Light is Everything!

Archive for November, 2012

Introducing JoJo

I was recently spoiled this Black Friday! πŸ™‚ I had been needing a new laptop for a LOOOONG time as my little old white Macbook was likened to an old flee bitten dog with 3 broken legs trying to limp itself back home so it could be shot out of compassion. The battery died and ceased to work at all, the screen was wrecked, I’d gone through 3 hard drives, but it’s still kick’n, even if it is only with one leg. πŸ˜‰ Long story short was, this past Black Friday I took advantage of Apple’s “generous” $101.00 off deal. I’d been eying up a new Macbook Pro, but didn’t want to spend the long dollar for the Retina display. I need a laptop primarily for work – running presentations and bible studies, movies for the confirmation kids, etc. Nothing really over the top powerful. But I also thought it would be cool to have a mobile computer for photography needs as well. But the more I priced things out the more I concluded that if I’m gonna be slugging through D800 RAW files (price drop coming this December!), I’d need massive grunt power. Like I mentioned, I didn’t want to spend oodles of cash. So, I decided to dump the photography needs from the equation and focus on a simple, light and portable solution for work. And, I made up my mind on a Macbook Air.

I had looked at them awhile ago and concluded they were for trendy vegan hipsters whose Β limp wrists couldn’t hoist the heft of a Macbook Pro at Starbucks whilst sipping a mocha frappa latte chino. 😎 I had concluded that the MBP was the only way to go. I liked the idea of the SSD over the traditional hdd and if I had got the MBP, the first thing I was going to order was a SSD to use in it. But it was an extra expense. Plus, the 13″ version that I was interested in maxed the RAM at 8GB. If I couldn’t have 16, I wasn’t interested. So, I decided to give the Air another look.

I chose the 11″ model because of the footprint. It’s barely bigger than an iPad!!! (The original one, not that new miniature freak show). And it is thin. Like razor thin!

But what absolutely blew me away was how fast it is. My main computer is a 21.5 iMac with the Core Duo 2 chip and 16GB of Ram, not a slouch but not Β the latest kid to the party either. I wanted to test this little Air’s performance and I know of no better way than to try to choke it to death on D800 RAW files. I had an 18GB library of some files I shot with my friends camera. So after I got Aperture 3 installed on the Air, I attached my USB 3.0 Seagate drive and got ready to give the digital Heimlich Β maneuver. But I never got the chance. I watched as the RAW files loaded up in the library and snapped into focus. There was hardly any long delay waiting for the files to render. I slid the mouse around the file look at 1:1 view and the little computer kept up with no issues. In short, it’s FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!! πŸ˜€ With the 1.7 i5 chip and 8GB of RAM, this sweet little computer cooks RAW for breakfast. I was astounded at the performance.Β But the achilles heel of the 128GB SSD drive is the rather conservative size. Not a whole metric tonne of room for storage. However, with the sweetness of USB 3 and Thunderbolt, you’ve got awesome high speed mass storage solutions. I plugged in my USB 3 Seagate 1TB drive and it ran the Aperture library without a hitch. And, the drives are only $100 buckeroos. Cheap.

So to recap, I’m really happy with the Macbook Air! It was rather serendipitous that it turned out to be an exceedingly capable photography computer as well as basic “light-duty” portable laptop. Ideally, a larger 15″ retina screen would be nice for doing tethered shooting, but the 11″ is just that much more portable. Easily fits in a camera bag with no issues. It’s incredible value for the money I’d say. It was basically $1100 in the configuration I bought. We know that these little computers aren’t going to be upgraded ever, so I bought the max RAM I could. I’m confident that it will serve me for many years to come, just like my old palliative Macbook did. πŸ™‚

Oh and as for “JoJo”? I asked Phoebe what I should name the new computer. “JoJo” was the answer. πŸ˜‰

