Light is Everything!

Archive for August, 2012

Evening Shoot

Went out last night for an evening shoot with the Sawatsky family. We had perfect weather with glorious warm golden light – until the last 2 minutes of the shoot when the wind came up out of nowhere, blew over my c-stand (sandbagged!) and carried my light setup a quarter mile! bwahahahah.. I wish I would have taken pictures of my shoot-thru umbrella carrying my flash bracket across the beach.  It was hilarious. Fortunately, nothing was damaged and, we got the shot after all! 😀

Not enough can be said about golden light, that mystical time of the day right before sunrise and right before sunset. The light is super soft and warm. It’s pure awesome. Plus, scheduling the shoot at that time allows for the sunset to get richer and richer as time goes on. Most of the photos from this shoot were shot using ambient light as the key, supplemented with a CTO flash to help add warmth and a kicker. It’s really soft subtle light which works nice for the kids. They did an AWESOME job as photo candidates. We worked quickly and nabbed a nice mix of shots.


On the Shoot that Nearly Wasn’t…

Hehehehhhehe……… It’s funny now. In hindsight. Like most things. But it was a gongshow whilst it was happening. 😉 I was getting some harassment from the relatives about needing updated photos of the kids. It’s been busy lately and Pria is nearly 5 months old. I haven’t take nearly enough photos of her. So we set out yesterday to nab some shots. We tried the bail setup and finally got a decent one. My children purposely don’t cooperate with me when trying to take pics of them. Next time, I’m going to Sears Portrait Studio. hehehehehe…….. 😉 Then I wanted to get some candids of the kids in the Alfalfa. But then, Ethan peed his pants. Potty training is going pretty good, but it’s not 100%. With no spare change of clothes, we’re carrying his bare butt across this field back to the truck, all the while Phoebe screaming in the background about not being left behind. After walking back and getting my photo gear we got re-loaded and Ethan got a pull-up installed. We still needed some shots of Pria. So we went back to town and went down into the campground – which has become a cesspool of weed-based iniquity (… but not that kind) since the floods last year. Back home we went and by this time, Pria is screaming at the top of her lungs because she’s sick of her car seat. And, to top it all off, all the kids are sick with running noses and weepy eyes. Here’s the salvaged images from the shoot that nearly wasn’t. hehhehhhehe…….. all in the life of a photog stressed dad. 😎


1 Year Old!

After having my own kids, I know how fast a year can come and go. We did Leighton’s 1 year photos this past weekend and it was a riot! When you are 1, the whole world is an adventure. And if Grandpa keeps you awake before your photo shoot, so what?! It’s still cute no matter what! 😉 Leighton did fantastic and she was sporting all the late summer fashions, especially the Rider Pride! 😎


Piper & Ruby

Ruby & Piper!

My two favourite nieces came by for a visit and we did a quick little photo shoot. Ruby is just about the same age as Pria is and both are just starting to be propped up. We grabbed the Bumbo chair, or the “wimbo” as Phoebe called it, and propped her up and had Piper sneak in beside. This photo was my fav from the set because Ruby has that “you lookin’ at me kid?” expression! 😉 heheheeh….. “I’m gonna buss a cap you keep lookin’ at me!” 😎

From there we went to just Ruby and locked this one in. I threw it into Black and White which always looks timeless and cool. Her eyes were very sparkly in this and her expression is, though less Goodfellas than above, super adorable.

A quick note about the lighting setup for these photos. Kids rarely if ever sit still and cooperate so I wanted to try a different lighting technique that would accommodate their squirmy nature but still give a nice result. I setup a reflector camera right on a stand and a flash camera left and bounced the light over the kids and off the flash on very low power, like 1/128 or 1/64. It has the awesome effect of feathering past the kids and also lighting up the reflector for a sweet little catch light in the eyes. I really like the technique and I will certainly try it again. The ambient light cooperated too with an overcast sky which helped for even fill light. I came across this setup in Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook, which is a resource I recommend you check out if you’re interested in learning more about light. He has some great setups to share in there. You can checkout a preview vid for it here:


Hands on with the Canon 1D-X!

