Thursday, April 22, 2010

I've moved!

In order to refine the WardsPhotography brand, I've moved my blogging over to my main website (  It's got a new look and feel but it's the same type of content.  You know... words surrounding pictures so I can show off the pictures.  :-)

I won`t be updating this site with new articles but will maintain it in order to provide an archive of past blogs.

I hope this improves the blog`s accessibility.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Out on a limb?

23 years with the same company is long enough to get comfy.  One afternoon last month, that came to an end as a result of a shift in the company's business away from product development.  As a development engineer, that left me... out on a limb.

A Good Run
In the exit interview, we reviewed the successes and accomplishments I experienced over the years.  From designing/building underwater security systems for a middle eastern monarch to developing the world's most capable swimmer detection sonar to systems that changed the way things are done, I've had a good run.

Wards Photography
I've been running my WardsPhotography business for two years now.  It's time to step it up with improved services and more weddings/portraits.  With new gear, new goals, and new ideas, I'm excited about this next year.

A New Project
Watch this blog for an upcoming release of a project that really excites me.  It's something near to my heart and quite ambitious.

Thanks for your interest and support!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Givin' It.

It takes real effort to do anything worthwhile.  Its a law of sorts that the universe yields to every sacrifice.

Thats what I thought as I witnessed this youth dance group Culture Shock in practice being directed by the energetic Rana Khoury.  Her dedicated service instructing and leading this band over the years to bring "a message of self-worth, dignity and respect for all people" has made its mark.  It was amazing to see this 'mark' in action as the dancers mastered the hip-hop/street dance steps at their practice session at Goodlife Fitness Clubs in the Rideau Centre. 

Two other friends Chev Cheecho and Cybill Mathelier help her in directing, leading, and instructing young performers in putting together a show-ready performance.  Their yearly challenge is to perform in the Choreographers Showcase competition.  This year the Ottawa chapter is hosting the competition in October with teams from the United States, Canada, and even some international troupes.

Rana Khoury lead the practice with Jordan Daniow, and Sam Tep carefully following her lead.

In the few moments they shared their practice time with me, I found layers and layer of commitment in this small group of artists.  New members with few sessions under their belts were prompted, encouraged, and even cheered by the more experienced.

Small jesters betray further layers of trust and respect... the very attributes this group was meant to encourage.  It works.

A quick moment caught between performers shows that this attitude permeates deep and wide.  A rich environment.

Encourage, encourage, teach, and encourage.

The Culture Shock crew strives to "empower young people to stay drug-free and engage in a lifestyle that embraces acceptance, achievement and self-confidence".  I'd say they are doing that.  As a non-profit organization since 1993, they ask for your assistance through sponsorship of goods, services, and donations.  For more information, contact Marc-Andre Clement (613) 740-0513 or follow the link.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ottawa River Inukshuk

My wife and youngest on a walk along the Ottawa river.  These Inukshuk are left by locals and depict families.  Seemed appropriate to take a snap. 

There are over 30 of them and most are in the water just off the shore near the Laroch Park on the Ontario side.  Really beautiful. 

Makes for a wonderful place to put a face.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Letters behind a name, or, "What have you done lately?"

A good friend of mine, Peter Peets, described his route to photography and asked a question related to running a photography business.

"... any thoughts on getting photography accreditation - any value in that?"

Here's my long-winded 2c worth...

Thank you for your comments, Peter. You’re very kind.

Your history with photography is a similar one I’ve heard from several photogs who in later years blossom into significant talents. It’s a passion that once ignited never goes out. Oddly enough, I too was in a high school camera club. I spent many spare periods in the darkroom inhaling chemicals and spinning spools of film. Uncharacteristically however, I did not move back into photography directly. It was only seven years ago that I took up sketching; mostly charcoal/pencil stuff.

It was while studying compositional rules and techniques for adding meaning and interest in artwork that it really dawned on me that photography uses the same principles. In fact, it represented for me a more pure form of art where manual dexterity (or lack thereof) did not limit the expression of a message. The wonder and curse of popular access to digital cameras and tools has allowed this form of art a flourishing growth. It’s opened vaults of artistic talent in millions of common folk. I love it.

You asked about the value of getting photography accreditation. As far as I can tell there are several reasons a photographer would seek accreditation:
1. To gain media access to events.
2. To impress and reassure clients.
3. To impress and reassure oneself.

Media access is a valuable thing if you’re after editorial work. I am associated with a sports photography company (Action Sport International) that gives me access to official events like games, marathons, etc. I haven’t done any events yet but look forward to the challenge. I’ve also approached a national magazine and may yet score something there.

Impressing clients is a funny thing. In truth, the best assurances for good work come from referrals. Nevertheless, a few letters on your business card and web site helps to give an overall image of professionalism. I’ve belonged to the local camera club which gives me membership to Canadian Association for Photographic Arts, CAPA. I also used a production company for wedding and portraits, Pictage. So, combined I could use the phrase, ‘accredited member of AIS, CAPA, and Pictage’. That’s a nice set of letters. Doesn’t change my images and as far as I can tell didn’t get any more clients but perhaps in an unseen way, it added credibility. Don’t know. The only real value I got was in access to their services such as mentoring/instruction, publications, etc. That’s definitely worth it.

