Category Archives: photography

Modern Day Heroes

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WAG Presents Modern Day Heroes: Photography by Ian McCausland

Winnipeg, Manitoba, January, 2016:  The Winnipeg Art Gallery is pleased to present Modern Day Heroes, a new body of work by local photographer Ian McCausland. The exhibit features Winnipeg-based athletes portraying the gods and goddesses of Olympus: The Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin, the WAG’s current blockbuster show. Both exhibitions are on view until March 6.

Sophia Lee, principal dancer for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Moe Leggett, safety for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, are celebrated alongside two university athletes: wrestler Finn Higgins of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, and swimmer Kimberly Moors of the University of Manitoba Bisons.

“Artists in ancient times often regarded athletes as muses,” explains Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO, and the exhibition curator. “This connection is seen in Olympus, and now forms the basis of the Modern Day Heroes exhibit. The WAG is proud to partner with the athletes and organizations featured in the show, and we applaud Ian McCausland for capturing them so superbly.”

The four athletes each selected the god they identify with most for the photoshoot. Watch the behind-the-scenes videos at wag.ca/heroes to discover the heroic attributes that these modern day heroes possess.

“I am one of many artists over the centuries who have been inspired by the work contained in Olympus,” states McCausland. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to channel that inspiration into creating images of our modern day heroes.”

Olympus is a rare opportunity to see ancient Greek and Roman treasures on the prairies. As one of only two stops in North America, Olympus is Manitoba’s first major exhibition of classical antiquities in over half a century. Featured are over 160 works from the celebrated collection of the National Museums in Berlin: marble statues and reliefs, bronze statuettes, terracotta vases, and jewellery, some over 2,000 years old.

Visit olympus.wag.ca for details, and for the latest updates, follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook #OlympusWPG.

Jay Rose with The Petzval lens

Jay came by the studio recently to help me try out my new toy, my Petzval lens. It’s a replica lens made by the Lomographic society and it mimics the wonderful portrait lenes of the past. Not only does it look cool (hit this link to see) but it gives wonderful soft look that;s actually kind of hard to get with today’s super accurate lenses.
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the great thing about lenses like this is they react to adverse conditions in unique ways. I purposely aimed a light back at the camera and tried to get some flare patterns and create some happy accidents!
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The day she dropped by the weather was lousy so we shot in studio and used some painted backdrops I picked up awhile ago. This one reminded us of the movie 300 and I processed the images with that style in mind!Jya_Rose_by_Ian_McCausland-4

2015 UN International Year of Light

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The UN has declared 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based technologies.

As some one who relies heavy upon and uses light to make people and things look good, this declaration is near and dear to my heart!

Here’s an explanation from the official website:

In proclaiming an International Year focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the United Nations has recognized the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health. Light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an imperative cross-cutting discipline of science in the 21st century. It has revolutionized medicine, opened up international communication via the Internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.

These photos were all shot with my new toy, the Pixel Stick.

 

Sony A7s and Wasabi

Back in October I was lucky enough to try out the new Sony A7s, the latest camera in the A& line up. While its getting raves as a video camera, I had fun using it for still. I dropped in the food blogger event at Wasabi to try it out. Wasabi is the perfect location to try out a camera designed for low light. The cozy atmosphere and dim lighting makes for a wonderfully cozy environment and their sushi is unrivalled in this city.

As you can see here the Sony handled the task amazingly well. The more I play with this camera the more I can see myself using it. While I didn’t have wireless capabilities set up and running, I could have easily been tweeting and instagraming these images immediately as part of the event.As good as the iPhone is, it’s no match to this full frame chip!

You can view all the pics posted from this event here https://twitter.com/search?q=%23wasabiwpg&src=typd
Many Thanks to Wasabi of the invite to this event!

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Finding Vivian Maier and a photo festival

On Good Friday a bunch of us headed down to Cinematheque to see the documentary Finding Vivian Maier. Needless to say it was excellent. Afterwards we crossed the street to The Kings Head and talked photography, played with cameras and looked at photo books. I can’t tell you how valuable it is to get together with other photographers. I felt bad for a the few non-photogs in the group, as we shared all aspects of our passion for photography. I hope this excitement can live on and manifest itself in The Flash Festival in the works.


