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Lockdown chess

As the unspeakable (because it is spoken too much) virus keeps everyone at home, I’ve been able to approach the camera again.

See, for the last year or so, I’ve been heavily involved in local musical theatre as a lighting designer and lighting technician. So all energies and more importantly, time, has been channeled that way.

So now with the lock down/stay at home orders, theatre entertainment has been postponed. The uptick is I can now dust off the camera, and find…no…rediscover, that creative outlet.

I was stuck though, as to where to start. An inspiration. And that led me to watch Zack Arias’ video, “Inspiration is for Amateurs“, and subsequently, one of his “behind the scenes” shoot videos. The crux of the first video, is that waiting for inspiration is a waste of time. Go out and shoot. Do something. Anything. The more you do, the more ideas come up. After watching the second video – which is just his approach to shooting a personal project, I was inspired. To do something. Being a lighting designer in theatre, I dug out my strobe lights, chess pieces and board, and tried to do….something. I tried different angles, lighting angles and gel colours.

It didn’t really work out as I’d hoped. But, true to Mr. Arias, I did a bunch of stuff that didn’t work, and as I was kind of giving up, I saw something, and started new shots, and came out with…something! Not great, but my eye was starting to see things.

While other experiments failed, this came out of it. Strobe light camera right at low level creating interesting shadows.

Further, I left everything in the room and did something else. As I was walking by it, the afternoon light gave me the next idea. I grabbed a different camera and shot a few more frames.

Low angle focused front light.
Same angle, changed shutter speed and focus to get silhouettes.

So, while I spent a couple hours on the “prime” ideas, I got the best pictures after. In the end, either way, I’m happy with what I got.

The first photo was shot with a Fuji X-T1 with a 16-55 f2.8 lens, with a Fuji EF-42 flash on the camera in manual mode at low power bouncing off the ceiling. The second flash is a Nikon SB-900 in slave mode, triggered by the EF-42, also in manual mode to dial in specific power and zoom level.

The other two were taken with a Fuji X-100T, only with the light from the window.

The chase

A couple weeks ago we were going to Montreal to see a football game. I took the day off while my other half went to work for the morning. As I was at the house I heard the local train came through after dropping off lumber at the nearby distributors. It was pushing back an empty flatcar and some tankers. That meant that it was going up the line to Arnprior to switch the tankers.

I had plenty of time before we were going to leave, so I jumped in the car and went to a spot to catch it coming. It always seems to take longer to get somewhere when time is of the essence.

I got to my spot and waited. I was wondering if the train had already passed, but looking at the rails, some debris was on it. The train would have crushed that out, so it certainly hadn’t come yet.

While waiting I set up my exposure and took some random shots.

It took more time than expected, but the train came around the corner….

And as it came by I got the shot I was looking for. This train is pretty standard, as I have posted before. So its about getting a unique angle.

After it passed I ran to the car and caught it at another location to watch it go by again. I didn’t take a photo, I just wanted to watch it for a change.

Painted Lady

This year, in an effort to help boost the insect and bee population, we planted a number of flowers that would attract butterflies and various bees. Not much has been around, but over the weekend, we had a visitor. A butterfly appeared and was feeding from the flowers. We had the sprinkler on to water the garden, and it seemed liked it was playing in the water.

When it appeared, I grabbed my camera – Fuji X-T1 with the 59-140mm telephoto to try and get a picture of it. Its not that easy to do. They don’t stay in one spot too long. But I did manage a few shots.

We thought it was a type of Monarch butterfly, but thanks to Google and its photo search feature, I discovered it is actually a variant of the Painted Lady butterfly.

Foggy night

A couple of weeks ago it was a foggy night in Ottawa. I took the opportunity to head over to the VIA rail station. Being the train geek that I am, I knew a train was due, and I was keen to get some foggy light-beam shots. I grabbed my Fuji X-T1 and a tripod and headed to Fallowfield station.

As is typical, the train was a wee bit late, but the end result was worth it.

While waiting, I took a shot of the signal lights. All red. Shortly after, a yellow over green over red appeared, meaning stop at this location, then carry on and proceed with caution to the next signal.

The train did show. And while passengers debarked, I set up this shot. The ditch lights (lower lights on the locomotive) are off at the station. They come on when its set to depart. That’s when I took this shot. The black and white treatment made for a more interesting photo.

After the train had left, I went over to the parking for the bus commuters and got this shot.

All in all, a good set of photos for a last minute decision to see what I could get. Of course, the entire duration was some hour and a half, but it was worth it.