Light is Everything!

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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! 🙂

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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!

Grad: Shawna

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It’s a super cool experience taking grad photos for people you’ve known since they were little. Shawna is one of those such people for me. It’s hard to believe she’s graduating! The time has gone by far too fast!

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This photo below here is Shawna beside a tree she planted on the first day of Kindergarten! How fitting to have a photo beside it when she graduated!

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All the best & God bless, Shawna! You’re going to go far!

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Bull Sale

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Every year the Frey family has their Bull Sale. It’s a wonderful family tradition. I was able to attend this year and did a little bit of event photography for them. It was a very difficult sale as Melissa Frey’s father Tommy just passed away literally the night before. As a result there was a very somber mood to the sale that is characteristically upbeat. Everyone carried on and made it through but it was tough.

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The sale invites buyers to come to the farm and take a look at the bulls and the heifers. This year they had video footage of the stock and played the videos on a television screen during the auction sale so that you don’t have to get the animals riled up walking through a show ring.  It makes for a much better experience all round.

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As you can tell from the photos, Freyburn Farms raise Black Angus cattle. The Angus association has done a wonderful job promoting the breed, especially for meat. You can go into many chain restaurants and in the menus they will often boldly say “Black Angus Steak!” They are a very biddable breed and generally good to manage.

It’s really fun to attend the sale. It’s a very family friendly atmosphere and the Frey’s are exceedingly welcoming and gracious hosts. If you like pie, it is the place to be!

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I was doing a two camera setup for this shoot. FujiFilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm and my Nikon Df with a 16-35mm. I have always found a super wide angle to be very helpful in event photography and the Fuji system kept the system light and mobile on the telephoto end.

All in all it was a really great sale, despite having to deal with very tough family circumstances. Coming together as family and friends and enduring the challenges in the hard times is what gives prairie people their true grit.

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My Bleeding Heart

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I haven’t been shooting much Macro Photography as of late. And there is no greater bang for your photo buck than a macro lens. It is super versatile! But I do really like it as a genre. I find it very relaxing (in a Shaolin Monk balancing on one finger kind of way). It’s a very precise art form.  It varies considerably from taking photos of people. There is a similarity in the patience and preparation needed to get a great shot. My Mom gave us a bleeding heart plant and we put it in our front garden. Every year it comes back and blooms these beautiful little flowers. I’ve been meaning to photograph it for a few years now and never got around to it. So last night I went for broke and got these two shots I was happy with.

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Here’s a behind the scenes iPhone photo of how I made the images. I was using a speed light in an orbis ring flash for the main light. For a kicker on the top image I used an OLight S1 Baton. That little extra bit of light really adds to the 3D quality of the image. The bottom image was just the orbis from above instead of on axis to give the shot a more “studio” quality light feel.

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The RedBarn & Family

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We went up to the Red Barn north of Kenosee Lake a couple of Sundays ago. It’s quite the place. They have live entertainment, a market with all kinds of sellers and crafts and all around fun atmosphere. We checked it out for a while and used the opportunity to test out my 23mm f2 WR lens from Fuji.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, it’s a stellar lens. Not too wide and not too close, that 35mm on full frame is nearly a perfect lens for human group life.

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It allows you get a cool perspective on life. If you back up, you get more. If you get closer, you get more.

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From the Barn we went into Kenosee lake park. I wanted to take some maternity pics of my wife before she had the baby. (This is the ideal way to do maternity photos. lol). For the maternity shoot I relied upon my 50mm Fuji lens.  It’s a really sweet stunner at an oddish 76mm full frame equivalent. Not many lenses were made at that focal length which adds to the unique feel of the images it produces.

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We went to the beach and let the kids splash and play a bit and I captured a few more candids using all the “FujiCrons”.

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We finished out our time at Kenosee by capturing a few more family pictures by the chalet. It’s such an incredible building and asset to the park! I shot a lot in ACROS film simulation which I LOVE. I have no problem ditching Fuji’s amazing colour for Black and White when using ACROS. I know I could shoot RAW and have it all but I love the Fuji JPEGs so much that I don’t even bother. There is something magical about ACROS!

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