Tag Archives: events

QLIX Studioz and Heather Pollock

QLIX-1Heather Pollock is brave.

Heather is a friend of mine, a professional and excellent photographer with her first gallery show. Most people see photographic art through the final image while photographers experience it. We make creative decisions about where to shoot, how to capture the raw image, how to process the image and even how to display it. The creative options are as infinite as any art form.

QLIX-3So, to put a price tag on your work and then display it to friends and strangers for comment seems pretty brave to me. All those decisions open to scrutiny. Heather’s selection of images, primarily black and white canvasses, range from moody HDRs, the east coast, and portraits of Canadian musicians. While not technically in any of the images, there is one where I was holding the light stand.

QLIX-2Heather is sharing the space with two other artists. Kathleen Urdah works with encaustics and Tommy Vohr, another photographer, works exclusively in the iPhone world with multiple exposed images you have to see to believe.

If you can spare a little time, please spend it at QLIX Studioz at 228 Queen Street East (at Sherbourne). You can also see a preview of the work and more information on the artists at qlixstudioz.com.





Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder Concert-20

As I sit here typing, I am listening to Serena Ryder‘s new album, “Harmony” remembering her fantastic performance November 20th at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club in Toronto. I was a fan before I met Serena and jumped at the invitation to attend the pre-release concert. You can find video clips of the performance on the CBC website.

Serena Ryder Concert-22

At first I wasn’t sure I would even bring a camera. As an invited guest, I thought I would just enjoy the music. Nah. So as usual when I don’t know the location, I did some research. Their web site gave me a good overview of what to expect – large open area with no seating. You stand in a “pit” to watch the performance. Not too photographer friendly. Even up to the end I debated bringing my camera. I knew Sandy, Serena’s manager and our good friend would make sure I would be in a good position to get some photos. Camera in hand, we jumped on the streetcar and headed over to the west side of Toronto.

Serena Ryder Concert-12

I walked through the doors into a dimly lit club and hoped the stage lights would provide enough light. The CBC was taping the performance, so I thought the lighting would be pretty good. The place filled up quickly and people were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the pit. Sandy led us upstairs where we found seats in a balcony and I had a perfect view of the stage. The lights came on and I smiled through 468 photographs. If I was going to take pictures while listening to music, this is what I would listen to. I did get a chance to go backstage and take a few photographs from that angle, but the layout isn’t conducive to getting good pictures. I have a lot of close ups of the bass player as he swayed back and forth in front of me.

Serena Ryder Concert-8

I brought only one lens with my Nikon 300s – the 70-300mm. It’s not particularly fast, but I crank up the ISO and with the bright stage lights, I was in pretty good shape. The 300s has a slow and fast continuous frame mode (motor drive for us old film guys) that I use in slow mode. This lets me take a short burst of shots and deal with the performer’s movement, slower shutter speed and whatever shake I seem to add to the mix all on my own. You could feel the shake from the bass speakers, so I wondered if the other photographers with tripods were getting any vibrations. I tucked my elbows against my body and shot away.

Serena Ryder Concert-3

Considering I was restricted to one location (a pretty good location, though), I’m pretty happy with the shots. I recently upgrade to Lightroom 4 and CS6 and this was my first project using the software. One of the reasons I haven’t been writing as often as I’ve been so enthralled by the capabilities, particularly the noise reduction going from CS4 to CS6. Another blog, perhaps.

If you haven’t listened to Serena Ryder, she is definitely worth it. You can find her at serenaryder.com

Home for Life 2012

I recently photographed “Home for Life,” a fundraiser for Eva’s Initiatives here in Toronto. Eva’s works with homeless and at-risk youth to help them reach their potential and this event is an important fundraiser held at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto.

The Holcim Gallery, where the dinner and auction was held, is open on the side allowing a lot of sunlight in. The challenge, of course, is the mix of light; the combination of sunlight and a mix of interior lights. It was a clear day and with the open side to the west, we were bathed in hot, contrasting lighting, forcing me to deal with some wide dynamic ranges. I don’t use flash at these events, as they are disruptive to the paying guests; however I do use them for awards or speakers, as there is an acceptance that this is expected.

I like to get to these events early as it gives me a chance to photograph the set up. Since primarily volunteers do this work, it is nice that they have some photographs of the work they do behind the scenes. It also allows me to get familiar with the location and where everything is, particularly the bars as that’s where most of the people hang out.

Design Winner Chris Clarry

There is a silent auction for donated furniture and household items (hence the Home for Life name and the connection with homelessness). Student interior designers utilize what is donated to create several rooms and a panel will select the winning “room.” This year it was Chris Clarry (chrisclarry.carbonmade.com).

