Actress Mannu Sandhu at Hycroft Manor

Hycroft Manor Vancouver Aaron Aubrey Photography Melene Grotrian


Back in February I had the great pleasure of photographing the beautiful actress Mannu Sandhu at the amazing Hycroft Manor (Shout out to the one and only Jennifer for the hook up!). Clothing was provided by the talented local designer Malene Grotrian and I had an amazing team of Tiffany Antonio on the styling, MUAH by Angela Dhesi, my trusty assistant Michael Petrachenko, and my homeboy Ray on the assist and BTS duties.

While some creatives take a long time to put together (and many more just fall apart) this all came together in a week, which was doubleplusgood because I was gearing up for leaving to India and I really wanted to do one more shoot before I left.

Before I show and explain some shots, you can peep a little BTS vid shot by Ray and edited by Mike Swahele at IMCMG media. at the link HERE (sorry wordpress is making it impossible to embed the video to the post).

So we pulled off 5 shots during a pretty rushed shoot (time limits on the venue)
For this first shot I had an SB800 in a 28″ Westcott Apollo boomed from the second floor on a C-Stand, for fill I used the 6′ Westcott silver parabolic umbrella directly behind me with a LumoPro LP160 that was gelled with a slight blue (A tactic that I’m going to employ more from now on.. it makes the fill less ‘fill’ and a bit more natural looking).

Hycroft Manor Vancouver Aaron Aubrey Photography Melene Grotrian

The second shot we just had Mannu walk to the bottom of the staircase and I popped the SB800 onto the para, ‘zoomed’ ¬†the light close to the back of the para and shot away..

Hycroft Manor Vancouver Aaron Aubrey Photography Melene Grotrian

For the third shot I used an SB800 and a 3×4 photoflex softbox on the right side of the frame and a white reflector camera left.

Hycroft Manor Vancouver Aaron Aubrey Photography Melene Grotrian

The fourth shot was taken in this wonderful green room that I could seriously shoot in all day long.. gorgeous space! simple and quick using the same setup as the last shot but with the softbox camera left and little high and on an angle if I remember correctly.

Hycroft Manor Vancouver Aaron Aubrey Photography Melene Grotrian

For me, the final shot (which is as the top of this post) is the money shot as it stopped raining outside and I hauled my favorite piece of kit, The Elinchrom Ranger out for a dramatic shot on the balcony.
I took the photoflex softbox, peeled of the outer diffuser and added a silver Elinchrom Deflector to the head. The box was high and to the right about 6 feet from Mannu, I also added a gridded SB800 at full power to camera left to fill in the shadow on her right leg and also give some pop to the right side of the dress. Here’s a BTS pic of the scene..

Hycroft Manor Vancouver Aaron Aubrey Photography Melene Grotrian

All in all, it was a mega fun day with an amazing group of people… I definitely couldn’t have pulled this off without all your help!




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J-BIZ – Testing Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS

Aaron Aubrey Photography Vancouver | Vancouver Photographer

I first met Jamie through my buddy Tom in grade 8. The second time I saw him, he was wearing weird pants and two-tone vintage dress shoes.
To say he’s a character is an understatement, which is probably why we’ve kept him around for so long ūüėČ
We grew up skateboarding together and all three of us moved to Vancouver from Calgary at roughly the same time, me for music,¬†Tom for film, and Jamie for art…Jamie’s art is just mind-bogglingly crazy, and what amazes me even more, is how much he¬†has produced over the years.
I hit him up to hang out so I could test out my new Elinchrom Ranger RX Speed AS kit that I bought off the talented Thomas Dagg in Toronto.
FYI..His best line when I’m waiting for it to arrive: “Just wait till you find out I sent you phone books!”..ha!
Anyways, I tossed the pack, head, reflector, and my camera body into my bag, and brought lenses in a separate bag as we were trekking by foot.
The kit didn’t feel that heavy on my back, and it wasn’t too tiring to deal with, even though we were out in 27C heat.¬†I used the bare head w/ reflector for a couple shots, and also used my 28″ Westcott Apollo as a nice crisp indirect box with the diffusion material¬†pulled back (pics later in post)

