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I was out for a little nature walk the other day. I took the D800 and my 105mm Nikkor macro lens which I haven’t shot in a long time. With macro, you need a good tripod to be locked down tight. And, you need cooperative subjects (read: not windy) that stay still. But this particular day I didn’t bring a tripod. In fact, I didn’t even focus. On purpose. With most macro and landscape photography, you want hyperfocal focus and even focus stacking to get a big, crisp, tack sharp photo as the end result. But what would happen if you did nature photography out of focus??

It creates a pretty wild, abstract, bokehlicious result! Give it a whirl! 😎👍

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Anatomy of an Auction Sale

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On Saturday August 4 and Sunday August 5th the “Auction of the Century” was held at the Gervais family farm at Alida, SK. I had the gracious invite to come out early and take some photos of the immense collection of Saskatchewan history that was going up for sale. You can check out the Mac Auction site for the sale that includes the complete list of items that were for sale. Words fail 100% at trying to describe the enormity of this collection. It was the lifetime work and passion of Alex Gervais. You can read more in this CBC news article. To say this auction was mind blowing in every conceivable way is a gross understatement!

I went up to check out the sale and took along the FujiFilm XPro-2 with the 23mm f/2 lens. One camera. One lens. One epic location.  I primarily shot with my Tri-X film simulation configuration. It’s a very contrasty black and white which helped set the mood for this series of photographs. There was some colour provided also, generally in the Classic Chrome and a few Velvia simulations.

The extreme versatility of the 23mm (35mm full frame) makes it a nearly perfect travel/event lens. It’s pretty fast at f/2. You can get pretty close with it for faux-macro work and yet it’s still fairly wide-ish for the landscape aspect.

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And, it’s so, so compact. The more I shoot with my Fuji system the harder it is to return to full frame Nikon setup. I still really like my full frame stuff, but it gets tiresome to lug around all the equipment. The Fuji system makes for a very lightweight, out-of-the-way feeling kit.

I chose to move in and get more detailed/segments of the sale items. This perspective lens a more familiar feel to the images as opposed to a zoomed out/all in aspect that is captured in the sale images. To me it speaks more of Alex’s personal connection to the collection. The vintage vehicles were unbelievable and were in amazing condition for their age. They made for such cool and uncommon photo subjects.  The breadth and variety of the Gervais collection was truly staggering.

The detail and character of the vehicles can’t be over stated enough. You could spend hours and hours just staring at the history that was before you!

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I regret that I couldn’t be at the actual sale itself. It was the same weekend that my Sister in Law was getting married. I couldn’t really skip out on that as I was officiating the service! 🤣 But the family told me there were thousands and thousands of people that came to partake of this once in a lifetime sale. I was very happy to have been able to capture a bit of the collection for myself in these images.

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The New Arrival

Well at long last I’m finally putting up a blog entry about our latest baby! Esther came into our lives as an unexpected surprise and we couldn’t be happier. She’s such a wonderful baby with all the bells and whistles of sleeping amazingly through the night and not being fussy at all. We’ve been over the moon getting back into baby mode since the end of June. All of our other kids were fairly close together which, in hindsight, was tricky because you had to keep toddlers alive whilst having a newborn! This time round, we’ve got lots of big kids to change diapers and truly help out. Esther is probably the easiest baby we’ve had because of that! 😎 

So for the birth announcement we did a couple of shoots. The first one was the soft newborn baby kind of shoot that everybody likes. The only problem was that Esther was 10 days overdue and more active/alert than most sleepy newborns. We managed to nab a shot that we eventually went with for the announcement. 

This was shot on a bean bag chair with some extra blankets to support her, all on top of a big ultra soft blanket that went back to a stand to make it look like a seamless type setup. It was light with a huge 60″ soft lighter to make it really soft and wrapping like north facing window light. It was shot with a FujiFilm XPro2 with a 50mm f/2 lens in an Astia film simulation (I think).

I also did another shoot on a white seamless setup as well with the fascinator and frilly dress. It was soooo over the top but she smiled so cute. This photo nearly made the cut for the announcement but in the end we went with the other. 

One winning setup for a siblings shot is just to put them all on the floor like we did here. That way they are all in the shot and (hopefully) looking the same direction. Again I lit them all with that same big soft lighter and an Alienbee 1600. It’s got lots of big light volume for a nice even wash of light. The sibling groups were also shot with the FujiFilm XPro2 with the 23mm lens, all JPEG. The skin tones from the Fuji colour are superb! 

Well, needless to say I’ve been quite busy with family and work but I’m happy to get this blog post up. Thanks for tuning in! More to come… 😎

Senior: Ethan

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I had the wonderful opportunity to shoot a good friend of mine’s son who is going into his senior year. Susan Hill , who relocated to Michigan, had her boy Ethan up in Saskatchewan visiting family and requested a sunset shoot. Our weather didn’t pan out for days but as they say, third time is a charm and it worked out. We tried to get him some photos that were uniquely Saskatchewan in context. This meant lots of environmental portraits to me.

