Photographing Flowers by Bathroom Window Light       

Daffodil BW

This week my wife and I had our first serious walk of the year around her garden.

Everything was competing for a place in the sun and the colours were beginning with white being the most prominent. I guess that might be because the first flowers to bloom in my wife’s garden this year were her white daffodils, and there are lots. We were looking for flowers to bring inside the house, so the abundant daffodils were the natural selection.

In March of 2013 I wrote, “Photographing an Orchid in the Bathtub.” In that article I discussed how one morning, I realized that a lone blooming orchid that my wife was watering on top of an upside down plastic barrel in our bathroom tub was a photo opportunity in the making.

At that time I could see a back light beginning to come through the frosted bathroom window and the slight beginnings of a back glow on the flower. It as in the morning and I knew within an hour or so the sun would move to that side of the house and continue in a southern arc for the rest of the day.

It was with that in mind that we decided it would be fun to photograph the daffodils before Linda choose a final location to display them in the living room.

One could set up a small studio for flower photography anywhere in a house. I even have a small diffusion box especially designed for product photography. Nevertheless the soft diffuse light coming through the frosted bathroom window glass is almost perfect for flowers.

I found another plastic 5-gallon barrel, placed it up side down in the tub with the white daffodils on top, and set up a speedlight coupled with an umbrella on a lightstand to photograph the daffodils.

When I photographed that orchid it was early morning. However, this time it was late morning and a more direct light was coming through the bathroom window. So I took the outer cover off the big 5-in-1 reflector I have and it became another layer of diffusion when I placed it between the daffodils and the window.

All I had to do then was point my 135mm lens, shoot, arrange the flowers, shoot again and rearrange. When I mentioned to Linda that the flowers would look good as a black and white photo she said. “Everything is pretty much monochromatic anyway”, so it was with a final b&w image in mind that I took the picture.

Photography Studio Workshop   

Studio 1a

Studio 3a

Studio 2a

Photographing Autumn 1a

My latest photography workshop, Posing and Lighting, occurred just outside Kamloops this past weekend at a local studio owned by Dave Monsees of Cherry Creek.

I will begin with a perfect quote I have used before by photographer and author Frank Criccho that goes with what I was wanted the participants to think about. Criccho stated, “The success of a photographic portrait depends as much on the photographer’s artistic and creative use of lighting techniques as it does on his or her skill with the camera.”

Much of the time photographers either prefer to photograph people in the daylight or, if forced to shoot indoors, just increase their camera’s ISO. And there are too many that when they do decide to employ On or Off-camera flash go for the easiest method of just filling the space with lots of light.

During these sessions I lead my goal is to get participants thinking about not only posing our model, but also about the using the flash light as more than just a device to brighten up the environment.

I want them to begin making decisions as to how to apply light on their subject in the same way they might decide to use a long focal length lens rather than a short focal length lens.

As always, when I lead a full day session like this one, I feel my task is to present information and keep things going. And I always leave plenty of time for the participants to engage with the model and experiment with techniques. Watching workshop participants grasp and learn photographic lighting is a fun and satisfying activity for me.

I began the workshop with a quick slide show. Hmm…I guess we don’t have slide shows any more and instead connect a computer to a digital projector to provide a PowerPoint presentation. In any event we started the day off with a presentation that showed how different modifiers affected the light on a subject. So when our model Autumn arrived it was, “lights, camera, action.”

We spent the majority of the day (barely breaking for lunch) using many different light modifiers, changing the angle of the lights, applying light in creative ways, employing different backdrops, and of course, studying posing.

I will say these kinds of workshops are really demanding on a very patient and hard working model as she constantly and quickly alters her outlook and holds any pose the excited photographers request; all the while giving each photographer time to apply what I was continually introducing.

I can’t really say much regarding those enthusiastic photographers, I expect they were filled with the energy most photographers get when they are learning and creating, but by 4pm Autumn and I were ready to wind down. A good day well done.

“A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound.” – Charles Baudelaire, Poet – 1859






Photographing Graffiti in The Tunnel   

Lighting the tunnel

Creek Tunnel



Creek tunnel North

There is a little creek that flows into Kamloops, British Columbia via a small waterfall. Petersen Creek is diverted underground for it’s journey through the city until it circulates out and spills into the South Thompson River.

There are several places along its cement banked route where Petersen Creek’s shallow flow is visible to passers-by, but it quickly runs out of sight again when it reaches a city street and is diverted underground.

One would think there isn’t much interest to anyone other than the City Works employees who make sure it isn’t plugged up when there is a larger than normal volume of water coming down from the canyon. However, at the final concrete watercourse everything changes to several block-long tunnels that are 10-12 feet high and just as wide that have gained attention from very creative graffiti artists and, of course, locals that enjoy capturing that creativity with their cameras.

It was there that I climbed down into after parking my car on the street beside the drainage tunnel entrance. I had met a resident photo enthusiast named Shannon who has been smitten with all the graffiti she was seeing on backstreet walls and boxcars that had wandered into the tunnel and she realized that street artists were painting on the walls.

I joined Shannon, and her partner Max, a few weeks ago in the dim tunnels. They and most locals were relying on their camera’s ISO ability, but after ten or fifteen feet the light was gone.

I hadn’t been in those tunnels since I first came to Kamloops back in 1974. At that time I tried going in a bit, but the water was much higher then and other than a few crude messages spray painted at the opening there wasn’t really a reason to slosh into the dark tunnel. However, this time I decided it would be fun to light up more than just one or two paintings.

I returned with four stands with a flash on each and positioned them to cross light the tunnel. Then it was easy to begin by metering the light coming in from the road and balancing the light from each flash to match that.

When I got home it was simple to clone out each flash and use Photoshop’s burn and dodge tool to smooth out the areas where the flash had outlined its light on the floor or where ever there was a different brightness.

I chose to illuminate the street artist’s work as a whole instead of just documenting one section at a time. I know when we see what someone has left on a wall or on a train’s boxcar as it passes by, that we tend to isolate one piece of graffiti art, but as I stepped into the dark winding drainage tunnel I felt more than just a cold breeze and saw more than one bright statement. To me everything – the dark winding tunnel, and the graffiti – was all part of the whole, or one ongoing work of art. And I wanted to photograph that combination of a cold, colourful, wet, chaotic, winding tunnel displaying the work of many artists.