The Challenge:

I just participated in the “fivedayblackandwhitechallenge”. This event took place on Facebook and the idea was to create a chain of willing photographers to share 5 images from their portfolios and to invite 5 other photographers into challenge to perpetuate the event. On Oct 21 I was invited in by Anil Sud a good friend and mentor who is an amazing photographer in his own right. A special Thank You for that.

Observations and Objectives:

So the question became what will I bring to the table. On a weekly basis I share a fair bit on Facebook so what would be the idea behind the images I was about to show for this challenge. My thoughts became one of newness. I spent time and looked at some of the images that people were post I realized they were from all over the world so I knew there was a larger audience pool. I decide to share some new images and processing concepts to see what comments this broader audience would yield.

My Submissions:

My first image was posted on Oct 21. This was a shot taken at the Leo Mole sculpture garden in Winnipeg. When I first saw this original colour image I liked the contrast that existed between the dark greens, dark clear waters and the light yellow lilies. When I loaded it into LR5 and did a basic B&W conversion, based on a preset I created, I discovered much more. In B&W this image shows a tremendous amount of character in the depth of blacks in the matte leaves, the bubbles on the waters surface and of course the subtle details of the flowers that once you look into them you see more and more of the details that first look appear to be slightly over exposed.

B&W Lilies

Captured at the Leo Mole Gardens, Winnipeg, Canada.

My second image was posted Oct 22. This was a shot taken in North Eastern Alberta at Elk Island. This location became a favorite haunt of mine for about five years. Arriving predawn I would walk among the bison sleeping in the in the meadows and trees. I got quite used to them over the years and I had a good understanding of their body language so I was comfortable walking among them, stupid maybe, but it allowed me to get some very peaceful morning shots. This was one taken just as the bison were awakening. The setting was very nice with the edge of a forested area behind adding some nice light and vertical contrast to the dark animals and tall light grasses.

Bison Morning #2

Captured at Elk Island, Alberta.


My third image was posted on Oct 23. This was taken in the Rockies near Jasper, Alberta. I was on a two day hike in the mountains and I came upon this small alpine lake. Along its shoreline were the roots of fallen trees that had been bleached by the sun and waters. The white sculptural roots strictures were a beautiful contrast to the dark green of the forest and the emerald green waters. The B&W conversion allowed even more depth and the selective highlights I chose created a nice “S” curve to the composition.


Taken at an alpine lake near Jasper, Alberta.

Taken at an alpine lake near Jasper, Alberta.


My forth image was posted on Oct 24. On my travels to the city of Chicago in 2011 I captured this shot from the Navy Pier. Looking west on a bleak rainy day the sun would breaking through the clouds every once in a while. I lined up the lamp post to be directly in front of the sun so it would illuminate the glass shades. The twin towers were wrapped in a shroud of mist but the dual antennas rose above the mist rendering a classic double elements composition.  In processing I discovered a fortuitous third double of a pair of birds just above the lights. Divine intervention…

auto remote camera

My fifth and final post was on Oct 25. With an international group I thought I would end it with an iconic symbol of the Canadian Prairies and take a step back in time when the history of our country was just being written. The Iron Horse is a imposing machine of iron and steel with a belly full of fire and boiler full of steam on the brink of catastrophe, yet, it intimately wove a steel thread that forged our culture and heritage from coast to coast. The Prairie Dog Central is the oldest functioning steam locomotive in North America, circa 1882, which still runs today. Its an amazing sight to behold as this Hollywood star steams across the prairie landscape as its black smoke plum dissipates into the abyss of the westerly prairie winds. I apologize that I was posting two images but I thought its was appropriate as they symbolize the coming and going of an era in early Canadian history.



The five colleagues I invited were Alex Morrison ( About Nature Photography ), Tse Li Luk ( Tse Li Luk photography ), Hans Arnold ( Hans Arnold Photography ), Keith Levit ( Keith Levit Photography ) and Rodney Braun ( Rodney Braun Photography ).


So this concluded my posts for the challenge. During my five days I was determined to share comments with as many photographers as possible. I search “fivedayblackandwhitechallenge” for the five days to see other peoples works and give comments when I was inspired by their images to do so. I must have “liked” upwards of 100 posts and commented on 20-25 that were outside of the community I already knew. There were some great images.

I guess I was an anomaly by doing this but I thought sharing opinions would be something that most would look for. Unfortunately on the receiving end my images rarely earned any comments outside of my known friends and colleagues, which I really appreciated, but it was a bit of a disappointment not hearing from photographers from other countries.

So, would I do it again, of course I would… its a joy to share the art you create.

