More Mundane by David Veldman

Flat grey skies, icy roads and freezing rain, and the post Christmas financial crunch.

What a terrible week for photography.

There's nothing more frustrating than having time off, but not being able to go anywhere fun to shoot. So, for a few days now I've been spending most of my time indoors.

But today, I decided that even if I had nothing to shoot, I was going to go out and do it anyways. 
Normally, if just wandering about I will use my 18-55 f2.8 - a beautiful lenses made by Fujifilm. However today I decided to challenge myself by bringing only the 35mm f2. While a great lens, the field of view is tight, so I knew it would force me to think as I shot.

I made my way to an abandoned industrial area. The light was poor, so contrast was nonexistent, but I tried to focus instead on textures and shapes.

 

The 35mm is no macro lens, but I got close enough to capture this visually interesting spiral of power conduit that lay discarded. 

I like industrial buildings because of the shapes. One of my favourite aspects, oddly, is piping.

 

The lines, shapes and shadows always catch my eye. 

The last shot is one that I really enjoyed shooting, and actually feel rather pleased with. I was inspired to shoot this image by an online forum member who shoots in this style almost exclusively. 

 

In contrast to the other images, this shot relies entirely on the red colour. The red was the first thing to catch my eye, and after sloughing through knee deep snow, I realized that I wanted to incorporate the background doors into the image as well.

It works, in an odd way, and I find it visually striking. I specifically chose the square option in camera, to keep the composition simple and angular. 

 

As you can see, nothing fantastic today. However it was excellent practice, and a great opportunity to shake the cobwebs off my shutter finger. Most of all, it was fun! And isn't that the entire point?

 

Stir Crazy by David Veldman

Work has been rough lately. Long days, working weekends, and a slowly growing recognition that I'm working in a field I have no interest in anymore. 

I realized today, in one sad moment, that it had been 9 days since I had taken a picture. To me, that is unacceptable. It can't really be helped. The ground is covered in 2 feet of snow and I leave for work when it is dark, returning again when it is dark. Not exactly ideal conditions!

Tonight however I dragged my lazy carcass out of the house and took a quick stroll with camera in hand. As expected, I didn't get anything good merely walking the block around my house, but I did see this tree and snap it. 

 

What's remarkable is that this shot was taken in two extreme conditions. At 1/8th of a second the Fuji 18-55 did a remarkable job of stabilizing. I also used the marksmanship principles for firearms too stay steady of course. Also, this shot was taken at a whopping ISO 12800 in JPEG format, and it still looks quite impressive. Once again, the Fuji doesn't let me down.

I need to realize that I won't always be able to go the places I want, or shoot when I'd like. I'd encourage you, even if you aren't able to find the best time, to still make a moment to practice the things that you love.

It's better than nothing. 

No Expectations by David Veldman

I missed most of October. I was away with my day job, and it unfortunately caused me to miss the best of Autumn. And what a great Autumn it was. Beautiful colours, great temperatures - I'm still a bit sore about missing out. 

I also didn't get to pick up my camera for almost three weeks. So I felt a little rusty when I went out today under a flat grey sky. 

I was walking through a lovely nearby forest, mentally cursing the non cooperative weather. Flat grey skies make for boring shots. On top of that, there was a continuous small mist raining down on my camera and I. My shoes quickly became covered in mud, and I felt more than a little discouraged. 

Then I realized something, a revelation that I hope remains fresh in my mind. I should enjoy nature for its own intrinsic value - not just for photographic opportunities. I have been hiking and enjoying nature much longer than I have been taking pictures. Recently however, I had fallen into a trap where I only enjoyed myself if I was taking what I considered 'good' pictures. It was a surprising moment of clarity. I mentally unpacked my expectations and continued my walk, feeling significantly more calm.

 

Incredibly, it was after this realization that I spotted these three rotting stumps protruding from the water. I felt so relaxed as I sized them up. Getting to a vantage point was no easy task. I had to walk out along a felled tree using a long stick for support, then hold myself steady and shoot one handed. When I took the shot, I knew right away that I was going to like it, and I do. 

Later, as I walked back to my car, I caught this dragonfly in its death throes. The temperature has dropped dramatically, and the circle of life is ending for most insects.

 

I drove home to pick up my wife feeling almost oddly satisfied. The weather had been rough, and I hadn't captured anything 'great'. But I had enjoyed my communion with nature, and realized an important truth: it's important to not let the camera come between us and our experiences. 

 

A first for Everyone by David Veldman

As I wrote before, I wanted to try my hand at photographing people. Recently I had a bit of practice, so naturally I had to dive in head first and shoot my first wedding.

To many this may not seem like a big deal, but most photographers understand that shooting a wedding is a serious responsibility. You are trusted with recording the memories of an extremely important day - the pressure is real. 

