A really cool (literally and figuratively) family thing to do while in Florida is to visit one of the state’s many natural springs. Since we were staying in Orlando, we decided to go to Blue Spring State Park, roughly 45 minutes from the city.
On of the most fun things I can think of doing in the summer is jumping into the lake from a water trampoline at the family cottage. However, trying to get a few halfway decent photos of the kids in action is a little more difficult than it might look!
We recently spent some time skiing at Mont Tremblant in Quebec Canada. One of the highlights of skiing is, of course, the apres ski. For me that means sitting by the fire with a good book / coffee / scotch. In this post, I will share all of the details (technical and aesthetic) that went […]
I love the beginning of a new year – its a perfect time to reflect on what you did well last year and what you’d like to accomplish in the new year. In this article, I thought that I’d share my personal top five photography business goals for next year. Everyone has different goals and […]
Inspirational Healthy Living Fitness Photos of Woman Running | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer | We had an opportunity to photograph a really inspirational woman recently. This is Lyn. She runs further every day than I drive in a week. Oh – and she lives on the lake and swims every day too. She runs marathons and is a female triathlete too. In fact, she is training for her first Iron Man triathlon right now. That’s pretty cool. Photography Setup for Healthy Living Fitness Photos of Woman Running We set up just before sunset on a funky urban waterfront jogging trail. The camera was set up for the ambient sunset, which was beginning to set through the bridge steelwork to the right of the frame. To balance out the light from the sunset, I used a single strobe with a full CTO gel to camera left. For the motion blur shot, I got on my inline skates and tried to glide backwards, panning with Lyn as she ran. That also meant that my assistant had to jog beside us with the off camera flash to keep the lighting constant. After the sun set behind the bridge, we did a few quick portraits and then wrapped it up. The entire photography session lasted maybe twenty minutes. Post Production Editing for Healthy Living Fitness Photos of Woman Running In post, I touched up the exposure and the basic levels in Lightroom and then jumped over to Photoshop to finish up my edits. In Photoshop, I deleted all of the logos and a few distractions in the frames, and then dodged and burned the highlights and shadows respectively to add some punch. Back in Lightroom, I keyworded the finished photos and exported them for upload to my Stocksy portfolio. About The Author JP Danko is a commercial advertising photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.
Bad DIY Projects | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer | Before photography became my hobby of choice and eventually a career, I spent a lot of time building remote control boats, planes and cars. It turns out that the skills you learn as a kid to build a nitro powered model boat out of beer cans and styrofoam are very transferable to building homemade photography gear. There is whole global community of DIY Photography builders, with all kinds of crazy DIY photography build talents – from good old fashioned DIY builds (my particular forté), to software hacks, to building your own 3D printed robotic gizmos – its nuts! In my first article at DIY Photography, I wrote about the three images that I am most proud of. Click here to check it out. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my favorite five bad DIY projects of all time – DIY projects that never really turned out as planned. In no particular order, they are: 1. DIY Hydrogen Blimp 2. 1984 Nissan Pulsar – DIY Performance Mods 3. DIY Popsicle Stick Table Saw 4. DIY Free Dorm Cable TV 5. DIY Zip Line Click here for the full post at DIY Photography. About The Author JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.
Photography Inspiration From Music | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer | I love the band Walk Off The Earth. Their music is awesome, but what I find really inspiring is how they were able to leverage their considerable artistic talent into the kind of commercial success that all creatives aspire to. The reality is that ridiculously talented creatives are a dime a dozen (literally in many cases…), but those who are able to translate talent into commercial success are a very rare breed. With that in mind, in this week’s article at DIYPhotography.net, I look at an example of photography inspiration from music, featuring Walk Off The Earth and a discussion on the type of successful creative lifestyle that I want. Click here for the full post at DIY Photography. Speaking of photography inspiration from music and a successful creative lifestyle, here is a photo of my office cubicle after a morning commercial photography session, shooting a feature for Gripped Magazine – uploading, cataloging and editing images and video from the shoot – on the porch of a beautiful cottage, looking at the lake, with a cold beer, listening to Walk Off The Earth. About The Author JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.
