Mar 21, 2016

What is Lost Can Never be Saved

 
    What is Lost Can Never be Saved by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 
______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The photo in this post had been brewing in my mind and heart for years, earlier than the narrative of this post. There will be no explanation of the title or contents. The symbols speak for themselves and, regardless of if you know me and my tastes, I expect this photo to tell its story by itself.

The concept had come together, the technique and the execution I was certain of how to accomplish completely in camera, with the most minor of digital processing to create the final image above that you see. Once again, my sincerest appreciation goes to my dad for his help building some supports and my wife for helping me to position a few things safely, without the whole rig coming crashing down. Perhaps one day I will post a behind-the-scenes photo, for now there are much more important things to discuss.

What pushed me over the edge with an urgency to create this photo was the second most significant negative change in my life that I have ever experienced, and by far the most stressful and prolonged. It's long so jump to the conclusion, if you'd prefer.

It's no secret that the Saskatoon Health Region is in a deficit position. Add to that the significant growth in our province's population, especially in the major centres, and you run into even tighter capacity to meet the needs of people. Not just as related to health, but transportation, policing, infrastructure or any of the other public services we use, benefit from and pay for on a regular basis. Many times since I began using the services of the Saskatoon Health Region's Home Care I was told by front line workers that I would end up using private care after growing weary of the bureaucracy and domineering of the publicly run system. 13 years later, those people who told me that were finally proven correct.

The Health Region was on a cost-cutting mission, especially reducing clients who require their services for a longer period of time per visit. What I require is more than a 15 minute meal prep or medication visit. Their attempt to force me out was not met without some resistance. Their methods and reasoning were regarding changes in policy and changes to best practices of care, changes that were implemented years earlier, but conveniently ignored until now. The current method of care was the method I had been receiving from the first day I was in City Hospital for rehabilitation over 19 years ago. It had not changed in quality or outcome or method, methods still used by the vast majority of peers I spoke to during the length of this fight.

Weak reasoning focused around an autonomic blood-pressure response, experienced by almost all quadriplegics, was the spindle they were teetering on. The autonomic response occurs whether I am in pain, being tickled or in the cooler section at Costco. Any stimulus below my level of sensation causes it. It happens, it's my body's way of communicating with me that something where I cannot feel it is occurring, subsides within seconds of alleviating the source, and in all my years with a disability has never been life-threatening. All of a sudden, this was a big concern for them. At their request I immediately booked appointments with the appropriate doctors to confirm that the way things were, and have been since my injury, was just fine. After those appointments it was very clear that I had the support and reassurance of both my family doctor and the other specialist with whom I've worked, closely. Both of those I had worked with much more recently and further back than the doctor whose opinion the Health Region chose to agree with. You'd think I was dealing with an insurance company.

Already, with Home Care, I had felt like a time slot to be filled, not a human being who wants to make the most of his life, whatever capacity it might hold. The unrealistic options being given to me would have cost the Health Region ridiculously higher amounts of money and been completely unscheduled, which would've made my life a matter of sitting around waiting for Home Care to show up. On enough days I already struggle to place a high enough value on myself, spending the best portions of my energy to bring value to my family, friends and society. The thought of this becoming my life is as discouraging and depressing as anything I had experienced. Breaking my damned neck wasn't even as discouraging because as soon as I was stable I was being encouraged by those who have gone before me, assuring me that you'll be back to living life, soon enough. Now, those whose duty it was to improve my ability to live a quality life, or the ones threatening to tear apart all that I had built.

Why not just give up the fight and seek care somewhere else? Firstly, because it is government subsidized. In fact, as I found out later, the subsidy for the 14 years prior to this had been calculated incorrectly and by my math, I had been overcharged by the Health Region for more than $20,000.

