Light is Everything!

Archive for August, 2011

Balanced Meal

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……..


Green is the Color

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)


D.I.Y. Beauty Dish

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)

 

ISO 400 f/9 1/250 105mm

ISO 400 f/9 1/60 105mm

ISO 400 f/6.3 1/50 105mm

A) Beauty Dish

B) Straight Flash

C) No Flash

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! 😆


Family Campin’ Trip

Well, it’s great to be home! We just got back from a nice family vacation camping trip to our newly beloved Adam Lake in the Turtle Mountains. We just love that camp!! We had a really nice time and took it easy, did some geocaching and hiking and swimming and eating! 😆 As usual, I had the camera and took a few shots. It’s such a stellar location and I highly recommend Adam Lake to anyone! Also, we were able to check out the international peace gardens. It’s quite the place with lots of fun stuff to see and do. All in all, we had great weather and good family memories! 8) Here’s a sample of some shots:

You can check out the full gallery of images on Flickr by clicking here! 


Bachelor Pad

Well, my brother finally got a place of his very own. Actually, it was part of a real-estate deal that plans are in the works for of building some new housing units. So it’s days are numbered. But it’s still the first place. We all had one. Regan’s and mine was our first apartment we got after we got married. A nasty dark dank bedroom suite that was cold and terrible. But Biff’s place takes the cake. It’s a true bachelor pad! I did an ad hoc photo essay of it for your enjoyment! heheheheehhe…….


Waning Gibbous

Everyone loves the moon! So here it is! 😆

I heard a really cool trick to know weather the moon is waxing or waning (getting fuller or going away). It’s DOC. If the moon is full on the right side, like the letter D, then it is waxing and getting fuller. Full moon is the O (no duh) and if the moon is full on the left side it is waning, like the letter C. So the next time you see the moon in it’s various lunar phases, just remember DOC and you’ll know what’s happening with our little pal the moon. And, you’ll be able to impress all your friends with your way cool knowledge of moon phases. 8)

 

 


B-Day Bash

We had another big bash on Moir Dr. last night, a combo Birthday Party for Big T and Liv. It was the usual pandemonium, but this year it’s 4 big ones! It’s insane for me to believe that. When we first moved to Moir, James & Megan and Livvy came over to our house one night. Liv was being carried cuz she was a few months old. Now she’s 4. THAT’S CRAZY!! Where does the time go? And Tristan too, how can these kids be so big so quick? ❓ Anyways, here’s a few snaps from the party. I love how we were able to end off the night with Barracudas.  My wife and mother in law will love me for this… 😉


It’s a Murder!

Last night after another magical slow cooked dinner we decided to have a fire. After we got the s’more pit going, I looked up and noticed a gaggle pride flock band murder of crows. I know why they call them a murder.They make so much obscene noise you want to murder them all! It was a toss up between the camera and a gun on this “shoot”. 😉 My theory is that there was something dead nearby because they and two hawks kept swooping in and out of the trees behind our house. Anyways, it was golden light and everything was rich in colour. Love it! Can’t beat it ever! I grabbed the 70-300 and nabbed a few shots before the light slinked away behind the horizon. It’s gyp that the sunsets aren’t lasting as long as they did even a few weeks ago. All of these shots (except the fire pit) are with the 70-300. You can see how longer glass gives you added compression and photo num nums. The power/telephone poles show this in the pics of the family. Even at f/5.6 0r f/8, they look compressed and bokehlicious. 8) And the shots of the lone yellow clover blossoms have sweet sweet bokeh at 300mm. That’s the added benefits of compression in images. If you’ve ever wondered why the vast majority of portrait photographers use that magical 70-200 lens, this is why.


Prime Time!

We went to Moose Jaw Friday night for my Auntie’s 50th Birthday. The threshold hath been crossed. There’s no turning back! 8) It was a metric tonne of fun to see all the relatives even if it was whirlwind visit. It’s nearly impossible to get the whole clan together anymore so it’s always a good time when we can show up and see the fam. I brought along the camera and my trusty 50mm f/1.4 lens. I love that lens. It was the perfect choice for this event, especially later, after everyone came back into the house for drinks and merriment. It was evening and I didn’t bother with any flash setups, going for the more natural candid shots. Besides, my dad had his 580 EX II pocket wizarding all over the place. Another flash and we would have all had epileptic seizures! 😉 So natural light when there’s not much light. It’s truly the realm of f/1.4. You need primes to do this, opening up the camera’s eye as wide as it will go to harvest as many photos as possible. You’re not gonna get these shots with a zoom, even a f/2.8 zoom. (OK, OK, maybe on a  full frame camera where ISO isn’t as big a deal). That said I was still shooting the majority of the inside shots at ISO 1250 – 2000. On a DX body, that’s huge. So the pixel quality starts to look like a cell phone image. BUT the picture quality is awesome. The shots are still sharp and have way cool depth of field.  When I’m doing candids I’m more interested in picture quality than pixel quality. White balance is a gong show in a house that has a nasty mix of old fluorescents and incandescents, but I still left it on cloudy for the most part. RAW files make switching it a 3 second thing later anyways. But it was a super fun event and a great way to catch up with family and make some cool memories with the ol’ picture mill.

