Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review....

Kennebecasis Valley firefighters George Cole, left, and Grant Graham, carry a cage with two dogs that were rescued along with their owner from a car that ended up partially submerged in the Renforth Bog along Highway 1 in Rothesay on Sunday morning. The vehicle hydroplaned, striking and going over the guardrail, hitting the embankment, flipping over completely before landing in the water. The driver was taken to hospital with non life threatening injuries.
So it's been a really interesting year...February saw my return to taking photographs for the Telegraph-Journal after over a year of slapping together text and photos on pages....
It was weird picking up the camera again...hadn't caressed a Canon in a long time...

I thought I'd share some of my favourite photos from the past year.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zelda Halloween Costume

Well, I had fun with making this and some good comments, so I'd thought I'd post a bit about it.
My son Gabriel is a big fan of retro gaming...he loves anything old. So we have a Sega Master system, Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance, and of course lots of games on the Wii from the Virtual Console(old games that you can download and play on the Wii.)

So, when coming up with an idea for a costume for Halloween, he wanted to do something Nintendo related. We just recently bought the Wii game Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess, and he had downloaded some of the older Zelda games as well, so he though he'd like to go as Link (The hero of the game for those who aren't/were never gamers or don't have kids...)

It just so happened that the element in our oven had died, and the box was sitting next to the kitchen table...and the idea came. Why not go as a Nintendo cartridge?

Since I didn't have any Nintendo cartridges kicking around the house, I went to Google and found some photos of various cartridges. And of course I came across the Legend of Zelda gold version of the cartridge...which I had completely forgotten about. So we had our idea.

So then I had to make it look like a cartridge.

Also wanted to try to get it to scale, so I measured the photo of the real cartridge, then did math (i hate math) to scale it to the box size.

There was an indentation on the top of the cartridge where your thumb was supposed to go (how many of you got bruises from banging your thumb on the top of the open in the NES?), but I realized that creating that would mean Gabe probably wouldn't fit into the costume. Same thing goes with the indents that should be on the bottom.

For the ridges on the cartridges, I took a box of alphabets cereal, measured out the right dimensions and cut a bunch of rectangular strips.

Then, gold spray paint! Did almost three coats as for some reason, the writing on the box kept coming through the paint. Sprayed all the little ridge strips as well.

Originally I was going to try to draw the label, but decided that wouldn't look great..but I was able to get a higher resolution photo that had the label nice and big, so I just printed that off to scale. It's not the exact label, but it was the only one that was high enough resolution to print, so it's close enough.

Glued on the label, glued on the strips. Cut the holes for Gabe's head and arms (had to cut the head hole twice, he's got a huge noggin...)
Last step was to use one of the cut holes to make the triangle on the box. Glued it on, and we're done!

The costume didn't need any extra safety additions as the entire costume is reflective.
The only problem...the width of the box meant he couldn't hold his candy bag with both hands!

The whole thing completely ties in with the fact that this year is the Legend of Zelda's 25th Anniversary, and the newest game they are releasing for the Wii (Legend of Zelda-Skyward Sword) comes with a gold colored Wii remote.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fundy Discovery Aquarium

Hello all!
Spent some time at the newly opened Fundy Discovery Aquarium in St. Andrews, thought I'd pass on some info on getting great shots of the new exhibits! For the month of September, the admission is half price as all exhibits aren't complete yet.

First off, to get the most shooting opportunities, you must go when it's sunny outside. The tanks are on the sides of the building, and the water cuts a lot of light out. If it's overcast, there won't be enough light to get shots.
I would suggest going sometime between 11am-1pm. That way the sun will be high in the sky shining right down.

The aquarium has two touch pools, one that is full of Little Skates, and one that is full of all sorts of aquatic life!

The problem is that the light is not bright enough to shoot handheld. So you have two options-tripod, or using flash.

If you are going to use the tripod, the Skates are out. They are moving around too much to get a sharp picture. The touch pool however would be fine. I would suggest using a polarizer to remove glare from the surface of the water. You'll have to shoot completely still objects however.

The BETTER method is to use flash. However, there is one problem with flash...

Yep, pretty harsh.Not to mention if you shoot from directly above, the flash will reflect back at the camera. Not pretty.