Aaron Aubrey Photography Vancouver | Vancouver Photographer

Aaron Aubrey Photography Vancouver | Vancouver Photographer
Aaron Aubrey Photography Vancouver | Vancouver Photographer
Aaron Aubrey Photography Vancouver | Vancouver Photographer

Here’s my Think Tank Airport Acceleration V2.0 bag with the Kit (I put my camera body where the spare battery is)

Aaron Aubrey Photography Vancouver | Vancouver Photographer
And here’s how I rig up the Apollo with the Eli head.
Elinchrom Ranger Westcott Apollo
Elinchrom Ranger Westcott Apollo 2

I figured I’d also throw in a shot of Tom as well ūüėČ
Aaron Aubrey Photography | Vancouver Photographer

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3 Inches of Blood Record “Long Live Heavy Metal” | Aaron Aubrey Photography

Last year I was fortunate enough to be asked by Vancouver band 3 Inches of Blood to shoot an image for their last LP “Anthems For The Victorious”.¬†Not only was is super cool to see an image that I had shot on an album, it was on a limited realease 7″ vinyl!

This past December, the band invited me to come and shoot them while they were recording their new full-length release on Century Media Records “Long Live Heavy Metal“.
They guys are extremely chill..even though they make some skull-crushing tunes, and my past work with them had built a comfortability with each other that allowed me to just be a fly on the wall and capture some great moments.

So here’s a little slideshow with a few images.. and after you’re done enjoying that, go watch the new video “Metal Woman


3inches of Recording-223.jpg3inches of Recording-254.jpgPipesrec-21.jpgPipesrec-35.jpgPipesrec-40.jpg3inches of Recording-128.jpg3inches of Recording-167.jpg3inches of Recording-177.jpg3inches of Recording-194.jpg3inches of Recording-216.jpg3inches of Recording-250.jpg3inches of Recording-258.jpg3inches of Recording-372.jpg3inches of Recording-377.jpg3inches of Recording-387.jpg3inches of Recording-49.jpg3inches of Recording-84.jpgBacklit Ash-8.jpgPipesrec-10.jpgPipesrec-17.jpgPipesrec-18.jpgPipesrec-4.jpg

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Nikon D800 ~ hands on review!


Yesterday I was doing what every photog LOVES doing..spending hours editing, when I got a call from
Erich Saide, “I’m heading home to unbox my D800, wanna come check it out?”
I finished the image I was working on, then bolted out the door leaving behind a handful of errands.

Now.. I’m one of those “Gear is good, vision is better” type guys.. (thanks David DuChemin), and I don’t
think that everybody needs to grab a D800..!
I currently shoot with a D700 w/ MB-D10 grip, so it was a good base for ergonomic comparisons.
The 800 feels amazing, it rests in your hands so well that it doesn’t really feel like you’re holding
such a beast of a camera. The MB-D12 seems a little bigger, but it does ‘feel’ nicer than the MB-D10.. although
I personally prefer the 10 as I have hands the size of a 13 year old.
The new shooting mode selection dial is a great improvement over the 700, which I found was a little tough to deal with as it was so small, but on the plus..the screen is massive, crisp, clean, and vibrant.
One thing I don’t like on the 800 is that the + and – zoom buttons are reversed.. that doesn’t play well with ingrained muscle memory!

The most important thing though, (yes, even more important than the cool tilt meter in the viewfinder) is the image quality.
While this image is a bit dark as I wanted to keep the sky, there’s still oodles of detail in those buildings.. you see that brick building with¬†the little house thing on the top in the centre of the image? I zoomed in all the way on that and you could read the text, and it was SHARP, with DETAIL.


I didn’t play around with the camera in any automatic settings, so I didn’t get to exercise the camera’s metering system, but it’ll be interesting to see how well it delivers in¬†situations where Av is ideal.
While I love this camera to death, I’ll resist the urge to sell of my D700 which I also love to death and have no feelings of unworthiness (even after playing with the 800), and focus¬†more on honing my vision, creating great images, and opening the doors to shooting new and exciting projects… ohh and swapping my 700 for Erich’s 800 after a shoot! ūüėČ

Annnd a few more pics!

