Sunday, September 27, 2009

Crombie McNeill Workshop at the Byward Market -- Part 1

Yesterday, Crombie McNeill held a workshop / photoshop in Ottawa's Byward Market area. Like any market area, it consists of many buildings and some open market areas, food courts and the like. And it is crowded and bustling with people on a Saturday. And parking sucks!

Ah well ... such is life. We met at the Courtyard Restaurant, which was thankfully not crowded. So we were able to get everyone together before proceeding to the various locations. We had several members of the RA photo club -- Paul (who assists Crombie as well), Kyle, Alyssa, Richard and Chris. With me and Crombie, that's 7.

We had two models from Barrett Palmer Models, Charlotte -- whom I have shot before and who has elegant features for high fashion, and Erin -- who is new to the workshops, but who has a curvy lifestyle figure (reminiscent of Olivia from the Aylmer Marina shoot.) Both have spectacular eyes I can't wait to process the images ...

The restaurant is located at 21 George Street and is in a secluded Court Yard off the main street. You can get to it from all directions, through dark passages, all lined with cobble stone. It's actually really cool.

I did not have the F70EXR with me this time for documentation, so I brought the Canon G10 out of retirement. It is not the easiest camera to tame in bright light, but I was pleased with this shot. I shot RAW and dropped the exposure -1 2/3 stops ... that's massive. But in a dark alley with a slash of sunlight on a light umbrella and brick wall, there is exactly nothing else you can do. I certainly would have been at least at -1ev on the F70 ...

I was still down at -2/3ev for the sign in shade, because the open sky was hammering the shiny gold lettering. A lot of places use this to grab the eye, but it also grabs the sky and the camera hates that.

Anyway ... I moved my car from way down the street to the parking garage they were all using and we were off to the Empire Grill on York street. A couple of short blocks away. We actually went into a big office building and met at the Swizzles Cafe, which was closed. It's a cafeteria style restaurant, so we sprawled along a set of tables.

Crombie gave us our goals and instructions from one end of the table and I caught a few more images. The G10 was already out of its element at 800 ISO ... the images are very weak compared to what the Fuji would have returned ... the massive resolution not really helping at all because the enemy is massive chroma noise. The solution for both was black and white ... and there is still heavy mottling on his shirt. Of course, the foreground was lit badly and Crombie was in silhouette, which makes it very tough.

Anyway ... here's Crombie at work ... the bottom line being that he wants us to create two kinds of images ... an editorial / product image with a model in it and a portfolio image that is all about the model.

We walked over to the escalators that can barely be seen way at the other end of the mall and sent Erin up onto an escalator that was under construction. This was really helpful as she could pose for long times without us having to chase her for the shot.

Before we got going though, we had to get organized. I shot the team with the D300, but in the mirrors.

Left to right ... Crombie, Paul, Alyssa, Richard, Kyle (behind) and Chris. Below the escalator mirror, some random dude ...

Erin was not really posing yet, but I shot a few images of her anyway. This one is kind of nice, although not all that useful is my guess ...

Crombie then gave instructions to Erin ...

And finally she got to pose ... I am showing only a couple of examples of the models in full pose, and only from the G10 in this post.

This was the one image I shot of her at 400 ISO ... and I was able to use the high contrast presentation to hide a total loss of detail around the eyes. I shot a couple at 1600 ISO and really had no interest in trying to process those. Perhaps a really artsy tri-x pan sort of output, but this is better.

We attracted a crowd (beautiful model, seven photographers ... duh) and within 20 minutes, the security people started nosing around. Shortly thereafter they gave the order to cease the activity. We met back at Swizzles and Crombie explained the appropriate behavior for us at that point:
Security people have no authority of arrest. They may not touch you, and they may not physically eject you. They must call the police to do that, which they are reluctant to do. Thus, the appropriate behavior is to cooperate and move on.
Were this the only location around, we could have let them call the police and battled it out when they arrived. But the Byward Market has many shooting locations, so we did not waste further time there.

Note, though, that I grabbed a shot of Paul against the Swizzles sign and was framing a shot of Charlotte when a security guy in uniform came over and started with "perhaps you did not understand ..." to which I replied in my usual severely annoyed voice when patronized .... "I get it, and I don't require the sarcasm." I no longer like to dish it, and therefore I no longer take it either. He backed off and I stopped. We were leaving anyway.

We then crossed a street where we shot images of Charlotte for a while and then Erin. We had harsh sunlight and I shot only with the D300, so those images will appear in a post later on.

We bounced around for a while, I shot some of Charlotte in a store entrance with two mannequins. Tried to come up with something clever for that ... we'll see. We found a nice building with a shiny red curved wall. We had Erin against that in a clingy dress. Nice.

We ended up at Pier 21, a local bar that was closed this early. They have a nice patio that we used for several images.

The team are discussing the shoot.

Again ... lots of images -- I recorded over 1050 yesterday, so it'll be a while to get them processed, this is just a teaser. Unfortunately, I am flying to a customer site next weekend and and have a lot of prep to do, so this is the only processing I can seriously do until the week after ... and I am on vacation at the end of that week for a week in the mother province to see the family.

So ... all that said ... we sort of got the boot from Pier 21 when the started preparing to open. They were nice about it, but I certainly began to feel unwelcome :-)

Before we actually left, I shot the surrounding buildings. Nice spot there ... some will remember the Rainbow from the evening I attended the songwriter's night. Great bar for live music.

We walked back toward the Courtyard Restaurant again, and along the way we shot some nice images. I only caught a few more witrh the little dog and I am saving the mass processing for later, so what I have left is to show one of Charlotte's remaining locations. She was exhausted by this point (she came to work with a cold) and we wanted to let her go. But this was an interesting location for a few more images and she was a very good sport, as always. She is very professional about this and you cannot help but be impressed for someone in her mid-teens.

Basically, there is this cute art piece in a different court yard and I shot it ...

Inner city bear hunting ... try it ...

When we were done with this series, we walked through an alleyway and found this lovely piece of art on the wall. Because of cramped quarters, I decided to shoot the Canon only. I am not a wide angle aficiando, so this is the only one I liked of the series ... but I like it quite a lot. I gave it the same treatment as Erin's shot earlier ...

The alley was perhaps 6 or 8 feet wide, and the fellas lined up for their shots. I preferred the angle shot, and maybe that's why I only got one good one :-)

We broke for lunch after Charlotte did a couple more series, and she left for the day to nurse her cold. We continued after lunch with Eric, who had gone off to do an errand and would return around 3pm. At that time we worked some of the art works with her, as we had done with Charlotte.

We then went to the car park where most of our vehicles were parked, and Richard brought out a huge spotlight from Canadian Tire ... 12 bucks or something like that. Battery powered, so we could deploy it as a spotlight on Erin. I am really looking forward to those images, as we had some great shadows ro play with ....

I was shocked when my cam reported card full just as we completed the day ... 1045 images this time. Wow ... for two models, that's really something. 16GB onto the hard drive again ... I'm gonna need a RAID system one of these days ... two of them, since my primary backup is also hard drive.

So ... a great shoot. A smaller group, but still lots of fun. Charlotte and Erin should recive dozens or even hundreds of images to sift through. How cool ....

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