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Word on the Street

Every year our parish holds a “Mission Festival” where we bring in a speaker to talk about the important mission work he or she or they have been doing. This year, we were pleased to have Rev. DJ Kim join us in Oxbow. He’s an ordained Lutheran pastor who is serving as a street minister and also works as a chaplain with the Regina Police force. He shared some amazing stories – some of them very graphic – about what a police chaplain does. He helps serve members of the police force, especially people struggling with PTSD, in addition to helping victims of crime on the path to healing and restoration. Rev. Kim also crosses the great divide in that he does outreach to the people who have committed the heinous crimes too. He truly has an amazing vocation in that he covers the whole spectrum of sin and hurt from the culprits to the victims to the people who nobly have to deal with it day in and day out. Growing up in Korea, Rev. Kim had a very difficult childhood. He comes from a broken home, was raised in foster homes and the street. He’s been both a leader of gangs as well as a mixed martial arts champion. In short, he can relate to people on both sides of the law. He’s been through the very depths of hell and as such, he can relate to people who are currently living there now and help them on the path out. He’s an amazing individual and we are blessed to have him as part of our church. He’s the first to tell you that the only thing that can turn a troubled life around is the grace of God. “Look at me,” he says, “I’m the living proof!” 😎

 


Sunbathin’ Yote

It was cold this morning, mercury was dipped to -22C. Cold enough even for the creepy crawly critters to seek out a warm sunny spot. 😎 I watched this coyote walk up the ridge opposite to our house. He slowly climbed down over a big snow bank and spun around a few times, making a cozy little spot to catch some rays. I was on breakfast detail so after I had finished my chores, I grabbed the camera and snuck out in our backyard to see if I could nab a shot. My trusty 70-300 has always been my goto wildlife lens, though it’s performance is sluggish. I barely made one frame of the coyote Β before he saw me and got nervous. The slow AF on the lens didn’t help much either as I wasted precious seconds trying to acquire focus. But I nabbed one while he was resting and a couple more as he began to flee.

The thing about coyotes is, they’re survivors. When World War III happens and nuclear armageddon is unleashed, the last thing walking around will be a coyote. This one looks like it will survive the winter just fine. πŸ™‚ Unless it keeps hanging around my yard. Then it might have a little visit from Dr.223… 😈 I took a couple other shots of those cool winter patterns and textures too.


Her Majesty

In Canada, we change our money designs like most normal people change their clothes. Our brand spankin’ new 20s are out and as I looked them over, I couldn’t help but notice that Her Majesty looks, well, rather chapped. Mildly annoyed. Like when she saw prince Harry’s party pics from Vegas. They showed her that and took her picture and now, it’s on the 20 dollar bill! And the more you look at it, the scarier and more intimidating it is. Like she’s peering right into your soul and knows what you did! uhuhuhu… shudder! 😯

What’s worse? The Queen staring at you for 10 hours, or Liam Neeson starting at you for 10 hours? πŸ˜‰

 

 


If you see it, shoot it!

This post is not intended to be a mantra for hunting season. Ahem. 😎 It’s about seizing the moment before it’s gone. The “capture” aspect of photography is really of the essence. Event photographers and wedding folk know this well. But even landscapers or point and shooters can glean a lesson from it. If a picture is happening before you, go shoot it. Don’t wait and come back later. Chances are good it won’t be there. Take the 5 minutes to stop, get out and make the frame. Like time, you can never get it back. And personally, I hate living with that “Doh! I wish I would have stopped and got that photo!” It applies to all of life.

This shot was one of those times. I was on my way back from a shoot and saw these 3 combines and the grain cart tractor parked in a harvested field. All of them red. With a nice little moon overhead. I had to stop. I pulled the car over and walked out into the field. I didn’t have a tripod but I had a step ladder with me. So, I used it as a rest and was able to take some frames to make this HDR image. I’m pleased with how it turned out as it grabs what harvest time on the prairies is all about. I could have drove past, but I’m glad I seized the moment! 😎


Winter Wonderland

The other morning was beautiful with “hooker frost” all over the place! 😎 Ok, Ok, it’s really hoarfrost, but I couldn’t resist! No matter how you slice it, it was better looking than Julia Roberts. I was out visiting some parishioners and stopped to nab a quick HDR of their barn, as well as a couple of other cool winter shots. Gotta love it! And of course, my favorite little snow bunny too. πŸ™‚

 


JF Engraving

JF with Movember Madness

Oxbow’s latest entrepreneur, James Fonstad, has setup an engraving company called JF Engraving. James does computerized laser engraving on just about any medium you can imagine. The tagline for the business is “if you can dream it, chances are we can do it!” And that’s the truth. From classy aluminum business cards, to dog tags, to pens, to wine glasses, leather, Β stainless steel – nearly anything can be engraved with laser precision. The results are outstanding! It’s amazing to see your vision for a project materialize right before your very eyes as the laser beam brings it all to reality. 😎

Laser engraving leather on a water bottle

I took some shots of James’ finished products for you to check out. The detail is amazing! If you’re looking for that custom giftware, look no further than locally owned and operated JF Engraving!


