2018 Year in Review

2018 was definitely a year of ups and downs; ups in the form of some well met photography and videography goals and streamlining of our business (combining our photo, video and audio production all under one umbrella, as it were), and downs in the form of dealing with some health issues that were rather problematic and the associated changes to our business to accommodate said health issues. Not to worry though, we’re ending the year on a rather high note and the ups most definitely outweighed the downs!

It was a stormy start to 2018 for me, as I was stranded in Cape Breton for several extra days due to some wintry weather after playing some gigs with Drake Jensen and my sister Inez Hill in Glace Bay over the Christmas holidays, and perhaps it was a reflection on where I was physically and mentally given that both my wrists, elbows and shoulders had locked up nerves and tendons from a lifetime of playing guitar and bass. Can’t say I was terribly happy but I did get some images of a couple of trips to the Louisbourg Lighthouse with Inez that I was very happy with, showing the massive waves left from the storm that had us staying another 5 days in Cape Breton. Inez also dragged me out to her favourite eagle spotting location which also didn’t disappoint.

Once back home in Ottawa, I didn’t do much work of any sort due to a steady schedule of physio and massage therapy that had me under orders to not pick up a guitar, or a camera, or much of anything else until told otherwise. Things did pick up again in April however with the change in weather, with a couple of trips to Montebello, QC’s Parc Omega that were a lot of fun and the startup of the British High Commission’s RAF100 program which I participated in as official photographer being hosted at Vintage Wings of Canada’s hangar at Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport. The RAF100 program brought in many local high school students and air cadets and hopefully inspired some of them to pursue a career in aviation. It certainly was a lot of fun to be a part of that program!

On the videography side, Ann and I filmed two concerts in Kitchener, ON in May for our friends in the Genesis tribute band G2R and Boston tribute band Hitch a Ride. Both were very fun and resulted in some very good material and a major honing of our concert/event video skills as a team. We also continued our promo and event video work for our friends at Iron X Fitness, always a pleasure working with them.

June brought airshow season which had me shooting much photo and video for Vintage Wings, with various Warbird U, open house, and general flying events which continued for the rest of the year pretty much. June specifically though had the Great Lakes International Airshow where I was Vintage Wings’ photo and video presence as well as ground crew in support of the Roseland Spitfire, piloted by Dave Hadfield. We had a good weekend, the aircraft performed without issue, Dave flew both great solo and formation routines along with Waterloo Warbirds’ de Havilland Vampire which was a real treat to experience. Ann and I also made a trip together to the annual WWII Weekend in Reading, PA but were somewhat disappointed by poor weather, although we did get some decent photos and finally got to meet our jazz vocalist and re-enactor friend Theresa Eaman. Seeing her perform was worth the trip in itself!

In July, I made my usual pilgrimage to Geneseo, NY for the Greatest Show on Turf!, this year with Vintage Wings’ P-40 Kittyhawk in attendance as part of a program celebrating aircraft built in the Buffalo area during WWII. As usual, Geneseo didn’t disappoint, with an interesting lineup of aircraft as well as good company in the form of P-40 pilot Joe Cosmano and many friendly folks that came by to talk to us about the aircraft. The photo highlight of the weekend for me I think was seeing the National Warplane Museum’s B-17 “The Movie Memphis Belle” in the air after a long period of heavy maintenance, what a joy to see her fly!

After Geneseo, I didn’t travel at all for any airshows with the exception of September’s Airshow London, but there was more than enough activity at Vintage Wings to keep me occupied. The Commemorative Air Force sent both their B-29 “FIFI” for a visit which happily coincided with one of the RAF100 events. Also visiting after “FIFI” was the CAF’s B-25J Mitchell “Maid In The Shade” which was also a treat to see. In August, Ann and I made a trip out to the east coast to visit family which was also a satisfying photo trip, getting to make some of my own version of iconic Cape Breton imagery. Much fun was had with my sister again towing us around to some of her favourite photo haunts!

