Dec 23, 2013

Christmas Greetings

Kiwi is guarding the gifts and wishing you a very happy, safe and peaceful Merry Christmas!



Dec 12, 2013

Help-Portrait Saskatoon 2013


The Help-Portrait events in Saskatoon have come and gone for another year. We still have a few loose ends to tie up, including repaying those volunteers who fronted the money for much of the event, based on pledges from companies who have yet to step up and fulfill their promises. We may need to take to social media to guilt them into paying up, which is unfortunate, but we cannot bear the cost ourselves nor let them renege.

Words like those are not popular, but as long as any responsibility lays with me I will do my best to make certain our Help-Portrait events remain about serving people, not bureaucracy and broken promises which diminish our ability to focus on the people.


And the people were great!

The photos in this post are from our clients that attended our first event at the Canadian Paraplegic Association here in Saskatoon. I chose to not post photos of all of our CPA participants based on my perception of their willingness to have their photo shared, not on them or the quality of the photo made of them. At the end of the post is a link to the album on Facebook containing the photos, both portraits and candid, from our main event at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge last Saturday, at -34C before wind. More on that shortly.


Lynnett, pictured at the top of the post, requested an autumn scene for her backdrop. Since I was unfamiliar with her and her personality, I had two choices available to her. A somber, darker scene, and the one you see in her photo. Her clothing suited the scene but, as you can read on Challenging Reality in the new year, one of the struggles with winter for a disabled person is the clothing. The bulk, restriction, and simple time and struggle to apply and remove it are hassles, to say the least. One more reason I want future events like this to be in seasons most favourable to disabled folks.


Desirée, Scott and Asha were not letting the weather stop them. We began with Desiree's portrait while Asha colored some Christmas coloring pages we had for the kids. Desiree's photo was just a nice look on a white background. Next, was their family shot. The Light Blaster, the tool we were using to project the backgrounds, did not perform terribly well with a white-ish slide. The winter scene behind them did not stand out the way that we had hoped. Considering how new this tool is to me this was an acceptable portrait but definitely made for something I have now learned. It may help if I use a proper projection screen because they are a certain material that interacts well with all colours and are not just pure white.

Desiree's husband, Scott, is a writer and wanted something with himself somewhere famous for writers. Through our conversations we came up with the concept of looking out a window at the Hollywood sign. For those technically interested, this was accomplished by using a slide printed with a creative commons licensed photo then adding a second slide meant to look like a large bay window. We were pretty happy with the result this produced.

Scott had his look and knew exactly what he wanted. I always enjoy working with people like that, who are willing to accept some direction, know what you are trying to get them to do, but also come with some very well defined ideas of their own.


Jamie and her kids were a bunch of fun. Look at those cute little faces! It took a few tries to get good expressions and of course her little boy would have nothing to do with sitting still. But each time they plopped him down in the chair with some excitement we got about two frames before he was off and running again. It was a lot of fun and we were glad that we could squeeze her in at the very last minute to get her some family photos made in time for Christmas.


Unfortunately for Laura, I was getting pretty tired by the end of the day. I hadn't slept much the night before and my people skills were slipping away as quickly as my alertness. We also came into her session not knowing what she wanted so we started experimenting the slides and seeing what she liked. After the first round I stepped aside and let others work with her. Eric is an amazing guy when it comes to working with people and I know there is plenty I could learn from observing him making photos and interacting.


I had to save the best for last. You probably recognize the first photo Lawrence. I did post it a few days ago but wanted to share it again so that all photos were in the same place. Lawrence came in knowing what he was wanting, with the guitar and some killer sunglasses, faux hawk at the ready after being touched up by our stylists. I had been planning his photo in my mind for weeks because ever since I met him I knew one day I wanted to make a portrait of him.

I certainly hope these are not the last ones.


We toned down the lighting and attempted to fill the background with fog from a handheld fog machine of mine. Unfortunately, it just does not have the output needed for that so we made it useful to add a little bit of character to the intensity of this playing.

He was pretty pumped about the results, but then so were we!


There is no question that without the team pictured below the day could not have been anywhere near the success it was. Many hands make a lot of things possible very quickly. A slight tweak to the light, a small adjustment there or a major change in the overall set up would've taken me hours to complete. It was great to have multiple sets of hands to help me make a day I had been excited about for so long possible.

