Rider Pride, Nation Wide. That’s our motto and our mantra. From the moment of conception, all Saskatchewan residents are born Rider Fans. Some more crazy than others. To support our team headed to the 101st Grey Cup on Sunday, I wanted to do a little photo shoot. I had the idea in my mind and wanted to try out some cool lighting that is along the lines of Heisler-esque. I was stoked with how the interplay of colour took place in this image. I’ve included a BTS photo to explain how I made this shot come together.
Well, as you can see, it’s shot in my car hold. It’s a total of 4 lights. Black sheet background clamped onto some cupboard doors. The key light is an SB-600 in a soft box overhead via a C-Stand. It’s got 1/2 CTO on it which really makes this image. Two rim lights behind me on left and right. The camera left rim is pointing up at me and the right is coming down. It really chisels the outline with thick green theatrical gels on 2 LP180s. And the last light was a special for the banjo. The SB-900 was simply put on the floor in an Orbis ring light to circle the drum of the banjo. I couldn’t have made a light mod match a subject better! I had originally set it up as on axis fill but on the ground worked so much better and added to the overall dramatic feel. It was a fun way to spend an hour or so.
So cheer on the Saskatchewan Roughriders to Grey Cup victory on Sunday! Green is the colour, football is the game!
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!
From engagement to wedding to maternity to newborn, I’ve had the blessing of taking all of Lucas and Kayla’s life event photos. It’s been a blast! And, this last shoot was just as exciting as the others have been. It’s a truly amazing moment to see all of life come together in the next generation. This was my first shoot managed and edited with Lightroom too. Still getting to know the software environment so I was noticeably slower than I was with Aperture. However, the speed at which Lightroom can edit and deal with D800 RAW files with amazing, blows Aperture 3 out of the water. One thing that was better in Aperture was the healing/clone brush. Lightroom’s spot retouch works better, but Apertures brush was nicer than having to do everything with little circles. I also miss Aperture’s file handling. It was so much easier to backup everything into vaults. But, the trade off is well worth it. I’m really enjoying Lightroom and glad I made the switch.
Here’s some highlights from the shoot. But first, a video of Mr. Burns talking about the Jade Monkey. (I couldn’t resist.)
Bokehlicious! It’s a term blatantly stolen from DigitalRev TV presenter Kai. Bokeh, that lovely Japanese word for “the stuff not in focus in the image” is awesome. Normally we think of big apertures like f/1.4 or f/2 to get amazing bokeh in an image, but you can squish a background with a long telephoto lens and get a similar result. I shot this self portrait (mainly because it’s infested with wood ticks back there and nobody else would go as my subject) tonight as the sun was beginning to get low and directional. It was super cloudy so it was diffused nicely. I put a speed light on a stand camera left and shot it through a Lumiquest Softbox III light mod. It’s a sweet little modifier. I mainly wanted that new growth poplar behind me to go into bokehlicious heaven. And I think it did nicely for being shot at f/5.6 @ 270mm (which on my DX Nikon actually is like 405mm)! All you get is a background that goes smooshy and gooshy, like a painter’s canvas. Certainly, this would have been even more pleasing had I shot the photo at f/2.8 or f/4. But even at 5.6 I like it! I just love that green bokehlicious background!
Kid photography is tough. They’re uncooperative. Combative. Scary! Now you know why kid photographers charge the mad scratch. hehheheehe…… I was trying to get some Christmas pictures of our kids the other day, which is always a gong show. It’s all my fault for breeding in the hatred of the camera to my kids. I’ve taken waaaay too many photos of them and now they won’t smile nice and look at the camera. Doh! But every once in a while, they will cooperate. This little shoot was an example of not! It was one ensuing comedy of errors after another. The other complicated thing was using a lighting setup. The kids have to be in a certain place for it to work, which simply doesn’t work super great with wiggly worm toddlers. Now you know why kid photographers use fast primes and shoot in natural light! hehheheeh……. 8)
It’s human nature to think we always have loads of time left before winter. Delay putting up the Christmas lights well into fall, procrastinating the yard clean up, forget the winter tires for another weekend, etc. ad nauseum. Then, BAM! Winter hits and it’s a mess. We’re scrambling to get everything done! Boo hiss! But we live in Saskatchewan, we shouldn’t be too shocked when Ol’ Man Winter rears his ugly head. Unless of course we’re trying to nab one last outdoor family photo before the mercury drops too low! We were able to sneak one in on the weekend and it turned out really nice, even captured some snowflakes in mid flight too. Proudest accomplishment yet in my photographic career: the family AND three pugs all looking up at the same time! Gotta love that!
Stop Reading Here unless you’re a Photo Geek
Photo Geek info:
Outdoors is special when it comes to lighting, especially in the windy province. Normally I do umbrellas as my goto light modifier, but it was way too windy for that on this shoot. I’ve been trying to find a good use for the Gary Fong Lightsphere and it worked swimmingly well for this setup. One flash high up on a stand with the lightsphere on gave the light enough spread and softness to mimic an umbrella, but without the tip over tendencies. It’s quick and fast which is perfect for cold nasty days. I also used a second flash to help light up the dark pugs who where blending into the shadows of the junipers behind the boulder. All in all it worked! And not a moment too soon as Jack Frost was nippin’ at our noses!
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.
The other night we did a super fun shoot on Moir in the glamour garage. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing after they found these way cool wigs. The girls grabbed their head bands from the Relay for Life too which drove home the point of the shoot: Cancer Sucks. Like anything in life, if you let stuff drag you down, it will. But, on the other hand, if you boldly face the trials with faith, hope and love in the big guy upstairs, you will conquer! Especially if you can laugh and have a good time! 8) So that’s what we did. The name of the game was fun, glamour-ish shots. Lots of lights, lots of attitude. However, the girls need to work on “sassy.” Bubbly & fun loving is down pat, but sassy? I need blue steel. I need magnum! I need le tigré! Where’s that at?!
So I had this big idea that we should go out and do a family photo for the Christmas card before it was really really too late. It’s already too late to nab fall colours which would have been nice, so we decided to do some texture shots at the old stone house (before it falls over completely – it’s really become a cesspool of dilapidated iniquity!). Anyways, I had the vision for the family shot and it went well (look for it at Christmas time…) 8) But before going home, I decided to do an environmental portrait of just the three of us (Me, Regan and baby III). The sun was setting and approaching delicious golden light. The other two kids were screaming in the truck because it was too cold to be outside and they hated their lives in the car seats. But close the truck doors and viola! No more noise problem! tee hee…. Anyways, we did the setup and got the shot. All in all a pretty fun 45 minutes on the old timey prairie. Read on for photo photo geek disclosure…
Earlier this week I went down to Starr Liquor and Wine to buy a bottle of my favourite red wine: Angus The Bull (a delightful cabernet sauvignon from Australia). 8) It’s pure awesome! Big bold bull flavour. But alas, Starr didn’t have any in stock. But, lest my palette be dismayed, I caught a gander of a beautiful Scottish Lass!
If you haven’t heard yet, my good neighbour Megan was selected as the inaugural recipient of a wish with the Saskatchewan Roughriders Touchdown for Dreams. Totally awesome stuff!! She gets to go to Las Vegas and see a Garth Brooks concert, which is super exiting. There was also a really slick press conference which you can check out here on YouTube. They got super fly pink jerseys and rider shirts for cancer awareness as well. I asked Jimmy if I could nab a photo of him today dressed in the mad pinkness and he agreed. I didn’t want a simple snapshot. I wanted an epic photo with freaky awesome details. Here’s what I did to build the photo from the ground up.
