Every year I give up shaving for Lent as a joke. And on every Holy Saturday, I shave off my beard trying to do as many different looks as a I can from the master beard of 45 days. Since 2009, I have been able to grow 18 unique looks. In the first years I was doing this, I could get loads of different looks, but as time goes on you don’t get as many from each beard. So, I present to you the Looks of Lent 2014. :cool:
Every year, as a joke, I give up shaving for Lent. I follow the ancient fasting rules for real. But for years, much to the chagrin of my wife, family and friends, I grow a Lenten beard. Then I take a bunch of goofy photos in stages as shave it off. My life is small. :cool: But anyways, this is said beard for 2014.
I thought I would do a little BTS explaining of how I made this image. Here is the studio setup:
First of all I’m in my garage. I’ve got a grey back drop permanently mounted to the ceiling. I got the idea for that setup from Jay P. Morgan’s vid. Check it out, it’s awesome! I received an old backdrop from a photographer friend who passed away. I painted it “Photo Grey,” a colour you can get at Home Hardware in Canada. But the colour didn’t matter for this shoot as a I changed it for the shot.
It’s helpful to think about lighting and photography in “zones.” They are like layers in photoshop. First of all, we’ll start with the subject. I had the idea for the shoot already conceived. Myself and my glorious Lenten beard right side in the frame, looking camera left. So for the key light, I’ve got a speed light gelled CTO with a Honl grid. Very narrow shaft of hard light. Oppositely, Ive got another SB with a snoot (a flash bender) with cold daylight hard light. This is a classic cross lighting setup adding 3 dimensionality and separation from the background. For the next layer, for fill and to bring some detail into the beard, I setup my DIY Light Scrim and shot a 1/4 CTO gelled SB through that. It’s acting as a huge reflector and light source at the same time, filling the shadow zone. Once I was happy with that, I went to work on the background. I gelled a LumoPro 180 with a theatrical red gel. The red looked cool but it needed more. Being that this is a Lenten/Good Friday type photo, I decided a cross would be a nice addition. I didn’t really have a big random cross lying around so I quickly made one out of a paint stir stick (from the photo grey background project previously mentioned) and couple pieces of Gaffer tape. Looks legit to me! :) I muddled with the light placement to get the right size and perspective of the cross “shadow” on the background. It’s essentially a spiritual gobo!
So there you have the BTS breakdown. A hard-light portrait, 4 light setup, 2 different zones of light, layered together for key, fill, kicker and background. I edited the photo in Lightroom 5 and Nik software for the final grading and grunge look. Have a very blessed Holy Week & Easter season!
But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and by His wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5
I thought long and hard about getting a bigger lighting scrim. They are a super versatile tool from the strobist to the natural light shooter. They can block light, diffuse light, reflect light. In short, they rock the set. They are also ridiculously expensive to purchase commercially. I was searching for a DIY version and found Kevin Kubota’s to be about the best one out there. You can watch the informative YouTube vid here.
But I made some upgrades in the design. First of all, I found it was a lot cheaper to purchase the grey conduit rather than PVC for the main frame parts. They are the exact same size so you can still use all the same PVC fittings but the conduit is less money. Wee! :cool: Plus, it looks less distracting than white. And secondly, I found that the design for attaching the ripstop nylon to the frame was a bit lacking. If you only used it inside, it would be fine. But I do loads of outdoor work. So I needed a solution that would hold up to a Saskatchewan wind gust. I thought about it and concluded that the best way was to make basically a “fitted sheet.” I got some of the super awesome seamstress church ladies to sew me a 1 inch seam all the way around the outside edge of the material. Then I simply cut the corners off and fished the nylon elastic cord through it, tying it off to make it fit snuggly on the frame. It works like a charm! It goes together super quick and stays there, even in the wind.
You still have to be careful with it because it is basically a giant kite. But it works flawlessly and only costs a fraction of what the commercially available ones do. This is probably the only DIY thing I’ve ever made that I will continue to use on a long term basis because it’s a super slick design and it works fantastic! :D
Check out these vids of Joe McNally using the same kind of product. The results are truly awesome!
I’ve been off the hook busy the last couple of weeks! Mainly getting ready for Easter. I haven’t had time to fire a shot! Boo. Hiss. But today, as we celebrated Palm Sunday in Church I decided to throw in my X100s (which has been taking a break since I got the Df) and bring it along. I nabbed the following shot of the Palm Sunday Procession as the kids walked in front of me.