Secondly as to why not give up, because it was wrong for them to push me out. A citizen of the Health Region has a right to the public service (barring any misconduct or disrespect, obviously none of which would come from a person like me) and for them to dictate my life and my care was wrong. Meetings with individuals like one of the Region's bioethicists (the man who, through this whole process, I had great respect for because of his fairness, levelheadedness and reasoning) along with a plethora of other people in positions you don't just casually make a meeting with, resulted in what I will consider an acceptable compromise.

I am aware of those who went outside of their duties on my behalf. I'm not certain they would have had I not fought so hard, maintained communication by writing in order to catch inconsistencies and liars in their lies, nor if hadn't had occasional inside bits of information from eyes on the inside for me to catch them off guard with during certain meetings. My overall feeling at the end of it was that I felt fairly well equipped to push back. I cannot imagine how difficult it had been for those who had no choice but to give up, when being pressured so hard by people in authority they should be able to trust. I know there were more before me because I spoke with people and I know for a fact that I was the last client with my type of care to be "addressed". I do not know, had I been the first, if I would have set a precedent for people to demand what they have a right to, but that is in the past.

The one person in authority, who I would have expected to have had my back, did not. Decades of success were thrown out the window because of a best practices change that suited the current financial situation. One of the phrases you'll often hear from any reputable source is that no two spinal cord injuries are identical. The new best practices policy, ironically, does not work perfectly for everybody and, in fact, often works more poorly for those who have been using the previous method for the majority of their disabled lives. The new best practices method is inadequate to complete the care properly and the alternative using newer technology is viewed by some as destructive in the long term. It could be compared to running your sharp kitchen knife through the dishwasher. It may be easy and save a few minutes in the beginning, but once that blade is dull and all of your food preparation takes longer each and every time, in addition to adding the danger factor of using a dull knife, you have significantly harmed the usefulness and life of that knife, forever. Knives can be sharpened while damaged human reflexes cannot.

One's right to self-determination, a human right, was in question. I won't get into the details except to say that because of the change in what is considered best practices, I remind you, ineffective or a great number of paraplegics and quadriplegics, is no longer considered ethical to "force" someone to complete the care. By forcing a health region employee to complete the care it supposedly violates them. But, according to the Health Region it's acceptable to disallow a client any right to planning and living their lives (because the caregiver could arrive at any time of the day) and also is acceptable to use technology without long-term study and potentially destructive to the client. I cannot help but ask who will be forcing physicians opposed to Physician-Assisted Suicide to do something they are morally against, if the time in this country comes. But, I digress.

Thankfully, my resolve made for the agreeable compromise I spoke of. That compromise was the quick approval of me for the Health Region's individualized funding program, where I am allotted funding to pay for private care, care that is not cheap for anyone simply seeking it without financial help. This is a much more costly option for the government and taxpayers but, it's federally funded so the provincial government, and local health region, doesn't care because they get to pass the buck/bill. Politics, good governance and financial prudence at its best!

After a brief but reasonable conversation with the fully medically trained private caregivers, they happily received me as a person to be cared for. No longer am I a time slot to be filled but someone whose business is appreciated and whose satisfaction is wanted. In fact, I feel total freedom to adjust the schedule when needed in order to take advantage of an opportunity that may come my way which necessitates an adjustment. In addition to the reasonable people I work with now, those who give credibility to my intelligence and my unwillingness to harm myself, understand that it is a team effort. They know that I'm happy to advocate for my own care, with them reliably there, when I need any support. As mentioned, which brought them reassurance about any of the a rational concerns brought about through this rigmarole, I had the support of those physicians who knew me best and who live in the real world, not the one of theoretical medicine which tries to squeeze unique individuals into the same mould.

Had Home Care management not lied to me and tried to deceive me, but come to me stating the situation and worked with me to make the change, I would not have been so steadfast in my resolve. That our healthcare system could attempt to do such a thing to me, in Canada, frightens me. Without the support, experiences and information I had available to me I have no idea what would've happened. Any lingering bitterness comes from those lies and deception, and the amount of stress and hopelessness I endured, when I should have been exuberant enjoying the growth and development of our daughter.

