Photo Illustration: Un-recovered Bank Accounts

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 18, 2011 in lighting

Photo illustration of Un-recovered Bank Accounts. Image taken at Aegis Locksmiths in Edmonton on January 6, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

To make this photo illustration to go with our series on Un-recovered bank accounts our photo editor Neil just pulled out the phone book and called a bunch of locksmiths until we found one that would let us take a photo in their showroom.

Then I went to Axe Music and bought a fog machine for about $55.  During Halloween everyone is selling fog machines but come January you can only get them at stage lighting places.

I wanted the picture to be tight so I chose one of their smallest safes. They had a super cool safe that was circa 1855 but it was too large and they couldn’t get it open so this one had to do.

I draped black cloth over a table for a background and put the fog machine inside the safe with my new 160 LED video light. I used a CTO (change to orange) gel on it to warm up the light.  I had a speedlight off to the side and behind to give some highlights and illuminate the fog.  The photo turned out pretty good and was main art in the Journal. To see if you have un-claimed money in a Canadian bank account check out edmontonjournal.com/unclaimed


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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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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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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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324 Headshots in One Day – Six Light Studio Setup

Posted by ryanjackson on Oct 25, 2010 in lighting, photos, portrait

I had the assignment to photograph nearly two hundred high school students who will be Cappies reviewers this year. Basically high school students reviewing high school plays in the Journal.

I wanted to make this task more exciting so I tried to light it as good as possible and get a three dimentional look so I used six lights.  Diagrams below. As you can see, we really need to re-paint the grey wall in the Journal studio!

I made this mosiac using the free program MacOSaix.

Here is my lighting setup. The two keys to a three dimensional look are to have lights behind the subject to give separation from the background and to have a spot light with a grid on it spray the background. The background lights keep the image from looking too flat.    Front lights – White Lighting 1600 @ 1/8 power in a softbox, White Lighting 1600 @ 1/16 power into a 22″ beauty dish, Alien Bees ABR800 at 1/8 power into a 48″ umbrella. Back lights – Two Canon 550EX’s @ 1/2 power into 8×36″ strip boxes and a 550EX @ 1/128 power into a Honl grid on the background.   Even with all the lights turned down low I could get f13 @ ISO200.  More then enough.

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Portrait: Farmer waiting for his crop to dry

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 23, 2010 in lighting, photos, portrait

It was a beautiful sunny day and I had the pleasure to drive about an hour out of town to photograph a farmer with his crop. The quality of his crop is great but it has way too much moisture from all of the rain and cool weather. He can’t harvest until we get some warmer weather to dry out the crop.

Farmer Albert Wagner stands in his unharvested barley crop near Stony Plain, Alta. on September 22, 2010. Wagner says it will be a good year if we get some warmer weather to dry out the saturated crop so he can harvest it. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Farmer Albert Wagner stands in his unharvested barley crop near Stony Plain, Alta. on September 22, 2010. Wagner says it will be a good year if we get some warmer weather to dry out the saturated crop so he can harvest it. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

To light the image I used a single Alien Bees ABR800 flash at full-power and shot on a Canon 5D Mark-II with a 24mm TS lens.

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Group Portrait: Young Public School Trustee Candidates

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 22, 2010 in lighting, photos, portrait

Public school trustee candidates (left to right) Darryl Lagerquist, Heather MacKenzie, Michael Janz and Sarah Hoffman pose for a photo at McKay Avenue School in Edmonton on September 21, 2010. They are all under 30 years old or younger, and don't have kids. But all believe strongly that schools need to be more connected to the community and that school boards need to take that broader community into account when they make decisions. They are among a crop of candidates who break the traditional school trustee candidate model. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

I got an assignment to photograph four younger candidates who are running for school board trustee. (Read the story Young trustee candidates defy stereotypes )  Since they were younger I wanted to use edgier lighting and have more of a magazine look.