For the silhouette above, I used a simple 2 speed light setup and cranked all the levels in Lightroom. I love how the image captures the distinctive Palm branch shape. :cool:
And for good measure, because we all love being green, a close up of the palms. I should have taken the photos as soon as we got the branches on Thursday. They withered substantially in a very short period of time! hehheheh. Oh well, there’s always next year.
So that’s it. Quick blog post. But exciting news will follow in the next little while. Until then, we get ready for Easter! :D
The Triumphal Entry
“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13 ESV)
Today was the annual Family Tradition Black Angus Bull Sale! I look forward to it every year, mainly because I really know next to nothing about the cattle industry. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about cattle production as well as how the purebred game works. I love the descriptors that the auctioneers use to sell them. “This bull has a lot of red meat on him.” “He’s got 40cm testicles.” “He’s as square and stout as any bull you’ll see.” It’s great! And everyone does a fantastic job. It’s really almost more of a family get together than a sale in that everyone socializes after the sale around pie and refreshments. The Frey’s really do know what Saskatchewan hospitality is all about. And, it’s REALLY nice that they have an indoor facility. That wind still is so consarned hornswogglin’ cold!!! :shock: I did nab the shot above of the bulls outside in the viewing pen. It was worth the cold! :D
But I had fun at the sale with my Nikon Df in tow. I used my f/4 zooms which worked very well. I could shoot the ISO up really high and I didn’t even really notice the f/4 aperture limitation. I could still nab good exposure. I used my trusty expo disc to nab the correct white balance too which is helpful. If anything it dials in a bit too much magenta, but it’s an easy fix. Here’s some highlights from the day.
Our weather has finally, FINALLY stopped being nasty/scary/oppressive/cold/miserable. And, we had a clear night! I’ve been dying to try out the Nikon Df’s lowlight awesomeness with the 24mm AF-S 1.4G lens. They work really nice together. I was actually able to shoot at very low ISO (kind of defeating the purpose of the experiment. LOL) :D But I decided to throw a little light painting in for good luck. Just a wee smidgeon of light from my iPod. Cool little accent. The final EXIF stats were: ISO 800 24mm f2.8 20sec. The only reason for this shutter speed was to give me time to get out into the frame.
I give you the “StarScape Selfie” :cool:
Truly great hunting dogs are an amazing thing. Ask any gun dog hunter if he had to pick taking his gun or his dog on a hunting trip and he will answer dog every time. Watching dogs course a field looking of game holds some of the fondest memories for me. From my childhood I’ve always been surrounded by gun dogs. But none as good as my brother Ryan’s dog Jade. She’s a pure bread unregistered German Wirehaired pointer. Affectionately known as the “ugly dog” due to their distinctive looks. Everyone knows that the Germans always make good stuff. And this breed has been “assembled” for field performance. Both for birds and tracking of game, these dogs truly define what it is to be a “versatile” dog. I’ve hunted with Jade several times over the years and she’s absolutely fantastic. Nothing escapes her nose. She locks on point and holds it. Even when she was a pup and we were training her with pigeons, she was a true feather fiend. She retrieves like a dream, is very obedient and loves to work for her handler. :D
Last year, Ryan got a phone call about another GWP. “Duke” had become the homeless victim of a divorce. My brother took him in and he quickly became a part of the family. Where Jade is full of tenacity, Duke is more laid back. He’s got the affection of a Labrador, always wanting to sit in your lap! That’s why I was really excited when I heard the news that puppies were on there way and are here now. I think the mix of these two dogs is really tremendous and the pups are gorgeous! The litter had 6 puppies all healthy and very uniform. One female is spoken (the dark liver spotted one) for so there are 4 males and 1 female still available at the time of this publication. The pups will be ready to go on March 20th. If you are interested, you can contact my brother Ryan via his Kijiji Ad. The pups are located in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. You can contact my brother at 1-306-631-6125 or via email for availability and pricing. :cool: Hunters only please.
Take a look at this short video I took of all the pups playing in their whelping pen, as well as the pics. They are wonderful pups who I know without a doubt have metric tonnes of promise, and will be fantastic gun dogs and members of the family.