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Vancouver Headshot Photographer | Ivanka

Had a great headshot session with the giggly Ivanka the other’s a few shots!

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Joe McNally Workshop | Vancouver Photographer Aaron Aubrey

A couple of years ago, my prof in an elective PHOTO 1100 class lent me Joe McNally‘s “The Moment It Clicks”. ¬†The book’s brilliant images, coupled with an insight into the life of a working photographer¬†‘clicked’ with me and pushed me to pursue something that I have always loved; taking pictures. I now have Mr. Scougal to thank for me dropping out of College and becoming a photographer:)

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend a workshop by Joe through the wonderful folks down at Vancouver Photo Workshops..(Check them out, they’ve got a ton of amazing workshops by¬†both local and international instructors at affordable rates in a great ¬†facility!). 2 days with ‘numbnuts’ and a gang of like-minded photogs was guaranteed to be an inspiration fest and learn-a-thon with a few good chuckles to¬†top it all off..and it was.

Joe is very free-form in his teaching style as he goes off of what the class is interested in, and what their abilities are. The first morning session started with a slideshow of images in which Joe quickly talked about how each photo¬†was captured and any special techniques that were used (many of these photos are in his new book “Sketching Light”). After that, he launched into a live shooting demo which highlighted some of the problems, and solutions, to working¬†with Nikon’s CLS system. It’s great to watch Joe work out a shot, as he’ll point out a specific problem (or two, or three..) that he’s having with an image, and he’ll tweak and work to fix it until he gets the shot right. It’s an amazing reminder
for me to slow down and be patient when working with a problematic shot and take the time to really analyze what is going wrong for what reason, and how to fix it.
After the morning session and lunch we were split into groups of 3, assigned models, and given a gear package….ohh and set us loose on the VPW property ūüėČ

My first shot here is of Syx Langemann, who is a VPW instructor, and happens to also make a great model!


I like the shot, but I do wish I had done 2 things; light the top of Syx’s hat, and rim his back and side so he’s not so ‘floaty’ in the pic.
Overhead SB900 into a LumiQuest SBIII, SB600 gelled blue and zoomed to 85mm on the BG, triggered via an SB900 that I had to¬†put a flag onto, to avoid it showing up in Syx’s glasses.

My second model for the day was Shazmin, who has a great look and works well with the camera.

This was a really fun shot to do, but also a challenge as I only had 20 minutes to conceive the shot, set it up, problem solve, pose, and not mess it up..
A couple of things in this shot of importance..

1) To get the color on the back wall, I couldn’t contaminate it with my key light, which is an SB900 in an Ezybox tabletopped above¬†Shazmin. I used a black TriGrip as a flag for the key on the BG… and here was the best part of the weekend… at one point Mr. McNally was holding it for me… never thought I’d have him assisting me ūüėČ
2) the gelled flashed on the BG were originally set on group B in TTL mode, even at a -3 EV they still weren’t dialed down enough to saturate the color, so I had to pop them into manual and
ride them down to something like 1/32nd power.

The second day was held at Ironworks Studios, and began with a critique by Joe of all the images shot by the participants the day before (we were asked to submit 2 to 4 unedited photos)
The critique was helpful not only on my images, but on those of the other classmates..some of the shots that I thought were pretty good, Joe pointed out little flaws, or little things that can be improved on, and that opened up my eyes to looking at an image more critically.
After the critique, Joe launched into a full on flash assault, shooting a picture of Shazmin at the bar with a whopping 2 Elinchrom Ranger pack/head combo’s, 4 SB900’s, and an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra¬†fitted with a deep octa. Joe worked out this shot for about an hour.. once again demonstrating the numerous problems that arise, and how to fix them.. the result was a shot that I’d be happy to have in my portfolio!

Like the day before, we were split into groups and assigned models:
Again I was offered the beautiful Shazmin.. I originally had rim lights and a background light going, but at the very end I just went with the Key, a boomed SB900 in an Ezybox, and a silver reflector below for this shot.

