Tuesday, September 13, 2011


As my bio suggests, my photography interests are widely varied.  But, there is always one thing that will get me to lift a camera lens and that is fast action sports.  There are so many individual moments in sport that the mind can't isolate them as a single moment and they all run together to become a sequence.  I really enjoy the challenge of isolating that one particular instance that tells the story, that shares the feeling, that captures the mood.  That is what sport photography is all about.

So, a couple weekends ago, my buddy Ethan Meleg (www.ethanmeleg.com) calls me up and says that he has an assignment to get some kiteboarding shots.  He has a rider lined up and was wondering if I was interested in joining him.  He needed some Behind The Scene (BTS) shots and then I was free to cut loose.  I AM IN!!!

Ethan Meleg, Hayden Stewart
Ethan Meleg, Hayden Stewart
Our location was Oliphant, Ontario on the shores of Lake Huron.  Oliphant is a kiteboarding hotspot for the reason that it harbours some amazing flatwater, even when the winds are howling.  As you can see in my BTS shots, the water is barely knee deep.  For the kiteboarder, that means easy recovery should they fall in.  Just stand up, grab your gear and start over.  Great for beginners and pros alike.  For Ethan and I, shooting in Oliphant means we can wade out and shoot amongst all the action.  We can leave those big telephotos at home.  In Oliphant, it is time to 'get in close and go wide!'

Our hired rider was Hayden Stewart provided to us after contacting Kitesup Canada (www.kitesupcanada.ca).  A total joy to be around.  He seemed very motivated in assisting us in getting the images that we wanted.  And because we were out in the water with him, we had not problem communicating what we were looking for.

Hayden Stewart
Hayden Stewart 
Hayden Stewart 
"Hey Hayden, can you get a little closer?"  Well, he did exactly as we asked.  And that is why my D3 in on the bench at Nikon Canada as I type this.  You see, not all Nikon lenses have a weather gasket on the back of them.  As you may already suspect... the AF 16mm f/2.8 does not.  What I would describe as nothing more than a mild to moderate splash got to my camera's focusing motor making all my AF lenses useless.  The only lenses that will work are my AF-S series lenses.  They have their own focusing motors.

Fast forward to the following Friday, Ethan and my schedules have lined up again.  This happens so rarely, it must be a sign.  Ethan's got his boat in the water up in Tobermory and has plans for a sunrise shoot out on Flower Pot Island.  "But, Ethan my widest lens right now is my AF-S 70-200mm VR", I said.  Not exactly a 'landscapers' first choice of lenses.  "Don't worry" he says, "I have got lots of gear, I can hook you up with something."  If you see any pictures of me holding a Canon 1D MK something or other... suspect photoshop.

Flower Pot Island was a bust.  Crappy sky and the winds are really starting to pick up.  So we get our butts back to the mainland.  Or, should I say, our soggy butts, it was a rough trip back.  

With the winds continuing to increase that could only mean one thing.  Back to Oliphant.

No hired model this time.  We are totally winging it. But, I believe my lens choice was a wise one.  The 70-200 is a fine looking lens when attached to a pro body.  You don't go unnoticed.  As Ethan and I are wading out, we are assessing the talent and who we think will provide the best photo ops.  We pick a location and set up.

"Hey Ethan, to your right, here comes that guy!"  

Once they realized we where into it, we had 4 or 5 guys attempting all their craziest stuff for our amusement.

Daniel Steiner 
David Drinkwater
David Drinkwater
David Drinkwater
Unknown Rider 
Thanks guys for being such willing models!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


After what started out as a fairly slow summer has accelerated into a lot of shooting over the last month.  I will slowly release some recent shoots as my clients get a chance at first release.

Last night I did some personal shooting, something I really love.  Lightning.

Ever since I was a little kid, I can remember staring out the window watching lightning storms.  Once, I got older, I would drive down to the beach just to see a storm roll in off Lake Huron.  Now, with the photo bug, it is almost pathological.  Last night, my wife kicked me out the door to go shoot.  I might not be that pleasant to be around when I am "missing" a good storm???

The interesting thing about last night was it didn't look that impressive on the radar, but I could hear the constant rumble of thunder and that inspired me to give it a try.  I am glad I did.  I had a blast!!!

More often than not (with my limited experience) good electrical storms come in off the lake like a wave.    A straight line front rolling over land with short burst of intense weather.  Last night was different, it was more like a streamer.  A line of rain that kept coming off the lake.  This was good.  This gave me more time to set up.

Because I was not originally inspired by the radar, I was off to a slow start and wasn't sure where I wanted to be to be ahead of the storm.  Down by the lake was out of the question.  It was already happening there.  So, I drove inland and after about 20 min I was finally ahead of it.  But, this isn't where I would normally go.  I wasn't sure what I was going to us for a foreground.  Driving aimlessly, all of a sudden I found a likely spot.

Capturing an image of a lightning bolt is actually pretty easy.  A good place to start is 30" with an aperture of f/5.6 and ISO 200.  A stop either side of there depending on how close the storm is will put you pretty close.

The neat thing is that lightning exposes itself.  Leave the shutter open as long as you want, each successive bolt will appear out of the darkness of your frame.

Generally, a lightning bolt on it's own is not that interesting.  Give it a recognizable foreground and you have magic.  City skylines, iconic landmarks and the like all work well.

What to bring: a tripod, a raincoat (for the camera), a flashlight (if you can't operate all your functions in the dark), a smart phone to keep checking to local radar and where the storm is moving, and a lens of your choice.  I use my 70-200mm most often, but have used my 300mm and my 20mm.

Finally, please remember to use some common sense.  Choose your location carefully.  Don't stand in the middle of a field.  Don't stand under the tallest tree.  Don't stay at your location until the storm is right on top of you.  You might not like the result.

Nikon D3 w/ 70-200mm @70mm - ISO 200, f/5.6, 30"  -1 stop applied in RAW conversion

Nikon D3 w/ 70-200mm @70mm - ISO 200, f/5.6, 30"  

Nikon D3 w/ 70-200mm @70mm - ISO 200, f/5.6, 30"  -2 stops applied in RAW conversion