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.


My ‘Spring Floral’ triptych featured in Photo Life Magazine

My Aloe & Tulip triptych photo made it into this months (April/May 2012) Photo Life Magazine as part of their Showtime Submissions for the spring issue.

This triptych is the third in a five part macro floral series I took 3 years ago. In fact, if I remember correctly my first born was quietly napping while I took advantage of some rare free time to set up my camera and tripod. I used natural lighting and freshly cut orange tulips which I had just purchased with the intent of taking pictures. They also looked pretty on our dining room table.

Very stoked as this is a huge honour to have one of my photos selected in what is undisputedly Canada’s best photo magazine. And, thank you to Sebastien for sleeping soundly allowing me time to great a beautiful series of aloe, tulip and rhodendron photos.

Meet Braxton – the biggest puppy on the block

Meet Braxton. He’s a Great Dane pup. Even though he’s only six weeks old he’s already taller than Lucy who’s the other puppy that lives in the same household and is six months.

My friend Robin just got Braxton a few weeks ago and I just had to get some photos of him before he got too big and lost his puppy look. I am a sucker for dogs and I had never seen a Great Dane pup before. Braxton stole my heart. He is such a gentleman. Literally.

Even though he is running in the picture above it was not because he was being an overly excited pup (as most puppies are). It was because he wanted to go back into his bed and chew his bone. Taking photos of him was surprisingly easy (at least when he had a bone in his mouth and was lying down happily chewing away).

I loved his demeanour. Although he was one very relaxed dude I could already see his he has personality. That was also evident when he decided to pull the alpha male part by walking on my back as I was lying down on my stomach to get his picture. I will not be letting him do that to me when he reaches his supposedly 160+ lbs. Than again, this might be just what I need for my never ending achy back.

One of my goals was to try and have his personality shine through. I am pretty sure I achieved this.

Thanks to Robin for allowing me this great opportunity to take pictures of her pup. And, for letting me move her furniture around to accomodate my photographic demands. I hope to get another chance in a few months to get some more pics of him and I am sure this time I will have to bring my wide angle lens just to be able to fit him into the entire picture.

Off-road Women Riders are Sassy

I could bore you with the details of my recent photoshoot but I will let pictures speak for themselves this time around.

I will simply say that this past weekend I had an absolute hoot photographing my team mates and friends Melanie and Jaime. Our photos will be used to help promote our team for this years Paris to Dacre (P2D) Dual Sport Challenge by Rally Connex. To date we still do not have a team name but what we do have is spirit.

A while ago I found an abandoned warehouse and knew this would be the perfect place for the shoot. I wanted the graffii to be a focal point yet it had to be a part of us as well. Lively, fun, loud and colourful – a perfect fit to showcase our team. Melanie is feisty and sassy while Jaime is reserved but spunky.

I decided to use one flash set up on a softbox. I wanted an ‘edgy’ look. The single light casted a long, dramatic shadow which worked well as I felt it made us look stronger. The shadow also mimicked that of the written words. Too cool! Theme found and kept throughout the entire shoot.

Both Jaime and Melanie were keen on the location even when I told them we may need to hop a fence. Lucky for us, we found a hole and we walked right in motocross boots and all. It was cold, dark, damp, smelly and was littered with garbage. But what a fun place to shoot. I can not really say where it was because I am pretty sure we were trespassing. Thanks to Jaime and Melanie for being cool with this.

Our ride in P2D will hopefully be historical as we will most likely be the first all women team. Our goal is to finish and to finish strong. I believe our biggest asset is our friendship. Between the three of us we have tons of riding experience. P2D though is all about team effort and I know our friendship will go a long way to helping us achieve our goal.

Cecile – both a sinus infection and an eye infection made for a very red nose that day!



Transforming Gary and his Hercules into a Digital Painting

This is my friend Gary. He’s the coolest guy I know – he rides all sorts of bikes from pushies to motorised. He also plays in a rock band, runs, skiis, snowboards and travels just to name a few. So I thought a digital painting of him and his very cool Hercules would be a good way of showing him off.

I took this picture of him last fall while he was showing Melanie and myself his backyard trails just outside Barrie, Ontario. I decided on this picture for some digital painting as I liked the colours, the leaves and the ‘low rider’ action. For a larger view of the painting…simply click on it.

