Sep 7, 2015

Content-Rich Update

Technology is great when it works, isn't it? This post was long overdue a few days ago, and some of the excuses are good excuses, while others are pretty weak. The last delay though was technologically related. It always seems that when something is working just fine and I am satisfied with it, that's when something goes wrong and upgrading or replacing is necessitated. Maybe a new C drive and a bit more RAM is in order before this perfectly fine computer decides to bite it to the point that it needs replacing. But, I digress.

This is going to be one photo-intensive post and I won't waste your time with long-winded stories. Maybe just a sentence or two for each one.

  Photograph Family by Diefenbaker Centre by Jay Scott on 500px

The first photo in this post we are very grateful for as it was made by our good friend, Amanda and her great guy, Garrett, from over at Renditure Photography. I wanted to test out my latest investment and it performed exactly as I'd hoped. No more pushing my speed lights to the limit. I have a flash capable of some heavy hitting, when it is called for. We didn't quite make our hats look like cowboy hats, as an earlier photo of Fiona that many people were very fond of, but we thought it looked pretty good.

  Photograph Saskatoon 2015 Fireworks Festival by Jay Scott on 500px

Soon I will speak about some excellent work that I have been doing in collaboration with the Canadian Paraplegic Association and Saskatoon City Hospital Rehab Department. We've been working to create a database of accessible homes in and around Saskatoon. The purpose being to provide newly injured people a resource to help them decide how to best renovate or build their home following a spinal cord injury or similar disability. It also could be used for someone looking for good ideas to include in a future build. I know that I have seen a number of very affordable and reasonable options that I would like to incorporate into our existing house. A few of those have already been implemented, thanks to my dad's hard work.

During the process of this project, one of the condos that I photographed was overlooking the river from a seventh floor balcony. What an unbelievable view. The homeowner and former CPA employee/board member, offered me the opportunity to photograph the upcoming Potash Corp. Fireworks Festival. How could I say no?

  Photograph Saskatoon Before 2015 Fireworks Festival by Jay Scott on 500px

While I was up there I wanted to get a simple basic cityscape from a perspective I may not have the opportunity to get to very often.

A few weeks ago I led another accessible photo excursion at the University. We had a better turnout this time and, despite some unexpected heavy rain and a little bit of lightning and thunder, we had a good time, made a few photos, and enjoyed a coffee afterward.

A little bit of creative framing and you'd never know that Emma was dry and standing in a doorway. The way it was rumbling at that moment I thought we might just get a flash of lightning in the background. I must admit that it was very exhilarating to be making a nice portrait of someone I'm very comfortable photographing, while it was raining and lightly storming.

It was nice that Fiona's nap time worked out so that she and her mommy could join us. Even if we were inside, it was nice for them to get out on a bit of a rainy and windy day with me. She was in a great mood and the pictures are proof.

It's no Reptile World but our little Geology Building is certainly a fine place to go for a look at whenever animals they might have there and to listen to the relaxing trickle of some water. I think it would be nice if they had a designated area for people to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

Finally, I took the time to make a photo I've had brewing in my mind for a little while, now. A fresh order of coffee arrived from Matchstick Coffee Roasters in Vancouver (just two days after I ordered it!) so I used the ample amount of beans to put together the photo I had envisioned.

  Photograph Raw Energy by Jay Scott on 500px

It has been awhile since I posted, but now that I found time there has certainly been a lot to share. With the summer seemingly coming to a close I'm in a bit of a hurry up and get it done mode for a few of the photos that I need to do outside. If the weather forecast holds I should have one more quite elaborate photo to share within the next week.

That photo does belong to Challenging Reality. I know there has not been much for updates there for some time but this one will be worth it. Moreover, I feel like as much as those pieces of technology are important, the accessible home photo database has the potential to help more people in a much larger way than what I've done to this point on Challenging Reality. As well, I have been selected to participate in a photovoice project the health region is putting on where chosen individuals photograph the barriers they face in the community because of an acquired injury. My injury may have been some time ago but these photos, and the conversations that will follow, will make it to some pretty big decision-makers. I hope that my efforts there and the quality of my photos will help them to understand the importance of proper and safe accessibility, and even the discrimination of inaccessibility. I may have to make a few trips down Broadway to prove a point. But that won't be until after my stop to photograph the very steep and dangerous curb cuts just outside City Hospital.

Finally, there is an organization by the name of Barrier Free Canada that that is working hard to have a Canadians with Disabilities Act legislated. Regardless of your political stripes, now is the time to be asking hard questions of candidates to see what they think about something like this and if they have any clue about how far behind Canada is on accessibility compared to the rest of the first world. I encourage you to check out their website and, if you believe this is something that Canadians with disabilities deserve, to participate.


