Trent Ferguson Photography: Blog en-us (C) Trent Ferguson Photography (Trent Ferguson Photography) Sun, 11 Nov 2012 03:31:00 GMT Sun, 11 Nov 2012 03:31:00 GMT Trent Ferguson Photography: Blog 120 80 Lest we forget...


Last July, I had an experience that changed me.


We had received the itinerary for our trip to Italy, and everything looked wonderful, except the last part.

Our tour was scheduled to visit the Monte Cassino, the site of four battles in early to mid 1944, with the Germans occupying the Monastery in Cassino, Italy.  After seeing buildings and ruins that were thousands of years old, it seemed an odd juxtaposition to visit an area that held history not yet 70.  I feared it would be a huge letdown - like seeing a fingerpainting after spending time studying DaVinci.  

And this is from someone who never fails to buy a poppy, take off his hat in a legion, and holds the veteran`s sacrifice as highly as I thought possible.  The fact that Remembrance Day is an 'optional' statutory holiday, to be traded if you want some other random day off, always offended me to the core...

The startling realization that would overcome me, began as we started our ascent up the mountain.

It was easy to realize why the Germans held the area - it was the `high ground`- on top of cliffs that were hundreds of meters straight up, providing a perfect view of the surrounding area for literally hundreds of kilometers around.  From the safety of the tour bus, you could see that attacking the area would be next to impossible; that you couldn't do it without being completely exposed to enemy fire.  For hundreds of meters, you would be the fish in the barrel; a simple objective that could only be captured by throwing more men into it, than the Germans' had bullets.



Once we arrived at the fully rebuilt monastery, we managed to push the horror of the battles away for a while, as we viewed the religious artifacts and artworks as our guide explained that the monastery had been in existence for more than 1500 years and was the site of one of the Catholic religion's 'miracles', when Saint Benedict fell, and the stone gave way to his body.  



When we entered the beautiful Abbey where Saint Benedict is interred, we had the battle pressed back against us: our attention was pointed towards the ceiling where it was obvious that frescos once existed.  



The abbey had been rebuilt following the battles in WWII from drawings and memory, but the Italian masters who painted the ceilings were long since dead, and their work could never be recreated, so the spaces were left blank.  Towards the front of the abbey, we were told of a modern 'miracle' where the paintings above the tomb of Saint Benedict were intact, untouched by the bombing that had leveled the rest of the building.  



A shell had in fact pierced the ceiling beside the tomb, but didn't explode, and was safely removed, causing no damage.


After the shock of standing on the hallowed ground where a small piece of Canadian history lay, we were ferried to the War Cemetery in Cassino, where our previously shielded eyes were now held open, forced to see the hard truth: hundreds and hundreds of tombstones, marking the final resting place for soldiers from Canada, and the other countries who stood beside us those terrible days.  



Walking through the Canadian graves, in the shadow of the monastery was a reality that no person is ready for, but every free man needs to see:  the youngest I saw was 15.  The oldest, 46.  One held an American flag, fighting for Canada.  



There were copies of the death notification from King George.  



Images and names were swimming relentlessly in front of my eyes until I saw a tombstone that drilled focus to my attention; I broke down and began to cry.


"Here rests a child who will never be forgotten by all his family".


The sacrifice became clear from the side of the mothers and fathers.  The warmly named 'homefront' that could become bitingly cold.  I immediately thought of my own son, then 3, and what I would feel if it were him buried those thousands of miles from home, perhaps never visited by his parents again, and I lost it...



If I'm fortunate, I will never forget how I felt that day.  When I was forced to actually confront the names and stories of those who died.  And of the unimaginable horror felt by those they left behind.



I've said it before, without truly understanding the meaning of the words, but allow me the feeble attempt to say thank you to those who served; both to those who never came home, and those who had to live the rest of their days with the memories of the bullets and tragedy.  


And thank you to the parents who selflessly sacrificed their children so that we might be free today.



