Light is Everything!

Archive for January, 2012


Avast ye skallywags! Cap’n Ozzy No-Beard bids ye walk the plank! Yar! 😎 Nobody can beat pirate parlance. In fact, if you goto your Facebook account settings (top right hand corner of the Facebook page) you can select Pirate English as your default language setting. Then all your Facebook stuff becomes “Update your Plunderin'” and “Bottle O’ messages” heehheheeh……. Anyways, the EFC Pirate party was yesterday. What a riot! Everyone had a real grog fest! Never in my day had I seen such a crew of swashbucklers! πŸ˜‰

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Remember when Lite-Brite was the most awesome thing in the universe?!!? I do! 😎


Everyone likes babies (at least in theory and not at 2AM). πŸ˜‰ Here’s some shots from a recent newborn & family shoot I did. The next generation of leaders and workers who will pay my old age pension! Can’t beat that! 😎 Β My advice to the world is to have lots and lots of babies! Young people population shortage is a major problem. Plus, they’re cute! πŸ˜†

Wild Sky Jan 26 2012

HDR! Boo ya! 😎

A Wee Walk

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…. πŸ˜‰

The Environment

ISO 320 f/4 1/50 24mm

Besides landscapes, the 16-35mm f/4 lens is a gem of an environmental portrait lens, giving loads of options for including the subject’s setting in the photo. Love this lens!!! 😎

Watch this 1981 video of the inventor of the environmental portrait Arnold Newman. He’s an inspiration and a photo genius!

16-35mm f/4 Test Shots

I got up before the sunrise today! 😎 . . . only to get skunked by clouds and gloomy light. hehehehe…. always the way it goes. But I was able to make a couple of frames with the new lens. All the shots came out of the camera tack sharp from corner to corner at f/8. But they’re comparable wide open at f/4 too. The other thing is that the VR engine in the lens is quiet. Most of the time they warble and ping like a mouse was inside the lens doing a tap dance. But this thing is different. Sorry about the morbidity of the dead fox carcass in the road. But that’s life in the prairies in winter. Eat or be eaten!! πŸ˜‰

I’ve got G.A.S.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome! Yeppers, got my new lens today. Came in a couple days from The Camera Store in Calgary and, no pay-pay to ship-ship! 😎 ThisΒ Nikon 16-35mm f/4 AF-S VR G ED IF N Aspherical lens is a stunner! Β All the reviews I read about it said it is sharp and they ain’t kiddin’! It’s spooky sharp. It’s spooky sharp wide open at f/4. Not many lenses are this good at their base aperture but this one is. I did some lens tests and the AF is bang on. I nabbed some quick hand held no VR shots of the kids and they peeled out of camera TACK-Smurfing-SHARP. And, the colours are rendered beautifully. I took this one of Ethan and it is straight out of camera. No editing at all, watermark aside. The camera is set to neutral too so the picture control is zeroed out. This lens is fantastic. I can’t wait to go nab some landscape shots with it. πŸ˜€

I also picked up a ThinkTank Retrospective 20 bag too. It’s a sweet bag, built to last forever (like everything ThinkTank makes) and its the perfect bag for events or light trips where I don’t want to bring all o’ my kit. I can get at least 3 lenses into it and 2 flashes, as well as a whole host of other goodies. It’s the cat’s pyjamas.

So, my lens collection is almost complete, nearly all gold rings. I’m fully prepared to go full frame now as all my lenses are FX compatible going from 16mm all the way to 300mm! Pretty much ready for anything. That’s a nice milestone to reach. Full reviews (probably video) to follow on the lens for sure. Tons of great vids on the ThinkTank bag on YouTube. Check it out!

Gold Ring Baby! Ya!


Crush the Composition

It’s been birthday mania around here for the last few days as our little girl broke the threshold and turned 4. I can’t believe it! Crazy stuff. Time literally flies like a crazy fool. 😎 For one of the birthday celebrations, we went on down to the holy city of Moose Jaw and had us a wee shindig. We took in the Western Development Museum as it was a great place to let the kids rip and tare without really damaging anything of bothering anyone. We had the whole place to ourselves which was great as Pa and I went to work with the cameras. I recently watched Scott Kelby’s Crush the Composition video via Kelby Training and it had some cool pointers about photo composition. It had the basic rule of 3rds stuff, leading lines, etc. But it also encouraged people to break the mould and do some creative stuff. Basically, in a nutshell, it’s move in, get close, take parts of the picture instead of the whole image. That’s it. There’s not much else revolutionary to share about it. The video was Mmkay. So so. 😐 The title was cool though and it stuck with me as I went around the WD Museum saying, “Reg, if you need me, I’ll just be over here, crushing the composition.” I don’t know if Dad crushed anything or not. He had the 16-35 2.8 on his Canon, whilst I employed my 50 f/1.4 for way cool depth of field. I loves my primes, but it can get repetitive compositionally because basically you’re locked into one mid-range focal length (read: boring). That’s why I don’t have a 24-70 and probably never will. Mid range focal lengths aren’t happening. They don’t stick out like wide angles or sweet telephoto shots. But they can be cool if you’re willing to crush the composition! CRUSH IT! Crush it good. Crush it like Kelby!

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Gettin’ Hitched!

Bells will be ringing for Lucas and Kayla as they cross the threshold of happily ever after this summer. I was happy to nab some photos of them the other day to help celebrate their engagement. It’s official: I’ve added engagement photos to my repertoire! 😎 Winter photos always bring that extra wee bit of somethin’ somethin’ – frozen extremities and rudolf noses! πŸ˜‰ But we jumped in and out of the truck to warm up in between the shots. It was a whole lot of fun! Can’t wait for the wedding!

