Light is Everything!

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The Rink

The good ol’ skatin’ rink! There are not many more iconic small town venues. We had the extended family down for a couple days and took part in the public skating. Our rink upgraded their lighting from horrid barf green sodium vapour to glorious LEDs which is awesome x 100000000. However, I still shot black and white in a street photography style because I like it. Before, you used to have to shoot B&W to get rid of the putrid lighting. But now, we have the freedom to do it for fun! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

I shot this all with the FujiFilm XPro2 and the beloved 35mm f/2 lens. I shot JPEGs and locked them into my ultra contrasty black and white TRI-X film simulation. Here’s the settings:

I did cheat and shoot a bit of colour for the baby and the water tower which was bathed in glorious golden light. But that’s our little secret! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Wishing all my clients, friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2020!

Forย unto you is born this day inย the city of David ย a Savior, who isย Christย the Lord!

Luke 2:11


Sunset

Just a couple of quick sunset pics tonight with the Fuji XPro-2 and the 90mm f2. I dig the super saturated Velvia look in bleak winter! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Of Backups and Archives

I remember back when I got my Nikon D800 DSLR camera. 36MP. THIRTY-SIX! Enormous! YUGE FILES! Now we have cell phone cameras with more resolution. LOL The more resolution the better, right?! From a quality perspective, perhaps. But from a storage perspective, this massive amount of Data Hoarding has become a nightmare to manage. Let me explain.

In the digital world, we have many enemies to our data. The number 1 is storage media failure (ex: hard drive dies). People don’t seem to understand that it is a matter of “when” not “if.” Mechanical hard drives will all die eventually and we don’t know when. 5-10 years? 1-2? Hard to say. Even with premium drives, they still all die. So people have devised that backing up the data is essential. This has led to the 3-2-1 principle that states 1 is none, 2 is one and 3 is two, meaning that unless you have 3 copies of your data, it doesn’t exist digitally. All people should follow this practice. However, when you start managing Terabytes of data, this management gets more and more expensive. But the priceless family memories are … priceless! So what do we do for ourselves and our photography clients?

We start doing the math on storage cost per Terabyte. Hard drives are by far the cheapest means of backup. Here’s a quick list of Nov. 2019 CDN pricing on Amazon for 7200 RPM drives:

The sweet spot is either 2TB or 8TB drives in cost per TB, although they are all pretty close. So that’s easy then. Just buy the size of drives you need x 3 and be done with it. This works best for a backup (redundancy) solution. The only hang up is, these drives, when placed into cold storage (ex: in a box in your closet or fire safe) are still susceptible to failure both mechanically with the drive mechanisms (they are best used spinning not sitting) and also magnetic degradation (the platter the data is stored on degrades over time resulting in data loss). So this is not ideal either. What options are left for the archive solution?

You can go with a cloud solution and/or with an optical media solution. Services like Amazon S3 Glacier are now more affordable than ever (like $0.0018ย per GB for their Deep/Archival solution [$1.80 per month per TB]). You have the advantage of your data being protected against our other enemies: physical theft and physical destruction by catastrophe like fire or flood. But, someone else also has access to your data in the cloud. It is more susceptible to digital theft as hackers can also steal it, despite locked down and secure systems. And, you have the added time/cost of the bandwidth to upload all your files.

So that leaves us with the final solution for archiving data. Optical Discs. Word on the street is that archival quality DVDs are the best in longterm cold storage options. However, at only 4.7GB per disc, it becomes unfeasible for archiving lots of data. One TB saved on DVD would take ~213 discs and cost a whopping $490 dollars!

This is where archiving to Blu-Ray becomes the only practical option in my mind. For shelf-life, the M-Disc option is being promoted as King by lasting 1000 years! Chances are none of us will be around to verify that claim! Blu-Ray manufacturers claim that these discs could/should last 100-150 years. Not too shabby. This means that under ideal storage circumstances, your data should be safe 10-15x longer than on hard drives alone.

I’m thinking that the Blu-Ray option for archiving will be the way to go. The advantages outweigh the cons. Stick them in a fire safe at home or in a safety deposit box and Bob is your dad’s brother. Massive data centre entities like Amazon & Facebook have gone this route. Many will say that optical media is a dying medium. While it may be less popular/convenient than other methods of handling data such as a RAID or NAS, for archiving I’m leaning heavily to going with this option for a long-term, data archiving option. It’s about an $18 per TB premium over buying more hard drives and still cheaper than the $21.60 for an Amazon deep glacier cloud service (per TB, per year).

To wrap this up, using Blu-Ray as the third member of the 3 fold Data-Safe Strategy is a good way to go. It’s a bit more costly per TB than hard-drives, but offers far greater longevity, making them cheaper by the year. With digital assets, nothing is fool proof. But this strategy will go a long way to keeping your data safe and accessible for years to come. Kick Murphy our of your digital life! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Claybank in Black & White

I love Black & White photography. I also love colour. But every once in a while, B&W is the way to go. The family was recently out at Claybank, Saskatchewan the site of an old brick factory that has since been converted into a museum/heritage site. The textures of this place scream Black & White! So, I shot that way with my trusty XPro-2 and the good ol’ 23mm lens. This is a build your own film simulation setting that seeks to mimic an old Tri-X film from back in the day. Really punchy, really contrasty. I added a bit of grit/clarity in post to make the images more crunchy. It’s a cool way to use light and make memories. ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Grad 2019

Time for a long overdue High School Grad blog update! I love shooting grads, it’s probably my favourite genre photographically. It incorporates such a variety of styles from headshots to detail shots to environmental portraiture to off camera flash to natural light, the whole gambit. And, 99.99999% of the time, the grads actually want their photos taken. So they cooperate! ๐Ÿ˜Ž This goes a loooooong way to making awesome lasting memories for the client. This gallery has a few of my fav images from this past grad season.


Spruce Woods, MB – A Photo Essay at 35mm

Our Family took an extended May Long Weekend to go to Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba. It just so happened to be only 2.5 hours from where we live so no big deal, even with the near 1 year old baby in tow. I brought along my Fuji Film XPro-2 and all three “Fuji Cron” lenses (23, 35, 50 ~ 35, 50, 76). But I shot the whole trip with only the 23mm (35mm) lens. Mainly because I am used to that focal length from my X100s fixed lens camera. But also because I believe that 35mm is the most versatile focal length for travel photography.

What makes Spruce Woods awesome is that it is a gorgeous sandy desert . . . that happens to have an incredible forest of Spruce, Aspen and Juniper trees growing out of it! As I surveyed the landscape, I was bombarded with “How can this place exist?” It seems like a twilight zone time warp walking around there! We took a Belgian horse drawn wagon tour which was really neat and then did some hiking the next day around the dunes. The two main natural attractions are the dunes and the little spring fed lake called “The Devil’s Punchbowl.” But the whole place truly is something to see.

Back to the Fuji kit. The XPro2 is my fav camera of all time. So compact and versatile in and of itself and when coupled with the little 23mm lens offers a perfect mix of portability and capability. I shot primarily in JPG as I always do with Fuji because the files are THAT good. I switched to RAW for a couple shots where I wanted extended dynamic range if I wanted to make a print later. But the JPGs are so brilliant I usually only shoot that format. There’s quite a bit of latitude for editing even the JPGs but I nearly never have to do anything to the files. They come out of camera so, so sweet. Colours are amazing. Detail is crisp and clear. What’s not to love?

So 35mm. It’s truly a versatile place to live when shooting travel (especially with kids in tow). It’s a ‘pretty wide’ way to the view the world without being toooooo wide, although if you were going for straight landscapes you’d want to be wider perhaps. I’d highly recommend this one lens/one focal length approach for your next trip. See what the restriction brings! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Wild Turkeys

We’ve been super fortunate to have this pack of wild turkeys hanging out at our place. They come right into the yard, struttin’ their stuff. They’ve been around for quite a few years but this year they have been really quite prevalent. It made for some sweet photo ops early this morning. I took some shots through window glass and then stalked them out into the back prairie. I was able to get within 10-15′ of the birds which was pretty sweet. ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Spring hath Sprung!

