Saturday, 28 August 2010

Cadence: City Connect - Toronto

July 3, 2010

Cadence Progressive Contemporary ballet is headed by Courtnae Bowman and they put on an annual show that features collaboration with award winning acclaimed choreographers.

This year's show included works by Sarah Doucet, Allen Kaeja & Karen Kaeja, Hanna Kiel, Robert Kingsbury and Avinoam Silverman.

Here is a sample of what you missed this year.

Dancers: Sarah Williamson, Patrizia Gianforcaro, Shavar Blackwood, Erin Poole, Allison Gibbons, Shavar Blackwood, Zhenya Cerneacov and Paul Charbonneau.

6th Annual Talent Defined

June 26, 2010

Back to the regular programming - I have been a little behind in posting new dance stuff. This show was produced by City Dance Corps of Toronto. Every year, they put on a showcase of dance companies and choreographers mainly from Toronto. The location was the Al Green Theatre on 750 Spadina Ave.

Here is a sample of some of the acts you missed if you were not at the show! Mark you calendar for next year's show in June - 2011.

LR Productions: Spiderwoman's Web

Danse Lemieux Dance: Monster

Jeff Wong: The Next Day

Tina Nicolaidis: Power Play

iFreestyle Dancers Pro Team: La Voz

Skindivers Dance Company: Trotzdem

CDC Contemporary Student Performance Group: Bad Body Double

Shavar Blackwood: Water Runs Dry

Gadfly Dance Co: Heard You Say

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Day 2 of the Lighten Up and Shoot workshop - Toronto Edition

This is the final write-up on the Lighten Up and Shoot workshop - Toronto Edition. To see the activities from day 0 go here, for day 1 activities go here.

On the final day - we were back at the Creative Images Studio for some debrief of Day 1 activities and some photoshop tips.

I believe there were issues with the scheduled models again but if you remember Tamara who we found on Day 1 in our get strangers to pose for us exercise - she agreed to be our model for the afternoon.

I switched to the Lastolite Ezybox 24" for the 2 shots below because that is what I have - I remember going to Vistek and asking for a Westcott 28" and being talked into the Lastolite because they didn't have the westcott in stock. The Ezybox 24" is a direct light set up with 2 diffusion panels vs. the indirect light setup with 1 diffusion panel of the Westcott. The Ezybox gives easy access to the controls of the flash while the Westcott has the flash set inside the box and access to the controls is more difficult. The Ezybox is also more efficient than the Westcott but the lighting is not as even as the Westcott.

Here is a comparison of the two products. I found that the Ezybox was harder to avoid hot spots on the model. I went and got a Westcott a week after the workshop...

Here is Tamara - lit with the Ezybox from camera left - single light setup.


Natural light only




We had an opportunity to go around the streets shooting more strangers but I got lured into shooting the pretty model - looking back, I should have used the chance to practice my opening with strangers rather than do the Paparazzi thing. I am sure to get lots of chances to be a Paparazzi when TIFF rolls into town.

So looking back on the 2.5 day workshop from Lighten Up and Shoot what did I learn:
- bare bulb flash sucks, I though I could get away with the flash on the stick trick but it doesn't work too well, maybe if you snooted it like Nick Turpin does it, it may work out.

- I need to practice my opening and approach to photographing people on the streets

- I need to lug that softbox with me more often

- I need to look at the histogram more closely and ignore the image on the LCD screen, too often I trusted the LCD more than the histogram.

- I need to make some business cards

I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone interested in photographing human subjects with small lights. This is not a workshop on the big pack and head systems that can overpower the sun at high noon. You will not be using Beauty dishes, large Octa boxes, large strip lights, etc - you get to use what you can fit into a backpack.

I recommend it not because of the lighting technical knowledge, because that can be obtained from their website or other web sites like strobists for free - just use google but what Andy and Mikey bring to the workshop is humour and practical approaches on how to get strangers on the street to model for you. It's also the feedback they give to you when they see your work. I recommend that students bring in their work or bring the past day's photos for Andy and Mikey to review - their teaching style is very interactive.

There were issues with models not showing up for the workshop but to me a good workshop is not about shooting hot models (which I sometimes forget), its about learning new techniques or finding out what you are currently doing wrong. The models are there for you to practice your techniques. Which is why their lessons on getting strangers to be models comes in handy.

Compare to the big names who have come to Toronto to give workshops - Lighten Up and Shoot rates very high on the value scale. Plus they have a money back guarantee, if after day 1, you are not happy - they give your money back.

Some of the big names who had come to Toronto before:
Martin Prihoda in 2008 - Big Lights Far Away - $699 CAD (I believe) - capped at 20 students
Don Giannatti in 2009 - Lighting Essentials - $450 USD - capped at 10 or 15
Andy and Mikey in 2010 - Lightenupandshoot - $200 USD - capped at 10

You get 2 instructors instead of 1 and they may have problems with the TF models but I guess you can always request to pay extra to guarantee the models, make-up artists, hair stylists, and clothing designers you want. I rather pay for that stuff after I perfect my lighting techniques first.

I had a fun time and learn some new tricks along the way.

Thanks Andy and Mikey for coming to TO and Mark for bringing them here.

Here are their next scheduled dates and locations - check their website to confirm as things may change!
Tampa, Florida - September 18th, 2010 - Westcott Top Pro Tour!
Seattle, Washington - September 25th and 26th, 2010 !
San Francisco, California - October 2nd and 3rd, 2010 !
Los Angeles, California - October 9th and 10th, 2010 !
San Diego, California - October 16th and 17th, 2010 !
Phoenix, Arizona - October 23rd and 24th, 2010 !
Las Vegas, Nevada - October 30th and 31st !