We took advantage of another AWESOME local concert at the Stewart’s tonight. The band was “The Fretless“. They rocked the set! They’ve got a sweet celtic influenced stringed folk amazingness, with a little step dance thrown in for good measure. I was dying to try out the Df as a stealthy event camera. It did awesome as I knew it would. The quiet shutter was really nice and not very invasive or distracting to others around. All I brought was a 50mm 1.4 and it proved to be a good fit for the homey event. Zooms will always get you more photos when you’re at a venue as a seated guest, but I wasn’t at the event to be a photographer. So I didn’t care. :cool: I wanted to try out the high ISO madness in the
crap difficult lighting situation. It’s actually an insanely difficult situation. There are 4 little halogen spot lights above the fire place that super bright. Then 2 other red floor lamps. That’s it. So you’ve got an overexposed background and a super dim foreground (where the faces are). Very tuff. RAW helps reign the wild pony highlights back in though. I shot from 3200-12,800. Files look great. :D
The Stewarts have been blessed with more musical talent in one finger than I’ll ever have in my whole body. All of them. They’re all outstanding! We were treated with an impromptu blues performance (hence the cyanotype). Unreal! :)
Then, as we left to head home, it was snowing like crazy. I snapped a silhouette of my lovely wife who is happy that it’s not -50C anymore and, who was stoked to take advantage of another awesome live band! :D
I finally got my Nikon Df review video online. It sums up those 5 paradoxical things about the camera and offers my thoughts about buying it. I really do love the Df. :D It’s a fantastic all-rounder camera despite it’s flaws. I got to try out my dads old school film lenses on it as well this past weekend. They work great! I was blown away by the old 35mm f/2.8 lens. It’s sharp with no chromatic aberration wide open. Not even one of my modern AF-S Nikon primes can boast that!
This video was my first kick at the cat trying “cinematic filming techniques.” I’m no videographer, that’s for sure, but I had fun putting the montage together. Although, I recorded the outdoor scenes at temperatures between -25 and -50C (no, that’s not a typo) which made it very tricky and somewhat miserable! And I didn’t even freeze to death. Yay! :cool:
So I’ve been shooting non stop with the Df for the past few days, exposing its weaknesses and revelling in its awesomeness. My original “paradoxical” concerns have all turned out to be true. :| But, it’s all trumped by the joy it is to shoot, its amazing image quality as well its killer good looks :cool: I’ve been doing lots of candid stuff of the kids, low light tests and a had a chance to use it on a shoot. I still primarily used my D800 but I wanted to see how the Df would do. It did fantastic! I had my lighting setup for a corporate headshot. Here’s a BTS shot of the setup, noting that my rim light had already been taken down when I remembered to make this shot. A sheet gaffer taped to the wall (DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE) was my background in a confined office space. Umbrella key, background light and a hair light was the 3 light setup. I tuned it all and shot with the D800 then simply swapped my SU-800 commander to the Df. Other than max shutter speeds being different (1/250 on D800 and 1/200 on the Df), everything operated the same. The metering between both cameras was spot on as well.The other cool thing I wanted to try with the Df is it’s spot white balancing ability in Live View. This is a super rad feature for nailing a white balance. Just pop the camera into live view, switch the White Balance to PRE, hold it, then measure your grey/white surface in the lighting conditions. It’s really, really accurate and pleasing! It’s not really in step with the “pure photography” mantra but I’ll take it nonetheless. It’s slick!
It was also nice to edit smaller RAW files than the D800 megapretzel madness. I was quite happy with how the Df rendered skin tones and colour. It seems to be a wee notch up from my other Nikons, which is a plus. I look forward to using the camera on assignments in the future! :)
My Df showed up today in the mail. I was totally stoked! I ordered it last Thursday. It shipped Friday and was here today after a long weekend! Thanks to the great folks at The Camera Store in Calgary, Alberta. I’ve bought all my cameras there for the past two years and I love the store. The staff rock the set. Buy all your gear there. ;) So I had my old 50mm f/1.8 AF-D lens still kicking around. But I don’t use it much anymore since I bought my 50mm 1.4G. But it’s still a great little lens. Soft wide open with lots of nice chromatic aberration. But whatevs. It was my first prime and I love it for nostalgia reasons. It’s a perfect match for the Df. I bought the camera straight up without the kit (on account of my 1.4). And at first it appeared that I couldn’t use the aperture ring to change aperture. But thankfully you can change that. If you use setting f7 in the menus you can in fact use the Aperture ring on the AF-D lenses for that sweet manual touch and feel. (more…)
We went to my all time favourite restaurant and all-round place of awesomeness, The Happy Nun on the weekend. As always, the food was AMAZING. And the talent is likewise fantastic. To kick off the deep winter blues festival was Forget, SK resident and Juno award winner Ken Hamm. He’s a tremendous guitar player and I really enjoyed the sound of his vintage tin guitar. It took me back to my Edmonton days of Blues on Whyte. It’s really a tremendous genre of music full of soul and reality.
