Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority Girls

Posted by ryanjackson on Apr 7, 2010 in lighting, portrait


Kappa Alpha Theta sorority members (left to right) Kelin Flanagan, Caitlin Phare, Emily Shimbashi, Lauren Greaves and Hana Laura Yamamoto pose for a photo at the sorority house near the University of Alberta  in Edmonton on April 1, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

white lighting lighting setup

To light this image I used two White Lightning 1600 strobes. Both at full power.   Shot with a Canon 1D Mark-III.  1/320sec, f9, ISO100, 16-35mm L.


Portrait of wrestler Breanna Egloff

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


M.E. LaZerte High School female wrestler Breanna Egloff, 17, poses for a photo outside her school in Edmonton on February 24, 2010.

rj_Breanna_Egloff_240210_02-lightingI shot Breanna wrestling for a story by Chris O’Leary for the Journal.

After the match the sky was beautiful and I knew she was hot from the match so I asked her if she would pop outside for a quick portrait. I already had my lights set up and there was a nice flat football field just outside the gym.

I used my DIY Tilt-Shift lens which is fixed at f2.8 and shot with my Canon 5D at 1/50 sec, ISO200.

Since I was shooting wide open at f2.8 I had to set my flashes to minimum power at 1/128.

If I could have done this again I would have asked her to not smile so much and not look at the camera. With that being said though, her smile really showed her friendly character. I wish her well in her wrestling career.

Tags: , , , ,


Portrait of hockey player Alana Cabana

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 23, 2010 in lighting, photos


University of Alberta Pandas centre Alana Cabana has been hurt most of the season but is trying to heal up for playoffs. She poses for a photo at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton on February 18, 2010. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


I was assigned to get a picture of a hockey player who has had many injuries over the last year. Rather than just getting a picture of her on the ice (which doesn’t really illustrate injury very well) I asked her to sit in the bleachers and set her gear beside her.

I placed two flashes behind her at 1/32 power with tinfoil barn doors on them so I could direct the light better.

I find tinfoil gives a nice shiny “harsh look” for rim light.  The fill light is just a flash at 1/8 power with a 1/2 CTO “orange” gel to warm up the light and a small softbox.

I shot it with a Canon 5D, 1/125sec, 50mm f1.4 lens at f6.3, ISO100.

Tags: ,


Art Gallery of Alberta Project – 1 of 3 – The Portraits

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 1, 2010 in lighting, photos

This is the first of three blog posts I’m going to make about working on the Art Gallery of Alberta supplement.

For the last six weeks I was off the normal photo schedule at The Journal and put on the Art Gallery of Alberta project. On Sunday the new gallery opened up to the public and last Thursday we had a 36-page supplement in the paper as well as a big online feature.

My favorite thing to shoot is portraits so I went to town with this one. It was exciting to have a new building with interesting architecture to shoot in. Here are my favorites.


Art Gallery of Alberta Executive Director Gilles Hebert poses for a photo in the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton on December 1, 2009. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal). Shot with a Canon 5D, 16-35L @ 31mm. 580EX flash into an O-Flash ring flash. F4, ISO400.


Shot with a Canon 5D and a 75mm DIY Tilt-Shift lens. One 550EX flash to the back left with a snoot on, Lastolite EzyBox softbox and a 550EX to the right. 1/200sec, f2.8, ISO50.


Art Gallery of Alberta Curator Catherine Crowston poses for a photo in the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton on December 1, 2009. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal). Canon 5D, Canon 24mm f1.4 lens at f1.8, 1/60sec, ISO640. Available light.


Allan Scott, Chair of the AGA Board poses for a photo in the new Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton on December 1, 2009. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal). Canon 5D, ISO100, 1/160sec. Canon 50mm f1.4 lens at f5.6. Canon 550EX into a Lastolite Ezybox to the front right and a 550EX with a snoot on it to the back right.

Cool thing about this image is that the AGA has it framed and hanging in a boardroom dedicated to Allan Scott which means I now have a photograph in the Art Gallery of Alberta pernament collection!


Randall Stout, architect of the new Art Gallery of Alberta poses for a photo in front of the gallery in down town Edmonton on December 3, 2009. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

For this image I wanted to go all artsy so I shot it with my 1950’s-era Yashica D twin-lens medium format camera. I had a 24×36″ softbox to the left with a White Lightning strobe and a 40×60″ relector to the right. I shot on Kodak T-Max and develeoped it myself in the Journal’s old darkroom and then scanned it.

Is this image any better because I used all that gear and film? Nope! But it was a lot of fun trying to do something different and that’s the best part of my job!

Tags: , ,


The Dave Hill Look – Letters to the Editor Illustration

Posted by ryanjackson on Dec 11, 2009 in lighting, photos


Edmonton Journal Editor-in-Chief Allan Mayer poses for a photo with the vast piles of letters to the editor the Journal has on file in Edmonton on December 3, 2009. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


I was asked to create an image to illustrate how many letters to the editor we get every year. We have a filing cabinet with over 13,000 letters in the office so I spent an afternoon setting up lights and moving everything around to make it perfect.  As you can see from the image above, I used three speedlites a strobe and a 40×60″ reflector to light the image.  I tethered my 5D to my laptop to preview the images. I also used my handy dandy Canon 24mm f1.4 lens at f11 / ISO 100.

The image I submitted to advertising only had levels and white balance done. The one you see above however was photoshopped a lot more using the “Dave Hill Look” work flow.


This is the second time I have used my new O-Flash which is a very
cheap knock-off of the Ray Flash.


One of my favorite lighting tricks is to make a boom arm out of a
flash stand, a monopod and a bogen superclamp. Boom arms
really open up possibilities for light placement and you
probably already have a light stand and a monopod.

Update: And here’s the result!


Traci Tosczak – Edmonton Model Headshot Photography

Posted by ryanjackson on Nov 13, 2009 in lighting, photos

I spent an afternoon last week with the lovely Traci Tosczak to help her build her modeling portfolio.

Traci Tosczak 02

Traci Tosczak 03

Traci Tosczak 05

Traci Tosczak 06

Traci Tosczak 08

Traci Tosczak 09

Tags: , , ,


Exploding Pumpkins and high-speed photography

Posted by ryanjackson on Oct 12, 2009 in DIY, lighting, photos, video


Watch the video. Definitely one of the coolest projects I have ever worked on. We asked readers what worried them and then wrote those worries on pumpkins and blew them up! I felt like I was on the show Myth Busters all week. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. All of these photos were taken under the supervision of experienced professionals.

exploding pumpkin video

Click the image above to watch the video on the Journal website.

Aside from the the joy of destroying pumpkins this also gave me a chance to take extreme high-speed photos. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. You see when a flash is set to its lowest power setting the flash duration becomes extremely fast. On Kevin Lewis’ Blog I found that a Canon Speedlite at 1/128th power has a flash duration of 1/35,000 sec.

This means that whatever is caught by your flash is “frozen” at 1/35,000 sec since the flash is the only light exposing it.  In order to do this though you need to keep the ambient light out either by shooting in the dark or shooting at a high aperture like f22 so the only light hitting the object is flash.



Here you see two hammers. That’s because the sound trigger set off the flash when the the hammer hit the pumpkin and then again when it hit the table. There was a 0.2 second delay set for the sound trigger.


A pumpkin is frozen in liquid nitrogen by Matt Green, Staff Interpreter. left and Frank Florian, Director of Public Programs at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton on October 2, 2009. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


Here is the setup for the frozen pumpkin shot. I built a sound trigger and plugged it into my Pocketwizard Multimax so I could set a delay from the time the sound was made till the time the flashes went off. The problem with this method is that it takes a lot of trial and error to get the time delay right and we only had three pumpkins.

sound-trigger-05 sound-trigger-02

The sound trigger circuit is just a simple 400V SCR circuit connected to the headphone output of my audio recorder which simply acts as a mic and amplifier.

Now we move on to the exploding pumpkins!  Dr. Roy Jensen with the Chemistry Department at Grant MacEwan was very excited to help me with this project. I can’t tell you what he used to blow up the pumpkins but I can say that it was in a balloon and ignited with an electric sparker.  Roy also had the very important idea to score (slice) up the inside of the pumpkin with a knife so that it blew up semetrically.  We also put a little bit of corn starch in the balloons to add a powdery haze.


This is actually a frame grab from my Canon XH-A1. The camera was set to 1/500th shutter speed and shot in 60i.  Though it “caught the moment” the quality isn’t there.


Can you tell the difference?  I was amazed what a camera shooting 10 fps can catch in an explosion. It’s not as much about the explosion (which only lasts microseconds) but the re-action after.



Frame grab.


Still image. Three flashes. Just awesome!





Frame grab again. The next frame after this one is at the top of this post.

For the exploding pumpkins in the MacEwan University Chemistry lab I didn’t bother with the sound trigger. Instead I just had a Canon 1D Mark-III bursting at 10 fps and a Mark-IIn bursting at 8 fps. Since the cameras have a 2 fps speed difference they fired out of sync which means I was getting about 18 fps of stills combined.

pumpkin-explosion-01 pumpkin-explosion-04

I doubled up the flashes so that I would only need two stands instead of four.  One camera had two flashes and was triggered by Pocketwizard Flex 5’s and the other one had three flashes that were all hard wired. Both sets of flashes fired every time with no problem. The Pocketwizards fired just as good as the hard-wired flashes.  The flashes were at 1/128th power and zoomed to 24mm.