One other thing that happened with us in August was our first commissioned wedding shoot at Beantown Ranch east of Ottawa. Our friends Marie and Derek hired us to cover their wedding and we had a blast with their families and friends capturing their day. Some of the images we got from their wedding day were well up there as favourite images of ours for 2018 and we are now proud to offer wedding packages as part of our photo and video services.

September brought the impending AeroGatineau-Ottawa airshow, and during the preparations I got to meet and photograph Canadian astronaut and all-around cultural icon Chris Hadfield. Chris got himself checked out on the Spitfire for future flights with Vintage Wings and I was thrilled along with fellow photographer Andre Laviolette to witness that little piece of aviation history. As I did for the previous year’s airshow, I spent the rehearsal day taking photos and then the show itself was streamed on the internet, with me as lead camera hand. A lot of work but quite satisfying. As mentioned before, I also attended Airshow London in Southern Ontario, lots of fun, big, fast jets but the weather was problematic and I only got some images I was happy with.

Heading into fall, I was plagued again with more tennis elbow issues that had me doing mostly editing the year’s images when I could and taking very few of them unfortunately. I also parted with some of my heavier equipment, acquiring a Sony a6500 to supplement and outright replace a few things, and selling my much used Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens which I had never been content with the weight of it. Great lens for image quality, but definitely not the easiest thing to handhold and certainly a pain to haul around. Geneseo was my first airshow with the Sony, and it performed admirably, although it struggled a bit with the grey skies at London. All told though, I’m very happy with it and the video quality from it is outstanding.

Fast forward to December, we filmed a new music series in conjunction with Ottawa’s Johnny Hall Productions and the Heart & Crown Byward Market, showcasing some of Ottawa’s premier bands. The first video to date is our good friends leMeow with their take on the classic “No Diggity”, with new releases coming out every two weeks. We also worked with country music up and comer Ches Anthony for a promo video for him through Soundcheck Entertainment.

All in all, it was a good year. Not a great year, but definitely a good one and we hope that next year is spent less with health issues and more on bringing you great images and video, and serving the Ottawa area and abroad with our photo and video services. A safe and pleasant holiday season to you all, and best wishes for the new year!

Jonathan Edwards and Ann Allain

Corvidae Studio

2016: Year in Review at Corvidae

Whew! What a year we had this year! New places and people, our first air to air photo shoot, several music videos, what didn't we do this year? Here are some of our favourite photos from our travels in no particular order, click on them to view. Many of our images are available as prints, contact us to order!

Airshow hints and tips - Part One

USAF B-1B Lancer at Westover ARB in Massachusetts

With Spring comes the airshow season in North America, beginning generally in Florida and California and peaking with events as far north as Yellowknife and Alaska in mid-summer, and around this time of year I get itchy to get the big lens out and photograph my favourite warbirds and modern demo jets. But like anything, not doing much aviation shooting over the winter makes my skills get a bit dull and I worry about attending the first show I go to and not getting the shots I want. And I do remember starting off with taking photos at airshows only a few years ago and thinking that there had to be more to just pointing the camera and having at it, which of course there is! In this post I'll talk about what to get you consider on the equipment side of photographing airshows, as well as I what I use myself. I'll make a post at a later date which will address other considerations like technique, processing, and generally getting the most out of the airshow experience.