OPHS Christmas Formal

The photos are done! This was a tremendously exciting project to work on! Me and my most beautiful photo assistant Β (and wife) πŸ™‚ were blessed to be able to cover the OPHS Christmas Formal. It consisted of an hour and a half of portraits and then an hour and a half of candids at the dance. Pictures were on an ad hoc basis, come one come all. It was fast paced and quickly changing minute to minute for individuals, groups, and bigger groups! It was a metric tonne of fun! Then came the dance. It was candid photo mania! 😎 It was a great opportunity that I was happy to take part in. All the photos from the event will be available for purchase from OPHS as a school fundraiser. I have included two quick collages of but a wee sliver of the images! πŸ˜†

Merry Christmas to me!

I was spoiled rotten for Christmas this year – and I love it! 😎 I got an MB-D10 battery grip for my D300s. I’m totally stoked! First of all, it lets you bring an extra battery with you as part of the camera, meaning you’ll never run out of power ever. Not in a zillion years. Second, it gives the camera a beefier grip, making it look like a full frame camera. Making me look . . . professional even! πŸ˜‰ People will look at my suped up D300s and think, “Wow! He’s a professional! Just look at that big beefy camera!” Even pros will see it and think, “Oooh! He’s got a D4!” Β Can’t beat that. Ergonomically, it makes the camera way more fun to use. It allows me to take portrait orientated photos without having to contort my upper body like Harry Houdini clambering out of a 2×2 box. And in landscape mode, it’s far easier to handle and makes it easier to execute Joe McNally’s “da grip” technique. Pure awesome for low light, slow shutter speeds!


da grip

Portrait Orientation

The other way cool thing is that it comes with an additional carriage for 8 AA batteries. Pumping them in gives you slightly more frames per second, and versatility. Like, if you’re in pheasant rump Saskatchewan and you realized you forgot to charge your camera batteries, you can run your camera off the double AAs you keep in your glove box! Sweet sassy. Make sure you keep Ni-Mh batteries on hand vs. normal alkalines though. They might get hot & nasty.

It’s a tremendous little device, but it’s also a colossal ripoff. Cheap plastic and it doesn’t even come with a spare battery! It’ll run around $350 Canadian bones. Hundred bucks cheaper in the US . . . but you can’t get them. Massive shortages in Japan and they are back ordered. Turns out there was some kind of electrical device law changes in Japan and these don’t fit the bill. They’ll make a 2cent change and up the price another $45 I’m sure. But what you gonna do? I asked Santa for one and that fat bastard jolly old elf came through! 😎 All in all, it’s amazing and makes me 17% happier as a photographer!

Separation Anxiety

A Tale of 2 Dishes

Happy New Year! Another year of photos is ahead of us and that is an exciting prospect. I can’t wait to see what lies through the lens in 2012. Christmas was good for us and we had great visits with family who loved us much and spoiled us more. When Ma & Pa came down for a visit we of course got to talking about photos. Dad, being an avid nature & wildlife photographer, was showing me what he and his photo pals had been up to lately. Winter wildlife can be some of the most interesting stuff! While most guys are sitting around watching sports, these guys are outside watching the epic battle of survival unfold! Check out these amazing snowy owl photos! These aren’t photoshopped! 😎 Just chuck a mouse out onto the snow and watch as white winged warriors wrathfully wreak havoc on unsuspecting rodentia! The main course is served! Hence, dish one.

Photo Credit: Jim Kroshus

(Jealous that dad missed out on snows, we went out and nabbed this short eared owl. Still a magnificent specimen!)

Photo Credit: Bob Schultz

Now for those who can’t handle this much excitement, there’s beauty dishes. (Hence, dish 2). πŸ˜† For Christmas dad got a wee beauty dish. It’s actually an Opus mini reflector.Β It’s basically a miniaturized beauty dish that gives you a punchy, light that is one notch off of bare flash. It’s a really cool light for, yes, you guessed it, beauty and glam shots as it gives the light a very contrasty feel. I wanted to see how this little guy compared to my DIY beauty dish that I made. It’s basically the same design idea. Light comes from the flash and bounces into a surface in front of the light, then into a reflector dish and then out onto the subject. A little bit of ping pong action is involved and it makes the light slightly more diffused but still has loads of punch.

Automatically you notice the size difference. And with lighting, unlike other areas of life, size matters. πŸ˜‰ The bigger the better. The small guy produces a much sharper/contrasty light while the bigger the light, the softer the light. It’s the same reason why natural light photographers want huge windows. Loads of big light nice and close to the subject = soft and glorious! Here’s an example of what each light produced on our subject Sven (he’s from IKEA). πŸ˜€

Opus Mini Reflector Light Mod

Contrasty Light & Harsh Shadows

DIY Beauty Dish

Still got shadows but much softer and more wrapping

So, after a quick peak, you notice the difference. The little Opus dish is much smaller and makes a more focused, contrasty light. It also fits into a gear bag much more conveniently. The bigger DIY dish gives similar contrast and punch, but is more wrapping because it is much bigger. Could you replace the big one with the Opus? Perhaps, depending on the look you wanted. It sure would make hauling it around easier!

But then again, if beauty light isn’t your thing and you don’t care about f-stops & shutter speeds, you can always try Coyote hunting. It’s hours of fun and only about 1/3 the cost of photography! πŸ˜‰

Photo Credit: Bob Schultz