Monday, April 8, 2019

The Decision

By Meghan Chute

The Decision

I never thought that I would have gone back to college to take a program that was only for myself. I have a few photographers in my family who take photos as a hobby, and it has always been a big interest for me, but I wanted to take it further. Not just snapping a quick picture of something that I find picturesque- I wanted to learn how to yield a real DSLR camera, how to compose a photo so it would be more thought-provoking, and of course how to properly work with Photoshop without over processing. The biggest driving point to go back to college and choose something that I found enjoyable and exciting was that I could be my own boss at the end of my program journey. 

Meghan Chute
Starting out as a completely innocent wannabe photographer was daunting. It seemed like a lot of my peers had had some kind of knowledge at least about using a DSLR camera. The professors, who are very welcoming and easy to talk to, have a vast amount of knowledge on a lot of aspects of photography. They still work in the field and bring along many relatable stories, sharing problems they have incurred and how they’ve handled them. 

Meghan Chute
This program offers so many opportunities to find your niche in photography. The assignments are pretty open unless calling for something specific. In my first year, I started out wanting to only photograph nature and landscapes. The idea of photographing people and telling them how to pose or what to do was absolutely terrifying for me. I should mention that I’m a bit of a shy and quiet person and prefer to be in my own space. That all changed at the end of my first year. I was invited to a photoshoot with my second-year printing mentor photographing to models in the studio. I was so hesitant because I’d never really shot people except to finish an assignment. 

Meghan Chute
This small photoshoot changed me. Having to interact with two strangers, tell them what to wear and how to pose was so awkward, but as I shot with them, I became more open to the idea of photographing people. Over the summer I met more models, and girls who wanted to get their photos done with me. Now that’s all I want to photograph, people, families, hell even newborns (which I had never in my life ever seen myself doing). As it nears to the end of the second year and my graduation from the photography program, I have changed my niche market multiple times over the two years, but I think for right now I have found what and where makes me happiest. I am one hundred percent glad that I went through this program and met some great people. Don’t let any doubts hold you back from pursuing your passion, don’t let anyone tell you that you won’t be able to find a job or make money from pursuing the arts. It’s worth every effort.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

So Good You Can Taste It: How a Photographer Prepares for a Food Photoshoot

 So Good You Can Taste It: How a Photographer Prepares for a Food Photoshoot

Everywhere you look, there is food. Advertisements on TV for a juicy fast food burger, tasty foods printed onto boxes and stuck on aisle ends at the grocery store, Pictures of food so sharp and colourful that you can taste it!

Before I became a photographer, I always wondered, “what exactly goes into creating a picture like that?”. You can find articles talking about sneaky tricks that marketing companies use to make food look better than real life, but not a lot of what goes on before the camera comes out.

So, I would like to share my process of planning and executing a food photoshoot, from an idea to a finished image.

The first step is to come up with an idea. Personally, I keep a list of foods, themes, or colours that I’d like to work with and flesh them out as I go. 

Olives, pickles, white cheddar, and rosemary apricot crackers with a glass of red wine. Photo by Cassidy Cooper (2019).
I start by picking out a single food to be the focal point of the picture. There are so many options that for me, this is usually the hardest part. So to help make the decision easier, I think of the physical limitations: Can I actually make this food myself, or will I need to buy it? Will it last overnight in a fridge to be brought to the studio, or does it look best fresh off the stove? How much will it cost to make it? Do I have the right props to style the way I want, or will I need to buy those?

This process will help give me an idea of what I can reasonably do in terms of food, props, and styling. 

At this point, I also think about the mood, lighting, composition, and colour palette of the photo. Would I prefer a soft, bright, picture that makes someone think of Sunday brunch? Or a sleek, dark photo that would be good on a magazine cover? What colours go with the main food?

Having a solid idea of the final image is very important in creating a good photograph. Good photos aren’t accidents - they’re well-thought out and planned!

For this photoshoot, I decided to photograph pancakes. They’re super easy to make, and will look good even after a night in the fridge. I settled on a dark background, so all you can see are the pancakes - my goal was to make a magazine cover-style picture to add to my portfolio.

