Winter Trips & Some Orb Spinning

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!

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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!

a beautiful grad dress taken in edmonton ice castles

Ice Castles Fashion Shoot in Edmonton

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!

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The beautiful grad dress steals the spotlight at the Edmonton Ice Castles tonight
The beautiful grad dress steals the spotlight at the Edmonton Ice Castles tonight!

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The temporary Edmonton's attraction Ice Castles at Hawrelak Park

Ice Castles Edmonton & Ice Castles Photography Shooting Tips

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 temporary Edmonton's attraction Ice Castles at Hawrelak ParkThe 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.    🙂

The temporary Edmonton's attraction Ice Castles at Hawrelak Park

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…

 

The temporary Edmonton's attraction Ice Castles at Hawrelak Park

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!

Exposure/Camera Settings (iPhones, SmartPhone Photography, dSLR alike!)

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]


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Photographer takes a photo of himself on the ice throne at the Edmonton Ice Castles
There is always a line in front of this ice throne at the ice castles.

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The temporary Edmonton's attraction Ice Castles at Hawrelak Park
The temporary Edmonton's attraction Ice Castles at Hawrelak Park

 

#IceCastles #lightpaintingphotography #lightpainting #ExploreAlberta #yeg #yyc #hkig #hkiger #photooftheday #yegweekend #ExploreEdmonton #IceCastlesYeg #Frozen #WinterWonderland #Nikon #NikonD750 #D750 #abWinter #weddingphotographer #yeggers #Edmonton #winterfun #icecastlesmidway #midwayicecastles  #icecastles2016#IceCastlesmn #longexposure  #nikon_photography #nightphotography #beautiful

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Carnival Themed Stylized Fashion Shoot at KDays Edmonton

Carnival Themed Stylized Fashion Shoot at KDays Edmonton

I have been looking forward to shooting at the Calgary Stampede since last yearsince the photo I took of my friends at the faris wheel became viral on Facebook. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to Calgary in time. So I returned to KDays for this legit photography session fully prepared!  I met up with the lovely Kailyn for this session and plan on doing a full coverage of KDays on different rides. We spent a lot of time exchanging ideas and ended up with the wardrobe she had and the props we used!

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Northern lights aurora borealis) taken on a cold winter night at Elk Island in National Park

Edmonton Northern Lights – Elk Island National Park

Northern lights (aurora borealis) taken on a cold winter night at Elk Island National Park. I haven’t even finish editing all the photos and another G1 storm shows up!! Below is a nice little tool to predict Aurora activity brought to you by Aurorawatch.ca


Auroral forecast from AuroraWatch.ca

Edmonton Photographer Shooting under the Northern Lights
Edmonton Photographer Shooting under the Northern Lights

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Edmonton Photographer Shooting under the Northern Lights with a car Honda Civic
Northern lights aurora borealis) taken on a cold winter night at Elk Island in National Park
Northern lights (aurora borealis) taken on a cold winter night at Elk Island National Park
Edmonton Photographer Shooting under the Northern Lights
Edmonton Photographer Shooting under the Northern Lights

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The Earth has been getting so many solar storms lately! For more photos of Aurora borealis, stay tune for future posts! Still editing them =)
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Winter Family Portrait Session

I have anticipated this shoot with the family for a whole month!After 2 extremely cold weekend, Edmonton finally got warmer! Having taught one of the girls from a former teaching job,  we were reconnected after a friend referred them to me.

I have to say, I was a bit nervous about this whole thing because I had to put my teacher hat away for a day and order the family around for poses and instruction to get good pictures. Oddly enough, the friend who reconnected us thinks that I was perfect for the job because I know just the trick to make everyone smile and get them to look their best. Well… here are some of the highlights =D  What do you think?

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Birthday Party Event & Photo Booth

Kids birthday parties are awesome! Favour bags, cup cakes, candies, jumpy castles, magicians, and even a hypnotists? I got to photograph a very special birthday party today for a great friend/mentor Kat’s little girl. It was truly a great experience to be involved in this! Here are some highlights.

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If you

photo booth party photography

UofA Mixed Chorus Banquet + Dance

A great night photographing the banquet event and hosting a photo booth for the University of Alberta Mixed Chorus group last night at the Faculty Club! These people sure knows how to party! Great DJ and music, and great photographers (including myself 😉 ) The organizers were super amazing people with amazing food! The funny paper plate award and speeches set the tone for what they were all about. It almost felt as if they were one big family full of laughters and passion.

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Faculty Club – University of Alberta

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Love is in the air =D

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University Dance Club Starlight Ball

Had a chance to photograph the annual Starlight Ball presented by Edmonton’s UADC (University of Alberta Dance Club). This club is probably Edmonton’s next best secret to learn ball room dancing in. It offers an extensive range of classes and activities. Regardless of your dancing ability. The instructors are volunteer based but all trained by competitive dancers in the scene. These guys worked very hard to get this night going, and i’m definitely bringing my game up a notch when it comes to these events! 

I got to meet some super cool people and even learned a few moves myself!! This is probably one of the best activity to get into at a cold Alberta winter! The photo booth was so much fun! These people seriously know how to pose! We had so much fun playing around and even tried out some floating levitation photos haha. See if you can spot anything unusual!

 

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Dinner was at the Polish Hall close to downtown Edmonton. It was a yummy five course meal with awesome live music by a very talented harp player.