Without the effective work of our stylists people would not have looked at their very best, the way only a skilled aesthetician can make a person look. We greatly appreciate their efforts and how they helped our clients to feel their very best before getting in front of the camera.

Thanks to everyone who made our first Help-Portrait event in Saskatoon a success. I think we will need to do another smaller scale one like this again in the future.


Our event that coincided with the worldwide event on December 7 was held at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge. Like I said earlier in my post, it was -34°C before the wind and we felt it. When we arrived the building was not open yet so we started behind schedule. Certain pieces of gear that we expected to be there did not show up so we were compromising and making do with what we had. The forms we needed our participants to sign so that we could make their photos were forgotten because of too much work being piled on Bruce's shoulders, but that was just a quick photocopy to make them ready to use. And, then, in order to get the motorbikes into the gym we had to remove the vertical post between the double doors in the gym so that they would open wide enough to get the Harleys through.

Once they were in, and we had our booths set up we were ready to roll. Unfortunately, be it ineffective advertising, cold temperatures or whatever other factors, we only served 95 people when we were expecting 300. It was a good day, we had plenty of time to make sure everybody was photograph well because there were no huge lineups at any point but, with all that time in organizing going into it we want to make the most of our time. We will gather our information and put together a document to help refine the process for future years.

The link below should provide you access to Help-Portrait Saskatoon's Facebook album containing the portraits and the candid photos of the day. Please feel free to like the group and stay updated on the news and upcoming events, the they next spring or summer or closer to this time next year.

Help-Portrait Sasktoon 2013 Album

Our day ended with an informal gathering at McGuire's with some food, drinks and a lot of great connecting and conversation. Amanda from Renditure Photography is friends with a researcher at the University who is studying neuroscience and has an art project she is working on to help bring awareness of certain neurological diseases. Because of my circumstances and my skill with still life Amanda asked if I'd be interested in participating in that project. I'm looking forward to potentially participating in it and am quite certain that no other post-Help-Portrait gathering included discussion about photographing rat brains.

I'm certain I will let you know if I have the opportunity to shoot something is interesting is that.

Nov 30, 2013

Exhausted But Worth It

After months of planning and a few nights of scarce sleep, we had our first Help-Portrait event in Saskatoon today. I'm exhausted, and it was a very full day but the results below speak for themselves.

We set the bar pretty darn high today and I have more to share in the future that are right up to the standard, as well.

  Lawrence - Help-Portrait 2013 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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The thing is, it's amazing what you can accomplish as a disabled photographer when you've got an army of assistants to hold lights, adjust this, tweak that or make what would take me two hours take five minutes. Without them this photo would not have happened.

Thank you, Lawrence, for being such an amazing piece of talent for me to photograph today!

He knows how to play and if you're interested in hearing his work you can find him on YouTube here.

Nov 29, 2013

Time Lapse Crazy

I'm not saying that these time lapses are amazing, unique or terribly interesting, but they have been good practice in fully understanding the functioning of the camera they were created with so that we are not wasting time trying to figure it out on the day of Help-Portrait. Time lapse is hardly our first priority but it is something that would be nice to be able to include in our coverage of the day's events.

This time lapses just simply of me making Monday's photo for Challenging Reality regarding the pros and cons of sparkles as a disabled man. The post will be live at the usual time, 7 AM on Monday morning but, until then, here is your sneak peek of the photo being made along with the always amusing change in expression and behaviors of a person sitting at a computer, in this case Angie.

Nov 26, 2013

Jambalaya

This is hardly an award winning video. But, I am glad to have had enough time to learn how to use this GoPro, borrowed from one of the volunteers for Help-Portrait Saskatoon for our events. We wanted to have a time lapse of the days but also make certain that I knew what I was doing if I was responsible for setting up.

The rumors I heard about the GoPro 3 freezing up were true! I thought it was only when the highest resolution at high strain rate were used but even on a simple time lapse it would freeze up and not respond. Since it's not my camera I don't feel it is my place to upgrade the firmware to stop this behavior but I will let the owner know about it when it is returned.