To fix this, you want to use the flash off-camera, either through a off camera flash cord, or trigger your flash wireless.
Just compare the difference: Images on the left are done with direct flash, the right are done using the off-camera flash cord.

Off camera flash cords are about $100 or so. Buy one.
If you have a pop-up flash, you'll have to try to avoid shooting directly from above to avoid the reflection...but you'll still get the glare.

I used MANUAL mode on my flash, but you could also use TTL. You may need to use the flash exposure compensation and turn it up a bit as the water will cut the light.

ISO-400. You will be using the flash to light the tank

SHUTTER SPEED-You can use your highest sync speed (usually 1/200th of a second or slower) to ensure anything that is moving won't give you a bit of blur.

APERTURE-Since you are close to the objects, and your flash is close, you can use F11/F16 to get lots of depth of field.

Skates are really awesome...they will actually come up to the surface to greet you and allow you to touch them on top, and below!
Shoot with the same flash techniques as above.

You should use MANUAL(M) shooting mode, because every other mode is just going to blow the exposure because of the darkness of the water.

ISO-As long as the sun is shinning into the tank, 400 is fine. Otherwise, you may have to jack it up to 800/1600.

SHUTTER SPEED-The occupants of the tank don't swim too fast, so 1/250th of a second will be fine to freeze them.

APERTURE-Pretty well you'll just have to try an aperture and shoot until the exposure looks good. Because of all the dark water, the meter's going to give you the wrong exposure.
F8 worked great for me. But the exposure will change based on the light. Both photos below were taken at the same exposure, 1/250th at F8.

I personally preferred the darker light!

You can also play with the exposure a bit for different effects with the light. If you want more detail on the fish, open up the aperture more. The following spiny dogfish and the salmon were shot at F5, which gave me a bit more detail on the fish as well as some nice light coming through his fins.

You can also use the interior window as a nice framing element.

You can also try some nice close ups too!

The water filters the sunlight, giving it a very green cast. I used DAYLIGHT(SUN) balance, because I didn't mind the cast. To me, it says "underwater"
Since I was shooting RAW however, I knew I would be able to adjust this later if I didn't like the results.
To to see what the images would look like, in Camera Raw I tried a few different balances. Basically none of the presets gave me anything I tried AUTO, and voila! The image on the left is with DAYLIGHT, the one on the right is AUTO (5750 temperature, +30 magenta). While it shows the color the skate would be out of water, it doesn't show how it looked to my eye.


Flash is not going to work very well, as it will reflect back at the camera. My only suggestion is to try to put the camera lens right on the glass, that way it's less likely to reflect. I tried some shots with the flash off-camera, but the light just reflected everywhere.
Flash can be used however to get a good photo of your family in front of one of the tanks...use the same shutter speed/aperture as above, then pop up the flash. To avoid the glare off the back, I put my tall daughter in the middle!

just watch out for...

cue Jaws music....

Most of the other tanks are very poorly lit...with the non-moving life like the lobsters, you could try shooting on tripod. I tried some shots with off-camera flash, but the light just bounced everywhere. You can try putting the lens right up to the glass, but the results I was getting was disappointing.

Well...i personally don't really like the new set up for the seals from a photography standpoint.. It's great to be able to see them under the water, no question...but it's really hard to photograph. I'm not sure if the sun shines down into that side tank...if it does, you will get the same light as above. It might happen more in the morning. The above viewing area doesn't give you the same view as the previous might be that the seals can swim underwater more now so they do...I don't really know.

So if you get a chance, head down to St. Andrews and check out the new Fundy Discovery Aquarium!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perseids Meteor showers peak this weekend!

The annual Perseids Meteor Showers is happening this week! So get out your tripods, get a cup of Tim's, and go shoot them! Here's some tips on how!

Pre-Shooting Preparation:
Charge your batteries fully before going out. It might be a bit colder at night, and that can affect battery life. Wear some warm clothes, a hat, and gloves. Bring some hot beverages, some friends, and make it a fun outing! At least you'll have someone to talk to between exposures.
Also bring a flashlight or LED keychain light so you can see what you are doing when changing your settings. A headlight looks dorky, but it let's you works with both hands.

