Light is Everything!

Family Photos

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. Β 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. Β 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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Pro Neg Std.

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Another one of Fuji’s film simulations is the Pro Neg Std. This setting is described as being for portraits with soft gradations and skin tones. The Hi version of my last blog post has a bit more of a contrasty look. This article on Fuji vs. Fuji does a great job of comparing all the simulation modes. But suffice it to say, the skin tone rendering is really, really pleasing in both the Hi and Std. modes. Just look at these kids. They look at least 17% better shot with Fuji. LOL. I do want to do a side by side comparison to my Nikons and see how the JPEGs compare. I never shoot Nikon JPEGs so I really don’t know if there is much difference. I’ll check it out inΒ a future blog post.

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I shot these Black & White images in the Monochrome setting with a yellow filter. It gives little extra to the skin tonality I think.


8

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Mine baby is 8 years old today! That’s insane & unbelievable. It seems like just yesterday we were going to the hospital to have her. She’s the sweetest, most caring and compassionate person I have ever met. And she’s ridiculously cute!

I busted out the ol’ photo mill (Nikon Df, 50mm & 85mm 1.8G) for some birthday pics. We used 1 light (Nikon SB-900 flash triggered by a SU-800 commander) with 3 different modifiers used in 4 different ways.

The first setup was the good old shoot through umbrella. It produces winning light all the time. It’s soft. It’s directional. It’s fool proof, quick goto lighting. It’s also pretty boring. Good thing Phoebe is cute. I said that already though. 😎

Next, was a small soft box. The LumiQuest Softbox III to be specific. It introduces more shadow tonality. A bit more depth and interest to the shots. It’s pretty cool light, especially when used in close to the subject.

Then it was a Honl grid. Deep shadows. Much more intrigue and edginess, almost teenaged light. But she’s only 8 so we had to back it off and bring the shadows up a notch.

So viola! We went back to the umbrella but this time I bounced the light off the white ceiling and back down through the umbrella that she was holding as a prop. It gives a double defused ultra soft giant look to the light. Shadows are very, very soft and silky smooth.

 


Merry Christmas!

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We took our 2015 Christmas Card photo at Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan at a really cool destination called Conglomerate Cliffs. You can’t tell from the photo but there was a 500 billion mph wind the day we took this. The way the cliffs are we were able to get some wind protection. I had along with me my Alien Bee 1600, Vagabond Mini pack and a medium Photoflex litedome for the modifier. We lucked out and still caught some of the glorious fall colour that was still around in October. So from my family to you & yours, have aΒ Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

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Cypress Hills

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Hello blogosphere! Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dead! I’m alive. Busy but alive. The days are just packed! (That’s an old Calvin & Hobbes comic book that I still have on my shelf). Between church life, family life, Estate executor life and professional photography life, I haven’t had time to have a blog life! Better late than never!

We took an amazing family get away in the first part of October to Cypress Hills and stayed at the Resort. We rented cabins which were perfect for us, two bedrooms, kitchenette, beautiful setting. We had the run of the place as there weren’t any other people booked in. The temperatures were crisp in the evening and a bit windy but the days were glorious. Sunny & warm! We had such a blast. Grandma & Grandpa got to hang out with the grandkids, we all got to go on some beautiful hikes and of course, take pictures!

For this trip I brought my full Nikon setup. Usually I’ve replaced the whole kit with my Fuji X100s for family trips because of the versatility, small size and awesome image quality. But for this trip, I wanted to shoot the forest in full frame with my D800. Also I knew I’d be doing some family portraits that showed the glorious fall colour that was still there (Thank the Lord!). So I brought out the dynamic range duo of the D800 & the Df. It’s the best of both worlds for low light performance and resolution.

We went to Conglomerate Cliffs the first day there. It was incredibly windy but still breathtakingly beautiful. I shot some family photos there with flash. I brought along my Alien Bee 1600 and battery pack. It’s such a great light. Super value for the money and I love the volume of light it produces. Quick Photoflex soft box and there you go. Instant Christmas Card photo magic.

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We also had some fun doing light painting with the kids and their glow sticks. They had fun whirling them around and seeing the cool streams of colour.

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Cypress Hills also has a dark sky preserve with an observatory. We had a decent night but the clouds were rolling in. Were able to nab some northern lights though, and I think I caught a falling star too.