Evergreen Brick Works was as late as the 1980’s a functioning brick manufacturer and is now a recreation area. Much of the old structures are in place and, being curious, I couldn’t help but wander and capture a few photographs of the graffiti and structures for myself.

On the technical side, I used my 24-120mm f4 for most of the shots but had my 10-24mm and a 105mm f2.8 for some of the shots. The 105mm has a macro capability to let me get close to some of the donated products. My ISO ranged from 800 to 1600 but the lighting was good, if often difficult in range and quality. Oh, and I rode my bike there.

Dancing in the dark

“Damn!” I said under my breath. I’m sitting in row “L” at a school auditorium watching a dance recital and for some reason my camera is acting up. I press the shutter but nothing happens. This is complicated by the extreme darkness.

When I arrived, I was told that pictures were not allowed, so I reluctantly left my camera in the car. Sitting during the first half, I learned that flash photography was not allowed, so during the intermission, I quickly retrieved my camera and 70-300mm lens, set the ISO to 3200 and, with a pretty decent view from my seat, eagerly awaited the second half.

The house lights went down and the stage lights came on. I took a single shot to get some idea of the exposure, made some adjustments and was ready. Well, I was ready, but my camera wasn’t. It did everything but take the picture. No matter how hard I tried, there wasn’t enough light to see the buttons on the camera. I paused, closed my eyes and reminded myself I knew where everything was.

At first I thought I had a focusing problem. The camera won’t fire a shot if it can’t find focus, so I changed the setting on the lens to manual. Now is that the first or second switch on the lens barrel. Wait, there are three switches. What’s third one for? The first one is for manual, so I switched that but no luck. The “info” button is on the bottom right, so I pushed this and found some odd areas flashing at me. I had no idea what they meant, but they led me to believe I had a problem with the memory card.

My D300s has two memory cards, so I switched to the other card without any luck. Since I had only a test shot, I decided to format the card. When I tried, it told me I had a memory card fault. Not good. I tried formatting the other card and got the same error. Odd. I popped open the chamber, took out both cards and re-seated them. Worked!

All this diagnosis was done in the dark, sitting between my mother-in-law and my wife, before the first act was completed and I think the best shot I took was in that act. I have been using the D300s for at least a couple of years and didn’t realize how well I knew the controls. I am reminded of my days of processing film, pushing my hands into a light-proof bag to manipulate film into the developer tank all by feel and memory. Opening film canisters was the “other” use for my bottle opener.

You never know when something odd will happen. I still don’t know why the camera decided to malfunction, and it has been great since, but I am now a firm believer in knowing how to operate my equipment with my eyes closed.

A Wet Wine Festival

Wet Wine Festival

Not every day turns out to be perfect. I attend an outdoor wine festival each year and unfortunately, my last dance with the bottle resulted in 8 hours of pretty constant rain. This kept me huddled under  two large umbrellas while I was wrapped in my best waterproof hiking gear.

The weather didn’t seem to deter anyone. The bands kept playing. The wine kept flowing. And hot food and umbrellas kept everyone fairly warm and dry. I took this shot from the safety of my seat at a couple enjoying a moment.

Taste Matters 2011

Taste Matters in support of Eva's Initiatives

I arrive at 10am for an event that starts at 6pm. It’s not that I am keen, though being part of a wine and food show brings out the eagerness in me, but that I want to capture the setup of the event. While I am certainly the first to arrive, there isn’t any activity to photograph.

I help empty the car of boxes of auction items and begin to lay them out under the watchful eyes of Melissa the event manager. I didn’t think when I set out to capture the set up of the event that I would set some of it up, take some pictures, set up some more and, well, you get the “picture.”

In walked a group of students, many dressed in blue t-shirts – the volunteers. I could now focus on taking pictures of their hard work. There is a fair bit of light coming through the windows from the courtyard, but I am afraid that this evening I will be stuck with chandeliers about 40 feet above the floor providing the only light. I will use flash now, but not during the event except at the presentation and speeches where people “expect” flashes.

Lots of down time. The vendors started arriving around 4pm and set up their tables. Around 6pm saw the guests begin to arrive and the place filled up quick enough. The food was excellent and there was a wide selection of wine, beer and coffee to choose from. As I said, it got pretty dark and I found myself shooting at ISO 3200 with a 35mm f1.8 but I’m pleased with the results. Gotta love modern technology.


Around 10pm I was pretty much done – 12 hours on my feet lugging around my equipment watching everyone else eat and drink. There were a couple of friends at the event and we sat in the courtyard and had a chat. One of them has a son in the band and he was playing that night. So yes, off we went for another three hours and 200 photos in an even more dimly lit place. While I’ll save that for another post, I did get a beer in case you were wondering. Or not.