The Crocuses have once again returned to the prairies. I saw the most perfect one ever today out back on the prairie and I went back to get a couple macro shots.

Here is the hi-tech lighting setup. Full noon day sun through a reflector scrim. Really nice wrapping and soft light. Nikon D800 with the 105mm macro lens.

1:1 Crop

They truly are a magnificent aspect of prairie life! ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Sundog Fundog!

Hey! When winter time rolls around, my cameras basically never see the light of day. If they get any use, it’s all indoors. I’ve got some posts coming up about indoor macro work I have been doing but in terms of getting outside, forgetaboutit! It’s way too cold and miserable for me to mess around with gear.

That said, I couldn’t help myself yesterday. There were the most incredible sundogs I’ve ever seen! It was -50 BillionยบC but I ran out with the D800 and 16-35mm f/4 lens. There was this “double rainbow” sundog that I’ve never encountered up above the complete ring around the sun. It was worth freezing my baguettes off! ๐Ÿคฃ


They were impressive enough in the landscape orientation but even with 16mm I couldn’t get in that top reflection so portrait orientation won the day! โ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿถ


Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my clients, friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a wonderfully photo-filled 2019! All of God’s richest blessings! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ˜Ž

๐Ÿ‘‰  Photo Credit to Tatum Duryba of Paper Moon Photography. 


X-Pro2 50mm Window Light

So my newborn is like 5 months old. Where did that go?!! And, because she is the 4th child, I basically have no photos of her. LOL. The first kid always has 50 billion photos and the subsequent kids grow up to think that nobody loves them! ๐Ÿคฃ But rest assured baby number 4, we do love thee!

I grabbed the Fuji X-Pro2 and the trusty 50mm f/2 lens and took some candids in the window light. ย All of these photos are completely unedited, other than the resize for the blog. Fuji absolutely nails skin tones. Every. Single. Time.

I shot all of these images in JPEG and used the various film simulation modes. The warmer ones were Astia and the cooler ones are Classic Chrome. I think the warmth of Astia is a little bit nice for a baby especially one as doughy as my Esther. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I was having some weird focusing issues with the 50mm earlier in the year. It seemed to back focus quite a bit/randomly. I was happy to see that this shoot seemed to nail focus pretty good, yielding some super sharp results at 100% crop. The Fuji face/eye detect setting works surprisingly well and is no gimmick. I’ll be using that setup forever when shooting this lens wide open.

FujiFilm 50mm f/2 at 100% ~ ISO 800 f2.2 1/200

The other thing I love to death about the film simulation modes is ACROS. This yields such glorious black and white images it’s scary. To think that you can get this kind of look in camera with no extra editing? It’s just awesome. I’ve always been a huge fan of ACROS and the really nice “filmic” type grain it has. I setup my Q menu settings with NR -2, Across with a Yellow filter (makes skin glow a bit), Highlight & Shadow Tone -1 and Sharp +1. It seems to yield pretty nice results.

For another look at the various filter effects with ACROS, look at this page.ย It has some really good side by side comparison. The green filter would be better for character portraits to flatten out the skin a bit. But for doughy babies, yellow is where it’s at! ๐Ÿ˜Ž ย 


Macro Snow

So we had some really neat chunky snow flakes the other day. I ran out early in the morning and nabbed a few macro photos while the wind was low. The trusty 105mm Nikkor and the stalwart Nikon D800 were the weapons of choice for this hunt – maximum resolution and resolving power! 

It’s incredible to see the intricacies of frozen water up close like this. I have included a square cropped image here of the larger picture to see more of the detail. 

