Ryan’s Photo Blog

My Life Taking Pictures!

Charleston Lake Provincial Park

About a month ago, we were at Charleston Lake Provincial Park, just north of Kingston. We didn’t really have a lot of time to take pics, but I did get a few good ones, including one from my point-and-shoot from the kayaks we rented for the day and a couple of HDR’s from one of the trails.

The Pics can be found on my Flickr page.

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August 23, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes you just got to stop to smell the flowers…

To say the past week was crazy is an understatement. Everyday last week, I was shooting, with the exception of Thursday. I was at the ENDURrun events all week (except Saturday), had a portrait shoot on Friday, and Melissa & Justin’s Wedding on Saturday.

Today, I just had to take a break. Do something for fun. That’s why I decided to take a look at some pictures I took a couple of weeks ago at Vicki’s parents place. Sitting outside, drinking a coffee, I was inspired by the garden there, and had a few ideas in my head. While getting dirty, covered in grass, I took a few shots, uploaded them to my computer and sort of forgot about them.

After breakfast today, I opened up Lightroom (the program we use to organize and edit photos) and Kablow…the pics from a few weeks ago were there. After taking out a couple hydro lines, and getting rid of some spots, I have the pics you see below as well as a few more on Flickr.

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August 18, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , | Leave a comment

Stages 2&3 – “No points for smarts, but lots for heart”

That was a quote from Mark B, a (assumingly) friend of Justin, one of the competitors of the EndurRun, posted on the page with the runner’s bios. I had to post it because I think it sums up the ENDURrun perfectly.

Yesterday, was the one of the shorter days, a time trial through the North side of Preston, (For those non-locals, or for those from out of town, Preston is part of Cambridge) that had runners going up the Fountain Street Hill and past the Toyota Plant. They then went onto the trails that run along the Speed River, near the Knights of Columbus Hall. Before hitting the turn around, they went under the 401, and over the Speed, both at once. And that’s where they found me!

I though that this would be a good place to get the runners going out and coming back. It was, except for the fact that under the bridge, it was very dark, at least dark in photo terms. In order to remedy this, I set up a flash to remotely fire, on the ground, just at the edge of the bridge/boardwalk. By placing a bit of grass on a specific spot on the boardwalk, I knew just the perfect time to fire off the shot.

Today, was stage 3, the 30km Trail Run, at Bechtal Park in Waterloo. The morning started off as a VERY foggy morning. You would think that this is a good thing, since you see so many great shots of landscapes with tons of fog. NOT a good thing when trying to take pictures of moving people. Two problems, first, the thick fog makes things very dark, especially in a forest. Second, it makes for a very hazy looking picture, almost like it is out of focus.

I once again tried the off-camera flash, but was having some issues, so instead, I put the flash on the camera and started to get some better shots. Since this was a 6 lap race, I moved around a lot. Nobody wants a bunch of pics of them in the exact same spot. Near the end of the race, I was in the field on the stands, shooting down at the runners. Just sitting there, I was sweating. The sun had come out and all the fog was burning off, making the humidity feel like I was in the middle of a rainforest. And people wonder why I don’t run!

After getting most of the runners there, I headed back to the start/finish area and once again, the spread of food was amazing. I have been to a lot of races with Vicki (my wife) and have NEVER seen food a quarter as good as the ENDURrun has. There is everything, from pasta, to sandwich stuff, to tons of fruit and candy. They even have freshly made smoothies!

All my Pics from today and yesterdays stages can be found Here

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , , | Leave a comment

8 Days, 7 Stages, 160 km, 1 Tough Runner…Stage 1 – Half Marathon

Today marked the start of the ENDURrun International, also known as the “Tour de France” of running. It is a gruelling 7 stage race event, run in various locations in The Region of Waterloo, to test even the strongest runners endurance and stamina and Shoot the Thrill Photography was there…Well, technically speaking!

I was working my butt off, shooting all the runners who came out for the first stage, a half marathon, while Vicki relaxed all day by running it as part of a relay team! Well, I guess I didn’t really work all that hard. I actually had a really good time shooting today. The rain basically held off, the temperature was good, and the runners were probably the friendliest I have ever met.