Annie's white cheddar mac 'n cheese with bacon and paprika. Photo by Cassidy Cooper (2019).
Once I have an idea fleshed out, I like to look online for styling tips. Everyone knows that the food you see in the picture usually doesn’t look anything like it does when it’s in front of you - there’s always some trickery. Personally, I like to balance realism and style. I want my food to look good, but still be edible.

In this shoot, I slipped some cardboard between the bottom 3 pancakes to add height to the stack. I also heated up a water-soaked tampon to create steam (Yeah, it sounds weird, but it works!).

When I have my shoot fully imagined, I start gathering my props and cooking my food. Thrift shops like Value Village and Goodwill are where I get most of my dishes, and a trip to the dollar store can yield some good props.

After everything is prepared and packed, it’s time to start shooting. Each shoot usually takes between one and five hours, depending on how many lights and different shots you want.

In my pancake shoot, I started by placing a sheet of black velvet on a table underneath a pane of glass. Coupled with a black background, this creates a seamless “void”. I then placed my pancakes on the table and began setting up my lights.

I used an Elinchrom flash with a medium softbox to create a soft main light. However, the shadow on the other side was a little dark, so I set up a reflector to bounce some light back onto the stack. There was also some light spilling onto the back of the table, leaving a noticeable line where the pane of glass ended. To darken, I used a square of fabric (called a flag) to block the light, and let the back of the table fall into shadow. 

I also placed a small flash called a “speedlight” out of view behind the food to backlight the steam I would eventually add. With the lights in place, I started shooting to test my final light setup.

A few shots of the steam that will be edited together to make one big,fluffy cloud. About 30 images were taken in total. Photo by Cassidy Cooper (2019).
It takes a little tinkering to get all the lights at the right strength. When I have everything properly exposed, I’ll then add my steam. When using fleeting things like steam, dust, water splashes, or confetti, you have to be ready and shoot in bursts so you don’t miss the best shot. The moment the tampon was placed behind the pancakes, I held down the shutter button to snap as many frames as possible to use in post-production.

Once I’m satisfied with my images, I’ll start to tear down all my equipment… and have a snack. I don’t like letting the food I shoot go to waste, so I eat what I can and share it with whoever’s currently in the studio.

Then, my work in the studio is done, and it’s time to edit.

 In the photography program, we learn a bunch of programs to edit our photos with, including Bridge, Photoshop, Lightroom, and recently, CaptureOne.

I start my editing process by importing my pictures into Adobe Bridge. Bridge allows you to see thumbnails of all your pictures, and makes it easy to cull out the bad and unfocused ones. 

After I have the baddies filtered out, I go into a subprogram called “Camera Raw” that lets you make simple adjustments to white balance, exposure, colour, and crop. 

I make some global adjustments to help visualize the final image, then take the best pictures into Photoshop for more editing. There, I can get rid of imperfections and really make the image shine.

Finally, I’ll get the opinion of a classmate to check my editing. Classmates can catch flaws that you wouldn’t notice - maybe the photo is too dark, or looks a bit off colour. They can also offer constructive criticism to help towards your next shoot!

photo by Cassidy Cooper (2019).
With my final image complete, all that’s left is to share it. I love posting my pictures on Instagram so my friends and family can see (And you can see them, too! Follow @cas.cooper on Instagram!). If an image is especially good, I’ll print it to add in my physical portfolio to show to potential clients and employers. This photo is definitely going in my portfolio!

So the next time you see a beautiful picture of food, try and guess how much work went into the final picture: How many lights did the photographer use? How long did they work in the studio, or on their computer to make the final picture? Is there a tampon hiding behind the plate? Think about how much care went into creating a photo that looks so good you can taste it!

Monday, March 12, 2018

David Leyes Came to Sarnia

By Shawna Lavoix

Every semester, the Lambton College Photography program has an “In the Photographer’s Studio” event. This year, the school broadened their audience to include the Sarnia Photographic Club and the students in area high schools who are taking a photography course.  With all these extra people who planned on coming, Lambton College took this event outside of the college’s photography studio, where it has been held for the last 5 years, to the Sarnia Lambton Library auditorium.

