Friday, August 12, 2022

Low-Key Olivia

This post might not be suitable for viewing at work. I'm pretty sure it isn't, especially since I added the final photo, which is full-frontal, to the post. Yup, definitely not for viewing at work.

And so I'm going to post this warning, as I did for a previous post. You've been duly warned.

The last low-key photography meetup that I did was in 2019, with BC model Olivia Preston. It might have been the best model photo shoot that I've done, mainly because Olivia is easy to work with and basically just does her own thing.

As I said on Tuesday, I haven't done anything with these photos since I processed them. I sent them to Olivia but that was about it.

So, for Photo Friday, I thought I'd share a few of them. Some are implied nudity: others are explicit. And I hope that you find them to be tasteful. Let me know how you feel about me sharing these photos on my blog in the Comments section.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Missing Studio Photography

I miss working in a studio with models.

I really like playing with different lights, shooting high-key and low-key photographs—ones that take advantage of lots of light with a white background and others that use very low light, with dark backgrounds.

One of my very favourite people to work with is BC model, Olivia Preston. The first time I worked with her, in a house out near Kinburn, Ontario, I had never had a one-on-one meeting with a model. Before then, I was in a studio with other photographers and was led by our photo club's organizer, Mike Giovinazzo, who has been working with models for many years and has lots of tips and suggestions, as well as knowing how to direct his subject.

Olivia needed no direction. We walked around the house, looking at the various spots that would make a good spot for photos, and we settled on three: the living room, which had lots of natural light flooding through; a bedroom, which also had glass sliding doors that looked out on the same side as the living room; and the bathroom, which had a giant bathtub.

When it came time to photograph Olivia, I gave her a basic idea of how I wanted to capture her, and she did the rest. We chatted about all kinds of things during the hour we had together, and because we were chatting and I was focused on the composition of the shots, I barely had time to think that I was alone with a beautiful, naked woman.

We met at a couple of shoots a few years later, at an abandoned factory in Carleton Place. Again, I had her to myself for an hour (Mike was nearby, in case either Olivia or I needed anything—he ran out for a moment to pick up some food for Olivia, as she was working back-to-back with various photographers and didn't have time to get anything for herself) and we chatted while she posed and I snapped away.

She's a pleasure to work with.

The last time I worked with her was in Mike's home studio, and we were taking low-key photos. Of that set, the best photos I shot were with Olivia in front of a black backdrop, sitting on a black stool. Two soft boxes, at low power, were angled on two sides, toward her.

I didn't have to tell her to do anything. She just started positioning herself in different poses, and as soon as she stopped moving, I took my shots. In one pose, Olivia brought her legs up onto the stool and raised her knees to her chest. Her feet hung over the edge of the stool and she placed her hands atop them. It was one of my favourite shots.

In post production, I increased the contrast to remove the stool as much as possible from the shot. Olivia is illuminated but everything else is in darkness.

Initially, I created two versions of this shot: the first one, in greyscale (not black and white). I shared it, a couple of years ago, as one of my favourite photos of 2019. Here it is, again:

Because I've been avoiding studios since the pandemic, I haven't taken any high-key or low-key shots in more than two-and-a-half years, and I miss it. I'm afraid that I'm going to forget what I've learned in the past.

Last night, as I saw some newly announced photo meetups—all, outdoors—I started thinking about when we'd be able to meet in the studio again. I was thinking about the last time that I was in a studio, in January of 2020, before the lockdowns started, and just before that, in 2019, when I worked with Olivia.

I haven't posted any photos from that shoot, save for the greyscale photo, above. I might post more, though most of them aren't safe for work. I'll see what I can come up with and maybe share one or two, on Friday. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I looked at these photos again and decided that I would re-edit the colour image, but this time, using Luminar AI, which I didn't have in 2019.

I applied a portrait template to the image and then made a few subtle edits to the contrast and colour saturation. Doing so illuminated the stool more than I wanted, so I used the erase tool to eliminate areas where the lighting fell on the legs and edge of the stool.

Here's the result:

Thoughts? Which image do you prefer?

Until I start working in a studio again, I'll probably look at old model meetups and see how I can improve the images I've already shot. It would be great to work with Olivia again.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Hot Ride

The split-up point.
We split up at the Hog's Back Bridge, over the locks, as it was swinging aside to allow a boat through. In retrospect, we should have stayed together.

These days, DW and I tend not to cycle together. I like to go for long rides and my average speed is faster than hers. And she likes to find a place to stop along the way to have a snack and a drink.

I don't like to stop for more than a couple of minutes, to stretch or take a bite of a Clif bar that I've thrown into one of the back pockets of my cycle jersey. I really don't like to stop and sit down for a snack.

Yesterday, we both wanted to get up early to go for a bike ride. Ottawa was under an extreme heat warning, since Saturday, and we wanted to get our rides in before the heat got too bad.