Impressing myself is a constant challenge. Not that my standards are all that high but by nature of my own proximity to myself, I’ve seen everything before. (lol) Seriously, the greatest pleasure I get is in finding/making an image that, like a funny punch line, surprises me. It should happen more often and I’m working on stretching myself into new areas. Second greatest pleasure is having others see something of worth in these favourite shots. The last pleasure is getting paid for it so I can sustain this adventure.

In the end, it only matters what we are able to in the next photo shoot. Letters behind our name won't do that, just the gray matter behind the lens.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

My country, my quiet Canada.

It was a beautiful, cold, fall morning here in Eastern Ontario. I was fortunate to capture some images of the gentle countryside out back of my local town. It's a hidden pastoral paradise five minutes from the din of high tech business.

Just beyond these trees (above) there was a field filled with geese gobbling their morning gossip. This cornfield offered rest, fallen kernels, and avian social networking. The concenus was that they didn't like my presense much and took to flight. The sound of wind raised by their wings swept across the fields.

Milky. That's the feeling I got when squinting into the sun's blast to see this morning field.

As I mentioned in a recent tweet, it's often a hit or miss thing with shooting landscape. In the field, you see things differently, more emotionally. The wideness of each vista is somehow able to spread beyond vision and into the heart. It's not often that I get the same feeling on reviewing the files on the computer. But this next one, with the bare trees against the sky, the turned fields flat and ready, the trimmed grass, they all speak of land bleak and bare; yet one that people have loved. To me, it came out close to what I felt.

I have another image I'm working on from a shoot several days ago. I'm not sure what I think of it. I'm letting it steep like tea. Time tells a better story. I hope to share it when it's ready.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Embrace

Bless the dark chill that drives lovers to embrace.

I stole this moment between two lovers,

Comforting each other in the last days of their lives.

Long struggles in the growing/living season,

Did not harvest in either a bitter fruit.

Even when left old with wind withered faces, leaves and stems gone slack,

I couldn't help but noticed, they had both grown a common heart.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Drama waiting and What I look like in the morning.

I love fall.
Even more, I love post-fall
leaves laid down for winter sleep
trees left naked in the wind.
Drama waiting. Wanting.
Click image for a larger view.

I couldn't help but recognize a bit of self in this next image. Mornings for me can be brutal and I often emerge from slumber disheveled and slightly out of sorts. Not grumpy, just not together yet. Arms go one way, nose seems part of my mouth, and a head that feels like its sticking out of another body part. Just like this image...
Click image for a larger view.

Poor fellow.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Colour's Back!

As promised, here is a colour image of a fall landscape.
Click image for better detail.

After closing our summer camp for the year, I went for a walk in the nearby countryside. The atmosphere of quiet was defined not by audible levels but by the mind-calming smell of ripening leaves, cool touch of gusting winds, and moving visuals of cloud masses. It was the kind of pre-winter overcast day that tell your bones to slow down, chest to breath deep, and shoulders to let slip summers rush. It's time for knit sweaters, warm homemade soup, and fresh baked bread. (That's just what was waiting for me at home.)

Here's my discovery of colour in a field of wild flowers. It looked just like this too and I was thrilled it came out so well (IMHO). Rarely does a picture match what the mind sees: a flash of memories from childhood romps through wild grasses and flowers. I see cartoon-like patterns of pale grasses mixed with pastel flowers arrayed in patterns that dance across the field. It's a simple beauty.
Click image for better detail.

I look forward to the challenge of translating this to a large-format print and see if the vision survives.

Cheers to you and a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Colour's a thief.

Fall finally arrived and outdoor pictures have come to life. Colours abound. It's dream-time.

I've waited and waited for an interesting-looking morning. Early this week one appeared with fog and everything. There were colourful leaves, great foreground and background elements, and did I mention fog. I grabbed about a hundred images, raced back home to eagerly process them and then... bam! THEY CAME OUT BLACK AND WHITE.

Well, not on their own. I helped.

I just can't stop myself sometimes. I edited lots and lots of shots with colour but kept seeing them in a simpler format. I wanted to emphasis the compositional elements. The fog is a wonderful back curtain limiting the depth of field and far-background distractions. The light was coming in from the rising sun which was burning off the ground fog. The fields were wet with dew and held contrast. The wild flowers, bush, and tall grass gave foreground anchorage and interesting details. It was near perfect. If it only wasn't for those colourful leaves. Colour was stealing the eye and so he wasn't allowed in the picture.

In the coming weeks, I'll sincerely try and let some colour in. Till then, hope you enjoy these. Here's another fav.

Dan Ward

My photo
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada