Random thoughts on photography

This is a great commentary and post on the movie. I hope that we can someday have the resources to help our suffering returning veterans and reduce the number who end up homeless or worse because of their trauma. Inno way am I intimating that all our veterans are irreparably damaged by war, but there are a large number who are, and don’t get the treatment they require.

Social Health

American Sniper

With the recent controversy surrounding this movie, I would like to say that those who criticize it for glorifying war are missing the point. The internal struggles represented in this movie are highly reflective of what many Veterans face in the transition to civilian life. Rather than taking this an an opportunity to criticize the war by demonizing those who fought in it, we should learn from the intimate perspective it offers into life in combat and the tragic consequences military service has on Veterans and their families. As Bradley Cooper stated: “’American Sniper’ is meant to be a character study, not a political statement on war.”

Despite this fact, I actually believe the movie is highly political, but not in the sense many are criticizing it for. Rather than a commentary on broader geopolitics, this movie has political implications in the sense that it demonstrates the nuanced reality…

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A Humbling Experience

The beautiful tack that was on Cactus, the horse that we met while at the farm

Today I was fortunate enough to be asked to photograph a friend and her horse for some publicity photos.  I wasn’t prepared for the experience I was to have.

I arrived at the facility north of Whitby, Ontario, a bedroom community outside of the Greater Toronto Area, and was immediately overwhelmed by the world-class establishment that has been provided for physically challenged people to be able to enjoy the experience of riding a horse.  Everything has been thought out very carefully to maximize the enjoyment of those with limited mobility.  Access has been planned so that everyone can participate, from washrooms, to stables to actually getting onto a horse so one can ride.

We had the privilege of being one of the few people in attendance this day, so it was easy to see everything and appreciate the beauty and thoughtfulness that was put into the facility.  The original building(s) and paddocks and stables were provided by Sandy Mitchell, a man born with cerebral palsy.  Determined not to let his illness get in his way, he worked the land and built the buildings and donated it all to charity.  Windreach Farm is a registered charity, receiving money from a number of organizations to keep it running and continue their good work.  I have nothing buy praise for this remarkable man who was so instrumental in providing a world class training ground for para-olympians, and people with disabilities.

I’m sometimes asked why I don’t have a “studio” where clients can visit to have their photos taken. There are several good reasons that make the photographic experience less costly, more convenient and more comfortable for my clients!

When I decided to re-enter the field of professional photography, I had several decisions to make.  One was, what type of photography did I want to pursue this time?  Did I want to focus on stock photography or perhaps landscapes, or continue creating images of people, animals and special events?  I decided I really enjoyed working with people to create something special that they and their loved ones would enjoy for years to come.

Earlier in my photographic career, I worked with a special person in the school photography business.  He taught me how to set up a portable “studio” in a school to create wonderful images with great lighting techniques and a positive personality behind the camera.

So that’s why I decided to go with a portable studio.  With a portable power supply, I can create images outdoors or in a client’s home, where they, their family members and their pets can feel more comfortable. My clients also have an unlimited amount of clothing options and familiar props at their disposal.  And, of course, I can set up my equipment in my own home if the client wants to come to my “studio”.

I believe the versatility and convenience, combined with a lower overhead that I can pass on to my clientele, make a portable studio much preferable over a bricks and mortar studio in a fixed location.

Don’t forget to visit my website at http://www.JohnLueckPhotography.net  and I’d be pleased if you would visit my Facebook page (link on the right hand side of this page) and click “Like” if you are so inclined!

Stay focused, and I’ll see you on the other side of the lens.

Christmas is coming….

I just recently had a potential customer call and ask to set up an appointment to take photos of her family  that she could use for Christmas cards.  I unfortunately had to decline, as we only have about 4 weeks till Christmas.

I know this post, and word to the wise, is too late for those who still are thinking about getting photos done for Christmas, but for every season or holiday, one has to plan quite a bit in advance.

The advent of digital photography has given many folks the idea that photos are “instant” because we no longer have to take the film to the lab to be developed.  Then look at the proofs to decide on the images that we like and then take the negatives to the lab to be printed.

However, there still is processing, retouching and adjustments that need to be done  to many digital  photos in order to make them “print ready”.  And, we still have to send the files to the lab to have them printed.   This all takes time.

Not to mention the time that it will take you to put them in envelopes, address them and get them out to the mailbox so the postman can  get them delivered to your friends and family in time.

So, a word to the wise: if you are wanting photos done for Valentines Day or Easter, now is the time we should be talking about scheduling your photo session!

Have a great Holiday season everyone!  Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.  Drive safely, drink responsibly and enjoy the holiday season and all the wonderful sentiments that it entails.


Creating Great Indoor Photos

Many people complain about inconsistent results or disappointing results when taking photos indoors.  Many times the images are underexposed or blurry and at other times they look as though they were shot in an expensive Hollywood studio.

