Sisters Together!

DSCF2414-1(click to view higher resolution image)

I spent last night on the beach in Vancouver shooting two fabulous young ladies.  It was a great shoot, full of energy and laughs.

This was shot natural light, shooting directly into the sunset at English Bay in Vancouver.  Shooting into a bright light source can be tricky… a little bit of lens flare can add to a photo, but flare can also dramatically reduce contrast and detail in the image that is recorded in the camera.   Some people love lens flare, others don’t.  It really is a “season to taste” kind of thing.

I think it works here, adding to the crazy fun energy these two brought to the shoot.  I cannot describe the amount of laughing we did during this shoot!

Camera Speak:  Image recorded on A Fuji X-T1 with the Fuji 18-55mm lens.

Shooting dance on the beach at sunset with Fuji X Cameras


Last week I spent an evening with a remarkable young dancer shooting dance and yoga inspired images at Crescent Beach in South Surrey, BC (A suburb just outside of Vancouver).  We began shooting around 5:45pm, with a sunset scheduled for about 8:15pm.  As you can imagine it was very bright out still.

Once of the biggest challenges in photography is that our eyes can see a much wider range of light than our cameras can.  Our eyes may look at a beach at sunset and see detail in the rocks, in the sand, in the water, in the sky, etc.  Our cameras, however, cannot see the detail anywhere near as well.  If you have ever taken a photograph and had a white blown out sky behind a properly exposed image, or a properly exposed sky with everything in the foreground in total silhouette, you know what I am talking about.

The trick to making an image like the one above is to add flash.  You expose for the sky in the background, which makes everything in the foreground go dark like this:


Then, you add flash to light up your subject, and get something more like this:



For this series I used the Fuji X100s, my go to camera for most shooting situations these days.  I shot in manual mode, and set my exposure to underexpose the sky by a stop to bring in a little bit more colour (underexposure often adds a little saturation).  The Fuji X100s was ideal for this evening because of it’s leaf shutter, allowing for faster shutter speeds to darken the sky a bit and prevent it from blowing out.

I then added an old Nikon SB-25 flash on a stand to camera left, shooting toward Marcela’s face.  This was triggered wirelessly with Pocket Wizards.


Once you do it a few times it becomes very easy to expose a photograph like this.  That is only the technical side of it though.

…and the technical side only gets you so far.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, considered by some to be the father of photojournalism and street photography, once described “The Decisive Moment”.  This is what great photographs are all about.

Think of the iconic photographs we have in the world (the young JFK junior saluting his father’s casket, the little girl from Vietnam who was just burned with napalm walking toward the camera, the sailor in Time’s Square in NYC bending over the lady and kissing her when the war was finished)….. timing and emotion will always trump the technical.

Working with athletes as gifted as Marcela provides an almost unlimited amount of opportunity to practice shooting at the decisive moment.   Sure these moments aren’t historical game changers, but athletes can typically repeat the same moment over and over, allowing you to refine your timing and capture the image you see in your mind.

Even more important though is trying to capture something as beautiful as dance in a still image…. not an easy task.


This was the image I wanted when I headed out that night.   I wanted something dramatic that captured the beauty and power of this talented dancer, and I think we got it.  There aren’t many summer sunsets left this year…. get out and shoot a few decisive moments too!




Subject, Background, Lighting

I was at the PNE the other day with my family.  As always, I had my little Fuji X100s hanging by my side in case I saw anybody or anything that captured my interest.

You would think that the PNE would be an easy place to shoot street photography, given the number of people surrounding you at all times.  The problem is finding something different, something that stands out.

Zack Arias, Kevin, Mullins, Bert Stephani, David Hobby… all of my photography “idols” talk about an amazing photograph needing three things:

  • Subject
  • Lighting
  • Background

Kevin Mullins, an amazing documentary style wedding photography, also talks about the fact that an amazing photograph needs to capture “the moment”.

The problem at a place like the PNE is not being able to find a great subject… you are surrounding by great subjects.  It is finding a great subject, against a clean background, standing in the right light.  When I saw this gentleman standing there posed perfectly, lit perfectly, against a clean background…. let’s just say I may have almost knocked a few small children over to get this picture. 🙂

The Fuji X100s also helped make this photograph possible.  It is small, discreet, and always with me.  It helped me capture a photograph of this distinguished looking gentleman which, together with a bag of those little donuts, made for a successful day at the fair!