Archive for the ‘Tutorials and Articles’ Category

Ottawa Photography Workshops and Photo Shoots

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Last year, near the end of November I launched a Photography Meetup group for my Ottawa workshops. These workshops will cover a variety of topics: studio lighting and also location model photo shoots, creative impressionist photography, visual design, photo shoots in downtown Ottawa of architecture, spring flowers and autumn colours. In addition to my own workshops and classes, I have also added Ashley Murfin as another instructor/organizer. He has an incredible studio which is fully stocked with tons of props and is constantly conducting “Themed Photo Shoots”

Hope you will be able to join us on an upcoming workshop or photo shoot.




Thursday, April 18th, 2013

For the past several weeks I’ve have been using and testing Sigma’s new 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens and every time I mention it or post one of the photos, everyone asks “what do you think of it?”  The short answer is…..Stellar results and performance!

 So what makes this lens so great?

This is one of the newly designed lenses from Sigma’s new Art line, one of the three new lines that also includes Contemporary and Sports categories. When I first saw this lens several months ago at a trade show I was quite impressed with the solid feel and mechanical  quality/construction.  As soon as you see and start handling it you realize the quality of this lens, it has a feel to it of being a superior  professional lens – which it is.  There are many well thought out and designed features, one which I really thought was very well done is the large and well placed manual focusing ring, which is a full-time manual override.  Since the depth of field at F1.4 (as it is with any F1.4 lens) is only a very thin plane of focus, I sometimes find myself fine tuning the focus manually. I’m old school and this approach works for me. That being said, the majority of the time I use the auto focus and with this lens I found it to be quick, accurate and there it almost completely silent. Just take care where you place your focus point(s), as you would with any F1.4 lens. The minimum focusing distance is about 12 inches, which allows you to get in really close to your subject, an added bonus.

So what about image quality? The sharpness and colours are amazing. The resolution/sharpness wide open is excellent, and shooting at F1.4 – F2 is one of the main reasons why you are buying this lens.  The in-focus details are razor-sharp and the bokeh, background blur, is very soft and diffused. For low light photography this lens is 2 stops faster compared to my 24-70 F2.8 and with my Canon 5D MKIII it focuses incredibly quickly and accurately. Plus there is the additional advantage of the 1.4 aperture for bokeh, which is way better bokeh than f2.8.  There is practically no chromatic aberration, fringing and distortion. On a cropped sensor camera it would be a fantastic normal field of view lens, as it would be approximately the equivalent of a 50mm lens. Before getting this lens, I already had the Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM a lens that truly impresses me with it’s image quality. The new Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM actually surpasses the build and image quality of the 85mm.

 Below are some of the photos that I have taken using a Canon 5D MKIII and the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM lens.

Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F7.1

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F7.1


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F2.0


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F4.0

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F4.0


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F11

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F11


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4


Canon 5D MKIII - Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4

Canon 5D MKIII – Sigma 35mm 1.4 DG HSM @ F1.4




Given the high optical quality and the excellent build of this lens, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it. The lens sells for a very reasonable price, which is also substantially less than the camera manufacturers’ equivalents. It also comes with a 7 year warranty from Sigma Canada. Bottom line – I would definitely recommend this lens, it is probably the highest quality lens that I have ever shot with!



What Does It Mean?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013


As a professional photographer and one of the Sigma Pros, a lot of people write to me asking all sorts of questions about lenses and cameras and well just about everything imaginable about photography. One of the common questions is about lenses for Full Frame and Cropped Sensor cameras. A full framed lens will work on either camera while the cropped sensor lens will only work on a cropped camera.

With the Sigma lenses there are 2 different designations in the name, which specify the camera they are to be used with. DC, which is only for cropped sensor cameras, or DG which are lenses for full frame or cropped sensor cameras.

Here are two lenses, do you know which one is only for cropped sensor cameras?

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM


So what does everything else mean?

IF stands for internal focus – the front of the lens doesn’t rotate when focusing, this is a good feature if you are using a polarizing filter. It also allows for the lens to focus faster.

EX stands for the professional top of the line lenses – optically and mechanically.

