Canada Games Portraits-Chef du Mission Jennifer Bent Richard

The final shoot in the series of Canada Games Athletes is of chef-du-mission Jennifer Bent Richard.

As she wasn’t an athlete, but more the head of the whole New Brunswick team, I asked that she bring some NB stuff, including a flag.

Started off with some simple shots of her holding the flag out. I knew before shooting that the grandstand would provide excellent shadows, again allowing me to set her up in front of nice blue sky(that we had on this day, unlike some others). She would be in the dark shade, allowing me to add flash the way I wanted to light her up.

Then I decided to try some shots of her wrapped in the flag.

I switched the angle around so that Jennifer would be in front of the Canada Games Stadium letters, something to give a bit of context. So in this case, both are in the shade. I underexposed the background a bit more, allowing me to light her up with mainly flash.

I wanted some shots of the flag completely unfurled out, so I taped it to a low fence around the stadium. Both Jennifer and the flag were in shade still, so I exposed for the background and used flash(in this case, the three headed monster, shooting into an umbrella for a bit softer light) to fill her in.

I noticed that if the flag was backlit by the sun, it really made the flag colors show nicely. The shot below is just metering from the ambient light on the flag.

And of course it put Jennifer in the full shade, allowing me to add the exact light I wanted onto her. You can see the arm of my assistant Tanner Cheeseman, who held the flag up, then dropped it when I said “GO!” and pulled his arm back quickly.

And voila, the perfect shot! Well, almost perfect. I really liked the image at the top of this post best, it had the nicest flowing to the flag.

I also tried a few with some blue sky behind, pretty much the same set up as above.

So that’s it! It was a great series, and I hope these posts have been the right combination of informative and fun. Any questions at all, please send me an email

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.



Canada Games Athletes-Beach Volleyball Player Jill Blanchard

Today’s athlete portrait is of Canada Games women’s beach volleyball player Jill Blanchard. This was the final shoot done for the series, and it was a great way to end it.

Before you get too exciting, you won’t see the normal photographs that get taken with women’s beach volleyball. If you don’t know what I mean, just type “beach volleyball” in Google images.

Again had the idea to have the subject flying through the air, diving for the ball, ball in perfect position, subject looking at the camera, but logistically, couldn’t make it work. I had my assistant Tanner tossing the ball and Jill diving for it, but it just wasn’t coming out.

So I decided to do some portraits at the net. Again, set up so the subject is backlit by the bright background, and filling them in with the flash.

Of course there were a few of the old toss the ball up trick too!

I found the light a bit cool and wanted that sunny beach look, so I set the WHITE BALANCE to CLOUDY/OVERCAST, which added a bit of warmth to the image.

Looking the images aftewards, I really liked this composition below, but wished I had of moved the light so it was more on Jill’s face and not so side lit.

Tried a few set-ups framing Jill with the net. One of the issues with the location at Market Square is in one direction, the background had the lovely bouys on the Coast Guard site, and the other direction is Market Square.

Also tried some shots of Jill bumping the ball. To get high up, I climbed onto the referee chair. To get the ball in the right spot I tried getting Tanner to throw it to her, but it was just as easy for me to drop it from my perch.

Then I decided to try some portraits having Jill sitting on the sand.

Then I asked Jill to lay on the sand, and rest on the ball. I also got low, laying on the sand to get a better angle. By getting low, it minimized the distracting backgrounds with the Coast Guard site.

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.
That is it for the athlete portraits, but there is one shoot left, chef-de-mission Jennifer Bent-Richard. It’s a cool one!



Canada Games Athlete Portraits-Baseball Player Sean Silliphant

Today’s portrait is of baseball player Sean Silliphant.

Similar set up as many of the other images. Set the subject up in front of a bright background, expose for the background to make them a silhouette, and add light on them with the flash.

Sean plays a number of positions, including pitching, so I started off with him on the mound.

The light on Sean was a bit too contrasty, so I moved the light to the right to shine more onto his face.

An idea I had from the start for this shoot was to have his face lit up by a flash in his glove. The problem was that I couldn’t really fit a flash with a pocket wizard into the glove, so that left me with two options.

1) Attempt to use the Canon wireless flash system to trigger the flash in the glove. I did not bother however, because one of the main problem with the Canon wireless flash system is that the off camera flashes have to be able to “see” the flash from the main on camera flash to trigger them.

so that left me with option

2) Use my Nikon Sb800 flash, which has a built in optical slave that will fire off of any flash it detects! I angled the sensor towards Sean’s face, and used the Canon flash on the camera at very low power, and the light reflected off his face enough to trigger the Nikon.

