Plan accordingly

Here are a few more shots from a studio session me and a friend did earlier in the month. In this particular case my vision was mainly on the same path as the past few studio shots I have put up. Again it was for the sake of refining some of the aspects from the previous attempts as I have a bigger concept this is all pushing towards. I'd rather take the time to keep things simple and straight forward in order to work out the fine details than to stage a more complex shoot and come across those shortfalls there.

These things end up becoming bigger productions and you, as a photographer, put yourself in a position where you have to plan and manage a lot of people and resources while still spending the time to create your vision. I wouldn't say it's hard, it's just a big time investment and not for everyone. Nothing ever goes according to plan and you have to be able to adjust and work around it. You have to plan for redundancy and alternatives as these types of projects are a big team effort and if even one of the facets of that team has to cancel last minute the whole thing can fall through and you end up wasting a lot of peoples time.

Things come up and plans change. Roll with the punches. It's going to happen so plan for it.

(Although I must admit the latter part of this blog entry does not relate to the people involved in this shoot, everything went well)

A night out under the stars

This past week we got a chance to view a lunar eclipse on the night of the winter solstice. I had before that day not seen a lunar eclipse to begin with and aside from getting out of the city to get a glimpse of the celestial event I had brought along my camera for the sake of doing some photography of the night sky.

It was not something I had done before, a learning experience through and through and although it involved a lot of cold feet and frozen hands it was well worth the effort dealing with our Canadian winters to not only get a beautiful view of the eclipse itself but a lunar sea to gaze upon.

I will definitely be looking to make a few trips farther up north, away from the light pollution and city lights in the hopes of getting some truly clear and scenic shots of our countryside in the night sky.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It's been a while since I had a bit of an update. Times have been busy as of late and it's definitely not a bad thing. I have been driving myself a lot lately, especially when it comes to lighting and studio work. There's many facets in that respect to a good photo, it's not of course just the lighting and composition but that's been the driving force as of late. On a positive note it's definitely helped to bring those other facets more into a conscious frame of mind as well as inspire some extra confidence and forward thinking when planning a photo shoot.

There's a lot to keep in mind, more so now do I realize that a lot of the steps you take towards putting together a bigger project do the small details really shine through. It becomes really important to have a strong vision and concept, an idea that you have considered on several different levels. Make up makes a huge factor, as does hair. It all has to work with the outfit, the model and the environment in which you shoot to create a strong composition. As mentioned earlier the lighting and other technicals are just as big a factor and when all is said and done you put in a huge amount of effort for a single shot or two.

It's one thing to have an endless amount of images in your portfolio, in the end though I want something that makes me stand out and shine. It's important to practice shooting and refine your fundamentals but it's also important to push yourself to a new level every chance you get.

Photographer Round Robin

Over the weekend a number of us put together a studio event what we dubbed the "Photographer Round Robin". The idea behind the event was to bring a number of talented individuals together and collaborate to get everyone involved a variety of quality head shots which they could use for their profile picture in regards to their hobby or business. We all need to put a face to the name, especially when the product were providing is us.

The set up was fairly simple. Each photographer came in with an idea or theme and had every other person there be in front of the camera for s number of shots, we then switched to another photographer and their setup and repeated the process for each individual. By the end of the night we all had a variety of different looks and themes and many shots of ourselves within those. Best of all, we got to draw upon each other's talents and refine the rough edges we all have as well as experience a variety of methods and approaches to the whole idea.

It was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and everyone who came out of it benefited greatly. Becoming involved in the community around you can introduce you to many great individuals and influence your craft in ways you wouldn't think otherwise. Make friends, help people, do good. It comes back in the end.

Rewarding Experiences

None of us really get into photography for the initial sake of helping people, we may get those intentions over time but it's not often those are the reasons we pick up a camera. It often is though the by product of doing what we love. Some where down the line as photographers we realize that what we do can have some real influence in the world as well as the people around us.

