March 2016 Theme: Alleys by Craig Roberts

I've long held a fascination with back alleys, wondering what secrets they kept from the front fascades they present to the public. Exploring them almost feels like an intrusion, being somewhere you shouldn't; the grafitti code for the stories of the streets, the air permeated with the raw and pungent odors of humanity.

I'm drawn to the material textures of the buildings, looking to find balance within the barred windows and doors, the intrusion of nature, disgusted as it attempts to reclaim the land.

These pathways are no longer just for interurban transportation and garbage collection - for some this is a microcosm of their existence: their bedroom, bathroom exposed to indignant views. This is their source of commerce, and even food - their survival. 

February 2016 Theme: Tabletop Photography by Craig Roberts

Blue Light Leica

Our recent monthly theme for the local camera club was tabletop photography; I actually began my digital photography path cutting my teeth on a small 2ft square table set up in a utility room, amongst the furnace, hot water tank and various stored boxes, making images for my online auctions. Back then my setup consisted of a 24" x 36" piece of gray poster board that I fashioned into a sweep against one wall, two drafting lamps with articulating arms on either side, which allowed me to move them around for the best positioning of the shadows and my 3megapixel Kodak point and shoot positioned on the tripod.

Fast forward to this and the setup wasn't much more high-tech; since I no longer had any strobes, softboxes or even flashes available to use, I improvised with a combination of long exposures and LED lights to "paint" the subject camera. The base is simply a storage trunk I made use of while my background, again, was no more than a piece of black art board, this time swept against a roll of white seamless hung from a mini boom arm on a c-stand.

 The first image file, with exposure lightened considerably and set to monochrome to illustrate the basic setup. Each subsequent layer was masked & painted in to strengthen areas of sharpness, color and focus. 

The first image file, with exposure lightened considerably and set to monochrome to illustrate the basic setup. Each subsequent layer was masked & painted in to strengthen areas of sharpness, color and focus. 

My idea for this image was to have the camera back-lit, and I had 4 acrylic ice cubes with blue LEDs that I lit and placed behind the model camera, to create the enveloping glow. I made a handful of images moving the cubes into different positions to broaden the glow, then used them in a couple of files to pain the front of the camera. Finally I used a small white LED light-pen to paint the front of the camera and focus highlight some specific areas. All in all, it took 15 minutes tops to set up and shoot. 

Once I had all of my files in Lightroom I exported them out as layers to Photoshop, then proceeded to adjust the individual exposure, mask each layer and then selectively apply them back to the base image. This allowed my to choose areas that had been selectively light-painted to create a stronger cohesive image. Some final adjustments to contrast and color gave me the completed image, however I noticed that when I printed the first time, the overall look was darker than I was looking for - two subsequent printings later, each incrementally lighter (and brighter) gave me the final printed image I was looking for.

Westminster Abbey, Mission BC by Craig Roberts

Every now and then I'm still surprised that after 25 years of living in the lower mainland I continue to find hidden gems to explore. A few years ago, during an outing to explore some of the local waterfalls, we drove past the drive leading to Westminster Abbey, and this past weekend I finally managed to get back out to explore it with a local meetup group.

Originally established in 1939 in Ladner by five Benedictine monks sent from the Abbey of Mount Angel, Oregon, it relocated first to Burnaby then to this location overlooking the Mission valley in 1954. The pastoral grounds offer expansive views up the Fraser River below, and a variety of architectural subjects both inside and outside the abbey itself.

Inside the abbey church are a number of wonderful reliefs and a fantastic collection stained glass windows - while I'm not an architectural shooter per se I have the upmost appreciation for the interior's characteristic curves and lines, providing a great foundation for me to explore that creative aspect.

Although we were visiting between prayers, I did notice one monk sitting in the pews, perhaps preparing for the next session or just in tranquil thought - I did not wish to intrude upon him in this sacred space but I did want to give my images some human context, so I chose this shot which maintains his anonymity.

I know I will now need to plan a return visit later in the spring to further experience the foliage and gardens located throughout the area.   

Fall Family Portrait Session by Craig Roberts

I was hopeful that before the final days of 2015 passed I would actually compose at least one blog posting for the past year  ...
That didn't happen - but maybe this will kickstart my creative thinking (and writing) for 2016!

Back on an early Sunday morning last October I joined our friends Leanna, Phil, their daughters Bryn and Kylie, and two of the sweetest golden retrievers, Ben and Bowie, for a family photography session.   

This location was a bit of an after-thought, as I had another location that I ah scouted the day before, but the tall grasses and magnificent morning light, the tranquil river and the first fallen leaves of the season, combined with a sense of purpose & vision culminated easily in one of the most relaxed and fulfilling sessions.

These folks are so darn photogenic, we couldn't help but produce a varied selection of poses and locations, and deliver some great results! 

October 2014 Theme: Cars/Car Details by Craig Roberts

The theme chosen to represent this month, Cars and Car Details, falls into an area that I have a great affinity for ~ especially for vintage automobiles. While I can never claim to be a car-guy, I do certainly admire the older vehicles from the 30's through to the edge of the 70's; current cars don't generally draw me to them often, and when they do its only because they have features they've borrowed from those other past designs. Respecting those great engineers and designers who were able to bring their visions & classic design elements to light, I've spent the past few years focusing my attention and images on the finer details that I see when looking at these cars: headlights and tail lights, chrome grills, emblems, hood ornaments, hub & gas caps and even those absolutely imposing profiles. I've always appreciated the amount of sweat equity folks put into restoring their vehicles but am now enjoying those survivor vehicles that retain their original paint and patina, texture and battle scars.

The great thing about vehicle photography is the car community is vast; most owners are happy to exhibit and share their vehicles (and stories) , and with your subject parked and captive you can definitely take your time making creative images.

I've now added a portfolio and gallery of Vintage Automobile images to my site, please be sure to visit!

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ford fordor art for sale on Fine Art America
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