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 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!
On Thursday, May 9th we celebrated the Good Lord Jesus’ Ascension back to heaven. And to do so, we had a concert with a couple of Angel voices! Jennifer Jade Kerr and Kelti Malone blessed our congregation in Oxbow with a sweet concert. They are AMAZINGLY talented singer songwriter types. I highly recommend you check ‘em out and buy all their records. As if that wasn’t good enough, we sweetened the whole deal and had an ice cream buffet afterwards. We had a really great turn out with lots of community members attending.
The the girls were kind enough to indulge my photo addiction and do some portraits with the D800. Musicians deserve moody lighting, at least, I think they do. I wanted to try some anyways so here’s what I came up with.
For Jennifer, I envisioned her glorious red hair and decided that warm tones would be the ticket. I wanted to go with short lighting too for the utmost of flattery. Then I had the idea to put some candles in the bokeh to further play off the red/warm feel of the overall image. I also wanted a bit of guitar in the image, but not to let it dominate the scene. I was pleased because it turned out how I envisioned it.
Kelti has a way cool violin! I knew that I wanted to do some edgy stuff with it. So we did a pretty dramatic portrait of Kelti with some way cool profile lighting. And then, we decided to just shoot the violin – because it’s so darn cool!
Here’s some shots from the concert all taken with the FujiFilm X100s.
Finally got a chance to use the X100s in a real world scenario. My good friend Susan from Susan Hill Photography had a wedding gig lined up and I asked if I could tag along as second shooter to really try out the Fuji. She graciously obliged. Not only was I using the X100s, I also got to try it out with my new pocket wizard plus x triggers. I’m happy to report that everything worked amazingly well. I confess though, that I’m naturally a telephoto-eyed shooter. So, I couldn’t leave my D800 at home. I had it with my 85mm f/1.8 on a black rapid strap as well as the Fuji. It truly was a dynamic duo as you get a pretty nice 35mm equivalent FOV from the Fuji and decent telephoto from the 85mm. And, the Fuji is so nice as a second camera because it is super lightweight. You can carry it around all day and not get played out. So all in all, it was a sweet mix. I just swapped the pocket wizard trigger back and forth from camera to camera as I needed to. I was using a simple one speedlight rig in a Photoflex octodome NXT XS on an ultralight LumoPro stand. It was a perfect on the move, versatile lighting setup.
I really wanted to push the Fuji on this gig. So I tried to use it as much as possible and it didn’t disappoint. Despite being a wide-ish angle lens, you can really get some nice subject isolation with it. The colour and skin tones are amazing. I shot everything in RAW and JPEG but the images on this blog entry are all JPEG – they are simply that good. And, they tweak very nicely in post.
Some stuff though is just made for telephoto and I did find myself swapping in the D800. I still believe that people look best shot with telephoto focal lengths. But the variety of having both cameras and not having to change lenses (hence lugging around WAY less kit) is pure awesome.
This wedding session was all formals with some candids with the big family at the end. We setup in the Carnduff golf course because after all, it’s May and there is still snow lying around… shudder. But, we did our best. So we found this little tranquil spot and knew we could do something with it. When I got home and looked at the file, it struck me. This image looks fake! It looks like my 1985 kindergarten portrait studio backdrop! I think it’s attributed to the being able to nuke the sun with the deadly combo of the Fuji’s built in 3 stop ND filter and higher sync speed. This one was f/2.8 at 1/500 via Pocket Wizards. Sweet sassy! I’m gonna like that capability more and more me thinks.
The other killer thing with a small, lightweight camera is that you can hand hold slow shutter speed shots no problem. There were a metric tonne of kidlets around for the big family photo and I thought, lets get them buzzing around the bride. With the ND filter still on, I cranked the aperture up to f/11 and dialled the shutter down to 1/30s. The bride is sharp handheld, the kids are pleasantly blurred. My only regret is not popping a wee bit o’ flash on the bride. It would have made for a stellar image. But one gets caught up in the moment.
All in all, it was a super fun 2 hours on duty with the Fuji. I love that it’s small, lightweight and ready for anything – like when all the kids in the family decide to start rolling down a goose crap encrusted golf course hill. It’s just there and ready to rock!
Every Lent I grow a beard. It started out as a way to be reminded to pray when it started itching. Now it’s just a long standing tradition that is more of a joke than anything. But, it’s gone again for another year! Here chronicles the carnage!
And, if you can’t get enough, watch this YouTube Video. *One profanity used towards the end and for that I apologize.
Another new first for me today! Our pals Dane & Lexi turned 1 not too long ago and, what better way to celebrate one year or life on earth than to smash a big ol’ chocolate cake into oblivion in a high key lighting setup?! I can’t think of any better way. It turns out that both kids were somewhat terrified of cold chocolate cake. Reactions didn’t go as expected. I think we parents, knowing our kids, think that when encountered by a ginormous cake will dive right in with both hands and eat like its going out of style! We tried this with Ethan and he barely mashed into his cake too. Oh well! It was still loads of fun and contributed wonderfully to the laundry situation.
I also borrowed Regan’s Nikon V1 (again) and did a time-lapse of the whole event! Well, technically, not the whole event. Math never was a strong point of mine and I screwed up the first part of it while we were setting up the lights. hehehehe… :oops: I got it figured out though and put this vid together from still images taken every 10 seconds for the duration of the event. In one of the frames the flashes synced with the V1! Pretty awesome coincidence. It was a bona fide metric tonne of fun!
It’s a photo shoot I won’t soon forget! Leighton contacted me about taking some photos of him and his girlfriend Brandy. Simple and straightforward enough. But then, there was a catch. A wonderful catch indeed. Turns out that at the very end of the shoot, he popped the question! And the camera caught the whole thing!! It was tremendous and I was excited to be part of the adventure. Catching real emotion and moments with a camera is an unbelievable experience. And . . . she said “yes.”
I was blessed to take some pictures of a very special little girl the other day. Cozi has a bittersweet baby story. There were two but her twin had severe health complications and didn’t survive. The emotions that accompany both having and losing a baby at the same time are nearly impossible to put into words. We look for answers to the big question “why?” – but there aren’t any. We know that our world is a place marred by death and iniquity, of which none of us is immune. At times of tragedy, the Christian Faith encourages us that our loving and gracious God sees things we don’t, works in ways we don’t understand, and by the gift of His cross and resurrection, has conquered death by death. We trust that the anger and sadness we now feel at the loss of a child will be turned into rejoicing and reunion in eternity.
When I was asked to take photos, instantly a photo came to mind. We wanted to be real to the situation to rejoice and celebrate but also mourn and be sad at the same time. This mirror image photo of Cozi wraps it all up as she and ‘Bella Vita’ are forever together in the photo.
+ Soli Deo Gloria! +
Eve of Destruction 2! This time, it’s not Eve of Destruction 1! The event is pure awesome! Last year it was a combine smash up derby, this year, a truck and trailer figure 8 crash up! hehhhehe… But not only is there the main event, there is also lots of other amazing performances from exploding cars to MX stunt dudes to car flips to truck pulls. But I wasn’t there for any of it. My job was to take some pictures of the Lord of the Speedway, Byron Fichter. He’s an Estevan area photographer who specializes in landscapes and motor sports. His work at the Estevan Motor Speedway is exceedingly well known and he knows his craft. Be sure to check out his images at his website ByronFichter.com. I had fun following Byron around and taking some shots of him in action.For a guy who is known for his work at the track, it’s nice to actually get some shots of him at the track. People were saying to him “Are you the guy from the track?” Now they will see the photos and know. It was lots of fun shooting Byron and being able to nab a few shots of the event. The MX bikes were 80 feet in the air when doing their stunts! Unreal! I’m glad I was on the ground with a camera.
This post could be called D800 Snugs part 2. I took full advantage of Teresa’s camera while she was here. Ironically, I have been wanting to get a macro shot of a peacock feather for a long, long time. However, since the D800 came out, I’ve been waiting to use it to capitalize on the megapixels and get blown away by the sheer awesomeness of the detail. It didn’t disappoint. The 105mm micro lens is unreal sharp. I used it on the feather but also for the ad hoc portrait of Talitha . . . who’s last name is Peacock. Go figure. Serendipity? Talitha is a super rad girl and, she’s a harpist which makes me cool and couth by association. Check out her music here: http://peacocksmusic.com. I was blown away by the portrait. Goes without saying that Talitha is beautiful, but the quality of the file is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The D800 really brings it! The feather image is going huge on my wall. I’ll see how 36×48 looks!
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… 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
Laney has a heart of gold! And that sweetness of her personality flows out of her and looks tremendous on camera. This shoot was really enhanced because of that. I really liked being able to do some fiddle shots of Laney too. The location was really fitting for a western theme and added a lot to how the images worked over all. We setup in a big shed and the floor was perfectly full of fine dust that I knew would give some sweet texture to the shot – especially when you have people run through it and really stir it up! Light and dust/dirt/smoke/fog go together like peanut butter & chocolate!
And, last but not least was the barn. Again, some amazing textures in there. When you mix the sweetness of Laney and the roughness of the location, some cool lighting, it makes for some really dramatic portraits.
Went out last night for an evening shoot with the Sawatsky family. We had perfect weather with glorious warm golden light – until the last 2 minutes of the shoot when the wind came up out of nowhere, blew over my c-stand (sandbagged!) and carried my light setup a quarter mile! bwahahahah.. I wish I would have taken pictures of my shoot-thru umbrella carrying my flash bracket across the beach. It was hilarious. Fortunately, nothing was damaged and, we got the shot after all!
Not enough can be said about golden light, that mystical time of the day right before sunrise and right before sunset. The light is super soft and warm. It’s pure awesome. Plus, scheduling the shoot at that time allows for the sunset to get richer and richer as time goes on. Most of the photos from this shoot were shot using ambient light as the key, supplemented with a CTO flash to help add warmth and a kicker. It’s really soft subtle light which works nice for the kids. They did an AWESOME job as photo candidates. We worked quickly and nabbed a nice mix of shots.
Hehehehhhehe……… It’s funny now. In hindsight. Like most things. But it was a gongshow whilst it was happening. I was getting some harassment from the relatives about needing updated photos of the kids. It’s been busy lately and Pria is nearly 5 months old. I haven’t take nearly enough photos of her. So we set out yesterday to nab some shots. We tried the bail setup and finally got a decent one. My children purposely don’t cooperate with me when trying to take pics of them. Next time, I’m going to Sears Portrait Studio. hehehehehe…….. Then I wanted to get some candids of the kids in the Alfalfa. But then, Ethan peed his pants. Potty training is going pretty good, but it’s not 100%. With no spare change of clothes, we’re carrying his bare butt across this field back to the truck, all the while Phoebe screaming in the background about not being left behind. After walking back and getting my photo gear we got re-loaded and Ethan got a pull-up installed. We still needed some shots of Pria. So we went back to town and went down into the campground – which has become a cesspool of weed-based iniquity (… but not that kind) since the floods last year. Back home we went and by this time, Pria is screaming at the top of her lungs because she’s sick of her car seat. And, to top it all off, all the kids are sick with running noses and weepy eyes. Here’s the salvaged images from the shoot that nearly wasn’t. hehhehhhehe…….. all in the life of a
photog stressed dad.
After having my own kids, I know how fast a year can come and go. We did Leighton’s 1 year photos this past weekend and it was a riot! When you are 1, the whole world is an adventure. And if Grandpa keeps you awake before your photo shoot, so what?! It’s still cute no matter what! Leighton did fantastic and she was sporting all the late summer fashions, especially the Rider Pride!
My two favourite nieces came by for a visit and we did a quick little photo shoot. Ruby is just about the same age as Pria is and both are just starting to be propped up. We grabbed the Bumbo chair, or the “wimbo” as Phoebe called it, and propped her up and had Piper sneak in beside. This photo was my fav from the set because Ruby has that “you lookin’ at me kid?” expression! heheheeh….. “I’m gonna buss a cap you keep lookin’ at me!”
From there we went to just Ruby and locked this one in. I threw it into Black and White which always looks timeless and cool. Her eyes were very sparkly in this and her expression is, though less Goodfellas than above, super adorable.
A quick note about the lighting setup for these photos. Kids rarely if ever sit still and cooperate so I wanted to try a different lighting technique that would accommodate their squirmy nature but still give a nice result. I setup a reflector camera right on a stand and a flash camera left and bounced the light over the kids and off the flash on very low power, like 1/128 or 1/64. It has the awesome effect of feathering past the kids and also lighting up the reflector for a sweet little catch light in the eyes. I really like the technique and I will certainly try it again. The ambient light cooperated too with an overcast sky which helped for even fill light. I came across this setup in Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook, which is a resource I recommend you check out if you’re interested in learning more about light. He has some great setups to share in there. You can checkout a preview vid for it here:
I’ve made several photo books over the years now from Phoebe’s baby pics for the grandparents to anniversaries to summer memory books and of course, for clients too. Photo books have got to be one of the best options for finishing out photos and displaying them. The curse of digital photography is that our photos are often relegated to living in the digital on-screen world – and that can be good thing, especially in our day of iPhones and iPads, the photos are more readily accessible and easier to share than ever before. However, digital is not always best. Big prints and photo books often lend more physicality and dimension to the photos. Books have a great way of simply “being there” on a coffee table or in grandma’s purse to show friends and family. And, do to the aforementioned digital world, print media is almost novel these days making books more special than on a phone screen. I did up a book for Erin from two different shoots I did for her this year just to say thank you for being the best babysitter ever to our kids. You can’t buy the memories in the book! It’s a one of a kind piece of art! And, it is very satisfying to see photography in print, just like a project completed.
Prepare to get your photo-geek on and see if you can keep up to this post. I just got some new toys that I’m stoked about. For the longest time I’ve wanted a variable ND filter. Neutral Density is pretty much sunglasses for your lenses and especially useful for landscape photography, especially water shots where you want a long/slow shutter speed to get those cool blurred water effects. But additionally, you can use them for flash photography and strobist work. ND filters help you kill ambient light, like in the full bright sunshine (it can bring a shutter speed down from 1/8000s to 1/250 to get full power flash sync speeds!) Or, you can use it in available light too. Here’s the scenario. The kids are ripping around the back yard being cute as usual. It’s super bright out – the old “Sunny 16″ rule. With loads of sunlight everywhere, your camera lens has to stop-down to f/8, 11 or 16 to control how much light is getting into the camera as to no blow out an exposure. However, taking portraits/candids at such a small f/stop sucks. Everything is in focus and it’s not bokelicious or appealing. Say I want to get crazy and shoot at f/1.4 in full sunlight. How can I do it? It’s impossible without an ND filter. So I slapped on the Genus 2-8 Stop Variable ND and away we go! Check it out – these next 4 shots are all shot with my 50mm f/1.4 lens at 1.4 1/250 in full sun!!! It’s pure awesome and totally impossible without an ND filter.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also finally broke down and bought a C-Stand. I wish I would have bought it when I first started getting interested in flash photography. It’s basically a big-bad-heavy light stand with an extendable arm which allows you to hang a light up over someone. It’s the bomb! Plus, I got some sand bags for it and filled them with pea gravel and now, it’s super strong enough to stand up in the fiercest of Saskatchewan wind. I used it the other day to nab one of the shots of FlowerPot. It’s super secure and with all that weight in the bags, it ain’t goin’ nowheres.
Just as one last aside, take a look at the difference flash makes, especially off-camera flash. Here’s two shots of Phoebe taken right after each other. The first is natural open shade light, the second is with flash from the C-Stand setup above. It’s such a better result to me. There’s pop and contrast and great light! This is why I keep sinking money into lighting gear. If your light is right, your photos will be awesome 9 times out of 10.