AND…Vicki did run hard. She was part of the Relay team for a local running store, where everyone takes a stage. The ENDURrun this year has 7 such relay teams. There were also competitors who were “Guests” in today’s event, which is essentially people who don’t want to run the whole event or the “Sport” competitors which is for the last 3 stages.

The big enchilada though, is the Ultimate Competitor, about 30 men and about 14 woman who are competing for the title by racing all 7 stages and to male and female with the lowest times is crowned champions.

Tomorrow is the 15km time trial taking place at Riverside park, where today’s winners, Joanne Bink and Bob Jackman, will be wearing the gold jerseys indicating that they are in the lead.

Today’s photos can be found on the RunWaterloo photo page HERE, and after all the stages, I’ll post my best of the week on Flickr.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , , | Leave a comment

Dirty Pictures…

OK, so get your mind out of the gutter! I’m not talking about the type of pictures your thinking of, I’m talking about the pictures from the first annual Dirty Dash, put on by our friends at RunWaterloo.

What is the Dirty Dash? The Dirty Dash is a 1km (kids) fun run, 4km or 8km race that took place this past weekend at Bechtel Park in Waterloo. This race, put on by the same folks that do the Waterloo Classic and Re-Fridgee-Eighter, among many other races, has a major twist that no other race in this area has…A MUD PIT. Yes, it has a mud pit. A two or three foot deep, pit of soaking wet dirty, slimy, icky MUD! This is already after you have run through a river for a couple hundred feet. To make it worse, there are flags going across the mud pit that all runners must go under, no touching it.

As many know, I have been a photographer for RunWaterloo for a couple of years now, since my wife Vicki runs all their races and I’m there anyway. This was no exception.

I loaded up the camera bag with my gear making sure to have a couple extra items. First, was the camera covers that I discovered at Henry’s. These are relatively cheep (about $7.99 for 2) pieces of clear plastic, shaped like an “L”. One end goes around the lens and ties over it, the other end goes over the body. There is a small hole that allows you to put you viewfinder through so you can see better what you are shooting. I had at least 10 inquiries on what that was and about just as many comments about it. The other item was the rain cover for my camera bag to protect my gear from the flying mud.

I did have an issue with shooting. There were sprinklers in the pit, so my lens wanted to focus or the water in the air. I also put up a lot more pictures of each person then I would normally put up. Some are not as good as I would normally post, but I figure that these people ran through the mud, at least they can have the pics to prove it!

All my pictures are Here on Picasa Web (at the RunWaterloo photo site), and what I think are my best 20 shots are on Flickr as well.

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July 19, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , , | Leave a comment

Adam Buschlen – CD Release Party

On June 27th, we were invited to come and shoot the CD Release party for our neighbour Adam. We unfortunately had another shoot that day, but I did manage to do a quick run up to the Starlight and caught the last couple songs.

Shooting live music in a small club can present its challenges. The lighting is often not the best, with coloured gels over the lights, casting a colour on the performer(s), who is often the only thing that has any light, causing the metering (how much light in the scene) to be off.

Another problem, is the many distracting elements that be be in the scene. In this case, the very obvious one was the disco ball in the middle of the room. The ceilings here were very low, and to keep the ball out of the shot was a bit of a challenge. Throw in some lighting rigs and effects lighting and the ceiling looks like, well, you know. The Starlight is on the second floor in a building in uptown Waterloo, and was (If my memory serves me correct) a dance studio back in the day. There are some posts in some key areas that I had to take into consideration to try to keep out. As well, there are speakers in some not so good places that get in the way.

Getting there late, I pretty much had to stand in the back of the room, not wanting to interrupt the show by getting right up front, so I basically used the 70-200 2.8 for the whole show. I did try our newly acquired 10-20mm lens, but it did not return any really good results in this situation. I am hoping to get to use it in the future for events like this, but I’d really have to be right up front to get some good shots.

Here are a couple pics from the show, and others can be found on Flickr.

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Here is the link to Adam’s website, and here is the link to his album in iTunes.

July 14, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , , | Leave a comment

HDR explained…

So since I posted the HDR photos I took of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I have had a lot of questions about them.  So, here is a little lesson on HDR.