Seize The Moment – A Funny Lifestyle Stock Photography Story | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Lifestyle Stock Photography | Ever wondered how professional lifestyle stock photographers get those amazing photographs of impossibly perfect misty cottage lakes in northern Canada? Well, in this week’s column at DIYPhotography.net, I tell my funny lifestyle stock photography story about just such a photo. It involves mystery cottage booze, cranky lifestyle models, some natural light stock photography pre-planning and quick thinking and coffee…lots of coffee. Perfect, misty lakes don’t wait around for lazy ass hung-over photographers to get their shit together. The first thing I needed (besides my camera of course) was a model. Luckily, she was just going back to sleep beside me. So I (gently) elbowed her in the head, and said something along the lines of: “HEY! – You have to get up and model for me down at the lake!!!” Click here for the full post at DIY Photography. From the lifestyle stock photography series that I shot of the misty northern cottage lake, this is my favorite photo: About The Author JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.
New DIY Photography Columnist – JP Danko – blurMEDIA Photography | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer | A big announcement over here at blurMEDIA – as of next week I will be contributing a monthly column to DIYPhotography.net If you’ve ever looked at something at the camera store, then looked at the price tag and thought…ummmmm I could just build that – DIYPhotography.net is for you. DIYPhotography.net is one of the world’s leading photography websites and the DIY Photography community is a pretty cool bunch with all kinds of crazy talents. I’m really excited to be a part of it. Who knew that all those years of building remote control models in the basement would actually come in handy! My column is published every Thursday. Click here to check it out!
GoPro Hero3 Family Video Tips – Arctic Cat Kids Snowmobiling | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer | I just picked up a GoPro Hero3 Black Edition for a big time lapse project I have coming up. When I got it (just before Christmas) the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition was not available in stores, so I bought mine directly from GoPro’s online store (along with a crazy 64 gig Sandisk micro SD card). While we were up at the cottage over the holidays, I decided to try out the GoPro, so I shot a bunch of video clips with the GoPro of the kids playing around on their little Arctic Cat z120 snowmobile (now the Arctic Cat Snow Pro 120 Youth Snowmobile). (By the way, don’t ask why my kids have a snowmobile – that is all my father in law’s doing. But the kids absolutely love the damn thing – and I’m pretty sure I would have killed for one when I was a kid!) The video was recorded entirely with the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition and was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro. 10 Family Video Tips This was a very simple video to record and edit, but it takes a little bit of professional knowledge to be able to pull it all together into an interesting finished video. Here are 10 family video tips that will help you create something similar: 1. Record Short Clips I recorded about 40 individual clips for this video – and the final edited video is only about 2 minutes long. Short video clips are much easier to catalog so that you can focus in on the good parts. Plus short video clips are way easier to work with in video editing software on the computer. 2. Record Clips From As Many Different Angles and Perspectives as Possible This is one of the best things about the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition – you can stick that thing practically anywhere! Never just stand in one place and hit record. Shoot wide, tight, details, high, low, from the front, back, side, top, bottom – anywhere you can think of! For this video I mounted the GoPro to the ski, dashboard and windshield of the snowmobile – along with sweeping hand held shots and shots from ground level. 3. Record in 1080p or Better 1080p video is 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high. If you cannot record in full 1080p video, record at the highest widescreen resolution that your camera is capable of. There is no reason to record in lower quality video – you can always down sample your video – but you can’t add resolution without losing quality. Memory and hard drive space is cheap – and you can always delete the portions of your source clips that you don’t use. With the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition you can actually record in better than 1080p video – which gives you the option to pan and zoom within your clips without losing quality. 4. Keep Your Camera Steady Jumpy, shaky video is unwatchable. Its a bit tough when your camera is mounted to a snowmobile – but generally you want to keep your video camera as steady as possible while recording. Any movements also need to be smooth and fluid. It helps to zoom out and shoot wide where possible – and don’t zoom in and out while recording. 