I also snuck in a shot of her after catching this angle on her while I was flagging off a light for one of the other guys in my group. 3 frames, that’s it.. in and out TTL at a -0.7 EV on the flash
This is one of the things I love about TTL, although it can be erratic and unpredictable, you can also predict what it’s going to do.. I was in a fairly dark room and i was lighting her with the light
close and from the side, so I knew my combo of aperture, shutter speed, and light placement would make the room go black.. program in a minus EV since the camera is going to read a lot of dark and¬†want to nuke the scene with light, and presto! it’s bang on I can knock off 3 shots and then jump over to Joe’s last demonstration of the day..

After the demonstration, we were assigned another model and only given 20 minutes to shoot them.. I knocked off quite a few shit frames of Jans until I got a bit smarter and shot this guy..

The day, and workshop for that matter ended with the participants milling around and chatting with each other and sharing what we learned, or our newfound burst of inspiration for this thing
that we love, but constantly drives us nuts.

While Joe is known for being a little excessive with his lighting at times, (47 speedlights in one shot..cough.cough) He kept his teaching simple and focused on one, and two light solutions that weren’t wizardry, they were just logical, simple to execute nuggets of knowledge that we’ve all come to love and be thankful for Joe being so generous with his infinite wealth of knowledge…..(and apparently dance moves¬†which Syx, caught Joe busting out at this week’s workshop…. I think I’ll be nice to Joe and save him the embarrassment of linking to that video ūüėČ


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Happy New Year!

Happy new year everybody! I hope the holidays were
kind to you and afforded you the opportunity to spend some
quality time with friends and family.
I’m gearing up for a great year with big goals in sight,
I already can’t wait to¬†be looking back on this year!

Without getting ahead of myself here, I thought I’d take a few moments to take a look
back at my favorite shots of 2011. So here’s a video that I put together.

Many thanks to the talented Leathan Milne for the beautiful song from his freshly released
“The Outcome Of Weather”

I’m having troubles embedding the video, so you can jump to it HERE!

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Ultimate Shootouts Vancouver

I was lucky enough to sneak a last minute spot into an amazing event dubbed ‘Ultimate Shootout Vancouver’ hosted by the¬†amazing talents of Pure White Studio, Butter Media, and Stone Photo.
The event corralled 24 photographers, 4 married couples, hair and make-up stylists, and wonderful bouquets into The Ironworks Studios.
4 groups of 6 photographers each took turns learning some posing techniques from the gracious hosts and had an opportunity to shoot each couple.. not only was the event a great chance for everybody to practice and build their portfolios, but it also allowed us to network
with our local comrades.. Hello to all the great folks I met!!

I had a blast, and can’t wait for the next event! here’s some of my favorites from the day!!

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The V-Flat Softbox

I was planning a shoot with the wonderful Chelsea Mandziuk, and I really wanted to come up with a lighting scheme that was new and outside of my comfort zone.
We were to be shooting at Erich Saide’s studio, which I knew had one large V-flat in it. I wanted to try something with 2, but since we were short I started to think of
how I could still utilize the V-flat. There was also a large scrim laying around that I was looking to use as I love how Joe McNally uses large scrims as modifiers. In a
rare ‘Eureka’ moment, my twisted melon came up with this contraption..


In this setup, the head w/ reflector is shooting into the V-flat, that light then corrals off of it and through the scrim. I like the openings on the side as is allows some harder light through
which may be very effective if used right.

I shot with this mostly on axis, but it also works well off to the side of the subject due to its wrap. I’m very excited to try this setup a little more..until I do, here’s some images with it.



Chelsea Mandziuk-MUA
Mary Ann -Hair
Rachel Red-Model




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Why You Don’t Need A $400+ Speedlight

On more than one occasion I have had the guilty pleasure of expounding the benefits of my $160 LumoPro LP 160 in comparison to a pricey ($400 and up) Nikon/Canon flash to photographers who immediately display their cognitive dissonance through facial expressions.

This situation just presented itself to me again recently while I was at a workshop being¬†given by¬†Dave Hamilton¬†(And I truly mean given, as he was gracious enough to offer up the day¬†for free..thanks Dave!) I spotted a girl having trouble with her brand spankin’ new 580exII, so I offered some assistance. She was trying to figure out how to get her flash into ‘optical slave’ mode, so I had to be the bearer of bad news and tell her that her flash (and no Canon flashes for that matter) didn’t have an optical slave….. but my cheap-o LP160 that I had happened to lend out to her friend for the day did..