What is HDR? HDR (High Dynamic Range) is basically taking multiple photos of the same subject some over exposed, some under exposed and combining them to get the best parts of both.

How do you do that?

  • You need a subject. In this case, it was Hogwarts Castle
  • Set your camera to bracket the exposures. Not many point and shoot cameras have this function, and some SLR’s don’t even have it.  What this does is tells you camera to automatically take a certain number of pictures over and under exposed. Over exposed means the picture is too bright, underexposed means to dark.
  • Shoot your pictures. In most cases, you need to use a tripod to get good HDR’s, I didn’t for my pictures, and I think I just got lucky.  Or maybe I am more steady then I thought! Your since setting up your camera to bracket the exposures, if you hold down the shutter button, it will take multiple pictures (in my case, 5).  The original 5 shots are here:

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  • Use a program you combine all the images into one.  Basically stacking them on top of each other.  For this, I use a program called Photomatix Pro.
  • From Photmatix, you can adjust what parts are dark and what parts are light, along with the colour saturation. You can get some pretty wild photos. I like to keep my HDR’s subtle, but still dramatic.  I’m not really into the “painted” look of the pictures below:



Why do it? I love the effect that is can give to certain elements of a picture.  I also love that fact that it can be very artistic, and I am not a very naturally artistic person, but I can still be good at it. I have really only begun to explore the possibilities that HDR car bring.

June 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Orlando 2010!

Recently we went on a week long vacation to the sunny south, Orlando. Vicki and I have given up on the whole camping thing on the May 24 weekend as the weather is just too unpredictable. For those south of the border or across the pond, May 24 is the traditional start to the Canadian summer.  The long weekend is officially called Victoria Day, named after Queen Victoria.

In the past we have gone to places like Virginia Beach and Las Vegas. This year we did the amusement park thing in Orlando. We stayed away from the mouse!

In our travels, we bought a multi-park pass that got us into the following: Universal Studios, Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure, Wet & Wild, Sea World & Aquatica.  This pass allowed us to come and go to all the parks as much as we wanted for the whole week.

We didn’t really spend a lot of time with a camera in our hands, and when we did, it was usually Vicki’s old Nikon Coolpix L5. Probobly the best shots I got all week were of Hogsmeade and Hogswarts taken in HDR that I talked about in a previous post.There are a few other keepers though, and most of them are from Sea World. As usual, there are more on my Flickr account.

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June 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Last week we were on vacation in Orlando, Florida.  The mission was to avoid the mouse at all costs.  This meant that we had to spend our time at the other parks, so we planed our trip to Universal Studios.

Last year, Universal Studios announced that they were going to be introducing a new area to their “Islands Of Adventure” park at Universal Studios.  This was the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter”. When we started our planning, it was to open in the spring.  Excellent!  We were going just before the American summer starts (Memorial Day) after the Canadian one (Victoria Day).  The park should be opened by then!  NOPE! Today was the “soft opening” only for people staying at the 3 Universal Studios Hotels.  The Grand Opening is not until June 18.

So, not being able to get into the part of the park, I did manage to get some pictures of the back of Hogsmeade and Hogswarts.  I did them in HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range.  Basically, you take multiple pictures, some too bright, some too dark and combine them. You can get some cool effects doing this, and I hope to post more HDR shots in the future.


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May 30, 2010 Posted by | Shoots | , | 1 Comment

Virginia Beach 2006 Revisited…

Today Adobe released the latest Beta (Beta 2) version of their soon to be popular program Lightroom 3.  I have not had a chance to really play around with it, but since I downloaded the beta 1 version a couple of months ago, I was going to go over some of the pictures that I took with a Kodak Easy Share 6230 point and shoot camera.  This was my first camera and the quality was ok, but there was a lot of noise in all of the pictures.

That is where LR3 comes into play, as it is supposed to have great noise reduction.  Some of the other features added that I played with were the watermarking feature and the export to Flickr feature.

This trip was on the May 24 weekend of 2006.  Vicki and I drove all night to get there and would not do that again.  The whether was great, a little cool but dry, unlike here where I think it rained all weekend.

More Pictures on Flickr…

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Update… I had originally called this post “Virginia Beach 2005 Revisited” but it was actually in 2006!

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment