Skawahlook First Nation

I am honoured to have been asked to take photos for the Sq’ewa:lxw (Skawahlook) First Nation conference that was held over the weekend of August 10, 2019.

It was a special weekend for a variety of First Nation members as they convened for a day full of talks, activities, and family fun just outside Agassiz, BC.

The conference was held in a beautiful wooden cedar hall with warm tones. There was a mixture of natural, incandescent, and fluorescent light which made for some challenging lighting. To top it off there was a screen projector – the type with a colour wheel that spins around throwing out some interesting colours on the screen when I took photos. A high shutter speed will stop the motion of the colours being displayed on the screen so I would get a green screen or a red one etc. To counteract this I had to adjust my shutter speed to match the speed of the spin. I took a few custom white balances around the room as well and took photos at various angles to help minimize this rainbow of colours.

I was hesistant to use flash mainly because I did not want to interrupt the speakers and the work flow when the groups were collaborating. This meant I had to bump up my ISO fairly high and choose my lenses accordingly. I did not want to get in the speakers way nor the audiences so I shot with my f 2.8, 70-200mm but this also meant that I had less light coming into the lens. I chose my f 2.8, 24-70mm for when I could get closer and not interrupt. This lens also gave me a lot more light to work with.

While the morning was reserved for work and meetings the afternoon became more lively for families with children. Soaking in the late afternoon sun the kids, and parents alike, jumped, slid and ate ice cream after a traditional dinner of salmon and bannock. 

Thank you to the Sq’ewa:lxw for allowing me to be there. You made me feel very welcome and I very much enjoyed my day working, and getting to know you.

I DID IT!!! I AM an ACCREDITATED PHOTOGRAPHER with the PPOC!!

I DID IT!!!!

I am now an accredited photographer with the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) in the Canine/Dog Portrait category!!!!!

I’ve been working hard for this over the past few months and am beyond STOKED!!! The criteria – 10 images of 10 different dogs in 10 different situations. Four of the images must have been made indoors, 4 others outdoors and the last 2 were of my choice. I was judged for creativity, composition, lighting, technique, subject matter, presentation, story telling, centre of interest, style and colour balance. That’s a lot but when you’re representing the PPOC and want to be a top notch photographer this is what is expected.

I know I’m all giddy but this is a HUGE deal to me. This is THE highest standard in professional imaging. I now get to proudly display PPOC on my website and represent them. I take this seriously and aim to produce strong, technically correct and emotional photos that have impact and meaning. 

As many of you know a few years ago I used to race downhill mountain bikes. While I rode at breakneck speeds I had no issues doing this in front of everybody. The final time on the scoreboard was absolute. I knew where I stood. Photography, however, has taken me outside my comfort zone. I put my heart into my photos and hope that people like them and not laugh at my work or ideas. Unlike racing, exhibiting my photos is really nerve racking. In essence, I’m putting my inner me out there for all to see. Submitting for accreditation in front of Canada’s best photographers was hard for me.

I cannot thank my husband David and my children enough. They put up with me going out at all hours and working long nights and often days making sure each photo was worthy of being submitted. David – thank you for putting up with me during this time. I also could not have done this without all the special furry friends (and their non-furry owners). Thank you Paul Johnson Desiree Ellis Lalena Desautels Robin Banks Chetti Pece Amy Siddaway and the others who are not on the net. 

Here are the photos that were accepted.

WOOF!!

Horse Power

This is Laird. He’s a 20 year old stallion and he’s majestic.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take photos of a few horses. I loved every minute of it for several reasons:

  1. Like most girls, I always wanted a horse. But, growing up in an inner-city Toronto neighborhood that wasn’t going to happen. I did ask my grandfather in France to get a horse instead of all the cows he kept on the farm. But, that didn’t work either. Probably because the tractor had already replaced his horse a long time ago and, most likely, because I was only there for 3 weeks.
  2. It was a challenge. Horses, unlike mountain bikes or motorcycles, have a mind of their own and they are 1500+ lbs of pure muscle.

