Monday, March 31, 2014

Miley Cyrus (Bell Center)

More than 17,000 young & high-pitched fans gathered to attend the Miley Cyrus (Bangerz Tour) concert, at the Bell Center - Saturday March 29th 2014.  A visually and lyric-explicit experience, to say the least.  Earplugs came in handy for more than one reason ;)

If Miley wanted to shake things up & show the world she's all grown up, well she does exactly that.  Let's just say the days of innocent little Miss Hanna Montana are far behind, this young pop star.  

Call me old-school if you want, but after shooting 500+ concerts in the last 9 years, I thought I had seen it all... Nope, I hadn't!  It's no wonder she's got "Parental Advisory - Explicit Content" plastered on the stage.

If you judge you are of age to see these images, follow the link to a dedicated section of our WEBSITE

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baseball's Back In Montreal - "Take me out to the Ball Game... ♪♫♪"

Well..., at least for March 28th & 29th 2014, as Montreal hosts two (2) MLB games, opposing the NY Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays!  The fans miss the sport & "Nos Amours", and it showed by, such a great attendance!
Friday March 28th - 46,276 Fans!
Saturday March 29th - 50,229 Fans!

It's more than fair, to say, that nostalgia was in the air, as near capacity crowds came filling the stands, proudly sporting vintage and new Expos jerseys, as well as various paraphernalia. 

It was nice to see our "Local" team win both games!  With any luck, Mr. Warren Cromartie's project of bringing baseball back in Montreal for good, will become reality.

Meanwhile, we'll probably be seeing a few more exhibition/pre-season games to help soothe the need, our fans have for the sport.

A good selection of images from this double-header weekend, can be seen on a dedicated area of our WEBSITE

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bell Cause pour la Cause - Le Grand Tour de Clara Hughes!

As Clara crosses the country on her bicycle, stopping from city to city, raising funds and speaking out on mental health awareness, she graced us with her presence at the Bell Center on  March 26th.  A large gathering of socialites, local celebs, and performances from Coeur de Pirate, Serena Ryder, and a cameo surprise visit by Brigitte Boisjolie, made this an evening enjoyed by all.

A few select images can be seen on a dedicated area of our WEBSITE

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Building your own Website, has never been easier!

If you're looking like to build your own website... Easily, Quickly & Efficiently, and have no programming or HTML knowledge... look no more! 

4ormat provides you with a cost-effective solution that meets your every need.  Not only is it bundled up into a neat little "Drag & Drop" style package, but they offer you a multitude of templates, that you can switch to and from, within the selected looks & features.  Yes, you can change the look of your site completely, with all the same content, with the simple click of a mouse!

Here's how it works...
You register (for free), start building your site (for free), and within the 14-day trial period, if decide you like the results (and you will), you select one of three packages that suit your needs, and pay a low monthly fee.  It's that simple!

Even for someone like me, that had no idea how to build a site, it took me less than 1 hour to completely build the layout (skeleton) of my website.  That, right there, says it all!

Click HERE to register, and start building your free website.

The beauty of 4ormat, is that they are constantly listening to their clients, gathering feedback, and adding features based on YOUR suggestions!  A fast and efficient online customer service answers any questions you may have, in very little time.  And...New features are added on a monthly basis.

Thanks 4ormat, for making it easy for me to showcase my work, to all!
You can view our website HERE

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spaced Out, w/ Astronaut David St-Jacques!

We recently had the pleasure & privilege to work for the CSA (Canadian Space Agency), in collaboration with the National Film Board, to capture images of astronaut - David St-Jacques, during the completion of his training, on maneuvering the Canada Arm.  We were fortunate enough to have access to several restricted areas, including the MMLC, the MOTS, the ground control station and various training facilities.  Even though it was a fast-paced session, it was a great day to be had by all. 

Personal Data: Born on January 6, 1970, in Quebec City, Canada, and raised in Saint-Lambert near Montreal, Canada. He is married and has two children. He is a lifelong mountaineer, cyclist, skier and passionate sailor. He also holds a commercial pilot license. Saint-Jacques is fluent in English and French and has basic knowledge of Russian, Spanish and Japanese.

