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.

SPOT NEWS 

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.

 Spot news is always about being the right place at the right time.  My favourite spot news shot (above) was taken on a Sunday morning.  I had actually planned to get up early to try to get my work done and leave early, but I accidentally slept in.  But of course, had I not done that, I wouldn’t have come across this accident on my way to work.
A woman had hydroplaned on the highway, with her car hitting the guardrail, flipping over, landing on the side of the hill, and then flipping over a final time to land wheels down (thankfully) into the Renforth Bog.  As I got there, the firefighters had already extricated her from the car and were hauling her up the hill.  As I was shooting paramedics attending to her, I heard a firefighter shout that they had dogs in the car.
So I ran back over and was able to get a great image of firefighters carrying two soaking wet and shivering dogs from the car.  And all because I accidentally slept in!
Thankfully, both driver and doggies were all right!

After ripping a banner, an unidentified man tells Cathy Holtmann,left, Elizabeth McGahan, and others from the Purple Stole Society who were taking part in a silent vigil outside the Catherdral of the Immaculate Conception on Waterloo Street that “The Pope has spoken” on the issue of women in the priesthood and that they should leave.
A vigil at a cathedral isn’t exactly the kind of place you would expect to get a great spot news image, but that’s what happened on this night.  It was the annual Purple Stole Vigil, held to protest the fact that women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church.  This year however, there was a second group of women wearing white stoles, in support of the church’s doctrine.
As I was taking a photograph of the two groups standing in front of the church, i could hear yelling and screaming to my left.  When i ran to the other side, there was a man grabbing and ripping one of the purple stole groups banner.  I quickly ran over, and got into the perfect position to capture the man screaming at the women to get out of the church as they were not welcome, with both of his hands up and thumbs pointed illustrating get out.

GENERAL NEWS

A motorist, unaware that tolls had been removed from the Saint John Harbour Bridge, tosses a toonie towards a hole that used to have a basket to corrall money.

The afternoon they took the tolls of the Harbour Bridge in Saint John was quite the experience.  There was no official removal announcement, all of sudden you didn’t have to pay anymore…but they didn’t exactly tell anyone that. 
They had taken away the baskets that helped collect any badly aimed coins, but they had not put up any signs to let motorists know that they no longer had to pay the toll.
So as I am trying to get some interesting photographs of cars blurred through the now free booths, motorist are slowing down, lowering their windows, and holding out their money only to stop in confusion…until I tell them the tolls are gone and wave them through.  This continues for the entire time I am there, and I was able to get a great image of a motorist tossing a toonie into the box.

Barber Blaine Harris pauses with his scissors as he and customer Larry Morrison watch Finance Minister Blaine Higgs deliver the budget on the television at the Lancaster Barber Shop on Tuesday afternoon.

It was budget day in New Brunswick, which I had covered annually when I worked out of Fredericton.  The challenge this year was to find some way to illustrate it from Saint John.
I was trying to figure out where in Saint John people would be watching the budget that might provide an interesting image.  Unlike a major sporting event, it wouldn’t be on the big screens at the local pub, bar, or even the electronics store.  But then I realized the one place where politics is discussed on a regular basis is the barbershop.
Having previously photographed Blaine Harris at the Lancaster Barber Shop, I knew he was photographer friendly.  As the time neared for the budget to be read in the house, I went to the shop and set up.  All I needed was someone to walk in for a cut.
As the Minister rose to begin to deliver the budget, I was still waiting for a customer…and after a few minutes, began to worry..Fortunately, Larry Morrison walked in for a cut and sat down.  Blaine began cutting his hair as Larry watched the speech.  As the speech turned to small business in New Brunswick, Blaine then put the scissors down to paused to listen, and I had my front page photo.

 

A group of young adults hug at the scene of a fatal fire at 2 First Street.

This photograph was taken the morning after a deadly fire in the North End that led to death of a young teen. It’s never fun photographing events like this, but I still have to do my job and try to get a photo that tells the story.  I do my best to be respectful, standing farther back and not getting in close.   Here a group of teens had converged to share their grief, and I was able to get the shot from across the street.

Donald Peters, President and CEO of Horizon Health Network, ponders a media question at a news conference at the Saint John Regional Hospital.