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Oh, what a feeling!

We ran out this afternoon for a quick photo shoot of the Fonstad’s new 4Runner. I love this truck! Ever since Toyota redesigned it, I’ve loved the new look. Manliest truck out there, bar none! So, when Jimmy wanted some shots for the truck forum, I jumped at the chance. Great way to practice your HDR stuff because vehicles look awesome, and they don’t move. Find the composition, tripod and boom! High Dynamic Range Toyota. 8) Automobile photography isn’t really all that hard, but it is tough trying to come up with interesting shots that haven’t been done before. Human subjects create a mood all there own, but with vehicles, you have to bring it out with camera angles and environment. Fortunately the 4Runner looks kick @$$ and mean! It’s easy to make this truck look pure awesome. 😆


Pit Master

I’ve been a YouTube junky for a good long while now. And, I also like eating Barbecue. So when you put those things together, you get the Barbecue Pit Boys! I love these guys! Good ol’ fashioned rednecks cooking the finest, choicest cuts of meat over a charcoal grill. . . . Charcoal!? It sounds weird, but it’s true. In Canada, we cook with Propane and propane accessories. Maybe Natural Gas. But charcoal seems so old school. So old world. So . . . foreign. But it’s sooooo delicious! I bought a small kettle grill from Wal-Mart when it was on sale as a season close out for $35 bucks because I just had to see if it made any difference to the food. And boy howdy, does it ever! You actually taste fire in the food! Granted, even if you slow cooked stuff on a propane grill it would have the same effect, but there is something extra in the charcoal (and don’t say Volatile Organic Compounds) 😉 It’s pure delicious!


Kite Nite

Another beautiful evening in Southern Saskatchewan last night. The wind got up nice, nice enough to fly a kite. So we grabbed our trusty wind walker and away we went. I also grabbed the camera and my 105mm macro lens. Why? Usually this kind of shoot lends itself to wide angle. Well, I had an alterior  motive – that being compression & bokeh. [Photo geek alert! Just look at the pictures if you don’t know what either compression 0r bokeh are. ;)] Compression is the photography effect created when you use a long telephoto lens to make a photo. The background gets smooshed together, compressed as it were, making for portraits that are pure awesomeness. Add that to f/2.8 and you’ve got sheer awesomeness, photographically speaking. And, top it all off with golden light and 100% unadulterated awesomeness. I just watched Cliff Mautner’s latest Kelby Training webinar called searching for the light and he made this comment again and again about compression. He said that if your images are lacking something, it’s compression. And he’s right. I tend to be a wide angle kind of shooter. But you just don’t get the added loveliness of compression with a wide angle that you get with long glass. So I grabbed my 105mm lens and dialled it in to f/2.8 and went to town. All the images here are shot with the 105mm at f/2.8 (except the obviously wide angle landscape shots near the end). I was super pleased with the shots, technically speaking. I’m always happy with pics of my own kids though (who isn’t, right?! ;)) Try some telephoto in your life. It makes a big, awesome difference! 8)

 


Oh Oh! It’s Elder Ethan!

So for church today, Regan dressed Ethan in a green tie on a while polo shirt. Classic! But it made him look, well, Mormon. It’s like the angel Moroni came down and slapped him with some reformed-Egyptian style! I couldn’t resist. I got the most holy and venerable New King James Version Bible and I had him come to the door. Throw some flash on there and he looks sweet and dandy like sour Mormon candy! 😉

But of course, big-sis couldn’t resist the Latter Day fun and needed to join in. Here comes sister Phoebe all up in your grill! 8)

 

 

 

Heheeheheheh…….. will the madness never end?! 😉


Arnold

James Brown: Godfather of Soul. Michael Jackson: King of Pop. Arnold Newman: Master of Environmental Portraiture. Really, he was a pioneer in creating images of people that expressed context. By context, I mean something about the place of the person that adds to or reveals something about the person being photographed. Before Newman, portraiture was people standing in front of a camera, getting their image taken for the soul purpose of the photographer recording their likeness and selling the client an image. “Portraiture” was boring, stringent and contextually void. It may have been tack sharp, it might have been well lit, but it lacked environment. Thus, Arnold Newman creates a whole new genre and approach to portraits. To quote David Hobby, “If you make environmental portraits, you can trace your photographic lineage to this man.”