Also tried a few with the TUNGSTEN WB/Warming filter on the flash trick to get a bit bluer sky.

Then I decided to try so head on shots using the flash in glove technique.

Did some experimentation with the shutter speed to make the ambient light darker. Picking a higher shutter speed made the sky go a bit darker.

I ended up with some shots of Sean as the shortstop, and figured the neat play to shoot would be him tagging second base and throwing to first for the double play.
Flash was set up to my left, the sun was backlighting him(notice the double shadow)

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.

To read the story by Telegraph Journal sports editor Randy O’Donnell, click here.
Next up….beach volleyball!


Canada Games Athlete Portraits-Rugby Player Walker Blizzard

Today’s Canada Games Athlete portrait shoot is of rugby player Walker Blizzard.

This was one of the earlier shoots, so again the weather was cloudy. Which was fine, as again, it would allow me more control over the light. So I started off with Walker in front of the rugby uprights. I exposed for the sky to make Walker go dark….

allowing me to add the light with the flash.

I liked the effect, but found the sky a little blah, so I thought I’d add some color using the TUNGSTEN WB/warming gel effect. Just to recap, set the WHITE BALANCE to TUNGSTEN, which turns EVERYTHING blue, and place a CTO warming gel(orangey) on the flash to warm the light back up.

Tried some different angles with the light from the flash to create more of a “tougher” look.

Also did some monster lighting which looked kinda cool.

Like the first shoot with golfer Jennifer Armstrong, I had the option of trying to put the sun in the frame. So I had to under expose quite a bit more to get the sun a nice glowing ball, resulting in a really dark subject.

Then adding the flash to light up Walker.

Thought I’d try some throwing the ball shots too…

I also tried some shots using slow shutter speeds and panning the camera with Walker running with the ball. This one worked the best of all, but due to the fact I couldn’t do the 2nd curtain sync(flash fires at the end so the sharp image is on top of the blur), there was a bit too much blur if I went too slow.

For the final shots, I thought I’d try using some of the graffiti on the rock wall at Hazen White field.
But because I needed to light up both the background and Walker, I had to have the background flash really close to the rock. So in this shot, while I like it, a little problem with the flash and stand being visible. Before you say, just photoshop it out, ethically that’s a no no for newspaper photography. Anything like that, it would have to be labelled as a photo illustration.

So the solution was to set it up so Walker is in front and covering the flash and stand.

And finished it off with some more monster lighting(flash directly below the subject) which I thought looked really cool!

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site. I will be posting the images from each shoot after they have run in the paper, so keep checking back!

To read the story by Telegraph Journal reporter Jon MacNeill, click here.

Next up….baseball!


Canada Games Athletes-Swimmer Jacqueline Murchison

Today’s Canada Games athlete portrait is of swimmer Jacqueline Murchison.

I wanted to start off with some portraits outside the pool. Figured it would be easier to shoot them first, that way she wouldn’t get all wet and have to stand around.

Since we were indoors, it was easy to get some slower speeds to try out some more zooming, panning and rotating.

Then I decided to get her in the pool, but still without the cap and goggles.

Tried a few different shutter speeds to see how I could affect the ambient light.
For the shot below, the shutter speed was set to 1/30th, the aperture was at F8. My meter was not zeroed, it was in the minus. That way I knew the only light being exposed was the flash, and some of the reflected light on the water.

To get more of the ambient light in to prevent a darker background, I set a slower shutter speed(1/8th of a second at F8) Now my meter was zeroed, and there is more ambient light in the background. The drawback however is that everything looks a bit green because of the flourescent lights.

Then we got the cap and goggles on.

For the one below, the shutter speed was set to 1/80th of a second

For this one, it was set to 1/20th of a second to let a bit more ambient light in. I prefer the top one better.

No offense to those who swim the breaststroke, but it’s not the most photogenic of the strokes. I tried a few shots, but when the swimmer comes up out of the water, their hands are close together, they are looking down, it just doesn’t work for a portrait.

I really liked the reflections on the water, so I had Jacqueline move down into deeper water so just her head would be above the surface.

I really liked the reflection on the goggles on this shot.

I also tried some shots of her moving through the water, albeit on her back. I really liked the ripples on the surface.

Also tried some close up portraits of her mostly submerged.

I ended the shoots with some shots of her leaping out of the water. Lots of cool splashing, nice smiles, but they maybe look a bit too synchronized swimming and not breaststroke. Not dissing synchro…just saying!

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.
Next up….RUGBY!