It’s pretty wild stuff to see!

The “ball” images above here are frozen chokecherries. They are almost the same image, the only difference is lighting. On the darker blue image I lit the chokecherry with a flashlight in close  and feathered a bit to give the image some shape and specular highlights – which we didn’t get with the flat cloudy ambient light. #Sparkle ๐Ÿคฉ

In this block of images you can see the crops of the above. The creative genius of God on display for our viewing pleasure! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ™


Hallowiener

Every year on Halloween (Or, Reformation Day if you’re really cool), we host the “Hallowiener” at our house. Basically, we sell hotdogs and drink and give all the money to charity. Our neighbourhood comes together and donates all the food so that every dollar we raise goes to the cause. This year, we were very happy to help out our local health centre in their project to buy a new HandiVan. Our one night spooktacular event raised $1073.00 and we sold 160 hotdogs! We had several great donations to the cause that we are super thankful for. Here’s a couple of snapshots really from the event. All with the FujiFilm X-PRO2 and the 23mm f/2 lens. I was cooking hotdogs all night so I didn’t really have time to take many photos. ๐Ÿ˜‚ The halloween pumpkin shot at the top of the page was light with the candle inside the Jack O Lantern and a little handheld pocket flashlight (the S1 mini Baton from OLight) feathered just enough to add some shape. That little flashlight never leaves my pocket, I carry it everyday. It’s the most useful item ever. Highly recommend it! ๐Ÿ˜Ž HallowienerCash-1 And I was able to make the presentation to the HandiVan project board today at the hospital. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘

Shooting Cameras

This is just a quick blog post showing how I was shooting some macro shots of my favourite cameras this evening.

This behind the scenes iPhone shot shows the exceedingly crude setup. Main light is an AlienBee 1600 through a gridded Photoflex soft box. I setup my home made scrim as a big reflector and did a simple blue gelled flash pointed at the back wall to give a bit of colour. Very simple setup with a decent result. 

I also shot the good ol’ Nikon Df with an old 28mm manual focus lens from 19 diggity 5. I took more of a macro approach with this shot and used that same blue flash to add that hint of glancing colour to the shadow side. The blue sets it off just that extra little bit. 

I shot the same kind of angle of the X-Pro2 but it doesn’t work as well to me. The X-Pro2 is more minimalistic in its design, lending to a more covert external appearance anyways (which I like). There’s just not as much going on for the accent light to bring attention too. Anyways, just a fun little shoot for something to do. 

Here’s a link to the Nikon photoย in 4K resolution. I shot all these files with the Nikon D800 RAW so there’s resolution to burn. ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘


Unfocused

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I was out for a little nature walk the other day. I took the D800 and my 105mm Nikkor macro lens which I haven’t shot in a long time. With macro, you need a good tripod to be locked down tight. And, you need cooperative subjects (read: not windy) that stay still. But this particular day I didn’t bring a tripod. In fact, I didn’t even focus. On purpose.ย With most macro and landscape photography, you want hyperfocal focus and even focus stacking to get a big, crisp, tack sharp photo as the end result. But what would happen if you did nature photography out of focus??

It creates a pretty wild, abstract, bokehlicious result! Give it a whirl! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‘


Anatomy of an Auction Sale

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On Saturday August 4 and Sunday August 5th the “Auction of the Century” was held at the Gervais family farm at Alida, SK. I had the gracious invite to come out early and take some photos of the immense collection of Saskatchewan history that was going up for sale. You can check out the Mac Auction site for the sale that includes the complete list of items that were for sale. Words fail 100% at trying to describe the enormity of this collection. It was the lifetime work and passion of Alex Gervais. You can read more in this CBC news article. To say this auction was mind blowing in every conceivable way is a gross understatement!

I went up to check out the sale and took along the FujiFilm XPro-2 with the 23mm f/2 lens. One camera. One lens. One epic location. ย I primarily shot with my Tri-X film simulation configuration. It’s a very contrasty black and white which helped set the mood for this series of photographs. There was some colour provided also, generally in the Classic Chrome and a few Velvia simulations.

The extreme versatility of the 23mm (35mm full frame) makes it a nearly perfect travel/event lens. It’s pretty fast at f/2. You can get pretty close with it for faux-macro work and yet it’s still fairly wide-ish for the landscape aspect.

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And, it’s so, so compact. The more I shoot with my Fuji system the harder it is to return to full frame Nikon setup. I still really like my full frame stuff, but it gets tiresome to lug around all the equipment. The Fuji system makes for a very lightweight, out-of-the-way feeling kit.

I chose to move in and get more detailed/segments of the sale items. This perspective lens a more familiar feel to the images as opposed to a zoomed out/all in aspect that is captured in the sale images. To me it speaks more of Alex’s personal connection to the collection. The vintage vehicles were unbelievable and were in amazing condition for their age. They made for such cool and uncommon photo subjects.ย ย The breadth and variety of the Gervais collection was truly staggering.

The detail and character of the vehicles can’t be over stated enough. You could spend hours and hours just staring at the history that was before you!

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I regret that I couldn’t be at the actual sale itself. It was the same weekend that my Sister in Law was getting married. I couldn’t really skip out on that as I was officiating the service! ๐Ÿคฃ But the family told me there were thousands and thousands of people that came to partake of this once in a lifetime sale. I was very happy to have been able to capture a bit of the collection for myself in these images.

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The New Arrival

Well at long last I’m finally putting up a blog entry about our latest baby! Esther came into our lives as an unexpected surprise and we couldn’t be happier. She’s such a wonderful baby with all the bells and whistles of sleeping amazingly through the night and not being fussy at all. We’ve been over the moon getting back into baby mode since the end of June. All of our other kids were fairly close together which, in hindsight, was tricky because you had to keep toddlers alive whilst having a newborn! This time round, we’ve got lots of big kids to change diapers and truly help out. Esther is probably the easiest baby we’ve had because of that! ๐Ÿ˜Žย 

So for the birth announcement we did a couple of shoots. The first one was the soft newborn baby kind of shoot that everybody likes. The only problem was that Esther was 10 days overdue and more active/alert than most sleepy newborns. We managed to nab a shot that we eventually went with for the announcement.ย 

This was shot on a bean bag chair with some extra blankets to support her, all on top of a big ultra soft blanket that went back to a stand to make it look like a seamless type setup. It was light with a huge 60″ soft lighter to make it really soft and wrapping like north facing window light. It was shot with a FujiFilm XPro2 with a 50mm f/2 lens in an Astia film simulation (I think).

I also did another shoot on a white seamless setup as well with the fascinator and frilly dress. It was soooo over the top but she smiled so cute. This photo nearly made the cut for the announcement but in the end we went with the other.ย 

One winning setup for a siblings shot is just to put them all on the floor like we did here. That way they are all in the shot and (hopefully) looking the same direction. Again I lit them all with that same big soft lighter and an Alienbee 1600. It’s got lots of big light volume for a nice even wash of light. The sibling groups were also shot with the FujiFilm XPro2 with the 23mm lens, all JPEG. The skin tones from the Fuji colour are superb!ย 

Well, needless to say I’ve been quite busy with family and work but I’m happy to get this blog post up. Thanks for tuning in! More to come… ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Senior: Ethan

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I had the wonderful opportunity to shoot a good friend of mine’s son who is going into his senior year. Susan Hill ,ย who relocated to Michigan, had her boy Ethan up in Saskatchewan visiting family and requested a sunset shoot. Our weather didn’t pan out for days but as they say, third time is a charm and it worked out. We tried to get him some photos that were uniquely Saskatchewan in context. This meant lots of environmental portraits to me.

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Thankfully the Canola was in full bloom and we were able to shoot a bunch with the glorious golden backdrop. What’s more Saskatchewan than a Canola field!?