Education: Saint-Jacques earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Engineering Physics from École polytechnique de Montréal, Canada (1993). He earned a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Cambridge University, UK (1998), where his studies included theoretical work on astronomical observation and design, fabrication and commissioning of instruments for the Cambridge Optical Aperture Synthesis Telescope and for the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands. He earned his M.D. from Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada (2005), and completed his family medicine residency at McGill University in Montreal, Canada (2007), where his training focused on first-line, isolated medical practice.

We wish him all the best, and hope he fulfills his dream of going up in space.

A few select images of that day, can be seen on a dedicated area of our WEBSITE 

David's complete Biography can be seen on the official agency WEBSITE

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dream Theater (Bell Center)

Dream Theater... this profound & acoustically technical band, performed at the Bell Center on Friday March 21st 2014.  The Setlist & a few select images can be seen in a dedicated area of our WEBSITE.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Life of a Photographer!

As exciting and glamorous a lifestyle as it may seem, the actual life of a photographer may be quite different than what you've perceived.  We've summed up a list of the tasks of what being in the business really means, and tried to put it in a neat little package, for all to understand.

First, let's point out that there are a multitude of types of photographers.  Sports, Fashion, Editorial (Daily papers), Architectural, Culinary, Concert, Product, Jewelry, Real Estate, etc....   The data below is based on our personal experience, and may vary depending on what you do.

Lesson one - Get yourself a good chair, and a large HD monitor, because that's where you'll be spending most of your time, so you might as well be comfortable!  Yes, depending on the type of photography you do, you'll be sitting at that computer screen between 25-30% of your "photography" time, processing and touching-up images.  A lot more, if you are doing fashion, portraits, and product images, and do your own graphic work.

A Glossary of the topics in the chart above, can be seen on our WEBSITE

Lesson two - Clients usually need to be educated, as they have a hard time grasping the concept that we do more than "press a button".  In fact, the actual time of taking images is less than 10% of our workload.  That's one of the reasons why the consumer thinks we're expensive. It's no wonder they have a hard time justifying the cost of Professional Photography. For example... they get to see you at an event for 2 hours, and you are charging them $600.  In their minds, that's $300/hour, when in fact you'll be making a lot less than that.

Lesson three - Know how to count.  As a continuation to the above paragraph, let's take the same "event" project, as this was a real project that was recently conducted, so I'll take my own values as expenses.

Income:  .....................................      $600

Expenses:   Taxes .........................      $132  (22%)
                   Fuel ...........................      $  20
                   Parking ......................      $  18
                   Tolls ...........................      $    6
                   Vehicle (km) ...............      $  31  (Fixed price per km)
                   Amortize Gear ............      $  64  ($32/hour)
                                           Total >     $ 271

You're left with $329, for 2 hours of shooting, 1.5 hours of travel time, 2 hours of downloading, selecting, editing and submitting to the client.  ($59.82/hour) and you have all the risks associated with the gear, and miscellaneous expenses, like insurance, office supplies, broadband internet connection, etc...  There's not much left for your experience, rights of use for these images, and profit.

If you shoot for a daily paper, get used to editing in your car, freezing your butt off in the winter (as most assignments are outdoors), and the stress levels of tight deadlines, are through the roof!

If you think that because you shoot concerts, you get to "Party like a Rockstar", think again.  Not only do you rarely (if ever) meet the talent, but when you do, it's for a very short period of time, and you concentrate on the job at hand.  As a professional, you don't want to be perceived as a "groupie", so you keep your distance, don't ask for pictures with the talent, and, if you do a good job, you might get called back for another gig.  The delivery deadlines are tight, and the project (your job) isn't over, until your client gets your images, and the invoicing complete.

All things considered, if you intend on making Photography your profession, know that it's more for the passion than for the income.  The hours are long, clients are often nonchalant, the stress levels high, but the self-value and satisfaction in the results, are quite rewarding.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shit Happens (We all makes mistakes... Eventually!)

This week, I made a mistake that I feel someone with my experience, shouldn't have made.  Although it wasn't an epic "FAIL" per se, it was humbling to see that even after all those years of experience, one slight distraction can make the difference between capturing a once-in-a-lifetime shot, or writing a Blog post on why it was lost! ;)

Let's face it, as photographers, most would agree that during ones career, we can count the "exceptional" images, to about a handful.  That being said, I think I had one of those in the bag, except...

Here's the scenario... I was trying to get a straight on shot of a snowy owl, in attack mode, close to the ground, wings spread, glaring eyes, paws down and claws open, about to grasp it's prey.