News conferences usually don’t provide opportunities for great photos, but sometimes if you are paying attention you can come back with something more interesting than a talking head!
This photograph of Horizon Health CEO Donald Peters was taken during a news conference relating to concerns about the operating room system voiced by doctors.  After a question from the media, Peters put his hands together and paused to collect his thoughts before answers, and I had the front page image.  

SPORTS IMAGES 

The reason I got into photojournalism originally was my love of sports.  I started out taking photographs of my friends snowboarding and playing hockey, and went to school with the idea of becoming a sports photographer.  After a few years of working for the paper, my love of shooting sports dwindled.  I think this is mostly because a lot of sports shooting ends up being laying on the motor drive to get a good sequence of action.  But even then, there are still great moments and expressions that can be found in those sequences.  Getting back to shooting sports did reawaken my former passion for the subject however.

Kennebecasis Valley’s Brodie Cassata is held by L’Odyssee’s Ange Busungu during girls rugby action at Usher Miller Field.

 Rugby can be a hard sport to shoot as there is a lot of movement (once the ball is free from a scrum of course), but there is also a lot of emotion with the faces as bodies crash into one another.  I loved this one showing the efforts in the face of Brodie as she does her best to get free of Ange, who is trying her best to haul her down. 

Saint John Sea Dogs captain Mike Thomas gets a shot on net despite the leaping attempt by Cape Breton Screaming Eagle Stephen Woodworth during first period action at Harbour Station.

Hockey was the sport I loved the most when I first started, but one that I honestly find the least interesting to shoot now as it truly is the lay on the motor drive sport.   Still liked this one with the Screaming Eagle Woodworth “taking flight”

Saint John Wanderers running back Jonathan Haines flies over teammate Charlie Harron and Ottawa Invader Erik Faucon  during an exhibition game between the Ottawa Invaders and the Saint John Wanderer on Saturday night.

Football is a sport that can be a lay on the motor drive, as with the image above, but the element of passing, kicking, and fumbles can bring more elements to work with.  When a quarterback drops back to pass, the game for the photographer becomes trying to track who the target is.  The image below was a good example of that, where I lucked out and got the right reciever, who unfortunately(for his team) couldn’t reign in the pass.

Saint John Wanderers receiver Josh Blanchard and Ottawa Invader Erik Faucon hit turf after a missed catch during an exhibition game between the Ottawa Invaders and the Saint John Wanderer on Saturday night.

 

Saint John Millrats forward Terry Martin gives it his best effort, but can’t grab a loose ball before it goes out of bounds and crashes into the front row during first quarter action against the Halifax Rainmen at Harbour Station.

Basketball is a sport where the easy shot is to set up under the basket.  Basketball is one of the faster sports, and made difficult by the quick movement of the ball from one side or the court to the other.  I usually start shooting the game under the basket to get the safe shot, but then like to put on a longer lens and head to the corners to try to some good mid-court action.  Loved this shot of a Saint John Mill Rat trying to grab a loose ball, but it’s mainly the expression of the fans as they try to avoid getting hit by his body that makes the photo for me. 

Saygun Atkas of Fundy United tries to get the ball through against a line of Fredericton Picaroons Red players during NBPSL action at UNBSJ.

Soccer is one of the sports where there is lots of action, but I’ve found most of the shots to be similar.  However, when an event like a penalty kick comes about, there is usually a better photo opportunity.
Again, another image where the action is secondary to the reaction, this time of the players trying to avoid injury from a ball being kicked right at them!

UNBSJ Seawolves middle Nadine Savoie, left, watches as Kelcie Levesque digs out a serve against the University of British Columbia Okanagan during the CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championship at UNBSJ.

By far though, the sport I find the most difficulty shooting is volleyball.  Number one, it is always played in low light gymnasiums.  It’s also been the sport where I have gotten the most complaints from players/coaches about using flash.  If you can get up high, there is always the spiking or block the ball shot at the net, but the real challenge is getting floor action.   Because the ball moves so quickly, it can be hard to frame the shot in time to get the ball in the frame, let alone get your focus for a sharp image.  I loved the expression on the player as she returns a spike.

