Thursday, September 17, 2020

Video Conferencing Package Set-up and Tips

Photo fabric backdrop #6 on stand. (Actual colour may vary.)

This post contains a set of instructions for clients who have bought my Executive Video Conferencing Package - Basic, and will be setting it up themselves rather than having me do an in-person set-up and consultation. 

Before we begin I'd like to thank you for buying a kit, and congratulate you on taking this step towards levelling up your video conferencing presence!

In an ideal world I would be able to physically see the space in which you are going to set up, so as to be able to offer guidance specifically geared to you, but hopefully with the following instructions and suggestions, and a video call if you choose to schedule one with me, you will still be able to significantly improve your video conferencing without my actually being there. So here we go!

In your kit (if you bought the Basic Kit) you will have received a photo fabric background, a t-shape background stand kit including 4 clamps, a daylight balanced desk lamp, and a small piece of foam core.

T-shape background kit (T-shape referring to the shape formed by one five foot long pole mounted on one height adjustable stand) includes carrying case, fixed length pole in 2 segments with connector piece, height adjustable stand and 4 clamps.
What the background stand kit looks like assembled (minus the clamps)

To put the stand together:

First loosen the knob at the top of the legs of the stand by turning counter clockwise.

Then pull out the legs.

Once the legs are fully opened re-tighten the knob, finger tight need to reef on it! The struts that hold out the legs should be parallel to the ground for greatest stability. If you would prefer a smaller footprint you can leave the legs only partly extended. Just remember that the stand will be less stable.

Once you have the legs extended you can extend the segmented centre poles by turning the knobs counter clockwise and pulling up on each segment, then lightly retightening the knobs.The height is adjustable and ultimately should be set to that the backdrop, once hung from it, fills the frame of your web cam.

Next, assemble the fixed length horizontal pole. Start by attaching the short silver connector to one of the long black segments. Align the button on the connector with the hole in the pole, push down on the button and slide the connector into the pole segment until the button pops up through the hole.

Do the same to attach the other pole segment to the connector.

Once the fixed length pole is assembled it's time to mount it on top of the stand. First remove the wing screw and the washer.

Then line up the hole in the middle of the fixed length pole and insert onto the threaded part of the top of the stand. Replace the washer and wing screw.

Now the t-shaped stand is ready to take the background! The background should fit almost perfectly across the length of the pole, so start with a clamp at one end, put the second clamp at the other end, and then place the final two clamps spaced evenly along the pole between the end clamps. Please note that these little clamps are very tight, so be careful to hold firmly when deploying them. In order for the backdrop to hang neatly, I recommend placing the fabric so that it is even with the top of the pole and attaching the clamps on an angle, rather than straight up and down, so that they rest firmly against the horizontal pole and can't move. In this position they are more stable and less likely to pop off.

Please note that this image shows the old fabric which has been replaced with opaque rubber backed fabric.

The final step once the background is hung is to steam it to take out the wrinkles if there are any (only if your backdrop is on non-rubber backed any backdrops shipped pre-spring of 2021). *Please note that as of this update in the spring of 2021 the old jersey fabric is no longer available. Backgrounds are now printed in Canada (yay!) on a black rubber backed fabric that holds it shape better and is also opaque to light. It doesn't wrinkle easily but if wrinkles occur they can be relaxed out by using a blow drier to apply some heat to the rubber backing once the backdrop is hung. Helpful hint: another way to get rid of any kinks or wrinkles is to store the backdrop by wrapping it around the cardboard mailing tube instead of putting it inside the tube.

Now for positioning. Your very small backdrop and stand are designed to take up as little space as possible, so you will find that in order for the backdrop to fill your camera frame from edge to edge they will need to be placed quite close to your web cam. Usually this would mean placing it pretty much right behind the chair you'll be sitting on to make your video calls. The distance between your web cam and the background should not be much more than  around 3.5 feet (less than 4 feet). (Helpful hint ...if you are having issues with setting a workable distance between your laptop, webcam (whether separate or internal), chair and backdrop there are software programs you can buy to zoom in on yourself and your backdrop. For Mac I recommend iGlasses and for PC try ManyCam, or if you have a Logitech webcam on PC download Logitech's free Camera Settings software. They can give you a bit more flexibility in terms of where you sit relative to your backdrop, if you really need it.)