We had spent Saturday, escaping the 42°C humidex, by taking our kayaks up to the Gatineau Hills and paddling around a good chunk of Lac La Pêche. There was a steady breeze out of the south west that kept us cool—plus, we went for a dip in the water when our paddle was over.

After our adventure, we drove to Chelsea and shared some calamari and washed it down with cider and ale. By the time we got home, hung our kayaks in the garage, and unpacked and hosed down the car (it was covered in dust from the dirt roads), it was dinnertime. We only had energy to eat a salad before we crashed for the night.

So on Sunday, we slept in until just after eight—much later than we had planned for our bike rides—but still wanted to get out there before the heat got unbearable.

DW talked about cycling to Little Italy, to sit and have breakfast at Bridgehead, just off Preston Street. I told her that I was planning a long ride—perhaps, to Metcalfe and back. I had done that route a couple of weekends, previously, and enjoyed the 70K trek.

But DW wanted me to keep her company, and after some convincing, I agreed to go. I said that I would ride with her to Bridgehead but that I would continue on, that I was hoping to get at least 40K under my belt; preferably, 50.

The ride to the coffeehouse was quick and uneventful. We seemed to have the wind at our back and covered the 16.5 kms in just over 40 minutes. When we pulled up to Bridgehead, we saw a vacant table for two on the sidewalk area, and I said that I'd wait with her bike while DW went inside to get her snack.

She convinced me to stay and have a glass of lemonade before I continued. Already, the temperature was 29°, with a humidex of 34°.

When DW returned to the table, she had a breakfast burrito, an iced coffee, a glass of water, and my lemonade. It was a large glass.

While I sipped my cold beverage, DW asked how far I wanted to go. I looked at Google Maps to try and see where I could go. I reminded her that I wanted to cover at least 40K, to which she said, "I could do 40K. I can't do 50."

I told her that we could continue to the Portage Bridge, which wasn't far away, cross onto the Québec side of the Ottawa River, cycle past the museum of civilization, and then cross the Alexandra Bridge, back into Ottawa, and follow Colonel By Drive, along the Rideau Canal, back to Hog's Back, and continue south, to Barrhaven.

"I don't know the distance," I told her, "but it looks just over 40K."

"Maybe we could shave off some distance by not crossing into Québec," she said, to which I agreed.

"We'll see how far we've gone as we approach home," I said. "If it's not far enough for me, you can continue home and I'll ride some more."

When we approached the Portage Bridge, near Mill Street Brew Pub, we saw detour signs for the cycle path, and discovered that we couldn't take the path that led under Parliament Hill. "Looks like we might have to cross the bridge after all," I said. The alternative would have been to cycle on Wellington Street, but I wanted to stay away from traffic.

DW agreed to cross into Québec.

The ride along the northern shore of the Ottawa River really isn't that far between bridges and the view of Ottawa from the museum is one of the prettiest. Before we knew it, we were on the boardwalk of the Alexandra Bridge, heading toward the ByWard Market.

DW had fallen a bit behind a couple of times, especially when we climbed slopes. I wanted to maintain momentum so I'd get ahead and wait for her at the top of whatever hill we were climbing. As we climbed to the top of the Alexandra Bridge, however, DW fell quite a bit behind. But I could still see her pedalling so I just continued until I reached the lookout on the Ottawa side and pulled over, waiting for her to catch up.

It was then that she told me she had a flat tire.

We pulled over to one of the benches at the lookout and DW pulled the back wheel off her bike. She hasn't had a lot of experience changing tires (I've blown through so many over the years that I could change one with my eyes closed) but I let her get to it, offering help only when she needed it.

Twenty minutes later, we were back on our way.

"I'm really starting to feel this ride," DW said as we got onto the path along the canal.

"No worries," I said, "we'll take our time and if you need to pull over, we'll pull over."

DW had taken our backpack water pouch. There's a large bladder inside that holds up to three litres of water and has a tube that runs out of the backpack and can clip onto the front cross strap. I've used it on a couple of long rides and love it: I've even filled it with ice and water, and it kept cool throughout a 90K ride, even cooling my back.

I had only packed an 850ml bottle with water, but I had topped it off with my lemonade before we set out from Bridgehead. I hadn't drank much water since we left Little Italy but I tend to go a long way on very little water. I was fine.

When we reached Hog's Back, the barriers had just come down and the bridge was only starting to swing to let a boat through the locks. DW's face was a bright pink and she didn't look like she was having fun.

"I'd like to take Riverside Drive toward Hunt Club," I suggested.

"You can do that if you want," said DW. "I'm going to take Prince of Wales home."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm really hot. I might stop and rest in some shade."

"Do you want me to come with you?" I asked.

"No, that's okay. You want to get more distance in. I'll be fine."

"If you're sure," I said. I told her that if she didn't think that she could make it, to find a cool place and call Kid 1, who was at home, and request a pickup.

I turned and headed in the opposite direction.