It's a rewarding feeling when you can express yourself artistically, capture a moment in time, a moment that can last a persons life time and still have that bring a lot of positive aspects to a persons life. A simple portrait may help someone bring confidence into their life. A candid shot can preserve a memory for future generations. A product shot can help drive a business in sales. Looking in the mirror each night knowing that you are responsible for that sort of creation, no matter how small or intangible it may seem at the time, is a good feeling. We don't think about it often but it's nice outlook that can help drive us further. We are lucky, we get to create instead of destroy, and it's quite simply a beautiful thing.

Evening around the University of Alberta

5:07 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

I got a chance on Thursday of last week to shoot with a person I've wanted to shoot with for a while now. It ended up being in the middle of a very hectic and upside down week for me but nonetheless I didn't want to move it to another date, certainly not with how short the days are becoming now and how cold it's getting. There are not many opportunities left to still get a autumn feeling from a photo as it's supposed to start snowing this upcoming week.

On that note I'm really beginning to warm up to using the different locations around the U of A for shoots. There is a lot of rustic elements to play with, a variety of open and accessible spaces within reach of each other and no shortage of interesting architecture. I want to explore this more in the coming months, certainly not out of fear of finding new locales but because there's still a lot of opportunities there.

For a change I will also push myself to do more outside photography this winter. Given our ranging temperatures it's not always the most enjoyable of experiences but there's a lot to explore, creatively, out there.

Portrait Session - Jade

Monday, November 8, 2010 9:48 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

I had a chance to do a quick portrait session with a good friend and make up artist who's helped me on shoot before. She always makes for a beautiful subject and today was no exception.

I made a silly mistake early one, one that I had not made in quite some time. I was in a rush and didn't check all my gear. When I got to the location and began to set up my OCF not only did I forget to grab the proper mount for the makeshift speed ring I had rigged up for my flash but I had also forgot to bring along the proper sync cord.  I guess I needed a good reminder to always no matter what check that I have what I need in my camera bag.

We made the best of it and just shot with natural light, no reflector or scrims as I didn't have an assistant with me and it was originally set up for the sake of practicing a few elements which weren't related to lighting, not that it's an excuse not to do a good job but you can get some amazing results if you stop and "see the light".  It was also a good experience with going with the flow.

Preview - Sunday Sunday Sunday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 9:15 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

A few weeks back a number of us got together and put forward a shoot, jumping on an opportunity provided to us by a fellow photographer and friend.  He had at his disposal 3 vehicles destined for the scrap yard, a bobcat with which to flip them, a handful of devious ideas in one hand and a camera in the other.

Giving us an opportunity to be a part of he destruction, and photo creation, the 3 of us came up with our own concepts as to how we wanted to shoot a model in our own way involving the vehicular carnage.

One week later we were at it, flipping cars, setting up strobes and freezing models in the out of season October weather. Everyone came away with it with a strong experience, some new knowledge and ideas and some wickedly unique shots. These two are my take on it.

I have been converted

9:06 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 2 comments
Over the weekend I had an interview with a local modeling agency in regards to potentially doing work with them for model shots a weekend or two per month. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts I found out about the interview a day and a half before and was already ha ing a pretty swamped week.

I needed to put together a portfolio of some of my work to showcase my abilities but had very little time to do it.  I have done prints in the past and would definitely do that still but the limited amount of time didn't give me much of an option. In the end after spending whatever time I could I ended up deciding I would get an iPad to use as a portfolio. Mind you I had spent time before the date considering this option but I was between a rock and a hard place and now more then ever the choice was pretty clear.

After the weekend, having used it for a number of things I can confidently say that although I had been a little skeptical in the past and rather cold on the idea I now see the iPad as an incredibly handy tool in a photographers bag.

First and foremost is the portfolio function. The iPad is the size of a notepad you'd keep in your school bag. Through this it becomes incredibly accessible to keeping it on hand almost anywhere you go. It fits comfortably in my camera bag or if I'm using a shoulder bag wherever I may go.