Canada Games Athletes-Rower Keegan Drummond

Today’s portrait shoot is of Canada Games rower Keegan Drummond. With my previous water based shoot experience, I realized that I needed MORE POWER if I was going to be able to light up Keegan while he was in the water.

So I velcro-ed together THREE Canon Flashes and fired em up to full power to create enough light.

It was also important to have my assistant Tanner holding the flash stand so that over a thousand dollars of equipment doesn’t go for a fatal swim in the Kennebecasis!

As with previous shoots, I set Keegan up so that he was backlit by the sun. Metered to get the ambient exposure for the bright areas first:

Then turned on the flash monster and let it rip!

Got some nice shots, then I decided to try some on the other side of the dock. From this direction, I was able to get some really great sky and clouds. The sun was shining right on Keegan, but at a higher angle, so it cast ugly shadows. So I used the three flash monster to overpower the sunlight a bit, creating the nice angle of light I was going for:

One of the problems with him in the water was that he kept drifting. Since a rowing scull isn’t the easiest thing to manoeuver, I had him put one of his oars on the dock to keep him steady.

Also tried some shots where I zoomed the lens during the exposure using a slow shutter speed. Worked out quite well!

As he was pulling his scull out of the water, I turned around and realized that would make a cool shot. Keegan was patient enough to hold up his scull for a minute or two so I could bang of a few shots.

The one at the top of this post was my fav from the shoot. It just goes to show how you always want to explore different angles and ideas, even as you are walking away or packing up the gear!

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.

Next up….swimming!


Canada Games Athletes-Wrestler Megan Getchell

Today’s portrait is of Canada Games wrestling team member Megan Getchell. This was another indoor portrait, which as previously mentioned, can be beneficial as you have total control over the light.

I started out with some standard portraits. For these shots, I used a single flash in an umbrella, which game me a nice soft light and spread it out to cover the mat. The ambient light was really low(as in most gyms) so I was able to get the background nice and dark very easily by setting the flash to almost full power.

I thought one had a very tough wrestler quality to it with the pose.

Also tried some portraits seated on the mat.

Really like the space on this one.

I wanted to try some shots from a lower angle with Megan in more of a wrestling pose.

She is being lit from below with this small puck size slave flash:

It’s really handy to have in your light kit and has some power. Runs off two AA batteries, and has a built in slave to trigger it. You can buy it here. Only drawback is the optical slave doesn’t work so well outside. For a little bit more, you could buy this version, which has a sync cord attached that you could then hook up to a pocketwizard.

In the image above, I also had a flash behind her shooting up into the ceiling to see what it would look like…didn’t really like it, so I ditched the flash and just went with the from below light, which I liked better with all the ceiling lights becoming spots.

I wanted to try to get more of a natural shot, so I had her teammate come over and pretend to grapple with Megan. I made sure to only get her arms, which provided a great framing element.

I liked the shots lit with the puck, then I also tried some with the flash in the umbrella to the right of the subject and coming down from a 45 degree angle.

Really liked that light, especially with the red reflecting off the mat.

Didn’t have my assistant Tanner with me on the weekend, but the coach of the Rothesay High School wrestling team, Keith Shaw, was happy to stand in for me. Big thanks to him for setting up the mat for us and making arrangements to let us in the school!

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.
Next up….i think rowing…


Canada Games Athletes-Volleyball’s Chika Ikejiani

Today’s athlete portrait is of volleyball player Chika Ikejiani.

Chika’s a great guy, and I owe him a lot of thanks for his patience and the stupid amount of work it took to get this shot. You will understand why I need to thank him soon…

So it was a pretty simple idea. Get a shot of Chika jumping up at the net and smashing the ball towards the camera. Not too hard, right?

No, it was suprisingly hard… we started with a person who worked at the gym tossing the ball up and having Chika jump up to meet it…

Then I tried tossing it up, figuring that since I was close to the net I could get it right..

but most times ended up with my hand or the ball not in the right spot…I was just as bad with the timing.

Lastly, try with Chika throwing it up to hit it, but again, timing wasn’t right.

So then I tried a different set up, shooting away from the net from a lower position. Flash was high and to the left. Got some neat flaring, but that was kinda it. Low angle made it hard to see his face.

Again, the problem of how to get the ball where I wanted it. I tried throwing it up, but it still wasn’t working.

Then I got an idea… I asked Chika to palm the ball, jump up, and let it go at the top of his jump.

And voila! The shot I wanted with the ball up in the air and Chika about to smash it!
So, back to the net, re-set up the flash to the right, get up on the referee stand, and:

Finally had the shot I wanted! Here are some other variations, all of which have the ball in the right spot!