Gear

  1. Lenses - The performance box and show line can be somewhat distant at airshows depending on the location, dependent on airport layout and surrounding areas, so your primary lens should be no shorter in focal length than 300mm. If you can afford a longer lens, by all means go for it, as it may be difficult to fill the frame even at 300mm with a single aircraft demo. Also, a wide angle lens (and go as wide as you can if you like!) is necessary for static displays as well as if you are able to be in an area close to the aircraft as they start up/shutdown, taxiing, etc. Kit lenses are usually fine for this if you're budget restricted, I used an 18-135mm for this purpose for quite a while and you'll most likely not be shooting at big apertures (low f-stops) in full daylight.
  2. Camera bodies - I started off shooting airshows with a Canon SX20IS "bridge" camera which was a great way to learn exposure, and if you don't want to make the plunge into a DSLR system, current bridge cameras are not bad. Drawbacks tend to be slow burst shooting speed (bad for high-speed action), optics are not as good as what you can potentially use with your DSLR, and they have smaller sensors resulting in poorer image quality in less than perfect light. On the upside, they're small and light in a one-size-fits-all package. For DSLR bodies, unless you have a very long telephoto lens (500mm or longer) I recommend using a crop-sensor camera as you will need the reach. Personally, I do find the image quality better in a full frame, but again, be prepared to have the lens to match. For me, the most crucial elements in a good action shooting camera are a good autofocus system (more points the better), and high burst shooting speed. More than anything else, I've missed shots because of both focus issues as well as the camera unable to keep up with the action where things like a transonic vapour cone on a fast jet only happen for a split second and if your camera can't keep up, all you'll see is a bit of vapour before and after it and you'll be kicking yourself for missing it! As for sensor sensitivity, megapixels, etc., I wouldn't worry about it much as pretty much every camera made in the last 5 years will have adequate resolution/image quality for daylight (ie, low ISO) shooting.
  3. Tripods/monopods - For most people this won't be an issue, as most lenses up to a 400mm are quite hand-holdable, and for most activity, hand-holding the lens will be the most convenient and comfortable. I don't recommend using a tripod for airshow shooting as things tend to be so fast that it's more of an impediment. They also take up a lot of space and depending on where you are, it may be blocking someone else's enjoyment of the show. Monopods are quite usable, and very good for assisting in slow shutter speed panning shots, particularly on takeoff/landing, especially with a tilting or gimbal head. However, I find that monopods can be unwieldy when it comes to photographing aerobatics and higher speed passes. Your mileage may definitely vary on this point.
  4. Strap - I'll make a special point of this speaking as someone who has shoulder issues; do invest in a good, comfortable strap for your camera. If you're spending an entire day at an airshow, that camera and lens (or multiple cameras and lenses if you're like me) gets very heavy and you don't need a camera strap digging into your neck and shoulder. The first thing I do with a new camera is ditch the thin leather strap that comes with it and install a wide, padded strap. Also, those OEM straps usually scream to the world what camera you have and how much it's worth, generally not an issue at airshows but in urban areas with high levels of theft, it can be a consideration.
  5. Battery/battery grips - One thing to think about as well with airshow photography is battery life in your camera. Carry lots of spares, or consider getting a grip for your camera which accommodates two batteries at a time. My cameras are all gripped for both extended shooting time, as well as they balance better when using big lenses. If I cover a weekend shooting an airshow, a pair of freshly charged batteries will last the day. For this reason, I don't recommend mirrorless camera systems for airshows, despite their convenient size and generally excellent image quality. Be prepared to carry a lot of spare batteries with you if you do use a mirrorless camera.
  6. Clothing/sunscreen - I can't stress this enough, get a wide-brimmed hat for airshows. Baseball hats will not cover your neck and ears and you will get burned unless you're really keeping up with the sunscreen. Also, UV blocking shirts are a godsend and they also typically are more breathable than t-shirts. Reapply your sunscreen as often as you can. If you are at an airshow where you are on tarmac, you will get burned if you don't use sunscreen regularly.
  7. Camera bags - A note on camera bags; many airshows, especially ones on military bases can have restrictive rules on what you can carry onto a base and sometimes larger backpack style bags are forbidden. Lately I've gotten into the habit of simply carrying my spare batteries, cleaning cloths and what have you in my pockets rather than try to bring my camera bag onto a base with me. Bring a folded plastic bag in your pocket if it looks like it might rain if you're at a show where you can't bring a camera bag. Also, with regard to rules about bags, be prepared to be turned back at the gate. As I've discovered at a couple of military shows, rules posted on their website/social media may not be as they are at the gate. When in doubt, leave it in the car, there's no use arguing with an MP or guardsman about it as they're only doing their job as directed.

