Light is Everything!

Photography

The History of Photography in 5 Minutes

Very cool video worth a watch! Amazing to see how photography has exploded so rapidly, largely thanks to the iPhone.


TEDx – Apex Predators

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An Extremely Candid Photograph of Dr. Greenwood! 🙂

There are truly only very few moments in a person’s life when you enter a room and instantly know that  you are surrounded by giants. People so incredibly bright and knowledgable that they have already forgotten more than you will ever know. Being in a room with Dr. Hamilton Greenwood is one of those such moments. He is a brilliant biologist, educator and photographer and he has been a family friend for many years.

Recently he did a TEDx talk in Saskatoon, SK. His talk is perfectly woven together with his own stunning wildlife and nature photography from our great province of Saskatchewan. Check out the talk here, it is totally worth your time and you will be highly rewarded!

Description from the TEDx Talk:

Educator and Wildlife Photographer | Hamilton Greenwood is an adult educator and wildlife biologist with a passion for using photographs to inspire. He is the department head at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Natural Resource Technology Programs, and a sessional lecturer for both the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP). With an undergraduate degree in Biology from Queen’s University and a PhD from McGill, he has taught a generation of people who contribute to Natural Resource Management in Western Canada. As a teacher, he is known for the passion and commitment which be brings with him to his classrooms. Hamilton’s personal and professional life has found a wonderful bridge in landscape, wildlife and still-life photography. His images are widely published and freely shared with many non-governmental organizations. These photographs, and countless hours in the wild, are the canvasses from which he works.

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Dr. Greenwood in a rare moment of On-Camera Flash


Published Internationally

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Woot! Here’s some cool news, I got published in Practical Photography Magazine’s May 2014 edition!  It’s a UK publication so my Canadian peeps won’t be able to pick up a print copy too readily. But you can get electronic versions available on iTunes and Google. I was contacted by them quite some time ago regarding my images I posted here on the blog of photographing the kids’ fiberoptic lamps! Spiffy! 😎


Vivian Maier

Some recent life events have caused me to give pause and think about photography. I’ve come to realize that our entire culture today of social media is completely based on sharing. For Photographers, it’s about sharing photos. We judge success by Facebook likes or Twitter retweets. We virtually don’t know a world now without this. We are constantly seeking feedback from others. And if we don’t get it or someone else receives more than we do, we take it as a personal knock against us. We’ve created a culture of “social-media-peeping-toms.” Now what if someone were to short circuit that culture of feedback? What would happen if a Photographer took hundreds of thousands of photos but never showed them to a single person?

Enter: Vivian Maier.

This documentary is due out in March of this year.

This woman blows my mind. Not only because her street photography photos rock the set. But because of her completely opposite attitude when it comes to sharing photos. She just didn’t. Ever. It wasn’t until after her death that we get an open window into the life and work of a truly amazing photographer.

Think about this the next time you Instagram, Facebook, Tweet, Vine, etc ad nauseam. What if nobody else ever saw your work? Could you possibly live without being a social media princess – without your groupies and fans? Could you live without the likes? Could you function without the retweets and  shares?  Can you distill away all the jibber jabber and just be happy with your negatives in a box (or RAW files on a hard drive)?


Making Snugs with the D800

A friend of ours was on her way through the hood and was able to stop by for a couple days visit. It was super fun to have Teresa and her (and our new) friend Talitha stop by. We haven’t hung out for many moons as Teresa and her husband have been living in New Zealand for a couple of years. Great to have them back in Canada! And, it was a grand occasion for me additionally because I got to play with the Nikon D800! Teresa is an awesome photographer now based out of Calgary, AB. Check her out at http://teresarehmann.com.  We traded some photography as she needed some updated portraits and we needed a family photo that has all of us in it! bwahahhaah… 😎 And, I got to test the D800 extensively. And test I did, plugging all my lenses onto it and running it through it’s paces. I know the sensor is good. But I didn’t know it was THAT good. It is unbelievable. I’m really not exaggerating here. The image quality, the sharpness, the detail, the contrast, the colour, it’s nearly beyond description. And for what I do, portraits, landscapes and macro stuff, it’s a match made in heaven. HOWEVER. And it’s a big however, the files are so huge that they are unruly. We shot everything in RAW pretty much and editing them on my 3.06 iMac with 8 GB of RAM was painful. Slow. Excruciatingly so – packed in the whole Mac and needed a reset once. But it’s worth it! The images are unbelievable, especially with my 105mm macro lens. “Wicked sharp” has a whole new meaning to me!  There’s just sooo much detail and nothing hides from that sensor. Probably need a new computer though . . . 😀

 


Piper & Ruby

Ruby & Piper!

