29 February 2008

Friday :)

Oilers win....there might be a slim chance they could make the playoffs...hehehehe. Hey, as long as they are not officially eliminated then I'll cheer them on. If they miss it just means I get to enjoy spring and do other things then watch playoff hockey. After all, I admit to not loving hockey as much as I did when I was a kid. It's hard to cheer for the players when before their skill comes the dollar sign.

I am looking forward to a shoot this weekend with the lovely Cheryl Lynn. She's going to come out to the studio, first time for that. We have a few ideas, I'll wait till we get the pics done to show what we have in store. :) This will be our 4th time shooting together.

Today at school we're having an exteme winter fun day, with the temp. at around +6 I don't think it'll be much of a winter theme....maybe more of a slush fest.

I'll end this blog today by saying if anyone wants to donate $2000 so I can buy my dream lens, I'd be forever grateful and happy....hehehhe. :)

28 February 2008


Artists and also photographers have a similar problem. This problem is with the sharing and teaching aspect. I understand that many artists and photographers are trying to put food on the table with their craft and guarding their "tricks" and "techniques" seems to them a way to protect their income. It's easier for me to be critical of this because I have another income source and do not depend on photography. I do not believe that the sharing of techniques and ideas between artists and photographers will result in a negative outcome. When I started out I needed to learn some technical things about photography. Thankfully there were some people that helped me along the way. They were not afraid of teaching me some stuff and giving me ideas. I in turn have no problem sharing any of my knowledge with other photographers. I look at each artist/photographer (image maker) as unique. Even if someone were to copy every aspect of my technique and what I do, I really don't believe it will come across visually the same as my work. I recommend people try to look at pictures that appeal to them and to try and emulate the shot.
I am also very annoyed and disappointed with those photographers that get all upset that so many people are trying to be photographers. So many "pro" photographers go on internet forums and websites ranting about "amateurs" with entry level SLR's trying to be photographers. They get "mad" because these amateurs are charging less and making it hard for them to do business. I think that these "pro" shooters are more worried about being shown up by amateurs. I think if the work is strong then who cares how many wanna be pro shooters there are out there? There are tons of actors, models and people wanting to be rock stars. However, talent rises to the top. My sister hired a "pro" because she was worried her brother (me) wasn't good enough to do her wedding pictures. Turns out her "pro" took useless photos and even though his equipment was better his "eye" and ability to see a good shot wasn't there. So many shooters think because they took a course on lighting, or bought an expensive lens makes them a pro. I personally welcome the people who are learning. It's the reason I LOVE teaching, I love seeing students artwork. Sometimes a child can compose an image better then I can. I learn from students and I also learn from seeing the work of friends and peers that are just starting out in photography. I think that treating others with kindness is the best road to take. If someone asks me for help, I am more then happy to give it. I have been blessed with friends that have helped me and I have been able to help some of them back. So hopefully we have both benefited.

27 February 2008

Lighting Thoughts

I listened to the podcast of Dave Hill on studiolighting.net and was interested to hear some of his ideas and thoughts about lighting and photography. The interviews they give are so valuable. I credit the podcasts there for getting the idea for the homemade ring light. The talented Ric Diaz was interviewed. It's amazing to hear from real pros and hear how much dedication and work it takes to achieve what they have. I love Dave Hill's work and from what I could tell is there is just a TON of work given to create each image he makes. His lighting seems so complex. I wasn't sure I understood his lighting style. It sounds like he lights from a LOT of different angles, shooting RAW obviously allows him to do some great processing after the shoot. He also mentioned using a tripod....I wish I could watch him for for a few weeks and understand his tricks. He also mentioned how bad the wanna be Dave Hill's are. I guess I'll raise my hand and admit I've tried to mimic his work. My stuff doesn't come very close. I guess the polish he has comes from tons of layers and photoshop work to achieve that look. I respect it as an artist and I don't really want to copy the kind of look or work he has but would love to know how he does it. Even if I applied it to my work I think the interpretation would be unique to my style as a photographer.
I think my fave lighting now is: ( keep in mind this is my equipment that I have)
1. Natural Light
2. Homemade RingLight
3. AlienBee Ring Flash
4. AlienBee Ring Flash with shoot thru white umbrella - 2 AB 400's as backlights, hairlights...etc.