Some Interesting News:

When I spoke to Rosemarie & Pat Keough about joining in on the fivedayblackandwhitechallenege they gratefully declined because in a few short days they are leaving on another amazing photographic expedition that will see them on a return journey to Antarctica and then on to South America to venture up the Amazon River. I’ll look forward to learning more about these amazing expeditions in the future.

Rosemarie told me about an exciting recent development regarding their book (tome) entitled “Antarctica”. She wrote “Big news for us is that the prestigious Arts + Auction magazine, in its current international edition, highlights our photographic tome Antarctica as being one of the “Three Classics” together with Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail by Ansel Adams (1938) and Henri Cartier- Bresson’s The Decisive Moment (1958).”  Attach is the pdf of the article “Snapshot of Photography Books, The Top Shelf.” Good company indeed! You can read more about their amazing books and travels by clicking on the link above.

Art+Auction – Keough

I’m look forward to the next challenge.

Can you Capture Mood Photographing a Sculpture?

Photographers often have images of sculptures of famous and historic people, monuments and even commissioned art works. Most of what I’ve seen are well lit, typically an afternoon sun during a visit to a park. The subject is positioned in a balanced position among flowers or trees sometimes with friends and relative near by.

The Bean, in down town Chicago's Millennium Park.

The Bean, in down town Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Have you ever shot sculpture thinking of it as a model ? Why not ? Look at it this way, each subject will hold its pose for you indefinitely and never complain. They are usually in ideal settings giving beautiful backdrops, even better having a natural light environment where you control the time, light and weather, you can return to your studio check your images and re-shoot with your improvements even a year later. Lastly some of these famous people would charge you a small fortune in modeling fees, of course some are no longer with us and some are just iconic symbols.

Chicago Millennium Park, The Bean Sculpture.

Selecting the right spot with a well contrasted background and in this case a strategic refection.

Here is a suggestion on how to get started. Find a subject that your interested in and it doesn’t have to be a human figure. Go to it and look at it from every different angle you can imagine and take shots from all these locations. Return to your studio and look at each one, find your favorite and ask these questions:

  • What is in the back ground?
  • Should I move closer or further away?
  • Would a slight elevation change make the composition better?
  • What time of day gives you the best light for the subject?
  • What weather condition would best suit a mood for this subject?
  • Would a secondary light source enhance the subject?

Lets detail this out a bit further:

  • The Background – Examine your image looking closely at whats behind and around the subject. Less is more in most cases so find a contiguous fill that has good neutral contrast. Remember that depth of field can change the look of this field as well as texture, light and shadows. Will the change of season offer a different more appealing contrast. Time has no limitation to this subject.
Chicago Millennimum Park, The Bean Sculpture.

Standing further back revealed this gull trying to hatch this egg, placing him with a contrasting background of a darker building with its geometric window pattern.

  • Foot Zooming – If your happy with the angle of your composition how does that change if you stand closer and even further away. Image compression is seldom considered so try it out and see how it changes this type of imagery.
Leo Mole sculpture garden Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This frog at the foot of the statue was a great opportunity. The pond refection was the motivator, shot from a mono-pod at arms length and a remote trigger release allowed for an uninterrupted refection of blue sky with no people.

  • Elevation Changes – You have the perfect spot that best suites your composition and background but what happens if you just do an elevation change. Most people will shoot from eye level, the human tripod height. Get low and see what you have, maybe bring a small step ladder and see what change that brings to the composition. Most viewers will comment on images that have this slight variation.
Cancun, Mexico, Iles Desmure

Looking up to the angle in the clouds was a must do. The light from behind gives the viewer a sense of the angle not knowing we’re present as she looks down and prays to the crosses below.

  • Time of Day – We’re all aware of the golden hour but is it the best light for your subject. Does it cast the best shadow lines to enhance the character, is morning or sunset best. It maybe that a time later in the morning or earlier in the evening is best remember the sun moves in an arch across the sky what is the optimum time. Also don’t forget that the seasonal changes will cast shadows differently as well.
Leo Mole Sculpture garden in Winnipeg.

High noon gave this sculpture a nice highlight across her entire body. It also allowed the camera settings to be closed down so as to not blow out any highlights and create this high contrast dark background.

  • The Weather – All types of weather will add another variation to the lighting of your subject. Could an over cast day suite your subject even better or a rain or actual down pour have a positive effect, never know till you try. Fog has an amazing effect and a capture during a snow storm can be effective as well.
Leo Mole Sculpture Garden, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Taken after an afternoon rain, broken clouds allowed just enough light to cast off the wet concrete patio illuminating her face under a dappled lit background.

