Light is Everything!

Landscape

Light Painting out back

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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:


For Winter HDR Fun

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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…)


Sundogs HDR

20140104-Sundogs-001First HDR of 2014! Incredible Sundogs at -35C!

 


2014 Prairie Fire

20140102-RedGlow-001First Photo of 2014. Unbelievable red blotch of sun burning through the blue tonight. It lasted about 3.9 seconds and was gone! In the drab of winter it’s nice to have a little bit o’ colour! :cool:

 


Fall and the X100s

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I love DSLR technology, don’t get me wrong. But there is something about the FujiFilm X100s that opens one’s eyes to a different kind of reality. It’s beyond the sensor and retro styling. It’s beyond all the amazing technology smooshed into a neat little X-Package. ;) The whole photographic experience changes when you’ve got one camera with one lens. It forces you to see the world differently but gives you all the tools you need. I love walking around with a camera that is so compact but also ready for nearly any situation.  I went for a little walk with the dog the other day to nab some more fall color. I didn’t feel like lugging the D800 and a lens bag around so I chucked the X100s in my pocket and away I went. I really wanted to make use of the Fuji’s in camera processing film styles. This is truly a versatile camera. Being able to tweak the shadow and highlight zones is super for enhancing a mood. In the case of fall quickly coming to a close, dark deep shadows and gloomy skies really bring out the over all death theme of the season. But at the same time, the rich velvia colours can really pop and make us think “no, all is not lost yet!” Some life still remains. :cool:


A New Twist on Fall

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As much as a I hate winter, I love fall. More precisely, the fall colours. Which only last for 3.4 days in the prairies. ;) Except this year! We’ve had a very nice slow start to autumn and it’s brought a lot of beautiful colour. I love shooting fall landscapes to nab the colours but the photos are never as vivid or as saturated as I perceive them to be. So I decided to do a new twist on shooting fall landscapes. Abstract! :cool: The colours can’t help but pop in their full glory on account of that’s all the photos have going for them is colour. I kinda like it! :D

Try it for yourself. Don’t be a Photoshop pansy. You can do these shots in camera. I used the superb new Nikon 70-200 f/4 for all of these shots. It’s sharp and light but it also stops way down to f/32. Which is where I shot these. I shot at ISO 100 because it was already bright this morning at 7:30. Crank your aperture down as far it will go and then just adjust your shutter speed down till you get the desired exposure. In my case, I was shooting these at 1/5 of a second. And then comes the twist. Just zoom your lens and you get way cool motion blur and super amazing colour. It’s kinda fun and gives you a new twist on fall! :)


Crazy Storms

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We’ve been in our own veritable Tornado Alley these past couple of weeks. Crazy summer storms have been unbelievably violent, but the clouds have been equally beautiful as well, in their own sinister way. I’m fortunate that our house borders open pasture land so I can get sweet views of the sky without having to travel very far. :cool:

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The Aurora

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Every time I goto Grenfell, Saskatchewan I see incredible displays of Northern Lights. This last trip was no exception. I stayed up late to nab a few snaps with my Fuji X100s at the farm. The colour is incredible! So glad I had my tripod along!


Slow on the Water

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Went out tonight for some landscapes that I’ve been neglecting for too long. There’s lots of water around recently with all the rain which means for a bit of a speedier creek. I wanted to test the X100s on slow shutter speeds for water effects. It has that sweet, sweet little built in 3 Stop ND filter. I LOVE that feature. It comes in super handy for dragging the shutter into glorious smooshy water. I also had the D800 in tow with my Genus 8 Stop Variable ND Filter. See if you can tell which shots are which. :cool: Also, I nearly got attacked by 2 killer beavers. But they let me go unscathed. ;)


X100s Awesome Image Power

I was out on Saturday night partying playing poker with the guys  getting water in Alameda. I threw the X100s in last minute, anticipating a way cool sunset. Some nice colors started happening. I found a subject, grabbed the camera and realized I had no card in it. #doh #facepalm  :roll: Thankfully there’s a wee smidgeon of internal memory available for potential customers to check the images in store morons like me to use. I took an exposure metered for balance and here it is:

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Basic STD JPEG ISO 200 f/4 1/125 no corrections WB: Auto


Not too shabby. It’s metered for the sky and the structures go to mostly silhouette. I could meter for the building but then I’d lose the richness of the color of the sky. Or, I could use flash and illuminate the whole terminal. (Well, I could but that would be dumb). So the only other option is HDR, right? Layer several exposures together in software and get the shot. Well, not any more!

