Light is Everything!

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X-PRO2

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I pulled the trigger on getting a FujiFilm X-Pro2. Sight unseen. But I had been coveting one since it was announced. But I thought “nah, I’ve got loads of Nikon gear. What do I need an X-PRO2 for? It’s not a need. It’s a want.”

YOU NEED AN X-PRO2

From the very first moment I picked the camera up, while it was still in the protective shipping plastic bag yet, I loved it. The camera is big and solid, hefty even. It feels perfect in the hand. I threw in a charged batter from my X-E2 (which are the same by the way) and slapped on the 35mm f/2 lens. What a dream. The camera is blazing fast to autofocus & accurate. I shot the normal test shots we all do of our keyboards to test focus and it was bang on.  I quickly put the camera into ACROS film simulation. Wow.

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The photos have this alive/organic/analog quality to them. The transfer from shadows to highlights is out of this world. The ACROS grain is so smooth and film like even at higher ISOs my jaw dropped when viewing the files. They seemed to jump off the screen at me.

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I just kept shooting the kids. Shot after shot through the EVF, the shots were sharp, and had the same filmic quality. I was hooked from the very first few frames!

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The shadows are so rich and the highlights are buttery perfectly. I was shooting the camera wide open at f2 and the files are sooo sweet. I always knew that the fuji JPGs were great, my X-E2 files are wonderful. But the X-PRO2 files are just that much better. I can’t wait to actually put the camera through it’s paces.

20171025-XPRO2-048These quick shots here are straight from camera, no editing other than a resize for the blog. Again, I’m totally blown away by the camera. The tonality of the files is wonderful. I’ve never ever felt this way about a camera before or the photographic results. If you’ve ever been thinking of getting an X-PRO2, do it. I can already see how this camera is going to change my photography going forward. More to come!

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On Photowalks

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The importance of photo walking cannot be over emphasized.

Grabbing your camera and going for a walk. How much simpler can it be? Do it frequently. Do it often. There is so much right out your back door. In my case, there is a big glorious pasture that is rapidly changing to fall colours and textures. I went out back on the 30th of August, some 15 days ago, and everything has changed drastically. A lot of the leaves are gone already. This tree pictured below is completely bare now. We had precious few days to capture it.

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Besides the time aspect, it’s also ultra relaxing. Just walk around and shoot. Whatever tickles your fancy. Whatever you see. Just shoot it. I’m a huge fan of the stopped-down, slow-shutter-speed, zoom lens trick. Everything becomes a big abstract streak of colour! It’s a metric tonne of fun and can be done anywhere you have colour or texture.

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You can always photo walk. Do it frequently. Do it often. 😎


Gold Belt Gold!

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My little guy got his Gold Belt in Karate the other day. He was super pumped! He’s a very serious and dedicated kid when it comes to pretty much everything, but especially Karate.  I had the vision for this photo in my mind before I set out to capture it. Here’s the process involved.

Step 1: Lighting. There was still a good deal of ambient even though the sun was setting. I didn’t want to mess around with small flash so I grabbed my Alien Bee 1600 and fired it through a small Photoflex octobox. I had my lovely assistant Phoebe hold the light for me. We bolted it to the time-tested “Gandalf-Stick” – a collapsible paint pole with an adaptor end on it. Works like a charm for moving quickly. The lighting pattern was a simple cross light setup. Subject back to the sun as always for a sweet golden rim light.20170509-YellowBelt-004

Step 2: Work the posing. Just watch how two simple things drastically change the photo.

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A) Nice photo but boring. We needed to convey Karate power in this image. Have me shoot down or even eye level doesn’t do that. We need to shoot up.

20170509-YellowBelt-017B) Getting there, now Ethan looks bigger and more powerful. In the photo. All we had to do drop to the ground. Also, I wanted a wide-ish angle shot so I’m using my Nikon 24mm f1.8G lens on the Nikon D800 for maximum mega-pretzels.