The guidelines for setting your webcam position are the same for real rooms and for a fabric backdrop. Your web cam doesn't know the difference.

Your set-up will look best if your camera is set pretty much straight at you, not tilted. If you tilt the camera either backward or forward, or left or right, any vertical lines in your background, such as window frames, will be distorted or tilted and distracting. Disclaimer: the stand provided in this kit is obviously not professional quality photo gear because there is no need for it to be and pro quality gear would cost much more. As such, you may find your stand does not hold your backdrop totally straight. If that happens, first make sure the wing nut is tight, and if that doesn't fix it, either gently push down on one side of the horizontal pole to try to straighten it out, or you can shim your laptop slightly with a piece of cardboard or something so your web cam and backdrop align. (Please don't use your stand for anything other than light fabric or paper backgrounds as it won't hold up much weight.)

Helpful hint: Some people need to be able to type while on video calls
meaning your internal web cam may initially be positioned lower, to facilitate comfortable access to your keyboard, than it should be to capture you and your background (real or fabric) in a flattering way. The best solution is to acquire a separate keyboard which can be placed at a normal, comfortable typing level, allowing you to raise the laptop, and webcam.



Importantly, once an external webcam is positioned at eye level, the laptop needs to be raised as well, so when you look at the screen you aren't looking down.


And finally the light. During the summer season many people are able to make use of natural and readily available daylight for their video calls, unless their window is behind or beside them (ie. not illuminating the face) in which case a light directed at the face should always be used. Regardless, as the days get shorter, windows are not going to provide the light you need, so you need to be ready to turn on a flattering, daylight balanced light. The light I selected for the kit after some research, and which I use myself, is this one:

Credit to for the photo showing the three colour settings. I find the middle setting most pleasing not the the orangy warm one, and not the cool blue one.
To power this light you can either connect by USB to your computer (you may need an adapter if you have a laptop such as a newer Macbook that has only the Thunderbolt ports), or you can use the block included to plug into an AC outlet. 

In the kit I provide a small piece of foam core to which you can attach the lamp's clamp if you don't have anything on which to clip the clamp and/or want more flexibility. I use this technique myself and just place the foam core and lamp behind my laptop/webcam with the light shining towards my face.

You can also attach it to your laptop. If you are not typing during your calls I suggest you put your laptop on a book or small box and clip the clamp to the free edge of the base of the laptop. The overhang accommodates the clamp so laptop doesn't sit unevenly. 

Disclaimer: on my little sell sheet I mention that I may not be able to get the particular light I advertise. Please understand that due to Covid I saw an opportunity to help people solve a problem...this is not a big business as part of the solution I sourced a light from Amazon that had the basic features I was looking for, and would be cheap but do the job. It's not always available as it sells out repeatedly and I am not in a position to carry stock. This is why I say it may not be the same light in every kit. But any light I do provide will have two key features: it will have a daylight balance setting, and it will be a soft light source (ie. flattering on faces). It may or may not have the clamp on the bottom. I actually don't love the clamp on the one that I chose for the original kit, but I loved the other features and was willing to live with the clamp. Some lamps I ship may have a standing base, which in some ways I might actually prefer. 

Screen grab of me using backdrop #6.

A final word on light...your backdrop will look best if the only or at least the brightest light falling on it is coming from the front. If it is lit from the side, for example by a window next to your set-up, that lighting will highlight and exacerbate any wrinkles. And if the backdrop is backlit, ie. light is hitting it from behind, it will look see-through, and you'll see the stand (right through it). So, as much as possible, cover up or turn down any light that is not falling directly on you and your backdrop from the front.