Digital Painting is just what it sounds like. I move pixels around on the computer instead of using actual paints, brushes and various cleaners. I love how I can make a ‘virtual mess’ of a painting than hit the ‘back’ button or delete the painting entirely and start all over. Plus, there’s no mess – no sticky fingers, no turpentine, no oils, and no spills. However, my eyes eventually become strained from starting at the monitor for too long.

The process of taking a picture and transforming it into a painting is not that difficult. The trick is to start off with a good picture. And that itself can be challenging. What makes a good photograph does not necessarily translate into a good painting. I have also found that certain colours and backgrounds lend themselves better to being ‘digitised’. Once I have found a suitable photograph I play around with it in either Lightroom or Photoshop using levels, saturation, brightness, dodging and burning. Those are usually my main edits. Than I open up the picture in Corel Painter, choose my brushes, senstivity and a host of other things before I begin ‘painting’.

The next part is the hardest for me. I really should leave the painting alone for a few days…not to dry but to see whether or not I am pleased with the results. However, I am such an impatient person that sometimes I skip this last step. My impatience has sometimes gotten me in trouble. This is also another reason why I do not play golf. In fact I have only played twice in my life (not counting driving ranges and mini-golf). The last time I played I ran in between holes as I was getting ‘ancy’ and just had to ‘de-energise’ a bit. Ok…I am so off topic right now.

I hope you like the painting. Please feel free to send me your thoughts!



4 of my pictures featured in ‘Inside MotoX & Offroad Magazine’

The November/December issue of Canada’s ‘Inside MotoX & Offroad Magazine’ is a special one for me as four of my pictures from this years ‘Corduroy Enduro’ have been printed. Including a double truck!

To say the least I am super stoked. This was my first time out in the field using my new camera – the almighty Nikon D3S. Actually, it was my first time period as I had just bought it that Thursday and was shooting The Cord on Sunday. I didn’t even have lots of play time with it as I was busy with family obligations prior to the event. Luckily, I have been shooting Nikon for the past 8 years so I am familiar with their terminology and menus. Compared to my D90 the buttons on the D3S were in different locations but I adapted quickly (I really didn’t have a choice if I wanted to pull off some keepers).

On an off-shoot – it felt different being a spectator at The Cord. I have competed in the women’s category twice in previous years and I know it is a very difficult and demanding two days for both the bike and for the rider. This time around, I could enjoy the beauty of The Cord. Jealous in areas that I would have loved to ride and understanding of the riders frustration when fatigue set in.

Thank you to Jeff Morgan at Inside MotoX & Offroad for publishing my images.


Broad Winged Hawk Finalist in GBLT Poster

Yea…my juvenile Broad Winged Hawk picture was a finalist in this years Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT) Fundraising Poster. Over 75+ photographs and only 25 made it in. You can see my bird in the number 15 position if you count L to R. In other words, third row on the right hand side.

This is a fundraising effort on behalf of the GBLT to raise money to help with preserving the Georgian Bay area and its flora and fauna.

This was by far the hardest assignment yet. Taking pictures of birds is …well…for the birds. I found it not necessary to have the best photo equipment but it would have been a big advantage to have a long, fast lens as the majority of my shots were taken in a boat as that was the only access to many of these birds. Taking them from land couldn’t put me in close enough and that was with my big lens. For the most part I was shooting with my Nikon f4-5.6, 80-400mm lens. Although I like the lens I really felt its shortcomings on cloudy days and when the light was fading. Read…when it was feeding time for the birds.

However, I was able to capture a few pictures of various birds: Loons, common song tail birds, Great Blue Herons, various Gulls, Sandpipers, Terns and a few others to which I have no clue what they are. This is where my neighbours came in…they are active orthinologists and helped me quite a bit in identifying them.

This assignment did teach me a lot about birds. Specifically about their behaviour. I also learned when and where the best place to find them were. I spent a lot of time in the boat early morning or evening scouting them out. A few times I even had Luc with me…but those trips usually didn’t last too long as he would soon start to move too much in the boat and want to hang off the side of my Whaler. Not good considering he’s not even two yet.

But, lady luck was on my side the day I found this hawk. My husband, two children and myself had just gotten into our car at the marina when I spotted him. He swooped in gracefully and plunked himself on a tree branch not far from us. I had one lens (a 105mm) and I took as many pictures as I could before he flew away. I must say it was much easier taking a picture on land than from inside a boat.

If you use Georgian Bay for recreation or for your livelihood please consider purchasing this poster – it is after all for a good cause. The following is an excerpt copied from the GBLT website:

Funds generated from the sales of our posters go towards supporting the activities and projects of the GBLT.  With your support, we can preserve and protect the unique flora, fauna and habitat of Georgian Bay that we all love. 