]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Thu, 08 Nov 2012 16:48:53 GMT
Silhouettes Lately, my eye has been drawn to the lines created by silhouetting an object with the sun, stripping away everything but the outline.  

Of course, it's never quite that simple - the silhouettes that I enjoy producing the most STILL have a little information in the shadows, but your eye is forced to look for it.  The image can be enjoyed for it's simplicity, or it's hidden textures, whatever strikes my fancy at the time, but I am always looking to create layers in my images.


This fascination really took hold of me in Rome a few weeks ago, and it's grip has only tightened.  I was forced into it by brilliant, smoldering sunlight as we toured that ancient city, and I was fighting it at every turn.  I'd shoot an image, and realize the that sky was overexposed to pure white; not the Mediterranean blue that surrounded us.  If I exposed for the blue of the sky, the building that I was admiring was underexposed to black.  So, in a fit of desperation, I tried to compromise - I'd try to capture the blue, and as much of the foreground detail as I could.  After about an hour, I fell into a 'Eureka!' moment: I was in love with what I was shooting.  It was a unique way to capture a city that had been photographed millions of times, and if I concentrated on my exposures, I could still provide ample detail of the landmark structures that I'd loved since I was a boy.  If you have the time, please look a little deeper than you might normally - I hope that you discover the layers that each image is build upon.

The issue that I find myself running up against now, is my fascination is threatening to overtake my camera on a permanent basis.  I was shooting a wedding yesterday, and I found myself wondering if the bride would like to see her ceremony as a series of backlit silhouettes??!?  Fortunately, I came to my senses...

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Mon, 30 Jul 2012 02:20:39 GMT
Rome A return trip to the 'Eternal City'?  We couldn't say "yes" fast enough.


Rome is quite possibly the most beautiful city in the world, from the ancient ruins, to the Renaissance and Baroque period works of art by some of the greatest masters in human history; Rome offers something for everybody.


The temperature hovered in the mid to high 30s, with brilliant sunlight making shooting difficult, and therefore more rewarding when the shots you see work out.  I have enough shots that I am seriously considering printing a book for myself of nothing but Roman silhouettes.  And birds.  Rome has more pigeons per capita,than any other city in the world (probably an exaggeration, but it's gotta be close!).  



The streets are narrow, and lined with cobblestones.  The paint is both garish and wonderful.

The Colosseum takes your breath away.  Imagining the slave work it took to build it, and the lives taken inside of it, is humbling.

The start of the silhouettes.

Ancient ruins in the Roman Forum that was build by Julius Caesar.

Crepuscular rays in St. Peter's Basilica, in Vatican city.

The Swiss Guard inside the Vatican City.  

SPQR stands for 'The Senate and the People of the Republic of Rome' and has been used on public works items for more than 2000 years.

Looking at the sunlight through the oculus in the Pantheon...

And how it played on the walls inside.

Differences in lifestyle; most Romans ride scooters and motorcycles, or walk.  There is simply no place to park or drive anything that we would normally drive.

Even in some of the priciest real-estate in the world, people hang their laundry.

A tree outside of the Monte Cassino monastery, site of a huge battle in 1944, where the allies defeated Germany.

Doves inside the monastery.  As a side note, it is also the shot that I am most proud of; where luck and preparedness met.

The pipe organ inside the monastery.

Religious imagery was everywhere.

We visited the Canadian War Cemetery in Cassino after visiting the monastery, and I was struck with how poignant it was.  I have never felt more proud to be Canadian than I did then.  

On our last evening, we went to the Spanish Steps where we discovered an opera being performed.  

Accoding to legend, if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain with your right hand, over your left shoulder, you will return to Rome.  So as a last act Jennifer and I each threw in two: one for each of our children.  They will be with us the next time we go.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Sat, 21 Jul 2012 18:34:15 GMT
Kyria I've known her for about 4 years now, and she is simply the most remarkable young woman that I have met.  Most 17 year old girls don't have their 'stuff' together yet, and won't for about 5 years, but Kyria is WAY ahead of the curve.