  • Additional Light – Adding a secondary light source can add a real sense of drama to a sculpture. A controlled highlight of soft colour during a rain is very special. A night shoot with a start lit sky and specially crafted light painting can be spectacular, this is very popular in advertizing today.
Leo Mole Sculpture Garden, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Why does the rain make everything greener, because its wet. Great time to shoot in a garden. The Honeysuckle vine cascaded down to her face gives this a real garden of Eden mood. Broken skies allow many different lighting opportunities.

So why can’t sculpture portray a mood, well of course it can and creating it is a lot of fun and in some cases takes a lot of skill and practice. Try it out.

Leo Mole Gardens, Winnipeg, MB

Orion looking toward the skies which just so happened to be broken clouds allowing a variety of lighting opportunities. The light at this moment was defused as clouds moved by.

Leo Mole Sculpture Garden

Post production can help to create many different moods.

Happy Thanks Giving


Over the past 10 years I was fortunate to have worked and met with an amazing number of photographers from Manitoba, across Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Inuvik), the USA (California, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Arkansas, North Dakota), Great Britain (Scotland, Whales), Australia, France, South Africa and even Iceland. It was a joy to have met so many of you who had one common joy and spoke in a common language, that being photography. I’ve seen a vast array of different styles or genres from street, macro, micro, abstract, astrological, portrait, wedding, journalistic, event, travel, entomology, wildlife and of course scenic the most popular of them all. Thank you to everyone of you for sharing your wonder images and amazing stories.

CSCS Imaging-303

Of course to have interacted with so many different camera clubs and associations has been an outstanding experience. To see at the grass roots level all the enthusiasts that really form the foundation of this art and industry. Each and every club has members who help and share their knowledge from beginner to the highest level of international award winners all of whom champion their clubs and communities.

I would be amiss if I didn’t also give thanks to the many journalists that I’ve spoken with from newspapers columnists, magazine publishers and television hosts. The community of gallery owners, curators and publishers who all shared their expertise openly and willingly my heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

To have had the opportunity to meet and talk with each one of you, to share your input and enthusiasm for the art of photography was a true blessing for me. I know I can’t give back nearly as much as I received but I can certainly pay homage and say thank you for all you’ve done to grow the art of photography.

Happy Thanks Giving Everyone…

Joe Kerr

Ian Tamblyn Concert Wpg., Feb 24 2012

One Moment in Time





Photography is all about capturing moments in time and preserving them. When your presented with that moment be prepared or loose it. Most photographers will admit, if they are honest, that they’ve missed far to many and will try to be better prepared at any time. Today that is made a lot easier with the advent of cell phones that have reasonably good cameras but these certainly don’t replace a DSLR for quality files but they’re easily accessible to make that capture.


This is one of those moments that came up very quickly and was over with in a couple of minutes.

Recently, on a student outing, we were at a lake location for a sunrise shoot. All the cameras were set up on tripods facing east and everyone was anxiously waiting for their moments to capture the aura of a new day. A steady wind was coming out of the west and as the wind picked up I turned and there was this amazing boiling cloud formation know as mammantus clouds coming over our heads. Alone these are an interesting cloud structure and poised on a broad scene they are very dramatic. Then I noticed all the birds scurrying about sensing an impending storm and higher up the gulls were souring in the air turbulence. I collected my camera in hand and I began to shoot the larger birds with the back drop of the clouds.


The birds were moving very quickly partly due to the winds but also gulls are generally quick fliers. I immediately thought of capturing them as a silhouette, at the altitude they were flying the details were not necessary so I made a setting selection. I always shoot manual so with the ambient light low and by increasing my shutter speed to keep the birds sharp I ended up with a setting of 1/180 to 1/500 sec, f 2.8 and the ISO was already set at 200 for the sunrise. I always check my in camera metering to make sure I don’t blow out any highlights, if there is any danger I shoot on the dark side and bring it back in Lightroom.

_DS23925 _DS23919-3



In post production the decisions were almost immediate. There was very little colour so a conversion to B&W was obvious and it was the first step. I took the first image and tweaked it till the clouds were well defined yet the bird remained the darkest point which became the focal point. I saved this as an action and applied it to the 56 images as a base line. The clouds were really quite uniform in brightness so I could make a decision individually as to where a stronger highlight could be placed. The obvious choice would be around the gull but I chose not to be that obvious because in mother nature its more random. In stead I let each images cloud structure decide where the brightest point would be and the bird was secondary even though it was the focal point, bit unusual, but I believe it worked out well.



The last bit of artistic license was to convert them to a deep sepia tone which gives the images a more menacing and intense essence. To finish all the images were taken into FX pro and given a simple frame and a light glow with no blacks, to make sure there was no halo around the birds.  The glow gives the clouds a very nice soft look and deepens the background from the foreground, with a sharp bird detail, almost appearing 3D.