Canadian Lutheran World Relief is running a campaign to collect sweaters for Syrian refugees. With winter quickly approaching, they will certainly be needed. Our church in Oxbow and the community at large participated and we gathered over 550 sweaters in 33 boxes for the cause. Some volunteers from St. Peter Lutheran in Oxbow worked together to box them all up and get them ready to make their voyage east. It is our heartfelt prayer that these sweaters do get to Syria and that they can be of some comfort to these people caught in the civil war. Lord have mercy!
Today is earth day. Nice green trees, fresh water streams, bumble bees going hither and thither. Not here! We’re still caught in the death grip of winter at the end of April for crying out loud! It’s insane. Riddle me this. Why don’t climate action groups ever hold their meetings in Oxbow?! Nope, it’s always Florida or Hawaii or someplace nice! Come here and get your global warming, it’s buried under 3 feet of snow! :twisted: (more…)
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.
The other morning was beautiful with “hooker frost” all over the place! Ok, Ok, it’s really hoarfrost, but I couldn’t resist! No matter how you slice it, it was better looking than Julia Roberts. I was out visiting some parishioners and stopped to nab a quick HDR of their barn, as well as a couple of other cool winter shots. Gotta love it! And of course, my favorite little snow bunny too.
Winter has moods all its own. It can be happy and vibrant with colours or it can be dismal and bleak with fog! Living in the prairies gives you a taste of everything – and if you don’t like it, just wait 20 minutes and it will change! I was able to get out for a little walk two days ago and today and nab some landscapes. It’s such a wild difference in the mood of the photos. We had some nice sun on the 1st which made for beautiful skies that were cheerful and bright. But today was pea-soup fog that didn’t let up all day. The photos are so bleak and void of life that it’s depressing! Capturing both moods makes for a “cool” contrast in prairie winter scenes.
Quick walk out back with the dog today, try out the new lens in some light. I really dig how it handles color. All the oil pump photos aren’t edited at all (save the watermark). It renders the sky magnificently! The one of Ethan I plain screwed up the exposure. Left it on a previous setting and it blew out the rest of the shot except for him! Works as a high key black and white. hehehehehe….
After the heinous snow storm left us, we had some primo snowman making weather on our hands. Phoebe and I went to work and created a rather scary looking snowman. Freakish, really. (Looks even weirder in HDR).
After we had our nordic fun, I grabbed the camera and took some shots. I was using my 16-85mm VR lens. Up until recently, I haven’y used it much, preferring my 50mm prime. But, I’m really liking the wide angle lately, especially for portraits, getting really close. It blows the shot way up and creates a cool effect. Anyways, we made the best of a junky situation but I’m happy to report that the rest of the day turned out beautiful. Melt, melt, melt away Mr. Snowman!
I woke up to a horrendous gong show: A nasty April snow storm in progress. I am so sick of winter I could vomit, but it did afford an opportunity for pictures. So here they are, just a few wide angle shots around our house and through windows in some cases. It’s not actually all that cold, but the snow is still coming down and the wind is picking up too. I predict a snow-day!
I like panoramic images but until yesterday, I had never made one. I did a little googlin’ and found a really sweet YouTube video that explained the whole process. In the middle of a March snow storm, I went out on my back deck and took two pictures to try the panoramic process. You can do many more but I wanted to keep it simple to start out.
Another good tip (that I didn’t follow here) is to shoot panorama images vertically instead of horizontally. That way you have more breathing room in your shots for when you crop it later. I didn’t use a tripod as I had a very convenient deck railing to set the camera on – but had this been a serious pano, I would have certainly used the tripod.
After I had the .jpg files ready in camera, I brought them into GIMP (the free, open source version of Photoshop) and downloaded the “Pandora” script that makes this all possible. It did a really sweet job of setting it all up with about 20% overlap. I used the tree as my anchor point of both images and it lined up really well with minimal masking work. To me, the over all end product had to go black and white because it was another cursed, ugly, winter’s-never-gunna-end day.
So there you go, my first ever panoramic image. Click on it to see the full sized end product (11MB file size). It turned out not too shabby. If was to do it again, I would pick a nicer day with more sunshine. Winter is getting way too depressing.
