Copyright-Free Music for Your Videos

Finding Music for Videos is Hard Whenever making a video — whether a simple Instagram story or a YouTube clip, I like to add background music to add a mood. But I often have trouble finding a suitable track online. Available music tracks span multiple websites and services but are unorganized. There are some subscription options to libraries, but sometimes it is hard to justify the cost if the videos are just for fun. I found a free solution to these problems and wanted to share with you a tool I created to help you find copyright-free music for your personal videos. Thousands of Music Tracks by Artists A little while ago, I came across YouTube playlists with literally thousands of music tracks that have been offered for free use in personal projects! These tracks were created by artists who want to promote their work online. They offer a creative commons license that allows for music use in your personal projects as long as credit is given in the caption of the video. A win-win situation! The Solution While browsing on Youtube is nice, it is hard to keep track of where you are in a playlist after a few dozen songs. And there are video ads that periodically interrupt your experience. Instead, I put together a page that organizes these playlists by themes and hosted them on my website here, completely ad-free. I now use this Audio Library for all my personal projects. I also shared this with my […]

Speaking about Stars at the Vancouver International Photography Festival

Recently, I was honoured to speak at the 8th Vancouver International Photography Festival. VIPF is a one-day annual event where photographers from around the world come together to learn about various aspects of the craft. Held at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, the festival included speakers with specialized knowledge in photography, an exhibition of award-winning photos, and vendor booths. Among the five speakers, I was covering one of my favourite topics of photography: astrophotography. My seminar taught how to capture starry night skies, the Milky Way, and the Northern Lights in photos. I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky. In fact, it’s thanks to the night sky that I started photography. Five years ago, I went to the Northwest Territories to see the phenomenon known as aurora borealis. I immersed myself in books and online sources for many weeks prior, and then brought a DSLR camera to take photos in the dark. I managed to see the lights for maybe half an hour, but clouds rolled in quickly. Since then, I’ve learned a lot through hunting and shooting magical things in night sky. The room was at capacity and it was a friendly audience. I spoke about how to evaluate potential locations for night sky photography, how to research if optimal conditions are present, what equipment you need to shoot in the dark, how to calculate and adjust your settings. I also offered practical tips learned from spending many nights under the beautiful night sky. A big part of astrophotography is the processing […]

A Lighting Setup for Beauty Portraits

The following article describes the lighting setup that I used for some beauty portraits of Christine. Christine (model) and Win Wachirawin (makeup and hair) were wonderful to work with and their talents really show in the results. While there are many possible lighting setups for beauty photos, I’ll go over how I set things up for this shoot and the rationale. Fashion photo. I used a full frame DSLR camera with a 70-200mm lens, but just about any camera can be used for this type of work. Different people have different preferences for portrait lens so it depends on how you like to shoot. When picking a good focal length to use, be aware of lens compression. Since these are close-ups, I would recommend keeping above a focal length of 70mm to avoid distortion to facial features. Equipment Full frame DSLR camera with 70-200mm Lens 3 Modifiers: Octobox (80cm), Reflector (110cm, white), Stripbox (20x90cm) with grid 3 Lightstands 3 Flash units, wireless triggers, and a whole bunch of AA batteries to power everything! Lighting Diagram There are many variations to setting up lighting for portraits. The basic setup I used is called clamshell lighting. My primary light source is an 80cm octobox, placed high in front of the model and pointed downwards at about 45 degrees. This gives me plenty of diffused light. I placed a white reflector in front of the model, just below and angled upwards toward the model’s face. The reflector bounced light from the octobox to Christine’s face to fill the shadows. In some sense, the octobox and reflector form a clamshell, or Pac-Man. If you […]

How to Shoot with Cherry Blossoms in Vancouver

Every Spring, Vancouver is filled with beautiful pink and white cherry blossoms. Tens of thousands of these photogenic sakura trees bloom throughout the city to create a wondrous sight. While these blossoms make for great photos with people, it’s hard to know when and where to shoot because there are upwards of fifty different tree species — and they all bloom at different times! The hardest part of shooting sakura in Vancouver is knowing when and where they bloom. I first started by routinely driving through various neighbourhoods to see what was blooming and where, but soon learned a better approach. It helped me shoot part of a wedding with cherry blossoms as well spring portraits (pictured here). With lessons learned, I put together some tips to help anyone wanting to do some fun cherry blossom photoshoots in Vancouver. Know When and Where to Shoot The best resource I found to determine where and when to shoot is this map of Vancouver listing locations where specific trees are expected to bloom and how long they last. An amazing bonus is that there are photos of each area that are uploaded by site contributors. You can basically get a sense of each location without even visiting! These snaps help pinpoint your ideal spot depending on what you’d like to capture, though I’d still recommend scouting your chosen locations since the snaps don’t reveal everything. I found that a good time to shoot was when the trees started blooming until about the middle of the blossoms’ lifecycle. At that point, some blossoms have fallen to the ground which creates interesting patterns to shoot. If you wait too late, you may find that some of the trees have finished […]