Friday, November 5, 2010


This was a dream job. Over the next few posts I will introduce you to some of the locations and perhaps a few of the challenges the crew faced.

I had already been to most of these Cape Breton Island locations previously, and was familiar with many of the folks working at those venues. Golf was a relatively new pursuit for me, and the Parks Canada locations seemed very much like a home coming of sorts. Each was to present a creative challenge: with golf I had to learn the game as I am not a duffer, and with Fortress Louisbourg it was to come up with something new and fresh.

But first we had to get to Cape Breton and the acclaimed Cabot Trail, and more specifically Cape Smokey. Our crew was blessed with a magician as a production manager. I didn’t see her pull any rabbits out of a hat but she had a Mazda Miata drop from the sky, and land right on top of Smokey 15-minutes before the 6:30 call.

I don’t believe the details of how we avoided traffic on a public highway are necessary, but let’s just say there isn’t too much volume early on a Sunday morning. Pre-scouting revealed a location where the sun would be rising perpendicular to the highway at 6:49AM. Consequently, we knew from experience that a polarizing filter would perform at its optimum efficiency and this would be necessary to control the reflections that were certain to bounce off the car. The Singh Ray LB Warming polarizer was the obvious choice to also control the sky-blues that would reflect on the top-surface of the car, and generally warm the overall scene. In fact, I rarely take this filter off my lenses – I see no reason to.

Canon 5D MkII, 24-105 USM lens, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizing filter

Some post production work remains to meet the clients needs, but generally we were able to capture a useable image from which to work.

Next stop was the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Inverness County.

Cape Breton and celtic music fit like a pocket on a shirt – they are a natural. I won’t go into the background of Cape Breton music as it is deserving of a book, but check out the site. Suffice to say I don’t know if it is possible to be around a Cape Breton fiddle and not start tapping your toes; so how is one supposed to do a photo shoot when one of the better players is in the next room playing at the Sunday afternoon ceilidh?

The objective of this stop was to show the interaction of a student and instructor, and we did get that shot for the client. Once we were finished that shot, I wanted to take a few extra minutes and capture a portrait of the student. While it is true the piano most often accompanies the fiddle, this antique pump organ really captured my attention; perhaps because it was like the one in my grandparents house when I was a kid (no that does not make me an antique by default).

Canon 5D MkII, 24-105 USM lens, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizing filter

One of the downsides of this shot was that we had no time to establish the direction – it was quite literally a gun-and-run. The lighting was very simple: A Canon 580EX in a ¾ back location and a second 580EX above and slightly to the left of the camera as a fill. I rarely use these flashes without the ST-E2 onboard the camera as it makes life so easy. In this case, and I’m guessing, the ratio was established at 4:1, with a shallow focus. Further selective focus was done in post production, but other than that this is pretty much a grab shot that was done in about 5-minutes.

So concluded the first day of this shoot – sailing on the incredible Bras d’Or Lake at sunrise awaits.