Then my wife and I met her parents, and the mystery dissipated.  Lee and Denise are old-school parents who have instilled an absolute sense of self in their kids, and as a result they respect themselves, and show that respect to others.


We were asked to shoot Kyria last fall, and had an afternoon that still makes us smile today.  The shooting went great, and we captured some images that I was extremely proud of, but there was one snag; Kyria was wearing her Grad dress, and it was a secret...  No image posting until after grad, which was last weekend!

The hat belonged to Kyria's grandfather, and she wanted shots with her wearing it.  Her 'Daughter's Pride' ring is also on display here.

Kyria has a vicious sense of humor, and it makes her a lot of fun to work with, and because of it, posing her is a breeze.

This was a series that my wife had envisioned, and it produced the best image of the day.

This one...

Kyria showing off a little sass, and country-girl style!

Three months later, we continued her session in our studio.

Her cap-and-gown pictures preceded this portion of the shoot.

Kyria displaying a more 'vulnerable' side of herself.  It's not one you see very often, so look closely!

Kyria back to being herself, the tough country-girl...

...with a heart of gold.

But, she's still only 17.

Jennifer presented Kyria with a framed picture that she took of her in Kananaskis and wrote a note to her that ended with 'if our daughter grew up to be like you, I wouldn't be upset'.  

I'd be thrilled.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Thu, 05 Jul 2012 05:43:22 GMT
Fragility The world today is so much different than the one that I grew up in.


Reality has taken a baseball bat to my illusions of youth, as I have begun to witness  my parent's siblings begin to pass away because of old age, knowing that their time is a lot closer than is comfortable.  Then I look down at my own small children, and feel the torch passing to them.  


Like most parents today, we use cameras (both real and in cellphones) to document every step in their development, from birth to toddler.  From toddler to pre-school; and when they advance past that, we will make sure that there is no shortage of images recording their continued growth.  When I was growing up in the late 60s through the late 80s, my parents did what parents then did - they ordered school pictures, and we took our Kodak Instamatic camera with us on holidays, where a 24 exposure roll was used over a two week period.  


I recently looked at our family photo album that was taken at Disneyland during Easter break when I was in grade 4 (1978).  There were about 40 pictures taken over a space of 10 days.  When we were in Disneyland last summer, we shot over 3000 pictures...  Instead of a photo album that gets dusted off every 18 months or so, and is only viewed at my parent's house, I have uploaded over 800 of those images to Facebook so that our family and friends can see everything that the kids saw.  I still prefer (by a large amount) printed images over looking at a computer monitor, but the convenience of allowing grandparents to look at the pictures of their grandchildren far outweighs any prejudice I might have.


We utilize technology of all sorts to keep our family as close as possible; from Facebook and twitter, to Skype and Facetime, and it is perhaps these efforts that make the coming inevitabilities a little more bitter than bittersweet.  I find myself (and Jennifer) shooting candid images of our parents with our kids, without the knowledge of either, in a desperate, but futile, attempt to stop the passage of time.  


Whenever I see shots like these that Jennifer has taken, I look across at her and she nods at me, with a hint of sadness in her eyes.  It took longer to meet the woman that I gratefully call my wife than it takes most, and by the time we had our kids, I had entered my 40s.  My parents are in their early 70s and the calendar shows the obvious - my kids won't get the opportunity to really get to know them before they are gone.


Jennifer's dad, still in his 50s, is stricken with Huntington's disease and the sand is falling through his hourglass far faster than seems fair.  I am confident that our daughter will carry a handful of memories with her, but our son is only 3 - and I don't remember much from that age - so we are trying to fill in gaps before they are created.  The responsibility of shaping the recollections of a man to his grandchildren weighs heavily, and the only way we can do it properly is by standing back and letting our shots bear silent witness to his love for the kids.