There are freshly paved sections of Riverside Drive, and that's a good thing. A few years ago, when we rode with the Ottawa Bike Club, Riverside Drive was a mess with potholes and large cracks in the asphalt, making it a cycling hazard.

The smooth pavement was a big improvement, but because the asphalt was still black, the heat on the road was like an oven and when the wind picked up, it did nothing to cool me. I was glad that DW wasn't with me along this stretch.

But by the same token, Riverside Drive doesn't weave along the Rideau River the way that Prince of Wales Drive does, so I reached Hunt Club Road in no time at all. I knew that DW would still be a long way from reaching Hunt Club on the opposite side of the river. As I approached my intersection, I decided that I wouldn't cross over, but would continue south, turn onto River Road, and follow it to the next crossing.

When I reached the intersection of Riverside and Hunt Club, I was met with an amber light and stopped for the red. The lights at this intersection are long, and as I sat in the burning sunshine, with dozens of hot cars moving around me, the heat was starting to get to me. In the time that I waited for the light to turn green, I consumed about 400ml of my water bottle.

Also, when I turned onto River Road, I could feel that the wind from the south had picked up quite a bit and it took more effort to pedal. I was starting to worry about DW, wondering if I should not have left her on her own.

I crossed the Rideau at the Vimy Memorial Bridge. Heading west, I could see dark clouds in the distance and I thought it wouldn't be so bad if it started to rain. I would welcome the shade (it wasn't cloudy over me) and a cool shower. But the clouds seemed to be heading northward and would miss Barrhaven entirely.

When I pulled into our driveway, I could see DW's bike, on its side, on our front lawn, near our porch. I was glad that she had made it home in one piece. I came to a stop in front of our garage and checked my watch: I had covered 49.15 kms. Close enough to 50.

Immediately, our garage door opened and I expected to see DW coming out to fetch her bike. But I was met by Kid 1. "Mom asked me to bring her bike in. She's headed upstairs."

"Oh," I said. "Is she okay?"

"She said she needed a bath. She crawled up the stairs."

"You go on in and see if she needs help," I said. "I'll put her bike away." I brought both bikes into the garage and then went inside to check on DW.

Walking into the house was like walking into winter. The air conditioning showed me just how hot it was outside. My skin immediately began to glisten, as if I had just stepped out of a pool, and my shirt and shorts felt soaked right through.

I looked at my phone and checked the outside temperature. It was 30°C but the humidex reading was 41°. By far, this was the hottest ride I had ever done.

I went upstairs to check on DW and found her in the tub. She had filled it with tepid water and poured in Epsom salt. Her face was still pink.

"How are you doing?" I asked.

"Not well. My legs are sore and I'm burning up. I think you should jump in the tub when I'm done."

"I'm fine," I said.

"You don't look fine."

I looked in the mirror and saw that my face was beet red. Not from the sun (although, I'm sure it was a factor) but from exertion in the heat.

"I honestly didn't think I was going to make it," DW continued.

"Why didn't you pull over and call for a ride?" Kid 1 was home and would have come out.

"I don't know. I thought of stopping many times but I just wanted to get home. I didn't want to wait to be picked up. That wind almost killed me."

I should have stayed with her. If I had seen her struggle, I would have called Kid 1 myself to come and rescue her mom. I've been cycling all season and the distance was no problem for me. The heat was strong but again, for me, the wind seemed to keep me cool, as long as I kept moving.

DW got up from the tub and moved to the shower. I took her advice and got into the tub. The water had cooled but felt nice.

"So, how far did you go?" she asked. I told her my route and the total distance.

"What about you?" I asked.

"Forty-two point three."

"That's great," I said. "You said you could do 40 and you did a bit extra."

"That extra nearly killed me." She exited the shower and grabbed her towel. "Actually, I feel much better now. The Epsom salts helped and the shower seems to have rejuvenated me."

It's true. The bath before a shower really made a difference. Though I hadn't felt the heat as much as DW had, I felt the cooling effect and it made me realize how hot this ride had actually been.

This ride also taught me to think twice about cycling during a heat warning. And to set my alarm to make sure I set out long before the heat takes hold.

And to never abandon DW on a ride.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Kayak on a Mirror

It's turning into one of my favourite kinds of selfie.

There's nothing really to it: I just mount my Insta360 camera on a selfie stick and attach it, via suction cup, to the deck of my kayak. I extend the stick to its maximum length and start recording.

Actually, I hit the Record button and then extend the selfie stick.

In playback, I just set the pivot point directly to the suction cup so that it points straight down and then capture a still from the video. Both lenses for the camera are being used, and because the stitch line is far enough away from the deck of the kayak, there's no distortion.

And the stitch line hides the selfie stick.

A few weekends ago, DW and I went paddling on the Mississippi River, in Almonte. It was our third time kayaking the Mississippi, and I've got to say that this river runs still. The surface is like a mirror.

So, taking a selfie that points straight down to a mirror-like river, the reflection of what was above is truly remarkable. I love this shot.

Happy Friday!