But, I like a challenge. I had already envisioned the type of photo I wanted to create and capture. I purposely chose a black background for Laird because, well, he’s black, and I thought that suited him, but also because he exudes confidence. With minimal detail in the photo I found it was a colour he could pull off largely because of his personality.

I am quite comfortable taking photos of 2-wheeled machines and used that experience to help me take photos of these 4-legged creatures (gasp! How dare I compare a horse to a bike). In all honesty though, in the world of photography, horses and bikes really aren’t that different. Many of the same photographic principles (technique, composition, lens choice) apply. I knew what lens would make him look his best and where to place the strobes to highlight and give depth to his coat. I also understood where I should aim the camera to compliment him.

I will be the first to admit that taking photos of bikes is far easier than taking photos of horses. Horses don’t perk their ears forward on demand, nor do they turn their neck when asked. And, at the slightest hint of fear or the unknown those ears go back fast and their nostrils flare which doesn’t make for flattering photos. While there are tricks (and, we used them all) patience is key for a successful, and safe, portrait.

Luckily, for me…I like horses and I have patience. As did the handler and co-owner of Laird, Candice. A mighty big thank you to her for her assistance handling her horse, and her endless supply of carrots and mints while I worked the camera and the flash.

I would love to have the opportunity to work with your horse. If you would be interested in a photo session please feel free to contact me so we can talk about what you can expect, how long it will take, prices and what type of photo you are after.

Thanks for reading!

Cecile

 

 

Not Just Another White Wedding

This is Laura and she’s just had the wildest white wedding ever. So wild in fact that her ‘husband’ never showed up.

No worries though…it was a fake wedding. You see, I was hired by Desiree Ellis – a very talented Hair and Make-Up Artist – to take photos of Laura showcasing Desiree’s make-up. I’ve worked with Desiree in the past and I love the energy she brings to the sessions. In fact, I’m sure our brides would rather spend more time with us than their husbands. It’s because we have fun and, we understand what you are going through.

We want to make you the best and the most beautiful you can be. We also want you to be relaxed. If that’s not enough, our photo sessions are anything but boring. We’ve had face-slapping winds, snowy skies, endless laughter, and missing husbands. We’ve had to redecorate entire apartments just to nab that perfect shot of our beautiful brides in white. And, by the end of a photo session, you feel great about yourself and can confidently, and unapologetically, say ‘F-you!’ … as was the case with Laura. Haha!

Desiree and myself want you to be real. Unfiltered. Strong. Our job as a Make-Up Artist and a Photographer is to bring out the best you. We work hard to make you beautiful and to create artistic and memorable photos that will stand up over time.

It’s important to choose the right professionals for a photo session. If you think my photographic style, and Desiree’s artistry is in line with your tastes, vision and personality than we’d love to hear from you. It doesn’t have to be a wedding…

 

 

Feature Artist: Shelley Brookes

My feature artist this week is Shelley Brookes. Over the past few months I have been working with Shelley taking photos of her paintings. She is from North Vancouver and her work speaks to me.

Most of her paintings are finished with a super, high gloss coating. While this makes for tricky photography the gloss creates a unique style rich in colours, depth and vision. In Shelley’s paintings, you will find hidden faces, both human and animal. Some are easy to spot while others take some imagination. But, it’s the ones that find you that are special – an energy, or force if you will – that speaks from the painting. I’m not sure how Shelley is able to tap into this but she does and it’s really cool!

The unnamed painting above is one of my favourites. It can be whatever you like but to me it speaks of Genesis. Life and death. Heaven and hell. A beautifully textured painting with deep orange and yellow hues. This piece took a while to photograph as I kept getting too much specular reflections off the wood and branch pieces in both the upper left and lower right corners. While some highlights are necessary to give us a visual cue that the painting is 3D, too much of it results in washed out colours and lack of detail. To compensate for this, I had to shoot in total darkness, and continuously adjust the angle of my studio lights and filters to minimise the reflections for an accurate representation of the painting.

Shelley will be exhibiting her works at Art! Vancouver from April 19-22, 2018. I encourage you to head to the show. I guarantee you will lose yourself in her paintings finding all sorts faces, shapes and forms!