26 February 2008

Photo Shoot

Here is a sample of what a shoot is like. Thanks to Shantelle for allowing me to take some video to share with people who wonder about these things. :) Also thanks Josh for being my George Lucas. :)

My Studio

I have often been asked what my studio looks like. I shoot in a basement of my beautiful home here in Vegreville, Alberta. My wife Jenn has gone to great lengths to make it look as amazing as possible. :) I have a nice big space to work in, for those that knew me when I started doing shoots, you'll know what an improvement this is. I shot in a townhouse before and it was basically a bedroom studio. I had to press myself up against a closet in order to get the subject in frame. Now I have a really big area to move around in. Models can change in a washroom and when the weather is nice, I do have a HUGE yard, (big by City standards). I also have a very bright livingroom upstairs for natural light shots. I would rather shoot on location any day then in a studio but during the winter when the sun goes in to hiding it's nice to have light via the alien bees.

When ever models come to shoot they are more then welcome to bring a friend. I want the model to feel comfortable so an escort is not a distraction. For those photographers that say no boyfriends or no escorts....I think a model should stay away. I find if I am shooting with a model for the first time, she will most likely be nervous and why would I want someone she is comfortable with to not be present when I am shooting with her? The shots will show her looking tense and nervous and it'll make my work even harder. Also for legal reasons, it's nice just having other people around. It can get distracting however if there are too many people and people the model isn't familiar with. However, I'd rather deal with the issues of having an escort there then not having one. Once a model builds a trust and woring rapport with the photographer then maybe an escort isn't always required. If the model is under 18 then I only work with a parent or legal guardian present.

I am also VERY happy I was able to listen to a podcast last night of Dave Hill. For those who know him, kudos, those who don't shame on you. His photography is amazing, shows amazing skill and almost unmatched style. Check him out if you get a chance. Also for amazing lighting information, tips and ideas check out studio lighting. They have awesome podcasts and news about photography and technology.

Hope everyone has a great Tuesday, the weather this week is going to be nice, I love warm days in Spring. :)


25 February 2008

Bruce Testones - fashion photographer

Hilarious video :)

March is getting closer....

The weekend was fun. I managed to do 2 photo shoots. Lindsey came out with her friend Rachel to the studio. It's kind of a long story how I met Rachel and how she is connected to Lids. A few years ago when I started working with models, I was on modelmayhem and looking for models to shoot with. Many of the more popular models had rates and would not agree to do TFP with me...so being in need of faces for my portfolio and wanting to shoot for experience, I went anywhere and everywhere looking for models. I joined myspace and there met Rachel. She hadn't modelled but I thought she was a beautiful face and would look amazing in front of the camera. Around then I had met Lids as well and after asking her we did 2 shoots together over a period of time. Rachel and I kept in touch and always talked about shooting. She lives in Red Deer and we just never got around to making the shoot happen. Then I join facebook and added both Lids and Rachel. I then discover they are childhood friends and went to school together in B.C. when they were little peeps.
Rachel drove up to Sherwood Park where Lids lives and they drove out together. I have to say for a newbie to photo shoots Rachel was awesome. She relaxed and really did a great job in posing. I hope she'll be able to shoot with me again. Lids was awesome as always too, her laugh is awesome and I highly recommend anyone to work with her. She's fun and knows how to work the camera with her "big" eyes. :) Well, it's Monday!!! yipeeee and I can't wait to survive until Spring Break. Weather is warm this week and I feel productive. Hope to get lots done at school, home and with my photography. I really want to fine tune some things with my photography and get myself set up to start doing some even better work. Have a GREAT WEEK everyone! :)

22 February 2008


Today brings to end a very busy week. I am saddened and a bit stressed because of our computer situation. I had been starting to think about upgrading our desktop and then while I am doing that it starts a major slowdown kick. I have it working again but it's old and really works slow now with photoshop and running pretty much any program. The new laptop is also running rough, the fan sounds like a b52 bomber and I believe needs repair. Digital photography really needs computers and it's hard when both are not working very well.