Being able to easily sync photos every time I plug it in makes it care free and simple. I plug it in to my computer and it syncs the photos in a particular folder without me having to press a button. This saves me a lot of time and frustration.

The touch screen for me makes a difference, it adds an element of interaction you wouldn't normally get from a laptop or computer. People like using it, it's that simple. You get a physical response from the interaction and from what I have experienced it's always been a positive one. I can't do that with a laptop. The whole process is generally bogged down by start up processes, cables, folders and so on. The interactions a user has with one using a mouse generally feel cold and distant. On the iPad the interaction is overall much more physical to the user, in the end giving a much stronger impression and sense of ownership. So let's face it, as a photographer showcasing your portfolio you want the user to come out of the situation with as many positive impressions as you can. This helps a lot.

Even over the weekend I had it with me for a friend's birthday party as the hair stylist I normally do work with was going to be there and I wanted to show some shots and run by some ideas. After a few minutes it got passed around the entire place as people took a look at my wedding and lifestyle portfolios on it. People enjoy the interaction and given the entry fee and the potential it has to bring clients to you I'd say it's a small price to pay, especially when most photographers have cameras that cost five to six times as much.

The battery life I've found to be excellent as well, not having to charge it often and it being able to sit around for long periods of time gives it another edge in being hassle free. It's nice knowing you can spend a day or two with it and not have to worry about the charge.

Beyond that there's also a lot of potential for other interactions and uses. If you do video you've now got a nice portable screen for your work.  The apps store at this point is a no brainer as well. I've personally have found that I can bring this anywhere with me and use it for notes. Heck I'm typing this up at work over lunch. Sure you can do it with a laptop but this just feels much more comfortable.

In the end Its not going to completely replace prints. As with any other photographer I love the different looks and feels you can get from prints, whether it be to showcase your work or otherwise. You don't however always have that option, nor do you carry those around everywhere. It's a alternative option and in all honesty a very comfortable one I wish I had made sooner.

With that I would like to say that I'm not here to proclaim the iPad is great. It does have limitations and as it stands now the market does not yet have many other options in the tablet department. For those not interested in an iPad you can always hold out and check the competition over the next few months.  A tablet in itself is a great option though.    

Mass Choir @ The Pawn Shop on Whyte

Friday, October 15, 2010 10:46 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

As some of you guys may recall I got a chance to participate and help out on a music video shoot a few friends and I did for a local Edmonton band by the name of Mass Choir.

I ended up getting a chance to shoot part of their performance at The Pawn Shop. Given the small venue and cramped shooting area I opted to use one of the older Nikon 50mm f1.4 lenses. All manual focus made it a bit of a tough shoot, especially at the shallow depth of fields but all in all I came out with shops I was happy with.

You can find the band's page as well as the music video here.

Steak Village - Short but Sweet

Here are a few shots I did for a local restaurant by the name of Steak Village. It consisted of a few dishes and ended up being, not to the blame of anyone, by chance very last minute. Regardless things came together and we walked out of there with some great images for them. Given the setup and dishes as well as items at our disposal we ended up opting for a high key look. To be honest it's something I've wanted to take a step back from but I've also often had some great results with it, especially when the subject has some strong colors.

Big thanks for the assistance John Bellerose.

On a side note, it's amazing what a speedlite on Su-4 and a ghetto tinfoil snoot can do!

September San

What a busy time it has turned out to be for me this past month. I, like always have been meaning to crank out a few blog posts as there's a number I want to put up from several different shoots but can't find the time to write an in depth one to my liking.

I have a few entries I would like to do on a number of weddings I shot/second shot this past summer, 2 different fashion shows, musical performance and other personal works.

In any case the focus is there and i'm putting a lot of pressure on myself over the next while to take what I do and elevate it to the next level, from a skill stand point as well as a business.

