Big Brothers Big Sisters Picnic

This summer I had the great joy to help out as a photobooth photographer for Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto. What a fantastic organization. They had a wonderful pirate picnic at Centre Island. I had so much fun - it’s so great to see how life-enriching the program is for both the bigs and the littles. Here’s just a little taste of the day.


Wanting to inject some new work and energy into my portfolio, and poking around the internet for some inspiration, I stumbled upon this illustrator:
He lives in Montreal and does illustration for the New York Times, The Walrus, The Atlantic… I want my images to communicate the way his do. With economy and grace.

Photoshop and Unconscious Inference

As I’ve been learning more about manipulating images in Photoshop, I am so fascinated by magical potential of pixels. For me, building a composite image is like solving a super-fun puzzle. Because people look at a photograph expecting reality, as photographers we are innocent until proven guilty!

I love the way something as simple as a correctly placed shadow can make realism slide into place. I have yet to achieve true competency with this technique, but it’s a goal.

Photo by Aaron Nace

It’s so amazing to work at the level of 1, 5, 10 pixels, and then witness the illusion. There is powerful potential in this kind of work, and you know what they say about power = responsibility.

I found this Wiki definition of unbewusster schluss, a German term which translates as “unconscious inference”. It describes an “involuntary, pre-rational and reflex-like mechanism which is part of the formation of visual impressions”. This phenomenon can be applied to still images, but can also refer to a convincing theatrical performance. “The mechanism follows its own rule and thus wields an imperious mastery over the human mind.”

Erwin Blumenfeld, German fashion photographer, b. 1897, d. 1969

I have very little formal education in design, so I’ve been doing a bit of light research into visual logic. This paragraph is pretty cool, though dense (or maybe it’s me that’s dense):

Screenshot from the Handbook of Visual Communication

On the flipside, this website has some pretty straightforward tips for achieving realism in Photoshop. I’ll wrap this up with the assignment that inspired this post. At Humber, there is a second year project that requires each student to buy a toy car, shoot it in the studio, and place it in an environment. It was a fun little challenge. Here’s the 2 images I combined:

… and here’s the final image.

HZD Photography

Pretty fun.



I took a risk and didn’t book a model for a shoot in the studio at school. I pre-lit with a fairly safe lighting set-up and then once I was ready, I strolled the halls for 5 or 10 minutes, face-hunting. I’m pretty sure I looked a bit odd, peering appraisingly at everyone I passed.

When I saw Jerome, I didn’t hesitate. He’s the Executive Chef for the catering company that serves Humber.

That’s why he has the tallest hat.

Une Autre Dimension de Mouvement

This is a video project I worked on in December with my dancer friend Mathilde and my in-house audio guy, Lu Slone. I was learning Premiere at the time, and this provided the perfect opportunity to explore the program. I may have gone a bit overboard, but I’ve always had trouble with moderation…

Previous to the shoot, I asked Mathilde for a song suggestion. She chose “Balcasio” by Balkan Beat Box. Then she came to the studio and danced to the same song, over and over, while I filmed. I was so impressed with her spontaneity and presence. I also recorded her speaking a bit about her experience as a dancer, her relationship with movement and audience. Lu took this material and wove it into the fabric of the piece in a beautiful way.

Motion has only recently been introduced into the curriculum at Humber, but I feel lucky to have been pushed to explore the medium, and I’m really looking forward to creating more video projects. My next goal: learn to animate titles using After Effects! I think the titles are the weakest link in this piece.

I just love collaborating with talented folks.

Nova Scotia in 2014

Welcome to HZD’s blog!

Here you’ll find whatever I’m in the mood to share… updates, scraps of things that I’m working on, images that I really like but can’t exactly say why…

I’m a Nova Scotian transplant, living in Toronto. I visit the briny coast when I can, and while I’m usually squeezing every drop of love out of my people, sometimes I escape with a camera.

So here are some images from the last year, all taken in Nova Scotia. Feel that ocean breeze! Avoid the dead seal!


This past December, Mom and I went for a walk at Duncan’s Cove. We had a really lively conversation, which I vividly remember when I look at these photos.

In the summer, I visited the farm where my brother was living. He’s a barnyard soul. Every time I see him, Morgan has some eccentric new hobby, and this time it’s a potentially lethal hunk of metal that he gracefully flings around at the end of a rope. In case you were wondering about that last photo.

My dear old friend Alex and his gf Nina paid me a visit. I took them to East Pine Lake, where we went skinnydipping in the misty morning, and avoided scraping our knees (and other parts) on the unforgiving granite.

The great lakes just don’t do it for me like the ocean do it for me.

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