We've had to attend too many funerals over the past year, and I know that the hardest ones are still on the horizon, so more than anything, we are using our skills to recreate our children's past, before it is too late.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Wed, 25 Apr 2012 06:10:38 GMT
Restorations From as far back as I can remember, photographs have been important to my family.  So, when my parents asked me if there was anything that I could do to fix their wedding picture, I told them that I'd see what I could do...


The picture was 5"X7" and had been displayed behind glass, on a shelf in their living room for more than 40 years.  Fortunately, it rarely saw direct sunlight, but the fading was still severe from the light that was reflected off the walls.


Details had faded away, and were no longer visible.  The color had shifted dramatically.  There were scratches and marks all over the print.  But it was their last wedding picture.

So, I brought it home, and took it to my office.  From there, I scanned it using an Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner at 900 DPI (dots per inch), giving me room to inspect it REALLY closely, and since most images are printed at 250-300 DPI, allowing me room to blow it up, if need be.  Fixing the color shift took a little work, as did the dust and scratches.  However, trying to recover details that were barely visible, proved to be the biggest challenge.  Once I had finished (it took about 20 hours), I told my mom, that with another year or two of fading, the image probably would have been unrecoverable.

After that, a friend of ours (Joanne Pollard) handed Jennifer a picture of her father in WWII that was severely damaged, and asked if there was anything that we could do to fix it.  It had been folded up, and carried in a pocket for years - I assumed by Joanne's mother. 

Again, It was scanned at 900 DPI and HOURS of work began as I tried to use what little evidence was available in the creases and seams to rebuild the image.  After I had the repairs finished, I needed to match the film grain that was now missing in order to make the picture seamless.

Then Denise Baranowski asked if we could fix a picture of her grandfather, also taken during the war. 

That one was a fairly simple matter of repairing a color shift, and fixing some minor scratching.

Then my cousin opened a box in her garage (in Victoria) and found a picture of my dad's family taken in the late 1940s.  It had some scratching and mold spots, along with a minor color-shift. 

When I finished it, I printed a copy for my father, who told me that he hadn't seen that picture since he left home in 1963...

It is now framed in my parent's living room, beside their wedding picture.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Tue, 03 Apr 2012 15:48:36 GMT
Light The longer that I travel this road that I'm on, the more well acquainted I've become with my weaknesses.  Until I understood light, I rarely used flash of any kind.  I was a proponent of shooting with only natural light. 


I was scared of my own ignorance.


Natural light is the most beautiful light in the world, under the right circumstances.  But what happens when you are asked to shoot a person who is backlit on a frozen lake at one o'clock in the afternoon, and there isn't a cloud in the sky...?  Do you overexpose the sky and sun to white, or is your subject a silhouette? 

Or you could expose for the background, and flash your subject.

Where I learned the most about light, is in my studio.  There, I have the freedom to play with softboxes and reflectors; beauty dishes and umbrellas.  I have learned what works, and what doesn't.  I find that I light for my background, as much as for my subject.  

A white background asks for playful innocence, and flatter light.  

A black background is begging for drama.  

A neutral blue or grey focuses my attention on the subject.

The light that I'm using is also dependant on whether or not I see the image as color or B&W.  

B&W requires that I pay attention to the shadow areas, and light for a gradual bleed away of skin tones, rather than a sharper line.

When we are shooting events, and require mobility, we use speedlights, and bounce the light off of the ceiling and nearby walls.  It provides a much softer, more flattering light than simply blazing away at our subjects.  And we NEVER use the flash on the camera.  Nothing will ruin a great shot faster than the flat, harsh light that comes from an on-camera flash.  Actually having the flash attached to my camera at all is a last resort; I'd far rather set up strobes in a hall, and trigger them remotely (either individually, or in groups).

I still love window light, and shoot with it whenever I can, but my life has become a lot easier and less panic filled since I learned to light.  