I knew it was going to be a tough task. I realized it would be sink or swim. So I dove into the deep end with gusto.

And I swam. 

 

I still have a lot to learn. Just looking through the shots I took, I've noticed many mistakes that I can easily fix next time. But overall I am happy with what I produced, and more importantly the Bride and Groom are as well. 

I proved to myself that I was capable of not only shooting portraiture, but doing it under rather demanding circumstance. This is huge for me. 

 

I was helped greatly by the Bride and Groom. They were kind and very flexible. It was also a small ceremony in a beautiful area. I can see that in the future I may not always be so lucky. Regardless I am over the moon. I squared up with a challenge, and I made the cut. My dreams are slowly coming true. 

Family, Friends and Pumpkins by David Veldman

This weekend my wife and I traveled South to the St Lawrence river. We began our adventures in Prescott, at a historic site called Fort Wellington. While America isn't quite close enough to throw a stone to, it was certainly close enough to fire cannons across. Looking at the peaceful boaters casually crossing the border, you can hardly imagine that 200 years ago our nations were locked in a deadly war. 

One of the sites we visited was also the site of a battle during the Rebellion. As before, the land that once ran red with blood is now beautified and peaceful.

Of course, I wasn't alone. I was dragging along my long suffering wife and partner in crime. Who knows that wherever we go, I'll inevitably ask her to pose for me. 

Fortunately, she's gotten quite good at it! Here I was shooting with the xf 18-55 f2.8-4. I chose to shoot at f4 on the long end, and although the light was poor all day, you can see that it works as a portrait camera in a pinch!

Speaking of poses, my little brother and parents were also there, but I don't have to coerce him into anything, he loves the attention.

Later that night my wife and I headed out to the main event - Pumpkinferno. Pumpkinferno is fairly new, a display of thousands of carved pumpkins in the historical Upper Canada Village. 

The art and skill required to visualize and create these displays is nothing short of incredible. I've never seen anything like it before, and it seems like many others enjoyed it as well. 

The picture above is of a massive, human sized skull paying tribute to the day of the dead, a Mexican tradition. Looking closely, you'll see that it is in fact composed of jack o lanterns! In total the festival used over 7000 pumpkins this year. 

It was difficult to get any good shots at Pumpkinferno - for obvious reasons. But I am including a few in hopes of showing how stunning an event it is. There were several different types of displays, from Horror themed to Asian, all displaying an extraordinary level of talent by the creators. 

My wife and I plan to return next year for Pumpkinferno, but before that we will be visiting the Village for Alight at Night in December! I strongly recommend you check this event out if you're in the area. 

Something New by David Veldman

The first thing I ever thought to shoot as a photographer was landscapes. 

They seemed ideal to me. I value solitude, and they provided that in abundance. I absolutely love nature, and they gave me an excuse to spend hours wandering through forests and fields. I took to landscape photography immediately, and over time I like to think I became mildly proficient at spotting and capturing beautiful scenes. 

The only downside I found, was that Landscapes require considerable time commitment and patience. You cannot merely find a beautiful location. You must find the location, and if necessary, return when the light is ideal. 

Unfortunately I do not always have time. In many cases I found myself to shoot in sub-optimal light. Even worse I found myself traveling further and further afield in search of new sights. Today I often travel up to 4 hours on a Saturday just to scout a new location. This also results in a rather high gas costs. 

As I considered these issues, I realized that I would need to find another source of material to shoot. I needed a way to practice my skills geographically closer. And that was when I began to consider finally moving into photographing people.

I don't live in a large city - it's only 24,000 people. Even so that provides me with literally thousands of opportunities. After some thought I decided to refocus my efforts. I sold my Canon DSLR and purchased an X-t10 with the express intent of photographing human subjects. 

Despite that move, it took me some time to work up the nerve to begin looking for subjects. I'm not known to be shy, but over the years I had let myself slide away from human interaction, and as a result had become a bit anti-social.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first shoot was with a young family in the next town. It was a challenging experience, mostly due to the setting sun being blocked by trees and buildings. However I managed to capture a few shots I enjoyed, and the family were more than happy with what I produced. I felt far more confident after the experience, buoyed not only by my results, but also because the family seemed to really enjoy working with me. It turned out that despite my anti-social experiences I was still capable of connecting with others - and that's the most important part.

Next I got to shoot a local artist that wanted some images for her portfolio. Once again we had a great time working together, and I was pleased with my results. Looking back now, I see mistakes that I could have corrected, but of course I'll always have more to learn. 

 

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I was fortunate enough to have fantastic light during the shoot. The sun was peeking occasionally through the clouds, providing a warm, even illumination. 

 

I'm confident that in the near future I'll get many more chances to practice my portraits. I'm highly excited, and hope that I continue to improve my skills.