The remotely-triggered cameras were set, each equipped with a 200-400m f/4, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II, and I'm handling the 400mm f/2,8 IS II on a Promedia gimbal head.  I wanted the shot to fill the entire frame to get the best quality image possible, , so I moved up about 2 feet. Somehow, the focus range switch on the lens got bumped in the 7 Meter > Infinity position.  Yeap, you guessed it, I was about at 6.5M from the subject, and I had the ultimate shot!  So perfect, the owl had just grasped it's prey, and had it in its claws, along with snow trickling down from it's paws.  Upsetting, would be an understatement!   You can't easily tell by the image, but the owl is actually closer than the focused cut corn stock below him.

      iPhone image

I'm faced to admit, that sometimes, you're so into the moment of capturing "THE" shot, that you don't take the time to oversee that every facet of photography is covered.  Yes, every camera setting can be dialed in perfectly, but a parameter as simple as a switch on a lens, that could have easily been taped down, (to prevent moving), rendered the shot non-viable.

Today's gear is designed to offer the highest possible performance, but it has also gained in complexity, and that the slightest oversight can render a shot technically impossible.

Many of you will think that this shouldn't happen to a seasoned pro, but with as many shots we take in a year, it was bound to happen... eventually.  Take the time to consider every setting and variable that compose a perfect technical shot, as to reduce the chance of this happening to you. The important thing here, is to learn by our mistakes, and put measures in place to prevent this from occurring again!

I'm sure you all want to see the image in question, so here it is...  LINK
The 2nd image on that link, is the frame just before the subject flew in closer than the 7meter mark.  (look how tack sharp that one is!).

Friday, March 14, 2014

How many Photographers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Maybe I've had one to many coffees this morning, or simply todays reality on how photographers act amongst themselves, has simply hit too close to home, but I saw a "joke/anecdote" that sums it up, all too well.

This one is directed at photographers and "Faux-tographers", of course!

So, here goes... 
Q:  "How many photographers does it take to change a light-bulb? 

A:  Only one, but all the others are saying they could have done a better job! 

And while most are out there, scrambling to give their light-bulbs away, (and installing them for free), another is silently going from door-to-door, selling a wide array of long-lasting, eco-friendly light-bulbs, 3-step ladders, extension poles and swifter dusters".

The moral of the story? You can either keep complaining about the reality you've put yourself into, or do something about it. The product wouldn't be free, if you'd stop giving it away! ;)   

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shooting Birds in Flight (Snowy Owls)

NEW PICTURES, with new settings!!

As promised, we went back out to try and spot these magnificent creatures, and applied tips provided to us by Wildlife Photographer, Chris Dodds.  Just goes to show, you can't by experience!

As expected, the speed needed to be increased considerably, and even if the it was a strong overcast day, the images turned up tack sharp.  All we needed to do was make good use of the available high ISO "noise-free" range on these Canon 1Dx camera bodies.

We used a multitude of lenses to capture the pics you'll seer by following the link to our website folder.  Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, 400mm USM IS II f/2.8.

This will most likely have been our last outing this year, as our "models" will most probably be heading back out to colder fronts within the next few days.  Third time was the charm! :)

Here's the link to the new IMAGES

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Quickly Remove Stray Hairs in Photoshop

Here's a really good tutorial on how to remove stray hairs in a portrait, while using Photoshop.  For all of you that, like myself, found it a long and tedious task to remove loose hair when the background is other than uniform, this is a video you'll appreciate.

If like me, you found it educational, please share the link.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Osheaga 2014, Aug 1-2-3

The Osheaga line-up has been revealed!! (see below).

For those that have yet to attend this festival, it's a "Must-Not-Miss" 3-day weekend, type of outing.  It's no wonder it sells out, fast!  And for those of you that attend on a yearly basis, this is yet to be another big one!!  Additional details & ticket purchases via the official WEBSITE.

Looking forward to meeting some of you there!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Photography - How to Live your Passion!

A Profession, a Passion, or a Hobby?  Or, can it be more than one, at the same time!?!

Hobbies are often confused with Passions, but there's a critical difference.  A hobby (According to the Webster dictionary), is “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged, especially for relaxation.”

Passions, on the other hand, are not relaxing.  Passions don’t leave you alone.  Passions insert themselves into your life whether you have time for them or not.   Passions soothe you and drive you crazy at the same moment.  One is not better or worst than the other, but what's drives you?

