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When cardboard floats......

Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer

For the past week, the Toronto Star photo department has begun to work with some of our reporter interns to hone their photographic skills. Its always a challenge to get people to think "visually" and some adapt quicker than others. Another challenge are the cameras the intern has to work with, which, generally don't handle low light situations very well, and brings back issues of "noise" in the image quality.

Nicki Thomas, the intern I'm helping out, has grasped a number of concepts in a small amount of time. Even a simple thing like remembering to switch "white balance" for given situations - often forgotten - is something she has remembered.

On a daily basis we run the gambit of things to shoot. From business portraits, to breaking news, from professional athletics to community events, it all falls under our umbrella and each pose different approaches. On Tuesday, Nicki and I had the chance to hang out with about 100 middle school students who competed in a competition to build cardboard boats. Building them is one thing, traversing the length of a pool yet another. 

In the end, I was quite happy with how she "saw" the event. She tried different things (even though limited by her relatively slow lens) and moved about the pool deck instead of getting stuck in one spot and one idea. The event was full of possibilities, but the mixed light (and poor light) would be problematic. In the end, we combined to come up with a number of telling images. Although she only has a few weeks in our department (before another moves into the rotation), I can only hope she comes away with an appreciation of some of the challenges the photo staff faces and how to overcome them.

Here's a small collection of the photos we submitted for publication, both in print and online.


The Cobras from Kent Senior Public School affixed their mascot to their cardboard boat (Nicki Thomas Photo).



Students put the finishing touches on their boat during the construction phase of Skills Canada's cardboard boat challenge (Nicki Thomas Photo).




Beaumonde Heights Junior Middle School, of Etobicoke, had a rubber chicken as its mascot (Rick Madonik Photo).


Teams put the finishing touches on their various designs near the end of the morning build session (Rick Madonik Photo).



Rachel Howard, 12 (left) and Danielle Camacho, 12, work on their boat, The Coffin (Rick Madonik Photo).


Blueprints for one of the schools' project lays on the floor with some essential tools (Rick Madonik Photo).


The team from John M. James School, seen in a hallway mirror, carries their cardboard boat to the pool (Nicki Thomas Photo).


One of the teams in the first heat readies their boat for competition (Rick Madonik Photo).


The cardboard boat from John M. James School in Bowmanville holds up mid-race (Nicki Thomas Photo).



 Vivekdeep Padan, front, and Pruthviraj Rathod stay afloat during the weight challenge. (Nicki Thomas Photo).


Teams compete in the "weight" category where the boat must stay afloat for 90 seconds with as much weight as possible (Rick Madonik Photo).


The boat from Calderstone Middle School suffers in the weight competition (Rick Madonik Photo).


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