Snapseed

Snapseed_By_Ian_MccauslandMany wonder how I get some of the results I get with my iPhone. Here’s the before and after on a shot I took yesterday. Primarily the editing was done in Snapseed with a little bit of clarity added when posted by Instagram. Snapseed is my #1 go to app for editing pics on the phone, and its fun to use and best of all its FREE!

 

The Sony A7, Exposure and Festival du Voyageur

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You can see all my images over here, the low light shots in the cabins over here as well.

Cheeraz from Sony invited me again to one of the many events he holds through out the year. His goal is simple, to put Sony’s new camera in the hands of photographers. It’s in the real world use of gear where you find out it’s strengths, weaknesses, pluses and minuses. This weekend, the Festival du Voyaguer presented a wonderful opportunity to try out some of the new gear. The Sony A7 with the Zeiss 24-70mm was my primary setup, I also got to try the Zeiss 35mm 2.8 and my old Nikkor 50mm 1.4 on an adapter.

I have to say, I was surprised at how much fun this camera is to use! A bit bigger than a point n shoot and yet so much easier to lug around than even a small DSLR, the Sony was a treat to shoot with. I also have to admit I came at this demo with a biased toward the Fuji’s reto styling vs the squarish looking Sony. But in the hand this camera felt great to use, as was easy to hand hold with one hand. As much as I love to use my Fuji X100s I found this camera with the zoom to be just as fun to use. Using my 50mm 1.4 was a treat, the focus peaking easy to use in either the EVF or the back of the camera. The menu systems on the Sony do take some getting used to, coming from the Fuji and my Nikons. Configuring the demo camera in the bright sun posed a bit of a challenge, fortunately Cheeraz was on hand to help out.

I searched out the demonstrations of voyageur culture in the cabins within the fort, a notoriously dark scenario, with the rooms lit by two small windows. I had the focusing set at a single point and at single frame, and it worked no problem. I was eager to get home and see how these files looked and was impressed on how clean they looked in low light.

I tweaked the files in Lightroom with basic adjustments, but straight out of the camera they were quite acceptable. From a tighter edit of the shots in the cabins, I ran a few through some VSCO actions to evoke the nostalgia of the era. (yeah I know, the Voyageurs didn’t shoot film, you know what I mean!) Then I took those results and uploaded them to Exposure.

Exposure is a new subscription based service, offering online tool to create compelling photo narratives. A simple drag and drop interface and some text editing tools allow you to quickly create web based narratives that are easy to read online. Free accounts get you three projects to try out. I encourage you to play with it, it’s definitely a service to keep an eye on! you can see more example of it in use over at the Editor’s Picks

 

 

 

Our family portrait by Ramona Garbald Photography

McCausland_Xmas_2013-1 McCausland_Xmas_2013-2 McCausland_Xmas_2013-3People often ask me “Who do YOU get to do your family photos?!” They ask suspecting that perhaps I would be a very tough client to shoot, but to be honest I am super easy to photograph. I know how tough it is, so when someone makes it look so easy and makes me comfortable all the while creating wonderful images, I am impressed. We’re SO fortunate to be good friends with Ramona Garbald, who does exactly that, she made it look so easy and created some wonderful images of our family. We were fortunate enough to have a beautiful fall afternoon at the Living Prairie Museum.  We love this little green space so close to home and have had all sorts of wonderful encounters with nature in there. In fact  just before the shoot, we shoo’ed away a trio of resting white tail deer, and used the grass they trampled to pose in! We are so grateful to have these images Ramona took of us! That they were created by a friend makes them all that more meaningful to us. Check out her website for more amazing images.

I’d also like to share our holiday wishes with everyone who follows this blog. Here’s hoping you have a warm, safe and wonderful holiday season, and I look foreword to sharing an exciting 2014 with all of you!