Aug 20, 2015

One Fast, Blurry, Incredible Year Later

  Photograph 12 Months 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

This post went live to the minute exactly one incredible year after our dear Fiona was born. We are so grateful for her health, her vitality, her smile, her babbling, her affection and even for her consistent 12 hours or more of sleep each night. She has been very easy on us and we will do our best to remember that and continue to be patiently loving when she is having more trying times.

As many of you probably remember, we had a very wonderful discovery while Angie and I were dating. It was a photo of each of us on one of these tractors at relatively the same age, both wearing yellow pajamas. When my dad found another one of these tractors, long before Fiona was visible in our future, we cautiously discussed how cool it would be to duplicate that photo with her. Behold!

It wouldn't have been the same photo without the glaring on camera flash. Remembering the photos, we were both critical of our dads for taking them from too tall of a position. However, looking at them, they both were sitting and it actually was a pretty good angle. Ironically, we found it more difficult to make a photo that looked unflattering than we did to make the first and last photos in this post. And, for the record, Angie gets the credit for the middle shot. She definitely knows how to make our baby laugh, giggle and smile.

So, happy first birthday, my dear little Fiona! Thank you for bringing so much wonderful life into our lives and bringing us daily deep love and awe. Your deep belly laugh and toothy smile, with your wrinkly nose, cannot be matched.

  Photograph 12 Months 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

Jul 20, 2015

11 Months Old

  Photograph 11 Months - 3 by Jay Scott on 500px

Wow! How time flies. Fiona turned 11 months old today so we thought we would carry on with the monthly photo tradition by showing off her latest favorite thing, standing on our bed, looking in the mirror and dancing with her reflection.

  Photograph 11 Months - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

Last week she discovered the flashlight I keep in the pouch of my wheelchair. If that wasn't treasure to a little girl, and testament to her being my daughter with both of us loving lights so much, I don't know what would be. She is getting at the age that when it's time to take something away though it is a very big deal. We try to replace whatever we have to take away with something good, but it will be a learning experience for all of us to both put our foot down and her not be quite so dramatic about the little things. She is an infant, yet, so were not trying to expect too much.

  Photograph 11 Months - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

After all, she still does hilarious things like this:

Jul 18, 2015

Flowers Galore

  Photograph Orange Lily Drop by Jay Scott on 500px

As promised, here is the second lily photo from the two varieties we have in our backyard. The background was not as well-defined as I had hoped but I definitely need to tell you about it.

It's our TV! Choose the photo that you want, put it on the screen, adjust your shutter speed and aperture to make sure it is visible enough for your tastes and away you go. Infinite background options mounted to our wall. Of course, there are limitations but any photographer with a large TV that isn't making use of it for a background for head shots or still life like this is missing out.

  Photograph Serendipity Daisies by Jay Scott on 500px

As for this next photo, these gerbera daisies were a gift from Serendipity Flowers here in Saskatoon! I follow them on Instagram and I was their chosen supporter for the week so a lovely bundle of gerbera daisies arrived at our door. Of course, I couldn't not shoot them, both my enjoyment, portfolio and thanks to that business. They are in an accessible location, offered me to come peruse there cooler and make some photos. Likely the light would be inadequate and anyone who has read more than two posts on my site knows I prefer my photos thoroughly constructed and planned. However, I think I have found the business that I will choose to support this winter when there seems to be nothing interesting available to photograph in the still life and highly constructed photo category. Of course there will always be Fiona and Kiwi, but they aren't still life and with them there are often compromises in lighting and how many attempts you get to make the shot before their attention is spent.

The Enchanted Pond Lily photo from the previous post is likely going to end up beside my Zoo Pond HDR 2 photo that hangs on the wall of my parents-in-law. The wall is just a little bit too big for just one 20x30 so we have been trying to come up with the right subject, with the right colors, to complement that existing metal print. I think that the Enchanted Pond Lily, along with these Gerber daisies, will be the right fit and match beautifully.

Anyway, if you are looking for a local and independently owned flower shop, I highly recommend Serendipity Flowers. Not just because of the nice gift, but they seem like really, really nice people.

Jul 16, 2015

On Smart Phones vs Real Cameras - Also Some Lily Photos

Our lilies were in bloom and it was time for me to make this year's photo of the pink ones. The orange lily photo will be made today.

Unfortunately, my setup was postponed by the much needed rain. No complaints here. It gave me more time to think and execute it. Did you know that shower curtains love to float? I sure didn't until I tried to line Fiona's pool with one to serve as my enchanted pond. Thankfully, I had enough attractive stones and glass ornamental stones around to weigh it down and complete my photo. I was a little concerned about the weight of all that water and stones sitting on our patio table, but it held up. It wouldn't be necessary were I able to get down on the ground to make the photo. Thankfully, this worked.