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All in all it was a fantastic trip. I cannot recommend Cypress Hills enough. If you’ve never been, you’ve gotta go check it out. It’s provincial treasure! 😎


Crooked Bush

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What a whirlwind tour this last little bit of time has been for us. We were up to Edmonton for a friend’s wedding that I also ended up doing some pictures for. Then on the way back we had to stop at one of Saskatchewan’s craziest spots: The Crooked Bush. Β We had heard about it in a tourism book and we decided that it was worth the stop. So we detoured at North Battleford on our return journey and navigated to this crazy little plot of trees. It’s literally just that. A strange little aspen wood plot in the middle of nowhere. The bluff of trees right beside it are straight and normal. But these trees are totally gnarly and wild looking! Such a cool place to stop and check out. Β Nobody knows for sure why this little grove of trees are so crooked. Some have speculated a genetic defect in the trees, other say a UFO crashed there. Others still say that a lawyer is buried there. Ha! πŸ˜€

20150519-CrookedBush-007 20150519-CrookedBush-008 20150519-CrookedBush-006Now because we had been shooting the wedding, I had all my big lighting gear with me. So we took a few shots of the kids. It was very dramatic light that day so we played with it a bit and turned out some pretty cool keepsake images in a really cool place! If you are ever up there near Hafford, SK, be sure to check out the crooked bush!


Wringing out the last bit o’ fall colour…

Family Sessions are pretty much finished off now, especially since winter has set in with a mighty wallop of cold temperatures & wind! It’s already been quite nasty other than not having a metric pile of snow which is great! And also, on the positive note, there has been none of that freezing rain malarky either. Two whoop whoops and a boo ya for -20ΒΊC right off the hop of winter! LOL 😎

Fall on the prairies is hellfire fast. But this year it was somewhat delayed which is a such a sweet bonus. It was rather rainy though which limited the shooting opportunities. But you have to be fast when it comes to hammering out all the best colour as it is usually here one day and gone the next. Here are two images I shot at the end of my crescent where there was this amazing red hedge. These photos were shot only 3 days apart. Crazy difference! I shot the same photo/pose with the families to illustrate this reality of fall photography in Saskatchewan: HURRY! πŸ˜€

20141020-TayTay-001 20141023-Grandolf-001A little bit of wind can ruin your photo background in no time! That said, while we missed the red colour on the latter shoot, we also picked up some incredible yellow that wasn’t ready just 3 days before.

20141023-Grandolf-002So you never know what kind of palette you will be given to work with from shoot to shoot. A couple of days is an enormous difference! But you can still wring it out even when the colour gets scarce. The photographer’s two best friends are Bokeh & Compression. Or, long focal lengths and wide apertures. This shot of Lexi was with my 85mm at f/2.5. A bit of telephoto compression and pretty wide aperture. Similar results could have been nabbed at 200mm and f/4. Charlea’s photo was similar, with my favorite 85mm at 2.8. She had much more colour at the red hedge while the bush behind lexi was really on it’s way out. But the bokeh goodness smooshes it into a pleasant blur of colour.

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20141020-TayTay-007And lastly, when the landscape dies and gets ugly, it has a great quality of isolating your subjects. There is nothing else in the image to distract or pull the eye from the image! πŸ™‚

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Fall

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Fall: A Pictorial Guide.


Catching Up

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I haven’t been posting very much stuff lately on the ol’ blogosphere as I’ve been busy with 50 billion other things. But I will catch up a bit with some posts over the next little while of some client stuff and maybe a post about a possible switch to a fully mirrorless equipment setup! Maybe. 😎

Here’s some family shots I did a while back for my Buchanan friends. This is one of my favourite shots of all time by far! This is a real photo. No fakey-fakey instagram-perfecto-family. I love the emotion and the looks on the faces of all the kids! It’s just super! eheheheh…… πŸ˜€

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Nice Photos

 

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Family photos, in my opinion, should fall into the category of “nice photos.” Β They are simply lit with one light or a reflector. They don’t look lit. They don’t look edgy. They have a very simple elegance about them. That’s been my aim, at least, for the majority of family shoots I do. I have experimented with ring flash but I find that it must be relegated into the realm of fill flash only in this context. As a main light, it’s just too much for this look. Β The look and feel of lighting is definitely worth paying heed too – especially for “nice photos.” Of the photos in this post, can you guess how they are lit? It’s tough to tell which was flash, reflector or just ambient? Watch the catchlights of course… 😎

Also, when shooting siblings, I almost always try to shoot sets of images – similar photos for each member of the family so they look like a cohesive whole on a photo wall. It’s a nice technique for nice photos. πŸ˜€


#2YearsOld

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I’m fairly behind in these photos & post. Like 2 months behind. LOL Oh well, the time truly does fly. But our little FlowerPot Baby is 2. So I was told to get some updated pictures of the little gaffer. So here they are. Just to warn you, she’s ridiculously cute. πŸ˜€

Here’s the BTS photo geek information about how I made these photos.