On a bright note, this week was productive and I feel I got a lot done. Shooting with Shantelle and her sister Shannon was a nice midweek surprise that worked out great. Shantelle always does an awesome job in front of the camera and her sister did great as well. Shannon had never posed for a shoot before but once in front of the camera she did amazing. This weekend Lindsey and Rachel will be coming out and shooting with me. That will be cool as Rachel is someone I've talked about shooting with for a very long time and finally looks like we'll get a shoot done.

Another bright note is Jennifer and I talked about getting a website and after thinking about it for a long time, I am going to go with a bludomain website. Nathan Elson is a good photographer friend I met on the net from Calgary and he was a bludomain site. I decided it's a good move to showcase my best work and really start looking like I take this more seriously. It's also a great way for people to get a 1st impression of me as a photographer. I think due to the $$$ situtation we have to wait until next month but the good news is it's coming. I hope I can call it RandyPond.com or RandyPondPhotography.com if they are available. :)

20 February 2008

Wednesday - Photo Shoot

One thing I struggle with as a photographer is coming up with concepts for shoots. As an artist I think it should come easy with my creative mind and all. However it's tough when working with a model to know what clothes they have, what style they can work in. I see so many photographers work that I admire and there are loads of ideas out there. I find that my photography follows my art in the sense I like to be spontaneous. I do like planning shoots but for the most part I like seeing what the model brings and during the shoot being creative and making it up as I go. When I was in art school I would be drawing and during the process I would be using whatever I had in my art supplies to create the image. I was a multi-media junkie and I find in photography I like experimenting while I shoot. Maybe it's because it's such a visual process and with digital I love the immediate feedback I get. I can be shooting a model and right away see how the light looks or how the image feels.

Tonight I get a chance to shoot with Shantelle, this will be our 3rd shoot and I am looking forward to it. I plan on doing a Matrix style theme for a few shots...since I usually lack ideas I am excited to see how this one turns out. :)

Those poor Oilers...I watched the sad excuse for a hockey game last night and sure makes me wonder how long it will be before my team can get back in the race for Lord Stanley. This morning I am off to a training session here in Vegreville for 1/2 a day at the high school. I'll be learning how to manage and use our school's webpage....yipeeeee. :) Have fun people and check http://www.pbase.com/phocus73/shantelle for the pics from my shoot with the lovely Shantelle in the next few days.


19 February 2008

That Said

I am tired and not sure what to write about today. So I wanna rant about the most annoying two words that have crept their way in to every day language. I first started hearing them in the sports world. Someone would be talking about a team and saying how good they are, then they'd say "that said" and start bashing them. I don't understand the point of it. It seems like people want to be able to say two different things about something. To me this is being luke warm, either you have a stance or you don't what is with this in between stuff? It annoys me to no end when I listen to a person say something then I hear "that said" and all of a sudden it's a whole different take. If you're confused about what I mean here is an example:

The movie Rambo is a violent and gory movie. Stallone looks ancient and old with no acting ability. That said, the movie has great moments and really shows the character of John Rambo. It's a super finish to the Rambo movies.

Canon cameras are awesome, they have lots of lenses to choose from. They are always improving their technology and showing that they are a leader in the camera industry. That said, Nikon is catching up and releasing better SLR cameras. Nikon cameras produce vivid and sharp photos and have overtaken Canon as an industry leader.

If you think it's a silly pet peeve then start listening closer to the news, to sports and you'll see just how often it is used in daily media. Join me in putting and end to "that said"....heheheh, ok, I am not sure how to end it, if you have any ideas let me know. That said, I better get to work or I'll be in trouble with the boss. :) hehehehhe, have a great short week.


18 February 2008


When it comes to shooting models and Time for Print there is always the shoots that just don't work out. I had 2 planned for my long weekend. As a photographer and teacher I am very busy and I understand when things come up. Sometimes plans can't always work. However I appreciate when a model can call me, leave a message and let me know they can't make it. This weekend the model just never even responded or called. Left me hanging and didn't give me any reason. The other model at least left me a msg saying she couldn't shoot. It's part of the fun of shooting with models I guess but it's annoying when you leave blocks of your time free to shoot with someone and then they back out. I've done it a few times but have had it done to me a lot, I think it's par for the course with being a photographer.