5. Cut Video Footage to Create a Story Nobody wants to watch random uncut video! I used Adobe Premiere Pro because that is what I am used to. But because this was a very simple edit, I could have used Adobe Premiere Elements, or even one of the simple video editing applications such as Microsoft Movie Maker (free) or Apple iMovie ($5). At its most basic, all you have to do is splice together the best cuts of your favorite video clips into a timeline that makes sense. 6. Cut Your Clips – Then Cut Them Again My first step is to cut my source clips down to just their most interesting segments, and then drop them into the video timeline. Then after I start working out the story and put a more polished timeline together, I try to cut out anything that isn’t visually interesting or doesn’t add to the story. Be ruthless – you want your clips to be as short as possible. 7. Avoid Video Transitions Think about this – when was the last time you saw a TV show or Hollywood movie transition between scenes by using a vertical swipe transition, or any animated transition? You generally don’t see video transitions on TV or in Hollywood movies because professionals simply cut between scenes. The only video transition that has some use is a cross-fade transition. However, to cut between scenes effectively, you have to give some thought as to how the video will play. Usually scenes splice together well if they are of completely different. The more similar video clips are, the worse they splice together – with the wost case being two segments of video from the same clip (that is what we call a jump cut). This is where Tip 2 – Record Clips From As Many Different Angles and Perspectives as Possible – is important. If you have a lot of different clips, it is much easier to cut them and splice them into an effective video. 8. Touch Up Your Video All source video needs to be retouched to look good – video straight out of the camera just looks flat and limp. To retouch your video, first adjust the overall exposure, tweak the white balance and set the white and black levels (make sure that white is 100% white and black is 100% black). Next, tweak the contrast, shadows and highlights, and color. 9. Add a Soundtrack An appropriate soundtrack absolutely makes or breaks a finished video. Try to avoid copyrighted tracks where possible – facebook won’t even allow you to post a video if it has a copyrighted soundtrack. There are lots of royalty free music sources online. One that I use often is called FreePlayMusic. 10. Leave The Ambient Sound In If possible, leave the ambient sound in your finished video – even if you are using a soundtrack. Video with only a soundtrack and no ambient sound feels dead – its the ambient sound that is underneath the soundtrack that gives it life. Of course, you may have to raise or lower the ambient audio that is present in your video clips to suit. Have any questions? Leave a comment below!
Back in March I had the oportunity to photograph beautiful ballerina Claire Beauchamp at her ballet studio in Toronto. I arranged the photography session with Claire as a self directed portfolio piece – I had been doing a lot of industrial and medical photography at the time and needed a break to photograph something a bit more elegant and dynamic – hence a beautiful ballet dancer. The ballet studio had the typical wall of mirrors, a fairly light wood floor, white ceilings and light blue walls. Going in, I was planning on shooting a high-key series by overexposing the background to white. I brought some random black backdrops with me to flag off the mirrors – one of which was a black on black damask pattern Bad Sass Backdrop. Lighting was a three light setup using Elinchrom strobes – two Westcott stripbanks for rim light, an Elinchrom Rotalux Octa as the keylight and a set of Nikon speedlights for the background. The high key setup was working OK – but the photographs just didn’t have the punch and drama that I had in mind. So we went with Plan B – the black on back damask Bad Sass Backdrop. Problem was, the backdrop was only five feet wide, so we had to improvise a little. I had always planned on putting the fabric portions of the photograph together as a composite, so I ended up building the entire backdrop as a composite photograph as well. Here is a little video that shows all of the layers of the finished image in Photoshop – it was a little tedious to align the damask pattern – a lot like doing wallpaper! Any questions about the setup, lighting or post-production editing – hit me in the comments. Cheers! If you want to find out more about us – follow us on Twitter @blurMEDIAStudio, or add us on Facebook / Google Plus or check out our portfolio on 500px. Cheers, John-Paul Danko blurMEDIA Photography Toronto Dance Photographer Toronto, Ontario, Canada blurMEDIAPhotography.com email@example.com 905 818 5711