The answer is lighting.

In order to get consistently good photographs, we have to understand lighting and how to control it and manipulate it to get the results we desire.  In the photograph below, we can see that the lighting is primarily from the left, but we still have detail and contrast on the right side of her face.

In this set-up, there was a lot of natural light coming through some large windows on the left giving us a nice soft “main” light.  On the right there was a light coloured wall that reflected the light perfectly onto the right side of the model’s face.  The fact that she was not lit exactly the same on both sides gives definition to her features and depth to the photo.  There was plenty of light to get a proper exposure without sacrificing on shutter speed, since this was done without the aid of a tripod for stability, so we needed to use a fairly fast shutter speed (above 1/100th) in order to avoid blur or movement in the finished product.

We have to be aware when using a camera that is in automatic mode that we do have enough light.  Sometimes we think there is lots of light, but when the camera “looks” at the scene it will slow the shutter speed down in order to get enough light through the lens to make a proper exposure.   This can make for a blurry photo if we move the camera at all during the exposure.  Sometimes just the shutter shake can make the difference between crystal clear and blurry.

This was a situation where the light was ready-made and already in place for the photo.  We just had to wait for the right time of day, adjust the shutter speed and f-stop and ask our model to smile!

Sometimes we have to use a reflector, or another light, or perhaps even position the model or move the camera in order to get the lighting conditions that will yield the best results for the image we are attempting to capture.

Remember though, that when we add reflectors or more artificial lighting to the scene that we have to be careful of the colours of the reflectors and the type of lighting we add.  White reflectors such as a poster board, white paper, a bed sheet etc will reflect the colour of the main light.  A black reflector will absorb the light and reduce the amount of light “reflected” back.  And a coloured reflector will add that colour to the photograph.

When using artificial light, be sure to adjust the white balance on your camera for the type of lighting.  If the light is primarily fluorescent, your photos may have a greenish tinge if you don’t adjust your white balance to fluorescent.

We’ll talk more about lighting, white balance and ISO in another issue.  In the meantime, work on controlling the light when taking indoor pictures and have some fun making some memorable photos.

Also, don’t forget that even though summer is only just ending, Christmas is not that far away.  If you want some great professional photos to add to your cards this year, give us a call and we can discuss our packages with you.

Spring bookings

Now that it seems that Spring is finally arriving with some warmer weather and lots of rain to jump start all those flowers and nice green grass growing, it is time to think about getting some outside portraits booked.

We do location shooting, and all winter we have been relying on bringing our portable studio to the INDOOR location of your choice.   Now, with the nicer weather, it is time to think about doing some beautiful portraits outside with some great natural light and flowers, trees and/or grass for the backgrounds.  Or, we can even arrange a package that will contain a portion of your shoot outdoors and another portion indoors so you have the opportunity to change outfits and get some different looks to choose from.

Of course Pet Portraits are always nice to have outdoors as well.  We have created some wonderful images this year that were done in the comfort of our clients’ homes, but now we are beginning to book outdoor shoots as well.


Spring is not only the time for weddings;  It’s a great time to get that portrait done for a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion.

Give us a call at 905-409-3031 or contact us by email at john.lueck.photo@gmail.com to book your appointment today and avoid disappointment.

See you out there!!


Flash Photography

These days almost everyone has a camera, whether it’s on your cell phone or a dedicated digital camera.  And everyone loves to take photos to remember those special occasions.  Quite often, those occasions are happening indoors, and in order to get a nicely exposed image you have to use a flash.

If you notice, the professional photographers rarely use the flash that is built into their camera.  They will use a unit often described as a “strobe” that is either attached to the camera on top of the built-in flash, or a unit that is separate from the camera.  The reason they are using the strobe is so they can get a direction to the flash which is not directly in line with the camera lens, in order to eliminate the dreaded “red-eye” effect and also to give some definition to the subjects in the picture.

The flash on the camera “flattens” the image and often gives a very stark effect to the resulting image because the light source is so close to the subject and directly in line with the lens.  Using a strobe allows a photographer to angle the light source away from the subject and bounce the light back onto the scene they are photographing.

The image that I have included here shows how, with the light off to one side, the face has much more definition.  The shadows and contrast also make the photo more interesting and natural looking.

One rule of lighting in photography is “the larger the light source, the softer the image”.  This is an important technique to remember.

Ok, so you don’t have a strobe.  You only have the flash that is built in to the camera.   You too, can diffuse the light from your flash, and get results similar to those achieved by the pros, by putting a small piece of translucent material over the flash that will make the light source less harsh and also make it into a “larger” light source this making your image much softer and more appealing to the eye.  Just a small piece of tissue paper will  do the trick, and make your flash images look even better than before.

Try it and see if it makes a difference with your flash photography!


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