Join M&B on their special day tying the knot. This is their 1000 day of being together! They held their wedding at the beautiful Fantasy Land Hotel in West Edmonton Mall. Missing Piece Studio Photographer Jonathan Cheung and his team brings you to the story of how they met and their love story!
A huge thank you to the amazing team that met with me a million times to get all the details worked out. Simon’s at West Edmonton Mall who gave us permission prior to the wedding to do this shoot, as well as people involved who help make it all happen!
I went all out during Christmas and spent many sleepless nights chasing after the stars and getting used to the cold Edmonton winter! A buddy also brought me to a “secret” spot in Airdrie on my way back to Calgary. I got to see some pretty amazing scenery out in the rangeroads of Airdrie close to Calgary!
While out chasing the northern lights and getting to know more about stars. I realize there is a lot of extra traveling and time wasted when you arrive to a cloudy day! There is certainly a level of dedication and commitment (like everything else) when it comes to landscape photography. The weather is not always on your side, and you may not be ready physically or mentally whenever the opportunity arises. The moon may be too bright, the aurora may not be that strong, or it may be too cloudy! Never mind the road conditions and your personal schedule!
Since a nice winter break is all the time I’m allowed to get out there and shoot, I have learned to make the most out of my time. I continued to play with light painting and recently began to spin light orbs.
It took a little bit of time to get used to, and the tool I built has also changed since the first time I started! I hope you enjoy this post of my journey photographing the winter in Edmonton and Calgary! If you guys have any questions about my light painting adventure, don’t hesitate to give me a shout! I’d love to talk to you!
Just as you thought i’d be done with the Ice Castles in Edmonton, I went down and arranged a super last minute shoot with the beautiful model Justina Green and her amazing dress. Everything was very last minute. As much as I should be out shooting I could not resist the urge to visit again because of a little lighting idea I had in my head. As a hindsight, I really wish I’d focus more on the model and shoot more close ups, but the lighting and doing posing with Justina in this short 20 minutes shoot was plenty of work to complete on its own. So I picked my battle and came out with these results!
Justina was such a trooper! We communicated and I talked about possible poses and samples before we met up. Once we are there it’s all a lot of shooting. How do you like the details on the dress? I thought the lighting did a great job capturing her beautiful gown! That also reminds me… Grad season is coming up in Edmonton, and it would be super cool to shoot some high school seniors in Calgary or Edmonton!
If you followed my last blog post shooting these ice structures that has LED illuminating from within, you would know that it’s a huge challenge to shoot these using a fast shutter speed! It was definitely a challenge to keep all the details of the castle and capture the model at the same time. Although I didn’t get all the shots I wanted, I figured I have used my 20-30 minutes pretty wisely! If you’re interested in a shoot or knowing how it’s done, feel free to reach out to me! Meanwhile, feel free to check out my day time session at the Ice Castles as well!
I came back to Edmonton to a very warm weather for some outdoor family portrait session at the Ice Castles YEG. What a beautiful family!We started our shoot with a walk around this winter wonderland, and had a nice little chat before getting started. The girls warmed up super fast and we had a lot of fun exploring the castles. I planned a route prior to the shoot, and basically led the family around while asking them to do different tasks. It’s kind of obvious to keep the kids interested by bringing frozen and Elsa into play here. The family did such a great job interacting with each other in my presence and I totally got a lot more than I anticipated in such a short time! If you have seen my last post in the night, you would have learned that it was a night and day difference!
I really did contemplate whether driving down from Calgary back home to the Edmonton Ice Castles was worth it. I mean it was -30C that weekend! But who would have thought I ended up getting the staff there to join me with the photo shoot in this winter wonderland at Hawrelak Park?! Did I also mention I met the master builder there, and they closed the place down later just because of me? (sorry haha) That in itself was definitely worth all the sacrifice I made to go. Come to think of it, we were all just passionate big people playing in an adult sized sand box in a playground at our own natural habitat. I began my Ice Castle shooting with the University of Alberta Photography Club as a photowalk right at sunset. My plan was to go once with the group and another time at night with my family. The line didn’t actually take that long, and there are lots of staff there who came around the line to make us sign waivers. Yes, the possibility of slipping on ice and us breaking icicles and stabbing people is indeed possible.