We don't have the desired mounting hardware that I would like for this so at the end you will see where the gaffers tape I used slowly let's go until the camera points towards the ground over a bout a two-minute period. Must have been the steam from the simmering jambalaya that made the adhesive weaken. I have a bracket that will suffice for our events.

In addition to the drooping camera, I forgot that the Epicure chicken broth powder jar with the "Angela" sticker on it is, in fact, turmeric. As such we received our monthly dose of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in the 3 teaspoons of spice instead of 3 teaspoons of chicken broth powder. The jambalaya still tasted good but it was definitely very yellow and not quite the flavor we were expecting.

Anyway, I had been waiting to make that for a long time and it was really good. Probably won't be much activity here for the next few weeks as Help-Portrait goes on and wraps up so, until then, here's to warm temperatures and little snow.


Nov 20, 2013

From the Lowliest to the Highest

The Lowliest


It's been a little bit quiet around here the last few weeks but let me assure you that behind the scenes big things are cooking. Steady work organizing this year's Help-Portrait events in Saskatoon has been a daily thing. Prompt responses to e-mails and phone calls can mean the difference between supplies being ordered on time or donations being deposited in time. There were a few things that we had to set a deadline for and, unfortunately, there were a few requests beyond the deadline that we could not meet. The last of which is hoping the T-shirts we ordered today will be ready in time for the event. That's still 2 1/2 weeks away, and if we are lucky they will be ready in time for our first event which is one and a half weeks away.

I'm glad to do what I can to help organize the events in the city but it definitely is not where my passion lays. It reminds me of the often tedious-feeling work of processing photos as opposed to shooting them. But, a shot photo seldom looks as good as it should without some appropriate processing and an event as huge as Help-Portrait does not occur without oodles of planning. Honestly, when you get your lists made and find the people you can reliably delegate work to it's not that bad. I've always been told that I make a good leader, but I still never enjoyed it.

Perhaps in a role of a manager or someone with authority I would not mind it, though I'm sure I still would not like the job of delivering consequences for failures or inadequate work when they came. In the past when I have been the leader of a group it has always been in label only. In school, if a group member did not complete their work, it fell to the other group members. If we did not get the one member's work completed we all suffered. It might as well be individual projects. The one time that it was a group assignment where we distributed marks based on each individual's performance it was miserable because it was while in a group with my best friend. He was unable to complete his portion of the work on time because of some unfortunate circumstances out of his control (there may have been a little bit of procrastination in there but it was not the primary reason) and we could not complete our portion of the assignment without his preliminary work. It was for a final grade in marketing. I guess that was a better taste of the real world than anything I had had to that point.

That said, I am looking forward to the events this year, the enjoyment that will come out of all of this planning and all of these meetings to make something awesome happen. What at one point had the phrase "pull the plug" being tossed around turned into something excellent as volunteers began coming out in droves. Our co-organizer was correct, people don't come out until much closer to the event. Stresses a guy like me right out. :-) But it will be a pair of good days providing portraits for those who receive few luxuries in life and I will be absolutely ready to scale back after that. Oh, wait. Christmas will be in a few weeks and I have shopping to do that won't get done until then. Once January hits I can hibernate and catch up on much that needs doing. Hopefully our furnace will continue to decide to function properly during those coldest months and our water heater, installed in January, won't need any more warranty work. I dislike those inconveniences at the best of times but especially when my attention could be focused somewhere so much more positive.

The Highest


You may remember this photo from a few years ago when I made the author portraits for Nicole and Lynne for their book, "Erpill the Caterpillar". It can be found in major retailers such as McNally Robinson and online at Amazon.

  Nicole by Jay Scott on 500px.com
  Nicole
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I know that I'm always my own worst critic but I am aware of some of the things I would've done differently for their portraits. I won't go into that detail, I can only look back and say that I am aware that I have become a much better photographer since then and I hope I continue to grow in my ability. I know they are happy with the portraits and if they ever need new ones I will be ready to make them.

  Lynne by Jay Scott on 500px.com
  Lynne
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It's cliché but the Internet has opened up publishing to anyone. You don't have to go through major magazine, newspaper or other publication in order to be seen. Of course, getting publications with them meant a much larger audience but, if you can find the right mix between quality content and community building, you can become a voice in your area of expertise or passion.