Anytime you see us shooting, whether we are inside or out, you will see us using flashes.  It draws some strange looks if we are shooting on a bright, sunny day, but in the end, only the final results matter, and if I can bring some control to the light, I find myself ahead of the game.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Sat, 24 Mar 2012 23:06:18 GMT
The Big Picture... I came to love photography, because of landscape photography.


Challenging yourself to capture the huge vistas and place them in the palms of your hands.


The last kiss of light as the sun drops below the horizon. 

Hearing the rush of a waterfall as your gaze follows it's unknown path. 

Capturing a view of a distant land, where your feet will never again stand.

Sensing the stillness as you stare at a distant volcano, and relive when that stillness was shattered...

My love of landscape photography permeates the way I see and shoot everything else, from family portraits, to engagements and weddings, but that's a story for later...

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 16 Mar 2012 05:25:56 GMT
Rock and Roll Circus Usually when we are asked to shoot a wedding, we have a pretty good idea what we are in for; bride getting ready, ceremony, reception cake cutting, first dance, etc.  Not this time.


Not even close...



Michelle asked us if we would be interested in shooting a 'Rock and Roll Circus'?  Interested?  Yeah, you might say that.


Once we managed to get a handle on everything that they were planning, it sounded like it might be pretty much the coolest thing we've ever shot.


He's the lead guitarist in a local band with a cult following and she takes care of business behind the scenes.  They got married in Vegas a few weeks before, so there would be no ceremony to shoot, but there would be a concert and fire dancers, a comedienne and a flame breathing bartender...

They had rented an area campground with an open air stage for the show.  It sounded exciting.  Hell, it sounded AWESOME!


But then, Murphy arrived and laid down his laws.  The rain started.  And it rained.  And rained.  And rained.  When the rain stopped, the downpour started.  For two days it poured.  The two days that the events were scheduled for.


As we were shooting, we were wiping down equipment and lenses.  Anyone who says that the Canon 40D isn't weather-resistant is wrong.  We couldn't have gotten those two cameras wetter if they had taken a turn in our dishwasher. 


The only upside to shooting portraits in weather like that, is I control the light.  There was no sun to fight with or overpower.  2 speedlights and exceptional patience from the wedding party were all we required.



From there, it was time to shoot the party - and what a party it was.  Shaun and Michelle's friends can never be accused of letting a little moisture spoil a weekend, and we had to run to try to keep up!



When everything was said and done, the weather presented a few challenges that everybody overcame, and the party was one for the ages...

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 09 Mar 2012 06:15:04 GMT
Partners Having my wife, Jennifer, second-shoot for me allows me the freedom to get creative, where most shooters have to 'lock-it-down'.


Jennifer is the one you'll see holding flashes, moving strobes and angling reflectors.  And then, when you are not looking, she takes the picture that you blow up on your wall...


System-wise, Jennifer is with the guys when they are getting ready, and I am with the bride.  Then once we meet again as the ceremony is about to start, Jennifer is at the front of the church and I am at the back.  The pictures of the bride coming down the aisle are delivered by Jennifer, while I am taking in the whole scene from the rear.  From there we circle around, each of us with two cameras (one with a telephoto, one with a wide-angle) and shoot the service.  Between the big moments (vows, ring exchange, first kiss), we are both looking for emotion from the parents and grandparents; we are documenting both the birth of a new family, and the people witnessing it.

When processing begins, and the images are loaded into my computer, beyond a few images that I remember taking, I have no idea who shot what.  Our cameras are synchronized and the files are loaded according to the time shot, not by the camera used.

When the ceremony ends, the receiving line begins.  We try to capture the tears and kisses as family and friends wish the new couple well, and Jennifer goes into high gear.  She shoots over, around and under people, while trying her best to stay out of the way and not disrupt the flow.  Usually it's pretty easy - I stand on one side of the receiving line and Jennifer stands on the other.  Problems arise however, when the receiving line takes place against a wall, and there is no other side. 