 

NEWS PORTRAITS
The goal of every photo is to tell a story, especially when it comes to portraits.  For news stories, sometimes it can be a challenge to both illustrate the story and take a good portrait.

Andrew Wood was flagged during a criminal background check because he shares the same birthday as a registered sex offender.

This was one of my favourites.  Andrew Wood had applied for a job but because his birthday was the exact same date as a registered sex offender, he would have to be fingerprinted and wait possibly months to be cleared.
I was going to meet him at City Hall, which of course had nothing to do with the story.  But as I am there, I noticed the reflections in the glass exterior walls, so I had him stand next to the glass, which provided an interesting reflection.  I felt this tied in nicely with the idea of identity.

David Lutz in a room on the lower level of his Hampton home that has been converted to a bedroom for his recovery from surgery.
David Lutz in a room on the lower level of his Hampton home that has been converted to a bedroom for his recovery from surgery.

Prominent local lawyer David Lutz had endured a long and painful wait of over three days for surgery, and was recuperating at his home in Hampton.  As he cannot go upstairs, it was necessary to create a makeshift bedroom in the downstairs.  Trying different arrangements and lighting, I really liked the top one best.

Cliff Turner at his home in Grand Bay-Westfield where he is recovering from a broken leg.

Cliff Turner at his home in Grand Bay-Westfield where he is recovering from a broken leg.

The next day, I had to photograph local teacher and artist Cliff Turner, who had a similar experience at the hospital as David Lutz.  The challenge for me was trying to take something different of what essentially was the same story! Cliff’s situation was a bit different, as he was a bit more mobile with a broken leg.  I really loved the color of the ottoman contrasting the dark black of the sofa.

Elizabeth McGahan wants the Catholic church to allow women into the priesthood.

You probably recognize this lady, as you saw her previously in the vigil photo above.  This was taken a few days previous, as we were doing a story about the event.  With most portraits, I try to try different angles, lighting, and techniques to create something interesting.  The one above was my favourite of the shoot, as I really liked the lines of the lights that draw you to her.  Below are two other likes from the shoot.  I was really drawn to the lines of the pews in the one directly below, and the inclusion of the stained glass in the second.

Elizabeth McGahan wants the Catholic church to allow women into the priesthood.
Elizabeth McGahan wants the Catholic church to allow women into the priesthood.
UNB Graduate student Karen Vanderwolf and Don McAlpine, Research Curator at the New Brunswick Museum, holding a bat and a specimen of a fungus that is killing them.

I always like to play with light, and while it’s easy to do, monster lighting usually doesn’t work for most subjects.  However, when the story is about bats, I knew instantly I wanted to use it!
This story was about a fungus that is killing bat colonies, and I was assigned to photograph Don McAlpine from the New Brunswick museum.  I knew he would have some bat specimens, but I didn’t count on the fact that there was another person working on the project, graduate student Karen Vanderwolf.  Posing two people with smaller objects can pose a problem as it can be hard to make the objects large enough.  However I was able to get Don holding the fungus and Karen Holding the bat, and the monster lighting provided not only a cool light on the faces, but also backlit the batwings.

Rodney McGrath with the pirate ship he built and now has to take down at his home in East Saint John.

So I have to go photograph a man who built a pirate ship in his backyard…how could I lose?    I wasn’t really expecting the sombrero though.
Rodney McGrath is a bit of a character you could say.  He decided to build the pirate ship to add to the “tropical oasis” he was creating in the back yard of his home in Red Head.  Only problem was that city inspectors deemed it a hazard to public safety and ordered it torn down.
Technically it was a bit of a challenge, because when we went there to do the story, the sun was directly behind the ship.  The sun is great when it’s in the right spot, but on this day I was wishing for a cloud, but had nothing but blue skies.  So I had to set up a couple of flashes to the left to light up Rodney and the ship. I also liked the farther away shot below.  Definitely made for an interesting city front the next day.

Rodney McGrath with the pirate ship he built and now has to take down at his home in East Saint John.
FEATURE PORTRAITS

Feature portraits are great, as you aren’t limited to trying to tell a news story, but tell about the person.  The challenge can be to tell that story sometime.  Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right background or prop to tell the story.