First of all, these were all shot in harsh, direct sunlight. Very bright conditions. So the name of the game with harsh light is control followed by redirection. This is where your secret weapon, a collapsible scrim saves the day. I set mine up on Β c-stand because it’s basically a huge sail on the windy prairies. This provides a very nice softbox-esque light quality to the subject. The next thing is to make sure you have a contrasting background that won’t blow out as you increase your exposure. No sky. Find some trees or shrubs for better results. So using the scrim, the light is controlled & soft. But if you want more volume of light, you can easily do that by firing a flash through the same panel. It gives your images more pop if you want that look. Although, if you’re shooting at shallow depth of field, you’ll need to use high-speed sync with your flash. I used the scrim alone for some of the shots then additionally redirected some light back in via a flash & umbrella. The light panel scrim gives mucho nice catchlights in the eyes all by itself though. This setup really gives a light and airy look to the photos. Β So there you go. Quick and easy portraits in full sun. 😎

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Double the Fun

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For the last post of 2013, I will go out with double the fun! Leighton is having a blast being big sister to Laya and Levi. We had a fun little shoot with the twins and they cooperated swimmingly well. Β I’m always taken aback by how well the little newborns tolerate photo shoots and photographers! πŸ™‚ So here’s to 2013! May 2014 double the fun yet again! . . . Photographically speaking of course! 😎

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2013 in Review

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This last month of December hath been a whirlwind of adventure to say the least. I’ve hardly had any time to blog between family commitments and church work stuff. Lots going on and too many irons in the fire. But as 2013 comes to a close, I thought I would go back over the year (and the literally tens of thousands of images I shot) and put together a couple of slideshows of my favourites. They may or may not be my very best work. Probably more of the emotional connection I have with them. 😎 But I realized that since I got the FujiFilm X100s, it’s really become my camera of choice for my personal work. Β I attribute this to 2 main factors. 1) Fuji is awesome. The image quality is fantastic and the cameras a literal joy to use because they work great and have a compact form. And 2) as a Pater Familias, I’m usually chasing after my kids or at least have them in tow. DSLR is a good system but its bulky and not conducive to life with wee ones. The X100s has really filled my camera needs and I used it for probably around 75% of my personal photography this year. It’s been a great experience. So much so that I would consider completely switching to Fuji mirrorless cameras totally! I’ve heard a rumour that a weather sealed X is coming in January. That camera with the 10-24, 35 and new 56 1.2 lenses and I’d be one happy customer. Β That said, I do love my D800 and I made good use of it for the majority of my client work this past year. The image quality is really tremendous. And of course Nikon’s CLS system is awesome for lighting on the fly and working with speed during weddings. So I probably won’t be parting from it anytime soon. But Fuji keeps beaconing me. πŸ˜€

For 2014 I want to do more work on my personal projects. And I think I’m going to get a big printer and enter into the photo printing foray. It’s definitely more art than science. But having complete control of my images will be nice, as well as having the in house ability to make big prints whenever I want. That will be a fun addition! Should be a fun 2014! 😎

But for now, here’s my photography from 2013 in review. This first video is my personal and family shots while the second video has client work.

Thanks again for your views and interest! Have a very blessed 2014. πŸ˜€


Santa #FAIL

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My lovely wife volunteered me to take Santa photos at Oxbow’s Expressway Family Centre. It’s always a riot. By and large the kids all do great. But thankfully, there’s always a few who are absolutely terrified of jolly ol’ St. Nick! 😎 It’s priceless!!! I love these shots because they are so real. You can’t fake this kind of anguish. bwhahahaahaha…….. πŸ˜†

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A great big thanks to our friendly neighbourhood Santa Claus too!


Another First

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Our little man began Preschool yesterday – another big first for our family. We did our typical photo shoot madness and here’s the results. Heheheheheeh! 😎 I nearly fell off my chair when I saw his sign. I’m thinking halloween and grown up got a little mixed up! πŸ˜‰

 


Welcome to the Big Top!

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I had a cool opportunity to shoot a really unique family session the other day for fellow photographer Emily Rutledge of One Thousand Words Photography. She had this amazing idea of a themed family photo shoot, in this case a circus. She came up with idea and did all the setup. I basically showed up and lit it. 😎 It was great! Plus, I didn’t have to do any editing. πŸ˜€ BONUS! But I did a little bit on these photos, a wee smidgeon of the shoot. It was super fun and made for some really creative family memories. I’d love to do more of this kind of shoot in the future as it’s super fun and out of the ordinary. Plus, the whole family can be involved and the kids think its awesome. They were very cooperative during the shoot!

The group photo was rather involved so here’s the breakdown:

 

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There are no white lights in this image. All the flashes have gels to some extent.

Background: I decided to light up the barn to add drama to the awesome texture and further the circus theme. Simple red and blue theatrical gels were on 2 SB-600 speed lights in the back.

Fill: I had a small soft box boomed up high from a c-stand with an SB-900 gelled full CTO to give a super warm fill light to the image.