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C) For the final image we needed the pose to actually have energy. I got Ethan to shout out the Karate attack word for “kill” as he did his kick. It got him laughing a bit which gave me a legit smile. The photo I had in my mind came to life and his posing was perfect. The wide angle lens adds to the over all feeling of power as it optically makes his foot look huge. The flash will always freeze the motion for you even at the relatively slow sync speed of 1/250 while adding a bit of motion blur which I think looks cool.

So there you have it. Great lighting combined with getting low and wide makes for a butt kickin’ shot that I will definitely be making into a giant print! 😎


Crocuses!

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Springtime is officially sprung in Saskatchewan when the Crocuses are blooming and the wood ticks are crawling! Both of which are true now! Oh well, we can still be excited about the Crocuses! 😎


Ice Castles

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We made it up to Edmonton for their amazing winter Ice Castles event. It was really a cool event, except that it wasn’t cool. It was melting! Ridiculously warm temperatures were reducing the ice castles to slush condos! Despite the melting mayhem, it was still a very, very great event to take in. We focused our time mainly on the castles. Periodic releases of fireworks added to the ice and lights quite nicely, as did the fire dancers. Very slick!

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I used this venue to really try out my new 24mm 1.8G lens.  I shot it alone on the Nikon Df. What a combo! Really fast glass with great high ISO performance on the Df made for a great all round experience. The wide open performance of the lens is tremendous and even better when stopped down a smidgeon to f/2 or 2.2.

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But it was very challenging conditions. You had the lights illuminating the ice castles from within which was cool but then total darkness. So there was mucho dynamic range difference. If you could have shot from a tripod and maybe layered the images you could really do well with the venue. But I was shooting hand held. I threw in an old SB-600 small flash to use occasionally too but more often than not just shooting the ambient was more desirable.

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The ice castles are a must see event! Be sure to check them out. Click here for more info. Take a look at a few extra pics! 😎


Nikon 24mm 1.8G

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So I just got the Nikon 24mm 1.8G lens. My overall Nikon kit was lacking a fast aperture wide angle option. So now the Nikon bag is full. I’m rounding out my 85mm & 50mm 1.8G collection with the 24mm. This compliments my 16-35mm f/4 & 70-200 f/4 with fast primes. I’m really pleased with the lens so far, though I haven’t sufficiently put the lens through it’s paces yet – it’s coming soon.

Here’s a couple of sample photos from it, focusing on bokeh & centre sharpness. This lens is phenomenal wide open. The bokeh is as good as it gets for a wide angle (which aren’t known for being cream-cheese soft).

I’ll focus on this 100% crop. This was shot wide open at ISO 800 with window light. The detail of the eye lashes is unreal! The lens stacks up really well on the D800. Shooting on anything less will be even better, as the D800 sensor is pretty tough on glass.

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So there you go. More review to come on this one in the near future, but suffice it to say, the lens is fantastic sharp, and very light and manageable. 😎


Merry Christmas & Happy 2017!

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Merry Christmas everybody! Thanks for your support and patronage in 2016! We are looking forward to capturing your memories in 2017! All the best from me and my family to you and yours!

 +Χριστός Γεννάται+

 

 


Adaptation

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I’ve always wanted a long telephoto lens for the Fuji X system because I love love love the skin tones & nuanced colour that Fuji produces. I saw the K&F Concept lens adapter for Nikon G/AI lenses to the X mount for a mind blowing $30 bones on Amazon. I didn’t have any high hopes at all about the quality or usability of the adaptor but for the cheap price, how wrong could a guy go? So I got one shipped out.

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Nikon 85mm f/1.8G lens on the XE2 Astia film sim.

I opened the box and was blown away. The whole thing is metal. It has a built in aperture control for Nikon’s new G lenses that don’t have an aperture ring. And it works to keep the lens wide open, stopped all the way down and a couple of in between settings that are largely guesses. None of the settings register with the camera because there is no communication between camera and lens. It’s just a simple adaptor. So it’s manual everything. But Fuji’s focus peaking even at 1.8 is a snap. Works great!