Also tried some shots where I was set up farther back from the net. Worked okay, but at this point I think Chika was pretty tired.

Considering I had him jump up almost 100 times, I figured I had to give the guy a chance to catch his breath. So I finshed off with a few portraits at the net. Single flash, to the right of him on the other side of the net.

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.
Next up….women’s wrestling!



Canada Games Athletes-Tennis player Daniel Blake

Today’s shoot is of Canada Games Tennis player Daniel Blake. Another shoot where I had an idea of the shot I wanted…the player leaping through the air, stretched out, smashing the ball…

and well, just couldn’t make it work the way I envision it.
I don’t think Daniel had enough height to jump from to get the right pose I wanted-legs out in a V shape, arms out, smashing the ball with his racket, and looking at the camera. Sometimes the ball wasn’t in the right spot, or his arm wasn’t out enough, he wasn’t far enough off the ladder, or he wasn’t looking at the camera.

Then I started trying some angles with Daniel tossing the ball up for a serve…

Also tried a few with the TUNGSTEN WHITE BALANCE makes everything go blue, then warm up the flash with a CTO FILTER trick.

and realized that if I moved a bit over to my right, and timed it just perfect……
BAM! Ball over the sun. To hell with the leaping in the air shot, this was WAAAAAYYY cooler!
I love the bright halo around the ball, plus the way his arm went dark because the flash angle didn’t cover it.

And amazingly managed to get the ball over the sun again, this time with the TUNGSTEN WB/warming filter!

For some of the shots, the ball wasn’t over the sun, but again I got the cool starburst sunlight.

Thought I’d try some close up portraits framing Daniel with the tennis racket.

First one I had the flash firing directly through the racket, and as you can see, it projected the pattern of the strings onto his face. So then I tried one with Daniel holding the racket out farther from his body, which allowed me to position a flash so it wouldn’t be blocked by the racket.

Also tried some MONSTER lighting(flash below the subject shooting up to give the un-natural shadows.)

Also tried some different variations of framing with the net.

And ended with some shots of him hitting the ball.

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.
Next up….indoor men’s volleyball!


Canada Games Athletes-Kayaker Sean Wells

Today’s Canada Games Athlete is kayaker Sean Wells, who was motivated to make the team to make his late father proud. Since there was a bit more emotion to the story, I wanted to come up with shots that could convey that kind of mood.

Me and my assistant Tanner arrived well before Sean, so I scoped out the location and decided immediately that inside the garage where they stored the kayaks was the spot I needed. It had nice soft natural light coming in, and rows of kayaks.

Here is the natural light, nice and soft, but the exposure was 1/60th of a second at F5.6. Not a lot of depth of field there, kinda borderline handholdable speed.

So I set up a flash coming in directly from the front door, using an umbrella to mimic the soft natural light. Looks the same, but now I get F13 and lots of depth of field.

I did find behind Tanner was a bit dark, so I put another flash and umbrella up to the left to fill in some of the shadows more. I made sure it wouldn’t fall on the left side of the subject and lighten the shadows, I wanted them to stay.

This is an example of why having an assistant is valuable. While you wait for the subject or as they are getting ready, you can set up and test your lighting, time that you don’t have to waste while they are sitting there patiently in front of the camera.

Once Sean was ready, I took a variety of shots, using different angles, compositions, and poses.

We then moved onto the water, but one of the problems was the fact it’s not easy to keep the kayak steady, so we had to do shots with Sean moving through the water. At this point, I was only velcro-ing together two flashes and didn’t have the third, so there wasn’t really enough flash to overpower the sun as much once he got farther away from the dock. The image below is with just the natural sun, which was really at too high an angle to be useful as it creates ugly dark eye shadows. I’m all for good natural light, but if the sun isn’t in the right angle, there is nothing you can do about it, other than block it and use flash to get the light you want.

For the ones below, Sean is mostly backlit by the sun, so the flash can fill him in.

I also tried a few shots by zooming the lens, but again the two flashes weren’t powerful enough to get the light I needed to overpower the sun.

Since they weren’t working out as nice as I hoped, I decided to bring Sean and his kayak up on the dock. The angle was better, as I could set him up backlit by the sun again, with Tanner holding the flashes to the right. Again, it’s exposing for the background at my highest sync speed(1/250th of a second) and then turning the flashes on to fill in the light I needed.

To see more in this series, head to my Canada Games Athlete Galleries on my site that contains more images from this shoot.
To see the full series of posts in the Canada Games Series, click here.
Next up….tennis!