Speed Shots


We executed another Smashening; this Smashening breaking a dry spell of a couple of years. Taking the usual set of photos, we were thoroughly impressed with a new piece of technological wizardry that made our setup and time-to-shoot drop to marginal levels.

Aside from the experience and photographs, Ryan was kind enough to splice together a video of the event. Be warned, language is not tasteful.


Photo Friday: Damaged

Fractured Martini

Photo Friday threw out the challenge of Damaged this week.  The first ideas that came to mind were some photos I had of broken down farm equipment, and some old vehicles.  Once I was in my photo library, however, I remembered that I have photography that involves high speed captures of things getting destroyed.  This photograph was taken around the time we started moving past the technical hurdles of high speed capture into the more artistic considerations of background, lighting and composition.

The idea for this shot was to hit the top of the glass, which was filled with water.  We were successful in finding our target with the other shots of the night, but this show we fired a bit low.  If memory serves, we were launching spent batteries as they were the perfect diameter and weight to fire out of the pneumatic cannon.  The projectile was edited out of the final shot, giving an impression that the glass just descided to break.

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It’s Full Of Stars


Moments in time don't just happen, there is an entire sequence of events, sometimes an entire lifetime, that lead up to them. A gentleman named Barry inadvertently sent me down the winding path that would lead to the moment I picked up a new D3.

I started with a film camera manufactured by Nikon. At first I was overwhelmed with the camera at first. Aperture, Depth of Field, ISO, telephoto, chromatic aberration, monochromatic, metering, dynamic range, motion blur and a plethora of other new ideas all rushed at me. It became quickly apparent to me that there was more to photography than I would ever understand.

My first fun piece of glass was the 28-105mm macro, which introduced me to photography up close. The lens has a 0.22m minimum focus distance from the film plane, which means that you can basically photograph things that are touching the lens. I love macro photography, and found that if my photos didn't look very good, it was because I wasn't close enough.

After some time, binders of film were filling my closet and I found myself strangely addicted to eBay. My auction sniping addiction led to the purchase of my first wide angle lens: an 18-35mm. I still hadn't learned at this point that certain lenses were sharper than others, and that the zooms never compete with the primes, but I did find that I love shooting wide angle even more than I liked macro photography. The natural distortion of everyday things that could be created using wide angle lenses swept me up, and has never let me go.

A few years later, some friends and I started experimenting with high speed photography, and a couple digital SLRs had started making appearances at our gatherings. I was dead set against it. The mainstream digital SLRs at the time used APS sized sensors. Mass produced, easy to QA and in absolutely everything. The problem being: an APS sized sensor cuts out the middle of a 35mm picture and as a result magnifies your picture by 1.5 times. As a result, by beautiful lens at 18mm on a digital camera would behave like a 27mm. Moving the lens out over a critical 9mm and rendering my superwide into a simple wide. I was steadfast that I would wait until digital would provide me with the wideness I desired.

I was broken within a year. Seeing the convenience my fellow photographers had when shooting digital ate at me. I still preached the superior quality of film, the larger dynamic range as well as the high quality resolution were facts constantly crossing my lips as I defended my still using the dated and much more expensive version of the art.

Late in 2005, Nikon announced the specificiations of the much anticipated D200, and I was only marginally disappointed that it again would sport a 1.5 crop factor. I knew that the Full Frame sensor would be showing up in the Professional line first, and as is par it would be 6-8 months before any store would have a D200 in stock, I started my digital foray with Nikon's Mark had purchased a D200 - 18-200 combination, and soon after Neil had an 18-200 as well. A single lens that replaces three that I have to support the same range, as well as built in vibration reduction made the lens unforgettable. Looking back I can see that part of me was convincing the rest that breaking my no-DX lens rule was an extremely good idea. The digital conversion was nice, and Nikon hadn't made any sort of move in ending Canon's 3 year control of the Full Frame digital market (Yes, I know about the Kodak, go away). In 2007, with a trip to Europe coming down the pipe, and my subconcious raging about not wanting to pack three different lenses, I followed a price reduction and purchased the 18-200 lens.

Not even a month after my purchase, Nikon comes out and announces the D3. I'm sure Lady Luck gets a lot of laughs at my expense.

As Christmas approached, I found the money in my camera fund, collecting dust, and I made a speculative play with the money, knowing full well that even as of December, very few D3 cameras had crossed into Canada. The risk payed off, and I had made a decent profit by the end of January, and in a delirious moment did agree to get my name put on a waiting list at The Camera Store. I was somewhere in the eighties at that time, and considering the going delivery rate was one or two a week, I figured it would be fall, or optimistically mid summer before I would have to decide if I wanted to honour the agreement.

I was surprised earlier this week when I received a call, ironically while taking photos at Flames Central, that after a slew of cancellations I was next in line for a D3. Thinking too fast, I told them I was out of town, and that I couldn't pick it up right away. I was told that they would hold it for me until midday on Friday, kicking off a week of deep contemplation, hand wringing, prioritization, and back and forth logic I have ever subjected myself too.

I consulted with anyone that would listen to me, and have never been so on the fence in my whole life. On one hand, I had been waiting for this camera for over five years, was prepared to receive it, knew that I wanted it, and on the other hand was a massive price tag. A price tag roughly equivalent to a dozen 14 inch bandsaws, 2 years of gasoline or my Buell Motorcycle.

The tipping point was during the monthly Calgary Photographic Society meeting. Kevin told us the story of how he got to where he is today. Mentioning that you need to do what you love to succeed, and that he once used a D70 but it didn't cut it lingered with me all evening, and I figured out while showering the next morning that I would be really pissed with myself if I didn't jump on this opportunity right away.

Leaving work a bit early to fight traffic, struggle with parking, verify with Visa and attempt to haggle; I managed to obtain my treasure. Excited as a kid on Christas Eve, my head was split in half with my smile. As soon as I was home, I had the box open and I was sifting through it's contents. But, my dreams of a full frame digital image needed to be put on hold, as my new digital camera had a new type of battery. A battery which needed to be charged before I could use the camera.

Longest three hours of my life.

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Smash Stuff

Sunny Days

Very few people can understand why six guys would give up lounging around in the sun on a Friday afternoon, to spend it sealed inside a garage wrapped in black plastic in complete darkness while we throw projectiles at water filled containers. The people who do understand, are those that have experienced the event.

It was nigh time for another Smashening session. This one had more than the usual amount of starting problems, being that we were lacking some of the most fundamental pieces of the timing rig, but after we enjoyed some fine dinner, and some patch jobs we were ready to start breaking things.

There is no disagreement that this photo is the king of the crop. Although it did require some post-production love in order to remove the projectile and an unsightly hot spot, it did come out the best looking photograph of the set. In my opinion the second best of show was this photo, but I think some of the other lads may disagree.

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