Light is Everything!

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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!


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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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.”

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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!


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! 😎