Conclusion (TL;DR)

1. The government was trying to manage the overcapacity state of healthcare in our province. I would be pretty certain in saying that they did not tell health region management to lie, bully and pressure people out of the system. And, don't blame the Saskatchewan Party. The individualized funding program has been around since the NDP were last in power. It's not Brad Wall's steps towards privatization of our healthcare.

2. Go ahead and throw as much money as you want at hospitals. All the staff and all the money you could throw at it, as it exists now, will not make more beds. Trying to get people home and under Home Care as long as they need it, as soon as possible, is trying to free up those beds for the next people needing one.

3. So, throw more money at Home Care, right? The steady decline in what care aides are able to do has been obvious to me ever since I began receiving the services. Along with that, morale has plunged and far too many of the best caregivers have had enough and either moved on to something else, or lost their drive to do the best they possibly can. Meanwhile too many of the people around them do a half-assed job so when they do try to go out of their way to do something that really makes a difference in someone's day, it's probably not on the list of designated tasks, and they get reprimanded by management for it, instead of praised for making a difference and showing what it looks like for an organization to care about people.

4. While some employees cut corners, make significant mistakes or have repeat injuries because they do not follow their training, what can be done to make the lives of clients better by care aides is throttled because management wouldn't possibly think of calling out an individual on their laziness or ineffectiveness. If they did, their union would (and has) defend them in obvious cases of wrong behaviours. The result is to diminish everyone and what they are allowed to do for people, damage their reputation and leave the problem for the next shift to deal with.

5. Do I think that private healthcare is better? Not necessarily. It's more costly, in the long run being paid for by insurance or other subsidies results in cost cutting which results in reduced quality of care. For now, I know that I am treated like a customer who they want satisfied and loyal. I would love to see our public system revitalized, but there is no accountability, threat of reprimand or loss of shareholder confidence. We are the shareholders and it doesn't really matter which boss we vote for.

Somewhere in there there needs to be some hard work, a huge attitude adjustments and the courage to call out individuals on poor work ethic and bad attitude, and much more positive reinforcement of staff doing a great job. Organizations on all sides should know better than to protect their members, employees, managers and clients from improper behavior. When you don't, everyone looks bad and the mandate of healthcare being a team effort becomes a laughably depressing ideology.

Mar 7, 2016

UV Session 3 - Malorie Thomson

   Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 4 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
I'm hooked. It's as simple as that. Every time we complete another one of these ultraviolet sessions I am astounded by the results. As with any work most photographers do, they grow tired and jaded of looking at the photos over the long term. When you spend hours working on them they lose their impressiveness and that's what I found with the past black light shoots. I still loved the results, but they weren't as amazing when you stared at them for a long period of time.
 
    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 1 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
The amazement returns the minute you see your model walk-in, with another round of amazing makeup, and creating more magic begins anew.

    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 3 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
Missy Makeover was booked up and I'm very happy that Mark Tiu was able to refer us to Jennilee of Vamp Make-up, who did a beautiful job on Malorie. The fine work of Mel Corkum from Alchemy Clothing and Salon on the hair was the final touch to complete the entire costume which was a wonderful delight to see glowing before our eyes.

 
    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 6 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
I was very grateful for the help from Gerald Murray and his girlfriend, Julia. Those extra sets of hands, especially another woman for wardrobe adjustments, are not just handy, but essential for the things that I am physically unable to do. I am grateful for the people who have made these shoots possible and I am happy to organize and share the opportunity to participate in a shoot like this.
 
    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
For the photo below, I was glad to have an opportunity to once again work with my gift from Angie this Christmas, my Lensbaby with the Sweet 35 optic. It's a tool and not to be abused, but for one fine shot I'm quite pleased with the result. However, it is a manual focus only lens and in a pitch black garage with only the UV fluorescence it was tricky to nail that focus in the sweet spot.
 
