writer traveler photographer

Behind the scenes on a photo shoot

I write a lot of stories for magazines–some of them community profiles–and it’s always a struggle to capture the essence of a community mainly because there’s so much to write about and not enough space. That happened recently with the story I wrote titled Only in Pubnico published in Saltscapes Magazine. I dream of having 20 pages to tell a story like this.

Aside from not being able to include all the people I wanted to include in the story, another reason I’d love to have more space is that the photos were taken by Kate Barden and Bruce Cramer, professional photographers from PA (KB Pictures). They have a gift for doing environmental portraits and the photos they took on this assignment were drop-dead gorgeous. Alas, there was only space for a handful to accompany the text. But I can tell you there are hundreds more “wow” shots.

So for those of you who enjoy photography or are curious about how the photos in that article were taken, I thought I’d give you a bit of a backgrounder about the kind of equipment Kate and Bruce use. They have a Canon 1Ds Mark11 and a Canon 1D Mark11. Kate says that the Ds has a much bigger file size but the D is faster, so they use both.

They also like to control the ratio of subject to background so that the person “pops” out of the photo. This is done with a 7-foot umbrella that has a silver lining and the whole thing is attached to battery powered light heads.  “We love the quality of this light. It seems to wrap right around the subject and give incredible dimension,” Kate says.

As one shoots the other is checking the quality of the images, done by tethering the camera to a laptop via a firewire cord. Note the dark cloth (also called a “focusing cloth”) over Bruce’s head. He’s checking the shots Kate is taking of Ted d’Eon. They must have taken over 100 photos of Ted on two different shoots. The one that was selected by Saltscapes is on page 37.

Bruce thinks it’s kind of funny that the dark cloth still serves the same purpose it did when photographers used a large format 8×10 or 4×5 camera, way-back-when. Some things don’t change. The next time these two come to Atlantic Canada I’m hoping they’ll have time to give a workshop for the Yarmouth Photography Club. I know we’d fill the club room!

PS If you have any questions you want to ask Kate and Bruce, ask away and they will reply in the comment section.

PPS And if you haven’t been to Pubnico before, you don’t know what you’re missing.  There’s lots of stuff to see/do. Calvin d’Entremont (the guy kissing the blue lobster on the cover of Saltscapes this month) has a tour company there. You’ll find him and lots more at the Municipality of Argyle‘s website and Yarmouth & Acadian Shores.


  1. Calvin d'Entremont Calvin d'Entremont
    November 23, 2010    

    Love your article,wish everybody had the chance to work with Bruce and Kate.They are really fun to deal with.

  2. November 23, 2010    

    Yes, they are a special team. Of course, when they have “subjects” like you who are game to try different things it makes their job a lot easier (and more fun!) They LOVED working with the people in Pubnico and would like to come back some time just to relax and have some down time there.

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Welcome! This is where I occasionally post a story that's not filed under My Work ... or give a behind-the-scenes commentary (when fit to publish.) You'll also find notices about upcoming workshops, such as memoir or travel writing. Enjoy your visit and come back often. Better yet, subscribe!

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