The year of film festivals and portraits
A Pivot to Short Films
Over the last couple of years, my work has been slowly shifting away from motorsports and towards cinematic short films. I have been combining my fascination with abandoned structures and ghost towns with my videography skills, creating short films that look at the history of my hometown area. The Ottawa Valley has a rich logging history, and I'm continually drawn to the old stories of log drives and sawmills. Hunting down the history of the logging era has become my new hobby.
This year I created a new short film, The Lost Timber Slide of Chats Falls, which unearths the history and location of the timber slide erected in the 1830's to bypass the Chats Falls on the Ottawa River. Unlike my previous short film, The Forgotten Valley, this video focuses on a single abandoned structure instead of multiple locations. Using my local history books and combing through the Canadian Archives, I was able to piece together the history of the timber slide, from it's creation, the glory years, and it's inevitable abandonment. If you haven't seen this film yet, I'd love for you to watch it and hear what you think!
Success at Film Festivals
I decided to enter my short films into festivals again this year, and for the first time ever, it was a success! I'm really excited with this new chapter in my creative journey, and it's nice to finally see some recognition for my hard work in the amateur film scene.
The Forgotten Valley placed runner-up in the Sudbury Tiny Underground Film Festival
'Till the Tree Drops placed semi-finalist in Best Short Fest
The Lost Timer Slide of Chats Falls won best documentary in the Alternative Film Festival
Another SDRO Sled Calendar
For a third year in a row now, we teamed up with Snowmobile Drag Racing Ontario to produce another sled girls calendar. This year, Bob from Winchester Auto allowed us to use his shop for the indoor photos - and WOW did they ever turn out nice! We welcomed back a number of familiar faces, some for their 3rd year, and entered into the fold a few new models. You can pick up a copy of the 2024 calendar at the SDRO website. Thanks for your support!
Portraits and Videos
Portrait photography has become my favorite genre of photography. Specifically, golden hour and beach shots. These bring me great satisfaction. I challenged myself this year to focus more on natural light scenes as opposed to lighting with a flash. I was also inspired by a few other photographers that really embraced shadows, even to the point where the face was just barely exposed. This technique worked well when using back or side lighting, creating some very dramatic and "gritty" portraits.
Along with portraits, I experimented with modeling videos. I was really just looking for an excuse to practice with my new video camera. The first one with my wife was so much fun and turned out so amazing, I messaged our model friend Brianna and asked if she'd be interested in shooting a similar style video. The sun didn't exactly cooperate for us, but in the dying hour of the golden sunset, we managed to get enough shots to stitch together a very elegant "music style" video.
A Cinema Camera
I pushed the 1DX Mark II to it's absolute limit when it comes to video. It's been a solid workhorse and I'm very proud of the videos I've created with this 8 year old DSLR camera. Having said that, I felt very limited by it's lack of dynamic range (sitting somewhere around 11 stops), and lack of a LOG or RAW recording format option.
The Canon C200 cinema camera has had my attention for some time now, and when I found one in my budget, I finally pulled the trigger! The C200 is an entry level cinema video camera that's capable of shooting DCI 4K, RAW Lite format, has built in ND filters, and offers many assistive features to help nail the proper exposure and focus. It's a very different beast compared to my DSLR... you can tell this thing is made for videos!
The increase in video quality far exceeded my expectations! The autofocus is at least as good as the 1DX, possibly better, which was a relief after reading some negative reviews online. My favorite feature though is the built-in ND filters. It sounds like a small thing, but constantly screwing on and off my ND filter every time I changed a lens was a huge annoyance. Now I have high quality filters from 2 to 10 stops available at the push of a button! I only have a few videos under my belt at this point, but I'm already very pleased with this camera, and I'm excited to see what it allows me to produce in 2024.
The slower pace of 2023 was nice. I've enjoyed turning this side business back to more of a hobby. I'm working on another short film that will feature a local historical location, so stay tuned for that in 2024. Other than that, I really don't have any specific goals. I'm just going to see where the road takes me, and try to enjoy the ride.
Take care folks!