My lovely wife volunteered me to take Santa photos at Oxbow’s Expressway Family Centre. It’s always a riot. By and large the kids all do great. But thankfully, there’s always a few who are absolutely terrified of jolly ol’ St. Nick! It’s priceless!!! I love these shots because they are so real. You can’t fake this kind of anguish. bwhahahaahaha……..
Way back in October I went to my cousin’s wedding in Saskatoon. My dad was the official photographer on the job. But I became a conscript shooter. No problemo. Because doing the gig got me the chance to use the epic Nikon 24mm f/1.4G. Dad’s friend Ham just happened to not be using this gem and wondered if I could put it to good use. One word: YEP. It’s near optical perfection. Unbelievable glass. I still love my 16-35 f/4 for events, but this 24 rocked the set. I slapped it on the D800, did a test shot for focus and used it for all the formals and the group work. Coupled with my 70-200 f/4, it was a dynamic duo. So it was a lot of fun from a photographic stand point.
But from a family stand point, it was even better. My cousins are insane! And this party was off the hook! It was a metric tonne of fun.
Now, as for the Beatles-esque post of the title, it never really hit me until I thought about it later. George was the bride’s last name. Paul was the groom’s last name. John was the groom’s brother. And Mike was the groom. Sorry Ringo, you just got ditched. So cheers to both Chelsea and Mikey! God grant you many years! It was an honour taking your pics!
I am not making this up! A true blue wedding between a Lewis and a Clark! And what an adventure! First of all, we got lost on the way to the shoot. Twice. Nearly got hung up in sinking cesspool of iniquity muddy road. No cell service. Barely made it out alive! But, in our process of getting lost we stumbled across the most incredible yard full of red leaves. We made a mental note and knew we’d be back later. And we were super glad we were. It was incredible. We had a great time photographing Lewis & Clark making history. Congrats to Justin and Kelly, you guys rock the set!
And, as one final note at the end of the night, we got to play with sparklers. Everyone loves sparklers!
“Organic” is a huge buzz word these days at grocery stores and farmer’s markets. But getting to see it up close and personal is a lot of fun and very interesting. That’s exactly what I got to do at the Daybreak Mill, just out side of Estevan, SK. I connected with Nicole Davis, owner and proprietor, earlier in the year and she jumped on board with my project. When I first met Nicole, I was a little bit awestruck. First of all, she didn’t fit my mental image of a farmer (a picture a guy, 50+ in a plaid shirt, jeans and a mesh farm implement ball cap). Nope, I was greeted by this beautiful, 20 something blonde girl who just happened to own and operate an organic mill. After our introductions, she toured me around the facility explaining about the various processes from cleaning the grain, to grinding it to selling it in the office.
For Nicole, organic farming is in her blood. Her father was and is an organic guy too, so she comes by it naturally. But the more people actually consider organic food, the more appealing it becomes. Most people are aware of the chemicals that are used to spray crops for pest or weed control in traditional farming. But lately, it is the genetic changes are raising more alarm in people’s minds, as well as their bodies. Suddenly everything these days is “gluten-free”. But
nobody very few people had gluten allergies/intolerances years ago. So what changed? Organic people will argue that the food itself has been changed, either by selective breeding of the crops or more recently, genetic modification. It is causing problems for more and more people, especially the GMO stuff that can be found in almost all processed foods. As people become more aware of these changes, the market is responding. Demand for Organic grain is increasing nation wide.
Nicole’s Daybreak Mill ships product across the country. And product they have! When we think of grain, the average person thinks of ‘wheat’. But there are so many different kinds available! Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt, Red Fife, etc. all of which are available for sale the Day Break Mill. In fact, Einkorn is the oldest grain that was farmed by humans some 10,000 years ago. It is still being grown today. And it is delicious! Nicole gave me a sample of some. We cooked it up like you would rice and ate it as a side dish. It actually felt neat knowing that I was eating food that has been unchanged for thousands of years! But then again, I’m a sucker for tradition. Their organic granola and pancake mix is delightful too, our kids gobbled them up!
I can’t say enough good about Nicole and her team at Daybreak. They are all tremendous people who really love and care about what they are doing. They are passionate about Organic farming and the products they sell. And, as the market demand grows, you can find their products in more and more places all over Canada. But you can also buy direct from their mill too – which I encourage everyone to do, especially if you live in SE Saskatchewan.
It was a lot of fun to meet with Nicole and her team and I am grateful for the experience. If you are starting to think about Organic products, you owe it to yourself to check out the Daybreak Mill!