I guess it worked out for the best considering my computer is old and showing it's age this weekend. If a model had come then I may of had comp probs when she was here. It's more then 3 years old and I think on it's last legs. It barely has 1 gig of RAM and is chugging on working in CS3 and not being very quick. My dream computer is at BESTBUY, an Acer with 500gb hard drive, 4gb of RAM, a blueray drive and a HD DVD drive, a nice video card and a 24" widescreen monitor....can I say drool? :)

Tonite I feel like my cold is trying to return, I sure hope I don't get sick like I did before. I need my strength to get through this 4 day week of school. I slept a bit today and feel like today was mostly a bleh kind of day. Didn't really get much of anything done. I hope that maybe I can work out a shoot this week...have to wait and see.

15 February 2008

The Long Weekend Begins :)

Friday and Monday off work, what a welcome it is to have some time off. I have a shoot planned for Monday and planning on some time to organize my office and studio. Spend time with my beautiful wife and maybe see a movie or two. :)

Here is a link to a funny photography video:

Today I need to mail out some CD's of pictures to models before they send hitmen out to get me. :)

14 February 2008

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day!!! Now I have to admit I am a bit of a grinch when it comes to Valentines day. I love romance but even a woman I think might agree, spontaneous romance is the best. It's hard to be spontaneous on a set day, when it is almost expected. How ever the sad reality is that some women only get romance on a few days out of a year and Valentines Day happens to be one of them. Like most holidays it's one set up to make money. All the card manufacturers I am sure see profits...flower shops....chocolate sales....those stuffed animals and plenty more valentine related "crap". Showing the one you love that you adore them is something that should happen throughout the year. I love trying to do little things to surprise my wife...getting her things she likes, writing her poems, leaving her notes, trying to do things for her so she can have some time to herself. There is so much a guy can do if he tries to be creative about it. Being an artist I love making my own cards and hand drawing pictures for her. When Feb.14th comes around I think it just stresses most couples out. Guys feel "obligated" and that isn't what love or romance should feel like.

I do think photography is a romantic thing and capturing a great image and giving it to the one you love to me is a priceless gift. To me there is nothing cooler then seeing a beautiful image of my wife. Life passes by so quickly it's nice to see memories of it in a visual form. To anyone reading this, happy valentines day and hope you have a reason to smile today. :)

13 February 2008


Well, looks like another winter day with snow falling all night and wind blowing the drive in to work should be another adventure. All part of the joys of being a Canadian and dealing with harsh winters. I am excited that this Friday and Monday are holidays. After fighting my bad cold for the last while I feel like I am in need of a few days off.

Things sure have changed in the last while with photography and me. As I have been doing lots of time for print work I have noticed an improvement in my work. Time for print has been to me like a sketchbook. I can try new things, work on my lighting, be creative and try and do some things I wouldn't normally try. I have to credit some of the awesome models I have had the chance to work with. 2 of the most important ones being Christie and Keri. They shot with me when I had no clue what I was doing. I joined http://www.modelmayhem.com/ and started asking lots of models if they would shoot with me. Hardly anyone would respond. I look at my work then and I don't blame them.

This past while I have had lots of models off mayhem and now facebook contacting me. Some that I never heard back from before are out of the blue messaging me now for shoots. It's a good feeling to be getting this because it helps remind me of my improvement. I have total respect for the models I have worked with. Some photographers have massive ego and claim it's "all them" when a picture is a success. I have to strongly disagree. We have the EASY job. Sure our gear costs money and we do have to use skill. BUT.......the model makes the shot, her expressions, her time in creating her look, the money she spends on clothes, the time she spends working in front of the camera trying to give the photographer that perfect shot. I think in the end a model deserves as much credit if not more. I know a lot of the compliments I've got are due to working with some top notch models. Just as an example Samantha Valentine is one amazing model. She comes to shoots with a strong makeup background, a natural beauty and for any photographer she's a dream to work with...I challenge anyone to try and show me a bad picture or take a bad picture of this girl.