HSM stands for Hyper Sonic Motor. It is a new type of motor used for auto focus in some of Sigma’s newer lenses.

OS stands for Optical Stabilization which helps to keep the camera steady when handholding with a longer shutter speed.


2013 – A Look Forward

Saturday, January 12th, 2013


to blog or not to blog


The year is off to a fantastic and a hectic start – Busiest. Winter. Ever!  I have already had several photo shoots, prepared a new program and gave a presentation to the RA Photo Club, organized and booked 3 more Studio Portrait Lighting Workshops,  and of course spent far too many hours in front of the computer. However, one of the things that I haven’t done is post very much to this blog. So much so, that several people have written asking what happened. While I do post often, very often, on my Facebook pages – it is usually only photos.   I have always left my blog for articles, announcements, tips and techniques or reviews.  But I am curious, what would you like to see here? Photos? What other information can I share with you?  What do you want more of?  Drop me a line, either in the comments below or email.

Hope your year is starting off great!

Model and Property Releases

Friday, April 13th, 2012
Mykonos Taverna

Nikos Taverna - Mykonos, Greece


One of the most asked business related questions that I am asked is about model and property releases. FYI – The most common question is “how to make a living as a photographer?” The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has a series of very informative business resources, including releases. If you have ever wondered if you need a release, then this is an excellent article that you should definitely read.

Multiple Exposures – Revisited

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Impressionist Photo Workshop

Multiple Exposures - 1986 Article


I first wrote about the technique of creating images using multiple exposures around twenty-five years ago.  The article was first published in the 2nd issue of the Canadian Nature and Outdoor Photography Magazine. The technique took off and is now used by photographers around the world, some photographers even put their own “spin” on it too. If you are a Canadian and wondering why you haven’t seen this magazine lately (or ever), well unfortunately the magazine didn’t fare as well as the technique did!

If you know something about multiple exposures you are probably looking at the cover image and saying “That’s not a multiple exposure”. You’re right, I always thought it was rather strange that they didn’t use a multiple exposure for the cover shot, instead they went with a slow shutter speed camera movement motion blur.  However, the other 3 photos accompanying the article were actual multiple exposures. 

If by chance you still shoot film the “How-To” is here . BTW – Shooting multiples is far easier using a digital camera compared to shooting them with film. If you own a high end Nikon camera it is extremely simple. Go into the shooting menu and set up multiple exposures to 10 with auto gain “ON” and shoot the 10 shots – wait a few seconds and the camera will create a multiple exposure image. As far as I know no other camera manufacturer makes a camera that is capable of taking multiple exposures. Don’t dispair if your camera can’t take multiple exposures, they are quite simple to create in Photoshop by using layers.

Multiple Exposures

Multiple Exposures

This past weekend I taught a Photo Impressionist Techniques Workshop, During this day long course we covered many different techniques, including how to create multiple exposures using Photoshop.  Suellen, who was one of the participant’s on this workshop has posted a few of her (incredible) images here.

Ottawa Impressionist Photo Workshop

Ottawa Impressionist Workshop


Ottawa Impressionist Photo Workshop

Impressionist Photography Workshop

Another day-long Photo Impressionist Workshop is scheduled for Saturday Oct 8th. Right now there is only one space available, email to register.


Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light Fireworks

For several years now, we have wanted to see the “Sound of Light Show” at the Casino du Lac Lemay which is just across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec. Well, last night we finally did.  It is one of the largest fireworks competitions in Canada, every year different countries from around the world compete in this competition. Last night we saw China, the country where fireworks were invented in the 12th century – the show was awesome!

Well over 10 years ago I wrote an article about photographing fireworks. I was re-reading it earlier today, and although I had originally written it for film cameras everything in the techniques still apply for use with digital cameras. Except for the part about motor drives, do they still call them motor drives on digital cameras?

Digital Photographer Magazine Articles

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Spring in Ottawa

Last year I wrote several articles on Impressionist Photography for the British Magazine “Digital Photographer”.  From that series, I’ve just posted a tutorial on how to create an Orton using Photoshop. Click Here for the instructional.