Personally, for over a decade, I've been juggling both a Profession and a Passion, and although it makes for some pretty long hours, every free time I can spare, I grab a camera and get out there and capture images, not for my profession, but rather for pleasure.  I was always weary that if I were to become a photographer as a primary income, would it eventually hinder on the passion I have for the art?  On the contrary, it drives you even more!

So the question of finding your passion is not discovering what you like, but what you would be willing to suffer and sacrifice, to keep doing it!

Yes, hobbies can turn into passions, but a mere hobby won’t provide the drive and determination and fight, necessary to do something for a living.  A hobbyist photographer will love the click of the shutter and the magic of a great image.  A passionate photographer will continue to pursue that magic despite bad days, early mornings, tough clients, expensive equipment, depleted savings, hours of editing, workflow minutiae, business headaches, the stress of tight deadlines, and all other things that would stop a hobbyist, dead in their tracks.  

So, for those of you with enough drive, and are questioning themselves, if they chose this path as a primary income, will they have the same passion... Don't!  Simply find the path that works for you, and keep going at it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hot Air Ballooning, in Winter!

The Festival Montgolfieres of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu held an event on Saturday March 8th, to divulge the first artist that will be present during this summers festival. Nineteen (19) balloonists were scheduled to take flight, but sudden high winds caught many by surprise, and were left grounded, as four (4) of us had already taken off.  

Even though this is our 9th year with the festival, this was our first winter flight, and it was not only different, but magical.  At one point, the snow was falling "upwards", as we were descending slightly faster than the flakes.

For those of you that have never been to this family event... it is a must attend activity for one and all!  It's nothing less than... the worlds largest inflatable amusement park for kids, morning and evening hot air balloons flights (weather permitting), and let's not forget the concerts, every evening!  In the past, we've seen the likes of world-caliber artists, such as Rhianna, LMFAO, Adam Lambert, Keisha, Pitbull, etc..., perform in front of crowds as big as 80,000 fans. It is nothing short of SPECTACULAR!  We hope to see you there, from Aug. 9th-17th, for the 31st year of this annual event.
In addition to the video below, a few images from this March flight, can be seen on our WEBSITE

Friday, March 7, 2014

Trouble finding locations to shoot?

We often find ourselves looking for a specific location to shoot at, and don't always have the means to preview online, before reaching that specific spot.

Sometimes, scouting the area also means spending precious time finding that perfect place.  It can also mean spending money, if the area is far away.

A local company started an online service, that does just that!  Photographers add input as to where they've shot, let's say... Waterfalls, Graffitti, Church, Park, Bridge, tunnel, etc... and upload a photo of that specific area, along with geographic pinpoint on a digital map.  Nothing can be simpler or more convenient.

The website is called CREATIVE-SPOT

Become a member, add your favorite places, and help the photography community.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Concert Photography - Camera Settings!

I'm often asked what settings I use when shooting concert images.

That's such a tricky question... 
Is the concert indoors or outdoors?
Large arena, or is it a smaller club show?  (Smaller club shows tend to have very little light, or a single colored beam).

Are you shooting from the pit or from the sound board/console at the back of the venue? 
What type of concert?
(for instance... Craddle of Filth tend not to have the same type lighting, as... Celine Dion!) 

• What type of effect do you wish to obtain?
(still action capture or blurred motion)

Here's my basic setting, that I usually start off with, then apply changes if need be. 
"M" Manual Mode  •  ISO 1600-2000  •  1/320 Speed  •  F3.2-3.5
Note that these settings are a guideline only, and each concert will be different, and settings should also take in consideration what quality gear you are using.
The 1/320 speed is enough to freeze any jump shot, and still give you decent hair motion "blurr".  

The noted aperture, is in the pit, using a 24-70mm at about 6-8ft from the subject.  This setting provides good enough separation from the background, yet sharpness throughout the upper body (waist up).  Because the stage is usually about 5'-6" to 6' high, and you're on the lower level, the distance from the lens to the waist, & the lens to the eyes, is very different, so I'd suggest a longer depth of field.  Example... a full-frame camera, at 60mm focal length, at f/3.2 & at 8' from the subject, provides you approximately 9" of DOF.  Several online and phone Apps available.  DOF Master

As for WB, I always shoot RAW, as it can easily be adjusted in PP.  Also the artist in the follow spot will usually have a much cooler temperature than anyone else, stage or crowd.