Erpill is a self published book. In their available time, Lynne and Nicole have steadily gained ground with their children's story written many years ago. Just today Nicole can be seen below giving a copy of the book to Prince William and Kate. How cool is that!? One of my photos is sitting in Kensington Palace!


As neat is that is I feel more connection with the hard work we have put into Help-Portrait this year. An opportunity to connect with people, give them something special, maybe even make a new friend or two. Spreading the word of Challenging Reality at the first event at the Canadian Paraplegic Association to possibly help others with disabilities is more valuable, in my opinion.

If you should feel inclined to donate to Help-Portrait Saskatoon we would welcome the money. We are looking better now, but there are a few things we would like to be able to provide in the areas of food and small gifts as well as having a bit more left over at the end to donate to other worthy causes. If you feel this is something you'd like to give a little bit to we would appreciate it and I invite you to contact me.

Thanks for reading and I will have more here once life slows down a little bit. Until then, there will still be new material at least once per week on Challenging Reality.

Nov 4, 2013

New Hallway Photos

  Cool Hotdog - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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I'm ashamed to say that the frame in our hallway with the five spaces for portrait oriented photos had become quite outdated. The photos of Kiwi contained within were still cute but they all included the use of selective colour, which is the reason I was ashamed they were still there. The days of using Photoshop to remove all colours except for one is long gone and when I see that thankfully short-lived cliché being used today I cringe just a little and immediately, on a subconscious level, assume an amateur status of the photographer who made the photo.

Kiwi enjoying a run with Uncle Riley at Riverside Park in Swift Current.

That's one of the problems of the fast pace of the digital age. Everything moves so fast that what was once cool and neat becomes outdated faster than fashion and clothing. Instagram filters, making clean, crisp, vibrant digital photos look like they were made 30 years ago, adding film grain or any of the other currently trendy post processing techniques will likely run their course in short order. This is not to say that they aren't worth using and a lot of people really like those looks, but I do not. I like my images to be as timeless as possible. The value in creating images that have those techniques applied to them is just as high as creating the images I am trying to create. I just know that my personality will not allow me to blur something sharp, wash something out, or desaturate something below what is seen by our eyes. It's no secret that I often increase the saturation in an attempt to brighten the world around us through my photos.

I realize that the following photo does have an imitation of selective colour but it is not a cheap Photoshop trick. The nuances of the red light warming up the white backdrop along with the cool light hitting Kiwi's back and playing into the folds of the blanket make for the natural look that you subconsciously see when you look at a real photo as opposed to a Photoshop mimicking. However, one technique that I use often that I am fully aware is cliché and will be outdated before too long, is the use of extreme cool and extreme warm light as in the very first and very last photo of this post. Video games, movie posters, music album covers, all currently use these colour extremes and get away with it, as I get away with ridiculous bright neon colours when I'm photographing Kiwi. But I do realize how quickly they will become old. One of my favorite photos I made of food used very subtle differences in the colour of the light and I should try to remember that as I work to develop my style.

  Kiwi - Canada Day by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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Often the look of the photos I make is a bit dramatic, and that is mostly in my choice of lighting, but trust me when I say that our dog is seldom as intense as she appears in a lot of the photos I make of her. I have one more in mind that might be tricky to execute but I'm going to make it happen one of these days. It will be a slightly long exposure of her laying with her head between her front paws, like a Pound Puppy, with her little tail wiggling. The long exposure will allow her little stub to be a cute little blur as she lays there watching while I talk to her trying to get her just interested enough to wag her tail but not so interested that her head pops up from between her paws. Ironically, I often find it easier to direct a dog, who only understands a tiny fraction of the words I say to her, than a person. I guess it's all about relationship and knowing your subject.

  Kiwi - One Light by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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The frame in our hallway now has five fresh new photos that will likely keep us smiling as we walk by for at least a few years. In the meantime I will be constantly making new shots of our little Poochy who will be turning six in one short month. By the time we are ready to replace the photos I'm sure I will have five new satisfactory shots to fill the frame with.

