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Jan 25, 2016

Western Development Museum Adventures

   17 Months by Jay Scott on
I believe I've found another underappreciated gem in Saskatoon, the Western Development Museum. So much so that, after a few visits, I bought a family membership. It was a great place to take Fiona to explore and make her 17 month photo, as seen above.
    Boomtown In Character - Samantha Willey 2 by Jay Scott on
Samantha Willey

    Boomtown In Character - Nikki Larson 2 by Jay Scott on
 Nikki Larson

One of those first visits was while location scouting. I was trying to squeeze in one more accessible photo excursion before the end of 2015. It was a wild progression of events. The intial plan was to go to the University for accessibility, variety of indoor and outdoor places and familiarity. Then Colleen, of Infinity Management, offered us models, whom I accepted. I found out the campus buildings were locked up over Christmas and New Year's, as well as all stat holidays, the Commerce and Engineering buildings being an exception. Still, not enough information or variety in time.
    Boomtown In Character - Kymm Wright by Jay Scott on
Kymm Wright

    Boomtown In Character - Samantha Willey by Jay Scott on
Samantha Willey 
Queue the WDM, for our planned Wednesday evening outing. Evening, because I hoped more people could come than would be able to during the day. That's when I found out the museum closes at 5PM. Why did this surprise me? Because my most frequent visits were to the Festival of Trees, when it is open in the evening. Last resort, and by this time the models were committed, had costumes and I feared appearing unreliable, was to go during the day. Most were good with it and the turnout was great! Could've used more photographers, but, more talent available for us to shoot.
    Boomtown In Character - Samantha Willey & Sean Arcand by Jay Scott on
 Samantha Willey and Sean Arcand
    Boomtown In Character - Carlee Davidson & Kymm Wright by Jay Scott on
Carlee Davidson & Kymm Wright
Regarding WDM accessibility, it's not horrendous. Boomtown has a number of buildings we chair users cannot access, but my biggest beef is the museum entrance. Where the asphalt meets the concrete of the door there is a wide, deep groove, followed by a lip. This means a chair's front wheels fall down into the rut, before needing to pop up, onto the lip. It's the same for the rear wheels. Add to that a camera bag and it's tricky. They do have automatic door openers, though. I really need to send an email about that rut. It's bad, and would be easily remedied.

    Boomtown In Character - Carlee Davidson by Jay Scott on
 Carlee Davidson

    Boomtown In Character - Carlee Davidson 2 by Jay Scott on
 Carlee Davidson
Prior to this gathering of good friends, and soon to be new friends, I felt a growing confidence and comfort working with new people. I'm not a shy person once I get to know people, but I'm not the best at breaking the ice. Give me 10 minutes to get to know someone and I'm happy to tell stories, joke and laugh. This is not just for expressions and genuine smiles, but it certainly helps. Since I work with this great crew, all from Infinity Management, and a number of them on a another shoot after that, I look at the photos and think of the great time that I had and the excitement about the next round. My posing and people skills have greatly increased, thanks to this crew.
    Boomtown In Character - Nikki Larson by Jay Scott on
 Nikki Larson
Coming soon will be a post about our 90s punk rock shoot at a little hall in Clavet. You may have already seen the photos on 500px. All I can say about that is it was a great day, with great music, fun people and ranked right up there with in the top five or 10 most fun times I've ever had in my life.
    Boomtown In Character - Kymm Wright 2 by Jay Scott on
 Kymm Wright

This weekend will be the third of a three-week collaborative winter-themed shoot with a large number of models, hair and makeup artists and photographers. The weather is looking great, though the ridiculously cold one two weeks ago made for some outstanding photos with the River and the steam in the background. I have a pair of able hands to hold a light or whatever I might need to make some great images. And, I plan to do whatever I can in the way of holding a reflector are light so they can take advantage of this great opportunity, as well.

I will finish with a photo of our Kiwi. Fiona was having a sleepover at her grandparents' and Angie was out for the evening at a musical so I had my studio/living room back for a few hours. I made the most of it and found out what a great trooper that little dog is. The pedestal I had her put on was the laundry basket. This worked perfectly in the past for the previous eight year old photo of her from December, 2015. At that time she had no problem popping up on it and sat just as good as can be. I had placed my sheepskin on it so she had a soft and grippy place to stand. Without thinking, for this photo below, all I had was the slippery backdrop, directly on plastic.