The cameras were both set at 1/250th (sync) shutter speed, F22, ISO400 so there wasn’t any ambient light in the exposure. Only flash which lasted 1/35,000 sec thus freezing the explosions.


Here you can see the Canon XH-A1 video camera, the Canon 1D Mark-III and the 1D-Mark IIn.  There was also a Canon HV20 video camera and a Canon SD960 IS point and shoot camera on video mode. The cameras were tiggered by Pocketwizards so I could stand a safe distance back.


pumpkin-explosion-06 pumpkin-explosion-07

As you can see the pumpkins did a little damage to the ceiling. There…was….pumpkin…..EVERYWHERE!

Now for the shotgun photos.


This photo was done with two flashes. One to the left and one to the right.


This photo was ambient light at 1/2000 sec.

For the shotgun photos I did a similar setup as the exploding pumpkins.  Three video cameras and two still cameras shooting a combined 18 fps.


I placed a sheet of plexy glass in front of the line of cameras incase a pellet from the shotgun went astray. (Just being paranoid.)



Here you can see the two video cameras (the third one was used to take this photo), the two still cameras and three flashes. One camera had two flashes and the other one only had one.


Finally you can see the black king-sized bed sheet that I used for a backround. I bought the sheet at Walmart for cheap and then draped it over a monopod superclamped to a light stand.

Journal Pumpkin Cover

Good times!   Watch the video

Tags: , ,


Dion Lizotte

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 30, 2009 in DIY, lighting, photos


Dion Lizotte was charged by wildlife officers who refused to accept his Metis settlement card as proof of his ancestry after he shot a moose near the Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement in northern Alberta two years ago. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal.

I used my handy DIY Tilt-Shift lens to make this photo. It was a cloudy day so I set a Canon 550EX flash set at 24mm zooom off to the right of Dion.  I then pointed set it bout 2 feet lower than his head and tilted it away from him a bit so that the flash wasn’t pointed directly at his face (basically feathering the light on him).

I backed away into some tree branches and focused on him with my 75mm f2.8 DIY Tilt-Shift lens which gives the stange blurring effect since the plane of focus crosses his face and the branches but nothing else = everything is in bohek except his face.

I’ll write about how I built this lens tomorrow.

Tags: , ,


Mike Wasylyniuk

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 25, 2009 in lighting, photos


Bears wide receiver Mike Wasylyniuk is looking forward to playing against his former team, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, tonight at Foote Field. He poses for a photo at Foote Field in Edmonton on September 24, 2009. Photo by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

img_3454 I’m not sure if I like this picture yet…
I feel like I should have used a background light on the yellow wall… Anyways. Canon 5D, ISO50, 1/200, 24mm f1.4 lens, f5.0, Front light at 1/1 full power, rim lights at 1/8 power and zoomed to 105mm. I got a little bit of lens flare which means I should have put “gobos” on the rim lights.


DIY Ring Flash

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 24, 2009 in DIY, lighting
ringflash2_02 ringflash2_03
ringflash2_04 ringflash2_05
ringflash2_06 ringflash2_07
ringflash2_08 ringflash2_09
ringflash2_10 ringflash2_11
ringflash2_12 ringflash2_13
ringflash2_14 ringflash2_16
ringflash2_17 ringflash2_18
ringflash2_19 ringflash2_20
ringflash2_21 ringflash2_22
ringFlash3_02 ringFlash3_06
ringFlash3_07 ringFlash3_08
ringFlash3_09 ringFlash3_10




I built my DIY Ring Flash back in March by following this YouTube video

I couldn’t find a work lamp as big as his though so I used one that was 2″ smaller. After some testing I found the “ring look” wasn’t quite what I wanted so I started all over will a 15″ stainles steel salad bowl and a 6″-to-7″ air duct spacer. I bought two flexible plastic cutting boards from Le Gnome and cut them for diffuser. Finally I painted the whole thing black to add baddassedness.

I used the ring flash for this, this, this, this, this, and this image.

The light works great and is powerful with two speedlights pumping into it BUUUTTTT…. it’s soooo heavy! And goofy looking. A kid once litterally asked me if it was a time machine! I think I’m going to eventually buy one of those Ray Flashes but for now I’m happy that this thing cost less than $30 to build.

Tags: , , , , ,


Copyright © 2020 Ryan Jackson Photography All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.