We shot a wedding on Saturday up at the beautiful Kenosee lake. I was a little worried to say the least when we got there and it was down pouring with that relentless “I’m gunna wreck your outdoor wedding” kind of rain. Thankfully, it let up just in time for the ceremony that took place at the visitor centre overlooking the lake. 1931 fieldstone has that amazingly beautiful and classy look no matter what kind of weather. It truly was a glorious spot! Corey and Kelly rolled with the weather punches with poise and grace and everything turned out beautifully. And, we got to make some really cool images.
One of the very last shots of the day was this glorious enchanted forest spot down by the lake. We were able to light it to further enhance that sweet golden light filtering through the trees. I shot this with the 70-200 f/4 at 175mm and f/4. With the compression from the longer end of the telephoto lens it really smooshes everything into a bokehlicious wonderland! All in all, we had a great time with a wonderful bride and groom in a glorious location!
So we went up to the grand metropolis of Moosomin, SK last night to take in the Fireworks Competition. This year’s combatants were CanFire Pyrotechnics vs. Canadian Pro Importers & Distributors Ltd. We missed the show on Saturday night, so we don’t have anything to compare Sunday’s offering with. It was still super fun! Everyone always loves fireworks, especially when they are choreographed to music. Our experience involved screaming and/or puking children so it was doubly rich! But once we got over that, it turned out to be a nice night. Put the fuji x100s to work. I am always blown away by that little camera. It is so, so ideal as a walk around, do anything, take anywhere camera.
I played a bit with the fun Q menu and tweaked the contrast of some of these images to give them that crazy “over blackened art look”. But the skin tones in the color images are unbelievable. If I was lost on a desert island and I could only have one camera, it would be the x100s!
Living in a very agriculturally rich region of not only Saskatchewan but also the world, I’ve always been surrounded by farming my whole life. I’ve always had an appreciation for anyone who can make living at it. Just think. What other occupation in the universe is affected by so many variables that are totally out of your control? I’d hazard a guess that farmers, if they sat down and considered how much risk they face each and every crop year, they’d probably pack it in and go sell real-estate! Just kidding! Farming is in the blood and there is no escaping it.
It is interesting though over the last few years how much change agriculture has seen. I talk with some of my older parishioners (90+) who still remember stooking grain by hand. And now, there are combines that can harvest 1800 bushels an hour. Interesting to me is that in the face of all of these advancements in technology and science and agribusiness, there has emerged the Organic Farming movement. Right in our own backyard, Alvin Scheresky was one of the pioneers of Organic farming in our area. I had the pleasure of meeting him earlier this year when a portrait was needed. He won the Organic Hero award. It was in visiting with Alvin that my interest was further perked into Organic farming, so much so that I decided to make a personal photography project out of it. When I met with Alvin, he was reading a book called Wheat Belly. It’s a very interesting concept that puts forward that the grain we eat today IS NOT the grain of the past. Indeed, wheat as we know it is nothing like its original form due to cross breeding and further Genetic Modification (the GMO you hear so much about). This process has changed grain so much that it is now a foreign substance to the body and is causing digestive/allergic problems for a broad spectrum of people (not just Celiacs ). YouTube has an informative video by William Davis on this topic.
Another documentary that got me thinking was this one called Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of our Lives. Often I have heard criticism of the Organic Farming movement that proponents use fear to try to persuade people to their opinion. And, I’m sure a bit of that does go on. But watch this video. It’s very eye opening – and dare I say, scary?
After my shoot with Alvin, I connected with Nicole Davis. She bought the Daybreak Mill in 2012 and has been heading it up since. I was able to go and get a tour of the Mill facilities and learn a lot more about organic grain production, cleaning and milling. That will be the next instalment of my Organics Series.
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.
Well it’s been a bit of a gong show as of late. This past week was our Annual University pals campin’ trip. It was also the week when my Sacroiliac ligament decided to tell me to get bent. So, as my lovely wife boldly went camping as a single mom with our 3 hooligan children, I camped out on my mom and dad’s couch in Moose Jaw. It was brutally awful pain that left me debilitated and lying flat on a couch. I’ve never watched so many movies! But a couple of Chiropractor treatments and a massage later, I’m about 34% better. Needless to say, I didn’t do as much photo taking as I would have liked!
As the week went on, I was able to be a bit more mobil. I walked around mom’s garden and nabbed some flower shots with the X100s. The macro mode is pretty sweet. As mom and dad’s street was ripped up for construction, there was a bunch of heavy equipment lying around. My brother, who permanently looks like a heavy equipment operator was over so I conned him into doing a shot. Dad’s Canon 580 EX II flash through a mini beauty dish as key and my SB-900 on a small stand in an umbrella for fill triggered optically in SU-4 mode.