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I slapped on the 70-200 f/4 which balances decently with the small camera body. You could shoot wildlife with it gaining the extra reach of the crop sensor but manual focus on fast moving subjects requires ninja like reflexes that I no longer possess.

But for portrait stuff………

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Nikon 70-200 f/4G on the XE2 Pro Neg. Standard film sim

I’d say it works just fine. These two sample images are straight out of camera other than my resize for web lightroom setting. Here’s a 100% crop of Phoebe’s eye:

 

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It is tack sharp! This is wide open too. You’ll see from the included info that the camera only records the shutter speed & ISO settings. Aperture is not and for some reason it defaults to a 50mm lens. But the results are awesome. The skin tones are so, so great. And it’s sharp! Did I say that already? So this image is 200mm 1/180 ISO 200 handheld JPEG shot with a Nikon SB-900 through a Lumiquest Softbox III triggered with Phottix Ares triggers! How’s that a for a FrankenSetup!? lol

I love Fuji lenses and they rock the set. But for 30 bucks, you can’t go wrong with the K&F Concept adaptor. Highly recommend picking one up!


Phottix Ares Review

 

20161106-phottix-001So I got some new flash triggers to try out. The Phottix Ares triggers are excellent! They are a simple, no frills, no TTL, no HSS “dumb” trigger that is perfect for manually controlled off camera flash.  They are simple, reliable and best thing is: no sync cords! They are shoe mounted so no more flopping around. I made a YouTube video to review them:

They’re been great performers for me and they are highly recommended, especially for people just getting started with Off Camera Flash work. But even for seasoned flash veterans, they are a welcome addition to the bag to replace those flopping Pocket Wizard Plus X sync-cable-ridden triggers.

 

They are a great price in the US. In Canada not so much. I had mine shipped from Amazon.com and saved a bundle.

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Here’s a couple of test shots with the Phottix Ares triggers.


Mirrorless Summer

I’m ultra behind in the blogging but I wanted to do an update. A mirrorless update. I’ve been a Fuji fan for quite a number of years now, using my omnipresent X100s camera all the time. Always JPEG. It became my high volume camera, especially for family trips where I refuse to lug around all my huge Nikon gear. But I want more quality and control than my iPhone camera gives me. The X100s was always the perfect companion. I love the 35mm equivalent field of view, especially for travel. It’s fantastic!

But it can be quite limiting. Which is almost always a good thing. Except for when it’s not. I found that all my travel photos, being the same focal length, were, well, the same. So I hummed and hawed about it and ended up getting a smokin’ deal on a FujiFilm XE2. I was going to buy the XPRO2 but didn’t (another blog post about that later). I got the XE2 with the “kit lens” which is an amazing lens, the 18-55. It’s a stunner. It’s sharp, it’s fast and it’s made of metal. Using Fuji is an experience in quality to say the least. Anyways, I’ve since picked up the 35mm f2 it’s a dream. But all summer long, all I shot was the 18-55.

I wanted to showcase the versatility of this compact mirrorless setup. These photos are travel photos from our cross Canada tour this summer. Western Manitoba all the way to Tofino, BC and back again. 4 provinces, thousands and thousands of kilometres traveled, Ocean, Waterfalls, Mountains, Forests, Prairies, all with one camera, one lens. Not only was it a versatile combination but it made the editing workflow nearly non-existent. By that I mean the XE2 utilizes a WYSIWYG viewfinder. The exposures seen through the eye piece are what you get in camera. Literally 97% of the time, it’s bang on. Very little editing has gone into these photos. The X system allows you to get it right in camera the first time, let alone the colour tweaks available through the film simulations. Fuji colour is the best, bar none! Anyways, here’s some photos.