  Kiwi - July 2013 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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This final photo did not make the cut. We decided to opt for the close-up portrait you see at the very top of the post but, despite every recommendation to show only your best work, I wanted to share this final and sixth photo with you.

  Cool Hotdog by Jay Scott on 500px.com

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Oct 7, 2013

Kub Kar - Year 1

  Kub Kar Year 1 by Jay Scott on 500px.com

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Unlike the Kub Truck my dad built for fun, this was the Kub Car that I built in my first year of Cubs. That was a long time ago. I'm happy to say that it won first place in the regionals for design. It didn't track very straight and its top speed was not up to the competition, but it certainly did outshine the other entries that year in Swift Current.

A few of the decals are hidden by the camera angle, but it looked pretty good in my opinion. I remember that as much as the cub leaders and parents were certainly allowed to their help their boys in the construction, I remember that my dad did not take over. He left much of the design up to me, but helped me to take care of the dangerous work when it came to refining the curves on the bandsaw. But when it came to the filing and sanding it was up to me.

The paint color was obvious, the difficult to obtain Department of Highways yellow; the same color you see painted on the highways. It wasn't that difficult to get a hold of when your dad works for that organization, but it made my car stand out from the others. I chose the decals from some Lego and Playmobile sets and rounded out the look with some 80s GM pin striping. It was definitely a great first year for building a Kub Kar. The speed and tracking came in later years when I won trophies for those cars, as well. Photos of those will be coming in the near future.

The Technicals


The background was provided by the one of the galaxy slides included in one of the creative kits available to accessorize a Light Blaster. From about 5 feet away, focused to 4.5 feet (to increase the perceived bokeh) zoomed into approximately 45 mm, by one SB 28 set to 1/4 power, with the consumer lens' aperture opened to f/4.5, the image was projected onto my white fleece blanket hanging in the background.

The camera settings are 50mm, f/7.1, 1/200", ISO 200. I list these because I know there would be photographers who would ask, but really, when you are combining five light sources with different types, power settings, gels, modifiers, distances and triggers, those first four basic camera settings are little more than a baseline. They were adjusted around my flash power limitations. That limitation being the minimum output possible. The fog, created by my new Dragon Puffer kit from Zero Toys, was illuminated by one SB-28 @ 1/64 power with 1 2/3 cut of red gel. The galaxy projection was tweaked with a one third cut of CTB, the snooted flash on the camera left side of the car had a 1/4 cut of CTO, while the camera right side gridded flash had a 1/2 cut of CTO. 

The final gridded light source was projected from quite high and just camera left onto the reflective sticker on the front of the car to emulate a bright headlight. It was altered with a 3/4 cut of CTO and two thirds cut of lavender gel, chosen to emulate the color of today's higher and car headlights. Because of the sticker's reflectiveness it needed to be just bright enough to create that purple-blue reflection. The tarmac was made of black neoprene rubber while the dirt colored ditch was simply the brown packing paper that came with the Dragon Puffer.

I had tried numerous times to use the twenty second timer on my camera to time it while timing the puff of smoke but it takes a few seconds for that Puffer to warm up then belch the fog. Timing that with the countdown that only lets me know 3 seconds before the shutter will trip, was very difficult. So, I had Angie create smoke and I just sat at the shutter release to get the timing just correct.

I look forward to seeing what my friend Stacey's pack comes up with for cars this year.

Sep 25, 2013

2013 West Coast Vacation Video

Can you believe it!? Finally I am finished the video presentation of our trip to the West Coast. I promised it for a long time, worked on it when I had time, wrestled with the software that I am quite unfamiliar with until I was able to come up with a result that I felt worthy of sharing with you. Then, over 17 hours of time to uploaded to YouTube, two hours for you to to process and get it ready for presentation and it is finally ready. And that does not include the time it took to make all the photos and video clips that were used to create this. But, that was just a bonus of our trip.

For those interested in the technicals, as mentioned in the video, the vast majority of the content was created using a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and a Samsung Galaxy S3. A couple of our self photos done by the bay were made on a small Canon power shot. For commentary, my nasal voice was recorded on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 using the voice recorder app. The video was compiled and edited in Lightworks 11.1.1.1d and worked flawlessly once I knew what I was doing with the software. It's been a long time since I did any video editing and this was far more in-depth than anything I had done before. The next video I plan on making embeds multiple frames together and I imagine I will lose a few more handfuls of hair getting that to work the way I want it to. :-)

Aside from the introductory track, the music was provided by David Hildebrandt's album "Instrumental Classics" which he was gracious enough to allow me to use royalty-free since I made the cover photo of that album as well as doing all the photography for his album "Ordinary Man".

