The last few Christmas trees for sale on Christmas Eve

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 24, 2010 in photos

The last few remaining trees for sale at Ed’s on Christmas Eve in Edmonton on December 24, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson

These pictures gave me an idea to do a story about the life of a Christmas tree – from seed to shredder – next year!

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Video: Are Reindeer Real? We found some!

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 22, 2010 in video

We found a dozen reindeer near Leduc. Learn about this mysterious species and what makes them different. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal Read the story.

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The best video story I’ve done this year! – Susan the brain-injured stand-up comedian can laugh at herself

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 12, 2010 in lighting, video

The best video story I’ve done this year!  Please watch.   If you can’t view the embedded video below then click here.  I will have an HD version on the site later next week.

Touching story of Susan Wirtanen who suffered a brain-injury and can can still do stand-up comedy. She jokes of her 30-days spent in a coma, listening to everyone talk around her and her ability to laugh at herself. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal Also Read the story Hoping for healing on the standup stage

Journal reporter Ben Gelinas and I worked together on this video. I shot everything and we worked together for editing. Ben was sure to ask questions and treat the whole story with the video in mind. We spent three separate nights with Susan in class and at the comedy club.

I shot mainly with my Canon XH-A1 and used my Canon 5D Mark-II for B-roll.

Here is my lighting setup for the main interview.


For the shot of her eye I used an 85mm 1.8 and Canon extension tubes to get close. I slowed the footage down to 20% speed and held it to make the viewer feel uncomfortable while she describes being frozen in a coma but still able to hear everyone around her talk.

Here is how Ben’s awesome printed story Hoping for healing on the standup stage and my stills ran in the paper. Enjoy!

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I’m teaching video to reporters for the next couple months

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 12, 2010 in Ryan's Life, training

For the next couple months I’m not going to be shooting as much. I’ll be in the office training reporters on shooting video.  I’m also teaching the Documentary Photojournalism course again at MacEwan University this semester.

Postmedia sent a Kodak Zi8 video camera to every reporter in the chain and so I’m repsonsible for taking five Journal reporters at a time under my wing and teaching them video storytelling.

My goal isn’t to flood edmontonjournal.com with hundreds of poorly shot videos but rather to teach reporters (and photographers) how to make proper judgment on what to video and when video is appropriate and when it is not.

Key’s to a Successful Video – It takes a lot of work!

A good Visual Story ———> Story is always #1. As Scott Rensberger says “A good story is EVERYTHING.  If you don’t have a great story, then everything you do to help a bad story is equivalent to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Good Quality —————–> Sound is most important. If the viewer cant stand to watch or listen to a video then they will abandon it. If a video is of poor quality then people won’t share it with their friends.

SEO friendly description and tags —————————–> The text and linking around the video have to be written in a way so that a person could easily Google the video. Some videos do poorly on our website but then get thousands of hits over time on YouTube. Example. Example. Example. Because people outside of our normal audience find and share it.

Social Media —————–> In order for a video to be successful (ie. watched a lot) it needs to be socially shared. It needs to get out on twitter, linked on blogs and shared on Facebook. If a video is of poor quality then people won’t share it with their friends. My World Record Dodgeball video only got 1,000 views on the Journal website but over 600,000 on YouTube because people shared it and blogged it.

Learning from stats ———->  A reporter learns to judge what makes good visual stories after doing several videos and following the stats/metrics. You see what kind of videos are successful and what videos aren’t worth doing.  You need to understand who your audience is and what they want. You also need to find new audiences that you didn’t know where there.

My guiding rules:

-If the video wastes the viewer’s time then it was a waste of your time.

-If the video wastes your time then why would you waste your friend’s time by sharing it?

-If the story isn’t interesting then no one clicks on it.

-If the quality is poor then no one shares it.

-If the words/description are poorly written then no one can google it.

-If the reporter isn’t proud of the video then he/she won’t blog/tweet/promote it and neither will anyone else.

And if you need to pay for a reporter, heat, electricity and bandwidth to keep a business going then you can’t afford to do crappy video when there is soooo much video out there competing for viewership. You have to be smart about it.

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Portrait: Author and occupational therapist Wendy Davis

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 12, 2010 in lighting, photos, portrait

Retired occupational therapist Wendy Davis poses for a photo in her home in Edmonton on October 17, 2010. Davis’s book Dal & Rice was published last year about the five years she spent in India as a Child. Photos by Ryan Jackson for Rehab Impact Magazine

I had a wonderful time making these portraits. Instead of saying “cheese” for the camera she said “thank you”. So as I took her picture she kept saying “thank you…thank you….thank you…thank you….” It was so cute!

The tree photo was made with the Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens, the others were made with the 85mm f1.8 and the 50mm f1.4.  I only used a 40×60″ gold reflector and the sun for lighting.  She told me stories about her travels and we ate bread with cheese and curried spread.

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Ed Struzik’s amazing arctic photos

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 7, 2010 in Links, Photography

Watch live streaming video from edmontonjournal at livestream.com

Journal reporter Ed Struzik gives a fantastic slide show of his journeys to Canada’s high arctic during the Edmonton Journal Book Fair at the Journal building in downtown Edmonton on December 4, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

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Grey Cup GigaPixel Panoramas – GigaPan Epic Pro Review

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 2, 2010 in 360 Panoramas, photos

Find yourself in the crowd at Grey Cup!


Click the (+) sign and use your mouse to zoom-in and move. The north view of Commonwealth Stadium during the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton, Alta. on November 28, 2010. GigaPan by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


Click the (+) sign and use your mouse to zoom-in and move. The west side of Commonwealth Stadium during the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton, Alta. on November 28, 2010. GigaPan by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


Click the (+) sign and use your mouse to zoom-in and move. The east side of Commonwealth Stadium during the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton, Alta. on November 28, 2010. GigaPan by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

Each of these panoramas are over 2 gigapixels (over 2,000 megapixels). To create them I used a GigaPan Epic Pro with a Canon 7D and a 300mm f2.8 IS.

A GigaPan is basically an automatic pan and tilt head that moves and triggers your camera automatically to shoot a panorama. Instead of taking one picture of a landscape with a wide-angle lens you can use a GigaPan to take hundreds of zoomed-in photos and then stitch them together to create a gigantic image.

I set the GigaPan to take 300 individual still images and then the included software automatically stitched all the pictures together to create one giant panorama with incredible resolution. Why take one photo when you can take 300?

A big thanks to Don’s Photo for lending me the GigaPan for the Grey Cup. I’ll definitely be trying to convince the Journal to buy one for the photo department. It only costs $899 CAN and can make some pretty crazy cool panoramas.

It only takes about 15-minutes to shoot a GigaPan like this which is the easy part. Stitching the images together takes over an hour depending on the size of the image and about six hours to upload to gigapan.org depending on the size. Since I needed to have the GigaPans on the Journal website by the next morning I had three laptops in the media centre all crunching images at the same time to speed things up.

Here’s me with my three laptops and GigaPan. Photo by Chris Bolin.

So what’s my GigaPan Epic pro review? I was very impressed with how well-built the device was. It had no problems holding my 300 2.8 IS and 7D. The battery held up well in the cold weather. The menus are pretty easy to use. Setting up the device to shoot the panorama is pretty quick. The software for stitching and uploading the GigaPans couldn’t be easier to use. Of course you could take hundreds of pictures manually and use different software to stitch but the GigaPan shoots way faster and way more accurate that a human can. Gigapan.org also hosts the panoramas for you. You just embed the player in your own website. Pretty neat. For $899 it is well worth it. There are also less-expensive models designed for lighter point-and-shoot cameras. I’m normally not a fan of shooting landscapes but this would make me get out there more.

Here is one non-Grey Cup GigaPan I did as a test the day before. Pretty crazy resolution.

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Grey Cup Time Lapse Video and Picture

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 2, 2010 in photos, sports, video


Over 63,000 fans enjoy the 98th CFL Grey Cup with the Saskatchewan Roughriders facing the Montreal Alouettes in Edmonton on November 28, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

To make this picture and time lapse video I had two cameras mounted up in the catwalk of the light standard on the east side of Commonwealth Stadium.
The time lapse camera was simply a Hero Cam mounted at the center of the catwalk. I set the Hero Cam to take a picture every 10 seconds for the entire game. I then plunked all the stills into Final Cut Pro. The whole video was over two minutes. I cut it down to just over one. For audio I just recorded a few minutes of game action and plunked it under the photos.

To make the wide-angle still image I mounted a Canon 5D Mark-II with a Canon 17-35mm f2.8 using a Magic Arm. I set it to Av mode F8 and turned on +1 / -1 bracketing. I then set an intervalometer to trigger the camera every 30-seconds. So every 30-seconds I had three pictures at -1, 0, +1 exposure.

Why shoot 6 frames a minute you ask? Well I wanted to get a perfect exposure with the sky just right, the downtown skyline silhouetted and all the fans in their seats. I couldn’t be up in the catwalk the whole time to wait for the light to be just right so setting the camera to shoot a few thousand frames is the next best thing. I shot over 48 GB of RAW pictures with that camera during the game for one picture. Well worth it!

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Grey Cup Fans and Cheerleaders

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 2, 2010 in photos

In the days leading up to the 98th Grey Cup in Edmonton I had the fun assignments of photographing drunk fans partying and cheerleaders strutting their stuff. Here are my favorite shots and video.

The BC Felions cheer team performs during the 2010 Grey Cup Cheerleader Extravaganza at MacEwan University in Edmonton on November 27, 2010. All eight CFL cheer teams showed their talent in the 14th annual event. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Saskatchewan Roughriders fan Darryl Formo from Regina, Sask. at the Spirit of Edmonton Party at the Westin Hotel in Edmonton on November 25, 2010 to celebrate the Grey Cup. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

The Saskatchewan Riders and Edmonton Eskimos cheer teams perform arial stunts together during the 2010 Grey Cup Cheerleader Extravaganza at MacEwan University in Edmonton on November 27, 2010. All eight CFL cheer teams showed their talent in the 14th annual event. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

BC Lions fans Carl Danroth, left, and Mojo Kemp from Vancouver at the Spirit of Edmonton Party at the Westin Hotel in Edmonton on November 25, 2010 to celebrate the Grey Cup. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

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Portraits of Edmonton Fire Investigators

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 2, 2010 in lighting, photos, portrait


Fire investigator Captain Frank Krzanstek poses for a photo at Fire Station 2 in Edmonton on May 5, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


Fire investigator Captain Dean Adam poses for a photo at Fire Station 2 in Edmonton on May 5, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


Fire investigator Murray Steedsman poses for a photo at Fire Station 2 in Edmonton on May 5, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

I shot these portraits back in May but the awesome story by Ben Gelinas didn’t run until November so now I can finally post them!

I shot the first picture with an O-Flash ringflash adapter on a Canon 580EX and a Lastolite EzyBox softbox. You can see the flash (and Ben) in this outtake.

The second photo was a bit more involved with two strip boxes behind Dean, a Lastolite Ezybox above him and a ring flash in front of him.

The last photo was simply done with two strip boxes to the left and right.

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