It was neat to go out and release some ring-necked pheasants today with the Souris Moose Creek Wildlife Federation. Hunters and conservationists have been releasing pheasants since the 1880s in North America. They have flourished here and have become a favourite quarry for upland bird hunters. I’ve hunted them my whole life and there is not much more excitement to be had than walking around almost stepping on them because they hold cover so tightly! Of course, we enjoyed watching the dogs work the cover more than shooting. But pheasants are more than delicious! In fact, they are my favourite “Chinese food!” We’ve had some fairly destructive winters since 2011 in our area which has no doubt lowered the numbers of pheasants and other upland game birds. Not to mention large numbers of coyotes, hawks, skunks, racoons and other predators that have also brought their numbers down. So it is nice to get out and put some back! Hopefully the 200 birds that were released today will make it through the winter and make more in the spring.
On the weekend I had a career highlight as a photographer! I was honoured to tag along with the Oxbow Enniskillen Fire Department on a training session. An old farm house was available for a controlled burn. This kind of exercise is invaluable for firefighters as they get to practice in a real world setting but without the real world risk of having to rescue anyone inside.
The burn was done in stages. Simulating the fire starting in a living room and a kitchen and eventually the entire house. Tagging along as the photographer allowed me to get some photos that would be impossible to get in a real world house fire. I was suited up for the experience in fire pants, jacket and helmet. But nothing could have prepared me for the extreme heat of that fire.
Up until now I have always had grandiose dreams of grabbing my kids and carrying them out of a burning building if it should ever happen to us (God forbid!) But let me tell you, I was on the opposite end of the house when the fire broke out, taking pics as the firefighters entered. The wall of heat was so intense, the smoke so horrific that you couldn’t see or breathe! It is all manor of awful scary. The conditions that our firefighters endure for our safety cannot be overstated. These men (and women!) are your real heroes! Say thank you, buy them a coffee or a meal any time you can!
In the midst of the seriousness, there was also fun too. One highlight for me was getting a three generations firefighter photo. That is something you don’t see everyday. It is a rare and awesome thing to see! Three generations of heroes!
This was such an amazing experience! It reinforced in my mind fire safety. Make sure your smoke alarms all have fresh batteries and are in good working order!
Take a look at the gallery of images here. It’s only a handful of the shots I took, but I have tried to visually tell the story of the day from beginnings of the fire all the way up until the house was completely burned. There were loads of great candid moments throughout the day and I was super thankful for the opportunity!
We’re having a heat wave! And it is fantastic! Our weather has gone absolutely crazy. We’ve swung from -50 billionºC with a windchill to +6ºC. For January in Saskatchewan, that is pure craziness. We’ve been hibernating in our homes for the past few weeks so it feels tremendous to get outside and grab some fresh air and take some photos! I was dying to get out and shoot the new 50mm 1.8G lens. So, when the weather was unbelievably great, I locked it on the Df and went for a walk with the family. It was super great. I can’t overstate how great this 50mm is. It’s so light on the Df that it feels like you’re carrying a mirrorless system. And it performs great.
For this walk I had it stopped down to around f/8. The light was extremely bright and contrasty so I set my picture style to Monochrome, even though I shot RAW. It’s cool to see the shots in black and white in camera, but know you still have colour to work with in post. To match the high contrast lighting conditions, I pushed these files with heavy contrast in Lightroom. I wanted to capture that iconic “street photography” look. It was a lot of fun! And, there was a lot of laundry to do when we got home. Thankfully, that’s not my department. :cool:
Family Sessions are pretty much finished off now, especially since winter has set in with a mighty wallop of cold temperatures & wind! It’s already been quite nasty other than not having a metric pile of snow which is great! And also, on the positive note, there has been none of that freezing rain malarky either. Two whoop whoops and a boo ya for -20ºC right off the hop of winter! LOL :cool:
Fall on the prairies is hellfire fast. But this year it was somewhat delayed which is a such a sweet bonus. It was rather rainy though which limited the shooting opportunities. But you have to be fast when it comes to hammering out all the best colour as it is usually here one day and gone the next. Here are two images I shot at the end of my crescent where there was this amazing red hedge. These photos were shot only 3 days apart. Crazy difference! I shot the same photo/pose with the families to illustrate this reality of fall photography in Saskatchewan: HURRY! :D
A little bit of wind can ruin your photo background in no time! That said, while we missed the red colour on the latter shoot, we also picked up some incredible yellow that wasn’t ready just 3 days before.