My Personal Kit

My usual kit for airshows:

Cameras  

Canon EOS 7D Mk II, used as main camera due to its good AF system and high shooting speed (10 frames per second)

Canon EOS 6D, used primarily for static and wide angle lens use. It shoots fairly slowly (4 fps) and has a somewhat primitive AF system with only 11 points, but I have used it in the past as an action camera, with mixed results. For static subjects though it has fantastic image quality.

Both cameras have battery grips

Lenses

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sports, a tremendous lens with great image quality. It's also weather sealed. Also tremendously heavy and sits on a monopod most of the time.

Canon 24-105mm f4L, a good lens for walking around for static on full frame, and I'll use it for the occasional formation team wide shot. I keep a UV filter on this lens to protect it, and to keep it weather sealed.

Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 VC, this will be my go-to ultra-wide angle lens for close-up aircraft shots, replacing a Canon 10-22mm that I used to use in this role

Accessories/supports/etc.

Benro monopod with Jobu Jr. gimbal, used for the Sigma 150-600mm

Browning Flex Grip rifle sling adapted to fit the grommets on the Sigma 150-600mm *I keep a sling on this lens in case either the monopod loses footing or if I'm using it handheld. The rifle sling has far better padding than any camera strap I've been able to find.

Blackrapid Sling Strap on the 6D

Lenspen or two (I tend to drop them)

Cereal bars, sunscreen, bug spray (especially at Geneseo!), and lots of water

Ann's Gear

Ann usually carries her Canon EOS 60D and 300mm f4L IS, sometimes used with a 1.4x Extender III and occasionally a Manfrotto monopod and tilt head. This was my primary setup until I got the Sigma 150-600mm Sports.

Stuff I've used in the past...

Canon EOS 60D - traded in after 80k clicks or so for the 7D Mk II

Canon 55-250mm IS, 18-55mm IS, 18-135mm IS kit lenses - a note on the 55-250mm, despite the slightly short reach, it is a great value. Fairly sharp, very light, and very versatile. Also, the 18-135mm was also a good value.

Sigma 150-500mm DG OS lens - a decent lens, but nowhere near as good as the 150-600mm Sports. Very soft from 400-500mm, and also not very sharp until stopped down to f9.

Tokina 70-210mm f3.5 lens - a very old Pentax K mount lens adapted to Canon mount, an interesting full manual lens that I got me a few ok photos. Full manual exposure and manual focus is a real challenge!

2015: Corvidae Studio Photos' Year in Review

What a year 2015 was for Ann and I here at Corvidae! This year both of us got to travel to places we'd never been before, both to the far North and to places in the South parts in between. In particular, seeing Canada's North was a particularly life changing experience. I've had the honour and good fortune of being guitar player in the band Twin Flames which has given me the opportunity to travel the north of Canada, with the possibility of much more northern travel for 2016. Ann got to travel with us as well in November, so we both were able to have the experience of the Arctic and its people. Canada's identity is so founded in the North yet so few of us have the privilege to experience it. From a photography perspective, pretty much anything you look at in the North is a worthy subject, from the landscapes, the wildlife, the people, their art, you could spend a lifetime traveling there and taking photos and not even scratch the surface of it. All the same, here are some of my favourite images that we took on our northern travels.

On the aviation side of things, after attending the Yellow Birds Warbird U event at Vintage Wings of Canada, I finally became a volunteer at VWoC after several years of attending various events there. I felt it was time to give back some time and effort to an organization that does so much in Canada for maintaining our aviation history and giving so much inspiration to young people. Also, Ann and I did a some traveling around to various airshows, fewer than I hoped but still wonderful opportunities to take photos as well as just to get away and see new places. We attended shows in Westover MA, Reading PA, and Stuart FL together, and I attended multiple events through Vintage Wings, including a weekend at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton ON, the highlight of which was a flight on their B-25J Mitchell "Hot Gen!". Some highlights of our aviation photography are here in the following gallery:

Aside from the aviation and northern travel, Ann and I also spent a fair bit of time doing some wildlife photography, as well as working on our portrait skills. We had a really good year as far as developing our skills and I feel like we've come a long way in the past year, we hope you think so too! Here are some of our nature photos that we took around home and away this year:

We had a great year this year, and we hope yours was too, Happy New Year and all the best to you all in 2016!