There’s a great video on YouTube that is worth a watch. It gives more insight into Newman himself as well as his amazing craft that has influenced just about every current day photographer who employs that trendy photojournalism/environmental portraiture.

 

I was going through my own photo libraries, trying to see if I had any examples of truly environmental portraiture. And to be honest, I don’t have many good examples of it. And by modifying the comment with “good” I mean environments that actually support/reveal the person being photographed. A lot of what passes these days for environmental stuff isn’t really “Newmanian” environmental stuff. Take the famous example of Krupp. He looks reptilian, satanic even with the lighting, colour, mood and environment of his Nazi slave labour factory.

Every element of the photograph supports the core of who Krupp was. Its a far cry from chucking people into some random setting, just to have cool surroundings. The current trend of urban grunge photography when it comes to brides resonates with me this way. Sure, its a juxtaposed environment/subject mix. But it doesn’t necessarily get at who the subject is – unless your bride is actually a homeless person who naturally lives in alleyways.

My point is, let us learn from Arnold Newman, a truly amazing gift to photography. Think about the subject. Get to know the subject. Then make the photograph in a holistic, all encompassing way that weaves together lighting, colour, gesture, mood, and an environmental setting that reveals the true essence of the subject.

Not an Environmental Portrait

Environmental Portrait????

 


Raindrop Remnant

I guess there was a big storm last night. I wouldn’t know. I slept through it all! 😉 But the tell tale signs were there in the morning. Ground was wet, raindrop remnants on the leaves. I looked out at our patio this morning and noticed that one of our potted plants had some pretty cool drops that were left over and evaporating quickly. I grabbed the picture mill and a flash and nabbed a couple of shots. It’s another one of those small world micro shots. They’re cool and often overlooked in the modern day haste of the world.

Photo Geek Info: ISO 200 105mm f/11 1/60. Strobist Info: 1 SB-600 wirelessly triggered by an SU-800, manual flash mode at 1/64th power


Happy Birthday Car Show

We made a whirlwind trip to Grenfell and back yesterday for the birthdays of two very special people. My Father in Law & Sister in Law share the same birthday. How slick is that? It saves one whole extra trip to Grenfell each and every year! 😉 Just kidding. It was super fun! And while we were there, my Brother in Law needed a picture of his sweet restoration car for a car show calendar. We drove it on over to the local tire shop and tried to work the old tire pile into the photo. The only bummer was somebody parked a giant 5th wheel right by the pile and we couldn’t get the optimal location we wanted, so we had to work with what we had – and fast as the light was fading behind a ginormous cloud bank. I’d never actually shot a vehicle before but I knew it needed some kinda strobist option. So I used the sun as the key light with hard direct lighting and I setup two SB-600 strobes to light up the chrome on the front. I used one straight flash (flagged to prevent ground spill) and the other with a 1/8 grid spot. It worked out not too shabby! 8)

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August 1st Sunset

It will never ever be August 1st, 2011 ever again. Savour each moment, every day! 8)

 


Adam Lake

We were able to sneak away for a few days to Adam Lake, MB for a little camping trip. Located in the  Turtle Mountains, I was skeptical if we were turtley enough for the turtle club! But we were. 😉 In short, Adam Lake campground is chock full of beautiful awesomeness. The camp sites are very well treed and you can’t see your neighbour easily at all, which I love. And, there are awesome hiking trails, one that leads to a wildlife viewing tower. The beach is manicured sand and the water is shallow and warm, the kids could walk out for a long way. Not too mention the $150,000 dollar new play park right near the beach too. The park entrance fee was waved again for 2011 and  fire wood is provided free of charge. The campfire pits are big and have grates across the top for grilling if you so choose. The bathrooms are all up to date, heated and clean. The showers are free!  In short, this is my new favourite campground of all time!! We owe a hat tip to Jenny B for letting us in on her families’ secret campground extravaganza! 8)

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The photos are a mix of dSLR & Point & Shoot shots. We also did some light painting with really cool colour changing LED flower lights. They make for a really cool effect. Also there are a couple of HDR shots in the mix, but they are subtle. See if you can spot them. 😆