Hello blogosphere! Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead! I’m alive. Busy but alive. The days are just packed! (That’s an old Calvin & Hobbes comic book that I still have on my shelf). Between church life, family life, Estate executor life and professional photography life, I haven’t had time to have a blog life! Better late than never!
We took an amazing family get away in the first part of October to Cypress Hills and stayed at the Resort. We rented cabins which were perfect for us, two bedrooms, kitchenette, beautiful setting. We had the run of the place as there weren’t any other people booked in. The temperatures were crisp in the evening and a bit windy but the days were glorious. Sunny & warm! We had such a blast. Grandma & Grandpa got to hang out with the grandkids, we all got to go on some beautiful hikes and of course, take pictures!
For this trip I brought my full Nikon setup. Usually I’ve replaced the whole kit with my Fuji X100s for family trips because of the versatility, small size and awesome image quality. But for this trip, I wanted to shoot the forest in full frame with my D800. Also I knew I’d be doing some family portraits that showed the glorious fall colour that was still there (Thank the Lord!). So I brought out the dynamic range duo of the D800 & the Df. It’s the best of both worlds for low light performance and resolution.
We went to Conglomerate Cliffs the first day there. It was incredibly windy but still breathtakingly beautiful. I shot some family photos there with flash. I brought along my Alien Bee 1600 and battery pack. It’s such a great light. Super value for the money and I love the volume of light it produces. Quick Photoflex soft box and there you go. Instant Christmas Card photo magic.
We also had some fun doing light painting with the kids and their glow sticks. They had fun whirling them around and seeing the cool streams of colour.
Cypress Hills also has a dark sky preserve with an observatory. We had a decent night but the clouds were rolling in. Were able to nab some northern lights though, and I think I caught a falling star too.
All in all it was a fantastic trip. I cannot recommend Cypress Hills enough. If you’ve never been, you’ve gotta go check it out. It’s provincial treasure! :cool:
Things have been exceedingly chaotic for the last little while but are now starting to even out again. I’m quite behind in blogging and have lots of posts upcoming, even though they will be slightly delayed. I thought I would start the catch up practice with a post on a mini “stay-cation” we did back in the first part of July.
Enter: The Big Muddy. What a sensational place! It’s a lesser known gem of Saskatchewan. In fact, when we asked people in our area if they’d ever made the 300km trip west, it was largely a big No. It’s a provincial treasure though. Really different badlands style terrain and really cool history! Outlaws, live stock thieves, Native heritage sites. This stuff should be taught in school! We took an 8 hour van ride tour out of Coronach, SK. There were 9 different stops along the way. Our kids 3, 5, & 7 did amazingly well. There is lots of terrain to cover but so much cool stuff that it kept them entertained the whole time. The tour gives you a scenic view of the region as well as the ability to look at sites not publicly accessible.
We admired that the place hadn’t largely become “touricized” – turning the natural beauty of the place into a fools paradise of fences and signage. You can access some sites, like Castle Butte, just by driving up to it. You can climb all over it, go to the summit, take pictures and have a grand ol’ time. It’s fantastic! Other places you have to have permission to access. Or, take the tour we did because they are on fenced private land. The tour is the way to go because you get the low down on the area from local people. They leave out of Coronach, SK and have a variety of options to choose from. Check them out on this website.
Besides the “non-stereotypical Saskatchewan flat landscape” of the area, there is such cool history from the NWMP to the horse thieving outlaws who used the region to steal and sell livestock. Tamela Burgess of the Circle Y Ranch does an incredible job of highlighting the Outlaw Stories through her amazing artwork and story telling. By far this was one of the most interesting aspects of the tour. And, they’ve filmed a couple episodes of ManTracker on the ranch! It’s a very beautiful location.
If you haven’t gone and seen the Big Muddy, I highly recommend it. It’s a seldom seen provincial treasure! Check it out! The gallery contains a few photo highlights of the area all shot on the FujiFilm X100s.
It is Cold.
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:
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:
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! :)
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!