I really enjoy underwater photography – but its something that is incredibly difficult to consistently do well. With that in mind, I thought I’d try some “training” at the rocky beach in front of our cottage on Georgian Bay. These photographs were taken from the bottom of the lake, about 25 to 30 feet down. I had Dawn wait a few seconds, then swim overhead. The exercise here was to simply swim down to the bottom, find my subject in the viewfinder and shoot a few well composed frames before returning to the surface (without running out of air and drowning of course). I’m shooting with my old Nikon D200 in program auto in a EWA Marine underwater camera housing. I find that with the EWA Marine lead weight and by sucking all the air out of the housing, the camera sinks pretty well. The technique that I find works best is to swim hard about three quarters of the way down, then get into a vertical position, look up, compose the shot while gently sinking the rest of the way to the bottom, focus and capture a few frames. At this point, I’m pretty much out of air, so I need to be on bottom to push off and swim back to the surface. Its pretty rare for me to need to swim that far down, but its good practice for the more usual 8 to 10 feet. The next couple underwater photographs are of our big ol’ Bernese Mountain Dog Daisy (she never liked the water – but seems to have decided to take up swimming in her old age). With Daisy, I was practicing tracking her while looking through the viewfinder underwater, controlling the focus and creating a decent composition. Its really hard to see through the viewfinder underwater, but I find that its important not to bail and shoot from the hip (which usually just results in a bunch of out of focus images of with no subject). Kids on Raft – Shark’s Eye View I would like to have created some underwater photography of the kids swimming too. However, the water was a bit cold for them, so they spent most of their time sitting up on their little raft. Cheers, John-Paul Danko blurMEDIA Photography Underwater Portrait Photographer blurMEDIAPhotography.com firstname.lastname@example.org 905 818 5711
This past week I was in Barbados. Here is a quick self portrait from the balcony of our condo in St. Lawrence Gap. Barbados – HDR Self Portrait We had a bit of rain on and off – which is unusual for Barbados – but makes for cool clouds. For this shot, I put my trusty old Nikon D200 on a tripod with a 10-24mm wide angle lens. I thought that the clouds and ocean would look the most interesting in HDR (High Dynamic Range) – so I shot a seven image HDR sequence with a one-stop separation between images. I metered a neutral image and then set the camera to manual everything – manual white balance, manual shutter, manual aperture etc. I focused the lens and then set that to manual focus too (so that the lens wouldn’t re-focus between images). The D200 is set to high speed continuous capture – to take the seven images as quickly as possible, while I stayed as still as possible. To trigger the D200, I used a Pearstone Shutterboss Wireless Trigger, which is in my right hand. In post, the seven images were merged to an HDR image using Photomatix. I also applied a Topaz Adjust filter to pop the details a bit – and some selective dodging and burning in Photoshop. Oh and just a bit of liquefy to bring in my gut (even though I was sucking it in as much as possible…) and to sharpen my chin a bit. I don’t love the palm tree coming out of my chin – but I had about a minute to setup and execute this shot (while getting things together to go out the door) and I was just guessing where I was going to be in the frame – so its not bad composition for a personal image. Now for something completely different… Here is my favourite surfing video from the trip! Surfer extraordinaire Arih ripping it up at Dover Beach. I shot this video with my super-fun-time Canon G9 in its waterproof housing. Its only 640x480p – but its still pretty awesome to be able to capture video in the water. Thanks to Barry’s Surf School for teaching three first-time Canucks how to get up on a board (OK – technically my second time – but I did get up first try 🙂 Here’s instructor Dave showing us how its done! Kind of interesting backstory of how we ended up a Barry’s that highlighted for me just how handy a smartphone has become – especially while travelling (the fact that you can have a phone and internet pretty much anywhere is cool enough). Speaking to a few local Bajans at a bar the night before, they recommended we check out Barry’s Surf School. I looked up Barry’s on my phone and sent them an email at 3:00am. Barry’s wife Christine called back at 8:00am the next day. I looked up a map on my phone’s GPS to make sure we knew where we were going – and we were surfing my 9:30am. Awesome. Not pretty – but I did get up! Cheers, John-Paul Danko blurMEDIA Editorial Photographer – Barbados Surf Photography Hamilton, Ontario blurMEDIAPhotography.com 905 818 5711