As for storage, in between video calls, the easiest thing to do, particularly if you are on calls frequently is just move it aside and leave it assembled so all you have to do next time you have call is put it in place behind your chair. You may never have to tidy the room again! (Caveat: you may find that over time the fabric does start to stretch a bit if left mounted for an extended period, so it may help to give it an opportunity to 'rest' and reset every now and then by rolling it around the mailing tube for a spell. Note: Do not use tape on the rubber backing...removal of the tape will peel the backing off the fabric.) If that doesn't work for you, though, you can remove the horizontal pole from the stand and collapse the stand (and the pole if you want), roll up the backdrop and stow them out of the way. You may have to allow some hang time or apply a little blow drier heat if the background gets wrinkled. 

And that's about it. You should be all set! If there is a anything I've missed, or you have any questions about setting up the kit, please get in touch so I can help, and so I know to add that info here. Enjoy your great new set-up!
416 465-8280 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Shooting During the Pandemic

On set during an executive leadership team portrait shoot. Thanks to my client communications advisor for sitting in for our illustration shot, and thanks to Miora Wong for snapping the photo.

How great did it feel to be back on set last week photographing 14 executives for their organization's website refresh! I just wanted to share a few things about this shoot as it was, for obvious reasons, a bit different from shoots like this we did before the pandemic.

The primary deciding factor in terms of this shoot's being made possible was people's comfort levels with the safety protocols in place. As the client organization is a health related business, they were already fully set-up to accommodate screening upon entry and rigorous sanitation procedures within the building. For some portrait subjects this was their first out-of-home work experience since the lock down, so the bar was high in terms of their trusting their health would not be compromised.

First of all the room we were scheduled to shoot in was very spacious, so lots of air space and no need to be in close proximity to anyone else. My assistant and I drove to the location in separate cars. The number of people in the room was limited to my assistant and me and the subject. Each half hour session was spaced half an hour apart, so in between each session my assistant and I could go outside for fresh air while cleaners came in and sanitized every surface that may have been touched during the photo session. We also had our own container of Clorox wipes just in case.

Subjects would enter the room and make their way to their portrait seat where they would remove their mask and place it on a fresh kleenex on a chair (which was one of the surfaces disinfected repeatedly). My assistant and I wore mandatory masks provided by the facility. And if and when I needed to approach the subject to style their hair or adjust their clothing, with their permission, I first donned a face screen and a pair of single use exam gloves. (I went through a lot of gloves!)

When it was time to review and make selects the subject would take a seat on a (repeatedly disinfected) chair in front of which was an external monitor attached to my laptop by an eight foot long cable, so we could go through their portraits together while maintaining safe physical distance.

As anyone who has worked with me knows, I offer a full service experience; one of my key working style features is my hands on attention to detail. When we don't have a hair and make-up artist on set I make sure that subjects' hair is tidy and nicely styled (as much as I can help with hair spray and a comb.) I also do what I can to mitigate wrinkles in subjects' clothing, straighten ties and necklaces, etc. I had wondered if I would have to forego my usual attention to detail which requires such close proximity between subject and photographer, but I wouldn't have been able to deliver the clean, professional looking portraits I'm known for if I didn't get in close, especially on these two shoot days which were unusually windy and humid, meaning subjects were finding it very hard (ie. impossible) to show up "camera ready".  The upshot is that for the foreseeable future a face screen and gloves will be part of my kit. In fact I may never give up the gloves as for once I did not have to wash multiple coatings of hair spray off my hands during the day.

A few more comments on the experience from my point of view: 

I know so much has been said in acknowledgement of all the front line workers who have had to wear this style of mask day in and out for months now so I am late to the party in terms of truly understanding their discomfort. But I can say from experience now that those thin little straps are brutal. My ears hurt within half an hour and it was tough to keep the mask up even if I tightened the loops. Not only that but as a high energy photographer I found myself huffing and puffing as I sucked air through the mask. How unexpected that I would find myself longing to put back on my trusty polka dotted cloth mask.

The face screen was also critical, and also somewhat hampering in terms of my being able to work comfortably. As many eye glasses wearers will attest, wearing a mask can cause glasses to fog up. So not only was I dealing with foggy glasses whenever I had them on but the screen was fogging up too. I wanted it off when I looked through the camera's view finder, anyway, so I took it off and put it back on repeatedly using the handy clip on the elastic head band. Unfortunately this made for a very, very bad hair day for me. But that was a small price to pay, along with the other discomforts, for being able to work in way that felt safe for all.

One more client need we were able to accommodate despite safety measures requiring only one subject be in the room at a time was a (virtual) shot of two of the senior leaders together. For this two person shot, during each of their individual sessions we switched to a green screen backdrop and photographed each subject as if they were standing together. Then during retouching we placed them next to each other against an environmental scene photographed elsewhere in one of their facilities, sans people. This technique would also facilitate group shots during these times...something to keep in mind!

Like many people in these uncertain times I do wonder how things will go moving forward. A key thing with photographing people will be ensuring no one shows up sick, not the subject, the photographer, the assistant or anyone else involved. For my part I am assuring assistants that I'd rather they call in sick on a shoot day rather than show up unwell. And we will not be penalizing clients for cancelling due to illness. 

So here's looking forward to this virus getting wiped out, but in the meantime, if you need photography we are back in business, and will continue to be diligent around safe and sanitary working conditions, regardless of bad, face shield hair. Stay well!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Therapy Dog Calendar Photo Shoot at CAMH

Action shot of Abby for CAMH's 2020 Therapy Dog Calendar. We might not have captured many frames of Abby but we loved the sense of motion and personality in this frame, and we only needed one winning shot per dog!

I am a big fan of mental health and hope to have it some day. Ha-ha! In the meantime having a sense of humour will have to do. In all seriousness, though, Toronto is very fortunate to have driving progress in the realm of mental health "Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world's leading research centres" (CAMH website) -- Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, or CAMH. One of their many stand out initiatives is the Clinical Volunteer Program, a subset of which is the Pet Therapy Volunteer program. So far there are over 60 dogs and volunteer owners certified to participate. This year they decided to produce a calendar to promote the program and thank donors, sponsors, partners and participants.

The idea was to showcase a broad spectrum of breeds and sizes so people would get an idea of the variety of dogs involved, and for the sake of visual variety in the calendar. There was some concern that people with similar breeds may feel left out but I understand the number of people and dogs available for the selected shoot day worked out pretty much perfectly so that no one was slighted.

Prior to the shoot date we headed off to CAMH's Queen Street Site to scout for suitable shooting spaces. I am very much in favour of environmental portraiture (for people and animals), so I loved their spacious, hilly garden around the back. (No pics to show, I'm sorry! I knew that as the sun moved and the light changed during a day long shoot we would be moving all over the place so there wasn't much point taking scouting snapshots.)  Plan B, in case of inclement weather, was to shoot inside against a gray background. Had there been a suitable indoor environmental background for our Plan B I would have suggested it but there wasn't. Sometimes budget and logistics allow for a weather day. This wasn't one of those times.

Fantastically uninspiring meeting room (no offense CAMH!) in which we ended up shooting.

I hoped fervently for good weather, but as the date approached it became pretty clear we weren't going to get it. (The weather the week prior to the shoot was perfect, of course!) It actually turned out to be a very good thing we didn't have the chance to shoot in the garden because the day of the shoot the garden, or at least the area around the garden, was under construction, so this would have negated a number of potential angles and backgrounds, and the noise and activity would have been incredibly distracting for the dogs, and likely for the people.

Apart from the aesthetics I don't love photographing dogs on seamless paper because their paws tend to slip on it, but alas that was what we had to do. And I'm happy to say, even though it wasn't what I'd hoped for, the pictures turned out beautifully, with the added bonus that certain bits of retouching required were facilitated by the plain background (eg. removing a dog owner's arm from the frame).

