Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More from Dannen & Darek’s Wedding

Dipping back into the set of previews that I have delivered to this couple, here are a few of the scenes which followed Dannen’s Transformation.

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Below:  Dannen wanted to be married at the same church as her parents.  They had had a wedding portrait made outside of the church, at this well.  Dannen asked me to create a similar portrait on her wedding day.

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DD at Reception Hall

Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 PPOC National Image Competition Results

Last night I received the exciting news that three of my images were accepted for exhibition at this year’s national image competition of the Professional Photographers of Canada.  One of these was also recognized with an Award of Merit.  In the Feature Album competition, my entry “Emma” was accepted for exhibition by the judges.

The competition was judged in Edmonton last week by a panel of Master Photographers from across Canada. Acceptance in the competition earns the maker merits toward several degrees available to PPOC members, including the prestigious Craftsman of Photographic Arts and Master of Photographic Arts. It is also an indication of the makers’ ability to produce above average images for their clientele.

My image “Determination,” below, was accepted in the Portrait category and recognized with an Award of Merit.  I was able to produce this image thanks to my creative and courageous client Lynzy, who commissioned it as content for a portrait album that I am producing for her, and to my regular collaborator Virginia, who did the outstanding hair and makeup work.

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The second image accepted for exhibition was “Awakening,” in the Fine Art category:

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The third accepted image was “Spellbound.”  Entered in the Figure Study category, it is a nude.  You can view it by following this link.  My model for this project was Sherry Knox.  Makeup and hair were again by Virginia.

Accepted by the judges for exhibition in the Feature Album category was “Emma,” a privately commissioned boudoir portrait album.  Here are the cover spread, and three of the inside 2-page spreads, from the 30 page album.

"Emma" cover spread "Emma" spread 6 "Emma" spread 8 "Emma" spread 15

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dannen’s Transformation

I spent today continuing to edit the images from Dannen and Darek’s April 10 wedding.  By the end of this week, all 700 images that I have selected and edited from their day, distilled down from the 3000 or so frames that our team captured, will be available for viewing online by the bridal couple, as well by as their families and guests.  (We include a complimentary online preview gallery with all of our wedding packages.) 

I cannot resist posting these sneak peeks in the meantime ..

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Portraits of Ladybugs

I had the pleasure of working in the studio yesterday with my entrepreneurial friends Sherry and Chris of Ladybug Teknologies.  They decided that it was time to update their business portraits, to coincide with the imminent launch of their new product. BAQ Tracker is a portable, highly accurate and affordable breathalyser unit.  They brought along a prototype, and it was slick looking.  Here’s to great success ladies – cheers!

 SherryI Chris

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One-Word Critique

Sheyne is an investment advisor.  Knowing that his website is a vital part of his business, and often the first point of contact with new clients, Sheyne decided that it was time for him to make an investment.  Because he admired the portraits that we had previously produced for several of his colleagues, he gave us a call. 

His one-word assessment of the finished portraits that we delivered to him today?

“Fantastic!”

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See a larger version of this picture by clicking on it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Press Assignments and Lumacraft’s Slogan

For the past several years, I have done freelance press photography as a sideline. Often my editor sends me to the openings of model homes by local builders. These are usually held at new building sites located on the outskirts of Hamilton and beyond, and are normally scheduled on the weekends, or on weekdays in the early evening.

I suspect that these assignments come to me because the distance and hours are not appealing to the staff photographers. I don’t mind at all. In fact, I love doing them. It is not because this work is lucrative … enough said about that! What I love is the challenge of going to yet another model home and trying, in the short time available, to create images there which are in some way distinctive, and which highlight the most appealing aspects of the event and the real estate.

This brings me to a small point of philosophy. On one of the very first days after I started this business, I decided that our slogan would be a quotation from Aristotle: “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” This simple but powerful idea remains at the very core of our business. I see its mark on every success that we have had. It is what gets me excited about doing little projects like this one, and the big ones too.

How could I not make a cute portrait of young Connor? With the right choices, it also helps tell the story of the event.

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Marc led the ribbon cutting ceremony. His natural style and intensity are the stuff of good portraits.

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To find a way to make a picture of a room more engaging, you only have to look.