 

Gregory Heilser 50 Portraits


I’ve been waiting for this book for 3 years!

Way back in Nov 2011 I was jazzed to drive 16 hours to Calgary to have the opportunity to hear Gregory Heisler talk for a couple days. The event was organized by the Prairie Chapter of CAPIC and members of CAPIC knew of his history, but as I mentioned it many other photographers the name was met by blank stares. If you weren’t in the biz back in the 90’s it seems you hadn’t heard of him. But for many of us, he was the kind of photographer we looked up to, over the years. The trip to Calagry was well worth it, Heisler’s openness to share stories from his huge career arc and inspire was amazing. You could ask him anything you wanted about any shoot, and he’s answer. As well he told many a story behind the scenes that you might not hear anywhere else. Then he did a little demo on his methodology which was fun. (you can see snaps of it here)

Then these past few years, slowly but surly Heisler seemed to gain more and more notoriety with the occasion video explaining his lighting and his approach to a shoot, and then his triumphants at Gulf Photo Plus Shootout, here and here. I’d hazard to say Hobby’s constant reverential posts on Heisler have done more for his increase on stature than anything else these past few years. There are a TON of articles and links to Heisler on his site. A Photographer’s Photographer indeed! So when this book finally came out it was eagerly anticipated to say the least.  Check out Dave Hobby over at Strobist champion the book.

When you first get into photography and specifically lighting, it really is a very technical field and you have to learn about about shutter speeds and f-stops, but after while once that stuff becomes second nature to you, (awhile being, like 10,000 hrs) you’d much rather talk about the WHY than the HOW.  This book is all about the WHY. While there is a technical break down of HOW in each example its really in the WHY that you come to understand his brilliance.

If you have a lighting obsessed photographer in your family this would be the book to get this holiday season. As well I noticed Dave Hobby’s Essential Strobists Bookshelf this week. I was about to create a post similar to this, but rather than duplicate this post, you’d be best to head over there and read all about it.

Kevin Frayer in Tacloban

Former Winnipeger  Kevin Frayer is currently in Tacloban documenting the devastation from Typhoon Yolanda. Kevin’s photos  just on Instagram alone, really give you a sense of the overwhelming and complete devastation the city is facing. Keep this in mind this week and buy tickets to this Friday’s fundraiser at the Burt, (Show) for the Philippines, put on by the the Filipino Journal 

CAPIC Prairie Chapter Blog

CAPIC Profile

I was recently featured on the CAPIC Prairie Chapter Blog

CAPIC is The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators.

CAPIC was founded in 1978 as a national, not-for-profit association dedicated to safeguarding and promoting the rights and interests of photographers, illustrators and recently, digital artists, working in the communications industry. Starting as a single group in Toronto, CAPIC has grown to six chapters, spanning the country from Halifax to Vancouver, with a membership of over 1030.

Deborah Turbeville R.I.P

Robert Peters just posted on his blog that Deborah Turbeville has passed away. Turbeville was one of three different women photographers in the 80’s who had a profound influence on me while forming my own vision. Turbeville, Sheila Metzer and Sarah Moon.

All three brought a romanticism to their work, and all three had this unique ability to bring a fine art sensibility to the fashion world.

You can read a great interview with Turbeville here. PDN’s obit is here She was 81.

 

 

Friday 5ive: Things I miss about Aperture

well it’s been awhile since I switched from Aperture to Lightroom, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about things I really miss about Aperture. LR fans knock the app all you want,(many do without trying it), but they are something I like better. Most of it is workflow related, and while some of these might seem like quibbles, a mere quibble day after day wears on you.