One notable retouching situation that was not helped by the gray background was the fixing of Toulouse's scarf. CAMH therapy dogs have a uniform -- a small purple scarf, and originally the thought was that as long as the purple scarf showed to some extent, people would know it was the CAMH Therapy Dog Program scarf. It was understood that it wasn't reasonable to expect that the scarves would be perfectly styled and oriented in every shot as every time the dogs moved the scarves moved, the dogs changed their orientations to camera continuously, and the scarves fit every dog differently. An owner would position a scarf to one side for a slight profile shot and the dog would flip around showing his other side and obscuring the scarf completely. We knew this would happen and there wasn't a retouching budget big enough to make 13 scarves look perfect. However with little Toulouse, in particular (below), the scarf was almost invisible in the select, so I was asked to see what I could do. Thankfully there was another shot in which he was standing on a similar angle and the scarf looked good. So I was able to do some "magic" and fix the shot.

Left: The select with the scarf barely visible. Right: A frame in which the dog is in a similar position and the scarf looks good.

The final retouched image for the calendar.

We scheduled half an hour per dog. In some cases we got a usable frame in as few as three exposures, which was a good thing because in some cases that reflected about how long the dog was was willing to be in front of the camera. At some point I was reminded of the fact that when I was a kid I was afraid of dogs, thanks to a few bad experiences. Funny that I would grow up to specialize in dog photography (among my other specialties). If the dogs I'd met as a kid had been like these dogs, particularly the shy, sweet Enya (below) the idea of being afraid of dogs would have been even more ridiculous. 

Mostly while trying to photograph this beautiful Irish Setter we saw this.
One of very few frames we captured of this camera shy beauty. We all loved the ear flick.

In other cases we captured multiple great frames. Some dogs weren't worried about the camera or the set at all and just wanted to have fun.

This wasn't the only frame that had a person in it. They were easily retouched out.

I loved this shot, albeit we didn't get to see his cute little face, which is why it didn't make the cut.

While some dogs were overflowing with energy, some were a little more laid back.

A couple of outtakes in which the subjects were a bit too relaxed.

After every few dogs we would have to refresh the background paper (seamless) as it got slobbered on, scratched and dirtied. We had canned air to blow the shed fur off but that only helped a bit. I wasn't about to change the paper for every dog as that would be wasteful, and we'd use up too much paper, so we compromised, rolling out and cutting off the wrecked section every few dogs so that retouching wouldn't be a total nightmare. As it happened, we actually did use up most of a roll (of 9ft wide seamless).

We were looking for a variety of looks so there would be some variety between calendar pages: ie. headshots, full body sitting, full body standing, walking, etc. Some dogs gave us lots to choose from. Some made us laugh. Some were hilariously awkward, as if they had never been on a photo set before in their lives (which they hadn't)!

The camera is over here!

Talk about one of the best dog portrait shoots ever. Trained to be around people in a therapeutic way these dogs made this shoot seem like 13 dog therapy sessions in a row for those of us working on the set that day.

In case this is helpful, here are a few things we look for when photographing dogs:
- when standing 4 legs visible if possible (not 1 leg blocked from view by the leg closer to the camera resulting in a 3 legged look),
- if the dog is lying down legs are towards camera not away from; if away the dog looks like a legless sausage
- if sitting the dog should be on about a 45 degree angle so you can see front and side of dog, and if you get it just right the family jewels are discreetly blocked from view,
- main light on the face,
- sense of movement can be nice,
- ears up,
- alert expression,
- eyes toward the camera or just off camera axis,
- 'smiling', not a super long tongue if the tongue is out (there's cute tongue and there's stressed/dehydrated/exhausted tongue...we want option 1)

In our case for this calendar we needed the dogs to fill each frame more horizontally so a sitting pose was just too vertical for many of the taller dogs in cases where we were shooting full body.