David Leyes (left) and Richard Beland (right) talking about David’s photo on the screen during the “In the Photographer’s Studio” event at the Sarnia Lambton Library Auditorium in Sarnia, Ontario on February 20, 2018. Photo by Shawna Lavoix

David Leyes looking up at the crowd during the “In the Photographer’s Studio” event at the
Sarnia Lambton Library Auditorium in Sarnia,
Ontario on February 20, 2018. Photo by Shawna Lavoix
Our guest speaker this semester was David Leyes who was being interviewed by Richard Beland, the coordinator of the Digital Photography program. This wasn’t David Leyes’ first time coming to the Inside the Photographer’s studio event, but it was an honour to have him back. He really gave the audience a good look into how he grew his business through networking and his personal belief that even though he didn’t go to school for photography it would have been a great benefit to his career.

David was energetic and entertaining with his funny behind-the-scenes stories. Both Richard and David kept the whole demonstration up beat with some friendly banter and kept it really informal. The two of them were friends in college and have kept in touch over the years, so the event was really light hearted. Emily Nutson, a graduate from the Digital Program, was excited to see David when saying

“It’s my second time seeing him and I still am hung on every word. He kept my interest and he was hilarious.”

David Leyes really seemed to inspire the audience. The crowd was asking very thought provoking questions to David. When one of the first year Digital photography student, Francesca Pasqualucci, was really amazed by the whole experience and declare

“That was cool! I learnt a lot!... If you’re going to start learning about anything, it’s best if you start learning about which questions to ask to get the most information.” 

David Leyes (left) and Richard Beland (right) discussing an image on the computer screen during the “In the Photographer’s Studio” event at the Sarnia Lambton Library Auditorium in Sarnia, Ontario on February 20, 2018.

David Leyes looking out at the crowd when a participant was asking a question during the
“In the Photographer’s Studio”
event at the Sarnia Lambton Library Auditorium in Sarnia, Ontario on
February 20, 2018. Photo by Shawna Lavoix
This event was also special, specifically to the Digital Photography students, since some of the graduates from that program came that night to meet with David Leyes. It was great to watch students reconnect after they haven’t been able to see each other in so long. After the event, the graduates went with David to a restaurant to talk about their experiences with photography and catch up on good times. This event really brought the community together.

It was a very educational experience. The students from Lambton College and the photographers all around Sarnia really appreciated David Leyes for giving his time to talk about his photography.

David Leyes (left) is talking to a photographer while posing for a picture with Richard Beland (right)
 after the “In the Photographer’s Studio” event at the
Sarnia Lambton Library Auditorium in Sarnia, Ontario
 on February 20, 2018. Photo by Shawna Lavoix
Barenaked Ladies, Photo by David Leyes
Chris Hemsworth, Photo by David Leyes
Jim Treliving,  hoto by David Leyes
Tracy Spiridakos, Photo by David Leyes
Willem Dafoe, Photo by David Leyes

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lambton Arts Collective

By:  Lisa Cattran

The Lambton College second year students have been very busy lately (perhaps that should read a little busier than usual?). The Lambton Arts Collective opened on Friday, February 2nd, at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Sarnia, Ontario.  The Lambton Arts Collective is an exhibit which runs until February 22nd and features work from the College’s Arts programs:  photography, pottery/ceramics, drawing and spoken word.

Studio Manager Emily Nutson and Instructor David Chidley
hang a photograph at the Lawrence House Centre for the
Arts in Sarnia, Ontario on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018.
(Lisa Cattran)
As a requirement of their Digital Darkroom II class, the second year students submitted two photographs to hang in the exhibit with the subject matter left completely up to their descretion.  That may sound simple enough, but there was much more work that went into the final two photographs than one might at first assume.  To begin with, the students had to make their photographs. It is not a matter of just pointing a camera and shooting.  Students use the knowledge that they have learned through their time in the program to find the perfect light and create the most appealing composition. The next step is importing the photograph into their computers and utilizing editing programs to enhance the photo to make it look the best that it can.  Once the students are happy with their final product, it is time to print.  Printing is quite a process unto itself.  Again, it is not simple: you do not just press a button like you would for a word document.  Printing a photograph involves developing several test prints and going back and re-editing your photo a number of times so that you have the right colour, density and contrast.  It is not a quick process by any means.  The photographs then need to be made ready for hanging at the exhibition: matting and framing.  The students were also responsible for this final step.  Participating in the Lambton Arts Collective is a great learning experience that helps to prepare the students for their final solo gallery which will be exhibited in early April.

Richard Beland....
...Dave Chidley work together!
A couple of students along with Studio Manager Emily Nutson and faculty members Richard Beland and Dave Chidley went a few days beforehand to hang all of the photographs.  Much thought went into the correct placement of the various photographs, along with the perfect space between these photos.

Opening night was especially exciting for three of the students.  Tanis Wright won First Place in the President’s Award for Photography for her photo “And the Lord Said.” Richard Morretin won an honourable mention for his photo “Reflections - New York City Construction.”  Shawna Lavoie also won an honourable mention for her photo “Essence of Milk.”  It was a busy and intense process for all and well worth the effort even for those who did not walk away with a prize.

Guests enjoy the photographs at the Lambton Arts Collective at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Sarnia, Ontario on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. (Lisa Cattran)
Instructor David Chidley chats with Ryan Gibbs,  at the Lambton Arts Collective at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Sarnia, Ontario on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. (Lisa Cattran)
Students and their families gather to enjoy the photos at the Lambton Arts Collective at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Sarnia, Ontario on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. (Lisa Cattran)
Tanis Wright poses in front of her award winning photo "And the Lord Said" at the Lambton Arts Collective at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Sarnia, Ontario on Friday, February 2nd, 2018. (Lisa Cattran

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A few of our Favourite Captures

It was a busy 5 days in New York. All of us have taken away our own unique perspective “through the lens”.  Varying themes such as architecture, culture, street, landscape, or just capturing that once in a life time moment is what we have to reveal.  Although we wish we could show you much more, here are some of our best moments in New York. We thank all of our followers for taking the time to view our experiences, and the soul of New York. Enjoy.
-Lambton College, Digital Photography Students.
Some of our students' favourite captures/moments here.  There are more to come as we catch up on some sleep and re-energize!  Thanks for viewing and sharing our journey.  Thanks to Josh Cote for compiling this sample of the thousands of images we created.

A model strikes a pose during a photoshoot in Central Park, New York, October 9th, 2017 (Adam Shepley)
People walking at night in Times Square on Monday, October 9, 2017. (Autumn Daamen)
Local fisherman waits in the cold for the fish to bite, on Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY, on October 12, 2017.  (Emily Nutson)
The view looking up at the freedom tower; the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere
in Lower Manhattan, New York City on October 10, 2017. (Emily Nutson)
A man passes through Grand Central station hallway overlooking the iconic subway station on 42nd Street and Park Avenue, Manhattan, NY, October 10, 2017. (Emily Nutson)
The New York City lights begin to illuminate the skyline during sunset as seen from under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, New York on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.  Gina Robertson

Lady Liberty, an icon of freedom and of the United States, welcomes immigrants arriving from abroad on Liberty Island, New York on Wednesday, October 11, 2017.  Gina Robertson

A second story view of a crowded street in New York, October 11th, 2017(Hailey Finch)
Two Bikers travel in the shade under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York on October 10, 2017. (Josh Côté)
A local resident takes a quick nap in Bryant Park in New York City, New York on Tuesday, October 10th, 2017. (Lisa Cattran)
A quiet Sunday morning reflection of the Coney Island boardwalk.  (Maggie Clark)

New York City, lights up as the sun sets.  (Maggie Clark)

A classic New York pigeon taking a rest inside an I-Beam on Monday, October 9th, 2017 by (Olivia Kilp-Watson)
Perry on the Board Walk, Coney Island, Oct. 12, 2017 (Richard Morettin)
Bicycles broken and stacked on the sidewalk in New York, October 10th, 2017 (Scott Orchard)
A little girl hides under her umbrella during a rainstorm in New York, New York on Monday, October 9, 2017
Cars bumper to bumper in the tight streets of New York, October 9th, 2017 (Tanis Wright)