Canon EOS 1D-X with 500mm f/4 Lens

Ahem. I humbly start this post, firmly entrenched in the Nikon camp, but I have to say it: I formally recant pretty much every negative thing I’ve ever said about Canon. Ever. 😳

Pa got his new toy, the highly coveted Canon EOS 1D-X camera. For those who don’t know (where have you been?!?), it’s Canon’s flagship, top o’ the line, best camera ever. And it is, most definitely Canon’s finest camera to date. This camera is a beast! It’s nothing short of amazing. My chief complaints about Canon have been 1) Crappy Focusing and 2) Crummy LCDs. This camera addresses those issues and then some. This is not an in depth Camera Scientist review by any means, rather a quick 1st impressions post. And, the impressions are good. The focusing is incredible! Check the specs and see, there’s an entire processor dedicated to focusing alone. And it shows. With oodles of programable modes, you can tell the 1D-X exactly what you want it to do and how you want it to behave. It’s positively awesome.

“Hummingbird Focus Mode”

Just check this out – you can customize the focus settings for several different cases, depending on what you’re photographing. In this case, Dad had a hummingbird setup in the back yard and so he went with this “Bring it on, sucker” focus mode. It’s unreal. The birds came into the frame and boom shakalaka, this camera nails the focus again and again and again. Check out one of his photos from his Flickr stream. There’s a whole set there of tremendous shots with more to come.

RHONDAS GARDEN-0356.jpg

RHONDAS GARDEN-0285.jpg

Certainly, you’d come to expect this kind of performance from a camera setup of this calibre. With the 500mm lens, it’s nearly diabolical! The shots are sharp and the focus is . . . fixed! 😉 And, the LCD on the back of the camera is more like an HDTV instead of watching colecovision. (Google it if you don’t know).

Canon 1D-X with Sinister Lighting

If you are a Canon fan and you’ve been waiting for this camera, it will be everything you’ve dreamed of and more. You’ll probably curse Canon a bit for moving the tried and true traditional button configuration around – (even I found that annoying as now it’s quasi counter intuitive). But the performance of this bad boy more than makes up for having to learn a new button liturgy.

I told Dad that he should go out and satisfy my curiosity about the focus system and shoot some motocross. If anything will stress the tracking features, MX certainly will.  Being that he’s primarily a wildlife shooter, perhaps getting my brother to chase a herd of pronghorn antelope in front of the lens may be a more fitting focus test. I suspect that it won’t be much of a challenge anyways, the focus is just that good. During the hummingbird setup, we slapped on a teleconverter and I simply watched the wind flicking the honeysuckle blossoms in the wind through the viewfinder. The focus points tracked it back and forth with no intervention from me. It’s sweet!

Canon 1D-X: Lord of the Garden

So basically, that’s all I’m gonna touch on in this post. The Canonista Camera Scienticians will soon have incredibly detailed reviews out about this beast. I’m sure it’s ripping up the olympics right now too. Oh, one last comment, the ISO performance is awesome too – another great improvement. Being 18MP, it’s just about a perfect blend of resolution and noise performance. That extra bit of crop-ability is appreciated and the high ISO stuff looks good. 6400 was totally usable in my books and it goes up from there, waaaay up. But the image quality similarly decreases too. Can’t wait to see some head to head tests with the 1D-X & the new D4 from the good guys Nikon! 😎

You’re jealous. Just admit it.


Gettin’ Hitched!

July 28th 2012. It’s the day two wonderful people made their vows and promised each other forever. It was also the day I became a wedding photographer photographer who took wedding photos. 😎 Although, with a twist. I also officiated the wedding in my Pastoral capacity. Now, if I only did the catering and the DJ stuff, I’d truly be a jack of all trades. But as it was, the service and the photos were enough. Where to begin?! I thought I would elaborate on the experiences from the day a little bit in this blog post. First of all, as I mentioned it was my first wedding for photos. I did research, as I always do. I went to Manor to scope it out prior to the big day. I’d never been there before and I needed to know some locations. Also, because the wedding was in the evening, the photos needed to be taken care of first. That meant starting at 1PM when the sun was high. And, we had to capture the critical moment of the Bride & Groom seeing each other for the first time. Normally this happens at the ceremony, but with an evening wedding, the need to still capture those moments is key. We setup a little surprise for Kayla and it worked! Lucas caught her unaware and photos captured it all.