My two favourite nieces came by for a visit and we did a quick little photo shoot. Ruby is just about the same age as Pria is and both are just starting to be propped up. We grabbed the Bumbo chair, or the “wimbo” as Phoebe called it, and propped her up and had Piper sneak in beside. This photo was my fav from the set because Ruby has that “you lookin’ at me kid?” expression! 😉 heheheeh….. “I’m gonna buss a cap you keep lookin’ at me!” 😎

From there we went to just Ruby and locked this one in. I threw it into Black and White which always looks timeless and cool. Her eyes were very sparkly in this and her expression is, though less Goodfellas than above, super adorable.

A quick note about the lighting setup for these photos. Kids rarely if ever sit still and cooperate so I wanted to try a different lighting technique that would accommodate their squirmy nature but still give a nice result. I setup a reflector camera right on a stand and a flash camera left and bounced the light over the kids and off the flash on very low power, like 1/128 or 1/64. It has the awesome effect of feathering past the kids and also lighting up the reflector for a sweet little catch light in the eyes. I really like the technique and I will certainly try it again. The ambient light cooperated too with an overcast sky which helped for even fill light. I came across this setup in Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook, which is a resource I recommend you check out if you’re interested in learning more about light. He has some great setups to share in there. You can checkout a preview vid for it here:


Photo Books

Photobook layout on the computer screen & finished book on the right.

I’ve made several photo books over the years now from Phoebe’s baby pics for the grandparents to anniversaries to summer memory books and of course, for clients too. Photo books have got to be one of the best options for finishing out photos and displaying them. The curse of digital photography is that our photos are often relegated to living in the digital on-screen world – and that can be good thing, especially in our day of iPhones and iPads, the photos are more readily accessible and easier to share than ever before. However, digital is not always best. Big prints and photo books often lend more physicality and dimension to the photos. Books have a great way of simply “being there” on a coffee table or in grandma’s purse to show friends and family. And, do to the aforementioned digital world, print media is almost novel these days making books more special than on a phone screen. I did up a book for Erin from two different shoots I did for her this year just to say thank you for being the best babysitter ever to our kids. You can’t buy the memories in the book! It’s a one of a  kind piece of art!  And, it is very satisfying to see photography in print, just like a project completed. 🙂


Celtic Defenders

So last night we went to Estevan to partake in some sweet sweet East Coast music. The Celtic Defenders . . . Irish Descendants were in concert at the Comp. The Estevan Arts council does a tremendous job in bringing in top quality stuff and these boys did not disappoint! Everyone loves East Coast music. Everyone! Why? Because it’s so cheery and uplifting. Yer toe’ll be tappin’ in no time bye! I’d love to have a kitchen full of Newfies for some good old timey guitar, mandolin and hard bread! 😆 Like I said, they did a great job. The sound in the comp was kind of muffled though, like the Charlie Brown teacher waw waw waw voice, which made parsing the Newfoundland accent tougher for us mainlanders than it already is. 😉 But it was still a whole pile of fun. I bootlegged some illegal band photos. Shhhh! don’t snitch on me. 8) I know why concerts say no photos. Every granny and their point and shoot would be there blasting useless onboard flash in a vain attempt at snagging a blurry memory. I brought $2000.00 worth of camera equipment and with ninja like f/1.4 stealth . . . snagged a blurry memory. 😐

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Photo Fun ~ Day 14

Challenge of the Day: Someone you Love.

It’s the Good Lord Jesus! And if you’re from the South, He’s the Good Lord Je-hay-uh-sus-ah! (The 5 Syllable Lord). 😉

“We love because He first loved us.” ~ 1 John 4:19


Photo Fun ~ Day 12

Challenge of the Day: Sun Flare. . . . Well, yes. Um. Ahem. In places where the sun shines, it is possible to get sun flare photos. But not here. So you have to make your own sun and pretend your the last airbender.


Photo Fun ~ Day 11

Challenge of the Day: Silhouette.

I LOVE this picture. If I analyze it in terms of light, color and gesture, I think it’s a winner. 1) it has the light, that beautiful little rim light/highlight on the hat and nose and rembrandt cheek. If I told you I had planned it, I’d be lying. It was a happy accident. 2) Silhouettes are tricky to get any nice color, unless you use the sky/sunset. I dumped the exposure on this one to get a really nice blue and still pickup some of the lilac purple. 3) As for gesture, it’s simply joyful toddlers holding up lilacs. But to me it communicates the joy of summer from a kids perspective. 🙂


Photo Fun ~ Day 10

Challenge of the Day: Animal.


Photo Fun ~ Day 9

Challenge of the Day: Fresh Fruit.

What? You didn’t know that Tomatoes were a fruit? Well, now you do! Bwahahahahaha… 😉


Photo Fun ~ Day 8

Challenge of the Day: Sunset. (With no sun).

