Posts in Commissioned
Haida Gwaii for Destination Canada

This year has been the year of emails I can barely believe are real, and the one that started this little adventure for Destination Canada was one of them.

A short little email turned into a week of excitement in both Vancouver and Haida Gwaii, hours on a zodiac in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, and a crew of new friends.

I was brought on as the stills photographer on set for Vacations of the Brave a mini-series which premiered this past weekend on Amazon Prime, and aims to bring Brave Americans (someone who has done outstanding things for their community) to Canada’s most beautiful and culturally significant places.

The 2nd episode starred Angela Luna, a fashion designer and founder of Adiff. Adiff is an apparel brand that makes jackets that transform into tents, helping refugees and homeless people across the world find shelter. The Haida people have a history of incredible design and weaving techniques and bringing the two together was a match made in television history.

I joined the crew in Vancouver at the Museum of Anthropology, where I met Angela for the first time and the wonderful staff there gave her a little context to the history of the Haida People.

 Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver British Columbia

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver British Columbia

 
 Haida Poles at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver BC

Haida Poles at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver BC

 
 
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From Vancouver we headed North. Haida Gwaii isn’t an easy to get to place, the group of islands it is located just south of Alaska in the Pacific ocean.

Though it has been somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for years it takes a little planning. We took a little plane to Sandspit, and a ferry to Skidegate.

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 Intertidal shoreline in Gwaii Haanas

Intertidal shoreline in Gwaii Haanas

 
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 Skidegate, British Columbia

Skidegate, British Columbia

 
 
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 Working hard on barnacles. (Left to Right) Director Patrick Sisam, DP Jonah Wyn Pugh, and Sound Scott Taylor.

Working hard on barnacles. (Left to Right) Director Patrick Sisam, DP Jonah Wyn Pugh, and Sound Scott Taylor.

 
 
 
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My favourite stop on the show must have been Gandll K’in Gwaay.yaay (Hot Spring Island). In 2012 an earthquake struck the Haida Gwaii archipelago and the iconic hot springs of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve disappeared, but the hot water is miraculously once again flowing. It was magic.

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 Haida Mortuary Pole - Remains of a chief or high ranking person are placed in a box at the top of the pole (above) and eventually are returned to the earth (right)

Haida Mortuary Pole - Remains of a chief or high ranking person are placed in a box at the top of the pole (above) and eventually are returned to the earth (right)

 
 DP - Jonah Wyn Pugh

DP - Jonah Wyn Pugh

 
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THANK YOUS! 

Thanks to everyone who made this week happen and Christian Horsfall at Ogilvy for having me out, and everyone I met on set: Angela and Autumn, Director Patrick Sisam, The production team:  Brenda Surminski, Marc Swenker, Cinematography: Jonah Wyn Pugh, Mark Peachy, Mark Moher, Stephen Whitehead, Sound: Scott Taylor, Data: Atli Magnusson and Gloria Loree, Rick Graham. Thank you.


Right now Vacations of the Brave is being shown on Amazon Prime in the US. If you are located south of the border, check it out!

 
Simon Fraser University Viewbook Shoot
 

Photography grants you access to an infinite number of worlds different than your own. This is one of the reasons I love my job so much, and one of the reasons that shooting Simon Fraser University’s viewbook campaign this year was such a treat. SFU is at the forefront of groundbreaking and world changing research;  12 faculties enthusiastically welcomed us into their labs and workspaces and I feel lucky to be able to share some of the highlights of their research as well as some aspects of shooting real-time with scientists in active labs.

From a robotics laboratory where engineering students are working on a robot exo-skeleton to help paraplegics walk again, to a freezer of cells where science researchers are working on a cure to HIV, to exploring virtual reality; the creative team at DDB/Twice made sure we had some amazing and diverse projects to document. This project was a valuable glimpse into the lives of undergraduate researchers, and a reminder of the incredible things that go on behind inconspicuous doors in our own city. 

The goal was to create a series of black and white, documentary style images over five days, covering both the SFU Burnaby, and Surrey Campuses. We'd need to highlight all 12 faculties with narrative driven stills all while working in tandem with a video team who would be making a video viewbook. In our pre-production meeting we decided video/constant lighting over strobes was the best choice. The plan was to shoot in working labs and spaces to keep things as real as possible, which fit well with the polished documentary style we were aiming for. However,  this did limit our time for each shot. Using one set of lights for both video and stills in each situation was the best way to cut down on set up time. I’ll go into a bit of my gear choices in more detail below.