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Thankfully the Canola was in full bloom and we were able to shoot a bunch with the glorious golden backdrop. What’s more Saskatchewan than a Canola field!?

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For the uniquely sunset part of the shoot, we tried some shots down at the Alameda Dam. Water is always a winner at Sunset. But seeings how Ethan now lives on the shores of Lake Superior, it was kind of a gaff on my part! We probably should have stuck more to the dirt roads than the water. But it made for some pretty cool shots nonetheless and I was glad we could get some Canadian shots for my exPat friends!

Grad: Janissa

We just about didn’t survive this grad shoot! First of all we were attacked by a relentless army of mosquitos. Poor Janissa was eaten alive from head to toe which translated into a metric tonne of editing. Then our weather turned absolutely heinous. We had to take refuge inside nearby Trinity Lutheran country church and we were stuck there for a good 45 minutes as torrential rain poured down. But the results were well worth it and our Living Skies didn’t disappoint!

Janissa is a pretty hardcore athlete and she brought along some pretty sweet gear to get pictures with. I tried to match the lighting to the concept of athleticism which in this case was a simple one light solution with hard light for deep shadows. Soft wrapping light wouldn’t have matched the mood of the photo.

To end wrap up our shoot Janissa’s mom had asked for a studio type low key shot on a black background. From the safety of the church I was able to make this photo using a gridded soft box. The final specs on this shot were ISO 100 f/11 1/200s using a Nikon Df and 85mm f/1.8 lens. The closeness of the light to the subject made for quick light fall off and allowed me to kill off all other ambient in the room. Thanks for being such a trooper Janissa & all the best in the future! 🙂

Grad: Justin

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Justin is the third member of his family that I’ve shot grad pics for. It’s a real privilege to come back to a family year after year! This shoot just about didn’t happen with impending birth of our 4th child, but everything finally came together! We even got the dog to cooperate! 🙂

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This shot is an example of High Speed Sync. I was using a Nikon SB-900 flash through an umbrella. It adds just a smidgeon of catch lights and soft light and maintains the creamy bokehlicious background. Final specs on this shot were ISO 100 f/2.5 1/1000s shot on a Nikon Df with an 85mm 1.8G lens.

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We got to make some pretty cool grad pics with Justin and I will be forever jealous of his hair. 😉

Grad: Morgan

What happens when you mix hockey, baseball and gorgeous grad dress? Enter: Morgan!

For Morgan we did lots of the “nice” grad photos that Grandma wants to see. But then, we also hammered out some pretty cool athletic styled shots as well. We did some cool blue rim lights to compliment the blue dress and the orange bat. It really spiced up a traditional Grad shoot. I shot these with a 3 light setup. Two LumoPro LP180 flashes gelled blue for the rims and an Alien Bee 1600 through a Photoflex gridded softbox for the key. Despite the cloud cover, there was major ambient light to overcome. The final camera settings were ISO 100 f/13 1/200! To light everything up to f/13 through a modifier takes major watt seconds.

All in all we had a great time and captured a pretty good variety of photos! Thanks again and all the best to Morgan in the future!

Grad: Amy

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Whenever you get to shoot a dancer, your day improves by at least 17%! They always have a keen sense of motion and shape which for photographers is a super blessing. Most people are unnatural in front of a camera. They are either uncharacteristically stiff or fake smiling. Dancers though have this 6th sense which makes the usual go far, far away.

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We were able to do quite a few dance shots in unconventional places. This shot was lit with a speed light in simple white shoot through umbrella boomed overhead.

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It was back to my favourite blue wall to get this shot. Amy was super full of life which made this shoot a lot of fun. All the best, Amy! You are going places!

Grad: Hannah

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I had a wonderful grad shoot with Hannah! She’s full of character and gave lots of creative energy to the session. It was another beautiful day for a shoot.

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This blue wall is really cool. It provides a fun backdrop for some off the wall shots!

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We ended the shoot back at the farm with some horse photos. The aptly named “Boo” was Hannah’s baby and he really put on a show for us too! What a smile!

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Thanks for the good times and great shots Hannah!

Grad: Michaela

Grad shoots are all but wrapped up now for 2018! It was probably the most random time of my life shooting photos this year as our 4th child was due at exactly the same time as these shoots were piling up! She was overdue which got quite dicey trying to schedule everything. But it all worked out and for that I am supremely thankful!

I started my Oxbow grad run this year with Michaela. What a great day we had. It was before the 17 billion mosquitos set in and before the weather got sweltering hot! The image at the top of this post was the last frame I shot during the shoot and I love how it turned out. We had a great sky and the colour contrast of her dress and the grass is super.


For this image we were working in full sun. I tried a new trick that actually worked really well. I held up a white shoot thru umbrella to modify the natural hard sunlight. It put Michaela into uniform shadow and caused her to be lit with this beautiful soft wrapping light that looks like flash but is all natural. I’ll keep this setup in the tickle trunk for the future for sure.

All in all we had a great shoot and got some nice shots! All the best Michaela in the future!