This girl did a perfect sit but we couldn't use the shot for the calendar's horizontal layout.

Obviously I've included only a  few of the final  calendar images here. Anyone lucky enough to get a copy of it can see the rest. I believe the print run this year was limited by various circumstances. Hopefully if there's a 2021 calendar the print run will be bigger and the calendar will be made more widely available.

I'm so looking forward to doing this again next year.  Maybe with luck the garden will be back to being the peaceful place it is sans construction and the weather will be perfect!

Since doing this shoot, my family has adopted a dog, so I'm hoping to be able to have him join the program in the future (after he turns 1 year old). I've seen first hand the effect that pet therapy can have on people who are receiving care for mental illness. CAMH's therapy dogs and their volunteer owners bring comfort and joy to patients in treatment programs throughout the organization. If you're interested in applying contact Theresa Conforti, Coordinator, Volunteer Resources Clinical inpatient and pet therapy.

In the meantime, if you need professional photography of animals, or people, please get in touch!

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Art of Jamie Brick

Damsel Fly by Jamie Brick

Sometimes I feel as if I have a terrible memory, but I remember very clearly the day I discovered Jamie Brick's sculptures and met the artist himself. It was at what may have been the very first iteration of  "The Artist Project", then held at the Liberty Grand when a mere 150 artists were selected to exhibit. (The annual February show now includes more like 300 artists at the Better Living Centre.) Jamie's sculptures are wonderfully whimsical, unique and creative and appealed to me immediately. (And yes, I have photographed him, and written about him before.) Note before I continue: to see larger versions of the final images of Jamie's art shown in this post please visit my website.

This year, when it came time to start thinking about next year's calendar I had a brilliant idea while visiting Jamie's studio during a stay in his and his wife Annette's rental cottage on their property on Draper Lake.

This isn't the cottage. It's Jamie's studio which is next to the cottage.
Here's a view from the cottage.

As (almost) always I needed a set of still life appropriate objects that would look good small (the calendar pages being less than 4 inches across) and make for pretty pictures, so I asked Jamie if he'd be interested in collaborating by allowing me to photograph some of his pieces. He agreed, to my delight. We were only at the cottage for a few days at the time so the idea was to do the shoots when we came back later for a two week stay. I needed time to plan, and I was going to need three nights in order to to accommodate two shoots per night (more on timing later).

Once we arrived, after the initial inertia of some long awaited down time, I had some choices to make -- which six pieces to shoot, out of considerably more than six compelling and available options. One deciding factor was shape. As much as I loved some of the more vertical pieces, I knew they would not fit well into the horizontal layout I had to work with, so that helped shorten the list! Then there was the issue of the 3D-ness of his work, it being sculpture, after all. The richness of detail in any one piece could not possibly be captured in a  2D image, so there were some tough choices to make in terms of the best angle to shoot. Jamie's work often features fantastic little 'surprises', so in cases where one special detail featured on the front of a piece while another little gem featured on the back of a piece, I had to pick one to show. This decision making process was somewhat excruciating.

In one case I shot the whole series of frames* of a piece called Here comes Santa Claus, then changed my mind about the angle and had to start again. It seemed that showing the fork antlers to their best effect meant compromising the depiction of the Santa figure. Funnily enough, as soon as I wrote these words and put the final image (below right) beside the base image for version 1 (below left) I suddenly doubted I'd made the fight choice, so went back to the RAW images and 'built' a final version from the frames shot of the first angle. After all that I decided I really didn't like version 1 and had been right to change the angle during shooting, so score one for second guessing!

Left: first angle I tried (not the final composited image). Right: The final image created after I changed my mind, changed the angle and reshot. This was the only piece photographed inside Jamie and Annette's house. Funny note: we moved the teapot in the dark so didn't see the giant thumbprint we clumsily created on it; that had to be removed, somewhat painfully, in Photoshop.