Whilst enjoying my morning cup of coffee, I looked out and saw that it was another ridiculously cold prairie morning. It was -28ºC raw temperature, and then with the wind it was actually -39ºC which is insane. Why do we live here?! Oh well, gotta take some pictures. I looked at our patio door, you know the old school, nasty, uninsulated, aluminum, gong show, resource wasting kind. It was nicely decorated with frost. I quickly ran and grabbed my D300s, my cable release, tripod and 105mm Macro VR lens. I set it up at 1:1 focusing and made some compositions.
I just love Macro! There is so much going on all around us. If we would only open our eyes to see that we are surrounded by zillions of photos all the time!
One other insight from the photo shoot this morning. Camera lenses suffer from two main pitfalls. Chromatic Aberration at really low f stops and Lens Diffraction at really high f stops. All lenses suffer from these things, some are better than others. I took two photo crops to illustrate Lens Diffraction (the image gets tooooo sharp and becomes blurry) as a comparison at f/18 and f/51.
This is where knowing your lens and doing your own lens sharpness testing is a real benefit. You’ll know how far you can go before your lens diffraction gets so bad it actually wrecks your shots. This is more applicable to landscapes where you want a higher f/stop for lots of detail, but it also applies to macro too! Click the images below for a larger look.
Macro has always been one of my passions in photography. I love the miniature world hiding right at our feet. It’s often overlooked by most people too. I got my 105mm f/2.8 VR last year in late fall just as all the bugs were starting to get ready to hide for winter. But Macro isn’t only for bugs and other creepy crawlies, and the 105mm is one versatile lens. It also works great for portraits as it has some really nice telephoto to throw out backgrounds into buttery bokeh. I want to use it more often for various kinds of photography and so, I went out for another photowalk with the dog yesterday when the sun was shining. I only had with me my 105mm and tried to do some handheld macro stuff as well as any other shots that happened to show up. It’s challenging being only at one focal length – especially because I had a zillion deer all around me today. Which figures, because I didn’t have my 70-300 lens, deer came out right in front of me! I could have had some sweet whitetailed deer portrait shots! It always works this way!
But that’s ok, part & parcel of trying the one focal length challenge. The shots I did get I was happy with and it’s always just fun to go out and take shots.
The weather warmed up a ridiculous amount today. So much so that it was nice enough to go for a walk. And if you’re going for a walk, you might as well bring your camera! Truth is, I messed up my back shovelling snow the other day and sitting is no good for me. So out the door with the dog I went.
What’s there to take pictures of in winter? The landscapes are bleak. Everything is dead. Color has turned into shades of grey. Most of the time it’s too cold to be much fun – especially on the prairies where you have to worry about the windchill. Can you even get pictures worth taking in these conditions? I asked myself that question before I ventured out and hurdled the barbed wire fence behind our house. I tried to do the photo walk Jay Maisel style. Just go out walking – slowly – and take a look at what you’re lookin’ at. The slowly part was no problem for me today. I tried to keep out of the deep snow by walking on old snowmobile trails that nicely packed the terrain. Most of them have been covered over thanks to the driving wind, but you can still see them. At one point though, I ventured off the packed trail and I sunk down to my pants pockets. Great… But, as I was pondering how to get out of this without wratching my back any further, I noticed a picture.
Seems the coyotes aren’t quite as fat as I am! Must be nice to float across the top!
It’s true though, the faster you rip through an area, the more pictures you miss. Take a few steps, look around. Take another few steps, look around again. Pictures are everywhere. Another thing I noticed about the way Jay Maisel goes out on his photo walks is that he only takes one camera with one lens. So I did the same. I had my D300s and my 70-300. It’s actually quite freeing and fun to try to make shots work with just one lens. The obvious pitfalls – not having wide angle – makes life interesting! As does shooting in Manual, which is pretty much all I shot today. While I was watching Hanky burn off some energy, I happened to look down. I saw the picture, but I couldn’t get it because I had too much glass. I needed to back up a few feet in order to focus on this “last of the survivors” of winter.
I guess the lesson is, there are always pictures around us all the time. We just need to slow down and take a look at what we’re looking at!