1. Importing mutiple cards. 

Before you get all uppity and send me links and the like, YES I KNOW there is a way to get multiple cards to import at the same time. The thing is you have to subvert the import process Adobe designed to import multiple cards at the same time. With Lightroom hitting VERSION 5ive you’d think they would have finally offering a quick intuitive way to ingest multiple cards at the same time. nope. Aperture has ALWAYS supported this from the very first version. I think it’s easier to support in Aperture’s workflow because of my next quibble

2. Aiming an import into a Collection/Project

I sit down to ingest a card or two or three from one shoot. I know I want this shoot in a collection named after this shoot. (Aperture= Project) Can I? No I can’t. I have to initially remember to select Previous Import then create a collection from that first card, then upon import of the next cards add then to that collection by hand. In Aperture I can aim several cards into one Project at once, or I can import one card at a time and have them load with a default to previous project. Heaven forbid I forget to add one card’s worth of images into my collection in Lightroom. several shoots later you have to scroll back to find that bunch of images and add them to the collection. (scrolling is one of those things I hate doing in LR see #4) Aperture will not let you import the images without putting them somewhere.

3. Brushes

Brushes within the adjustment bricks in Aperture are awesome. I used to use the colour brush all the time, and loved how they worked. I love the Detect Edges feature in the brushes, Adobe hasn’t been able to replicate that yet. Again they worked well as covered by the next quibble.

4. Subtle sliders

This is a quibble about UI. Apple’s influence in UI design is legendary. At one time, everything that worked on a Mac adhered to a set of UI conventions that made things immediately intuitive to use. One of the things Apple does is be subtle about things. Case in point, the sliders in Aperture vers Lightroom. They are finer in movement resulting is a much smoother transition. There is a reason there is a keyboard shortcut to adjusting the white balance in Lightroom, cuz using the slider is painful. Too much, too little, too far, back too much…scrolling same thing. Its these little things…

5. Tight integration to the OS. 

You can’t deny the value of having Aperture designed by Apple. The library, the projects, available within the Media Browser, the ability to send images to the photo stream. All well in good and some power users like myself barely touched those things. But what about being able to sort stuff by date added or modified? Adobe insists on only  listing my collections alphabetically and offering no way that I can see in listing them based on date created or modified. I won’t even begin to rant about the module aspect of LR’s workflow vs Aperture’s “do what you need when you need” approach. It’s just a different way of thinking.

I can imagine I’ll get some comments offering solutions to these quibbles, that would be great! As much as I miss these features, I have enjoyed many things about Lightroom ver4 and now ver5 that have made the switch worth it. I’ll save those for another blog post

BUT, for the $80 Apple wants to own Aperture, you can’t argue it’s an amazing piece of software. With the recent moves by Adobe I expect some people will seek out alternatives to the Adobe way fo doing things. I encourage photographer to take an honest look at Aperture.

Cornell Creme ice cream

Cornell Creme is a new company offering handcrafted delicious artisan ice cream using milk from their dairy farm in Manitoba. Jolene Olive designed their packaging and website and came by with Lisa to create images for use in all their marketing materials. Needless to say, I had to sample some ice cream and it really was amazing! Watch for it to hit stores this spring!

The Sony RX1

#sony #RX1 fer real!!

Cheeraz Fouad  from Sony was gracious enough to allow me to play with this new camera, Sony’s Cyber-shot RX1. Hotly anticipated, the mere mention I was receiving this camera, even for a short period of time, generated a buzz.

Why all the fuss? As you can see in the pic above, the camera fits in your hand and yet houses a sensor as big and sensitive as one in a high end DSLR. Couple that sensor with the top notch Zeiss 35mm F2 lens and preliminary reports are that results are amazing. Albeit at a price tag of $2700!

I recieved the camera mere hours before I was to drive to Brandon for the Grey Owl dinner sponsored by Manitoba Canola Growers. So I had no time to familarize myself with the camera. A crash course of 3 mins by Cheeraz is all I had. The camera is a solid brick and yet it was small enough to store in my sport coat pocket. It certainly didn’t take much more more room that say my Fuji X10 but felt much more substantial.

I also had my Nikon D4 as I was planning on shooting some pics of the event, but as we sat down for dinner, the DSLR gear went in the corner and the Rx1 sat at the table with me. In this scenario, a small sized camera like the RX1 was welcomed.