*The actual photography process involved my signature still life lighting style, about which I've written before, and which involves shooting multiple frames of a given object, each lit differently, then combining bits and pieces of those frames later in Photoshop to build the final image. During the shoot my challenge is to previsualize how the frames will come together later.

Backing up a bit, the step following the selection of the subjects was to choose six locations on the property in which to photograph these sculptures. One of the six, the life-sized, Damsel Fly (final image at the top of the post), could not be moved because it was suspended from the studio ceiling. There was pretty much one angle that worked, so not a lot of decision making was required for this image (at least in terms of angle).

This is where the Damsel Fly hangs in Jamie's studio, photographed before the real shoot began. Shooting one frame in daylight (or available light) gives me a back-up source for overall detail, so if I miss any spots with my lighting where I feel there really should be some detail I can pull it from this frame. You can see a ghost of me walking into the frame.
This shows how dark it was by the time I finished photographing. Part of this frame went into the final composition.

The Mermaid, also life-sized, was pretty much going to need to be shot where she stood, also in Jamie's studio. I photographed her right after the Damsel Fly, so by this time it was getting really dark, and the mosquitoes were out, and inside(!) in full force. I made the laughable mistake of thinking that because I was 'inside' I would be protected from them, so chose not to wear insect repellent (which I hate, anyway), but the studio is not at all sealed. It was hot, I was sweating, I was being bitten to death, and the batteries in my flashlight were wearing out. Fun. Thankfully I just managed to capture the final frame before my light became unusable. (Yes I had extra batteries...I just didn't want to go and get them when I was so close to being done!)

This shows one frame that went into the final composition. There are distracting elements including a piece of wood on the wall behind the sculpture's shoulder that needed to be digitally removed and lighting artifacts that needed to be excluded.
I've lightened and circled the gumball machine that was just barely visible in the shots, but needed to be retouched out later.

In the studio, to the left of the Mermaid there was a black vertical space with no detail, because there was no detail to show. I knew that wouldn't work in the final image, so I took a picture of the door (left) outside the studio during daylight hours to provide me with a source of textures to add in later. I've lightened and circled the fixed area in the almost final image (right) to illustrate the change. It's darker in the final image, so subtle, but necessary.

The final Mermaid image

The other four sculptures could all be moved, so during daylight hours I scouted the property to figure out where to set up once it started to get dark. I couldn't put them outside and leave them there much before shooting as they wouldn't be safe on the ground. This is another reason the timing was so critical. The ideal window is right around dusk and shortly after, so there's minimal available light, but not a complete absence of it. If I'd had two large, sturdy, heavy-duty tripods and two cameras it would have been great to be able to at least set them in place during daylight hours, but I had one of each with me. Once it gets really dark, the process gets much more difficult, but I didn't want to limit myself to one shot per night and spend six of my holiday evenings working and missing the sunset cruises on the 'floaty boat' (see the final shot at the bottom of the post), so I settled on shooting two per night -- one in perfect circumstances and the second one less so.

Wide angle view of the location for Go ask Alice

Positioning test shot of Go ask Alice as dusk approached

Go ask Alice final image

Behind Jamie's studio where I shot Beach Patrol and Dragon Fly. (You can see Dragon Fly on my website.)

Beach Patrol final image

Of course these images are not my art, they are depictions of Jamie Brick's. But I hope that by imaging them the way I have, I will have been able to give viewers who don't have the chance to see them IRL some access to their their beauty and detail, and for viewers who have seen them a slightly different experience of them. Can you really see the detail properly in my tiny calendar, or here for that matter? Probably not really, so if you'd like to see them bigger and better please go to my website.

I'll leave you with a view of the lake during some unsettled weather right at the beginning of our stay.

Fun, filtered phone pic from the dock

And one final good-bye view as I sail off to my next shoot.

Sunset cruise on the 'floaty boat'.

If you rent the cottage tell them I sent you! And if I can make something look pretty for you please get in touch!
Jamie Brick