Light is Everything!

Archive for September, 2011

September 27 Sunset

Nabbed a quick shot last night before I rushed off to a meeting.

I’m a fan of silhouettes at Sunset. In the top image I tried to frame the silhouette tree branch on the right and just a smidgeon of horizon below at the very bottom of the picture. The dark cloud structure on the top of the frame helps further frame the overall image. The second image is more of an abstract example of cloud texture and amazing colour. I love how it incorporates the blue and gold and the pinky red on the clouds. 8)


Steer Wrasslin’

I got the chance to take some photos at my friends riding arena on Friday night. It was awesome to see Dan and the boys wrestlin’ them steers with all their might!! I was stoked to be able to get some western/rodeo shots because the action is super cool and it makes for really dramatic photos, if you blur the action or if you freeze it. You can’t really go too far wrong. Plus, the sunset was beautiful! 8)

Photo Geek Info: 

The light was just starting to fade when I started shooting which meant the whole shoot was pretty much in golden light. Which, as we know, is the ultimate time to make pictures!  I was using my 105 VR Macro at f/2.8 for nice compression and cream cheesy bokeh. I found that it was almost perfect for this event as it’s fast, sharp and pretty workable for candid portraits closer in and long enough to nab full frame action further out. Probably the ultimate for this would be the 70-200 though with just a bit more reach. I was able to be in the arena for some of the shots which allowed me to get closer than I would at an actual rodeo. Very fun stuff! 😆

1st Day

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. 😆

Golden Cows

I was out and about the other night when the light was gloriously saturated and golden. I had a specific idea for a landscape photo in mind that involved a single tree on the horizon. It was already super yellow with the dappling of fall all around us and I wanted to nab it when it was side lit in golden light. I started out through the pasture that had become thick with latent clover seed that grew into giant plants. As I walked towards the tree, a herd of cows stood up in the clover and scared the you know what out of me! 😯 So I backed up and tried to make my way to the tree but the cows kept coming towards me. Must have been some protective moms in the crowd because they didn’t back away or run. So I skirted the top of a ravine and made my way over to where I wanted to take the shot. I also, oddly, decided to use only my 70-300 – not my usual landscape lens, but I wanted to see if I could get some more compression for the valley in the background. The cows provided some sweet serendipitous shots as they were back/side lit. Another good reminder to be open to whatever comes along in the photos.  I tried to get a composition with the oil well, the cow and the valley to symbolize all the local industry.  How symbolic of me! 😀


Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:11

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“Eve of Destruction”

Last night in Estevan was the “Eve of Destruction” at the Estevan Motor Speedway. We had ourselves a little Combine Demo Derby & Car Rollover Contest. Honestly, who WOULDN’T want to come out and see a dozen or more old combines smash into each other losing tires and parts until they can’t move anymore?! 😆 It was pure pandemonium! Last night I was there as a spectator and I never left the stands. I was totally envious of Byron Fichter who was on the track getting the mad shots uninhibited by fence and other spectators. Check out his stuff on Facebook. It was a lot of fun, though to be honest, motor sports aren’t really up my alley. They do provide awesome opportunities for photos though, which is always a treat. The car flip n’ smash was a riot too, as well as all the moto cross kids. They did a fantastic job to the crowds applauding approval. So the next time you get the urge to drive your combine into a fence, the local CO-OP, or another combine, DO IT! Charge $20.00 bucks a head and people will come for miles around to witness your carnage. Throw on a chicken suit for added fun. Why not?! 8)

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Photo Geek Insights: This situation was incredibly brutal for taking photos. All there was for light was the sodium vapour lamps way up on posts to illuminate the track.  When you have no light, you have to bump up the ISO. In my case, I was not shooting f/2.8 glass which would have helped tons. I was stuck at around f/5.6 which necessitated me shooting at ISO 2000 for many shots! 😯 On a DX format camera, that’s a recipe for noisy, grainy shots. But, it allows you to get the shots. Another example of your pixels not being pretty, but you’ll at least get pictures. I was shooting manually too, purposely underexposing the photos by 2 stops so I could maintain shutter speed to freeze action. To stop the MX bikes, I thought I’d need at least 1/200, which is fairly quick for no light. Thankfully we have post processing that allows one to salvage the shots. It would be an ideal environment for strobe actually, but as a spectator, you’re doing the best you can with what you have to work with.

Celtic Defenders

So last night we went to Estevan to partake in some sweet sweet East Coast music. The Celtic Defenders . . . Irish Descendants were in concert at the Comp. The Estevan Arts council does a tremendous job in bringing in top quality stuff and these boys did not disappoint! Everyone loves East Coast music. Everyone! Why? Because it’s so cheery and uplifting. Yer toe’ll be tappin’ in no time bye! I’d love to have a kitchen full of Newfies for some good old timey guitar, mandolin and hard bread! 😆 Like I said, they did a great job. The sound in the comp was kind of muffled though, like the Charlie Brown teacher waw waw waw voice, which made parsing the Newfoundland accent tougher for us mainlanders than it already is. 😉 But it was still a whole pile of fun. I bootlegged some illegal band photos. Shhhh! don’t snitch on me. 8) I know why concerts say no photos. Every granny and their point and shoot would be there blasting useless onboard flash in a vain attempt at snagging a blurry memory. I brought $2000.00 worth of camera equipment and with ninja like f/1.4 stealth . . . snagged a blurry memory. 😐


One Light & Glasses

Taking flash photos of people with glasses is a nightmare. Even if they have the magical unicorn-horn anti-glare nano-crystal-coatings, there is always gonna be some reflection or glare. So, if you have an umbrella setup as a light modifier, it’s going to reflect in the glasses. Same with reflectors. There’s only 3 options. 1) You get the person to take their glasses off. But, if they always wear them, they won’t look like themselves. So this one is out for me. 2) Photoshop the heck out of the glare. This is time consuming and a real nightmare trying to rebuild people’s eyes. 3) Turn the person the opposite direction from the light. DING DING DING! How easy is that?! The light comes from behind the person and wraps around them, all without glaring their glasses. Slap in a reflector for fill on the opposite side of the main light and you’re in business. Just make sure that the reflector doesn’t show up in the glasses on the other side. 😎

Edgar needed a high res portrait for a Western Ag Labs conference so I  had Kirby stand in for me while I tried the setup. It worked! It took a bit of tweaking to make sure we didn’t get any glare showing up, but it came together quickly.

"I pity the fool who don't have no crop health!"

For this last one,  I screwed up the exposure and made it too dark/edgy for what Edgar needed. So I processed it to be highly detailed with desaturated tones that add to the edgy feel. It’s funny because it’s a Western Ag Labs portrait, but it makes Edgar look more like a hit man. hehehehehe… I told him he could send this pic to clients who won’t pay. 😆

30/60 Party!

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)

Grade 1

I loved grade 1. It was the best 4 years of my life! 😆 hehehehehe…. just kidding! But I do remember it like it was yesterday. Just as much fun as Kindergarten, but no nap time.  Anyways, Mrs. Moncrief invited me to come by the school and do some portraits of the kids for the class room. It was fast paced and loads of fun! The print copies of the photos have been made and a digital gallery has also been published for any parents who want to download a free copy of their kids’ photo. It’s password protected for privacy sake and Mrs. Moncrief has the details to provide to parents. Like I said, it was a lot of fun and the kids did extremely well! 8)