Light is Everything!

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#Candids

I love off camera flash. The results are always superior to natural lighting. No contest. Ever. :cool: But that said, there is something just awesome about candid shots of kids being kids. No light shapers other than clouds. Fast lenses. Awesome cameras. It’s magical! :D

#2YearsOld

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I’m fairly behind in these photos & post. Like 2 months behind. LOL Oh well, the time truly does fly. But our little FlowerPot Baby is 2. So I was told to get some updated pictures of the little gaffer. So here they are. Just to warn you, she’s ridiculously cute. :D

Here’s the BTS photo geek information about how I made these photos.

First of all, these were all shot in harsh, direct sunlight. Very bright conditions. So the name of the game with harsh light is control followed by redirection. This is where your secret weapon, a collapsible scrim saves the day. I set mine up on  c-stand because it’s basically a huge sail on the windy prairies. This provides a very nice softbox-esque light quality to the subject. The next thing is to make sure you have a contrasting background that won’t blow out as you increase your exposure. No sky. Find some trees or shrubs for better results. So using the scrim, the light is controlled & soft. But if you want more volume of light, you can easily do that by firing a flash through the same panel. It gives your images more pop if you want that look. Although, if you’re shooting at shallow depth of field, you’ll need to use high-speed sync with your flash. I used the scrim alone for some of the shots then additionally redirected some light back in via a flash & umbrella. The light panel scrim gives mucho nice catchlights in the eyes all by itself though. This setup really gives a light and airy look to the photos.  So there you go. Quick and easy portraits in full sun. :cool:

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Arcola Grad 2014

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It’s that time again! Graduation is in the air and excitement abounds! I was covering grad up in the great town of Arcola, SK on Friday of last week. It was the first real day of hot sun we’ve had in all of 2014. Needless to say, I was as red as a ripe hothouse tomato afterwards. :cool: The weather was beautiful though and I was grateful for that. They raise ‘em right up in Arcola, let me tell you. Both Quinn & Julian were gentlemen through and through. They were fun to photograph, had awesome families and gorgeous escorts! There is nothing more that a photographer could ask for. I was totally spoiled. :D

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Magnascope

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Every once in a while all the stars align and things work out. Magnascope had all their equipment in the yard the other day – an extreme rarity – and we were able to get together for a quick photo shoot. Fortunately the weather even cooperated.  Utilizing a front end loader, I was able to get an elevated  point of view from which to take the photos. It was really incredible to see all the trucks lined up in one place! I shot everything HDR to bring out the colour and texture of the sky. It all came together really well! :cool:

 

#Dance2014

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I covered the Oxbow Dance dress rehearsal photos last Friday.  It was pure awesome as it always is. The kids are ridiculously cute! :) Miss Halynne does an absolutely remarkable job getting the kids into recital ready shape. In what must be like herding cats when it comes to the tiny tots, they all do their routines marvellously well! The rehearsal shots were fast and furious. We had an enormous turnout of parents who wanted individual shots of their dancers. I thank everyone for their patience as we proceeded with the photo shoots.  The discs are all burned now and ready to be delivered. Everybody is also getting a copy of their child’s group shot included free of charge.  Free is good! :cool:

Published Internationally

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Woot! Here’s some cool news, I got published in Practical Photography Magazine’s May 2014 edition!  It’s a UK publication so my Canadian peeps won’t be able to pick up a print copy too readily. But you can get electronic versions available on iTunes and Google. I was contacted by them quite some time ago regarding my images I posted here on the blog of photographing the kids’ fiberoptic lamps! Spiffy! :cool:

Crocuses

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The kids wanted to go looking for crocuses yesterday. So did I. :) So we went out back and found a few little bunches. I’m not sure if they are just starting to come up or are nearly done. Normally they’ve come up even through a light snow. But this year the weather has been wonky so say the least. I feel a special attachment to crocuses as they are “Saskatchewan’s Flower” at least anecdotally. ;) I’ve seen more crocuses than tiger-lilies, I’ll put it to you that way. heehehe…..

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About the technique for nabbing these photos. I went out with a collapsible reflector/diffuser to block the harsh sunlight that was pouring in. I had my D800 & 105mm macro for this detail-rich gig. I was shooting at apertures of f/16 or f/32 so I needed more light reach this at ISO 100 and 1/250. I used my Orbis ring flash and SB-900 synced with an SC-29 cord. I basically was able to set the Orbis on edge on the ground, which doubled as a rest, and shoot right through it.  It worked great. :cool: The macro detail that the D800 can capture is really tremendous!  Here’s a 100% crop and the full shot beneath.

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The Looks of Lent

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:

"Duck Dynasty" Try out photo (Full Beard).

“Duck Dynasty” Try out photo (Full Beard).

Super Cue (Shaved head).

Super Cue (Shaved head).

"The Balbo".

“The Balbo”.

"Tony Stark" or Iron Man Goatee.

“Tony Stark” or Iron Man Goatee.

"Soul Patch".

“Soul Patch”.

"Clean Cut White Boy". #Respect

“Clean Cut White Boy” #Respect.

 

#LentBeard2014

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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:

20140413-LentBeard2014-002First 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

 

DIY Light Scrim Upgrade

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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!

 

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