What can I say. This was the funnest shoot ever!!! Take three crazy friends, the weirdest location in the universe and a deranged photographer half-high on amoxicillin and presto! You’ve got these photos! Bwahahah….. It was a total riot! Fun, wild and crazy pics at every turn. We were blessed with a beautiful day and we made the most of it. We ended up with a truly eclectic mix of photos, wide angle to telephoto, natural light & flash. It was a photog’s dream and I think we all had a blast! :)
“What should we name this baby, Phoebe?” we ask our 4 year old. “Well, if it’s a boy, his name will be Marco. If it’s a girl, her name will be Flower Pot.” We loved it and it has stuck ever since. The third Schultz baby is due right around the corner so we went out a couple of different times and made some maternity images. One of the major bummers about having an exceedingly mild winter (photographically speaking) was that there was no snow. Everything outside was rather bland and dead looking, very unattractive for making photos. But we did capitalize on a little bit of snow for the park shots. Just a pile of candids in both natural light and using flash. Then, when the weather improved we nabbed some warmer shots in Moose Jaw. Why the holy city of Moose Jaw? Well, it is where Flower Pot will be born. Turns out she’s a c-section and we were referred on from Estevan. So she will share the birthplace of her daddy, which is cool. Moose Javian anointing coming your way, Flower Pot! It’s kind of weird knowing when the baby’s birthday will be. Smack dab in the middle of Holy Week. . . . God has a sense of humour! It means that my entire Easter schedule is kiboshed. But that’s OK. Everything will work out and we are very blessed to have Grandma & Grandpa in town to help wrangle the kidlets. So anywhos, here’s the photos!
I was honoured to be the photographer at Oxbow’s Ice Show March 17th. The night was fabulous and everyone involved absolutely rocked the set! From the most experienced to the greenest around the skating gills all did amazing! I looked in jealousy at all the 4 year olds who already have far more skating talent than I will ever have! (seriously!) We kicked the night off with some individual portraits and group shots in the dressing room. Then, I covered the actual show itself. It was a riot! :D
When I was a kid, I loved Pre-Kindergarten!! It was the best 4 years of my life! Actually, I was too much of a wimp to go to pre-school. I was afraid of all the kids and the brightly coloured crayons. But I was certainly happy to stop by and check out the new Pre-K class in Oxbow. What a fun class! All the good times of Kindergarten without all the Algebra homework. I was asked to stop by and do some class photos for Tony as he unfortunately has to return to Germany. All of his classmates are going to miss him for sure! We hope he will be back in school in no time. As always, it’s tons of fun helping out the school making images for them. We broke the mould of the traditional “line em up move em out, rawhide!” photos and got them jumping and spread out. Little kids are designed for moving around, might as well take advantage of it!
The photos are done! This was a tremendously exciting project to work on! Me and my most beautiful photo assistant (and wife) were blessed to be able to cover the OPHS Christmas Formal. It consisted of an hour and a half of portraits and then an hour and a half of candids at the dance. Pictures were on an ad hoc basis, come one come all. It was fast paced and quickly changing minute to minute for individuals, groups, and bigger groups! It was a metric tonne of fun! Then came the dance. It was candid photo mania! It was a great opportunity that I was happy to take part in. All the photos from the event will be available for purchase from OPHS as a school fundraiser. I have included two quick collages of but a wee sliver of the images!
Yipee! I got a new light mod! I’ve wanted a soft box for a long time now and I finally pulled the trigger and got the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS. I got it as a kit from B&H that came with the soft box, speed ring, light stand and umbrella swivel head & all the coldshoe hardware for flashes. It’s the bomb! Plus, if I ever get/use studio lights, the speed ring is full-size to accommodate those lights too. It works just spiffy with speed lights though and it gives a super nice quality of light. I put it together when I first got it and did some quick test shots with the kids. It’s amazing light, soft wrapping and because it’s an octa, you get a round catchlight similar to a beauty dish. 8) Love it! I also used it on a recent family session shoot for a 3 month old baby and it worked wonderfully. I even used it for a small group shot and it was nice light, considering it’s only 15 inches or so in diameter! I’ll do a full review of the product soon.
Ever noticed one of the peculiarities of the English language is where the ‘i’ and the ‘e’ go in words? It confuses not only second graders but adults as well. ‘I’ before ‘E’, except after C. Unless the word is German: Rottweiler, Stein, Hammermeister! 8)
We had a fun photo shoot last night at the Hammermeister haus. It was nice to take advantage of the sliver of mild winter that is over us right now. Fingers crossed it stays without getting too icy! But we do live in Saskatchewan and we know the weather will probably change (for the worse) any time now… But on the sunny side of life, here’s a couple of highlights from the shoot!