The results

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I think when everything comes together, this camera produces some amazing results.  The shot above for example, taken in the blackness of  the grill of a commercial  kitchen, reveals as much detail in the shadows as my D4.

Like all new cameras, I think you need to learn it’s quirks, strengths and weaknesses, adjust your behaviour accordingly and work with it. The biggest quirk to contend with is focusing. At time the camera would struggle in lowlight. In those cases I would grab the huge knurled ring on the front to try manually adjusting it, using focus peaking, but I found the throw on the focus ring to be too far to focus quickly. Again perhaps these things could be adjusted with the settings and the obligatory  firmware upgrade cameras of this calibre all seem to receive.

 

The only other limiting factor for me was the fixed 35mm lens. I’m not a street style shooter, I enjoy using zooms. Even a 35mm-70mm would be better, for my style of shooting. I will say this though, the lens seems very sharp and shooting at F2 is a wonderful bokeh dream!

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As you can see the files from this camera are extremely tight, very low noise, and great colour. I didn’t have time to explore the RAW files this camera generates, I simply shot Jpegs and they looked great straight of the camera.
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With the RX1 Sony is definitely commanding attention in this mirrorless camera market. To have a full sized sensor in some as small and compact as this camera, it’s truly amazing. Between this  cameraand the NEX series of cameras, Sony will definitely be one to watch.

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Illumination Lighting Seminar

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_IAN2896_IAN9468It’s back by popular demand! Feb 17th from 12-4pm The lighting seminar people have been asking for: You can sign up HERE

Get ready for another revealing session with Ian McCausland and Nghia Tran.

This time on the agenda, an informative look into the world of professional photography lighting.

Ian and Nghia will cover how to capture and create light for both the commercial and artistic side of the business. With all their years of experience combined, these two ultimate pros have been faced with every lighting situation possible and will share how to deal with the different scenarios we all come across on a daily basis in our photography career.

If you are a photographer who is planning on purchasing professional equipment and/or is currently using studio lights, this seminar is for you. You will learn how to do a professional studio set-up as well as learn how to capture your subjects creatively using off-camera flash.

Friday 5ive: advice to new photographers

This past week I had two seperate groups of red River Photo student come and interview as part of their course. I always make time for folks like this, its a great way to redefine some of my thoughts on things. I am sure both groups were a bit overwhelmed with my rants! So This 5ive will some advice I offered.  In no way to a profess these to be revolutionary or original thoughts, just some I think that are important.

1. Show up

In every sense. Show up on time. Show up ready to work. Show up by returning phone calls and emails, even the ones you cringe at. Show up as a photographer, as a business person, as someone who delivers service to people. We can all rant about crappy customer service, don’t let anyone rant about you. SHOW UP! Hand out that business card,anyone asks you are a photographer. If it’s apart time thing, still own it. When people ask what you do, you aren’t a Starbucks Barista who happens to do weddings, you are a Photographer who also assists in caffeine distribution.

2. Be Prolific.

Malcom Gladwell, talks about the idea of 10,000 hours invested into something is a good start on being an expert. I think there is something in that. Be prolific means take a lot of pictures, make a lot of images. Thats 10,000 PHOTOGRAPHING, Not running PS actions, not tweaking the themes on your Tumblr or reading the forums on Flickr or obsessing about the gear on twitter. 10,000 hours with camera in hand shooting what you want to shoot. Take pictures, every day, every waking moment, with your camera, your phone, a tin can, whatever. You are a photographer, PHOTOGRAPH!

3. Know the gear, forget about the gear.

You gotta know the gear. Know the gear so well so you can forget about the gear.  The females students who interviewed me laughed when I referenced this, cuz some of  the guys in the class are gearheads. Gearheads are half way there. They know the gear, but at some point you need to quit talking about the gear and start using it. Find that combo that sings for you. If you make amazing images with a 85mm wide open then shoot with that. If you like 35mm at F8, then mine that!  But find your thing and then USE it, to the point where using it is natural and intuitive to you. With the way the tech is now you could probably glide through a majority of stuff without knowing the gear really well. But when things go wrong, and they still can, horribly go wrong, or your faced with less than ideal conditions, knowing the gear will make things so much easier.