Keep your blade sharp

Sunday, August 29, 2010 4:57 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

It has been an interesting summer. While I have enjoyed a lot of success and positive feedback in my work I have also come to the realization I've started to take a lazy approach to continuing this momentum, instead choosing to ride upon the success of past work instead of continually setting sights on new projects, study and improvements.

The positive attention only lasts for so long, especially when you stop putting out new work and being involved in the community. Ironically I've always known that as a photographer you need to get out there and find opportunities, not just sit on your ass and wait for them to come to you. Certainly, that's not much of an option with the active community photography has gained over the past few years.Being stubborn, or ignorant, your pick, it's something I lost a bit of awareness of.

You can't improve if you do not go out there and practice. You need to continually shoot, even on days you don't feel particularly compelled to. We all get creative block but it's important to go out and try new things, meet new people and test your skills. You fail some days and succeed others but in the end, whatever the result you come away with an experience that helps shape your photography and moves it one step forward. Little by little, there are no big leaps forward but small steps that take a lot of work and dedication.

It's important to take those baby steps even if you don't feel you have much to gain. Eventually it catches up with you and you'll realized every missed shoot is a missed opportunity.

This is the part I like

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 7:06 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

It's been a while hasn't it. Summer will do that. Life takes off after spring. Shoots, BBQs, patios and friends. I suppose it can't all be work, especially when were all locked away in a blizzard almost 6 months of the year.

I have a number of ongoing projects this summer but sadly have stayed away from the computer whenever I could, due in part to the weather and in part to the heat. Because of that, updates have been a little slow. I'll be back in full force come September though.

As for late, it's been a drive to work on my wedding photography. Everything from lighting to composition to post processing needs a lot of work as far as I'm concerned. It's never ending and sometimes we get too caught up in it.

I ended up creating a slideshow of a recent wedding I did, fired it up on the big screen and immediately noticed that my TV is no where near calibrated, especially when compared to my monitors. The pictures were way over saturated, blown out and over sharpened on the TV. Regardless, I kept on watching. I found, it gave me a chance to look past the cosmetics and enjoy the core aspects.

We tend to be our own worst critics. It's nice when we get a chance to take a step back and silence that part of us, if even for a little while.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 10:08 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

It's been a little while since I've had an update on here. Fear not, my time is being put to good use. I'm elbows deep in editing wedding photos and taking steps in creating depth to what I can bring to the table in that respect.

In the meantime I'm trying to get myself into the habit of shooting more often, spending the time to experiment and try new concepts instead of just firing up Lightroom each afternoon and going through photos.

Part of what I want to improve on is food photography. I love working with the challenges lighting brings with it. Starting it off easy this week I've decided to work on some high key lighting, keeping it as simple as I can and working with basic items that don't require me spending a few hours in the kitchen preparing. Reason in part is that I can't exactly claim my culinary skills are able to fulfill that desire.

More to come!

Anna and Kevin - A preview

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 11:06 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

Anna and Kevin, a couple for whom I originally shot engagement photos for earlier last year had wanted me to shoot their wedding as well. We originally shot the photos at the Japanese garden in the Devonian Botanic Gardens and ended up having a blast doing so. The wedding was this past weekend and had gone over beautifully. Beautiful weather, beautiful venue and wonderful people all around.

There was one caveat however...

I ended up catching a pretty strong cold a few days prior to the wedding. It was okay the few days leading up to the actual day but on the morning of I have to say I wasn't feeling my greatest, not by a long shot.

When it comes to weddings, a sick day is not an option. The show must go on of course. Regardless, I made the best of it and spent the entire day shooting.

It's one of the many items that helps separate the professionals and hiring "Uncle Bob" when it comes to your wedding. The people who do this for a living will pull themselves out of bed that morning and do their best to capture the beautiful day, regardless of the situation. They'll also have a backup in the unlikely event the main photographer comes down with something that actually prevents them from shooting.