If that dog didn't come charging off the couch and jump up there when I called her, sliding right off the back and into the half wall. Once I knew she was fine I had a pretty good laugh, consoled her and got her something better to stand on. It took a bit of coaxing but she gingerly stepped off of my lap, onto the hamper and sat there while I shot for about 10 minutes. She might be a little bit barky, her anxiety seems to be getting worse along with a few of her senses, but she still that energetic little dog that enthusiastically greets me whenever she sees me.
    Kiwi - January 2016 by Jay Scott on

Jan 13, 2016

Winter Solstice Sunrise with Olivia

    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 4 by Jay Scott on
Make no mistake, the main reason for making some photos at this time of year was for the latest sunrise possible, and therefore the most forgiving call time. I'm not afraid to get up early for something I love doing, but I had to consider everyone else. Rae, my invaluable assistant for the day, probably would've been up, anyway. Olivia, well, she did an incredible job but was on her Christmas holiday break from school so I didn't want to ask her to get up too much earlier than necessary. Her dad, Paul, who is better at getting up earlier than I am, was her transportation and I had to make sure he had enough time to be properly ready for the day.
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 1 by Jay Scott on
We didn't get a stunning sunrise, as it was overcast, but that wasn't going to stop us from making great photos. The temperature was brisk and the wind was enough to definitely affect how it felt, but we have a couple of more vehicles for our brave people working outside to pop in and warm up in. For me, by wheelchair with all of the snow accumulation in the parking lot well, it was obvious that it would be easiest for me to get the most angles and stay the safest by shooting from my van. So, that's what I did, getting a few different looks with different focal lengths.
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 2 by Jay Scott on
There's no question that without the help of an able bodied assistant, none of these would have happened. Sure, we could have taken some snapshots, but would not have been able to continue working on refining my use of my two new flashes. I still have a little ways to go with the automatic exposure refinement, but I'm getting there. I learned manual and still am most comfortable using it when the environment is reasonably static. I've often thought of how it compares to learning to aim a rifle with open sights, then learning to use a scope. When it comes down to, I still prefer to target shoot without a scope and I still prefer to use off-camera flash in manual mode.
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 3 by Jay Scott on
It was good to do something that I have wanted to do for a while, now. It took getting out of bed a little earlier than I might've liked, on a cold morning and asking people to sacrifice their comfort along with me. They did and I am thankful for that. It was far more rewarding than the backup plan of skipping the photos and just going for a hot beverage somewhere.
    Solstice Sunrise with Olivia - 5 by Jay Scott on
The same can be said for the amazing 90s punk rock shoot I participated in this past Sunday afternoon. I fought an embedded cold, a lousy night's sleep and a degree of inaccessibility but I went. When all was said and done, enhanced significantly by the 90s music that we listened to, I found myself rating it in probably the top five most fun things I've done in my life. I will leave you with a teaser photo from the shoot and get back to editing the rest of the other great shots from the day.

Model: Kymm Wright (Kyki Wright of Infinity Management)
Hair: Laryssa Scott
MUA: Caitlin Wiklun

Jan 6, 2016

Christmas Cuteness - One of the Things I Am Thankful For

    2015 Pointsettia by Jay Scott on

It was a great visit to Swift Current for Christmas. I hadn't been there since Thanksgiving of 2014. Fiona was a delight and melted hearts each day. Only one run-in with Santa upset her. More on him, in a minute.

As is often the case, the paper and boxes were as exciting as the gifts. For awhile, anyway. It wasn't too long before we broke into the shopping cart full of groceries and bag full of other food that grandma and grandpa had bought her to go with her new kitchen. The tea set had to stay in the box, though. She wanted it out but with all the little pieces we wanted to make sure everything made it home. Sometimes, though, the best things are free. In the first photo of Fiona you can see a gift bag that she was just enthralled with and really enjoyed carrying it around, heading to the door and saying "buh-bye!" I guess she was going shopping for that last-minute gift before bed on Christmas Eve.