The only note that I did not put in the video was the disappointing transition from the same class of highway from the United States to Saskatchewan. If you watch near the end just before the photos at the cabin you will see two highways, the first being in Montana, the second being in Saskatchewan, just minutes apart. I guess we have less population and more highways to maintain but it was a big difference in the comfort of driving just a few kilometers apart.

You can watch it on this embedded video but I may suggest that you click on the YouTube button in the bottom right and watch it on YouTube, in full-screen at full resolution. I took the time to make it is large and crisp as I could so it would be a shame not enjoy it at that quality.

Thanks for watching. Maybe in a few years I will have another video from Vancouver and Victoria to share with you.

Sep 21, 2013

2013 CPA Wheelchair Relay


Last Saturday was the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Paraplegic Association wheelchair relay. It is their major fundraising event that occurs once a year and occurs only because of the hard work of a lot of people. Delynne was the organizer again this year and she did an excellent job. She recruited top-notch volunteers, including a skilled photographer, had lots of prizes for everyone, great activities for the kids, information stations about wheelchair sports and adaptive videogame technology, a yoga demonstration by Heather Cuttai and some celebrity appearances for the initial relay.

Our very own Mayor Don Atchison was there to say a few words and participate in the initial relay. Since this is my site I will say that I always have to bite my tongue at these times. I'm afraid the City of Saskatoon just cannot be patting itself on the back about putting in a few curb cuts that are completely unusable in the winter and many in the summer, because of snow or the road pavement being higher than the low point of the curb cut which causes a very dangerous lip for the front wheels of a wheelchair. Meanwhile, new businesses are opening, freshly renovated, with inaccessible entrances or washrooms. Costco has a freshly redesigned parking lot with fewer usable disabled persons parking stalls and new strip malls have fewer sidewalk accesses and the ones they do have are often at the front of a parking spot so they are blocked by the vehicles of individuals who insist on pulling up to the curb until their wheels hit and their front spoiler rips off. Thank goodness that ramp is there so they don't damage that spoiler in those instances.

I suggested that they bring in a full zamboni just before the relay starts and dump it in the middle of the track to give our mayor a real feel of getting around by wheelchair, trying to plow through snow.

I suppose a lot of these complaints are part of the reason that I help out with this relay. It is my hope that the suggestions regarding accessibility that the CPA is able to provide businesses with will become laws. Until there is punishment for exclusionary decisions by businesses I don't believe we will have a properly accessible city.

Among our celebrity guests was Becky Richter who, since I first photographed her over four years ago when she was fairly new to wheelchair racing, has won plenty of medals and broken records.


Heather doing her yoga demonstration for us.
Heather's daughter rocking her face paint. She even had a leopardprint shirt on to match.

CTV's own Mike Ciona was our emcee for the fourth year and did his usual excellent job. Subway provided an excellent lunch for us and there were the many prizes provided by smaller businesses from around the city to give to people through draws, trivia competitions and other games.

Of course, there were the large corporate sponsors that are greatly appreciated and make this fundraiser the most beneficial to the longevity and effectiveness of the CPA.





I got a little heavy on the photos of Lawrence, but that guy can move! The sequence of six photos that I took of him making his passing maneuver above was a lot of fun to cycle between to watch him overtake the older gentleman who's reaching for him. Things like that make the day extra fun to participate in.

Some of the groups had the absolute best costumes this year. There were the biker women, as seen in the background of the last photo of Lawrence above, with their fishnet stockings, bicycle helmets and tank tops complete with knee-high stockings.

UPDATE: Angie suggested they may be roller derby players. I'm guessing she's right.


There was the team dressed country style with the fierce, but friendly, attitude to match.


And, of course, there were the Wheel Riders 1, Wheel Riders 2 and the Young Riders, all of whom were dressed in Saskatchewan Roughrider green apparel.