Basically I don't see myself ever stopping doing tfp (time for print) work. It's just fun, rewarding and to me a growing part of being a photographer. I don't want to just do "paid" work and be charging people for the learning part of my experience as a photographer. That doesn't mean I don't want to get paid. I do!!! :) hehehe, however, I want to have chances to throw caution to the wind, try new ideas and techniques. TFP shoots are perfect times to do this, not during a paid shoot with a client. While I may have fellow photographers that disagree with me I stand by the tfp bandwagon and credit it with my success in photography. It's like anything in life, you need practice to be good. :)

I also have my wife Jenn to thank, she's always supporting my photography addiction and isn't a jealous wife when it comes to working with all of the models. I know I wouldn't be where I am now if my spouse was a jealous type...so thanks to my beautiful and sexy wife Jenn for loving me and giving me the chance to do photography. Lots of my friends wish they were me. :)

Happy Hump Day Everyone, off to the snowbound roads I go. :)


12 February 2008

Important Photoshop Short Cuts and Editing Steps

Instead of rambling on about my "life" I'll drop some of my photoshop wisdom. First of all most digital images I have seen come off the camera lacking in a lot of key areas. I started shooting in jpg format due to limited space and a lack of knowledge of RAW. Now I shoot only RAW and find it far superior. A lot of steps in preparing an image can be done in RAW format before opening in photoshop.

When looking at a photo there are a few key areas I consider, these are:

  • contrast: when dealing with contrast in a photo I use a lot of different techniques. One is Ctrl+L (levels) this opens a screen to adjust the levels of the shot. If you grab the far left slider and move it you can adjust the blacks in the shot. If you grab the far right slider and slide it towards the middle you can brighten the whites. The middle works on all the midtones and you can make them brighter or darker depending on where you want your picture to go. You can also work with Ctrl+M and bring up the curves screen, this allows you to grab the line that is going in a diagonal and if you pull the base of the line down you can darken the shadows, the top part of the line if you pull it up slightly you can brighten your highlights. You can also isolate the colour you want to work on, red, blue and green are selectable. These are just 2 basic ways to work on contrast.

  • colour: again I use Ctrl+M to bring up the curves and isolating the colours I can increase reds, decrease them depending on what colour is needed. In photoshop CS3 there is a lot of adjustment options for layers. I suggest playing with them and learning them so you can adjust colour. One very cool one to use is the photo filters adjustment. It allows you to use a filter to do a variety of things. You can use a warm filter to give a portrait a warm feel, or a cool filter to give the picture a blue filter and cool it down. I use the sepia filter a lot on portraits when I feel the skin is a bit too red or needs to be toned down a bit.

  • saturation: most digital pictures need a bit more saturation, in jpeg I would work in the curves and colour adjustment to give more saturation. However with RAW I do this all before photoshop.

  • sharpening: there is a number of ways to sharpen a photo...I can go in to more depth on this another day...but it's very important and one thing I do is selective sharpening. I want the eyes sharp, mouth and hair. So what I do is create a layer on top that has the sharpening applied to it, then use a layer mask to select those areas that I want to keep sharp.

  • Short Cuts: this short cut is my fave of all time -> Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E is the best shortcut of all time, I use it every time I edit. It takes everything you have done to an image and creates a new layer with all of the changes applied to it. It's like flattening an image but better, when you flatten an image all the layers and changes you have made are lost. This action allows you to keep them but work from this new layer which is super valuable. Ctrl+J is a great one too, just makes a copy of the layer beneath, this is handy for doing layer work. Ctrl+E is a good one too, it merges a layer down a level. Use the [ and ] to change the brush size. The D key sets the colours to default...black and white. This is an excellent way to quickly work on layer masks.

There are many amazing photoshop actions that can do a lot of these common photo edits. I have made a few of my own actions. I cannot stress how important using actions is. It reduces steps and makes life EASY!! :) I hope this helps and use google...I learned a lot of my own techniques from researching on google.

11 February 2008

Back to work

Teacher's convention was actually REALLY good. I am surprised because usually I find it very boring and have a hard time finding sessions that mean anything. The highlight for me was Mark Tewksbury's keynote to start convention. He was funny, well spoken and really an inspirational speaker. He also handed around all 3 of his Olympic medals. I was able to hold the gold and that was pretty sweet. The rest of the sessions I attended were kind of along the same theme as Mark's, focusing on inspirational speakers. I feel a little more confident in my abilities and it was nice to hear I am doing a lot of good things in my professional life.

Friday after my convention I zoomed over to Melanie's place and we were able to sneak in a shoot. I have been talking with her for some time about doing a shoot and it finally happened. Her friend Ashley was there too and so I was able to sneak in a 2nd shoot with Ashley. Turns out Melanie is dating Ashley's brother. The modelling world is a small one after all...heheheh. I was able to put the homemade ghetto ring light to work and as usual I feel I got some good results with it.