Time to Go Out:
Here's the problem. They are best viewed after midnight, with 1-2am being the prime time. There could be as many as 50-80 meteors per hour. The peak nights will be Saturday and Sunday after midnight.

Where to Go and Sky Conditions:
You want to be as far away from the City/Town as possible to reduce the amount of light pollution. Find a dark road out in the country somewhere far away from street lights.
Obviously it has to be a clear night that you can see the sky.

Finding the Meteors

You should be able to see lots of meteors looking to the northeast.

Do I Need A Tripod?
YES and the heavier the better!

Start with 400 ISO and see how much detail you can pick up. If you aren't getting enough details, try 800 ISO.

You want to use a wide(16-35mm) to normal lens(50mm) so you can get a wide range of sky area. 

Shooting Mode: Has to be MANUAL as you need to set the shutter speed and aperture.
Shutter Speeds:
The longer the speed you use, the more meteors you will get. However, if you go too long, the stars will begin to form trails.
To figure out how to long to shoot the stars without getting trails, you can use this general guide.
Divide 600 by the length of your lens, and that is how many seconds you should use. For example, if you are using a 17mm lens, 600/17mm= 35 seconds.
However, if you do long exposures like 30minutes to 1 hour(or longer), you will get star trails that look neat along with the straight lines of meteors. The photo above was done for three hours(although you can see the light pollution made the sky brownish instead of black!) Note you will need a cable release or remote, and use BULB mode to do this. No way you can hold the button down for 1-3 hours...
NOTE: Many digital cameras will max out the shutter length at 30 minute to prevent overheating and damage..most likely that will be the longest you can do.

Use your widest aperture (smaller number, for example 3.5/4.5) to let in as much light as possible. If you find the meteors coming out a bit bright, you can stop down one setting. If you have a lens that has a really wide aperture(1.8/2.8) that is even better!

You have to use MANUAL focus and focus on the stars or set the focus on the lens to Infinity.

White Balance:I would suggest shooting RAW, and then playing with the white balance if needed. Had I shot the one at the top raw, I could have switched to TUNGSTEN/INCANDESCENT balance to correct for the orange. 
If you are shooting JPEG, do a test using DAYLIGHT/FULL SUN and see how it looks. If you do have things lit up by ambient light around you(like street lights, etc) you may want to use TUNGSTEN/INCANDESCENT instead, but it could make the sky go a bit too blue.

Other Shooting Tips:
-If you want to include trees, mountains, the horizon, etc they will provide an interesting silhouette shape and scale.
-You could also try using a flash during the exposure to light up the trees!
-Have an old film camera kicking around? Haul her out, throw in some ISO 400 film, and take some long exposures!(You have to have to use a cable release)

So go out there, have some fun, and send me some great shots or post them in the online student galleries if you have a login!

Hope you get clear skies!

Noel Chenier

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fun with Sparklers!

With New Brunswick Day(or whatever Province-you-are-in day) coming up, I thought I'd share some tips on getting some interesting images with sparklers!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shooting Video with a DSLR...First Thoughts!

As the Telegraph-Journal revamps our online presence, it has been determined that we need to incorporate video into our content. For the past while, I've been shooting with a Canon 1d Mark IV (Drrrrrrrrrroooooooooooooooooooooool) experimenting with video. Thought I'd share some of my thoughts, and more important, the results.

To be honest, I wasn't all that keen on video. I've been a photographer a long time, and to me, the still image is one of the most powerful ways to tell a story. There have been many occasions however when the still image can't tell the story a way a moving image can.

So my first time, I was playing around with the camera at Reversing Falls in Saint John. Experimented shooting handheld versus monopod versus questions tripod wins every time. Handheld is too shaky, monopod is a bit better, but tripod easily provides the steadiest video. The video is here:

As you can see, I was playing around with focus, apertures and depth of field. It's interesting shooting with different apertures and getting the proper exposure with the shutter speed. I definitely love having that control to get different effects. I've gotten pretty good with the shot using shallow depth of field, focusing farther in the scene, then focusing on a closer object. Well, it took a few takes to get the good final clips of course...
One thing that sucks is the lack of autofocus during shooting...if you try to autofocus, the exposure goes crazy. So you are basically forced to use autofocus.
i tried to shoot rugby, but it didn't really work as I was trying to both zoom and manually focus.