Key(s): I used two LumoPro LP180 flashes in shoot through umbrellas with 1/4 CTO gels on the boys to light them. They did double duty by hitting the girls in the middle and letting the overhead fill light do the rest.

 


You can’t fence time

1st Day of Kindergarten was yesterday for our oldest. Our first baby is now shared with the world! Very traumatic . . . for us. πŸ™‚ She loved it and had a blast! I took a few photos to commemorate the event. One light or less. πŸ˜‰

 


Plants and Massage and Heavy Machinery and Camping and Guns

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Well it’s been a bit of a gong show as of late. This past week was our Annual University pals campin’ trip. It was also the week when my Sacroiliac ligament decided to tell me to get bent. So, as my lovely wife boldly went camping as a single mom with our 3 hooligan children, I camped out on my mom and dad’s couch in Moose Jaw. It was brutally awful pain that left me debilitated and lying flat on a couch. I’ve never watched so many movies! But a couple of Chiropractor treatments and a massage later, I’m about 34% better. 😎 Needless to say, I didn’t do as much photo taking as I would have liked!

As the week went on, I was able to be a bit more mobil. I walked around mom’s garden and nabbed some flower shots with the X100s. The macro mode is pretty sweet. As mom and dad’s street was ripped up for construction, there was a bunch of heavy equipment lying around. My brother, who permanently looks like a heavy equipment operator was over so I conned him into doing a shot. Dad’s Canon 580 EX II flash through a mini beauty dish as key and my SB-900 on a small stand in an umbrella for fill triggered optically in SU-4 mode.

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Then, after my final chiropractor treatment, I joined the campin’ throng in Grenfell for a couple of days. I blasted of some B&W candids of the kids and of course, our annual group photo.

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And, I was able to nab a few shots of my buddy Craig who fortunately is ready for the next Zombie Apocalypse at all times. heheheheh… 😎 All in all it was a very nice “vacation” for me. It was great to see everyone even if it was only for a short time. I’m hoping to be back in the saddle soon and recover from my injuries. Lot’s of rest and more lying around. Woe to me. πŸ˜‰

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Playing with Light

It’s been a busy little while these past days, mainly spent shovelling snow and fighting off depression from this never ending winter. It’s truly like in the Chronicles of Narnia where it’s always winter and never Christmas. Except that we know Christmas has already passed. MONTHS ago. And we are still stuck in the mad grips of winter. Oodles of snow, cold temperatures. I’m on the edge! πŸ˜‰ But I will prevail. Lots of fruit and green veggies. Lots of photos…

Speaking of which, I’ve got a combo blog post here from a couple of recent shoots. I’ve really struggled lately with just posting clients’ photos for the sake of posting. I’ll leave that up to them to decide how much they want to share with family and friends. I’m going to concentrate more on the techniques used for the shots and a bit about why these images have been made the way they are (click on the images below for the info). I find that aspect lacking in many blog posts from famous photogs. There is an amazing one by the legendary Greg Heisler where he photographed Yasser Arafat for Time. He lit it all with a simple soft box and black velvet Β background. But why? I watched the video wondering why he chose to light the image that way. [Speculation about being shot??? Gotta be fast! ;)]


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! 😎


Tail End of Summer

The season of summer threw us one last bone when we squeaked out the Paton Family’s photos. We had a beautiful sunny day, but the wind picked up somethin’ fierce. We were able to take cover inside a few old buildings though which added some nice texture to the shots. I find that late fall gets to be “dead-grass-coyote-ugly” really quickly. We’ve lost all our colours so texture is the only name of the game left to shoot. Thank goodness for abandoned farm yards! 😎


Merida . . . in Blonde.

Every little girl wants to be a Disney Princess! At least on our crescent they do. Phoebe wanted to dress up like Merida from the movie Brave. The only hurdle was all of Merida’s lovely frizzy hair. Leaving her buckwheat braids in overnight created Merida – Lite. Couldn’t do much about the blonde at this young age. 😎 Don’t know if I would change it anyways. πŸ™‚

 


The Horse and His Boy

We were able to sneak a photo shoot in the other day betwixt bad weather and hectic schedules. Our nice warm fall climate has suddenly turned nasty making it a wee bit trickier for outside photos. However, we prevailed and were able to make it come together for the Perrot clan. Not only were we able to get family photos, we also got some shots of Rocco and his horse. The light was fading fast on an already overcast day. I decided that warm light was the ticket and proceeded to back light the horse and also splash some nice light on Rocco too. I really liked how the final image came together! 😎


Silver

Regan’s birthday present finally arrived! She wanted some new bling and bling she got. To go along with it, I decided I’d take snapshots of everyone listed on the necklace . . . in black and white. 😎 It’s timeless and awesome.