Thursday, August 23, 2012



I've given up on blogger, as you may have guessed from the thick layer of dust. Apologies! I've found a younger better looking template from which to do whatever it is that I do from. And thus, I moved to Wordpress.

If you care to update your readers, the new home is:

It's still in the works and there's only a couple of posts, but I'm enjoying it!

See you in hell!

Monday, August 1, 2011

neglect and procrastination

Hello fellow bloggers and gentle readers. (I've always wanted to say gentle readers!)

It has been quite some time since my attempt at a new post and even more since my last actual update! Life found me in a bit of a rut photographically, so there wasn't much to update about. I started a couple courses at George Brown College to go towards a Digital Photography Certificate during the months of March and April. They were a great diversion from the rut I was beginning to fall into in my small town and dead-end sports photography job.

My last attempted post, that is still sitting in my drafts and I may or may not revisit, was in regards to my Business of Photography course. I learned so much in that class. The best thing was, our final assignment was to hand in a branding package for our business. This included business cards, a logo for all letterheads and legal forms, etc. It really forced me to think about how I want to portray myself professionally... and also made me realize how difficult it is for me to come up with a simple, concise design that is in fact "me". That's why I probably won't publish that post, because I've decided I want to redo everything until I'm really happy with it.

Since then I was just bound and determined to get back to the big city and rejoin the life I had started to make for myself before university ended. I have so many friends and contacts here in Toronto; it seems silly to go anywhere else. I started looking for a better job and after a long, repetitive process of writing and rewriting cover letters, emails, going to interviews, not getting anywhere, despairing about not getting anywhere, etc... I finally found one!

I'm still quite surprised they took a chance on me, but I'm so glad they did. I love my job. I walk down the street to work every morning and the CN tower is right there! It makes me smile.

Coincidentally, the same day I started my new job, I started my first shooting course at George Brown. I took their Fashion Photography course and got to try out shooting in a studio with lights for the first time. The new job, adjusting to the schedule, the commute, my class (which took a large amount of energy and time outside of class to edit everything... which I'm still working on!), and searching for a place to live has left me pretty wiped out these past couple months.

I'm happy to say that I've found a place to live though! It's right downtown, just a block or two away from a few good friends. I'm hoping that once I move in mid-august that by September I can get back on track with my personal photography and start creating again. I've got quite a few art projects in the queue as well, so I'm hoping to find time for those, at least over the winter.

I really feel like I'm starting a new chapter in life. It feels so strange to finally have a great full-time job that I know I'll stay at for a long time and learn a lot with. I'll be living on my own for the first time (no roommates, eek!). I've also become a lot more confident with my work and photography now that I've gone out of my comfort zone and tested what I can do.

For future updates, I think because there was so much content, I will do class-by-class posts to update with my new work. If you follow my Flickr account or my vaguer Facebook page, you may have already seen some of the new stuff. I'll try to go about it a little differently here so it's not more of the same.

Thanks for reading! Here's to, hopefully, not letting the dust settle so much on this blog!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

aerial straps

At the beginning of the month, I had the awesome opportunity to work with Abby again, but this time for her specialty dance talents. She does Aerial Dance with straps and a hoop (not photographed yet). She is amazing at it! If you want a unique act at your next event, or even a private lesson, ask me for her contact info!

I got to use a couple of my new "backdrops" for this shoot. By that I mean, I went to Fabricland and bought cheap material and sewed it together all make-shift style. The red and purple I bought are Rayon Twill... so they're probably going to be wrinkly a good lot of the time, but they look neat. The black is Valour, which makes me laugh, but it's actually pretty good for a backdrop.

I wanted the background in these shots to be flush with no folds or wrinkles, but the only way we could hang it resulted in a sort of theatrical curtain look. I don't hate it, so it's all good.

red curtain, originally uploaded by avalilly.

pointe, originally uploaded by avalilly.

half a heart, originally uploaded by avalilly.

extend, originally uploaded by avalilly.

impossible, originally uploaded by avalilly.

riley, originally uploaded by avalilly.

aerial, originally uploaded by avalilly.

We actually shot these in her garage. Her unheated garage. On a day where it was -30 C out. She was a great sport, as was her little cousin who came out as well. Abby teaches private lessons for children as well, if you happen to be interested! It's a really beautiful dance form. I can't imagine how much strength it takes though. I can't even touch my toes without bending my knees, so this is definitly not in the stars for me!

She does a routine with a partner on her hoop. I really hope I get a chance to shoot those photos! It sounds so awesome.

These photos really make me wish I had a good lighting kit though. We just used a common work/flood light and in some of them my external flash fired at the ceiling. It will suffice for now, but it really really makes me want to learn how to light properly.

(Also I did the makeup for these. Can you tell I had just seen Black Swan?)

Monday, February 28, 2011

dear purolator

You are silly.

I woke up this morning to a couple packages being delivered to me. One was my new external harddrive, which I'm super excited about, and the other was a mysterious large box marked as a gift.

So there are the two boxes. The left one is my harddrive, which was packed nicely with enough room for the product and some paper padding. Overall, not a bad use of space:

So after opening that package, I couldn't really figure out what the mysterious large box could have in it. I didn't order anything else, but it said it was addressed to and sold to me by the same place that I purchased the harddrive from. So I open it up:

Lots of paper it seems. I wonder what could be in there...

Really, Purolator? Really. Did you run out of boxes or something? It's not even fragile! It's a carrying case for the external harddrive.

Hilarious packaging aside, I still didn't know why this was shipped to me. I thought maybe it was just some gift with purchase thing since I bought a featured item. Then I remarked at the fact that they got me one in red, which is always a great choice, so then I figured it had to have been someone I know who sent it.

As it turns out, my boyfriend is all thoughtful and awesome and got me this to go with my harddrive! It arrived a little sooner than he thought, since it was supposed to wait until my birthday, but I guess they just shipped them all at the same time for convenience. Or it was a coincidence. Who knows! Either way, awesome monday morning. =D

Maybe now Photoshop will stop yelling at me about my disc space.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

abby and the old barley mill

So I just realized I never actually uploaded the rest of the photos from this shoot to this blog. They've been on Flickr for a while, so if you follow that you may have already seen them. They're also now on my Facebook Page!

time, originally uploaded by avalilly.

lean, originally uploaded by avalilly.

weightless, originally uploaded by avalilly.

glow, originally uploaded by avalilly.

The levitation image (weightless) is probably my favourite photo to date involving Photoshop to achieve the desired image. It features two different photos to make up Abby's body, one for the gallery space, and two more to create the left, foremost pillar. I'll have to do a full before and after with the in between steps to fully explain it, but I'm happy with the results, so I hope it looks good!

You'll be seeing more of this lady in the future as she's hired me for her business portraits and aerial straps photos (which I shot last night with my new red backdrop!). I'll post more about those in future.

I may upload more photos to this post in the future. There's still a couple images that I want to work on from this shoot, so whenever they get done I'll just add them to the end of this post. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

george brown and p.l.a.r.

So last Thursday I went in for my portfolio assessment at George Brown. Now, this is a continuing education certificate that I'm going for, so one doesn't actually have to apply to take any of the courses. I just felt that the first couple courses would mostly be a waste of money for myself as I already know a good portion of what is covered in them. Because there are mandatory courses in order to achieve the certificate at the end, I had to be officially exempt from them, thus needing a portfolio assessment.

Anywho, I was given the final exam for that course at the interview and overall received an A for my assessment. I was granted exemption from the first course, so I'm super happy about that.

I took a digital photography course when I was at York University. It wasn't the most technically inclined course, but it assumed that you had a fair bit of knowledge to begin with, so I imagine that's why there weren't full on studio lectures explaining what curves and histograms are, etc. I figured that because I have my honours degree in Visual Arts, and that I had taken this course, that I'd be able to use it to exempt me from George Brown's second mandatory course in the certificate.

Apparently this was not the case. The director emailed me the course outline saying that they have a much more in depth study of Photoshop and that my 4 hours / 12 week course at York does not compare to their 3 hours / 7 week course. This is probably a fair assumption in the grand scheme of how much technical information is exchanged, however it's still all stuff that I already know.

So now I'm faced with the decision of: do I apply for another Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) appointment to fast track me to the next level, or do I just take the course and see if I actually do learn something?

I'm sure that I would learn some stuff. There seems to be a fair bit of study on colour management for predictable print results, which I could maybe brush up on... but is it worth the $375 price tag when I could just pay $100 for the PLAR and move on up to the next level where I know I'll be learning new things?

Ofcourse, there is the consideration that they use Mac computers in their labs and classrooms, so perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to just take it to get better aquainted with the operating system, so I'm not as slow at things once I get to the higher levels.

Oh, decisions.

Friday, January 28, 2011

learning to flash

So, as I mentioned before, I bought myself one of these for christmas. I finally stopped procrastinating about it and just tried it out for a client shoot the other day.

I was happy to see that it's dedicated to my camera, so I didn't actually have to pretend to know how to use it and fiddle around until it did something. Basically you install it onto your camera's hotshoe and away you go. All I had to do was turn it on and it examined my camera settings and fired whenever I pressed the shutter button on the camera.

Now, as convenient as that is, I do still intend to learn how it works so I can use it for more complicated set ups, but for now I'm pretty pleased that I could be an idiot and still have it work for me.

I did a quick couple before/after shots to see what the difference was:

As you can see, a pretty decent difference in lighting. I still don't like the "flash shadow" that shows up, so I did my best to minimize that throughout the shoot. Because this flash can swivel around in all directions, I had it pointed at my reflector to the left of the camera. I tried it on the silver side first, but that was too much contrast for this particular kind of portrait, so I switched it over to the opaque white side to give a lighter diffusion. It's still a bit stark in some of them, but for the most part it did what I wanted it to.

After changing to a horizontal frame for some shots, I started bouncing it off the ceiling instead. My ceiling isn't necessarily the best for this since it's that textured kind with all the bumps on it, but I liked the result none the less.

The ceiling bounce offered a better version of the kind of light I was looking for. There's enough extra light to get a brighter picture, but without the flash sacrificing the natural light coming in from the window.

So, nothing terribly complicated at all. Just a matter of finding things to bounce it off of and hopefully avoiding the ghastly flash shadow that makes everything look like a cardboard cut out. In the future hopefully I'll be able to report on using the flash's manual settings and maybe try using it off the camera. It did come with a stand! For now though, I'm happy. Winter is so overcast around here, it's hard to get a good amount of natural light shining in through the windows.

Also, that's my kitty Noelle being her usual nosey self. I believe she was looking to have an affection attack, but we were kind of busy.

Here are a couple of the final images:

business abby, originally uploaded by avalilly.

business abby, originally uploaded by avalilly.