So you never know what kind of palette you will be given to work with from shoot to shoot. A couple of days is an enormous difference! But you can still wring it out even when the colour gets scarce. The photographer’s two best friends are Bokeh & Compression. Or, long focal lengths and wide apertures. This shot of Lexi was with my 85mm at f/2.5. A bit of telephoto compression and pretty wide aperture. Similar results could have been nabbed at 200mm and f/4. Charlea’s photo was similar, with my favorite 85mm at 2.8. She had much more colour at the red hedge while the bush behind lexi was really on it’s way out. But the bokeh goodness smooshes it into a pleasant blur of colour.
I haven’t been posting very much stuff lately on the ol’ blogosphere as I’ve been busy with 50 billion other things. But I will catch up a bit with some posts over the next little while of some client stuff and maybe a post about a possible switch to a fully mirrorless equipment setup! Maybe. :cool:
Here’s some family shots I did a while back for my Buchanan friends. This is one of my favourite shots of all time by far! This is a real photo. No fakey-fakey instagram-perfecto-family. I love the emotion and the looks on the faces of all the kids! It’s just super! eheheheh…… :D
Been a long time since the last blog! Super busy with weddings and shoots and the rest of life!!! But last night was the ultimate in nights for astro photography. No moon. It was warm with a mild wind to keep the mosquitos away. I was lazy and just shot around the house, but if I had gone out a few miles from town, it would have been even better. Light leaks are generally a pain. But in the top image, it worked out ok. It made for some cool cool contrasts. :cool: I was out behind our house for this shot and crouched down in a pile of clover. I had the tripod in a nearly flat configuration. I was checking with a head lamp the settings on the camera. Just after I snapped this shot, I had the lamp on and I tilted my head up just in time to see a set of eyes staring back at me from the other side of the fence. FREAKY! I grabbed the set up and hi-tailed it back to the yard. Still not exactly sure what they were. Let’s hope just a bunny. :D
I did a little light painting too, just for fun. It was nice to nab the Milky Way as the backdrop for that. I was shooting with the Nikon Df and my 16-35mm lens. f/4 at 3200 ISO for about 25 seconds. The Df files are so nice and clean for astro photography, even at a long exposure. The grain is neat and tight. Here’s a couple more. Loads of fun!
Family photos, in my opinion, should fall into the category of “nice photos.” They are simply lit with one light or a reflector. They don’t look lit. They don’t look edgy. They have a very simple elegance about them. That’s been my aim, at least, for the majority of family shoots I do. I have experimented with ring flash but I find that it must be relegated into the realm of fill flash only in this context. As a main light, it’s just too much for this look. The look and feel of lighting is definitely worth paying heed too – especially for “nice photos.” Of the photos in this post, can you guess how they are lit? It’s tough to tell which was flash, reflector or just ambient? Watch the catchlights of course… :cool:
Also, when shooting siblings, I almost always try to shoot sets of images – similar photos for each member of the family so they look like a cohesive whole on a photo wall. It’s a nice technique for nice photos. :D
Well Boo ya! This years grads are all done graduatin’. And what a crazy fun time it was taking photos of all these amazing young people. It’s hard to believe that our kids will one day be wearing the suits and dresses! Another reminder that time truly does fly by far too fast. Anywhos, here’s my quick picks of Oxbow grad shots this year. After a MARATHON editing session today, I got them all done. The kids will have their photos at the start of the week. Just glad the weather cooperated today by being heinously wet and rainy as to dispel any fun things I could have otherwise done. :D Also, I invented a new photo this year. I call it “The Smiling Suit.”
This past week on June 12 the outdoor classroom at OPHS was dedicated to our dear friend and neighbour Megan Fonstad. She lived to teach, was dedicated to the new school project in Oxbow as well as this outdoor classroom, and her funeral took place at OPHS. The dedication was well attended by family and friends who have not forgotten how awesome Megan was and all that she did for her community and school. Memory Eternal, dear friend!