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New milestone and YouTube Chanel for mpStudio

whoa! 200+ likes on my facebook page! To celebrate, I decided to make a speed edit video of my favorite light painting photography on Photoshop. This couple of weeks have been crazy! First a road trip down Calgary and living in a hostel, then meeting Renee Robyn from Renee Robyn Photography, and getting a chance to eat dinner beside her and talk to her for hours about photography and life!  Not only that my mpStudio Photography YouTube channel was finally born a few days ago!

There are so much I’d like to write about! But first, LET ME TAKE A SELFIE!!

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This session was taken inside a huge sewer pipe that I found on the first snow in Edmonton. At the time the snow just hit, and I was getting desperate because the pipe was getting wet, so I called Micahel up to explore this cool opportunity. After our shoot, I was ready to do this for real… but before I even called anyone up the pipe was taken away the very next day! I guess I should be glad I got to do a shoot here! It was so much fun!

 

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A portrait inside the pipe. Doesn’t it look like an eye? #ForcedPerspective

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Fall Portrait Session at St-Albert Ravine

Another Fall photo shoot and this time at the beautiful ravine of St-Albert just 20 minutes outside of Edmonton. The leaves are fresh and the weather is great, got myself a very hard to handle 85mm lens from Vistek rental, and Dani and I are ready for some photo fun! St-Albert is a small town known for their huge green house store called Hole’s but very little people know  that St-Albert is fall of beautiful ravines and parks! I was lucky to know a friend who I play music with and lives in St-Albert, so she knows all the hidden gems of St-Albert.

This photo shoot was all fun, but there was a small episode… With all the growing gears comes growing responsibility and organization skills! I’ve recently struggled with what choice of weapon to bring to each photo shoot especially weekends when I have a full day of chores and errands to run. So today, I finally hit an oopsies. I dropped my keys at the back of my car and locked myself out of my own car!!!! I was super lucky to have my friend Virginia come out personally and called the toll truck company and break into my car in order to return to Edmonton in time after the photo shoot! What an embarrassing day in front of these beautiful ladies. =/

Here are the pictures in batch, I have the full sized photos at the end. Enjoy!

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“This sleeping beauty did not want to wake up from her long sleep. The scent, the color, and temperature was just too perfect to wake up to. 

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Sugar Skull Makeup Photo Session

Halloween is coming! Had an on-location Sugar Skull Makeup photography session last Sunday with the talented model Clarissa as a belly dancer! Clarissa is a young lady who is striving to achieve her dream as a make up artist / hair stylist and gaining experience modelling on the side. I don’t usually work with models so when we were acquainted, I presented her with an idea of my own and a location for the shoot like I do with everyone else. Clarissa not only had her own ideas but had amazing ideas that built on top of what I had!!

Despite the sudden drop in temperature that Sunday, she stuck to it and also came to great lengths in order to come to this shoot. This shot has some pretty tricky things we have to hurdle, and so I needed yet another assistant for lights and thank goodness Clarissa had a companion with her because she also helped out with the shoot. It was a cold, but very fun day and I’m quite happy with the results.

This shoot relied heavily on flash gels to pump the color, and I’m beginning to get more familiar with color grading on photoshop so this shoot definitely benefited from it. Included are some of the original shots at the bottom. For those wondering how it was taken I have included some unedited photos! Enjoy!

If you’d like to see more of Clarissa’s work from other photographers, here is her Facebook Page. Oh and here is my Facebook Page.

So anyway, Happy Halloween! Stay safe. =)

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Light Painting Photography in Edmonton

A light painting photography day (night to be exact) like no others! If you’ve followed the last post I messaged the good people down at University of Alberta Photography Club for a shoot focusing on light painting photography, and managed to grab whole bunch of people along with a few of my friends to this shoot! The whether was definitely not as cold as the last day, and it was around 10pm when we started, and we played around and chatted till really late before we really got down to business. It was really cool because I met a guy who’re super into light sabers and he did some seriously impressive moves with it!

Technical Aspect

All the shots here were shot by me using the Nikon CLS system with two SB-700 speedlight and my Nikon D7000. The optical slave is extremely reliable and I cannot believe how far I could reach without using any speed triggers and wireless remotes! Normally, late night portraits shoot like these is simply a challenge of balancing available light and lighting up the subjects. Now we really have to think outside of the box, and with that many people showing up, lighting up a group and painting has to be extra careful!

 

Fixing the ghosting in long exposure was the number one difficulty I could not hurdle every time I shoot. I find that finding a dark environment and having a faster shutter speed would solve this issue.

I’ll hope to compile a tutorial in the future on this. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos!

 


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Bridesmaid Photo Fun

Went down to Sherwood Park for a photo session with these ladies. I was contacted by one of the bridesmaid and was asked to do a photo session with just the girls a week before Oli’s actual wedding. What an honor! In my opinion, I think the key to a successful relationship/marriage lies largely on the married couple’s friends and family as well. These bridesmaid are definitely just as important to this session as the bride to be! So I sort of decided to leave Oli the bride out as the centre of attention, and treat this shoot as a celebration of their friendships and relationships. These girls were all a lot of fun to work with! We ended up going on a small tiny hike somewhere I selected and used the mid-day overcast sky to our advantage and worked out some pretty awesome photos here.


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