Trust The Natives

Truck needs a wash! iPod camera ISO 32 3mm f/2.4 1/651 πŸ™‚

Well this year I finally decided to bite the bullet and get some winter tires for my ol’ Honda. It’s not as if we don’t get snow on the prairies, its just that for the last few years, the winters have been very mild as far as snow goes. But every year, there is always an ice storm of some kind leaving heinously crappy roads in its wake. Enter: dedicated winter tires. I sold my right kidney and got them studded too. What an amazing difference!

These wee little metal spikes are embedded into the tire itself, giving added traction in slippery conditions. The other morning I was off to Frobisher and I noticed the road had turned to glare ice just as I was leaving town. I slammed on the breaks with these studded bad boys and I stopped nearly on a dime with no lateral movement. I couldn’t believe it. They are like having a set of cat claws permanently installed on your truck! It’s pure awesome! 😎

As with everything I ever do, I research the hilt out of everything, ad nauseum. No different with tires. All kinds of manufacturers make them, but it has always seemed smart to me to buy products from people who live and work in the same conditions as I do. So, I chose Nokian. They are a Finnish company and do lots of testing in Sweden – on frozen lakes. Their motto is “Trust the Natives.” And, I 100% do. These people live and drive in and around the arctic for crying out loud! These tires have traction where there isn’t any. They plow through snow as if you’re driving a tractor! If you’ve never had winter tires before, I highly recommend you get a set. And studded is even better. True, they are a little noisier on the bare roads, but on our crappy snow/ice covered gong show roads for 50% of the year, it’s really a no brainer. I got mine at Oxbow Tire as they were local and competitive in pricing. And lets face it, it’s all about safety for you and your family and others. Nobody ever stands around at a funeral and says “Wow, that car sure got good gas mileage!” – Trust me, I’ve been to a lot of funerals.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 SUV

 


Efficient Aperture Workflow for High Resolution Images

I’m always looking for ways to stay as efficient as possible when it comes to editing and organizing images. I came across Nasim’s article about having an efficient Lightroom workflow for D800 files and other super high resolution RAW files. You can never stay too lean or efficient when tossing around the huge D800 36MP files! As an Aperture 3 user, I found a really great image import workflow that has really helped me stay efficient. We all love RAW for the power it gives us to edit and capture the very best of a camera. However, undoubtedly we’ll have a good portion of images from a shoot that either aren’t in focus, aren’t sharp, poor compositions or just plain suck. Why waste time and computer grunt power importing all those crappy (yet still enormous) files?! Here’s the trick: Don’t import them! 😎 Save yourself the time. Here’s how to do it.

Set your camera to shoot both small jpeg and RAW. When you get done your shoot and get ready to import, just import the small jpeg files. You can do this from the Aperture 3 import dialogue or set your camera to write jpeg files to one card and RAW to the other. Importing small jpegs is very fast and efficient. Once they’ve all been imported, you can take a look at your files and make a selection of keeper images. Use a star or a flag or a color or whatever. Then go back to the import dialogue and import Matching RAW files. This import workflow ensures you only import the keeper RAW images saving you oodles of time! πŸ˜€ Who doesn’t love having oodles of time?

Check out the YouTube video I made of the import procedure in action.


Torquay

 

Phew! We snuck in one more family session before the full on winter onslaught started to ravage the land. Even though they had snow on the ground in Torquay, we managed to find a ‘greenish’ spot that gave the impression there was still some life left in the prairies. πŸ™‚ The Phillips kids were troopers to put up with the cold, but when it got to be too much, we took the party inside to nab the last of the shots. I love Saskatchewan, I really do, but having another month of fall would have been superb! Plus side? No woodticks! 😎