As for Auto Focus, "shoot for the eyes", is a good guideline.  The type of gear you use will have a huge effect on the focusing criteria.  For example, a Canon 70D has 19 Focus points, and a Canon 1Dx has a 61-point AF sensor and 21 cross type AF points at the center.  They won't react the same.

If the lighting changes drastically (ex.: strobes from the back of the stage towards us), I'll change to speed priority mode "TV", and let the camera make quick adjustments for me.  Hope this helps, and...  Happy Shooting!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's the Best method to Transfer Large Files?

There are many options available out there, that provide us photographers with the ability to send large files to our clients.  

Let's face it, most email services limit you to 5-7MB, and in our world, a single RAW file is 23MB.  What happens when you wish to send your client a PDF format contact sheet, containing 200-300 pics, or 40-50 touched-up high resolution JPG images, or a timelapse?  Even if the JPG format is compressed, it still ends up being a large transfer. Sending a PSD file for a large print to the lab is also a situation that needs to be taken into account.

Here are several types of transfer methods, most of which we have used/tried.

FTP Account
Some clients have an FTP (File Transfer Protocol), and that's convenient. However, what happens when the clients' IT guy changes a certain parameter, and you can no longer upload your work, and it is time-sensitive?  This recently happened to us, and we've since changed our method for file upload.

Cloud Storage
Although easy, this service can be tricky as to who you give access to what, and in the process, can be not only time-consuming, but also costly, depending on the amount of storage required.  But on the positive side, it can also act as a back-up of your precious images.  FileDropper is a good example, and prices vary from $0.99-$10.00/month.

eMail add-on
Some services can be installed as an add-on software to your existing email account such as Outlook.  This is the case with YouSendIt (now called HighTail).  You simply send your files as if you would send a regular email, and if the data is above a certain size, it gives you the option to send via Hightail.

Online Services
This is where it gets interesting (and a little confusing).  There are many services offered, and each have their limitations as to how many files you can send at a time, maximum file size, if you can have personalized message (logo), delivery notification, amount of allowable downloads, effective for a certain amount of days, etc...  Here is a list, along with links to their site, making it easy for you to compare, if you're looking for this type of service.

2.  DropBox
4.  DropSend

We use AodebeSendNow, as we find it has all the options we were looking for, in addition to it being a reliable Adobe product.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Imagine Dragons (Bell Center)

It was in front of more than 17,000 screaming fans, that Imagine Dragons performed at the Bell Center on March 3rd 2014.  The Setlist, a "Behind the Scenes" pic, and a few select images from that concert on our Website

Monday, March 3, 2014

What goes around, comes around!

Recently, I'm being asked why I take the time to so freely give up "Tips & Tricks" of the trade, and, on the same token, contribute information on photography so openly.

I'll make this simple...  I believe that knowledge, in whatever field of expertise, should be passed on, for the benefit and value of that information itself.  If it helps out a fellow photographer in the process, even better!  We all have strong points & weaknesses, depending on photography type.

This past weekend, I went out & shot wildlife (Snowy Owls) for the first time, and it was a slap in the face, as to how little I knew about shooting "in-flight" images of this sort.  After going through my pics, I decided to contact someone that could enlighten me on the subject.

I contacted a buddy of mine, Chris Dodds, and world-renowned wildlife photographer.  Chris willingly shared some of his profound knowledge on the matter, as well and some of his settings.  That's when it dawned on me, that he in turn was providing me with knowledge, just like I had been doing with others, but in a different field of photography.

Chris hosts some amazing wildlife photography Workshops throughout North America.  The dates sell fast, but if you have the chance to book a trip with him, you'll be more than thankful for what you'll learned, in addition to capturing images like few will ever have the chance to do!   
You can see some of Chris's work, and workshop dates on his Blog

Thanks again Chris, I'm already anxious to get back out there, and try those settings!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

So, you wanna be a Photographer?

We came across this article, written in Comic Book "Art" form, that we just had to share.  Although presented in a light mood, it still touched home, and is not only direct, but also quite realistic and accurate. I doubt it was made to discourage anyone, but rather to make people realize that photography, like any other "job", is also a business and a means (for some) to make a living.

Happy reading!

The remainder of the slides HERE

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sting & Paul Simon (Bell Center)

A few images from the Sting/Paul Simon concert, can be seen in a dedicates section of our Website