I used two cameras,  the Canon 5D Mark III and the Hasselblad X1D - I would liked to have used the Hasselblad for it all, but my local rental store doesn't rent the 30mm XCD lens so there were a few wider angles that I shot on the Canon. An advantage of using the Canon is that it enabled me to set  "picture style" to monochrome while still shooting full RAW files (which can be converted to colour later if desired). Basically, this just changes how your photo renders in the preview on the back of the camera. As the end product was going to be black and white, and since we were moving from location to location fairly quickly I was able to document our set up on the Canon and share it with Tim our Art director, providing him with a general preview of what we were working towards without needing to tether to my computer.

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HIV Research

SFU’s HIV research centre’s vision is to prevent HIV/AIDS, improve the health and well-being of persons living with and affected by HIV, and engage with the world through HIV/AIDS research, education and dialogue.

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trottier observatory

There is nothing like looking up at the sky and nothing quite as mind blowing as someone explaining to you, that in a sense you are looking back in time at old light from stars so far away it is hard to comprehend.

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 An i-phone photo taken through the telescope at the end of our shoot of Jupiter and her four moons!

An i-phone photo taken through the telescope at the end of our shoot of Jupiter and her four moons!

weather balloon Launch

The SFU Satellite Design Team is an applied sciences club run by space enthusiasts from SFU. They design and build satellites, that monitor weather patterns in the lower mainland.

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The Cover: Inspiring Awe in Virtual Reality. 

The virtual reality shoot was one of three potential setups that would become the cover, and the one I was looking forward to the most visually. The photos of the space I had seen ahead of time already made me feel like I could be in a future world. It provided a unique set of constraints and considerations as shooting into a wall of screens would pose a risk of reflecting our own lights back into our cameras. We had to be creative about how we positioned lighting in order to prevent such a situation. 

As we were waiting for the screens to boot up, I learned that astronauts leave earth often as engineers and scientists, but come back in some way philanthropists. They want to make the world a better place and this cognitive shift in awareness is called the "Overview Effect".  It is a real, and researched state of mental clarity that occurs when someone is so far away from earth they become completely overwhelmed and awed by the fragility, and unity of life on our planet. It's what you might call "the true big picture" - a feeling of connectedness to everything on the planet.

Not even a small fraction of the earth's population will be able to experience seeing the earth from space- or could they?  Imagine a world where everyone could.

How, using VR technology can we induce a true sense of awe both mentally and physically? How could we bring The Overview Effect to Earth, goosebumps, and adrenaline included?

Virtual Reality, like all technology has moral implications. SFU's applied sciences faculty encourages all students to be using technology to better the world and the motivations behind this project couldn't be more true to that.

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Lighting Gear:

Arri LED Skypanel

Shot through 5x5' Screen

Left: Assistant Alexa Mazzarello Sits as a test subject before we start.

For our first set up, the idea was to keep it simple. I knew our lights would reflect in the screen itself, so one light would be easier to hide from than two or three. We set the Skypanel up about a foot above our subject angling it down giving the light some direction, and then set a 5x5’ screen just in front to diffuse the light, and spread it as evenly and deeply enough to light all three subjects. 

 Tim directing and me shooting. Photo: Alexa Mazzarello

Tim directing and me shooting. Photo: Alexa Mazzarello

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After learning about the challenges of virtual imaging, our digital imaging constraints seemed easily conquerable.


Below is the ‘big picture’  of the setup we used for the cover shot:

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  1. 1000 WATT ARRI TUNGSTEN FRESNAL

  2. 3 FOOT OCTABANK

  3. PORTABLE LED VIDEO LIGHT PANEL

The Fresnel acted as the main light source, which was shot through the Octabank in order to soften light on the subjects face . We positioned this camera left and angled it carefully to avoid any light falling onto the screens. The Portable video light was hand held below the subject camera right (thanks to my assistant Alexa). I wanted to create some definition between the subject’s black hair, dark clothes and the background while maintaining a documentary-feeling photo . My thinking was to mimic/enhance the light that would come from the Sun on the screen. The light is harsher with no diffusion, but would appear motivated from the Sun itself.