One of the other extremely awesome things about the X100s is the ability to take tonal control of the image. You can manually adjust the shadows, highlights, color and sharpness of any image before you take it. So, after reviewing the first one, I decided to hit the ol’ Q button and tweak away. Here’s the next image:

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ISO 200 f/4 1/125 Velvia Film Shadow Tone: -1 WB: Auto

This image has got the Velvia Film simulation going plus -1 dialed into shadow tone, decreasing the shadow contrast. Look how much more detail is there from one simple adjustment! It’s awesome! But I wanted to push it one step further and here’s the final image:

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ISO 200 f/4 1/125 Velvia Film Highlight Tone: -1 Shadow Tone: -2 Color: +1 Sharpness +1 WB: Fluorescent

There’s even more detail held with no sacrifice of color. I kicked it up a notch in camera. And, by switching to fluorescent white balance, I got a beautiful dusty rose tint to the image. That’s pure awesome! :D

These images are all straight out of camera JPEGS with exception of watermark and resize for web. The Fuji Rocks the Set. I rest my case. :cool:


Sunbathin’ Yote

It was cold this morning, mercury was dipped to -22C. Cold enough even for the creepy crawly critters to seek out a warm sunny spot. :cool: I watched this coyote walk up the ridge opposite to our house. He slowly climbed down over a big snow bank and spun around a few times, making a cozy little spot to catch some rays. I was on breakfast detail so after I had finished my chores, I grabbed the camera and snuck out in our backyard to see if I could nab a shot. My trusty 70-300 has always been my goto wildlife lens, though it’s performance is sluggish. I barely made one frame of the coyote  before he saw me and got nervous. The slow AF on the lens didn’t help much either as I wasted precious seconds trying to acquire focus. But I nabbed one while he was resting and a couple more as he began to flee.

The thing about coyotes is, they’re survivors. When World War III happens and nuclear armageddon is unleashed, the last thing walking around will be a coyote. This one looks like it will survive the winter just fine. :) Unless it keeps hanging around my yard. Then it might have a little visit from Dr.223… :twisted: I took a couple other shots of those cool winter patterns and textures too.


If you see it, shoot it!

This post is not intended to be a mantra for hunting season. Ahem. :cool: It’s about seizing the moment before it’s gone. The “capture” aspect of photography is really of the essence. Event photographers and wedding folk know this well. But even landscapers or point and shooters can glean a lesson from it. If a picture is happening before you, go shoot it. Don’t wait and come back later. Chances are good it won’t be there. Take the 5 minutes to stop, get out and make the frame. Like time, you can never get it back. And personally, I hate living with that “Doh! I wish I would have stopped and got that photo!” It applies to all of life.

This shot was one of those times. I was on my way back from a shoot and saw these 3 combines and the grain cart tractor parked in a harvested field. All of them red. With a nice little moon overhead. I had to stop. I pulled the car over and walked out into the field. I didn’t have a tripod but I had a step ladder with me. So, I used it as a rest and was able to take some frames to make this HDR image. I’m pleased with how it turned out as it grabs what harvest time on the prairies is all about. I could have drove past, but I’m glad I seized the moment! :cool:


Winter Wonderland

The other morning was beautiful with “hooker frost” all over the place! :cool: Ok, Ok, it’s really hoarfrost, but I couldn’t resist! No matter how you slice it, it was better looking than Julia Roberts. I was out visiting some parishioners and stopped to nab a quick HDR of their barn, as well as a couple of other cool winter shots. Gotta love it! And of course, my favorite little snow bunny too. :)

 


Aurora

I was driving home tonight from my niece’s birthday party and the sky was absolutely incredible with Northern Lights. The moon was full and bright which actually hindered how amazing the lights were! I had my camera with me so I pulled off to the side of the road and hand held these shots at 1.6 seconds each. Crazy. Thankfully my 16-35mm has VR! :cool: The second shot looks like a wormhole from Star Trek! :)


Making Snugs with the D800

A friend of ours was on her way through the hood and was able to stop by for a couple days visit. It was super fun to have Teresa and her (and our new) friend Talitha stop by. We haven’t hung out for many moons as Teresa and her husband have been living in New Zealand for a couple of years. Great to have them back in Canada! And, it was a grand occasion for me additionally because I got to play with the Nikon D800! Teresa is an awesome photographer now based out of Calgary, AB. Check her out at http://teresarehmann.com.  We traded some photography as she needed some updated portraits and we needed a family photo that has all of us in it! bwahahhaah… :cool: And, I got to test the D800 extensively. And test I did, plugging all my lenses onto it and running it through it’s paces. I know the sensor is good. But I didn’t know it was THAT good. It is unbelievable. I’m really not exaggerating here. The image quality, the sharpness, the detail, the contrast, the colour, it’s nearly beyond description. And for what I do, portraits, landscapes and macro stuff, it’s a match made in heaven. HOWEVER. And it’s a big however, the files are so huge that they are unruly. We shot everything in RAW pretty much and editing them on my 3.06 iMac with 8 GB of RAM was painful. Slow. Excruciatingly so – packed in the whole Mac and needed a reset once. But it’s worth it! The images are unbelievable, especially with my 105mm macro lens. “Wicked sharp” has a whole new meaning to me!  There’s just sooo much detail and nothing hides from that sensor. Probably need a new computer though . . . :D

 


Dusty Dam

Had to make a water run tonight to the supple bounty of Alameda. It was approaching golden light which is always exciting. It was also dusty as all get out. Dust, fog, mist – they are all the theme park of light. We lucked out and ran into much dust on the roads to let the sunset have the mucho fun. :cool:


Awesome Storm!