Diane Govindsamy, originally from South Africa, in front of an artwork which she and other women created during a workshop at Prude Inc in Saint John.

This portrait of Diane Goindsamy is a good example of finding a nice colorful background.  She’s very photogenic to begin with, and the background ties in nicely as it was a work of art she had helped create.  As anyone who has been photographed by me, I don’t just take one photo…I always look for other options.
In her office, Diane had some statues that I decided to frame her with, which of course speaks to her South African heritage.

Atlantic Wallboard manager Steve Witt among the hundreds of stacks of product.

This shot of Atlantic Wallboard manager Steve Witt was one of a huge number of different compositions.  The idea was to show the fact that the company was trying a cycle of producing a huge amount of product, then shutting down.  There were hundreds of stacks of drywall in the factory, and I made Steve small in the frame to emphasize that.

Quispamsis Author Joan Hall Hovey at her home.

To get the blur in the photo of author Joan Hall Hovey, I used slower shutter speeds with camera movement to provide some interesting blur.  I did it because I was trying to covey a spooky mood, as she write horror/thriller fiction.  However, she really wasn’t into doing a monster lighting shot.  Thankfully it was a dark day out, so I was able to get some really slow speeds with flash to provide the effect.

Cellist Lydia Mainville of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra at her home in Hampton.

Really loved these series of poraits of Lydia Mainville, who was heading off on a big trip with the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra.  Her cello and other musical accoutrements made for great framing elements along with her colorful suitcases.  I felt it was perfect, until I realized how nice and colorful the cello case was!

FEATURE IMAGES 
Even if there aren’t any assigned photos, I’m still expected to take them.  So I’m always out and about looking for interesting images.

6 year-old Nathan Coleman follows closely behind his grandfather Frank MacDonald as he helps clear off the latest snowfall in the driveway of his home on Cedarwood Drive in Millidgeville.

In fact, my first day back shooting was a big snowstorm, so weather shots were the order of the day! The shot above was my fav of my first day back.  Nothing beats cute kid photos, with this little guy out helping his grandfather clear the driveway. 

Joe Cormier rides the waves on his stand up paddle board as he enjoyed an afternoon in the Bay of Fundy off the beach on Sea Street in west Saint John.
On days with lots of waves, I would usually head down to Saints Rest Beach or Bayshore Beach on West Saint John, where I could usually find people watching the waves, and maybe a windsurfer.  This shot was taken of Joe Cormier riding a stand-up paddleboard, something I hadn’t even seen before.  I took advantage of the backlighting to silhouette Joe (any of you who have followed my work over the years will be shocked I know)
Jarod Kelly waits for the water to pour out from his soaked shoes as he and friend Grant Lynch try to figure out how to get their ice shack out of the Kennebecasis River at the Renforth Wharf in Rothesay. The pair had left their shack on the ice where they though the beach was, but after the ice melted it ended up in the water.
I was really desperate for a valley standslone on this day, and I literally drove through Rothesay and Quispamsis three times to try to find SOMETHING.  I thought I’d try the Renforth Wharf, where I might find some ice fisherman taking down their shacks.  As I arrived two younger guys were attempting to reach their shack, which when they left it the previous day it was on solid ice, but when they arrived it was deep in the water.  Unfortunately they didn’t really have the right footwear for the job, so when Jarod got into the shack, his shoes filled with water.  I was able to get a great photo of him sitting in the doorway letting the water stream out of his shoes.
Nathan Govindsamy, left, weaves through the multi colored flags of the world as Andre Rochon finishes lining them up at an event to mark International Day to Eliminate Racism.
This photograph never ran, but it was my favourite taken at an event to celebrate International Day to Eliminate Racism at Brunswick Square.  I loved the colorful flags, and just needed a human subject.  I already had Andre Rochon in the frame lining up the flags, but then young Nathan started weaving through them and made the shot perfect.
2 year old Brodie King rolls a small tire past a larger one while he plays among the used tires for sale at a lot on Simms Corner in west Saint John.
I had driven by this lot at Simms Corner where tires were being sold many times, and always wondering about the framing possibilities with how they displayed the tires.  One day I was really desperate for a stand alone, and stopped in.  Fortunately, 2 year old Brodie was there and was rolling tires around the lot.  It was just a matter of getting down low and waiting for him to roll into the frame I created with the tire.
Student Luke Reynolds passes by a mural painted on a set of doors at Rothesay High School on Monday afternoon.
Surprise surprise, another silhouette!  A lot of great feature photographs happen when you are at other events.  I was at Rothesay High School to photograph a play rehearsal, and as I was leaving I noticed the students had painted colorful designs on the door windows.  The angle of the sun was such that the building facing the windows in shadow, and the sun lit up the colors.  However, clouds get moving in front of the sun, so it was a matter of patience, waiting for the sun to come back out, and for a student to walk by at exactly the right time!
Megan Duplessie gets a facefull of water dumped on her as she enjoyed and afternoon of water fun at the newly opened splash pad at Rainbow Park in the south end of Saint John.
Parks are a great place to get features, and this was taken on the first day of the new splash pad at Rainbow Park.  This girl was playing underneath a water feature that filled a bucket full of water and then dumped it.  Using a fast shutter speed, I was able to freeze the water as it cascades over her.
English Bulldog Molly gets up close and personal with Sophie the donkey while visiting the Rockwood Park Stables on Victoria Day.
Only thing that beats a cute kid photo?  Cute animal photos.  This was taken at the Rockwood Park Stables, another place to usually find a quick and easy feature.  On that day however, Molly the English Bulldog was visiting with her owner, and she decided to meet some new friends.
Amy Dai, centre, plays the hulusi, a traditional Chinese wind instrument made from bamboo and a gourd, as (from left) Sara Han, Yukie Xie, Ivy Shen, and Miranda Lees dance around her during the fourth annual Asian Heritage Celebration Gala at Saint John high school on Saturday night.
Most cultural events are slam dunks for good features, with lots of colourful outfits, interesting dance, and displays.  This one was no different, but since it was at the Saint John High School theatre, the light was very low.  Being used to working in low light conditions, it wasn’t hard to get nice sharp images but I decided to try some slower speeds while on the tripod, which providing some interesting blur with the colourful umbrellas.
Wylder Hare sweeps underneath an amphibious themed water feature of the soon to be opened splash pad during a clean up of Crescent Valley on Saturday.

