Paul has been a guest speaker at many corporate professional development days over the last few years. His presentations range from photojournalism, to how to use your digital camera more effectively, and from basic Photoshop, to how to use flash. He also teaches digital design and photography at esteemed Universities and Colleges in Calgary.

If you are looking for on-site Photoshop, InDesign or digital camera instruction, contact us for a quote.


How I Got the Shot

Rain Drops on a Feather

A few years ago I was on a road trip in Quebec. I love Quebec it’s a beautiful province. At one stop I made, in the Baie de Chaleurs area, I walked down to the shore and found a red shale beach. I came upon the feather laying on the rock of the beach. The splash from the waves rolling in had laid up a pattern of water droplets on the veins of the feather. What I noticed was that the droplets acted like tiny magnifying glasses. The effect was really noticeable because of the setting sun and contrasty light.

I was shooting Kodak Tri-X black and white film and using my 24mm lens. I got as close as I could but could only fill half the frame with the feather. I took several exposures at different exposure settings. With black and white film I preferred to over expose and under develop. This technique opens up the midtones and shadows. In the darkroom I knew the red rock would turn dark gray or black in the black and white print. I also burned down the highlights of the feather’s spine to control the tonal range and get the droplets to pop off the page. It’s one of my favourite shots (probably because I was on holiday!).

If I were to do a shot like this today I would shoot a RAW file then distill several different exposures, stack the exposed frames in Adobe Photoshop then mask each layer and reveal the parts of each frame to create the image.





Working with flash

Lighting with flash is a skill photographers should master.

The accessory camera flash can be used to fill the shadows of outdoor portraits. Turn the subject away from the sun, to create a backlight effect, the subject’s face is in shadow. Then use the flash to light up the shadow on the face. This will give you better skin colour and the subject won’t be
squinting because the sun is behind them.

First put your digital camera (dSLR) on manual exposure (at 200 or 250 shutter speed) then take a meter reading of the highlight to determine the ƒ:stop. What determines exposure when using flash is the f:stop, not the shutter speed (unless you are using a leaf shutter camera). The shutter speed controls the ambient light. Let’s say that you found the exposure to be 1/200 of a second at f:16. Next set the flash to deliver the same f:stop, in this case f:16 (which may be full-power on the flash’s manual setting). You have now achieved a one-to-one balance of light sources. The sun and the flash are of equal intensity.

A more natural look to filling the shadow with light will be achieved by setting the flash to deliver a bit less light than the existing exposure. When the flash delivers one stop less light than the exposure it is called half-fill. So if the exposure is f:16 allow the flash to only output f:11. If the flash delivers two stops less light it is called quarter-fill.

For more about basic photographic techniques, including flash, you can purchase my book Basic Photography: a guide for beginners. Contact me for further details on how to order yours today.