I am back to work for another "short" week. Friday and Monday are holidays, **Randy does a happy dance**.

06 February 2008

Edmonton Bound

Today will be a very long day. The plan is to drive home after work, pack my gear for the next couple days. Then drive back in to Edmonton, possibly hang with my buddy Sonny, then spend the night at Tanya's place. Then early Thursday morning drive to the Shaw and find expensive parking.....walk over to the Shaw and hit the morning keynote speaker. Then spend the day walking around the Shaw and going to "boring" sessions all day. Then I'll hopefully have something to do Thursday night too. Then on Friday go downtown and do the Shaw thing all over again. The bright part of Friday is right after the Shaw I have a photo shoot planned with Melanie F. and that should be fun. We've talked about shooting together for a long time but it's never happened yet. She has her own place so should be fun to shoot in a new location for me. Hope it works out. That's the break down for the next few days....hope everyone stays warm and has a good finish to the week. Teachers Convention here I come. :) It's gonna be rough, I hate long days and sleeping away from home. I dislike even more driving downtown in the mornings and finding parking :P grrrrrrrr. hehehhe.


05 February 2008

Battle of Alberta

The Edmonton Oilers lost one of their all-star players for the season but managed at 5-0 win against their "hated" rivals the Calgary Flames. I was excited to see that they came out so strong against Calgary. This coming Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada game will be a great game to watch as well as the two teams have a rematch. In a season where Edmonton looks to miss the playoffs it's great to be rewarded as a fan with a game like this.

This morning I took my last "pill" and hope this means my overall health will be returning and I can hopefully finish the year without anymore of this sickness stuff. Wednesday is the last day of the school week and then I head to Edmonton for two days of Teacher Convention excitement (not!!). I mostly look forward to the weekend and a chance to catch up on some cleaning, some organizing and getting life back to normal.
People have asked me what camera equipment I use so here is a list of gear I own/use:

Cameras: Canon 40D (10megapixels of goodness) and a Canon G7 (10megapixels of goodness)
Lens: fave lens is Canon 50mm, 1.8

Lighting: Canon 430ex, Alien Bee 400 (2), and 1 Alien Bee 800 RingFlash, and 1 homemade ring light Ric Diaz creation

Editing Software: Canon Photoshop CS3, Various plugins and actions downloaded and created

Other: I use a backdrop stand, various fabric and paper roll backdrops, my studio is home based and I will post some images soon for it as people have been asking about what my studio looks like.

04 February 2008

Giants Win!!!!

Well, the weekend has finished and I have a day left on my pills. I am feeling about 85% better so that is good news to me. I have a short week today, only have to work until Wednesday (early dismisil day too). Then I have teacher's convention in Edmonton on Thursday and Friday.

I watched the Superbowl and was totally happy to watch the Giants win in a historical fashion. Those Manning kids sure know how to play the QB position. What a solid game winning drive in the last quarter, in the last minute of the game to win. I've never been a huge Giants fan but it is nice to see an underdog team win the big one. Even the "experts" on the Fox sportscast all took the Pats to win.

It's Monday morning and back to work I go. I am still fighting this sickness so I am feeling tired and run down. I need some warm spring weather and sunlight to put a jump back in to my step. I hope everyone has a great week. For now I leave you with a recent edit I have done of Ashley Phoenix.

02 February 2008


For the last few days I have been VERY sick and had to put a lot on hold. Photography has really come to a stand still for me. I have not even touched my camera for a long time. However the pills from my good doctor are starting to help and I am feeling more and more like a new man. :)

For 2008 it's starting to look really good as far as my photography goes. I met some great people and contacts in 2007 and looks like they have been helping me along. Tammy from Smiley Eyes Photography even though I've never had the honor of meeting her in person has been a great photography friend. She has kindly recommended me to some of her clients and allowed me to give her the odd tip here of there. I do know she'll be famous one day and I'll be begging her to sign my camera (hee hee). http://smileyeyesphotography.blogspot.com/

Well, spring is coming and so I am eager to get out there and shoot outside again. Models with outside shoot ideas please contact me, especially if you have access to some cool locations.

~ Randy