Call the office at 416-440-1519 x 3 to order your poster today.  Posters can be mailed to you or arranged to be picked up at the office. 

Rolled poster: $ 20
Plaqued poster: $ 50

Canadian CX Nationals 2011

Hungry racers from across our great country travelled to Toronto to aim for the coveted title of Canadian National Cyclocross Champion this past weekend. While Pine Point Park set the stage and created a unique backdrop for photographers, spectators and racers alike. It was a perfect day for a cyclocross (CX) event – clear blue skies and cool temps.

But it hasn’t been an easy road or ‘clear sailing’ for organiser Ziggy of ZM Cycling and Fitness. Forced to re-organise when political ‘roadblocks’ set up barricades preventing him from starting the 2011 Nationals a few weeks ago, ZM had to quickly to re-locate this rather important venue. Despite these drawbacks, the venue itself was challenging as racers sprinted on flats and climbed steep hills several times within the loop.

For spectators the course was great as one could see all the action at various points throughout the course. And for me, as both an artist and a photographer I relished at the unique background and the opportunity to display how a bike race could be successfully held within a big urban city a stone-throw away from our country’s busiest highway.

It was my own personal challenge to showcase the beauty of the location and the suffering of the racers. I love shooting in the fall. Although I do miss the heat of the sun, the softer light and longer shadows are great for photography. I looked around and saw a clear blue cloudless sky and a bright sun. I put back my flash in my camera bag and stepped out of my car with only one camera and one lens. Today, was not a flash day. Instead I decided to let the sun and the hill lead the way to my creative vision. While most photographers were up on the hill shooting with the sun in the racers face I chose to stay below and shoot into the sun. Opposite of what you should do. But I wanted a silhouette shot with some cool sun flare action.

The grimaces shown on the racers steadily increased as they got further into the one hour race. With each climb pain and burning muscles created stone faced riders suffering trying to keep the pedals turning against gravity.

I have attended several CX races within the past few years. The atmosphere at Pine Wood Park was electric. Moving around I now stood  at the top of the hill and could hear fans cheering below drowning out the faint buzz of the highway. I found irony in the thought that bicycles and cars have more in common than merely being mechanical machines. Racers accelerated, driving their legs up and down while in the background a small line of dancing ‘ants’ used the on-ramp to accelerate onto the 401. Both metal machines commanded by a human touch.

It was almost the end of the race and my fingers were numb, but that did not matter. When I think of the pain the riders went through, with each breath deeper than the last, heart pumping, legs burning and back aching I could withstand a bit of cold. Afterall, it was their hard effort that allowed me to capture a few images. I am quite proud of the art I produced this weekend and to this I say Thank You to the racers, the volunteers and to the organisers.

PS I do have more pictures – both artsy and non-artsy ones. Email me your plate number and I’ll see what I have.


The Cord!

Pictures for ‘The Cord’ are available for purchase and can be seen via my Flickr page. Click here to see and order them.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was before The Cord, during The Cord and after The Cord. I’m still giddy and super stoked at my pictures I took this past Sunday at the 58th Corduroy Enduro held in the Haliburtons.

Stoked because I just picked up my new camera – a Nikon D3S , rented two outstanding lenses from Headshots in Toronto and because I’ve ridden the Cord in the past and I know it’s a super hard event. Since my favourite lens is still in the shop (waiting for a part from Japan) I decided to rent a Nikon 70-200mm and a Nikon 14-24mm as my wide angle is no longer compatible with the full frame D3S. I also had my trusty D90 with me as a backup body and that’s about what it became…a backup body. To say the least…I cannot believe the D3S…and even though it broke the bank … I’m in love!! Combined with two top lenses the quality of the pictures are unreal!!! Yea…I know Nikon is supposed to come out with another announcement sometime in October but I got tired of waiting and this is prime enduro season!

My day started bright and early Sunday morning leaving my in-laws in Peterborough at 6AM. I got to Gooderham around 7:20, ate a BLT and saw some old friends and riders I haven’t seen in a while. It feels so good to catch up with everybody and LOVE at how tight and accepting the off-road community is. Friends for ever is an understatement!!