The Terrain & Line Ups
We were told that we should not be late for our booked time slots, and we are allowed to stay there as long as want before leaving the exit. No matter what time you book it for, you are still expected to line up at the door. The Ice Castles in Edmonton is basically a large fenced up ice land with different paths. It has a “lobby type” area which contains mainly the entrance and exit. It also has a very fire pit area where a staff sits on the top to manage a fire that I’d say is enough to fit 7 people around this fireplace. This area is rather large and that’s where most people congregate. (See photo of staff ). Once you walk in, there are also a few pathways that leads you to different areas. There you will see a large open area that leads you into smaller narrow pathways. I didn’t find the ground to be slippery at all, but definitely watch out for running children and crowd in these narrow areas. Although there are strict rules against sitting on ice and touching the icicles, I find numerous children attempting to break the icicles, and many adults grabbing snapshots while sitting on icy surfaces as thrones. What do I think? It’s basically picture worthy everywhere, so I could understand their urges. But a well trained photographer like myself obviously obeyed the rules fully. 🙂
Photographing the Ice Castles
I don’t know how many people actually care, but I get support from this i’ll definitely continue to add depth and content into this! (So here is an unpaid advertisement… like, comment, subscribe my facebook, instagram, twitter, YouTube! It’s the only way I could keep this alive you know!) ALRIHGT ALRIGHT here it goes. The Ice Castles are basically LED lit ice structures that emits light from the inside. It is also very “maze like” and stretches down the path. So creatives out there can get very creative with their angles, but it is definitely ESSENTIAL to be mindful of the colour and lighting in this place. Most importantly, staying warm and keeping your camera gears light could save you from a lot of hassles!
Staying Warm (and treat your gears properly!)
Yes the official website said it and i’m going to go more in depth with this. Keeping your body in check will probably help you get sharp photos and longer shooting time! It’s also important to mention that camera gears are also affected by the cold! Let’s start with our bodies first! I usually go with slim cotton gloves so I have a good balance of grip to press buttons and keep my fingers from getting a frost bite! Boots and double(triple) layering your socks will also really help! At the end of the day, it’s your toes, fingers, ears that are going to keep you from staying if anything!
Now let’s talk camera gears. The cold generally does not affect the mechanics of modern day digital cameras, but the memory cards, batteries, and fogging is our main concern here. My biggest life saver I learned by experience (painfully) is that covering your tripods and metal gears up with foam or hockey tape will help get yourself our of a freezing burn. One of my friend’s iPhone actually shut off after being taken out that day lol (yeah she was REALLY when that happened), so how do we keep our camera/phone batteries strong? You can bring in external heat source, or simply bring a spare battery in your pocket to swap out throughout the shoot. Fun facts!! AA batteries can actually operate in extreme cold temperature, so if you have a battery grip that takes AA batteries, that’d be another option for you. As for myself, my Nikon EN-EL15 batteries did pretty well, and I only notice batteries depleting faster than usual. As for fogging, a rule of thumb is to avoid bringing your gears from extreme low temperature to room temperature. There are lots of ways I can go in depth with, like use of ziplock bags and stuff like that, but perhaps another time…
Photographing Ice Castles at night / Tips on low light photography
So it was dark, and the ice cave turned into an amazing light show. While my family stayed there for about 15 minutes and their happy faces began to turn into a sour shivering look. That’s when I know it’s a green light for me to stay alone and get down to business!! It’s my favourite low light photography sessions! When you are in low light, your camera’s focus and metering system is no longer accurate or even disabled. Luckily, the LED lit ice structures could light your way out of a sticky situation. I would definitely double check each frame to see if it’s sharp and in focus. When focusing on a human subject, you may be able to rely on reflected highlights of the subject to gain focus, but I would put my cellphone flashlights and a torch handle if I can for sure! I will try my best to update everyone with more tips on low light shooting if more people find this helpful.
The Light Painting
As I walked around taking snapshots of this ice palace, I used long exposure to get rid of some crowd and people walking in my shot. There may be some ghosting happening, but it is safe to say that long exposure can drastically remove many people walking when done right. I am also noticing more and more people leaving, I found a quiet corner and parked all my gears on the ground. I took out my metal chain like a thief in the corner and flicked the light switch on. YES it’s light painting time! Obviously clicking the camera shutter and running around like a maniac attracted some attention, but all in good hands. Some of the staff also came to watch, and I confidently executed some shots thinking “yup this may be last shot before these guys kick me out”. I was very careful about not blocking anyone’s path, and waited most of my shots when people weren’t around. Fortunately, the staff stayed to watch with a smile of approval. Light painting at the Ice Castle is completely possible, and I even moved to different places and approached some strangers and talked them into getting some shots done. It’s almost certain that human subjects will be darker than the environment, so be sure to leave enough highlight in both the subject as well as the ice structures. Remember! Darkness and shadows are better to keep around than blown out highlights!
After some time, a staff came to me and suggested a few spots and we began to chat. I knew my time was near and i’m really limited in time. So I toughed it up and asked the staff for his axe and shovel LOL ! What happened next was pretty magical. Not only did he gave me the axe to shoot with, I got more staff to join in with the fun and they were excited about my orb light painting. These shots were a collection of 6 seconds exposures that needed stitching before turning into a panorama. I had to be extremely careful with the amount of light the ice structures emits and what color it was turning into. Be very mindful of the volume and tempo of the song, as it is what triggers the LED lights at the Ice Castles!