All in all it was a full and busy day with a lot of laughs and a lot of excitement. It's amazing how fast, with a little bit of training, a person can move in a wheelchair. It's also amusing at how someone who's not use to navigating in a wheelchair can come to a corner and push the chair the exact wrong direction that they intend. It was things like that that made for a few of the best laughs and best collisions.

Sep 11, 2013

I Was Due

Isn't it often the case? The photographer seldom gets photographed. Nothing like a new tool to test out and learn about to motivate oneself to shoot.

This time I couldn't let Angie be my subject. The lighting I had planned in my mind was not going to be flattering.

Since looking through the slides that came with my Light Blaster I have had an image running through my head that reminded me of Quickman's stage from Megaman 2 for the NES.



Many of the stages have that metal and pipes look, it is a robot fighting game, after all. But the blue hues from that one in particular had my memory jogged after looking at that slide.



I wasn't sure if the portrayal would come through, but thinking about how much hardware had been in my head, and still is in my neck, I thought a look of transparency, or peek below the surface of my skin, might be interesting as if the metal is being revealed.










Finally, I'm not mad, angry or hostile, but it doesn't take a master photographer to know that a big toothy grin wouldn't work very well for this photo, hence the firm expression.

  Self Portrait 09092013 - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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Sep 7, 2013

Light Blaster Cuteness

Help-Portrait planning is well underway and my hopes of using my new tool, the Light Blaster, as a part of the CPA event, is looking better. We will give participants the option of having an interesting portrait made but, of course, we will offer a standard studio style portrait if that is what they're interested. It is my hope that we can surpass the common look of a standard studio portrait that has been around for decades. Sure, they look nice, but they have been done billions of times. Unique is where it is at, in my opinion.


So, who do you think were my test subjects? Of course they were Kiwi and Angie. Posing as nicely as they always do for me while I tweak and adjust and struggle to get the look I want.

I know a lot of people have told me I am wrong when I say this, but I do not feel terribly creative. It has taken a lot of time thinking about how to use this tool to create unique photos. The top photo is the best example of what it is capable of. The slide I chose was one of a nebula. I fired it from the back of the chair onto the back of my subjects. You can see the pattern of the slide best on the chair next Kiwi's left side (camera right).

I'm not saying that these photos were the best use of this tool but the more I use it and the more I think about it the more I am beginning to understand its capabilities and get some ideas of how to use it in an original way.


As for taking Kiwi back to her original groomer, I think it was the right choice. She was shaved down perfectly this time, done faster than usual and it is only 10 blocks away instead of across the city.

Just look at those silky smooth shaved down flappy ears. :-) I can't get enough of them.


Finally, I got the chance to try out a new lens to make these photos. Sometimes I hate the idea of buying or selling on Kijiji. You can never be certain what you are getting or who you will be getting it from. This time I hit gold, though. Slightly above the fair market value, I bought a barely used lens to dedicate to the Light Blaster. Just like a slide projector you can use a lens to zoom in or zoom out there by concentrating or widening the projection thrown. Definitely not the quality of lens that I am used to using, but it is in mint condition, with the box with all the manuals and the case. Heck, he even gave it to me in the original bag he brought it home in from Don's Photo. A nice 75-year-old guy, which I did not expect because of how computer savvy he was in our communications, with stories to tell, a big smile and a firm handshake. Those are the type of people I like to deal with on Kijiji. He was not so different from the guy I bought my last flash from a few months ago.

Sep 2, 2013

Kub Kars - 1/2 Lb

Two decades ago I was a member of a Cub Scout pack in Swift Current. We did a lot of fun things, especially once my dad was a leader, that included being locked in a holding cell at the local RCMP station, touring the water filtration plant, scavenger hunts, cub camp weekends and, my two favorites, knot tying and Kub Kar building and derbies.

  Kub Truck 1 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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All three years I placed with two years being first place wins in Swift Current which allowed me to go to the provincials. One would have been a win if only we had decided to not re-lubricate the wheels with graphite because it took a little while to work in and was not at its fastest when my turn came. At least, that is my memory of the derby. :-)

  Kub Truck 2 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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Of course, the cars had regulation sizes and weights for the "driving" competitions but not for the show competitions. I remember seeing a huge fire truck at one of the provincials that, I believe, won for showmanship.