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Exomotion

Exomotion is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that offers full lower limb mobility for individuals with paralysis. It is still in the prototype phase seen below but should be available by 2020.

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Dave and Gabe, were in charge of the video and a dream to shoot alongside of.

Left to Right: Shooting like a team, Dave and Gabe, Learning... I mean... Light Testing

 

Improving Helmets and Protecting Against Concussions

The final research photographed was that of Daniel Abram of Shield X. Shield X makes a few different products from caps to gel stickers that significantly decrease concussions across the board. Brain Injuries can happen to anyone, and watching their self made testing device smash helmets to the ground at the average speed of impact in football made me appreciate how vulnerable our little skulls really are.

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Thank Yous! 

Thanks to everyone who brought this project to life. Creative / production team on set: Tim Hoffpauir, Chloe Hoppie, and Donna Dove . Video Team: David Brigden, Evan Petka, and Gabriel Colome  Camera / Lighting assistants: Alexa Mazzarello, Rachel Pick, Marley Hutchinson, and Richard Schmon, and all the "Talent"ed students.  


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The Narwhal

The Narwhal's mission is to make complex energy and environment news accessible to Canadians and to shine a light on critical, under-reported stories, and so when Emma and Carol the masterminds behind the website approached me to do a few portraits for their rebrand I was excited. They launched their new website today and I'm so proud to have contributed in a small way. 

 
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They were looking for something a little more casual, as if they were out reporting and  working in the field , while keeping it professional.  I had a few different locations in Victoria, BC in mind, but because we decided on a warm sunset glow the options of a clear west facing backdrop are few and far between and so we ended up on the top of Mt. Douglas.  

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It was a pretty simple set up with the sun behind them, working as our main source of light and a white V-flat just to fill in the shadows and give us a little catch light. The photos were all shot on a Canon 5D3 with a Sigma 50mm Art lens.

 
Behind The Scenes on Canada C3
 

What a dream job being aboard the Canada C3 was. I work alone a lot of the time, and being on a team, and this team in particular was a privilege.  I love the behind the scenes photos as much as the official ones I delivered every night at 1:00am...mostly because I love the people in them. 

From laughing until our stomachs hurt in the survival suits to early morning zodiac rides I made a few friends I think will last a lifetime. 

And the biggest thank you to the entire communications team below - crammed into a room just big enough for everyone it was ten days I'll never forget. 

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Dirt Road Travels - Vancouver City Guide - Harvest Community Foods

This October I spent two days criss-crossing Vancouver for Dirt Road Travels@dirtroadtravels is self described Humans of New York meets Lonely Planet travel guide made for those looking for the best local haunts and hear the stories behind the makers and hidden gems of a city. 

Harvest Community Foods is a small grocery store and Ramen haven at the south end of Chinatown, and I was so happy it was included in the list of places I had to shoot. Everything is locally made/grown and delicious, I spent more than one summer night on the front patio here

Dirt Road Travels - Vancouver City Guide - Beaucoup Bakery

This October I spent two days criss-crossing Vancouver for Dirt Road Travels@dirtroadtravels is self described Humans of New York meets Lonely Planet travel guide made for those looking for the best local haunts and hear the stories behind the makers and hidden gems of a city. My first stop was @beaucoupbakery - I’ll say I didn’t leave hungry. .

Country Zen Yoga
 

Country Zen Yoga Studio. These girls.

We were a convoy of cars tearing up the gravel backroads, chasing a sunset in patterned pants.

Beautiful, flexible and sweet Erin and Ashley are sisters from my home town. Together they started and run Country Zen Yoga.

The marathon days in June kept the sun above the horizon just long enough, as we drove from Yoga in the Park. The class had run long, but as late as we were as soon as I closed the shutter on the first image I knew everything would come together fine. We would shoot in studio in the morning, but that evening we had to be outside, showcase a little bit of the "country" in Country Zen.

I've been keeping these shots under wraps anxiously awaiting the unveil of their new website. My best kept photo secret of 2014.

Today they launched their new website, to launch a new year, with photos from that evening on the hill and the morning after in the studio. It looks obviously amazing. Stepping into a virtual version of their studio on the screen if you ask me. I can't stop looking at it.

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