Light is Everything!

Archive for June, 2013

The Aurora

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Every time I goto Grenfell, Saskatchewan I see incredible displays of Northern Lights. This last trip was no exception. I stayed up late to nab a few snaps with my Fuji X100s at the farm. The colour is incredible! So glad I had my tripod along!

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Grad 2013: Mariah

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Congratulations to all the 2013 Grads! It’s been a long road but what an accomplishment! We had a great grad day here in Oxbow. A bit chaotic to start the day with a massive power failure from 8AM to 3PM but everyone prevailed and looked fantastic. I shot these grad pics of Mariah in advance of Grad, but I didn’t publish any lest I spoil the grand reveal of the dress. 😎 She was up for anything and we had an awesome shoot! We even were able to make it down to the wire and squeeze out what was left of a sunset. 😀 Congrats Mariah, you rocked the set!


The Black Hills

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Danish Soldiers at Mt. Rushmore at Dusk

We just got back from a mini vacation to the Southern State of South Dakota. 🙂 It was an amazing journey! We were able to do lots of fun stuff as a family, taking in some great attractions but also soaking up the beautiful South Dakota country side. I’m not going to write about all the gory details of our family trip, but rather I’m going to focus on the only camera I took on the journey, the FujiFilm X100s. (Small caveat: we also had our Nikon 1 V1 in tow but only for family video). As a dad of 3 kids 5 and under, I don’t get to actually “do photography” whilst on holidays. It’s more of a taking photos as you go and do things as a family. There’s a huge difference. If I was going to Yellowstone to take photos vs. going to Yellowstone for a family vacation, it’s a completely different mindset. For dedicated photography, I’d want my D800 with full array of lenses. For family stuff, I want as minimal a kit as possible but still be ready for mostly anything. The X100s fits that bill perfectly. As a travel camera, this thing is a boss. It’s size alone makes it super convenient for travel and taking shots on the fly with the kids in tow. But the image quality means I don’t have to sacrifice images like I would with a crappy point and shoot. The f/2 lens and sweet high ISO performance mean that even in the low light of Rushmore Cave, 1 mile underground, I still got shots I was totally happy with.

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Rushmore Cave

The camera totally gets out of the way. Its truly a photographic experience unlike any other. And the best part is of course the color. Fuji has the best color reproduction of any camera I’ve used. I shot the majority of the landscape shots from the trip in Velvia film simulation. I love that super saturated look that really brings out all the subtleties of tone.

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Vista from the Needles Highway

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The glorious Sylvan Lake

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Beads at the Crazy Horse Monument

With only 1 focal length, you are forced to be creative with your shots. The camera pushes you at the same time as it makes taking photos a breeze. It’s an odd juxtaposition that I love! The macro capabilities mean you can get great up close shots without having to switch to a different lens like you would on a DSLR system. As a travel camera, it’s ideal. It’s truly ready for anything you can throw at it, even some off camera flash photography at the spur of the moment!

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OCF Kids. SB-900 in an umbrella triggered by Pocket Wizard Plus X.

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Slow Water via internal ND Filter

 

Another thing that is tremendous as a travel camera is having that built in 3-stop ND filter to kill ambient light. It makes shots like this possible to capture smooth water. Stopping down to f/16 with the filter engaged means I could get shutter speeds of over a second to really get dreamy water and maximum detail. 😀

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I never once missed a DSLR. Ever. The fact that the camera is a compact powerhouse of image quality and ability more than makes up for the fact that I did miss a few shots due to limitations. But I just don’t care! I used to think travel photography had to be a big gear gong show. And carting around all that stuff on hikes with the kids was a total pain. Now, I sling the X100s over my shoulder and I actually enjoy travel photography! It’s fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough. I have a whole set of images up on flickr if you want to check ’em out. There’s a wee smidge posted here. 😎


Slow on the Water

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Went out tonight for some landscapes that I’ve been neglecting for too long. There’s lots of water around recently with all the rain which means for a bit of a speedier creek. I wanted to test the X100s on slow shutter speeds for water effects. It has that sweet, sweet little built in 3 Stop ND filter. I LOVE that feature. It comes in super handy for dragging the shutter into glorious smooshy water. I also had the D800 in tow with my Genus 8 Stop Variable ND Filter. See if you can tell which shots are which. 😎 Also, I nearly got attacked by 2 killer beavers. But they let me go unscathed. 😉


FujiFilm X100s on Color

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Here’s the thing with the FujiFilm X100s camera. Color. It does colour, really, really well. 😎 I’m not kidding. It nails colour in a gorgeous richness. My daughter had this amazing little dress on and I knew I had to capture that colour. So I grabbed yonder X100s, a flash on a stand and away we went. The above image was 1/500 f/2.8 ISO 100 via pocket wizard plus x. Every time I pick up that camera, I get stoked about the images that I peel off the card. JPG for crying 😯 out loud!  I’m thoroughly in love with my beautiful daughter and the camera that forever has frozen these images for me!


The Jumpy Bride

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My good friend Susan Hill, South East Saskatchewan’s premier wedding photographer, has convinced me to join her in the wedding madness. I’m a self proclaimed non-wedding shooter, but I can handle it when I join the Hill Team. 🙂 We had an awesome time in Redvers on the weekend, despite the insane weather that required some quick location juggling to get the photos we needed. Josie & Tyler are an awesome couple and they were up for pretty much anything. When we saw the trampoline, both Susan and I immediately knew that awesomeness would soon entail. Josie was a super trooper to put up with our crazy photog ideas! 😎 The whole day went extremely well, we made some super images and had a blast doing it. We got to play with some cool lighting setups and put Scott to work on the “Gandalf-Stick”.  What could be better? Oh yeah, Susan photobombing the caterer! 😀


Expert Shield Part 1

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I remember watching Steve Huff’s initial impressions of the FujiFilm X100s on YouTube. It was a great video detailing this sweet little camera that I have fallen in love with. The image quality and color is superb, it’s tight compact size make it a dream to travel with. But I remember seeing one heinous thing about the video. Huff had put a nightmarish scratch into the LCD of his brand spanking new everyone-else-is-still-on-a-wait-list camera. 😯 That really, really sucks.

Jump to the 2:57 mark and get ready to cry. 😥

It’s not the end of the world, but nobody likes scratching brand new gear, or any gear for that matter. You can’t really fix it so you just have to console yourself in living with it. “It’s Patina!” we say, trying to calm our troubled consciences. “Battle scars and history of where me and said piece o’ gear have been together. Remember that scratch? Got that one in Kuala Lumpur. That ding, got that one Gros Morne National Park! Yep, me and ol’ bessie been through a lot together.” So, sure scratches and dings can be memory collectors. But I’d rather just bring back photos, not scratches and dings. Huff’s video shows exactly how easy it can happen. Chuck a camera in a bag without thinking and viola! Scratches ahoy. Enter Expert Shield.

I got an email from Ed Tyson of Expert Shield UK asking me if I’d like to try their screen protector product on my X100s. I jumped at the chance because hey, who doesn’t like trying new products?! So they swam over to Canada from the UK via Royal Mail and I finally got the chance to check them out. I have had experience with screen protectors in the past. Not for cameras mind you, as all my DSLRs have built in plastic screen covers. But I’ve installed several of them on handheld GPS units. The other products I’ve used worked OK, but installing them wasn’t fun. You had to squirt liquid all over the device to line up the protector and then fight bubbles . . . it was a nightmare. And in the end, I still always had a couple imperfections. So when I got the Expert Shields, I was eager to see how it would go to install them. I’m happy to report, it was quick, painless and it worked like a charm! 😀

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I found the instructions were straightforward and easy to follow. The supplied cleaning cloth made getting the screen clean very simple and the application procedure was great. I didn’t even actually touch the Expert Shield as it was sandwiched between two easy to remove cling layers. Take the first layer off, line it up with the screen and stick it down. As I put the protector on, I followed the leading edge with a plastic id card to chase out any bubbles that might get trapped. For the last stage of the application, you simply peel off the top protection layer and you’re done. It worked perfectly and the X100s has some sweet new body armour to help keep it looking spiffy for years to come. 😎

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And Expert Shield was kind enough to send me an iPhone 5 and iPod Touch protector too. I installed the iPod protector and it went flawlessly as well. Despite the toughness of glass, my iPod has already got quite a few small scratches on it’s screen – and it lives in my pocket most of the time. I like the very slim form factor and the Expert Shield doesn’t add any bulk like a big case would.

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So this concludes Part 1 of my Expert Shield experience. I will do Part 2 in a few months time to see how they stand up to wear and tear and a wee bit of abuse. 😉 Thanks again to Ed from Expert Shield for the opportunity, I look forward to seeing how the product holds up.


The Happy Nun

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OK, I’ve lived in the South East corner of Saskatchewan for over 5 years, almost 6, and I only just the other day heard of The Happy Nun. Where have I been!?!? It is the most incredible restaurant I have ever been to in my entire life! From the first step I made through the door, I instantly fell in love. There is such an overwhelming ambience of joy and a glorious welcoming spirit that permeates the whole establishment. It’s in the decor, the staff, the art work, the ambience. It truly is something special. Everyone knows that a good restaurant is hard to find, but so is a great place for entertainment. When the two come together with perfect perichoresis it’s sensational.And that describes the Happy Nun to a tee for it’s not only a restaurant, but it is also a mini centre of performing arts!  We had got tickets to see Craig Cardiff  live in concert at the Happy Nun. He was tremendous as well, adding to the over arching good times of the night. As the music filled the place, the ambient light levels became saturated with warm, beautiful colour.

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And then, dear friends, there’s the food. I’m really not exaggerating when I say that it is the best restaurant food I’ve ever had. It’s all homemade. No propeller pigeon chicken. No industrially baked bread. No typical ‘big business’ restaurant food. I had the beef with mashed potatoes and asparagus. My wife had the orzo and Israeli couscous. Both dishes had incredible flavour and that unmistakable “made by hand with love” feel. There was also a starter salad that was bursting with flavour, not to mention a mushroom zucchini soup that was to die for. And when the soup came out, it was noticeably contained in a hand made pottery bowl. Every last detail has been thought out, including the numerous examples of nun-based decor. And who doesn’t love nuns?! Remember Sister Act? 😎

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And, the final book end of the night was driving home, only to look up and see the most incredible display of Northern Lights. The whole sky was illuminated by the dancing green and blue Aurora. Could there be a more perfect end to a great night with great friends, awesome entertainment and the best dining experience you can have in south east Saskatchewan? I think not. And, I will certainly be back!