With the spectator sheet in hand I made my way over to the first special test and was treated with amazing light! Right place at the right time with a kickass camera and lens to boot. The light pouring onto the field, and trees in the distance was magical. Oh yes…I was salivating and I needed a rider as I saw a few really cool shots. That’s when I was introduced to the ‘Blues’ brothers, whom I haven’t seen in about 8 years! The last time I saw them was at The Algonquin 2 Day where I was the head honcho for the children’s ride and led a bunch of them through the Madawaska area on my Gas Gas TXT 200 while they ripped up the single track on PW50’s. Jack quickly suited up and we booted over to the hill while I explained what I wanted. I fired off about 15 pictures before the sun rose higher and lost the epic light. But before the light changed I knew I had nailed some killer pics! I was so excited!!

By now the top racers were starting to filter into the special test area and I spent the next 45 minutes shooting from one the various spots I had already staked out half an hour before. I loved the terrain here…I could have stayed here the entire day and not be bored. As it is I’ve got some cool ideas still in my head but need another weekend with pristine blue skies, some time off from ‘mommyhood’ and a few top notch riders. So if there are any riders out there (and babysitters) who are up for the challenge let me know. I would LOVE to take these pics!!

So back to the race…upon entering the special test the riders tackled about a 1.5 km of single track with lots of wet, slippery roots. I know because I ran the entire way with my backpack full of gear, 2 full sized tripods and 2 cameras fully loaded around my neck and the other around my waist which made the 1.5 km feel more like 5km. I was hoping the singletrack crossed the Burnt River but it didn’t and I ended up taking that trail for nothing. I took a few pictures here and there not really excited about the area. The light was patchy and I was running out of time as I also wanted to catch the riders in the next special test. It wasn’t until I got home that I came across this photo and screamed with joy! Best viewed at high resolution this picture is so tack sharp you could prick your finger on it! Combined with the fall colours, and the sun backlighting the pine trees and an aggressive rider this is easily one of my favourite pictures from my shoot!

By mid-morning the race here wrapped up as the last rider came through and I left for the next special test at ‘The Tunnel of Love’. That name still makes me giggle!

I set up shop on a quiet and cozy creek crossing and set up a flash. Lots of ambient light here and there but tricky shooting as the sun kept shifting so I had to continuously re-adjust my camera settings. I also met another photographer – Keith Hamilton – a very friendly fellow who held no reservations and keenly helped me with my new camera. I litterally bought it on Thursday and didn’t have a lot of time to play with it before hand! So to Keith a BIG thank you goes out to you!! I really appreciate your help! So while Keith was giving me pointers I took pictures and missed some pictures as I was also trying to figure things out. But, I did manage to get one of Chris Zanelli from ‘The Dirty Onions’ – a super cool group I just met 2 weeks ago while riding in Simcoe with my friends Gary, Mike and Melanie. And Chris I must say…your outfit is so camo. I think you’ve wearing every colour from the forest – bright greens to yellows to subdued blues. Very … uh… let’s just say colourful. Teeheehee.

All in all an epic weekend. The only thing I would have liked to change was to have been able to go up on Saturday to make it a 2 day photoshoot and get some different terrain which I know they hit Saturday. I really don’t like getting to an event the day of, let alone 2 hours before the start. I prefer to scout my locations ahead of time. However, having said that I’m really stoked at the pictures I got. I’m really happy with them and with my camera. I especially loved the 70-200mm lens and would love that for Christmas. Are you reading this David?? I’m sure you could predict this so probably decided to skip this last paragraph.

So ahhh…all you readers and racers, if you are interested in purchasing one of my pictures just know that your expense is helping me to get to the next event and to upgrade my camera equipment to make you look good. Email me with your plate number and a quick description of your bike (as not all plate numbers are visible). A single high quality digital upload of a picture is only $15.00. Thanks for not ‘lifting’ my pictures!!

I hope you’ll read my article on Traction magazine – where I’ll be putting up the rest of The Cord pictures. Till than keeping you in suspense…thanks for reading and don’t forget to log onto this blog or my Facebook Page (Cecile Gambin Photography) from time to time to see what’s new! And if there are ANY riders who want to do a photoshoot at the first MX test not far from Kinmount let me know – I’ve got some super cool ideas!!

Thanks to Blair Sharpless, Machine Racing, TekVest, Lachapelle Racing Products, Foran’s Roofing & Sheetmetal, Ross Rocher Sales, Cliffshore, Yamaha, KTM, Husqvarna and all the volunteers who made this years Cord a memorable event. It takes a LOT of passionate people to keep putting on a top notch event like this and without them there’d be no fun!