I use professional equipment that is regularly maintained by Nikon Canada. Both my monitor and camera have been calibrated to achieve accurate colour representation. Artists receive a high quality TIFF file and I continue with the artist right through to the printing stage to make sure accuracy has been achieved. When printing, I recommend a professional lab. I use OPUS Fine Arts – they offer archival papers and inks and treat each file manually. I personally go to the North Vancouver store – the staff there understand the printing process and they are great to work with.

If you would like accurate, high quality digital files of your paintings or sculptures please contact me. Having your work digitized allows you the possibility to create fine art prints for sale, as well as having a record of your work for your portfolio or website.

 

Bikes ‘n Brides and Action!

Lately, my photos have taken on a new twist. That is, not a twist of the throttle – something I’m used to but one where I have been shooting more bridal and portraits in settings outside my norm.

For me, photography is an amazing experience as it allows me to grow creatively. Some times though, I wonder if I’m cut out for this and if my work is actually worth looking at. Aside from parenting, photography is hard. It’s hard finding clients and finding people who appreciate what I do and are willing to pay for my services as a professional photographer.

It takes time to create an image and I take each one of my opportunities seriously. I thank you all for your confidence in me. I am proud and beyond stoked at the images I have been able to create with you.

 

Braving a cold, damp, snowy, and foggy winter day typical of coastal BC we took longer than expected to wrap this shoot because the light and conditions kept changing. Each photo was as beautiful as the last and vastly different. We couldn’t of asked for better weather.

Make Up Artist – Desiree Ellis

Model – Ling Chen

Equipment – Nikon camera and Elinchrom Lights and Modifier

Sking with the Udovic family in Big White, BC. Accommodations for action photos? Heck ya! Sign me up. Perfect March break getaway as we loved our stay and all the kids got along. Perfect scenario for families with young kids as they more or less kept themselves occupied giving the parents some much needed adult time. Well…perfect until we gave them popcorn…but that’s another story.

Equipment – Nikon Camera with 70-200mm lens

Another very wet but beautiful month. I was lucky enough to explore some amazing mountain bike trails and share them with some very special pups as I needed photos for an article that was being published in Mountain Bike For Her Woof!

Equipment – Nikon camera and 70-200mm lens

Our family trip to Garibaldi Park was on a whole other level. It was one where I saw my boys grow stronger mentally and physically. The sheer vastness and grandeur of the park was a reminder how small we are in on earth yet how much of an impact we can have on her. I still can’t believe that we saw a handful of people the entire 4 days. Canada is truly an awesome country.

Equipment – Fuji XT-1 with kit lens

From winter like conditions in BC only a few days before to hot, summer days in Quebec. I had the opportunity to spend two weeks riding off-road motorcycles while photographing for Traction eRag during the inaugural Woods Runners trip.

Equipment – Nikon camera, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lens

Five river crossings, and close to 50km of riding. We took our boys mountain biking to celebrate my husbands 50th birthday in style. There was a bit of heckling at first as not all uphills were liked but in the end the boys had a great time. Thanks to Troy of Tyax Adventure for safely guiding us through grizzly country and navigating some fast, and deep water.

Equipment – Fuji XT-1 with 35mm lens

Just because we couldn’t get enough of our spring trip into Garibaldi we decided to hike our spring route backwards. This time instead of snow covered fields we saw plains of lava as history unfolded with each step we took. The boys liked this trip just as much except for the mosquitos.

Equipment – Fuji XT-1 with 35mm lens

With cold rainy days ahead we moved indoors for a photoshoot. This time with professional model Coco. The studio was booked for three hours and we three different outfits we made excellent use of props and walls going for two different looks – formal and edgy.

Model – Coco

Make-up Artist – Desiree Ellis

I had the opportunity to work with Shelley Brookes – an extremely talented painter.  This is the largest painting I have reproduced to date. As I checked for colour accuracy I was amazed at the different layers and images I could see inside her painting – hidden deep in contours, and colours I saw faces, animals and people.