The storm itself wasn’t all that bad tonight but the cloud structures were awesome! Living next to a big valley is awesome for getting amazing thermals to make the clouds to pop-wheelies! ;) And the best thing ever was the huge golden light that was coming from the West. It made this tremendous rainbow! It was raining still but I ran out into the backyard to nab the shots. I bracketed the rainbow for HDR to get the max amount of definition. Only bummer was it was hand held so there is some ghosting on the trees. But I don’t care, the rainbow was awesome. I wish I had an FX camera though and I probably could have got the whole thing in the frame! :cool:


Workman’s Dam

I took advantage of the mad rainfall we had today (it put a damper on my deck repair plans, so I might as well take photos!) I’ve been wanting to test my ND filter on some running water. By killing the ambient light with the ND sunglasses, I was able to take some really long exposures 8-13 seconds long at f/22. :cool: It’s a really artsy look and gives the water a surreal, ethereal look. So I toddled down to Workman’s dam (it’s really more of weir) with my trusty tripod in tow. I nearly sank my  Sub-Compact, Fuel Efficient, Off-Roading Toyota Echo in the rhubarb though. The road in was pretty wet and nasty. Fortunately for me, a family was fishing nearby so I knew that if I got stuck on the way out, someone would be there to gimme a tow. hehhehhe… ;) Anyways, I really enjoyed the end results tonight with the long exposure water shots and I’ve been wanting to try this aspect of photography for literally years. Hopefully this summer in our travels I’ll get to try it on some waterfalls. :D

 


The Dam

I finally got a minute to run out to the dam and try my new variable ND filter in a landscape scenario. But of course, the water at the Dam was nearly glass anyways. Just my luck… But I took the kids and did a few long exposure setups in an effort to really blur the water and make it look dreamy. Many of the photos were shot at f/22 and upwards of 6 seconds! Not too shabby. We’ll have to try it again on a day where there is mucho waves. Thinking ahead though,  I threw a little flash setup into the truck last minute. Actually it was my beastly new C-Stand and Photoflex NXT Octodome – I love this new stand! I was able to put the light right over head of the kids and blast ‘em without worry of the thing tipping over. It’s so sweet! Even though it was a bicep buster hauling it up and down the bank at the dam. My favourite image of the night is the one I put at the top of this blog post. Ethan was facing opposite to the light, but it captured the fun of the evening!


Macoun

 

Driving to Moose Jaw Tuesday night I stopped at Macoun to make this image. The flooding from last year hasn’t gone away. It may be out of the media but it is still affecting the lives of many people in rural Saskatchewan.


Turkey Stalkers

Ma & Pa Kettle are down from Moose Jaw and with the wild turkeys in full strut, it was high time to try and get some photos. Dad had his 500mm f/4 and I brought a . . . 16-35 f/4 wide angle. What other lens would do for wildlife?!? hehhehhe… ;) Anyways, we drove down the road and spotted some turkeys right beside the road. Dad was switching up lenses and some other guy in a truck drove by and spooked them. Great. They were now on the move. So I ran on ahead of them trying to cut them off and steer them back to where Dad was waiting. Well the turkeys must have been chased by coyotes this year because they are far more flighty then they were last year. I was able to walk up with 15-20 feet but this year not so. Long story short on the turkey stalk was me nearly having a heart attack running up and down ginormous hills trying to cut ‘em off at the pass. To which the responded by flying away. I have a whole new appreciation for Border Collies. :cool:


Sunset Feb 13

God’s Light Painting tonight. :cool:


HDR: Dead Winter

Capitalizing on the dismal fog, I ran out and came across this blast from the past. What a location! Old smashed farm house, decrepit stone barn ruins, racoon tracks hither and thither… it was a regular haunt of jackals! I was testing the VR function of the 16-35mm lens as I went with no tripod but was still able to do these HDR mashups with very little ghosting. Cool! :cool: I was really diggin’ the high contrast black and white feel when I was editing these ones. Adds to the overall bleakness… ;)


Winter: Bleak or Vibrant?

Winter has moods all its own. It can be happy and vibrant with colours or it can be dismal and bleak with fog! Living in the prairies gives you a taste of everything – and if you don’t like it, just wait 20 minutes and it will change! ;) I was able to get out for a little walk two days ago and today and nab some landscapes. It’s such a wild difference in the mood of the photos. We had some nice sun on the 1st which made for beautiful skies that were cheerful and bright. But today was pea-soup fog that didn’t let up all day. The photos are so bleak and void of life that it’s depressing! Capturing both moods makes for a “cool” contrast in prairie winter scenes. :cool:


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