That's when Jennifer takes over, sneaks in behind the bride, and using a wide angle lens, gets some beautiful shots.


From the receiving line, she turns from shooter into assistant for the portrait sessions.  Her specialty is making sure the details don't get missed:  hand placement, flowers pointing in the right directions and making the youngest members of the wedding party smile!

From there, we usually end up rushing back to the reception and shooting the details that so much work was put into.  My trust in Jennifer's abilities allows me to experiment while knowing that, if my best efforts should ever fail, Jennifer will deliver the goods. 


I can shoot images like these:


Because I know that Jennifer has images like these:


During the dinner and speeches, we have 4 strobes set up that we share (2 apiece) and trigger with radio transmitters on our cameras.  Again, we are looking for the raw emotion that usually exhbits itself at this point in the day, when everyone is a little tired, but the pressure of the day is gone.  The cork is out of the bottle, and people's emotions come boiling out the top.  During processing, the images that I like viewing most, are the stolen glances between the bride and groom, when they believe that nobody is looking.  The ones where you can just see how much love there is.


Then it's time for the first dance, and we DEFINITELY have a system built for that.  Jennifer now takes charge of all the strobes, and her trigger is set up to control them in two groups of two, or all four lights at once, depending on what she feels she needs.  I set up speedlight flashguns on the edges of the dancefloor.  Jennifer shoots some of the most beautiful pictures of couples dancing you will ever see (I'm convinced that it's her addiction to 'Dancing With The Stars').  This is where our styles truly separate, but become most complimentary.



My style now looks for drama, and Jennifer's ability to capture great images gives me the freedom to play...



I also find our views on the father/daughter dance to be likewise different, but complimentary.  Jennifer's focus is on the bride, while mine is on the father...

And I found this as an example of our yin/yang...


Two images, taken seconds apart, show how differently we see things. 

Because of the way we shoot, we allow each other to be ourselves, and never trample on the other's feet.  I light for drama, while Jennifer uses what's available to it's maximum.  However, once the processing begins, that's all me.  We DO see the world differently, and we've discovered that, in order to keep ourselves sane, only one of us can push the buttons that take the images to the next level.


Of course, after I'm done, Jennifer checks it over and makes sure it's okay...

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 19:26:19 GMT
Black and White I'm convinced that it's a generational thing.


My mom hates black and white pictures.  Mind you, she also hates hardwood floors.  When she was growing up in the 40s and 50s, they both meant that you were poor.  Wall to wall carpeting and color pictures were the only ways to live!


Anyone my generation or younger however, looks at hardwood flooring with barely contained drool... Likewise with black and white photography.


Most people see an elegance in monochrome images. 


I see two things:  first is the freedom to shoot and develop my own film (something I still enjoy doing). 


Second is the chance to strip away all the distractions, and see the strength and emotion that the image carries.  If it were solely up to me, all of our ceremony images would be delivered solely in black and white.  However, Jennifer believes in choice!  She rightfully points out that not everybody is as passionate as I am when it comes to black and white, and that a lot of people would actually prefer color!!?!?

C'est La Vie..

When we entered this church, the first thing that I noticed was the intimidating size of the main doors that Stacie and Paul would be exiting through after the ceremony.  The image I wanted was the two of them holding hands entering their new lives, with the background overexposed, causing the light to envelop them - a perfect symbol for their new marriage. 


This is now a personal favorite; a moment when chance and opportunity met, and got along.




]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 17:28:29 GMT
Vacation We've actually had people express interest in vacationing with us, but in reality our pace is a little odd for most people.


A typical conversation with Jennifer, when we are planning our trips goes something like this: "If we drive for 10 hours, that will be long enough for the kids..."  "Yeah, but if we turn here, it'll only add 5 or 6 hours onto the day, and we can shoot (insert famous landmark here)."  "Yeah, okay - that sound good.  The kids can sleep in the truck."