  Kub Truck 3 by Jay Scott on 500px.com
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However, my dad being a truck guy, decided to build this Kub truck just for fun. And did a fine job of it. I thought it might be a good glow stick hauler, but they were a bit too big to fit comfortably. Still, it made an interesting light source with a 25 second exposure.

Over the next little while my three cars will be posted on here and you can see what three winning cars look like, Stacey. ;)


Aug 26, 2013

Hey, Goober! Where's the Video?


The editing is going well but the audio is not. I have found that the best tool for recording proper voiceovers is, ironically, my cell phone. Even the microphone that I'm using to dictate this introduces noise and distortion that I'm sure you wouldn't want to hear added to my nasally voice. Thankfully, the computer accepts that noise and distortion amongst the sound of my voice to create coherent text.

Eventually our West Coast vacation video presentation will be posted for your viewing pleasure.

Until then, I will give you a test photo of, who else but, Kiwi. I have an opportunity this coming Wednesday evening to make some photos for a couple that will finally enable me to use the gear and knowledge that I have to create photos I have always wanted to create. Kids are great. But they are active with a short attention span and it is very difficult to get the lighting that I am so passionate about creating with people who are so busy and on the move. Two adults, this Wednesday evening, will change that to something I am very excited to create.

So, I was testing the equipment I have and trying to gain confidence in my frugally purchased equipment. When used properly it can be very effective but I won't deny a little bit of GAS that I have had lately. That is, Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I have been looking at some wonderfully effective, but very pricey, lighting equipment lately. Some of which has been purchased by friends and I know they will make good use of it. I also know what I'm capable of creating with what I have without the expensive price tag. However, I have not regretted the times that I have invested good money for good equipment and how it has made creating same photo that I could make with previous equipment just that much easier. Considering the disability I am already fighting against, I will take every advantage I can, without breaking the bank, that is.

So, with the amount of light I believe I can effectively get out of the setup that made the photo above, and the nice early sunset (small camera lights are always more powerful when contrasted to waning daylight) Wednesday night, the session should be a success and maybe the revenue from that can be allocated to a savings fund for when I do need to rent/buy the better gear.

I will have some things to say about this year's Help-Portrait events coming up and encourage you, if you have any interest, to get involved. Few things in my life have been as rewarding as participating in these events.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Aug 17, 2013

Baby's Breath

The second flora photo I made during our last visit to my parents' cabin. I was trying to match tones with the decor in their living room and, though I don't think this is my favorite of the photos I made, I am pleased that I was able to create peach colored light with the right color gels to give this a more interesting look that would match the tones I was seeking.

  Baby's Breath by Jay Scott on 500px.com

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Aug 10, 2013

Cabin Lilies

To match the decor in my parents' living room, I made a photo that may be chosen for their wall. That it was made at their cabin was fitting.

Cabin Lilies by Jay Scott on 500px.com

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Jul 26, 2013

Dark Sky Lilies

  Dark Sky Lilies by Jay Scott on 500px.com

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I love lilies but have photographed them to death. It was time to get creative.

For those interested, the flash from below and from camera left both had a full CTB and full window green gel. The WB was shifted in post with the above photo being the result.

Jul 18, 2013

One Fine Slice

Who would've thought the two of us (with some help from Kiwi) could consume a 25lb watermelon? This winter we will be fondly recalling this perfectly juicy, crisp and sweet fruit.

  One Fine Slice by Jay Scott on 500px.com

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Jul 15, 2013

Just More of Our Kiwi


Kiwi was due for a photo following her recent haircut and I had a new Manfrotto HD Flex Arm to try out.

Both cooperated nicely. She certainly gave me a great look.

Jul 11, 2013

SIM Card


Not so different from my previous photo or a CPU, but when doing tabletop macro photography the angle opportunities I have are limited, paralyzed hands and all.

Still, if I may date myself somewhat, I have trouble looking at a chip like this and comprehending its capacity and abilities. Compared to my first computer, cell phone, stereo - well, it's staggering.

I look forward to the next fifteen or twenty years of technology and will do my best to stay up on it and with it.