 


Photo Fun ~ Day 7

Challenge of the Day: High Angle.

 

PS: Stupid Rain today. Wouldn’t let up and I only had a minute to make this photo. Sorry about the flash spill on the right.


Photo Fun ~ Day 6

Challenge of the Day: Books.


Photo Fun ~ Day 5

Challenge of the Day: Breakfast Today.


Photo Fun ~ Day 4

Challenge of the Day: Clouds.


Photo Fun ~ Day 3

Challenge of the Day: Hands.


Photo Fun ~ Day 2

Challenge of the Day: Your Favorite Shoes — You can tell a woman made up this photo challenge……. 😉


Photo Fun ~ Day 1

Challenge of the Day: Self Portrait.


Down on the Farm!

I went out to my friend’s farm today trying to get some shots for our Photography Club assignment. The month of March was to be pictures of “pets.” So, I wanted to get some pet picks. What better place to nab pet pics than down on the farm?!

I was able to get some pretty cool action shots of the cats in the primordial battle with the dogs, fangs gnashing, claws swinging. Very cool stuff. Of course, I didn’t help matters by hissing and trying to get the dogs fired up. But hey, anything for a picture right? 😉 All the shots in the slideshow are either from my 70-300 f4.5-5.6 or my 105mm f/2.8 Macro.

It was a beautiful day with all kinds of glorious light!

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Expodisc Part 2

I was able to nab some sunlight expodisc shots today at lunch. We finally had a nice day! 🙂

The full sun results were more subtle as to be expected.

I also did some test shots in the shade. Click the pictures to embiggen.

The shade white balance was more easily detected.

So there you have it, aside from a cloudy white balance test which will have to wait for another day. Unless you live in Arizona sunshine, the Expodisc pays off in nearly all white balance situations!


White Balance Woes? Hello Expodisc!!!

I never really paid much attention to white balance after I began shooting RAW because, let’s face it, you can make the WB anything you want when you process RAW files. That being said, when you watch videos done by professional photographers, they are the first to tell you to get as much of your image right in camera because it’s less time in front of the computer later on. Which is true. And, it helps you be a better photographer because you are learning the craft more when you do stuff properly in camera. White balance – as easy as it is to fix in Aperture & Lightroom – is one of those major image components that is better done right first.

Enter: the Expodisc.  I first saw it on a Kelby Training vid with James Schmelzer. I thought, “Hey, he’s a pro, it must be good!” So I looked it up. Basically it’s a filter that goes over your lens and allows you to nab a custom white balance that is true to the actual scene. Other alternatives are 18% Grey Cards, colorite passports and such. But the Expodisc is easier & faster and more convenient – especially on Nikon cameras where getting a custom white balance is a 3 second operation (Canon takes 12 seconds). 🙂

I decided to do some test shots with it last night after the sun had set. The trickiest white balances are always under man-made light, like say in a heinously lit small town hockey rink. But what about when you have a room with incandescent bulbs mixed with compact fluorescents? What do you set your WB to? The modes that the camera has are only generalizations after all, far from exact. These situations make the expodisc worth the cash.

The first situation I tried was a room lit by compact fluorescent bulbs. I setup the camera and my subjects, did a custom WB with the expodisc, then did an Auto WB and a Fluorescent WB shot. Take a look at the difference! Click on the photos for a larger view.

This next test shot is lit by old school fluorescent tube lighting – one of the worst to White Balance because they change color/temperature over time. Same format: Expodisc, Auto, Fluorescent.

Incandescent light source. Expodisc/Auto/Incandescent.

Only on-camera flash as the light source (notice the heinous shadow caused by the lens?) 😉 Expodisc/Auto/Flash WB setting.

So, you be the judge. I think the difference is tremendous!

In summary, if you shoot only .JPG then the expodisc is a necessity that would never not be with me on any shoot ever. You can’t change the white balance as easily on a .JPG image so getting it right in camera is necessary for accurate color. If you shoot RAW, I also think it’s a useful tool, especially for tricky lighting scenarios and for portraits that you need to have the color bang on.

One final recommendation, they make expodiscs in many sizes for different lenses. I bought the 67mm size (because the majority of my lenses are 67mm) but it will also work on smaller lenses too, just by holding the expodisc on front of the lens. It won’t click into place like it does when it properly fits a lens, but it’s only there for 3 seconds (on Nikon) 😉 anyways. So, buy the biggest one you can because it will also work on your smaller diameter lenses too – more bang for your buck! I bought mine at Don’s Photo in Regina.

Expodisc on lanyard with case

Side view

back view - looks like a pringles chip can lid

 

front view - looks like a fluorescent light cover