Behind The Photo: Air Canada Flight 646 Crash

Interior shot of the cabin of Air Canada Flight 646, which crashed upon landing at the Fredericton Airport on December 16th, 1997

Hard to belive how fast time flies. It has been 25 years now since I took this photograph, which basically led to my almost two-decade career at the Telegraph-Journal. I’ve told the story behind the photograph more than a few times, but never put it down on here.

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Story Behind the Photo-Freeman Patterson


Many people ask me about how photographs I’ve done were taken. Lots of interest in the techniques or technical aspects. The Story Behind The Photo series answers those questions! This one is a portrait of world renowned photographer Freeman Patterson.
If you see any shots of mine that you are dying to know how they were done, send me an email and I’ll post em.

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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.

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People tend to always ask me “What is the best assignment you’ve done as a photographer?” and I have to think about it, since I have been fortunate to have so many great experiences that it’s hard to pick one as the best. I can pretty much guarantee the worst….the house full of cats.

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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!