You may notice in my photos that there are “bright spots” inside these ice structures Many people don’t realize that the huge amount of white in this beautiful ice cave will trick your camera into thinking that your photo is too bright and attempts to darken it. So it is recommended that you should set your captures/exposure “brighter” than what your camera would like it to. A rule of thumb would be to increase exposure compensation by +0.3 to +0.7 EV. [Read More]
Traveling to Banff and Calgary for these engagement photos! Remember my long time best friend who pulled off a surprise engagement proposal at the Muttart earlier this year? Yes, these two love birds stand in front of my lens again for a formal engagement session this time with a little camping trip on the side! Unfortunately the whether that week changes extremely fast, and rained like crazy! We got to take a few while the rain gave us a break, but I decided to do one more in the heart of downtown Calgary later on in fall, and the result were amazing!
The couple hiding from the rain at a staircase in Johnston Canyon in the Banff National Park. Here I was seriously out of ideas, so I took off my jacket and explained my idea before we ran back into the car. This session was seriously so much fun! I definitely think photographing engagement sessions in Banff has its challenge. It’s almost impossible to know exactly which spot you want to bring your subject to, and you won’t be able to
When it came to fall time, they were very excited to see this city where I relocated in for work. I’m obvious excited to have them try out all the spots I have been eyeing for. Photographing the fall scene by the Calgary Peace Bridge, and photographing this engagement photo at the peace bridge were just some of the obvious choices. But wait a minute, what about all the beautiful sky scrapers and urban landscape that Calgary holds? Yes, we went to a little secret spot and found ourselves at the middle section of a giant building with some beautiful reflections.
This whole session all revolved around downtown area, and so I decided to end the day with a little coffee break and buffet for my hungry tummy. When we had the coffee, I seriously could not help but to look at the a way to shoot more photos in the beautiful coffee shopping. So I grabbed a seat with very little customers and snuck a photo or two with them. These two seriously rocked it!!
Today’s outdoor photography session takes place in the great Alberta wheat field in Edmonton! What an amazing session! Unlike the Canola field I have recently taken, the wheat field definitely gives a very different cast and tone to the photo. I love how fuzzy and texturized these wheat plants gives!
This couple is seriously so silly. I think they kind of forgot about me and went off to do their own thing haha. During the shoot a farm dog got loose and really wanted to play with us. We were a bit scrunched on time and photo bombing was not good! So we had to leave the dog alone and drive off a bit further to finish our session. Sun was setting and I can really feel the fall breeze starting to arrive. The weather has been very on and off and I was glad they could come a bit earlier than the scheduled time to do the shoot. Mosquitos starting to come out as soon as the sun went down. Fortunately I had some bug spray with me for the client and I.
“If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.”
This beautiful Volkswagen Golf is brought to you by Southgate Volkswagen…. OK i’ll stop the advertisement… but seriously though my buddy who is working at the VW dealership in Edmonton has been talking about our shoot for quite some time. I mean he poured his heart into this car and did quite an amazing job with it! So I got my buddy with an Acura RSX on board (along with their curious girlfriends along) and we began our journey!
Amidst all the insanity moving to Calgary, I managed to get some fun shoots in my system. I don’t remember how long I have stepped away from shooting at studios indoor! Today I got Jennie and his friend on board at a vacant real estate I got hookups for, and tried out some ideas. Jennie was super excited as usual, with loads of clothing to choose from and put me on the indecisive train. These are the results!
Edmonton family portrait photography session at Whitemud Park near Fox Drive and Alfred H.Savage Centre.
I have been experimenting with a workflow that incorporates color grading but I’m still a pretty big fan of keeping things as original as possible. If I truly like color grading, it’ll be a photo that takes at least 30 minutes to work on in photoshop… Anyway here are some originals for curiosity sake!
This is the last session i’ll post on engagement sessions at KDays in Edmonton! This couple has got to be my favourite couple of all times. They’re sweet and very calm, which gave me lots of time to check my photos and discuss with them during the shoot. They were also super fun and took all my silly ideas to a whole new level! We played and It was extremely easy to pose them and we had loads of time to work on new ideas and perfect an already beautiful pose! Not only that, I encouraged them to actually enjoy the process and go out to buy some food and have a good time, and they truly did! They even treated me on the Farris wheel so we could grab some pictures at the top. Everything was so easy and these amazing photos just fell right on my lap!!
I know the Calgary Globalfest is coming, and there will be loads and loads of opportunity to photograph some amazing fireworks but i may not be able to make it this time… Until next year! There shall be loads more fun in Calgary stampede and Edmonton Kdays in 2016!! It’s been so much great memories :”)