Happy Birthday AGA!

January 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm (Edmonton, Events, Food, Photography) (, , , , , , )

Art Gallery of Alberta anniversary party

On January 30, 2011 the Art Gallery of Alberta celebrated its first anniversary, and held a bit of a party. Hugh and I went down to check it out, and were treated to free coffee and cupcakes with icing in the AGA’s colours. The cupcakes, made by Big City Cupcakes were delicious, though almost unbearably sweet.

Free cupcakes!

We also took in the Matisse exhibit, the first time at our own pace, and a second time as part of a free guided tour. We also saw a very interesting exhibit by Canadian artist Brian Jungen, who created two ‘fossil reconstructions’ using nothing but plastic lawn chairs. Very cool. Also very cool was the fact that the artist allowed photography of his work, which means I was able to get a shot inside the actual exhibit:

Shapeshifter (2000) and Cetology (2002)

Despite the naysaying by all the ‘pothole people’ while the AGA was under construction, and those who decry the building as ‘ugly’ even today, the AGA has had a tremendous first year. More than 111,000 people have come through the doors, compared to 20,000 visitors per year to the old Edmonton Art Gallery which the AGA has replaced. Membership sales are at 5,300 as compared to 1,650 from the year before.

As for the building itself, it is 85,000 square feet, of which 30,000 is dedicated exhibition space. Designed by Randall Stout (former protege of Frank Gehry) and built to LEED standards, the building is a stunning showcase located right in the heart of downtown Edmonton.

AGA architect Randall Stout

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Noir Night with Robyn

November 9, 2010 at 11:02 am (Edmonton, Photography, Strobist) (, , , , , )

I have always liked the light and shadow look of film noir movies. Traditionally these movies are shot in black and white, though this is not strictly necessary (have you seen Chinatown?). Trying to create a film noir look in photography is something I have wanted to do for a while, and after hooking up with Edmonton model Robyn Brown I had my chance.

The noir look requires very hard light. This is difficult (if not impossible) to achieve with a bare, unmodified speedlight, so a little creativity was in order. I am not a rich man, so I figured something DIY would be appropriate. For this shoot I used my SB-600, as well as a borrowed SB-800 speedlight, so I fashioned two snoots out of black posterboard and duct tape. Total cost: about $3 bucks or so. The snoot funnels light through a tube which controls the spread of light, concentrating it in a very small area. Exactly what you need for noir.

Exposure 0.04 sec (1/25) Aperture f/13.0 Focal Length 46 mm Strobist: SB-800 high camera right 1/8@105mm snooted Triggered with CLS

As you can see in the above photo, the snooted speedlight positioned camera-right produces very high contrast lighting, with half her face properly exposed and the other half completely obscured by shadows. A small amount of ambient light serves to add a bit of definition to the rest of the scene.

Noir is not all about lighting however, it is also about mood, style, and story. Inspired by a shot I saw by Joe McNally I decided to see if I could ‘tell a story’ with a single shot. The idea was to convey a ‘damsell in distress’, threatened by an off-camera knife wielding maniac. I am still not completely satisfied with my results, but I think it was a good first effort. See for yourself:

Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200) Aperture f/16.0 Focal Length 19 mm Strobist: SB-800 1/6@105mm high camera left SB-600 1/10@85mm camera right.

I had the SB-800 at camera left to light Robyn, and the SB-600 camera right shooting through an arm holding a knife to cast the shadow on the wall. As you can see, the shadow turned out quite well, though the placement could be better. The lighting on Robyn could certainly be better.

All in all, I learned some new stuff, and as always, had a great time. Many thanks to Robyn for being such a great model, and to Hugh Lee and Rory Mallett for assisting on this shoot.

One more for you:

Exposure 3 Aperture f/16.0 Focal Length 25 mm Strobist: SB-800 camera left 1/4@105mm SB-600 camera right 1/6@85mm through omnibounce Triggered with CLS

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Goodbye Edmonton Alberta

November 22, 2009 at 1:50 am (Computers, Edmonton)

Well, I’ve been running my own website, badcomputer.org for quite a while now.  I rolled my own blog code there, but found myself writing hardly ever due to the fact I was always playing around with php code.  I’ve come to the conclusion that although I like to be fairly hands on, when you spend all your time writing code you have no time for writing about life.  Couple that with the fact that I am once again moving back home to British Columbia from Edmonton, and my server will be down for who knows how long, it is a no brainer to start using a blogging service.  I still want to maintain badcomputer.org … I still have all the computer code and documentation I’ve written on my server.  Perhaps when I get settled I will look into hosting this blog on that domain.

Interests change you know.  I used to like spending hours tinkering with my computers.  Not so much anymore. I still like to look under the hood of my computers every once in a while, but I prefer to, you know, just use them.  Besides, I am spending a lot more time on my photography now.  I think that’s what I want to focus on in my spare time, and on this blog.

So: I’ve said this before at a few of the forums I hang at … Edmonton has been good to me, I love the place, but it’s time to move on.  Like the cliche goes, we can still be friends.  So long beautiful, I’ll miss you 😉

Edmonton Skyline

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