Step 1: compose the shot. I really wanted the menacing clouds in the background to set the mood of the photo (hope in the midst of troubled times). So I crouched down and framed the shot to make Jimmy look larger than life. This first shot is pure ambient light. Waaay under exposed which is what I wanted. 1/250 at f/14
Step 2: Add some light. In this case a warmed up flash to throw some hard rim light on his right side. When layering your lighting it helps to follow this guideline: Ambient Fill Key Accent (AFKA). In this case the rim light was also acting somewhat like a fill light too. 1/250 f/14 SB-600 on 1/8 power gelled warm with 1/2 CTO.
Step 3: Add the Key light. I used an umbrella as the key light. It’s a sweet sassy wrapping light. It’ works good most times. It was warmed with 1/4 CTO gel. I needed to adjust my aperture a bit and I opened it to f/10.
Step 4: Crank the Freaky Awesome Details. I wanted an almost HDR appearance as the final image. I like the edgy light and the cranked up definition of the finished image. I used Aperture 3 to crank the definition, then brushed some away from Jimmy’s face so he didn’t look to crazy. Then I used Viveza 2 to crank the cloud detail and contrast way up. 8)
So there you go! Lighting in layers. It’s not all that difficult and this is a really simple 2 light setup. We went from start to finish in 15 minutes. Big thanks to Jimmy & Livy my extra light stand holder girl.
Well today was the big first day for Phoebe and a truck load of other preschoolers. Hard to believe it’s true. I’m sure I’ll be a wreck when Kindergarten comes around the bend. So I got up early and made some pancakes as the special breakfast and then we tried to squeeze out some photos to remember the big day by. She’s become such a goofball when it comes to getting pics lately. Always got a crazy face instead of a nice smile. Can’t even bribe them out with treats and shows hardly anymore. So, we take what we can get and with a little luck, might nab a memory.
This past weekend was the big rip roarin’ shin dig in Moose Jaw. My Dad turned 60 big ones whilst my youthful wife slid into the big Three-O (30 in layman’s terms). 8) Anyways, it was super fun! We had cakes and drinks and food and merriment all round. And now, Dad can get a senior’s discount. Maybe he’ll take us out for breakfast at Smitty’s. heehheehe…
CLICK HERE to see the whole Gallery on Flickr.
Photo Geek Commentary: I was shooting my 50 f/1.4 for the majority of the shots. I tried my 105mm at 2.8 too, but I needed as much light as I could get so I went back to the 1.4. I did a combo of available light stuff for some of the candids, as well as placing an SB-900 strategically around the deck and triggering it with my SU-800. It made for some more interesting shots. It was all the realm of high ISO for the available light stuff, 1250-1600 for many of them. It produces grainy looking shots, but let’s face it, we’re not gonna blow these things up. They’re candids of moments so the picture quality trumps pixel quality. One other thing of note I did for the portrait of my Dad and his pal Al, was to match the light colour output of the tiki torch. I used a 1/4CTO gel and an umbrella to diffuse the light and make it look like the torch was lighting the whole shot. The tell tale sign of the umbrella flare showing up in Al’s glasses gives it away (and I was too lazy to clone out the glare). 8)
Studio?! We don’t need no stinkin’ studios!!!! 8) So tonight I finally had the chance to do some portraits using a 3 light configuration. I’ve been dying to try out the beauty dish in a studio setup and so I finally got to do so tonight. I even persuaded some models to work with me.
So in the first setup, we did a single speed light that had been gelled as the background light. This light is directly behind the subject and lights the back plane. Then, I put the beauty dish up on a stand and used a silver reflector for the classic “clamshell” beauty light combo. It’s used lots in fashion stuff, but does very well on wrinkly people if you want to minimize wrinkles. The beauty dish chucks light down and the reflector fills in any shadows. It’s cool light. So this was the first setup of the night. Only 2 lights.
OK, next, in setup 2, I added an additional light to the background. This helps bathe that back plane in color/light. For the colour background shots I blasted them each with a gel. For the super white blown out high-key background, the lights were fired straight up with no gels. The beauty dish and reflector fill remain unchanged.
