Soft Light and Baby Baskets

Last week I shot my first baby portraiture and wouldn’t you have guessed… the baby didn’t explode into a million pieces! *achievement unlocked*!

Truth, when I first got the request to shoot baby Jane, I was a bit nervous. I’m fairly positive that my home insurance wouldn’t cover exploding babies as a workplace accident. Babies smell fear and uncertainty. Or so I’ve been told. So overcoming those feelings of uncertainty for me is about being overly-prepared.

To make sure I had my chops ready for the day, I shot various test shots and lighting setups with my trusty angry bird plush doll (which is a bit bigger than the actual baby) and settled upon a beauty dish acting as a big softbox (with the cloth diffuser) and a second light to separate the subject from the white background. For the overhead shots, it was a bit easier. I simply moved the main light slightly overhead and turned off the second light.

All in all I’m pretty happy with the results of the shoot. A nice baby basket & blanket, some well positioned soft lighting, and an adorable little baby and you got yourself a quick and fun portraiture set.

The lighting setup:

Baby Jane Light Setup

Shake That… Porto Swing

This is one of our little choreography routine to Mora’s Modern Rhythmists’ version of “Shake that Thing” we taught at our solo jazz class in Quebec City/Porto Swing last weekend. Because we only had one hour for the class, Myriam and I wanted to work on similar structure of moves (in this case, fall off the log’ISH variations) instead of overloading them with a lot of “moves”. What is always fun for me as a teacher is to try to get my students to trust their body so they can focus on the great aspects of solo dancing – being silly, having fun, and of course flailing your arms around.

Shake That… Porto Swing – Class Recap from on Vimeo.

Now with the rest of the class!

Shake That… Porto Swing! from on Vimeo.

Thanks so much Lionel Mauvais for inviting us and making us feel so welcomed, even with my very poor francais.

B1 Bar PhotoBooth!


This week I shot a photo booth at the B1 Bar in Montréal to, if my translation is correct, kick prostate cancer’s butt! By selling man-ly calendars of course! Wish I could grow a mustache. Anyhoo, what a neat bar this place is. If you are around the St-Denis/Sherbrooke neighbourhood one day, I do recommend to check them out.

What was fun from a photographer’s perspective about this gig was the actual photobooth area was about the width of my arm wingspan – meaning not very wide at all. Getting the lights into the space positioned in a fairly good place was a pretty fun puzzle to figure it out. Making sure my lights were not knocked over in the bar was also an interesting challenge to tackle throughout the night.

Pictures after the jump!

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Blues 2 @ Swing ConneXion


Fondations Blues 2 est la suite naturelle du premier volet de la série ou s’adresse à des danseurs qui ont déjà une compréhension solide de la connexion lead/follow. Nous allons nous concentrer sur des mouvements en position fermée autant qu’ouverte et sur la qualité de votre mouvement pour groover sur les planchers! Chaque cours dédiera aussi du temps à expliquer les types variés de musique blues.

Lundi le 13 janvier 2014
Heure: 20:30
Nombre de semaines: 6
Durée: 1h30
Prix pour non-étudiant: 110$ | Prix pour étudiant: 90$


Mimi Honey


Last week it was negative fourty degrees celcius here in Montréal so I did what most Canadians do and headed down south. However, I only went a little bit south-west and ended up in Toronto. At least, negative ten is a lot better than negative fourty! I had a lot of fun editing this quick portraiture of Myriam at the Distillery District in Toronto and used fun nice pastel photoshop actions to make the scene feel a little less like a Canadian winter. What was interesting in the editing process was figuring out how to diffuse the background without losing the colour tones of her clothing, hair and skin. I ended up doing painting her out with a colour mask to separate the background a bit more and just a touch of sharpness. Check out the little catch light glint in her eyes :-P

Einstein 640s – First Impressions


After almost an entire year being on the grind and saving a small percentage of every portrait or event photog gig, I finally went ahead and splurged on real studio lights – the Einstein 640s.

Hoozahh for me! Boo for my wallet!

The past two weeks I’ve been pretty much playing the role of a mad scientist – chasing my cats around and trying to get them to pose or tricking Myriam with ye olde, “can you spare *just* a minute I need to try something” line then proceeding to move lights around in five degree increments all around her head. Fun stuff.

Even though I bought two sets of strobes, I’ve only really been kicking around with one so far until I get a handle of how they work. Like a foodie savouring a delicious meal, I have been taking morsel sized bites out of my studio light learning experience and trying to really be academic with my learning. When I got my first real DSLR camera, I tried to do everything all at once and never really figured out how to wield the camera with control until about a year of shooting really bad pictures. While it was a great learning experience just to run and gun everything, this time around, I’m taking my time to really understand what I’m doing with the hope that I would actually spend less time going back trying to re-learn what I’ve been doing wrong.

Well enough with the boring stuff, here are my initial first impressions in easily to digest point form list:

The Good

Quality of Light – it looks great. The lights came with a manual full of graphs that is supposed to explain to whom I am assuming scientists (read: not me) why it produces better light than other strobes but for most people (read: me), the eyeball test is more than sufficient. There is a constant light temperature mode which is amazing. We’ll see if it actually stays within the indicated range the more I use it.

Price – The price of one Einstein strobe is just slightly under the amount that I paid for a SB900 speedlight. That is amazing since one Profoto D1 Air is about $1000. Also the modifiers for PaulCBuff’s strobes, are significantly cheaper than Profotos (ie. beauty dish being 1/3rd the price without sacrificing quality).

Works right out of the box – Plug the wires in, plug my camera into the strobe, fire for test, then adjust lighting! Fun!

Compact – After playing around with the Profoto strobes earlier in 2013, this strobe is much more manageable to transport. I’m no longer carrying around bazooka-like lights and now instead square cinder-blocks!

Knobs tighten really well – I’ve started having recurring dreams where I didn’t tighten the strobe to the light stand well enough and of course having the strobe come crashing down into little tiny pieces. Seems like the knobs are fairly well built… *fingers crossed*.

The Bad

The UI – holy crap can you make the interface even harder to understand on both the strobe as well as the cybersync off-camera controls? I imagine that the interface was designed by electrical engineers trying to provide the most clear-cut way to navigate between menus but very clearly failing. If I have to go online to figure out how to navigate the menu system, that is not a very good UI.

Cannot rent modifiers – While I know that you can get most light modifiers to work with any strobe, I’m lazy and want to use the ones that is designed specifically for that strobe.

Plastic – The casing for the strobe is made of plastic… which means that I would need to buy really strong carrying cases… which means more paper down this rabbit hole.

All in all I’m pretty excited about the different projects I can work on now for 2014. I’m always looking for interesting concepts to shoot so if you have some ideas, give me a shout and perhaps we can collaborate!

A few initial test shots with one strobe: