Beautiful Time Lapse Video of Commuting in Edmonton’s Suburbs

Posted by ryanjackson on Sep 18, 2011 in lighting, photos, portrait, video

With beautiful time lapses and scenery, Journal photographer Ryan Jackson has captured the different ways we commute from Edmonton’s suburbs. Learn how Canadian’s commute and follow our three commuting challengers to work in a fun way.

I spent about a week and a half on this project to wrap-up Elise Stolte’s living on the edge series about Edmonton’s new growing suburbs. I followed three commuters who get to work in different ways. Since they leave for work at 6:00 AM I had to get up at 4:00 AM each day so I could commute down to the south-end and then video them going to work. I then shot tons of footage of cars, bikes, trains and walkers getting to work.

I wanted all the images to have a certain mood so I shot everything in the morning with my white balance on Tungsten to give that cool early morning feel.

David Pritchard took part in our commuting challenge. He lives in Summerside area and typically drives the Century Park LRT station and then takes the train to work downtown. Pritchard poses for a photo before heading to work on August 24, 2011. I simply used two Canon 580EX flashes zoomed into 80mm placed to the sides of the car and pointed at his windows. I rolled the windows down to reduce reflections. I had orange gels on the flashes and the Camera white balance was set to Tungsten to make the image blue.

Kim Halmilton took part in the Journal’s commuting challenge. Hamilton usually rides her motorcycle to work downtown from her home in north Edmonton. She poses for a photo in front of her home in Edmonton on August 25, 2011. I used two speed lights placed behind her with orange gels on them. Camera white balance set to Tungsten.

Kevin Wirtanen took part in our commuting challenge. He typically bikes to work downtown from his Terwillegar home in south Edmonton. Wirtanen poses for a photo before heading to work in Edmonton on August 23, 2011.

Pritchard poses for a photo at the LRT station before heading to work.

Here are some behind the scenes images. I build an 8-foot long slider and motion controller that I used for a couple of the scenes.

Thanks to my friend Kevin Hill for helping with this time lapse scene.

Most of the time lapse footage was shot on my Canon XH-A1 video camera and then sped up 20X in Final Cut Pro X.

Here I am all setup and ready to shoot David Pritchard at 6:00 AM. This project involved a lot of preparation as I only had about 15 minutes with him before he headed to work.

This video was also my first time using Final Cut Pro X. I must say the program is pretty powerful and amazing. It makes use of all of your CPUs and has background rendering so you can just keep editing without waiting for anything. Do I like it better than Final Cut Pro 7? For some things yes… for others no. It takes a lot of time to get used to. The speed and added features are AMAZING but the complete change in interface and way of editing is frustrating. Hopefully it will get better with time.


Fox Creek Forest Fires

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 20, 2011 in photos, portrait

Marcel Desjarlais, Crew Leader with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development wipes his brow after fighting forrest fires for eight days in a row, at the south east corner of a fire near Fox Creek, Alta. on May 19, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Brad Desjarlais, Crew Leader with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development poses for a photo at the south east corner of a forrest fire near Fox Creek, Alta. on May 19, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).


Interactive video portraits of election candidates

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 20, 2011 in portrait, video

During the last federal election the idea was thrown around of interviewing all of the candidates and putting the videos online.

The problem with just throwing up entire interviews is that few people will watch the videos and the ones who do will be bored waiting to get some tidbit of information. Say you interview four people, seven questions, one minute each = 28 minutes of video. That is an eternity! Would you watch 28 minutes of video of your four local candidates in hopes of hearing one or two things that interest you?

A new philosophy I’ve been following is “Think Backwards”

Typically in the media we capture and present video and then expect viewers to consume it as we give it to them. But imagine you just moved to Edmonton. You want to vote but you don’t know your local candidates or how they compare on certain issues that matter to you.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could watch four similar interviews at the same time and quickly jump to the information you want?

Well myself and data journalist Lucas Timmons did just that!

Watch an interactive video presentation of the federal election candidates in Edmonton-Centre.

I interviewed all the candidates and asked them the same seven questions. Lucas used the YouTube API and made hotlinks to each answer.  You can quickly jump to the information you are most interested in. You can watch one minute or 28 minutes. You are in control.

My big idea was to interview all of the candidates in all of the ridings but there simply wasn’t enough time so I only did Edmonton-Centre and Edmonton-Strathcona.

I wanted to have a consistent look and feel to the videos. I decided on a simple white background and black and white tones so that the video would only show the candidate and not have distracting backgrounds. The other advantage of shooting this way was that I could also do nice still portraits of each candidate after the interview was done.