So, finally, we switched things up again for another cool look, still using only 3 lights. This time, I lit the background with a single gelled speed light. I still used the beauty dish/silver reflector combo as the main & fill lights. But, I added a 1/8th spot gridded hair light to add more dimension to the light. It makes a sweet little highlight/rim light that adds another layer of loveliness to the light.
I also got to do a comparison shot between umbrella light and the beauty dish. This is really neat to be able to see the difference in the quality of light. The umbrella light is unquestionably softer. It wraps more and it is more fitting for these little people. The beauty dish has far more contrast and hard edges in the light. But it just depends on what you want to accomplish in your lighting. Jostens and other portrait people almost always use huge soft boxes because they are the softest light on the planet. But for brassier shots, the beauty dish has more punch. Also, the catch lights in the eyes are more pleasing from the beauty dish (they’re round…like the eye)
So there you go. Three lights put to good use. We have lighting, colour, gesture, direction, depth, and mood. Just by moving a few lights, you can have a tremendous amount of versatility! Gotta love that!
I’ve been marinating two ginormous steaks for a few days in the fridge. They were dry rubbed and then put into foodsaver bags to suck all the air out. The vacuum process opens up all the pours in the meat beautifully and allows the rub to work its magic. Pure awesomeness results! Then, you apply the meat to the grill. Sear it directly on the coals both sides, then retreat to indirect heat for the rest of the cook. Medium rare at the 135º and it’s super delicious! I also did some southwest roasted potato fries on the propane grill. Can you smell that? That smells GOOD! 8)
After din din, I was able to catch three of Ethan’s moods in a row. heheheheehhe……..
Check out this crazy green snake we found in our yard yesterday! It freaked me out, because normally we only see garter snakes. Then this glow in the dark green sucker shows up! I thought it was an escaped boa constrictor baby that snuck in on a banana shipment! Yikes! He slithered away behind a set of concrete steps. Hopefully to eat some crickets or something. 8)
A while back I stumbled across a really cool D.I.Y. lighting project. Enter, the Beauty Dish. It’s a light modifier (you fire a flash into) to get a different quality of light. Like a soft box, there is some diffusion that goes on with the light, giving it a softer quality. But the Beauty Dish still has flash punch. Edgier shadows. Not really matched light for babies or soft portraits, but for glamour or just overall coolness, it’s the bomb. They also cost around $350+ bones to buy one! So it’s out of the question for me. So when I stumbled across David Tejada’s blog with the do it yourself tip, I had to try it. 8 bucks for the plastic planter, another 12 bones for plastic spray paint, a DVD spindle I already had, a convex mirror from Wal-Mart for a whopping $1.49 and a few nuts and bolts and you’ve got it made. So for a quick $25 bucks, you’re up $325.00 in the photo world!!
I made the beauty dish to fit my brand spankin’ new SB-900 speed light. It’s Nikon’s flagship flash and it rocks the set. Now, I’ve got a 3 light setup for pure sweetness in off camera flash. But more on that for another post. So I finished the project this morning and put together some test shots with the help of my loving family (who are also patient and giving when it comes to me taking photos of them). These shots are not edited in any way, they are straight out of camera to show the different quality of light the beauty dish . . . dishes out. 8)
The coolest thing about the beauty dish is that it gives you a nice round catch light, much like an octa-box. It makes more sense to have a round catch light than a square one from a regular soft box because the eye is round. You can also see how the light quality is still punchy yet diffused a bit too. In A & B above, if you watch the face shadow around the chin, in the beauty dish shot (A) there is still a shadow, but it’s softer. In B, the straight flash (off camera, camera left position) you can see a really firm shadow. In C, well you have a naturally lit shot at high noon in full sun. Gotta have flash. 8) Obviously, you can make the beauty dish more punchy, as in the first photo above where there is a sharper quality of light coming from it. It’s pretty versatile though and I look forward to putting it to good use somewhere down the photo line. PS: If any one wants some complimentary glamour shots, let me know. I’m looking for a model to try this out!