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Okay, so what’s with the intense wooden sheep? This home had special energy efficiency and environmentally friendly features, including wool broadloom carpeting.

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And why the pretty girl? Could there by any easier way to fulfill the ideal embedded in our slogan?

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Tabbles – A Godsend Software Application for Managing Large Image Catalogues

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Normally I use my blog to highlight my current projects, and to show off new photographs, but occasionally I enjoy sharing tips on photography tools and techniques.

One of the many challenges that professional photographers face is managing a large and constantly expanding inventory of images.  Rather than the more common approach of moving older archives offline, the approach that I have settled upon is to keep all of my archives live and local.  My Z: drive is a virtual drive that is several terabytes in size, which contains all files related to all projects from the past five years.  I accomplish this with an external 4-bay Drobo unit:

4-bay Drobo  4-bay Drobo, Faceplate removed

Among my active and archived files, there are currently more than 100,000 digital negatives, and more than 300,000 image files in total.  One big challenge, with so much to sort through, is how do you efficiently locate the images that you need?

There are many powerful image cataloguing applications out there – I use the functionality built into Adobe Lightroom – but I find even the best of these products to be cumbersome.  What I have sought is a cataloguing tool that is relatively lighter, faster, and more flexible. 

I recently stumbled into a promising solution.  Tabbles is a unique Windows application.  Tabbles is probably easier to use than it is to describe, and in fact it took a short trial run for me to properly understand and appreciate what it does.  Tabbles lets you create tags, and groups of tags, that suit your needs:

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In my case, the tags that I have created include ones for the various photography genre that I do (portrait, press, wedding, architecture, travel, and so on), for image quality rating, year created, client names, project names, and subject names.

Tabbles lets you apply these tags to your files.  The tagging can be performed in various ways.  Normally I use the function that it integrates into Windows Explorer. 

Tabbles’ real power though is that it lets you view your files in virtual folders reflecting the tag categories that you have created:

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Note that these are virtual folders.  A file can appear in multiple Tabbles folders while physically it remains in its original disk folder. 

Tabble labels can be applied automatically.  If, for instance, a certain folder is always used for projects completed for a certain client, then you can easily create a rule so that all new files put in that folder will always be tagged with that client’s name.

To find what you’re looking for, you use Tabbles’ Combine function to join together the Tabble groups that describe your target:

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Here is a real world example of the kind of problem that I regularly face which involves rooting through many thousands of images, and how I applied Tabbles to help me to deal with it.  Last month I prepared and sent off my entries for the 2010 national image competition of the Professional Photographers of Canada. Using the image tags that I had previously created for photo genre, quality rating, and year created, I was able to use Tabbles’ Combine function to quickly create virtual folders of candidate images pulled from among my recent projects.  As I combed through through these groups, whenever I spotted an image that I felt was worthy of consideration for this competition, I tagged it with a new label that I created, “PPOC 2010 Competition Candidate.”   Afterwards, to review the results of my search, I just looked in the virtual folder associated with that new tag.  This concise little group of image files were in fact physically scattered across a wide range of folders on my system.  Tabbles spared me the chore of having to locate and dig through scores of folders to find my candidates.  Instead, I simply thought about what kinds of images that I wanted to enter into the competition, described them to the Tabbles application in terms of the image tags that I had created, and those virtual folders were instantly created for me to look through.

Some might argue that I could have done all of that using the keywording and collection tools in Lightroom.  While that is true, I can tell you that, having used both tools to perform this sort of task, Tabbles does the chore considerably more nimbly.  Also, keep in mind that, unlike specialty image cataloguing tools, Tabbles works with all types of files!

So suppose that I want to review my documents related to recent wedding project.  Since I tag my documents with client name and project name, I can use Tabbles to create a virtual folder containing just that set of files – wherever they reside on my system, and be they Word, Excel, PDF, etc. 

Tabbles’ great power is in allowing you to tag your files, and then to quickly create virtual folders described by those tags on the fly, delivering to you just the sets of files that you need at any given moment.

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Lumacraft Photography occasionally offers seminars and hands-on workshops on a range of subjects of interest to amateur and professional photographers.  If your group is looking for instruction on a particular topic, we will happily custom tailor a course for you.  Please contact Lorraine or David for more details.