

Photo-Making

Angie with her sibs

Angie with her sibs

More often than not, I make a photo rather than take a photo.

For example, you might be surprised to know I had to Photoshop a person out of this photo. We were in a big hurry to leave this location* and get to the reception venue, and we needed a veil shot — except Angie’s veil wouldn’t stay put in the wind. So I had (second-shooter) Byron stand behind Angie and hold her veil behind her head (his arm is behind her neck). It mostly worked, except her dress moved in the wind and his shoe was exposed. I cloned part of her dress to cover his shoe.

It’s common to Photoshop stuff out these days but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a load of extra work. Try it sometime and you’ll see.

* This isn’t where they got married. I found this church and the entire parking lot was still being constructed, so I didn’t think the church was active yet and chose to use the front for photos. My timing was beyond lucky — we were packing up to go and a lady from the church found me and proceeded to tell me that we were disrespecting the sacredness of the grounds (we didn’t do anything except take photos in front of it).

Occupational Hazard #542

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I started feeling like death warmed over this afternoon. I’m posting this then going to bed: a bouquet toss photo that proves how dangerous wedding photography can be.

Dangerous, you ask? Go ahead and laugh, I can take it. Last Sunday I nearly fell off my ladder during the ceremony, grabbed the dock before I fell into the lake taking this shot, got tangled in the TV camera cables and nearly went down several times, got slam-danced by wedding guests, and narrowly escaped getting mowed over by women trying to catch a bouquet sailing through the air.

These ladies came barreling towards me like a freight train and I was backed right up against the DJ’s equipment. It’s a miracle no injuries were sustained in the catching of this bouquet (tossed from a second floor balcony), and it’s a miracle I got this photo at all because I was bracing myself for a crash!

One word: insurance.

Nonno

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The House of Fielding is in usual post-wedding recovery mode today. Yesterday’s nuptials was a 16-hour shooting day from the time I arrived at the bride’s house in the morning to the time I left the reception venue. Come to think of it, the last wedding I shot was also 16 hours from beginning to end. Most photographers leave after the bouquet toss, but I stay until the music stops and in the case of last night, that turned out to be 3am. I was thinking today of writing an FAQ section to my portrait photography site (overdue for a makeover) because I get more than enough to warrant putting one together, and why I shoot for that long is one of the questions I get asked most frequently.

One thing I loved about yesterday’s wedding is how close-knit the families are, on both sides. The reception was mostly relatives: cousins, second cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and in-laws in addition to parents and siblings. Seeing babies and old folk makes me smile. When I saw the Nonno of the bride, I couldn’t wait to take his picture!

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The Friday Files

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Yesterday was a pretty long day — non-stop from 8am driving near the airport to coming home 11:30pm from Woodbridge — but when it starts with volunteering and ends with photography I feel a warm, happy buzz. I’ve mentioned before that patients are always very grateful, and it’s true. Plus, the majority of the people I’m driving are my parents’ and grandparents’ generation so it gives me a family feeling, as if I’m driving my elderly folk around. The day ended with a wedding rehearsal and dinner at the bride’s house afterwards, where I tried to commit everyone’s names/faces to memory and let people get familiar with me and my camera. I love shooting weddings because of the family atmosphere (babies and old people are my favourite photo subjects!), and I’m always treated with incredible hospitality, like one of the family. For someone whose family lives at the other end of the country, the volunteer work and the wedding photography go a long way towards bringing the family feeling to me.

Here’s another photo from last night I really like. In fact, I think it’s my favourite from the whole evening. I shot it just before I went to my car:

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We Do

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Had a full day Saturday shooting a wedding that brought together a Guatemalan family and an Indian family. It was very colourful! Lots of photos to show after I get some rest — this was a 16-hour shooting day!

Theatre Wedding = Improvisation

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I am pretty happy with how this photo turned out, since:

  • it was raining outside earlier (there goes Plan A)
  • everything ran late and there was only 20 minutes left for cocktails before dinner was served
  • the house lights were at maximum but the theatre was still very dark (I’m at ISO 800 here)
  • I needed to get about 70 people in one shot
  • I had a brick wall behind me, this was as far back as I could stand
  • my second Nikon flash could only be triggered at 33 feet (I didn’t have PocketWizards this time)

I considered shooting from the stands and putting everyone on stage, but I wouldn’t be able to stagger people the same way. This perspective is much more what I had in mind because the house lights are backlighting the people on stage and I like the front shadows. There’s more “drama” in the layers of people, if you know what I mean, and drama was what I was going for.

A few more photos from yesterday and then I’m hitting the hay for four hours or so of sleep before an early morning at The Firm…

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The bride’s mother was a riot — she doesn’t just make a mean cupcake, she burns up the dance floor, too!

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It started to rain, so I had to find a place to shoot the portraits! Yikes! (My original Rain Plan B was the theatre, but I was convinced it was way too dark.) I found a brick wall in the rear access behind the stage, which was glassed in with natural light. It saved me, that’s for sure — it took some shuffling and rearranging but I managed to get all the pre-ceremony portraits done in that narrow space. Jan was my second-shooter for this wedding, he was a big help!

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Heather’s friends spiced up the elegant affair, literally, with fuschia chair covers, fuschia roses (I was given a vase of them to take home), fuschia outfits and that Indian food I mentioned in a previous post. With the aroma of chicken makhani (butter chicken) in the air, a Big Band playing, and taking photos of happy people, I could think of much worse ways to be working on a Saturday night.

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More pics, best viewed as a full-screen slideshow or view in the smaller slideshow below: