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Grad: Shawna

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It’s a super cool experience taking grad photos for people you’ve known since they were little. Shawna is one of those such people for me. It’s hard to believe she’s graduating! The time has gone by far too fast!

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This photo below here is Shawna beside a tree she planted on the first day of Kindergarten! How fitting to have a photo beside it when she graduated!

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All the best & God bless, Shawna! You’re going to go far!

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Bull Sale

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Every year the Frey family has their Bull Sale. It’s a wonderful family tradition. I was able to attend this year and did a little bit of event photography for them. It was a very difficult sale as Melissa Frey’s father Tommy just passed away literally the night before. As a result there was a very somber mood to the sale that is characteristically upbeat. Everyone carried on and made it through but it was tough.

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The sale invites buyers to come to the farm and take a look at the bulls and the heifers. This year they had video footage of the stock and played the videos on a television screen during the auction sale so that you don’t have to get the animals riled up walking through a show ring.  It makes for a much better experience all round.

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As you can tell from the photos, Freyburn Farms raise Black Angus cattle. The Angus association has done a wonderful job promoting the breed, especially for meat. You can go into many chain restaurants and in the menus they will often boldly say “Black Angus Steak!” They are a very biddable breed and generally good to manage.

It’s really fun to attend the sale. It’s a very family friendly atmosphere and the Frey’s are exceedingly welcoming and gracious hosts. If you like pie, it is the place to be!

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I was doing a two camera setup for this shoot. FujiFilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm and my Nikon Df with a 16-35mm. I have always found a super wide angle to be very helpful in event photography and the Fuji system kept the system light and mobile on the telephoto end.

All in all it was a really great sale, despite having to deal with very tough family circumstances. Coming together as family and friends and enduring the challenges in the hard times is what gives prairie people their true grit.

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My Bleeding Heart

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I haven’t been shooting much Macro Photography as of late. And there is no greater bang for your photo buck than a macro lens. It is super versatile! But I do really like it as a genre. I find it very relaxing (in a Shaolin Monk balancing on one finger kind of way). It’s a very precise art form.  It varies considerably from taking photos of people. There is a similarity in the patience and preparation needed to get a great shot. My Mom gave us a bleeding heart plant and we put it in our front garden. Every year it comes back and blooms these beautiful little flowers. I’ve been meaning to photograph it for a few years now and never got around to it. So last night I went for broke and got these two shots I was happy with.

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Here’s a behind the scenes iPhone photo of how I made the images. I was using a speed light in an orbis ring flash for the main light. For a kicker on the top image I used an OLight S1 Baton. That little extra bit of light really adds to the 3D quality of the image. The bottom image was just the orbis from above instead of on axis to give the shot a more “studio” quality light feel.

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The RedBarn & Family

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We went up to the Red Barn north of Kenosee Lake a couple of Sundays ago. It’s quite the place. They have live entertainment, a market with all kinds of sellers and crafts and all around fun atmosphere. We checked it out for a while and used the opportunity to test out my 23mm f2 WR lens from Fuji.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, it’s a stellar lens. Not too wide and not too close, that 35mm on full frame is nearly a perfect lens for human group life.

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It allows you get a cool perspective on life. If you back up, you get more. If you get closer, you get more.

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From the Barn we went into Kenosee lake park. I wanted to take some maternity pics of my wife before she had the baby. (This is the ideal way to do maternity photos. lol). For the maternity shoot I relied upon my 50mm Fuji lens.  It’s a really sweet stunner at an oddish 76mm full frame equivalent. Not many lenses were made at that focal length which adds to the unique feel of the images it produces.

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We went to the beach and let the kids splash and play a bit and I captured a few more candids using all the “FujiCrons”.

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We finished out our time at Kenosee by capturing a few more family pictures by the chalet. It’s such an incredible building and asset to the park! I shot a lot in ACROS film simulation which I LOVE. I have no problem ditching Fuji’s amazing colour for Black and White when using ACROS. I know I could shoot RAW and have it all but I love the Fuji JPEGs so much that I don’t even bother. There is something magical about ACROS!

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Water Fun at 23mm

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Well I finally completed my collection of Fuji Lenses. I got the last of the “FujiCron” series – Fuji’s f2 WR lenses. The first was the 35mm (50mm full frame equivalent) which I took to Vegas. Then I got the 50mm (76mmFF) which gets me back to my preferred focal length neighbourhood of gateway telephoto. And finally, I sold my XE2 & 18-55 setup and bought the 23mm (35FF).  This whole series of lenses is super fantastic. They are sharp and optically sweet even wide open and above everything else, they are compact. I can carry the XPro2, the 3 lenses, spare batteries and more in a small Domke bag. It’s an ideal travel setup.

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I really like the 23mm/35mm focal length. It’s a really versatile way to view the world. I find it superb for environmental portraits. It shows just enough background with emphasis on the subject.

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The other night we had our Souris Moose Creek Adventure Club night kayaking and canoeing along the Souris river. I threw the off camera flash bag in as well and waited for the sun to dip a bit. I had with my favourite flash of choice: LumoPro LP180. If Tony Stark invented a flash, it would be this one. It’s all manual for ultimate control. And thrown through an umbrella up close it does a great job.

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I was shooting the XPro2 in Astia and Classic Chrome simulations. It kind of made for a cool colour contrast along the water.

All in all I can’t recommend the “FujiCrons” enough. I really love using them and they always do a fabulous job. One of the images in this post is an iPhone 7 photo. See if you can spot which one it is!


Lighting for Lent

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First of all, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! A blessed Easter season to everyone! As is my tradition, every year I give up shaving for Lent. My Lenten beard is both legendary as well as epic (LOL). I also usually try to do a collection of beards as I shave the beard off, taking some photos as I go as a joke.

My setup was in the garage. I had my ratty grey backdrop and 3 speed lights to do these photos. The background light was a LumoPro 180 gelled with 2 cuts of various colours. The kicker light was my SB-900 (which has a broken locking mechanism -BOO!) also gelled. And the key was another LumoPro 180 gelled 1/2 CTO in a gridded softbox. Everything was triggered with one Phottix Ares trigger, the other two flashes on slave mode.

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This shot was just the softbox alone. Very moody light with deep shadows. The grid helps focus the light in one area.

20180331-LentBeards-228This next shot (which will be my avatar for 2018) is using the three light setup. 2 cuts of drama blue on the background. 2 cuts of CTO for the kicker. 1/2 CTO in the softbox. I held a reflector out front for some fill & sunglass highlights.

20180331-LentBeards-342The final shot was basically the same, I simply changed the gels and moved the background light in closer to the background for quicker fall off.

It’s a really simple and effective way to do a headshot. The real special sauce though was using the XPRO2 and the 50mm WR lens – basically a 76mm equivalent. It’s an excellent length for headshots and very versatile. The best part though was being able to control the camera from my cellphone app. That’s awesome. I could focus the camera and take the photo super easy. Makes such tasks really fast. And, because you can see the image as you are making it, it means very little editing. Like maybe a vignette. Thats it. It’s soooo efficient.  Love Fuji!

As the weather (hopefully) will be warming up soon, I’ll have more frequent blog posts. Have a wonderful Easter season and see you soon!


Viva Las Vegas!

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Back in early December we took a family trip to Las Vegas. It was my in-laws’ 40th wedding anniversary and we commemorated the milestone by spending a few days in the wild metropolis of Las Vegas. It was an awesome trip!

Photographically it was the first chance I had to really concentrate on the X-Pro2. It never left my side and I shot it all day everyday. I brought the 18-55 “kit” lens (which, despite my lack of liking zooms, is a really versatile travel lens) and the 35mm. That’s it. Everything fit in a pocket. I didn’t carry around my bag at all. Couple of extra batteries and away you go. I really didn’t miss a full frame camera for other than a few instances in the dark where perhaps it would have been advantageous. I love that people don’t take you seriously when you shoot the X-Pro2. I shot photos inside the casinos and nobody once questioned me or harassed me because it didn’t look like a giant “professional” DSLR.  That’s sweet. You can shoot incognito all day long.  Also on this trip I concentrated on shooting street photography – a genre I have zero experience with as we don’t really have “street” in the small town I live in. It was a metric tonne of fun looking for light, colour and gesture on the streets.

Also, we took a day trip to the Grand Canyon which was really exciting. Most notably, my youngest sister in law got engaged at the Hoover Dam! It really made the trip 17% better! 😉

The kit lens was on the camera pretty much the whole time at the Grand Canyon giving the versatility of pretty wide to modest telephoto. I was very happy with the results of the photos when I got home and had the chance to look at them on the big screen. Of the 1554 shots I took, here’s around 70.  Cheers!


Merry Christmas!

From me and my family to you and yours, have the most wonderful Christmas & all the best in 2018!


Intro to Trapping & Skinning

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Our SMCAC (Souris Moose Creek Adventure Club) recently did an Intro to Trapping & Skinning event.  It goes without saying that trapping fur bearing game is no longer a popular activity. In fact, it is looked down upon and even chastised by the politically-correct cesspool society we now live in.  But nothing can change the fact that the nation of Canada was created by the fur trade. It’s a Canadian tradition and is something that should be upheld, not only for nostalgic and historical reasons but also as a humane way of managing wildlife populations – a responsibility that has fallen to all of mankind.

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Our event introduced young and older alike to the art of trapping and skinning. The day began with a racoon skinning demonstration by Trent Lyon, and a discussion of various traps and techniques.

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The participants then had their chance to try skinning a muskrat. The kids dove right into the challenge! (Though many of the adults weren’t so keen!)

After the skinning portion, we all went out to an abandoned farm to observe an actual racoon trapline. Many racoons often will inhabit an old farm house as it provides great shelter for them, additionally so if there are grain bins nearby that have a ready supply of winter vittles!

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Photographically, it was FujiFilm X-Pro 2 all day long with the 35mm f/2 WR lens.  Having it all be totally weather sealed is the only way to go for our harsh Canadian climate. These JPEGs are all from camera with very little post production editing. Provia film simulation for that great Fuji colour. 😎

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2 Horse Open Sleigh

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When chuck wagon racing season is over and winter rolls around… your life gets 17% more fun! We had a blast today going out with Ross & Lee for a 2 Horse Open Sleigh ride! What made it even more fun was tying on some sleds to pull the kids behind. They had an absolute riot! The weather was really perfect for the ride, no wind and a reasonable winter temperature, if slightly below normal.

I threw in the X-PRO2 (which hasn’t left my hands since I got it) with the 35mm f/2 and decided to shoot straight up Provia film simulation. You know, for a simple colour JPEG, it really rocks. Every time I look at the photos, the Fuji just nails colour. Little nuances of colour. Big bold colour. Colour of any kind, Fuji wins. The redness of the cold cheeks, the fluorescent yellow, the skin tones… bang on. I love the look of standard Provia!

I have been shooting ACROS since I got the X-PRO2 and I LOVE it big time. But even converting a Provia JPEG to black and white works. The X-Trans has oodles of dynamic range even in the JPEG. I shot this one of Ross with a backlit sky and then pushed the levels and upped the clarity in Lightroom. It makes a for a cool gritty portrait.

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These colour Provia shots have basically no editing other than resize for web. All shot auto white balance. To my eye, the colours rock the set. I’m always blown away with how great the files look straight out of camera. They are contrasty, colourful and have a metric tonne of pop! In camera settings were H Tone -1, S Tone -1, Colour 0, Sharp +1. That’s it! The last tree shot did have some colour tweaks to bring out the sky and see how far I could push a JPEG. But I’m still over the moon about the X-PRO2! It’s an amazing camera with incredible results!