Now, I know that a current smart phone can make some pretty excellent images. I also know they have their limitations. There our technologies being developed that may, one day soon, allow them to trigger flashes or other external light sources. You are still stuck with the fixed focal length, a screen that's difficult to see in bright daylight, which makes composing and exposing correctly much more difficult, and there is no compensation for a larger sensor size and the appearance it can provide.

I say this because I've seen a fair amount of content online from both sides. One insists all you need is a smart phone, but I argue that they are not able to produce the image below that I was able to with a DSLR. The other side demands high resolution photos not from a smart phone. I don't know exactly what the definition of high resolution is but mine has the same resolution as most current mirrorless DSLRs. This camp that I am thinking of, Lac Pelletier Regional Park who is rebuilding their website, has requested photos from visitors. I would argue that the resolution needed for a website is minimal and that a properly exposed JPEG from a phone would be perfectly adequate. This is especially true because they probably are looking for scenic photos, not shallow depth of field portraiture.

This is irrelevant to me, though, because all they are offering is photo credit, no remuneration. If you were considering contributing, I urge you to demand a proper licensing fee. You are worth more than credit. Credit will not repair your camera, replace it, pay the bills or feed your family. But, I digress.

My point was that the second shot I made of the above behind-the-scenes photo was actually quite nice. But it certainly was nothing compared to the final product as seen below.

  Photograph Enchanted Pond Lily by Jay Scott on 500px

I have been teaching a couple of young people to learn to use their cameras. This also includes using their smartphones but it emphasizes the difference in the capabilities between tools. A phone still does not have any variance in the available focal length, without adapters that will greatly degrade the quality of the image, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its place.

I was complaining earlier about not being able to get down on the deck to make the photo above. Countless times, in order to get that nice lower perspective, all I have had available to me has been my smart phone. I argue that the better angle was more important than impeccable image quality, especially if it were simply a photo to be shared online. Certainly there are times that I've made the effort to get my DSLR down where it was necessary to make the wanted photo and also make it with the best quality available.

Regarding a phone's ability to work close-up, you can get a pretty decent close-up shot with a smart phone but the technology has yet to make it capable of a true macro photo. Below are examples of pushing macro to the limits. That photo above? This is the same flower's stigma, stamen and petal. No, the image quality isn't perfect because of the amount of glass and adapters involved, as well as the laws of physics limiting the clarity of light at this scale. But it's still pretty amazing to see something that magnifiedhim.

  Photograph Ultra Macro Lily Parts - Stigma by Jay Scott on 500px

I was hoping to use this combination of tele-converter, telephoto lens, reversal ring and backwards 50mm lens to photograph Mr. Spider but after realizing how razor thin your depth of field is, and how precise your focus has to be, I don't think it would be possible for me to make happen. Maybe if I find a dead insect, that won't move, get away or bite, I might give it a try.

  Photograph Ultra Macro Lily Parts - Stamen by Jay Scott on 500px

Now that our pink backyard lily has been photographed it is the orange lily's turn. I feel like the result of the pink one was better than anything I've produced with lilies so far. Here's hoping I can turn the orange lily photo into something that will be tough to beat, next year. Keep your eyes on the site for that photo in the next few days.

  Photograph Ultra Macro Lily Parts - Petal by Jay Scott on 500px

Jul 13, 2015

Nature Can be Tough

  Photograph Casualty - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

Nature is not always kind. The spider, posted a few photos previously, has caught a pair of damselflies in its web that I freed but, unfortunately they both died. This dragonfly was caught, seemed in good shape, was freed by me and placed on a flower, but I'm pretty sure it died. I took the opportunity to at least keep it alive as a photo.

It was gone the next day; I could not find it below the flowers. However, I do not believe it survived. Probably a bird came down and had a meal.

  Photograph Casualty - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

Jun 30, 2015

Postponed Father's Day Photoshoot

  Photograph First Fathers Day-2 by Jay Scott on 500px

We tried to make a long overdue daddy-daughter photo a few days before Father's Day but the weather didn't cooperate. The weather on Father's Day didn't cooperate, so we did it the next day when the weather and the baby were in the mood.

Of course, credit and appreciation goes to Angie for making the photos for us. And, of course, for putting Fiona in the cutest little outfit. She has finally grown into the one pair of pants that is both slender enough in the waist but long enough in the legs. We hope they will last her a while since she has such a tall body. At least her shorter pants can pass for Capri pants this summer.

  Photograph First Fathers Day-1 by Jay Scott on 500px

I'm pretty sure this final photo is my favorite one of me with her. Her head always smells so good and when she is cuddly it's just so nice to hold her. She has become very good at hugging us and her toys. Her babbles and conversations are so adorable I can barely stand it. She's so busy telling her stories and uncertain she knows exactly what she's saying. Soon enough we will, also, and what an amazing stage that will be once our communication is even better.