Jonathan Edwards and Ann Allain

Corvidae Studio Photos

PS, if you like any of these photos and would like a print, drop us a line and we'll make it happen!

Airshow Review: The Great New England Airshow 2015

C-5 Galaxy of the 439th Airlift Wing, 337th Airlift Squadron

Our first official airshow event of the year was The Great New England Airshow at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, MA, and I can tell you that it was a bit of a mixed bag. I knew going into it that the layout of the base was going to make photography somewhat challenging, but combined with the distance of the show line, the weather, security restrictions, and massive traffic tie-ups made for a fairly wearying experience. That isn't to say though that we still didn't get some good photos and generally enjoy the show itself, it's more that it's debatable that it would be worth it to return or for a first time photographer to bother. We did attend both days, although we didn't spend the full day there on Saturday due to the weather as well as delays getting into the show. At any rate, on to the details about the show.

We were excited to attend Westover as I knew it was a C-5 Galaxy base, the massive USAF cargo aircraft which I had only ever briefly seen once before (on approach to CYOW over our house) and the opportunity to see one flown in the airshow wasn't to be missed. Also of major interest to us was the chance to see the RCAF CF-18 Hornet demo in its 75th Anniversary Battle of Britain colours which I knew I wouldn't see this year until September most likely. Aside from those attractions, other performers included several warbirds such as P-51 Mustangs "Never Miss" and "Bald Eagle", Corsair "Skyboss", TBM Avenger "She's The Boss" and B-25 Mitchell "Miss Hap". Aside from the warbirds, the USAF was represented by the aforementioned C-5 Galaxy and the F-22 Raptor demo team, with the USN providing the always entertaining Blue Angels team. The US Army Golden Knights and RCAF Snowbirds rounded out the military teams on display. Civilian performers were Sean D. Tucker in the Oracle Challenger, Rob Holland Ultimate Airshows with his MX-S/RH, and the GEICO Skytypers with their SNJ's.

The US Army Golden Knights kicked off the show timed with the US and Canadian national anthems, jumping from their Fokker C-31A Troopship. Following the Golden Knights, the warbird performers took to the air, represented by Mike Murphy's P-51D "Never Miss", Charlie Lynch's TBM Avenger "She's The Boss", and American Airpower Museum's FG-1D Corsair "Skyboss" and B-25 Mitchell "Miss Hap". While the warbirds were forming up, Sean D. Tucker also flew a short display in the Oracle Challenger. Following Mr. Tucker's display, the warbirds performed several racetrack passes as well as a formation pass, then Mark Murphy put his Mustang through its paces in an aerobatic display. As you can see from the warbird shots, the far show line made it a long reach even with the 150-600mm. Also, the south facing orientation of the show made for tough, hazy, backlit conditions for photography.

Following the warbirds display, the mighty Lockheed C-5 Galaxy returned to the show box after having taken off before the show to perform a few passes as well as a dirty pass demonstrating the sideways rotating and retracting nature of the massive landing gear. While slow moving and slow turning, seeing the enormous aircraft up close was a treat.

Up next was the much anticipated RCAF CF-18 Hornet demo in her new Battle of Britain colours. Capt. Denis "Cheech" Beaulieu performed the familiar but still entertaining routine featuring various high speed and slow high alpha and dirty passes. Again, the lighting made for a real challenge to photograph the beautiful colour scheme on the Hornet, hopefully I'll have a chance to see it again this year under more favourable conditions.

More RCAF action followed the Hornet with the world-famous Snowbirds, with their Canadair CT-114 Tutors entering their 45th year of service with the display team. It was great to hear the American crowd show their appreciation for the Canadian team, who performed with their usual professionalism and precision. The low show was performed Saturday due to cloud cover with the high show on Sunday.