To light this image I used an Alien Bees ABR800 ring flash powered by a Pure Sine Inverter and an 18Ah Battery since there wasn’t a power source outside. I placed two 550EX flashes behind them at 45-degrees and zoomed the flashes to 50mm. They were set to full power. The ABR800 was at 1/4 or 1/2 power I think.  It was a cloudy day so I didn’t need much power to overcome the ambient light.

The first few images had bad lens flare from the side lights so I taped tinfoil to the sides of the lights to block the light from hitting my lens.  Tinfoil and tape is very handy to keep in your lighting bag!

On the camera side I used a 5D Mark-II and a Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens.  I had the lens tilted all the way to keep the lines straight on the building as well as the people since I was shooting from a lower angle. I shot at 1/60sec, ISO200, f13.

Typically I shoot at low apertures however, since the Tilt-Shift lens blurs the top and bottom of the frame when you tilt the lens you need to shoot at a small aperture to make the image sharp.  Notice how the legs and steps are a little bit softer and the faces are sharp.

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Portrait of Dr. Holger Buchholz

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 22, 2010 in lighting, photos, portrait

Dr. Holger Buchholz, pediatric ventricular assist device (VAD) specialist poses for a photo at The Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton on September 15, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

To light this image I used an Alien Bees ABR800 ring flash in front and a Canon 550EX flash with a 1/4 CTO (orange) gell and a Honl Grid behind him hitting the wall. I used a Canon 5D Mark-II and a 24-105mm IS lens at 60mm. When I asked him to smile the first time he said “Germans don’t smile…” It was pretty funny. He smiled for the rest of the shoot but I liked this one the best.   Read the story VADs keep hope alive for ‘sickest of the sick’

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High Production Video Interview Techniques – Shiloh Baptist Church

Posted by ryanjackson on Jul 12, 2010 in lighting, photos, video

Shiloh Baptist Church, western Canada’s oldest black Baptist church in Edmonton, Alberta is celebrating their 100th anniversary in July. Learn how and why the church was started in 1910 and what it meant to Edmonton’s black community. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

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Here is how the story and photos looked in the paper. The whole project came together great!   Read the story.

Some stills from the video shoot.  5D Mark-II with 85mm f1.8 @ f1.8.

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95-year-old Gladys Leffler, the oldest member of Shiloh Baptist Church, the oldest black Baptist church in western Canada, poses for a photo in Edmonton on March 27, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

For this story I really wanted to challenge myself to get the best quality possible for the video and try out a slider for my second camera. A slider is basically a motorized track that the camera moves on so you get that cool slow movement in your video. The slider in the picture was my first version. I have since built a nicer slider that I will blog about later.

Below are some behind the scenes photos so you can see how I lit the video.  I used two strip boxes with 200 watt equivalent CFL bulbs and a Canon 10watt halogen light for hair light.  For one shoot I used two 5D Mark II’s with a 50mm and 85mm f1.8 lens. For the shoot with Gladys I used a 5D Mark-II and a Canon HV20 with a DOF adapter though I never used footage from that camera.

For sound I used my Olympus LS-10 PCM recorder with a Rode Video Mic on a boom.  I synced the audio from the Olympus with my 5D video using the amazing program for Final Cut Pro Plural Eyes.

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Tourette’s Syndrome Multimedia Art Installation

Posted by ryanjackson on Jul 12, 2010 in lighting, photos

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Paige Tomashewsky developed a violent, severe form or Tourette’s syndrome very suddenly when she was 13 years old. Her story was the inspiration for Bob Lysay and Agnieszka Matejko’s art installation, which opens Friday. Tomashewsky poses for a photo with the installation which is made up of several video screens in Enterprise Square main floor gallery in Edmonton on June 23, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal   Read the story.

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It’s shoots like this when my Honl Speed Snoot is invaluable.  To light this I had a single speedlight with a Honl Speed Snoot on it so that the beam was focussed on just her and wouldn’t wash out the video screens all around her.

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