Another good feature found during an event.  There were lots of good shots to be had during the Crescent Valley community clean-up, but I really loved the framing with the frog designed splasher, and the contrast between the red and green.

Devon Gallant gives his dad a helping hand cleaning off the car on Saturday morning at their home in Quispamsis after New Brunswick was hit with another heavy snowfall on Friday night.

Another cute kid weather photo, but this one I just loved the scale as little Devon tries to reach up to get all the snow off his dad’s car.

A firefighter watches during a controlled burn of a 1900’s era homestead at Highlow Farms near Hampton early Sunday morning.

I know you are thinking, shouldn’t this be in spot news?  But the reality is, this was taken during a controlled burn of an old homestead near Hampton that was being done as a training exercise.
One of the keys to getting good features is knowing when events are happening, and that is possible when you are connected to the community.
One of my student’s husband is a volunteer firefighter with the Hampton department, and she had photographed a previous training exercise.  Seeing the photos, I asked her to let me know the next time one was planned.  As it happened, the next one fell on the weekend I worked!

Firefighters exit the homestead after lighting the fire.

 

 

The old wooden structure quickly catches fire.
Firefighters watch the building become completely engulfed.
Firefighters keep the fire from spreading to other areas
Captain Dan Rodgerson of the Hampton Fire Department washes off his hands
in a water wall meant to keep heat and flames from moving to other buildings.

As it turns out, I only ended up shooting for until the end of June.  That was when my services were needed to learn to shoot and edit video using our new Canon Mark IVs.  It was quite the learning experience for sure.  Pretty much this was the best thing I did video wise:

So those are some of my favourites from 2011.  Hope you have enjoyed viewing them and reading the stories behind them!  Not sure what 2012 is going to bring, but you never know, I may end up back behind the camera.

If you have any questions, comments, please feel free to email me!  nchenier@nbnet.nb.ca
If you are interested in a photography course, head to www.learnphoto.ca!

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  1. Thanks for this Noel. It was good to hear your explanation of each image. I'm always learning something new.