There are of course many other reasons to go with a professional photographer but that one hit a little close to home for me over the weekend.

In any case, I had a blast once again and look forward to completing the entire album in a future entry!

P.S. Their dog Otis, rules!

A Week In Video

Monday, June 14, 2010 11:13 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

On Sunday Nextfest had come to a close and so did a week of shooting video using DSLRs for me Jason, Carol, and Sandy. Given all the amazing video that's beginning to hit the web ever since the advent of the video capable DSLR it's something I originally dismissed even though I had some aspirations to play around with it.

This past week was of course a lot more than play. Although it was more of a personal project created by Jason and Sandy it still involved a lot of research, practice, late night and hard work.

Having gone through that I must say that my views on video have changed. I've always understood that they're different beasts altogether however there are a number of elements that make the transition a lot smoother compared to someone who has never picked up a still camera. A lot of the technical aspects carry over. You're already familiar with aperture, shutter speed, white balance, composition, lighting etc etc. It makes for a much smoother transition but of course there are a number of new concepts you have to pay attention to as well.

Looking on it all now, having that sort of tool at your disposal can be invaluable and it will be interesting to see how photography evolves because of it. It's definitely not an aspect that will fade away soon.

A Little More Than A Preview

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 9:52 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments

One of the things I can't claim to have very much experience in is design. I've always been a huge fan of clean, thought out design and it's something I can't put on the back burner any longer.

I spent some time creating a few templates I wish to use in the future and piecing together idea's I've wanted to incorporate into a finished product. Like all things, it's a spice, when used in moderation that can have a great impact on the end result.

Learning the typography, the rules and boundaries is a whole challenge in itself but well worth the time spent. Bringing these different elements together allows you keep some of that atmosphere and flavor of the original shots and in the process create something that can contrast or feed off the other and bring out something very unique.

Wedding: Megan and Kyle

Sunday, June 6, 2010 10:36 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 1 comments

Any time I shoot a wedding I'm trying to give it 110%. There's so many facets and angles to cover and you have to be able to put forward that creativity and resolve through out the entire day. This particular case involved 120%.

A friend I have known since high school asked me to shoot his wedding and it's a bit more responsibility when it's someone you know personally. Long story short: Here is a sample of the evening. I look forward to putting more up once everything is finished.

A Day In Video

Monday, May 31, 2010 7:43 PM Posted by Hikari Studio 0 comments
This past Sunday, Jason and I attended a local flickrmeet to do a little behind the scenes video shooting of the event. He had shot a good deal of it with his steady cam and glide cam using a 5D MkII and a variety of lenses while I used a shoulder rig and a D3s, 70-200 f2.8 VR II and an older manual focus 50mm f1.4. All post productions go to Jason.

Edmonton Parkade Photo Meetup - May 30th 2010 from pixelknife pixelconcern on Vimeo.

Rainmaker Rodeo

Saturday, May 29, 2010 10:40 AM Posted by Hikari Studio 2 comments

I was invited by a friend yesterday to come shoot at a local rodeo. Having never shot one, heck, let alone ever seen one I was definitely game, even with the pretty cold weather we were having that day.

Having done some action related photography in the past I knew the types of settings I had wanted to use in order to get the look I wanted. With the cold and cloudy weather we had a nice soft light going for us and the conditions were only changing slowly as the evening approached. Most of the event was shot at 1/500th of a second between f2.8 and f4.0. To me at this point the ISO didn't matter so much. So long as it was enough to get me the shutter speed and aperture I wanted then a little noise is nothing Even so i still managed to keep it below ISO800 most of the night. The shutter speed was enough to stop most of the action while still retaining a little motion blur for effect on particular portions of the images.

I've never really been one to hold much interest when it comes to cowboys and anything regarding the "West" but it's definitely changed my mind on it. There's a lot of skill and hard work behind it all, not to mention the brass balls you'd need to sit on top of a angry steer until it kicks you off.