Continuing in the formation team vein, the GEICO Skytypers next took to the skies in their vintage North American Aviation SNJ-2 and -4 aircraft, demonstrating a variety of WWII-era training maneuvers that student fighter pilots would have learned in that period. The snarl of those P&W Wasp radial engines always makes me smile!

The Golden Knights performed again with a slightly more extensive performance than in the morning, leading into Sean D. Tucker's next performance in the Oracle Challenger. Mr. Tucker pushes his aircraft hard and is a lot of fun to watch, especially his extremely low passes done at high speed.

While Sean Tucker was pushing his aerobatic aircraft around the show box, the roar of the F-22 Raptor and P-51D Mustang "Bald Eagle" could be heard in preparation for their routines. The F-22 performed its remarkable demo of speed and maneuverability unheard of in other jet fighters. I had seen it perform last year at Rhode Island and this year's performance was no less thrilling than before. With its solo demo done, the Raptor was joined by Jim Beasley in his Mustang for several passes in the USAF Heritage Flight, a very stirring sight with the pinnacle of fighter aircraft technology of their respective eras on display. The Saturday display had the added benefit of the damp air providing some fantastic vapour action on the Raptor, despite the grey skies and low clouds.

With the Raptor and Mustang returned to the ground, Rob Holland then proceeded to wow the crowd with his MXS/RH aerobatic aircraft. Mr. Holland flies a rambunctious routine that seems a little more wild and unpredictable than Sean Tucker, an interesting contrast between the two pilots.

With the conclusion of Rob Holland's display, the Blue Angels' transport aircraft, the C-130 Hercules "Fat Albert" blasted into the sky. Fat Albert did some passes at considerable speed for a turboprop transport, and then demonstrated a tactical assault landing. Unfortunately, due to the distance of the show line as well as the layout of the aircraft parking area, much of the landing and demonstrating of Fat Albert taxiing in reverse was hard to see, let alone photograph.

For the finale, the Blue Angels pilots and ground crew made quite the choreographed spectacle of performing their ground checks through to the engine starts and finally taxiing to takeoff position. Our spot along the show line directly in front of team lead Capt. Tom Frosch's number 1 F/A-18 Hornet gave us a great view of the ceremonial prep and departure. The Blue Angels form up their 4 ship formation on the ground for takeoff with the solo aircraft 5 and 6 taking off in the opposite direction, making for a unique start to the performance. Once in the air, the Blue Angels alternated formation and solo passes, with the solos performing quite a few opposing passes, thrilling to watch due to the speed and power of their Hornets. The Blue Angels finished their fairly lengthy routine with some excellent 6 ship formations, splitting up at the end to return to earth.

There was a lot to enjoy at The Great New England Airshow, but I'd have to say that there was a lot that would prevent me from returning as well, short of seeing something utterly unique to Westover. From a photographic perspective, the south facing nature of the airfield is problematic. It can be worked around but it's hardly ideal. Nothing that can be done about that though. More major issues though are access in and out of the base. Arriving at the base when the gates open was fine, but any later than that resulted in major delays driving onto the base, then standing in massive lineups to pass through security (more on that in a moment). On Saturday, we weren't that concerned because the weather was not great, but our start to finish time to enter the show was approximately 2.5 hours. The base only has two gates and all traffic funnels through them, surely using off-site parking and busing attendees in would be a better solution? As for security, especially regarding what could and couldn't be brought into the show, it was highly confusing with completely contradictory instructions both on web/social media and from National Guard troops on site. A friend with a Lowepro slingbag was allowed in with no issue, whereas Ann was turned back with the exact same bag, then allowed in with some camera gear in her "purse" (actually a camera bag as well but more of a satchel type bag). I have no issue with security measures and with last year's Boston Marathon attacks, I am very much on-board with the necessity of those measures, but if you're going to make lists of what can be brought in, please have a clear policy and stick to it. On Sunday we didn't even bother with bags and just carried our gear in our hands, with the assumption of low chance of rain. I'd rather that the policy be no bags whatsoever, that way security is faster and everyone is treated fairly.