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For the uniquely sunset part of the shoot, we tried some shots down at the Alameda Dam. Water is always a winner at Sunset. But seeings how Ethan now lives on the shores of Lake Superior, it was kind of a gaff on my part! We probably should have stuck more to the dirt roads than the water. But it made for some pretty cool shots nonetheless and I was glad we could get some Canadian shots for my exPat friends!


Grad: Janissa

We just about didn’t survive this grad shoot! First of all we were attacked by a relentless army of mosquitos. Poor Janissa was eaten alive from head to toe which translated into a metric tonne of editing. Then our weather turned absolutely heinous. We had to take refuge inside nearby Trinity Lutheran country church and we were stuck there for a good 45 minutes as torrential rain poured down. But the results were well worth it and our Living Skies didn’t disappoint!

Janissa is a pretty hardcore athlete and she brought along some pretty sweet gear to get pictures with. I tried to match the lighting to the concept of athleticism which in this case was a simple one light solution with hard light for deep shadows. Soft wrapping light wouldn’t have matched the mood of the photo.

To end wrap up our shoot Janissa’s mom had asked for a studio type low key shot on a black background. From the safety of the church I was able to make this photo using a gridded soft box. The final specs on this shot were ISO 100 f/11 1/200s using a Nikon Df and 85mm f/1.8 lens. The closeness of the light to the subject made for quick light fall off and allowed me to kill off all other ambient in the room. Thanks for being such a trooper Janissa & all the best in the future! ๐Ÿ™‚


Grad: Justin

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Justin is the third member of his family that I’ve shot grad pics for. It’s a real privilege to come back to a family year after year! This shoot just about didn’t happen with impending birth of our 4th child, but everything finally came together! We even got the dog to cooperate! ๐Ÿ™‚

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This shot is an example of High Speed Sync. I was using a Nikon SB-900 flash through an umbrella. It adds just a smidgeon of catch lights and soft light and maintains the creamy bokehlicious background. Final specs on this shot were ISO 100 f/2.5 1/1000s shot on a Nikon Df with an 85mm 1.8G lens.

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We got to make some pretty cool grad pics with Justin and I will be forever jealous of his hair. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Grad: Morgan

What happens when you mix hockey, baseball and gorgeous grad dress? Enter: Morgan!

For Morgan we did lots of the “nice” grad photos that Grandma wants to see. But then, we also hammered out some pretty cool athletic styled shots as well. We did some cool blue rim lights to compliment the blue dress and the orange bat. It really spiced up a traditional Grad shoot. I shot these with a 3 light setup. Two LumoPro LP180 flashes gelled blue for the rims and an Alien Bee 1600 through a Photoflex gridded softbox for the key. Despite the cloud cover, there was major ambient light to overcome. The final camera settings were ISO 100 f/13 1/200! To light everything up to f/13 through a modifier takes major watt seconds.

All in all we had a great time and captured a pretty good variety of photos! Thanks again and all the best to Morgan in the future!


Grad: Amy

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Whenever you get to shoot a dancer, your day improves by at least 17%! They always have a keen sense of motion and shape which for photographers is a super blessing. Most people are unnatural in front of a camera. They are either uncharacteristically stiff or fake smiling. Dancers though have this 6th sense which makes the usual go far, far away.

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We were able to do quite a few dance shots in unconventional places. This shot was lit with a speed light in simple white shoot through umbrella boomed overhead.

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It was back to my favourite blue wall to get this shot. Amy was super full of life which made this shoot a lot of fun. All the best, Amy! You are going places!


Grad: Hannah

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I had a wonderful grad shoot with Hannah! She’s full of character and gave lots of creative energy to the session. It was another beautiful day for a shoot.

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This blue wall is really cool. It provides a fun backdrop for some off the wall shots!

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We ended the shoot back at the farm with some horse photos. The aptly named “Boo” was Hannah’s baby and he really put on a show for us too! What a smile!

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Thanks for the good times and great shots Hannah!