Artist – Shelley Brookes

I’m hoping 2018 will be just as exciting and creative. If you have a project you’d like photographed please consider me. It’s what I love to do.

 

Trials and Tribulations

This is Brandon S. He’s young  and he isn’t afraid of sending it. I spent the last two days both riding and taking photos at IOCO, BC. This is a trials bike only place and there are lots of big rocks and trees to hop up and over. Stuff that I can’t do but love seeing others do.

Just a few days before I was with Ron W. Ron, is a self-described ‘Old Trials Guy’. At 68 years young Ron puts the majority of riders to shame as he rides with precision meticulously placing the front wheel where it needs to be and not falling. We arrived at IOCO mid-morning and were treated to cooler temps, frost and fog. Lots of it. The rocks were particularly icy. Any wheel spin caused the frost to melt under the tire and immediately ice up. If it wasn’t for the non-smooth surface ice skates would have been a better choice.

The weather began changing and I wanted to head into the forest as I saw the fog started to shift. Rays of sunlight filtered in through the canopy of trees. It was magical. Riding became secondary as the priority was to photograph this beautiful light. Less than 30 minutes later the magic had disappeared. I put my camera away and spent the rest of the morning riding.

 

 

 

 

A Collection of Art from Local Artists

Artist: Nicole Fraser Armstrong Title: Dans les Mains de Dieu Medium: Acrylic on canvas. This image evokes a strong emotion. It reminds me of a typical cold winter Quebec scene but in reality is from Manitoba. It's a familiar scene that gives me a sense of peace. Plus, I love the different shades of blues.
Artist: Nicole Fraser Armstrong – Title: Dans les Mains de Dieu – Medium: Acrylic on canvas. This image evokes a strong emotion. It reminds me of a typical cold winter Quebec scene but in reality is from Manitoba. It’s a familiar scene that gives me a sense of peace. Plus, I love the different shades of blues.

 

I’ve been working with quite a few talented artists over the past few months photographing their paintings. Each have their own unique style and use different mediums to explore and create. I relate easily with them as I am an artist myself – expressing my thoughts through my photographs instead of through acrylics, oil or watercolour.

I’ve put together a small collection of my favourite pieces from each artist along with their names and medium used. Most have come to me to reproduce their artwork to print or simply to have a digital record of their art. I enjoy working and seeing their paintings and am always amazed at the creativity people have. I love the colours, the textures and the image itself and what it represents.

Photographing a painting though is not as easy as it sounds. First the colour and tones must be 100% accurate. I use a colour checker as well as a light meter to help with this. I must also make sure that there is no distortion from lens barreling. A tripod is a must and shooting with a prime lens offers better success. The quality of the lens is also of paramount importance for a clear, sharp image. Some paintings come in framed while others are behind a glass. These in itself, while seemingly innocent, pose a variety of problems including glare. Sometimes the frames are crooked and so I must adjust for that. I try and do most of the work in camera – taking the time to set up is the most important – and this allows me to have a faster post-process work flow. Patience and attention to detail is key when photographing artwork.

This isn’t my artwork. My art is this case is reproducing to the best of my abilities an image and it’s my job to make sure it is 100% accurate across all facets.

 

 

 

Artist: Monique Hurteau Medium: Watercolour on Fine Art Paper www.moniquehurteau.com
Artist: Monique Hurteau
Series: Precious Metal
Medium: Watercolour on Fine Art Paper
www.moniquehurteau.com Monique has a wonderful creative and playful style. Her abstract work is real, smart and connects with the earth. You should check out her Wrench series on her website! I love the earthy tones in this particular piece and the use of space and lines.

 

Artist: Diane Clark Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Artist: Diane Clark
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas Diane Clark scenes are reminiscent of the interior (BC). Her lovely use of colours and attention to detail make for a precise yet playful painting.

 

Artist: Denise Grams Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Artist: Denise Grams
 Medium: Oil on Canvas I love Denises’ use of texture in her paintings. You can almost feel the feathers of her Crow Series. She builds her layers and with a close look several colours reveal themselves. Beautifully composed and true to the North Shore.