4.  Put it your vision out there for all to see.

Its really easy to post everything you take, out there on the networks for all to see. We all love those “likes”! But spewing forth everything isn’t presenting your defined vision. Make sure your portfolio site has the work you want to do. You’ve taken the time to know the gear, find your thing now make sure we can tell what it is. Share it with anyone who can offer an opinion. I told all the students who came to see, I wanted to see their work. To date I have yet to receive an email from anyone. They could be amazing photographers, but I have no idea. (I also didn’t get a business cards from anyone, after asking for mine) Whats the harm in letting one of your peers seeing what your are working on? Unless, you don’t consider yourself to be my peer, then you need to re-read #1!

5. Never ever stop learning.

Someone asked be “when did you feel you knew enough to feel established?” I joked with him and replied 20 years. But thats kinda true. I have never stopped learning. I love to read about how people do things, I watch behind the scenes videos, I assist people, I love looking at other people’s work, even friends travel snaps. All this informed and educates me and gives me insight on where my work fits into the world. I am constantly trying things, playing with lighting, testing, trying different processing.

Like I said nothing revolutionary. If photography is your “thing” I can’t promise it’s going to be easy. In fact I will guarantee it will be hard, fraught with frustration, heartbreak, pain and suffering. But we go through all that for the other moments, where we create the the images that speak to us and other people, when we connect with our subjects, when we bring happiness to someone’s life, hopefully ours.

Blue Monday Portraits

About a week or so ago on Friday the 18th I faced a few realizations. The first one was that Monday the 21st was going to be heralded as Blue Monday. Blue Monday is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.  The Monday you’re most likely to get the last of your bills from Christmas, the Monday you realized you’ve already compromised your New Year’s Resolutions, and the Monday it’s guaranteed to be COLD. I’ve since learned that the whole concept was a marketing ploy cooked up by some UK travel agencies, but it does have some validity. These are dark days of the winter.

I was facing Blue Monday with nothing to do, and decided to change that. I put the call out on Facebook for willing subjects. I wanted to work more with my 60 Softlighter but more importantly I wanted to really think about HOW I would photograph these people.  So often my work has constraints on it, wether it be editorial intent, or graphic concerns, or other distinct purposes, and yet when faced with the wide open prospect of doing a portrait for my own I found it, on occasion to be daunting.  What lens, what light, what look? I knew I had the weekend to think about it.

I consulted the masters I admire: Avedon, Penn, Corbijn, Watson, Parry among others.

Next fave: Anton Corbijn. Too much potassium ferrracynide used over The years trying to get his edgy b&w look!  #darkroomJoke #photobook
Next #photobook Albert Watson.
I have been in awe of Sarah Moon since the 80's. #photobook
Today's cool photo book. Notice Nigel Parry doing work for  mags again, love his style!

I found the work I gravitated towards was of a simple nature. The portraits I responded to the most invariably had little in the way of gimmicks or effects and simple show you the subject. I have always loved B&W and had already decided to shoot in B&W.

So with all that in mind, here’s what I ended up with. 4 people orginally volunteered, 3 showed up. The weather was nasty, -37C with a windchill that took it to -40C. So I thank these three for showing up!


 

I know what your thinking, “So… that’s it?” Yeah that’s it. But like everything, less is more. It would have been so easy to busy myself with more techy doo-dads or things to play with. In fact I fell in that trap to some degree, switching lenses to play with my lens baby, but that was a needless distraction from the core work. The key was paring away all the gear and the gimmicks, and focusing on connecting with the subject, which ultimately is the hardest part. In fact I may switch to shooting 4X5 and really get down to basics.

Did I succeed? It’s hard to say and who’s to know. Each of these sessions had their own unique dynamic, each their own moments of connection. I do know it’s something, I want to practise more. With that practise, a theme may emerge, one that says just as much about me as my subjects