Santa did stop in for a visit, and she was fine to observe him and try to figure out who this man in red was. Grandpa picked her up to come over and say hello and that was little too much. She was definitely upset about that but I sure was glad to see Santa because he brought me three, 4 foot fluorescent light fixtures. We picked them up from his garage on Boxing Day.

The one thing that I have wanted with my recent ultraviolet light portraits has been more light. I have been pushing the image quality to the limits on my camera. It is a stellar machine but definitely aimed at studio work, not a pitch black garage with a cobbled together selection of ultraviolet light sources. Now I have plenty, and expect the next shoot to have the image quality I really want. That's not to say the first shoots did not have great images. I was really happy with everyone's work. But when I look at the full resolution images I know what is possible and now can see that it will be what I have come to expect.

Regarding hard work, anyone who believes being a model or artist is easy should really give it a try. Taking the time for makeup, enduring the tedious downtime between actual creating, the physical strength it takes to play a large instrument or hold that pose for "just one more shot" is not to be dismissed. A significant number of people have put in hard work for my benefit, and I recognize and appreciate it. Sometimes it was mutually beneficial, other times it was completely selfless and all for my benefit. The very brisk weather conditions I asked young Olivia and my assistant, Rae, to endure for a sunrise session is a prime example. Those photos will be coming, soon.

The hard work put into this toybox by Fiona's grandfather can be seen in the meticulousness and the details. That same grandfather has spent so much time coming up with and building solutions for me. Those solutions could be adaptations to make things easier for me to use or they could be custom tables and supports to hold up prop for a photo that's very important to me. A photo that I needed to make last year, following the most stressful time of my life. That photo and the related post may or may not be coming, soon. I have lots to say and it needs to be said, just right.

I recognize the generosity and hard work of Santa (Dennis) who, without hesitation, offered me as many of his spare light fixtures as I needed. They were designed to be mounted to the ceiling and when he knew what I was going to use them for, quickly offered enough cord to wire them up to be plugged into a typical household socket.

Countless people have assisted me on shoots and made many of the images you see possible. That self-portrait from last summer, took me four days to put together. Had Angie been here I bet you would've been three hours, tops. It was nice to accomplish it independently but it made me appreciate any and all help I have received over my entire life.

This is not a sob story. I am reasonably strong at administrative and organizational work. Bruce has been the one to do so much of the legwork for Help-Portrait the last few years, but I'm quite happy to be on top of communications, curating lists of volunteer information and doing whatever I am strongest at. That's the way it should be in any project, regardless of disability.

I know it's not about keeping score, but whenever I have the opportunity to help out in whatever way I am able to, I don't usually take long to make the time to help out, well. Often it's through education, experience or information, which I'm always happy to communicate as clearly as I am able so that the one I am helping can accomplish their objective, efficiently.

The number of times that my parents-in-law have looked after Fiona so that we can go out together, or Angie can go out with the girls, is so greatly appreciated. We have a very good daughter and she is very easy on us (though, it looks like she's getting her eyeteeth and is one hurting little girl who should have been sleeping almost 2 hours ago) but a little bit of time and space makes us appreciate her spunky personality and impromptu dance parties, all the more.

They may not look all that similar, but she has her cousin, Will's, energy and drive to entertain. With her giggles, exploration, dancing and general performing I think they will get along very well as they grow up together. He may have a pretty big head start on her, but I'm thinking there might be a few stories to come between these two.

For me, 2015 started with great difficulty. I know that a degree of faith, determination and hard fighting made a turnaround at the halfway point. From there the year has gotten better and better, and it continues in full momentum with me having the time and opportunities to do what I love. For others, it was an entirely difficult year, with significant loss, bad news and trials like I cannot imagine. I was not exaggerating when I said it started as the most stressful time in my life, but contrasted to so much of the personal anguish that some of the people I care about of had to face this past year, it pales.

For those who I refer to reading this, if my way to return the help you gave me is to be an ear to listen or simply a distraction, contact me. I can do that for you.