I don't regret how we travel, but it's not for most people.

Our (at the time) 4 year old daughter seems to have taken to it quite nicely...


]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:34:18 GMT
Randice and Randy Engagement There are days that are better than others. 


On our way to shoot their engagement, Randice and Randy called us and had a quick change of plan - they know of a lake in the area...


Instantly, images of big, blue skies filled my mindThen Randy mentioned pumpjacks...


Only a couple from northern Alberta would find the idea of pumpjacks romantic...




]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:34:08 GMT
A Color Management Story Have you ever walked into a BestBuy or Future Shop and looked at the massive TV wall?  There could be more than a hundred of them, and no two of them have the same picture.


Or after working on a picture with the image editor of your choice, you load in a piece of photo paper and hit print.  Then you look at it and realize that it looks nothing like the image on your monitor:  instead of a yellowish green, it is an aqua tint.  Instead of a bright red, it's shifted into a shade of purple.  So, you load the image onto a thumb drive, and head to your local Wal-Mart to get it printed, because that cheap printer can't do anything right.


You get it back, and it looks nothing like the other print, or the monitor - the blacks are now grey and everything has a pink sheen over it...


You have just experienced a failure of color management.


The TV problem (and it has carried over to computer monitors) has been caused by market research that shows the brightest, most electric colors sell the most TVs (and monitors) no matter how inaccurate they are.  Wal-Mart prints are renowned for being too light with various sheens to them.  Chances are pretty good that your $50 printer gave you the most accurate (but not necessarily perfect) representation of your image. 


Matching your printer to your monitor is a fairly straightforward process once you have the correct tools.  I use a product by X-Rite called Color-Munki.  There are others - the Spyder line is very popular, but they all do the same thing:  they read what your monitor is doing and adjust it.  Then they examine your printer, and match that to your monitor. 


They can't however, fix Wal-Mart.  In some things, you do get what you pay for...

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:33:57 GMT
A Quick Word About Photoshop... Saying that you don't want your images to be 'photoshopped' is like stepping 30 years back in time, and saying that you don't want your film developed.


Digital images require processing.  The information from the sensor is nothing but 1s and 0s.  In order to turn those bits into an image, requires processing; whether it's done in the camera or (being a little bit of a control freak like me) in a computer is irrelevant.  Data MUST be processed in order to become a picture.


Let's examine how your camera 'sees' things.  Each one of those pixels that manufacturers like to brag about, measures the brightness and assigns a value to it, 0-255 (0 being black, 255 being pure white).  Your camera is color blind.  In order to see color, the sensor is overlaid with a color filter containing red, blue and 2 greens.  This is called the RAW file.  It is what most professionals use to produce your images.  If allowed, your camera will convert this information into a JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) image by throwing away information that the processor in your camera deems expendable, and converting the remainder into an image using RGB color.


The issue to professionals, is leaving decisions like 'which bits to throw away' to a computer processor smaller than an average calculator...


The RAW file is also known as a digital negative, and requires specialized software to convert.  Photoshop is one of the best programs in the world for converting that file into an image that matches the vision in your photographer's head. 


As an image editor, I use Photoshop on 3-5% of images.  I do my best to ensure that I get the image right 'in camera' saving myself time later.  However occasionally, I will need to remove an item from a picture in order to focus the viewer's attention where it needs to be, and not where it doesn't.  I also use it to clean up problem complexions and acne.

If you dislike skin that has the texture of plastic, blame the editor not the program.  Photoshop is simply the best program designed for photographers.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:30:00 GMT
The View Through My Lens I have a confession.

Mom and Dad, I broke your camera.

I think I was seven when I pulled apart the Kodak Instamatic camera (and accidentally exposed a cartridge of 126 film) trying to figure out how the shutter worked. It happened at Grandma's house and it was our secret. My demonstration of such enthusiasm and curiosity resulted in Grandma giving me her camera: a Brownie Starflash from the 1950s. I still have her camera today.