On a technical level, I used my Canon 6D with the Sigma 150-600mm OS DG HSM Sports lens used both handheld (for faster aerobatic shots) and on a Jobu Designs gimbaled monopod. This was the first time I had used this combination and I'm glad I had the monopod for support for the Sigma as shooting handheld with this lens all day wouldn't be a pleasant activity. The 6D did ok, showing its shortcomings with regard to AF performance and burst shooting rate, both being on the slow side. With practice it's workable though and until such time as I can afford a higher grade body, it'll be the combo I use for most aviation stuff. I am however very pleased with the image quality of the Sigma. Static shots were with my EOS M and EF-S 10-22mm f3.5-4.5. Ann used her Canon 60D with EF 300mm f4L IS and 24-105mm f4L IS.

All that said, the show itself was good, well paced, with an interesting lineup. If you're in the west Massachusetts area and want to take in a good show, it's worth seeing. Be forewarned, plan to arrive at gates open, and prepare to take a long time (2 hours in our case) to get off the base at the end of the day. As a photographer, I can't really recommend it due to the south facing setup, the far show line, and inconsistent security, unless you're local to Westover ARB and don't plan on attending any other shows. I'm glad I went The Great New England Airshow, but unless I happen to be in the area, I'll be scheduling alternative events for that weekend in the future.

PS: I also have to mention something which I forgot to include the first time around, the Laurel and Hardy act next to us was both sad and hilarious. Two guys that were taking photos fancied themselves important enough to have 2 extra chairs to use as a buffer zone around the two of them as well as cordoning off their little fiefdom with caution tape. I'm amazed no security people hassled them about it, it was definitely one of the more obnoxious things I've seen photographers do at an airshow. Real classy there guys.

A trip to Puvirnituq

Crowd gathering on the ice for the finish of the Ivakkak dog sled race

In my day job, I'm a musician/producer with my business Corvidae Music and in the course of that job, I work with multiple artists and projects. One of them which came from the joining of Chelsey June (with whom we've shot two videos and I produced her EP's "Seize the Day" and "Finding Me") with Inuit artist Jaaji Okpik to create Twin Flames - Aarjuuk. I play guitar with them as part of their backing band and this March we had the opportunity to travel to the community of Puvirnituq in northern Quebec on the coast of Hudson Bay, where the bi-annual Puvirnituq Snow Festival was happening. We had a busy schedule of playing each night for a week, but during the days we had much free time to explore and take in the festival events. I had never been to the north before, and I was thrilled to be able to take in as much of the town, the scenery, and the people as I could in my photography. I also photographed much of the musical performances each night, and it introduced me to some phenomenal talents in the north that we rarely get to see here in Ontario.

As an aviation enthusiast, the trip to anywhere is almost always part of the fun, and with Ottawa being a hub for northern airlines like First Air and Canadian North, I'm familiar with some of the aircraft that are flown in the north. We left for Puvirnituq from Montreal on an Air Inuit 737-200C, which is nearly as old as I am and still a workhorse aircraft in the north due to its ability to operate from gravel airfields which newer 737's don't have. I'm pretty sure I was 5 years old the last time I flew on a -200!

After a stop in La Grande Rivière to unload cargo, we flew on beyond the tree line to Puvirnituq. On approach, the rocky and barren land reminded me somewhat of Newfoundland, but once we landed, the cold was unlike anything I've experienced previously. While it gets very cold in Ottawa in winter, the dryness of the air in the north is quite different. Oddly enough, if you're dressed well enough, I found the coldness in PUV to be easier to live with than the more damp cold in Ontario. However cold it was, the people that met us were friendly and helpful which pretty much extended for the whole duration of the trip.