    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 7 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
Without question, the most complex photo was the absolute best shot of the day, once again not possible without Julia running the smoke machine. When I bought that little thing for its first use at the CPA Help-Portrait event all the way back in 2013, I had no idea that this little tool would be so useful in adding that extra element of uniqueness the way that it has. Without it, I don't think that my favourite self-portrait from last summer would have been all that it was.
 
    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 8 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
The planning for the next two UV shoots are well underway. Unfortunately, we learned that the lifespan of these contact lenses are shorter than indicated so either we need to plan shoots closer together or just consider them single use. No one's vision and eye health is worth risking for some photos. That said, they took the whole shoot to another level and I will be getting my hands on at least a few more pairs to make sure I am stocked because I certainly don't want to go backwards in complexity with these sessions.

 
    Ultraviolet Session 3 - Malorie Thomson 5 by Jay Scott on 500px.com

Model: Malorie Thomson
Makeup: Jennilee Cardinal-Schultz of Vamp Make-up
Hair: Mel Corkum of Alchemy Clothing and Salon
Agency: Infinity Management

Mar 1, 2016

18 Months Old and Her First Haircut

18 Months Old 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
Look at that face! Whenever I look back six months or a year I know that it's the same little girl and can see her in every photo and every behavior. But to look at that change is just something else.

    18 Months Old 1 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
I'm pretty sure that as time goes on we will be immeasurably grateful for the monthly photos of her. Of course, Angie has done an amazing job doing her best to capture our very busy and ever moving girl by taking snapshots on her phone. Those moments and video clips are very special, on their own. But, I hope that the monthly efforts we have made to take some shots like this will be an invaluable keepsake archive.



As the post title says, today was her first haircut. Angie's friend did an amazing job on a very neat trim in the back, where Fiona needed it the most. Her bangs still have a ways to grow to catch up but that style she now has just elevates her to looking even older than she already does, naturally.




A nice detail shot of feet and her first clippings was in order and I knew my mom would appreciate that. :-)




And, the final result in the back, layering and all.


Feb 13, 2016

90s Punk Rock Collaboration

   90s Punk Rock - 3 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Lesley Pickering of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Ashley Dormuth  
 

Feels almost as long ago as the 90s since this gathering happened. I know that I've been behind in posting, but this is ridiculous. As much as I'm not Facebook's biggest fan, it is where everyone is, communicates and collaborates. To not use it for these purposes would be to miss out. Each year of organizing Help-Portrait is no different. It's a good platform to efficiently reach a lot of participants. Unfortunately, those requiring updates by other means are either an afterthought, or another consumption of time that isn't always free. As a result, social media has seen more attention than my website.


    90s Punk Rock - 13 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Model: Kealy Cheyenne Heeg of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun
 

I was given a late invitation to this shoot. Had it been sooner I would have happily helped in the planning, though the organizers did a great job. I left the little hall in Clavet, Saskatchewan, feeling like it was in the top five best times I've ever had. And that included the downside of fighting the cold I had at the time. A weak voice from my cold was gone for days after directing with all I had over the excellent music, curated by Sean.  


    90s Punk Rock - 11 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Kymm Wright of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun  

 
I believe it was that cold of about 12 days, with the cough lasting over a month, that kept my sleep poor and my head in a fog, this long. My productivity is returning, I've participated in another collaboration, that those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, will know about, and I have planned more UV and themed shoots. The momentum continues, to my satisfaction.


    90s Punk Rock - 8 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Lesley Pickering of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Ashley Dormuth  

   
    90s Punk Rock - 6 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Lori Cherkowski of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Ashley Dormuth  
 

This Monday will be another UV. Next Saturday is an informal shoot the breeze, each other and still life, along with any questions and conversations that arise. Following that, I'll see where plans go. It all seems so much easier since I've had such an opportunity to network and meet some great people in the industry.

    90s Punk Rock - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Sean Arcand of Infinity ManagementHairstylist: Laryssa Scott  

 
As mentioned, there will be a number more UV shoots, but my preferred makeup artists, who have the right skills and makeup, are busy. Booking early should solve any availability issues.