Happened upon some fellows taking advantage of the wind on the Kennebecasis River to windsurf. Playing around with different clips, including my first interview. At this point I didn't know how extract audio from clips for a voiceover in iMovie. Good example of how crappy the on-camera microphone is too.

Editing the video is a whole other ball of wax. Since I'm not sure how much editing I'll be doing at work, or what kind of software we will be using, I chose iMovie to start off. Pretty easy to figure out interface, and just started going at it. Not a bad program to use for basic stuff.

The next video was shot of members of my son's Cub troop planting trees at the qplex trails. For this one, I decided to try mixing in interviews with the clips. I also figured out how to do voiceovers, add titles, and transitions!

Overall, it took about 45 minutes to shoot the clips, then about three hours to download, edit, and export. This was mainly because I have no idea what I'm doing really.


The next video project was a story of Gallery Glance piece...a short clip about an show at a gallery. Peter Buckland has always been open to have pictures taken, so I figured he go for it.
The idea was to have images of the art, with an interview clip, and information about the artist or artwork.

I was pretty happy with how the clip turned out, it's something that could be a regular feature maybe for the arts page of the new website.

This last video has absolutely no relation to anything I'll be doing for work, but it was my birthday, we were at my brother-in-law's, so I thought I'd have some fun.

It was a really good editing exercise, and it was fun to do. I hope you enjoyed it! I'm thinking of some sequel ideas if I have some time...

I've still got lots of learning to do, but here are some tips for anyone looking at shooting video with your DSLR. Once I get more proficient in it, I will probably start doing some slr video workshops.

1) USE A TRIPOD. Only way to get steady video
2) Use an external microphone if you can. The on camera microphone picks up way too much background noise, including your movements and clicking of dials.
3) Get BIG memory cards. If you are shooting HD, it doesn't take long to fill up a card. 16GB is pretty much the minimum.
4) Avoid zooming and panning, unless you are filming a moving subject.
5) Don't use auto white balance. Choose the right balance and leave it. If you use auto white balance, the colors will change and the clips won't match.
6) Make sure you have batteries in your microphone (not from personal experience, but a lesson learned by an photo intern who shall remain unnamed....)
7) It's hard to see the LCD outside, so I would recommend getting a hoodman cinema kit or the loupe to make it easier to focus.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've been pretty lax with assignments, I apologize...Today I had an assignment to shoot a glass of Guinness...and had some fun with it. So i thought, why not make it an assignment!!!

So, the assignment is to photograph your favourite beverage in a creative way!

A couple of suggestions:

This is the important one. Depending on your drink, you may be able to get some really cool effects by shining light through it.

The photo above was taken with the flash directly behind the glass. You'll need to be able to trigger your flash off camera (I used pocketwizard's to trigger the flash)

Here's another one with the flash pointed downward a bit more:

You may want to try using cardboard or a snoot to focus the light on the beverage so it doesn't spread around too much.

You could also achieve this effect by putting the beverage in front of a window.
Make sure you meter for the inside light on the glass when using NATURAL LIGHT.

I also did some interesting shots with:

Flash held directly above:

Off camera flash cord, bounced off the ceiling:

Again, with the off camera cord or wireless triggering, but this could also be done using a lamp or spotlight with the camera on a tripod.

This was a cool one I did for a story about water quality:

You could also try some slow shutter speeds and zoom, pan, rotate.

There is a folder under assignments here:

Create a new album and upload your pix!

Have some fun, if you have any questions, fire me an email!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2010 Photographs of the Year-Public Vote!

Just for fun, I've decided to have a separate voting for the 2010 Photographs of the Year and let the general public vote!

head to:

Take a look, and vote for the four shots you think are the best! Forward this to anyone who enjoys photography and might be interested in casting their ballot, tell your friends to vote for you pix, even if you’ve voted in the contest for members of learnphoto, feel free to do so again!

I’ll have voting on until Sunday February 13th and announce the winner on Monday Feb 14th!


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