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Day 1 of the Lighten Up and Shoot Toronto Workshop

Part 2 or Day 1 of the Lighten Up and Shoot Toronto workshop. For part 1 of my write-up, go here.

Saturday morning found 8 photographers at 3 Oaks Photography, a studio in the west end of town. Morning program consisted of some in-class lectures which for me was nothing new. If you watched all of the Lighten Up and Shoot videos you would have gotten the same information. This was the good and bad thing about Andy and Mikey – they teach you what is on their web site – no secrets or addition materials for attending the workshop. What you see on their website is what you get in their workshop. I guess Andy will say he has the Genius Square table he showed us which is not on his website – but it’s really just a nice way to show the relationship between ambient exposure and subject exposure when you change the various camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and flash power). A different way to show how to adjust the balance between ambient with flash lighting.

I believe that we had issues with scheduled models who didn’t show up so Andy and Mikey had to talk longer than expected. The lectures are not too structured – they like to have discussions / feedback from the audience – unfortunately for them – I think it was too early in the morning for us to question them on anything.

Afternoon rolls around and 1 model and her boyfriend shows up to help us out. The boyfriend is commissioned as a model and off we go to get some shots.

Here is Rebecca - single SB-800 in Apollo 28" softbox on camera right

Here is Cameron - single SB-800 in Apollo 28" softbox on camera right

This was the time where we get to put the theory to use. The signature style of Lightenupandshoot is their use an Apollo Westcott 28” softbox with an SB light inside. The Westcott softbox is designed for small strobes and folds up like an umbrella – it’s a reflective design so light is soft but like any reflective design – what you gain in diffusion, you lose in power. Andy and Mikey were very helpful in giving advice or ideas to try out with the lighting and models.

Here is Andy playing model

However, rain moved in and our shooting session ended. The group heads off for a late 3PM lunch.

The next stop was the Creative Images Studio – formerly Spectrum studios near Queen and DVP. We had a little debrief on the morning session and tried our hand at some indoor studio setups. Our models from the morning shoot had to leave and we ended up shooting each other.

I pulled Mikey aside and got him to pose with his equipment. I believe that Mikey and Andy wanted us to go outside and shoot strangers but it was still raining.

When the rain stopped, we headed out to the Distillery district – as it was the Jazz festival weekend – the district wasn’t too busy. For this assignment, Andy and Mikey had us split into roving packs of 2-3 photographers each and to approach strangers offering them a 5 min. photoshoot.

They helped us get started by showing us how to get strangers to pose for us.

Here is Felix from Germany: single SB-800 in Apollo, another SB gelled blue in cab of truck

Here is Dave from TO: single SB-800 in Apollo, bare flash rimmed on rear right

Here is Tamara who was going to work when we ran into her. Natural light.

The fun ended when we were kicked out of the district because we didn’t have a permit. The Distillery district is private property with public access – similar to a mall so we had to leave.

You can see the security guard in the back telling us we had to leave because they were receiving complaints about us...I suspect it was from a wedding photographer who was afraid of our softboxes :-)

Outside on public property, one of our roving groups got asked to assist another wedding photographer

Ana and I tried out our opening line on Dave - who was out walking his 2 dogs. He kindly agreed to give us a few minutes - single SB-800 in Apollo on right

Here is Ana, my partner in the our little assignment. Single SB-800 in Apollo.

Mikey and Andy Single SB-800 in Apollo.

The fun continued on the side walk until about 9:30 – 10PM.

At this point, I needed to charge my batteries again and headed home. I believe that Andy and Mikey headed out to a bar in the Annex area for more fun but I was all funned out.

Sunday’s adventures here

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lighten Up and Shoot's Canadian Stop - Day 0

I have been reading the Strobists blog on and off for a while now but I have been too lazy to do all the assignments or I have rented studio space and used the more powerful mono-lights or the pack and head systems. I have gotten some great results with that stuff but it’s hard to do location shoots with that equipment without a team of assistants to help carry it around.

I have never really gotten consistent results with the little SB lights for the darker and higher contrast images that I like. They work great for those high key images where you blast all the shadows out of the picture but I was getting bored with doing those kinds of images.

So, I decided to spend some money on my upgrading my skills instead of upgrading my gear. Here is my experience at the Lighten Up and Shoot workshop - Toronto stop.

Last month, 2 American photographers currently living in Colombia, South America made their way to Toronto as part of their road show tour. Lightenupandshoot specialize in street photography where they will approach strangers on the street and shoot their picture usually using small SB lights. Their shots remind me a lot of Dustin Diaz shots and style – which I admire a lot.

Mikey and Andy arrived on Friday and had a free meet and greet drink-up at Sneaky Dees on College Street.

That’s Mikey showing Ana some stuff about her camera.

After drinks – it was off to the street for some shooting.

Here is Hanna, my first volunteer; Mikey got her with his opening – I was just observing. You have got to see Mikey do his opening – I have never seen someone get out so much information is so little time. Here I was just using my strobe on a stick technique – looks like my usually shoots – I was not really happy with the way I lit her. Too hard of a light.

Walking west along College, we run across Louie and his friend. This shot was lit by a SB-900 in a Lastolite 24" softbox. Much softer light and more controlled than bare bulb.

It turns out that Louie owns Southside Louie’s at 583 College Street. Here he is with one of his regulars and one of his staff.

The party continued on but I had to get my batteries charged for the Sat morning class, so it was off to bed for me.

Great way to start the class off and it hadn’t even really started yet!

For day 1's adventures, click here