Seeing each other for the first time!

From there, I took several more photos of the couple together in the moment. It made for some really great candids. After a few minutes or so, my awesome assistant Michelle helped do some run and gun lighting setups. Nothing fancy, just 1 light in a medium softbox. It gave us a fantastic result and allowed us to keep moving quickly getting a wide variety of shots in the short time we had.

One technique I was dying to try out was Cliff Mautner’s signature lighting setup. No flash was used in this photo. And it was taken at 1:35PM. By turning your subject so that the sun is directly behind her, it gives you an evenly lit face and front. Juxtaposed against the dark backdrop, this technique works awesome. You have to shoot in Manual Mode to get it though as your camera’s meter is next to useless for getting this photo. The camera sees all the white and all the dark and goes “AAAAAHHHHHH!”  You have to override the meter and chimp it to make sure your exposure is bang on. You could use spot metering for the face, but that’s too easy. 😉 I love the result of this technique. Long lenses, wide apertures and awesome lighting. It’s the recipe for pure awesomeness. Thanks Cliff!

Cliff Mautner’s Style

Speaking of Cliff Mautner, another shot he’s famous for I also wanted to try. It’s the “elevated perspective, shallow depth of field, mad-lens compression, way cool beauty shot.” Putting the focus cursor right on Kayla’s eyelash gave me this photo. I love it! It’s nearly angelic and royal, which is exactly what bride portraits should be.

“elevated perspective, shallow depth of field, mad-lens compression, way cool beauty shot.”

After the bride and groom photos were wrapped up, we had the group shots to contend with. Fortunately for us, we lucked out with the beautiful location and the 3PM time slot. I knew that the sun would be lower by then so some nice north facing shade was perfect for getting everyone uniformly lit. Then, we used my typical group lighting setup with two speed lights & umbrellas to brighten the scene and add some much needed catchlights. I had Kayla make up a list of family shots she wanted in advance so we burned through the group shots in no time in an orderly fashion. I shot all the group stuff with my 50mm prime which ultimately looks better than a wide angle for groups.

A split second after we finished the family group shots, it started raining. Boo! Hiss! 😦 But, it didn’t stop us. We ducked for cover and made the most of it. Having Michelle with me was vital for getting these photos because she held the light and we burned around quickly and got all the bridal party shots we needed. I really like this technique of framing the bridal party members around each other for a portrait.

Then we finished up the bridal group photos and everyone was wiped, including me. That took us to 5PM which is what we budgeted for, allowing us a nice break to get prepared for the ceremony.

I got my thoughts together for the ceremony and gave my camera to Michelle. She nabbed some ceremony shots for me as it would have been a wee bit awkward to stop the ceremony to do photography… heheheheh…. 😎 But before we did the ceremony I also wanted a shot of the wedding bands. We framed up a macro shot, making use of what was on sight and in theme with the wedding.

After the ceremony there was the party! The rest of the night was candids of the moments that unfolded before us – which in many ways is easier. The shooting gallery is before you and the moments just happen! It’s awesome.

The couple’s first dance

Like any hall, we always are faced with the problem of poor lighting. So to combat that, I put a flash on a stick and had Michelle keep her eyes on where I was going. It worked like a charm and made for some really cool, dramatic lighting as well as just some nice, evenly lit photos too. It was great to have that control and versatility at our finger tips.

Way cool rim light!

So, all in all, it was an awesome day, albeit exhausting. I don’t think I will sign up for the “whole meal deal” again anytime soon, although not many other photographers can do your photos and your service! hehehhehe… 😉 It was a really fun day and the couple was a dream to work with. I was thankful for the opportunity to try something I’ve never done before and I am very happy with the results. Thanks again to Michelle Needham for being an awesome assistant! And, all the best and God’s blessings to Lucas & Kayla! You guys are amazing! 😀