Speaking of soul and reality, my noble Fuji X100s was in hand for the event. I love how the fuji can capture the colour so well. Ken was being lit by 2 overhead lights, one CTO as the main on his left side and the other CTB for a fill on his right. I love that look. The vastly different colour temperatures work together to really give the atmosphere a great mood. I shot the rest of the event at a very warm Kelvin temperature. I was really digging that CTO look. That said, I probably should have dialled it to blue to emphasize the Blues. heheehhe… next time. :cool:
The only thing better than a house party is a house concert! :cool: Just imagine, your own private concert in your living room with 60 of your friends. Imagine no more! It happens in Oxbow. And that’s a good thing. :D
We had a blast listening to three amazing musicians Karrnnel Sawitsky, Jake Charron and Daniel Koulack at the Stewart’s home. It was one of my favourite concerts I’ve ever attended because 1) the music was fantastic and 2) the house venue made it very cozy and well, homey! heheheeh. Also, a good friend of mine, Orvina Black, who is well into her 90s got up and jammed with the band. The Westphalia Walz was the song she picked and the band picked up on it right away. It was like they played that song together forever. Truly mesmerizing!
I brought my Fuji X100s along for the event. I love that camera. I’ve said it a bazillion times already, but it’s true. The leaf shutter is as silent as a ninja’s shadow. The high ISO performance rocks the set. All the photos in this entry were shot at a minimum of 3200 and f/2. The X Trans II sensor handles it soooooo good. If it had a tele-lens attachment, it would be completely ideal. But I enjoy using it so much as is. It’s very unobtrusive and respectful of others, especially for an intimate setting like this concert.
It was only -38 with the windchill today so I thought I’d go and do some HDR photography… I’m insane. But it’s true, the worst weather often gives the best opportunities for making photos. We had killer sun dogs again today as the weather was diabolical. I actually didn’t really set out to do HDR. I wanted a slow shutter speed shot of drifting snow. But I realized I forgot my variable ND filter in my other camera bag. Doh. So HDR it was! (more…)
I read a photography blog post the other day where the author responded to the general claim that Fuji’s colour reproduction is magical. He claimed that the consensus of celebrity pro-togs who love Fuji have their heads up their posteriors. It’s all hear say and media hype. Now, I love Nikon and I also love Fuji (specifically the X100s). I’ve had great success with both. But is the colour really that much better on the magical Fuji? Well I had the opportunity to really test that out today at my daughters birthday party. One of the fun activities was making bead necklaces. So we had lots of different coloured beads available. I brought my cameras and here’s the skinny. :cool:
Caveat: Any of these “scientific” colour tests are inherently skewed because it’s impossible to get everything the same across camera platforms. Lenses are different, sensors are different, blah blah blah. You get the idea. :)
I normalized the cameras as much as I could across the settings and exposures. I decided that I would use an on camera flash to bounce the same exact light across each exposure. The frame is lit entirely by flash with no ambient bleed. The settings were: JPEG files straight out of camera with no editing whatsoever (other than the down sample of the full res files to 1024px). Fuji was on factory Provia and Nikon was on factory Standard settings. 1/250 f4 35mm ISO 200 WB Sunny/Fine. SB-600 Speedlight on Camera zoomed to 35mm shot in Manual mode at 1/32 power for both. FujiFilm X100s (23mm = ~35mm on FX) vs Nikon D800 with 16-35mm f/4 AF-S VR. Take a look at the results and see for yourself.
I put the photos side by side in Lightroom and did screen captures. I didn’t downsize the D800 so they don’t line up. I put them both at 1:1 just to compare the colour. In all the shots, the Nikon file is on the left side.