Federal Conservative candidate for Edmonton-Centre Laurie Hawn poses for a photo at his campaign office in Edmonton on April 13, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Edmonton-Strathcona Federal Conservative Candidate Ryan Hastman poses for a photo at his campaign office in Edmonton on April 21, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Edmonton-Strathcona Federal Liberal Candidate Matthew Sinclair poses for a photo at the Journal office in Edmonton on April 22, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Federal Liberal candidate for Edmonton-Centre Mary MacDonald poses for a photo at the Edmonton Journal office in Edmonton on April 13, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Edmonton-Strathcona Federal NDP Candidate Linda Duncan poses for a photo at the Journal office in Edmonton on April 22, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Federal NDP candidate for Edmonton-Centre Lewis Cardinal poses for a photo the Edmonton Journal office in Edmonton on April 13, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Federal Green candidate for Edmonton-Centre David Parker poses for a photo at NAIT in Edmonton on April 13, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Edmonton-Strathcona Federal Green Candidate Andrew Fehr poses for a photo at the University of Alberta in Edmonton on April 22, 2011. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

I had to be careful to ensure the framing, light and sound was consistent. I wouldn’t want to make any candidate look better or worse than the rest.

David Parker was at NAIT so we used a pulldown projector screen as a white background

I interviewed some of the canidates in the Journal studio which already has a nice white background

This was my basic setup. Three 500-LED video lights, a reflector and a white background.

I was able to fit my whole video studio on one dolly cart.

Each minute of video took about an hour to render in Final Cut Pro.


Behind the Scenes of My First Music Video – Purity of Heart by Pearson

Posted by ryanjackson on Feb 7, 2011 in photos, portrait, Ryan's Life, video

A heart-broken Robot tries to escape the clutches of his moonshine-making Hillbilly imprisoner.

“Slow, subtle and direct – a mesmerizing Canadian sound”, “stark, calming, and mildly trance inducing lullaby-makers”, “Pearson has carved out a niche as a slow-core band — playing intimate, slow and sparse folk music.”

Director & Editor: James Scott –
Director of Photography: Ryan Jackson –
AE Artist: Youlie Harikiopoulou
Colourist: Darren Mostyn –

This was my first music video and the most fun I have ever had shooting. I actually shot this back in August 2009 and it took over a year to get it edited, coloured and EFx’d.
I was the Director of Photography so I took James’ awesome script and made storyboards and then shot everything. It was really fun to work with a director as I could focus on getting the shots and he could focus on directing and organizing everything. We made a good team.

The entire thing was shot in a day and a half! I drove in to Manitou Beach on Saturday morning. We started filming at noon and did all the scenes with the hillbilly as he could only be there on Saturday. Then we got everything else on Sunday and shot right until sundown. It was a miracle we had the same weather two days in a row and got everything done.

I shot everything with the Canon 5D Mark-II. It was actually my first time using one. My friend Kenny lent me his for the weekend. I read the manual and researched as much as I could before the shoot.
I knew that if I wanted the video to have a “film look” that I would need to:
1. Shoot at 24fps
2. Keep the shutter speed at 1/50th (2x the frame rate. On film cameras you shoot at 1/48th)
3. Shoot wide-open to get a narrow depth of field.
4. Use Neutral Density filters so that I could do #2. and #3. in bright sunlight.

I used my heavy Libec LS-38 tripod and head as much as possible and used a shoulder-mounted stabilizer whenever I needed to move.

For lenses I used a 50mm f1.4, 24mm f1.4, 16mm f2.8, 16-35mm f2.8, 24-105mm f4 IS, 70-200mm f2.8 IS and a 300mm f2.8 IS.
I bought two Cokin Neutral Density filters for a combined light reduction of 8-stops. This let me shoot 1/50, f1.8, ISO100 in bright sunlight.

Here are some fun behind the scenes photos. Enjoy!

The sun setting behind me as a drive from Edmonton to Saskatoon, SK on the Friday night before the weekend shoot.

5:40 a.m. on my drive from Saskatoon to Manitou Beach on Saturday, the first day of the shoot.

You know you are in Saskatchewan when...


James the director had the final script for me Saturday morning. I quickly drew up story boards and made shot lists. We were going to start shooting at noon.

Early morning. Finishing the robot costumes. The paint was still drying!

Will is putting the finishing touches on his costume.



Duct taping antlers on the front of the Hillbilly's truck.

We rented a pontoon boat for the first water scene. The boat was perfect for shooting because it didn't wobble on the water.