Then, after my final chiropractor treatment, I joined the campin’ throng in Grenfell for a couple of days. I blasted of some B&W candids of the kids and of course, our annual group photo.
And, I was able to nab a few shots of my buddy Craig who fortunately is ready for the next Zombie Apocalypse at all times. heheheheh… All in all it was a very nice “vacation” for me. It was great to see everyone even if it was only for a short time. I’m hoping to be back in the saddle soon and recover from my injuries. Lot’s of rest and more lying around. Woe to me.
Look at this handsome & dashing young man ready to start the world on fire! We had a fast and furious grad shoot, but not with sports cars or Tokyo drift. Instead, we had the venerable Model-T Ford. And, we got to make an incredible photo with three generations of Hammermeisters alongside the Model-T and their iconic mini grain elevator in the background. There’s a lot of history in these parts and I have been privileged to be part of it for a couple of years. It was a metric tonne of fun doing this shoot and I wish Logan all the best in his future endeavours. God bless, my friend!
Alexandria ain’t just a town in Egypt. Another one of my little Lutheran lambs, I’ve known Alex since she was a wee one. It’s amazing to see these kids grow up right before your eyes and become . . . adults!!! It’s crazy. But I guess, given enough time, it happens to all of us. Makes me feel old! But regardless of my sentiment, we had another great grad shoot. It was done ahead of grad day so we had lots of leisurely time at our disposal. I like that because it means greater opportunity to make even more photos you’d otherwise have to pass up on the fast paced grad day. Josh did a great job as escort too. He gets to add lighting assistant to his resumé. hehheh… All the best to the both of you in post high school life!
Grad in Saskatchewan is, how shall we say, a wee bit different. Nah, just kiddin’! Especially when you have an awesome couple o’ kids to work with. I’ve known Alyce for almost 6 years now, which is hard to believe. Where does the time go! I was stoked to take her grad pics. She was up for anything and we had a great grad shoot. Her family through a shindig out at the family farm last night and brought my trusty fuji along and we got the shot above. We were going for the quintessential Saskatchewan Grad look. Motorbike? Check. Glorious grad dress? Check. Rider hat? Check. Camo hat? Check. Killer sky? Check! Add in some cool dramatic light and viola! It’s a keeper. All the best to you Alyce, you’re an amazing girl! . . . And, your escort Riley is not too shabby either.
Congratulations to all the 2013 Grads! It’s been a long road but what an accomplishment! We had a great grad day here in Oxbow. A bit chaotic to start the day with a massive power failure from 8AM to 3PM but everyone prevailed and looked fantastic. I shot these grad pics of Mariah in advance of Grad, but I didn’t publish any lest I spoil the grand reveal of the dress. She was up for anything and we had an awesome shoot! We even were able to make it down to the wire and squeeze out what was left of a sunset. Congrats Mariah, you rocked the set!
Here’s the thing with the FujiFilm X100s camera. Color. It does colour, really, really well. I’m not kidding. It nails colour in a gorgeous richness. My daughter had this amazing little dress on and I knew I had to capture that colour. So I grabbed yonder X100s, a flash on a stand and away we went. The above image was 1/500 f/2.8 ISO 100 via pocket wizard plus x. Every time I pick up that camera, I get stoked about the images that I peel off the card. JPG for crying out loud! I’m thoroughly in love with my beautiful daughter and the camera that forever has frozen these images for me!
OK, I’ve lived in the South East corner of Saskatchewan for over 5 years, almost 6, and I only just the other day heard of The Happy Nun. Where have I been!?!? It is the most incredible restaurant I have ever been to in my entire life! From the first step I made through the door, I instantly fell in love. There is such an overwhelming ambience of joy and a glorious welcoming spirit that permeates the whole establishment. It’s in the decor, the staff, the art work, the ambience. It truly is something special. Everyone knows that a good restaurant is hard to find, but so is a great place for entertainment. When the two come together with perfect perichoresis it’s sensational.And that describes the Happy Nun to a tee for it’s not only a restaurant, but it is also a mini centre of performing arts! We had got tickets to see Craig Cardiff live in concert at the Happy Nun. He was tremendous as well, adding to the over arching good times of the night. As the music filled the place, the ambient light levels became saturated with warm, beautiful colour.
And then, dear friends, there’s the food. I’m really not exaggerating when I say that it is the best restaurant food I’ve ever had. It’s all homemade. No propeller pigeon chicken. No industrially baked bread. No typical ‘big business’ restaurant food. I had the beef with mashed potatoes and asparagus. My wife had the orzo and Israeli couscous. Both dishes had incredible flavour and that unmistakable “made by hand with love” feel. There was also a starter salad that was bursting with flavour, not to mention a mushroom zucchini soup that was to die for. And when the soup came out, it was noticeably contained in a hand made pottery bowl. Every last detail has been thought out, including the numerous examples of nun-based decor. And who doesn’t love nuns?! Remember Sister Act?