So, what do you think? I noticed that there was about a 1/3 stop exposure difference between the two files. I made the histograms the same in post and brought the Nikon exposure down -.35 in Lightroom – but that difference is not shown here. These are all SOOC. Even with the slight exposure tweak, the files to my eye are different. The Fuji has an extra little bit of contrast and pop straight out of camera. And whatever it is, this magical Fuji special sauce is what all the Fuji hype is about. :cool: Just look at the difference in the pinks (read SKIN TONES), it’s quite remarkable!
Susan Hill and I ran two DSLR and Photography workshops this past week in the charming little town of Redvers, SK. The classes were held at the Redvers public library and 30 people in all took the course. It was tonnes of fun! :cool: Helping people take their camera off of Auto Mode is always such a treat. As for myself, I bought my first DSLR (Nikon D40) because I hated how slow and laggy my point and shoot was. I took a billion photos in auto mode and loved every minute of it. Nothing really changed until I got a 50mm f/1.8. Best thing ever for turning the ol’ mode dial to A mode. That’s what started my foray into being a full blown photo and exposure nerd. We introduced the participants to all the basics of ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed – knowing full well nobody is going to become a full blown M mode shooter overnight. But to have someone take me by the hand and guide me through everything would have been helpful to me when I was getting interested in photography. But we all had a blast and we will be running more classes in the future. :D
The kids got some super rad fiber optic tree things for Christmas. They look cool and have provided hours of entertainment already. So I decided to cash in on the coolness with my macro lens. Just like mini fire works! :D
FYI: Just as an aside, I tweeted to Sasktel about when the Oxbow area will be getting Fiber for internet. . . . 2017. :shock:
Well I had the first Wedding of 2014 on the 3rd of the month. It was a very special wedding because it was Parishioners of mine who asked me to take a few photos after the ceremony. It was a very small gathering with only the couple and their witnesses present – which is just fine. Everyone thinks a wedding needs to be a big deal with metric tonnes of frills. It doesn’t. It can be a small, humble event, as this wedding was. And in all truth, it became one of my all time favourites! :cool: Hubert and Audrey were so excited to seek the Lord’s blessing on their relationship which is such a cool testament to their faith. At 80 plus most people would simply think living together would suffice. But nothing beats good ol’ fashioned marriage! And a good ol’ fashioned marriage deserves a good ol’ fashioned camera!
I brought along my
old film Leica FujiFilm X100s. The photos were going to be all posed portraits in the church sanctuary and I took a couple of candid shots afterwards. But I figured I could get it all done with the Fuji and it worked great. I brought along a very simple Off Camera Flash setup of 2 stands, 2 LP180 flashes and 2 umbrellas, triggered by Pocket Wizard PlusX units. Very simple and very effective, no nonsense kit. I carried the camera, triggers, gels and flashes in a small lowepro bag about the size of a milk carton. Who doesn’t love that?! We did lots of the typical “nice” photos everyone wants, then I had my lovely wife assist me for a shot with more dramatic lighting which turned out to be my favourite of the day. I LOVE the Fuji’s black and white JPGs with the yellow filter! :)
But I also love the Fuji’s rendition of colour. Just look at that candle smoke. The subtle blue is out of this world! It just nails colour every time, even in weird mixed light environments. Ahh, Fuji, is there anything you can’t do? ;) All the best to the latest Mr. and Mrs. Freitag! May God give you many years!
For the last post of 2013, I will go out with double the fun! Leighton is having a blast being big sister to Laya and Levi. We had a fun little shoot with the twins and they cooperated swimmingly well. I’m always taken aback by how well the little newborns tolerate photo shoots and photographers! :) So here’s to 2013! May 2014 double the fun yet again! . . . Photographically speaking of course! :cool:
EDIT: This GPS is SOLD!
I’m selling my nifty little Garmin Dakota 20 GPS. It’s a sweet little touch screen model. I bought it new in 2010 and it’s been awesome. I primarily used it for geocaching. I’m selling it because I got a different unit that will work better for my hunting needs. I’m asking $200.00 which includes the GPS unit itself, the carabiner clip, Garmin USB cable, a 4 GB micro SD card for map expansion as well as a silicone slip case that my kids affectionately call the “Ninja Suit.” :D It gives a very nice non-slip feel to the unit. I made a YouTube video about it back when I got it which you can view here. Drop me an email or a tweet if you’re interested. Thanks!