So… I figured I’d try to save others from this horrible experience by explaining that if you are not using¬†a whopping 3 functions (for the most part) YOU DON’T NEED A $500 SPEEDLIGHT!



TTL stands for ‘through the lens’ metering, in which the camera meters the scene as it sees it through the lens, rather than through a separate metering mechanism. What happens in TTL, is that the camera meters a scene and tells the flash the power it should output based on the aperture that your camera is set at and the distance to the subject (which is calculated via the camera’s focus points). You can +/- this exposure as well, but I don’t want to get into the logistics of this right now… what is TTL great for? doing run-and-gun wedding work where you’ll jump between having your subject up close and far away and you need to capture moments, not chimp and then correct your flash output manually.

CLS is Nikon’s “Creative Lighting System”¬†(Canon has a similar system as well).

CLS allows you to remotely fire flashes via a commander flash on camera, the built in pop up flash, or a SU-800 commander device. A really cool thing about CLS, is that you can not only trigger these flashes without radio triggers, but you can also dictate the flash outputs of numerous flashes in up to 3 groups.. all from camera… really, really, cool stuff that I’m interested in.. but for the sake of this post.. if you’re not using CLS or TTL.. you should save yourself some dough~


~Rear Curtain Sync~


Generally, your flash is set to fire at the beginning of an exposure, regardless of how long your shutter is open. while this doesn’t matter at faster shutter speeds, it doesn’t play well with slower shutter speeds (think 1/20s and slower). RCS which is only available with proprietary flashes, allows you to have the flash fire at the very end of your exposure. This is generally called ‘burn and flash’ where you ‘burn’ in the low ambient light, and then freeze your subject with the flash right as the shutter closes.. check out¬†Syl Arena’s post on RCS (page 6 at the bottom)¬†to learn more about how this all works..



~High Speed Sync~


Cameras generally have a sync speed of 1/250, which means that if you exceed this speed you’ll get a black bar coming into your image, which is your shutter closing faster than the flash can sync with your camera. In HSS, the flash becomes practically becomes a continuous light source by emitting thousands of bursts of light per second, giving you the ability to shoot a shutter speeds up to 1/8000 of a second. This is great for overpowering bright ambient light, freezing motion, and shooting at wider apertures.



~So What??~


Are these all amazing functions and justification for spending $400+ on a flash? Yup… you better believe it. I’m actually very interested in utilizing all three of these functions. But that’s not why I’m writing this post ūüėČ

If you’re anything like me and only have one (cheap-o) flash..or you think¬†David Hobby¬†is the second coming, and you swear by the gospel of manual flash, then you should think twice before dumping a good sack of beer money on a fancy flash.


~What does the LP160 offer?~


-Power control in full stops from 1/1 – 1/64

-Motorized zoom control from 24 – 105mm

-Built in optical slave eye..(this is one of THE best features of the LP160, I’ve seen SB-900s not fire in situations in which the LP would. Not only is the eye extremely sensitive and works even in full blown daylight, but it also has 2 different modes, one standard, and one that ignores the pre-flashes from units operating TTL… this is great as it allows you to implement a LP into a TTL setup…now I just wish it had a mode to ignore the flashes from the flashes of guests at a wedding!)

-Rotating head which goes 150 degrees one way and 180 the other..without needing to push a button first!

– PC and 1/8″ miniphone sync jacks.. for any of ya that know… PC cables are not only expensive, but also are prone to breaking and falling out of the flash at important moments.. not so with the miniphone jacks..

– Power that is on par with an SB900 or 580exII.. I’ve heard that it is either equal or about 1/3 of a stop less.

-If you break it, or god forbid, have it stolen, you’re out only $160, not $400+ ūüėČ


As a side note: if you want to be getting that flash off of your camera and modify it to look nice,

you can grab¬†this kit from MPEX¬†for a whopping, $310 US…. so if you’re just getting into lighting and want to learn, stop salivating over that SB900 and grab this kit!!


And finally… a couple of images with the kit.

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