And, the final book end of the night was driving home, only to look up and see the most incredible display of Northern Lights. The whole sky was illuminated by the dancing green and blue Aurora. Could there be a more perfect end to a great night with great friends, awesome entertainment and the best dining experience you can have in south east Saskatchewan? I think not. And, I will certainly be back!
I’ve often wondered why we call “Grad” Grad and not Prom. I continue to ponder it. I got to go and do some grad shots for a couple of lovely Arcola girls and their families on the 17th. It was a riot and the weather held out giving us some sweet, sweet dramatic skies. I took my trust X100s along for the ride, as well as my D800. With my two favorite cameras in hand we got to make a ton of really exciting images with lots of different looks. Just one note on Sarah’s pink dress – it really is THAT pink. And the guitar, yep, Juliana can totally rock it. It’s not just a prop. Thanks for the fun times girls! You’re amazing! It was awesome to do back to back shoots for such cool friends!
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: 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:
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:
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!
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.
Back in April we had the big Dance Recital. It was great because my daughter was in it. And by that, I mean, I loved it even more because my daughter was in it. Miss Halynne did a totally rock star job with the kids, especially the littlest ones. It was neat to see all the different levels of experience. I know my daughter benefitted from seeing the older girls doing their hip hop moves as an encouragement to see what happens later in life with practice. I did the group photos the day before at the dress rehearsal and also did a quick session setup for anyone who wanted formals done. It was fast paced maniacal gong show! But it was loads o’ fun and everybody looked super cute.
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!
Not many people can say that they still get winter storms on the 30th of April. It’s because many more (sane) people don’t live in Saskatchewan. This winter just . . . won’t . . . die! But before the snow came, we had these amazing clouds and lots of rain. I grabbed my X100s, my sister in law, a black umbrella, my SB-900 and brand new Pocket Wizard Plus X triggers and headed out for some dramatic environmental portraits! When we found a cool spot with lots of great cloud structure, I got setup. It was then I realized that I forgot the PC cable for the Plus X. DOH!!! :roll: I have a lot to learn about radio triggers! So, rather than go back and risk missing the sky, I put the SB-900 into SU-4 mode and triggered it optically from the Fuji’s built in flash. It worked in a pinch, even though I wanted to try the Pocket Wizards out. Heheheh… I heightened the structure of the clouds in post, but I love the drama of the B&W.
I saw this old car the other day and new I had to come back and grab an image. I wanted to try some HDR stuff with the D800. This was a composite of 5 RAW files in Nik Software’s HDR eFex Pro 2. It’s a bit of a grunt with 5 giant files, but it came together well. I was hoping for a more dramatic sunset, but I’ll take the sunburst instead. I’m not a car guy, but I think this is a 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster.
Granted, I’m a little late to the party. But I want to set the record straight on the Nikon 1 V1. “It doesn’t suck!” It’s amazing little camera! This image of the kids is straight out of camera with no edits (other than water mark and resize). The colours are amazingly vibrant! All the images are very contrasty and punchy, and I like it! I finally had the chance to go for a little walk around today with it and shot a couple of landscapes. Other than the fact that it was a foggy abysmal day, I found that it set the stage for some cool black and white. I shot in JPEG and RAW and had a good experience with both. RAW always gives more latitude, but the JPEG performance is really nice. The only achilles heel is the high ISO, which is to be expected for a small sensor camera. But it’s not that bad, all things considered. When you evaluate the performance against my current DSLR, the D300s, it doesn’t lose by that much in color and dynamic range. It’s negligible really. ISO get’s punched in the face, but we already knew that. For outdoor day to day stuff, in my opinion, the Nikon 1 brings the thunder. And, its far more portable. But I already mentioned that.
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. 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… I took a couple other shots of those cool winter patterns and textures too.
Oxbow’s latest entrepreneur, James Fonstad, has setup an engraving company called JF Engraving. James does computerized laser engraving on just about any medium you can imagine. The tagline for the business is “if you can dream it, chances are we can do it!” And that’s the truth. From classy aluminum business cards, to dog tags, to pens, to wine glasses, leather, stainless steel – nearly anything can be engraved with laser precision. The results are outstanding! It’s amazing to see your vision for a project materialize right before your very eyes as the laser beam brings it all to reality.
I took some shots of James’ finished products for you to check out. The detail is amazing! If you’re looking for that custom giftware, look no further than locally owned and operated JF Engraving!