I used a Hoodman LCD Loupe and rubber bands so that I could see my LCD screen in the sunlight and focus easier.

I used two Cokin ND filters together to get a total of 8 stops of light reduction. This allowed me to keep my shutter at 1/50th with a wide open f2.8 aperture. One of the secrets to the "film look".

Will had to get into the dingy and then get dressed after.

Our hillbilly was awesome. We only had him for the first day though so we had to be sure to get every shot in.

Will could hardly see while he drove the dingy. Of course our hillbilly had a fan boat!

Looks much cooler with digital explosions.

A family member was our chef for the weekend and prepared lots of yummy vegitarian dishes.

Here is Vera Debevc, the owner of the old abandoned shrimp factory that we used for the hillbilly hideout and robot prison.

Vera Debevc and our hero.

After lunch we filmed the scene where the hillbilly kidnaps the robot in a quarry.

It took forever to get dressed and undressed.

Robot Love

More Robot Love

Oh No! The hillbilly!

You're gonna squeal like a pig

Oh No!

The light was perfect that night.

God I love lens flare!

Perfect drunk

Me wearing hipwaiters.

This is the light we had in the old shrimp factory. A single hole in roof. The Canon 5D Mark-II held up amazing in low light.


Oh no you don't!

A shot we never used in the film of the robot getting away.

Vera with the robot again outside of the old shrimp factory. She was so cute!

Final shot of the first day of shooting. We were now done all the shots with the hillbilly.

Day two. We need some more romantic shots of robot and ladybot together. There is James the director on the left.

This is my desktop background. I love this picture. So weird!

Robot sex scene!

Here you see how I filmed the robot sex scene. I mounted a 5D Mark-II with a 16mm fisheye lens above the bed on a monopod.

We used a monitor to frame everything.

Getting some shots of the band. We were going to have the band pop in and out of the video but it didn't make the cut.

Beautiful day.

Getting dressed again for the final shots.

Filming the robot reunited with his long lost love.

We were soooo lucky to have the exact same sunset both nights. The weather was perfect!

Even more robot love.

Sun is setting fast. Running out of time.

Rushing to the junk yard for the final scene.

Only a few minutes left before the sun is down. Need to get those final shots.

The tragic surprise ending.

The final shot.

Group photo of almost everyone involved in making the film.

Heading back to the cabins after a very long perfect day!


Oilers Fans Draw their Feelings about the Season

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 24, 2011 in photos, portrait, video

Last week the idea floated around of doing a “streeters” video asking OIlers fans how they felt about the season so far. We’ve done that before and it is typically boring. Also there is no still photo component to go in the paper.
So I got the idea to buy small white boards and ask fans to draw how they feel about the season and then do Vortraits (video portraits) of all of them explaining what they drew. Turned out much more interesting and then we had art for the newspaper.

Journal Photographers Ryan Jackson and Shaughn Butts setup a camera outside Rexall Place before the Oilers game on Thursday and asked fans to illustrate how they felt about the season on small dry erase boards. Video by Ryan Jackson and Shaughn Butts / Edmonton Journal

I used a 7-inch LCD4VIDEO HDMI monitor to help focusing with my Canon 5D Mark-II and 24-105mm IS lens.

I had a Rode VideoMic on a Magic Arm for the audio so that my hands could be free for focusing

I had two 160LED video lights I got off of eBay for the fill lighting. I put orange gels on them to balance the blue LED light with the sodium vapor ambient lights.

Here is my sketch of the portraits I wanted. It is always good to draw your idea out and email it to your editors so that they know what you are talking about.

And here is how it ran on the front page of the Journal. When someone comes to you with an idea that you don't think is good - don't just roll your eyes and complain - take that idea and make it into something better. Nothing good comes from cynicism. Great things come from people who take okay ideas and make them great ideas.

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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.


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 Ray Como and the combine he was trapped in

Posted by ryanjackson on Oct 24, 2010 in photos, portrait, video

83-year-old Ray Como stands by the combine that he was trapped upside down in for over 20 hours before his son-in-law discovered him wedged between the engine and cab on his farm near Calahoo, Alta. on October 20, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).

Farmer Raymond Como who was trapped in a combine for 20-hours in Sept. is now out of hospital. He shows us the combine he was trapped in on Oct. 20, 2010. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal


Portrait: Mobilicity General Manager and CEO

Posted by ryanjackson on Oct 24, 2010 in photos, portrait

Mobilicity General Manager Matthew Gould, left, and CEO Dave Dobbin pose for a photo in Delta Edmonton South Hotel in Edmonton on October 20, 2010. (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal).


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