A couple years later, for Christmas in grade four, my parents got me a Polaraid Land camera (SX-70) as we got ready to head to Disneyland for Easter. To take off on a little bit of a tangent, Polaroid was the digital of its day: instant gratification photography. You pushed a button and, like a tongue from a snake, the picture slowly rolled out from the front of the camera and you tucked it in your pocket for sixty seconds (because body heat helped it develop). Polaroid's downfall, however, when compared to digital, was cost. In 1977 (if I remember correctly), a cartridge containing ten unexposed positives was more than ten dollars. Imagine spending more than a dollar for every image you shot.

Junior high school introduced me to the pleasures of a darkroom (no, not that kind!). I spent hours shooting black and white film and developing it in our school's darkroom. I learned how to push and pull process, how to dodge and burn, and that printing colour negatives on black and white paper does not work well.

When the economy collapsed in the early eighties, my ability procure the funds to support my photographic habit dried up.

About eight years later, I dipped my toe back into the world that I love. For our first anniversary, I bought my first wife a 35 mm camera with a macro setting and the ability to double expose an image. Six weeks later we split up. She kept the camera. I don't blame her: it was a really nice camera.

Not to be disappointed again, I went through a pile of disposable cameras: with flash, without flash, regular, panoramic, name it, I tried it. I may well have attended weddings just to steal the disposable cameras off the tables.

Jennifer knew, or suspected, all of this and married me anyways. She came into our relationship carrying a 35 mm camera and together we entered the digital world with the purchase of a 3.2 megapixel Sony Cybershot.

I hated digital.

I was accustomed to pushing a button and actually taking a picture; not pushing a button and waiting...and waiting...and waiting...turning the camera around to check if it was actually working only to have the flash go off in your eyes. Eventually, I got used to it. And then we had kids.

The birth of our daughter coincided with the rebirth of my digital despise. She could barely crawl, and yet she was out of the frame before the camera would take the picture. So many beautiful memories that are in our heads and not on paper (yes, on paper - we still print our pictures. We both believe that a photograph should be properly printed and hung. Looking at an image on a monitor is like reading a newspaper off the internet: there is something tactile that is missing.).

Enter the DSLR. The ability to squeeze the shutter and take the picture was a revelation. It combined the instant gratification of Polaroid, the flexibilty of digital, and the speed of film with a cost effectiveness that is unparalleled.

The race was on. He who dies with the most toys wins.

Finally having the means to acquire the equipment to shoot in the way and the style that I see, I went on a shopping spree of epic proportions: backdrops and strobes that provide the freedom to light a person with drama; lenses and camera bodies that provide razor sharp images and capture every hair; and the computing power and software to remove blemishes and imperfections where necessary.

For my 40th birthday, my wife gave me the best gift: a business of my own. In the beginning, it was my vision as a photographer that we based ourselves on. Being a representative of my name, however, requires PR skills that I don't necessarily have. Jennifer has always been our public contact and has begun asserting herself as the face of our company. Her friendly voice and smiling face seem to be more conducive to a successful business than my, at times, direct way of phrasing things.

In the meantime, I seem to have been contagious.

My wife, who held a passing interest in photography when we met, is becoming an accomplished shooter. For events that we cover, Jennifer delivers fully one-third of the images that are presented. I'm not certain that her goal is not to run me out of my own company, but it is certainly comforting to have her by my side. Not only is she my wife, the mother of my children, my lover and my best friend, but I have discovered that she someone that I work well with. As photographers, our individual styles are somewhat similar, and any differences are complementary. Jennifer sees the smallest details and makes them larger than life. I see huge vistas and pare them down to what I envision as the essence of the image.

A photographer that I admire, Sam Hassas, has a motto: "I make you look good". I'm not at Sam's level yet, but it's a goal that I strive for.

]]> (Trent Ferguson Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2012 01:28:06 GMT