With Twin Flames playing every evening of the festival, I got to see pretty much all the other performers through the course of the week. From our soundcheck onwards, it was a fantastic week full of amazing music and dance featuring artists like The Jerry Cans, Beatrice Deer, Marie-Celine Einish, George Kakayuk, Saali & The Ravenhearts, Kelly Fraser, Northern Haze, and more. The level of talent was top notch and I felt privileged to be sharing the same stage with them. Camera-wise, I used my Canon EOS 6D for all these shots with either my old manual Tokina adapted PK mount 70-210mm f3.5 or Canon EF50mm f1.8. The challenge as ever with concert photography is the low and constantly changing light, so I was mostly shooting wide open or close to it and at ISO3200 which the 6D handles just fine.

Scenery-wise, the north takes a little getting used to since we were several hundred km's north of the tree line. The landscape that could be seen through the snow was rocky, but interesting. The snow itself makes the scenery, at least in winter, with many distinct shades and textures unto itself. The scale of the landscape is interesting where there are few landmarks, it's hard to tell how far away anything is without a frame of reference. The one thing I was hoping to experience while in PUV was an aurora borealis, which I hadn't seen since I was a teenager in Cape Breton. Through the course of the week it appeared twice that I was able to photograph it, and I was stunned both times with its intensity. Given the amazing location and elements of the festival like the ice and snow sculptures around, I decided to try to shoot the aurora combined with as much landscape as I could, which I managed on Saturday night when I went out around 2AM (much to the worry of my bandmates) to take some photos. On top of that, on Saturday night, there was a fireworks display which I was also able to work into my aurora/landscape shots, bonus! My favourite shot ended up being of one of the ice sculptures which was illuminated by a light embedded in the ice underneath it. I did three exposures, one of the sculpture, one for the landscape behind which was partially illuminated by vehicle headlights, and one for the sky which had the aurora dancing around in it. When I got home, I was able to combine the three exposures into one image successfully, so happy it turned out the way I wanted! On the technical side, most of my daylight landscapes were shot with the 6D and 50mm f1.8, with some shots done with the 300mm f4L IS. I used the circular polarizer and ND filters a lot to handle glare and the large amount of daytime sun. My night shots were done with my old 60D and EF-S 10-22mm, as I was afraid of the extreme cold damaging the 6D. I wish I had used the 6D in retrospect, as the cold did somewhat ice up the camera, but the increase in image quality would have been worth it. The 60D thawed out just fine, and I am still happy with the photos. Check out the gallery below for my landscape photos of PUV:

Last but certainly not least, the people I met in PUV were wonderful. Friendly and hospitable, accommodating and generous, just lovely people all around. Quite often, children would run up and insist to have their photo taken, not because they wanted the photo, but because they wanted me to have a photo of them. Everywhere we went, we met fantastic people and were welcomed. The gallery below is of some of the people we encountered, as well as some of the antics of my bandmates, and just some other random shots of around town. I can't wait for our next trip up north which will be happening this summer, I could see this becoming an obsession for sure! - Jonathan

Our prints are now available for purchase on Fine Art America!

We're happy to announce for your art buying pleasure that we now have some of our work for sale on Fine Art America. We're adding photos to our gallery daily so check back if you're looking for something in particular, or let us know if there's a certain photo of ours you'd like to see there and we haven't uploaded it yet. FAA makes it easy for us to deal with selling our work as they handle all ordering, printing, and shipping, with a huge variety of finishes and sizes available from 8x5 unframed prints to 60x40 canvas and metal prints. We'll be updating the website to incorporate our FAA gallery as part of the site, but in the meantime, here's a link to the gallery: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/2-jonathan-edwards.html as well as through the widget below.

Corvidae's 2014 in pictures

Well, 2015 is upon us and with 2014 having been a successful first year for us here at Corvidae, we just wanted to share some of our favourite photos of the year with you. I was going to write a long-winded year in review article, but I think the photos say it better. Suffice it to say, we had a great year, learned a lot, and most importantly, had a lot of fun taking photos. If you love any of these photos as much as we do, we'd be happy to make you a print, email info@corvidaephotos.com for pricing and print options. Happy New Year to you and yours from Ann and me!