The themed shoot coming up involves a little digital work before and after the session, and this will be my first time using this method. However, as I learned in the past, if I apply the theory that I've learned as I have with past techniques, the results will be very predictable and that's what I'm hoping for. If they are not, I know I will have no problem adjusting while we shoot to make certain we get the result we want. It might be a little bit trickier because it requires the preparation, the shooting and the postproduction to all play nicely together. I'm pretty sure I am well prepared, though.


 
    90s Punk Rock - 9 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Lesley Pickering of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Ashley Dormuth

 
I realize I haven't said a whole lot about the talent of this 90s punk rock, but I am very grateful to have been included. Working with such energetic people who absolutely fit the theme and enthusiasm made the day great. I'm glad I didn't give in to my cold, but pushed through to produce some results that went straight into the portfolio.

 
    90s Punk Rock - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Model: Kymm Wright of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun
 

I believe that there is a value to consistency in the appearance of your final images, but I wanted to apply processing to the photos that would fit the person, their outfit and the lighting. In some cases that was very edgy and with high contrast, in others it involved more softening of skin and textures. I was happy with the results and most definitely found my job to be a whole lot easier working with these professionals. That said, there was still room for me to direct and communicate what it was I was trying to make happen.

 
    90s Punk Rock - 4 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Kealy Cheyenne Heeg of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun  
 

I wouldn't have minded having the opportunity to change backdrops a little bit, but we were absolutely maximizing the space available to us in the hall that we had. We had five people shooting in a space not more than 20' x 40', at most. This included tables and space for the makeup artists and hair stylists, as well as an area for people to mull about when they were taking a break. There was a pool table in a lower area, that I couldn't get to. It had some character and I took a few shots from a distance but they just didn't stand out enough for me to share them. The basement had a lot of character, but the narrow staircases leading down there were not going to be friendly to me, even though they would've made superb backdrops.

I'm not upset because I feel like I made great use of the one wooden door I had to work with. Sometimes constraints produce the best creativity and results. 


    90s Punk Rock - 5 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Model: Raylyne Jensen of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun
 
Model: Nikki Marie Larson of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Ashley Dormuth



What you may have noticed is that there were a greater number of photos of Leslie. I didn't plan this, but her outfits and her look reminded me of a friend from my past, ironically significant in the 90s. This, combined with the photos I had found ideas and inspiration from, made for her spending the most amount of time in front of my lens. I don't think I realized all of this until processing the photos, thinking about the results, listening to the same music we listened to that day and finding memories, themes and feelings resurface from that decade in my life. The subconscious can be a very interesting and powerful thing.

 
    90s Punk Rock - 7 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Model: Lesley Pickering of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Taylor Froese (Taylorfroesedesign)
MUA: Ashley Dormuth  

 
As I said regarding the space, we made due. But, I think it might be my turn organize something again pretty soon and I have a few other places that might be a little more accessible, more spacious and only a little bit more costly than this hall in Clavet, and it was pretty cheap for the day. We talked about a few themes for the next one and I actually might need to take some time to watch a few movies, listen to some music and see if I think it would be the right theme. If I do, I'll confer with others and start inviting people to be a part of it.

 
    90s Punk Rock - 15 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Model: Raylyne Jensen of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun

 
Until then I will continue to try to keep the balance between processing current work, planning future work, planning social gatherings and informal shoots, and trying not to get too anxious for spring and the spontaneity of dropping a post on Facebook to say I'm going shooting somewhere and seeing who shows up.

    90s Punk Rock - 17 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Model: Nikki Marie Larson of Infinity Management
Hairstylist: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Ashley Dormuth
 

Jan 25, 2016

Western Development Museum Adventures

   17 Months by Jay Scott on 500px.com
I believe I've found another underappreciated gem in Saskatoon, the Western Development Museum. So much so that, after a few visits, I bought a family membership. It was a great place to take Fiona to explore and make her 17 month photo, as seen above.
 
    Boomtown In Character - Samantha Willey 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Samantha Willey



    Boomtown In Character - Nikki Larson 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Nikki Larson

One of those first visits was while location scouting. I was trying to squeeze in one more accessible photo excursion before the end of 2015. It was a wild progression of events. The intial plan was to go to the University for accessibility, variety of indoor and outdoor places and familiarity. Then Colleen, of Infinity Management, offered us models, whom I accepted. I found out the campus buildings were locked up over Christmas and New Year's, as well as all stat holidays, the Commerce and Engineering buildings being an exception. Still, not enough information or variety in time.
 
    Boomtown In Character - Kymm Wright by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Kymm Wright

 
    Boomtown In Character - Samantha Willey by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Samantha Willey 
 
Queue the WDM, for our planned Wednesday evening outing. Evening, because I hoped more people could come than would be able to during the day. That's when I found out the museum closes at 5PM. Why did this surprise me? Because my most frequent visits were to the Festival of Trees, when it is open in the evening. Last resort, and by this time the models were committed, had costumes and I feared appearing unreliable, was to go during the day. Most were good with it and the turnout was great! Could've used more photographers, but, more talent available for us to shoot.
    Boomtown In Character - Samantha Willey & Sean Arcand by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Samantha Willey and Sean Arcand
 
    Boomtown In Character - Carlee Davidson & Kymm Wright by Jay Scott on 500px.com
Carlee Davidson & Kymm Wright
 
Regarding WDM accessibility, it's not horrendous. Boomtown has a number of buildings we chair users cannot access, but my biggest beef is the museum entrance. Where the asphalt meets the concrete of the door there is a wide, deep groove, followed by a lip. This means a chair's front wheels fall down into the rut, before needing to pop up, onto the lip. It's the same for the rear wheels. Add to that a camera bag and it's tricky. They do have automatic door openers, though. I really need to send an email about that rut. It's bad, and would be easily remedied.

    Boomtown In Character - Carlee Davidson by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Carlee Davidson

    Boomtown In Character - Carlee Davidson 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Carlee Davidson
 
Prior to this gathering of good friends, and soon to be new friends, I felt a growing confidence and comfort working with new people. I'm not a shy person once I get to know people, but I'm not the best at breaking the ice. Give me 10 minutes to get to know someone and I'm happy to tell stories, joke and laugh. This is not just for expressions and genuine smiles, but it certainly helps. Since I work with this great crew, all from Infinity Management, and a number of them on a another shoot after that, I look at the photos and think of the great time that I had and the excitement about the next round. My posing and people skills have greatly increased, thanks to this crew.
 
    Boomtown In Character - Nikki Larson by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Nikki Larson
 
Coming soon will be a post about our 90s punk rock shoot at a little hall in Clavet. You may have already seen the photos on 500px. All I can say about that is it was a great day, with great music, fun people and ranked right up there with in the top five or 10 most fun times I've ever had in my life.
    Boomtown In Character - Kymm Wright 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 Kymm Wright

This weekend will be the third of a three-week collaborative winter-themed shoot with a large number of models, hair and makeup artists and photographers. The weather is looking great, though the ridiculously cold one two weeks ago made for some outstanding photos with the River and the steam in the background. I have a pair of able hands to hold a light or whatever I might need to make some great images. And, I plan to do whatever I can in the way of holding a reflector are light so they can take advantage of this great opportunity, as well.

I will finish with a photo of our Kiwi. Fiona was having a sleepover at her grandparents' and Angie was out for the evening at a musical so I had my studio/living room back for a few hours. I made the most of it and found out what a great trooper that little dog is. The pedestal I had her put on was the laundry basket. This worked perfectly in the past for the previous eight year old photo of her from December, 2015. At that time she had no problem popping up on it and sat just as good as can be. I had placed my sheepskin on it so she had a soft and grippy place to stand. Without thinking, for this photo below, all I had was the slippery backdrop, directly on plastic.

If that dog didn't come charging off the couch and jump up there when I called her, sliding right off the back and into the half wall. Once I knew she was fine I had a pretty good laugh, consoled her and got her something better to stand on. It took a bit of coaxing but she gingerly stepped off of my lap, onto the hamper and sat there while I shot for about 10 minutes. She might be a little bit barky, her anxiety seems to be getting worse along with a few of her senses, but she still that energetic little dog that enthusiastically greets me whenever she sees me.
    Kiwi - January 2016 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 

Jan 13, 2016

Winter Solstice Sunrise with Olivia

 
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 4 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 
Make no mistake, the main reason for making some photos at this time of year was for the latest sunrise possible, and therefore the most forgiving call time. I'm not afraid to get up early for something I love doing, but I had to consider everyone else. Rae, my invaluable assistant for the day, probably would've been up, anyway. Olivia, well, she did an incredible job but was on her Christmas holiday break from school so I didn't want to ask her to get up too much earlier than necessary. Her dad, Paul, who is better at getting up earlier than I am, was her transportation and I had to make sure he had enough time to be properly ready for the day.
 
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 
We didn't get a stunning sunrise, as it was overcast, but that wasn't going to stop us from making great photos. The temperature was brisk and the wind was enough to definitely affect how it felt, but we have a couple of more vehicles for our brave people working outside to pop in and warm up in. For me, by wheelchair with all of the snow accumulation in the parking lot well, it was obvious that it would be easiest for me to get the most angles and stay the safest by shooting from my van. So, that's what I did, getting a few different looks with different focal lengths.
 
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 
There's no question that without the help of an able bodied assistant, none of these would have happened. Sure, we could have taken some snapshots, but would not have been able to continue working on refining my use of my two new flashes. I still have a little ways to go with the automatic exposure refinement, but I'm getting there. I learned manual and still am most comfortable using it when the environment is reasonably static. I've often thought of how it compares to learning to aim a rifle with open sights, then learning to use a scope. When it comes down to, I still prefer to target shoot without a scope and I still prefer to use off-camera flash in manual mode.
 
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 3 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 
It was good to do something that I have wanted to do for a while, now. It took getting out of bed a little earlier than I might've liked, on a cold morning and asking people to sacrifice their comfort along with me. They did and I am thankful for that. It was far more rewarding than the backup plan of skipping the photos and just going for a hot beverage somewhere.
 
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 5 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 
The same can be said for the amazing 90s punk rock shoot I participated in this past Sunday afternoon. I fought an embedded cold, a lousy night's sleep and a degree of inaccessibility but I went. When all was said and done, enhanced significantly by the 90s music that we listened to, I found myself rating it in probably the top five most fun things I've done in my life. I will leave you with a teaser photo from the shoot and get back to editing the rest of the other great shots from the day.


Model: Kymm Wright (Kyki Wright of Infinity Management)
Hair: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun

Jan 6, 2016

Christmas Cuteness - One of the Things I Am Thankful For

 
    2015 Pointsettia by Jay Scott on 500px.com
 
 



It was a great visit to Swift Current for Christmas. I hadn't been there since Thanksgiving of 2014. Fiona was a delight and melted hearts each day. Only one run-in with Santa upset her. More on him, in a minute.


As is often the case, the paper and boxes were as exciting as the gifts. For awhile, anyway. It wasn't too long before we broke into the shopping cart full of groceries and bag full of other food that grandma and grandpa had bought her to go with her new kitchen. The tea set had to stay in the box, though. She wanted it out but with all the little pieces we wanted to make sure everything made it home. Sometimes, though, the best things are free. In the first photo of Fiona you can see a gift bag that she was just enthralled with and really enjoyed carrying it around, heading to the door and saying "buh-bye!" I guess she was going shopping for that last-minute gift before bed on Christmas Eve.


Santa did stop in for a visit, and she was fine to observe him and try to figure out who this man in red was. Grandpa picked her up to come over and say hello and that was little too much. She was definitely upset about that but I sure was glad to see Santa because he brought me three, 4 foot fluorescent light fixtures. We picked them up from his garage on Boxing Day.


The one thing that I have wanted with my recent ultraviolet light portraits has been more light. I have been pushing the image quality to the limits on my camera. It is a stellar machine but definitely aimed at studio work, not a pitch black garage with a cobbled together selection of ultraviolet light sources. Now I have plenty, and expect the next shoot to have the image quality I really want. That's not to say the first shoots did not have great images. I was really happy with everyone's work. But when I look at the full resolution images I know what is possible and now can see that it will be what I have come to expect.


Regarding hard work, anyone who believes being a model or artist is easy should really give it a try. Taking the time for makeup, enduring the tedious downtime between actual creating, the physical strength it takes to play a large instrument or hold that pose for "just one more shot" is not to be dismissed. A significant number of people have put in hard work for my benefit, and I recognize and appreciate it. Sometimes it was mutually beneficial, other times it was completely selfless and all for my benefit. The very brisk weather conditions I asked young Olivia and my assistant, Rae, to endure for a sunrise session is a prime example. Those photos will be coming, soon.


The hard work put into this toybox by Fiona's grandfather can be seen in the meticulousness and the details. That same grandfather has spent so much time coming up with and building solutions for me. Those solutions could be adaptations to make things easier for me to use or they could be custom tables and supports to hold up prop for a photo that's very important to me. A photo that I needed to make last year, following the most stressful time of my life. That photo and the related post may or may not be coming, soon. I have lots to say and it needs to be said, just right.


I recognize the generosity and hard work of Santa (Dennis) who, without hesitation, offered me as many of his spare light fixtures as I needed. They were designed to be mounted to the ceiling and when he knew what I was going to use them for, quickly offered enough cord to wire them up to be plugged into a typical household socket.

Countless people have assisted me on shoots and made many of the images you see possible. That self-portrait from last summer, took me four days to put together. Had Angie been here I bet you would've been three hours, tops. It was nice to accomplish it independently but it made me appreciate any and all help I have received over my entire life.


This is not a sob story. I am reasonably strong at administrative and organizational work. Bruce has been the one to do so much of the legwork for Help-Portrait the last few years, but I'm quite happy to be on top of communications, curating lists of volunteer information and doing whatever I am strongest at. That's the way it should be in any project, regardless of disability.

I know it's not about keeping score, but whenever I have the opportunity to help out in whatever way I am able to, I don't usually take long to make the time to help out, well. Often it's through education, experience or information, which I'm always happy to communicate as clearly as I am able so that the one I am helping can accomplish their objective, efficiently.


The number of times that my parents-in-law have looked after Fiona so that we can go out together, or Angie can go out with the girls, is so greatly appreciated. We have a very good daughter and she is very easy on us (though, it looks like she's getting her eyeteeth and is one hurting little girl who should have been sleeping almost 2 hours ago) but a little bit of time and space makes us appreciate her spunky personality and impromptu dance parties, all the more.


They may not look all that similar, but she has her cousin, Will's, energy and drive to entertain. With her giggles, exploration, dancing and general performing I think they will get along very well as they grow up together. He may have a pretty big head start on her, but I'm thinking there might be a few stories to come between these two.


For me, 2015 started with great difficulty. I know that a degree of faith, determination and hard fighting made a turnaround at the halfway point. From there the year has gotten better and better, and it continues in full momentum with me having the time and opportunities to do what I love. For others, it was an entirely difficult year, with significant loss, bad news and trials like I cannot imagine. I was not exaggerating when I said it started as the most stressful time in my life, but contrasted to so much of the personal anguish that some of the people I care about of had to face this past year, it pales.

For those who I refer to reading this, if my way to return the help you gave me is to be an ear to listen or simply a distraction, contact me. I can do that for you.