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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! 🙂

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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. 😉


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!


Grad: Shawna

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It’s a super cool experience taking grad photos for people you’ve known since they were little. Shawna is one of those such people for me. It’s hard to believe she’s graduating! The time has gone by far too fast!

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This photo below here is Shawna beside a tree she planted on the first day of Kindergarten! How fitting to have a photo beside it when she graduated!

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All the best & God bless, Shawna! You’re going to go far!

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Bull Sale

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Every year the Frey family has their Bull Sale. It’s a wonderful family tradition. I was able to attend this year and did a little bit of event photography for them. It was a very difficult sale as Melissa Frey’s father Tommy just passed away literally the night before. As a result there was a very somber mood to the sale that is characteristically upbeat. Everyone carried on and made it through but it was tough.

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The sale invites buyers to come to the farm and take a look at the bulls and the heifers. This year they had video footage of the stock and played the videos on a television screen during the auction sale so that you don’t have to get the animals riled up walking through a show ring.  It makes for a much better experience all round.

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As you can tell from the photos, Freyburn Farms raise Black Angus cattle. The Angus association has done a wonderful job promoting the breed, especially for meat. You can go into many chain restaurants and in the menus they will often boldly say “Black Angus Steak!” They are a very biddable breed and generally good to manage.

It’s really fun to attend the sale. It’s a very family friendly atmosphere and the Frey’s are exceedingly welcoming and gracious hosts. If you like pie, it is the place to be!

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I was doing a two camera setup for this shoot. FujiFilm X-Pro2 with a 50mm and my Nikon Df with a 16-35mm. I have always found a super wide angle to be very helpful in event photography and the Fuji system kept the system light and mobile on the telephoto end.

All in all it was a really great sale, despite having to deal with very tough family circumstances. Coming together as family and friends and enduring the challenges in the hard times is what gives prairie people their true grit.

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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.”

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!


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.


Lightroom Woes…

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Generally I update early when new software comes out. Generally, Mac stuff is great. The updates make things quicker, more reliable and uphold that “it just works” Mac philosophy. Not so Sierra. 10.12.1 is filled with oodles of bugs and glitches – especially where Lightroom is concerned.

Besides Lightroom being unstable and crashing all the time under Sierra, another gong show happened today. I went to print a photo and all my Canon ICC profiles were gone. They showed up as print paper options but the side of the print dialogue for Color Management only offered the ‘Managed by Printer’ option.

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I went hunting for the ICC profiles where they live (Hard Drive/Library/ColorSync/Profiles) and they were just simply gone. Vanished. Not there. WEIRD. And frustrating. Because Canon doesn’t simply make their paper profiles available for simple download. No, they are bundled in a driver. Which is beyond stupid.

Opening the OS X ColorSync utility you can see all the ICC profiles installed on your computer. For whatever reason (possibly something new in Sierra), the profiles are no located where they used to be. Instead go to Hard Drive/Library/Printers/Your Printer/SubPrinter/Resources/ICCProfiles/PRINTERNAME (which is a container of which you have to right click to see contents)/Contents/Resources/Viola!

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I found them all here in this place, copied them and pasted them back into the Hard Drive/Library/ColorSync/Profiles which is where Lightroom needs them to print.

So boo ya Grandma, now we’re back in action. What a convoluted gong show. Lightroom sucks. Sierra sucks. Everything sucks.

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I feel better. 😎


Friends

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Hey sports fans! It’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything on the ol’ blog. Well neglected no longer, here’s a long over due post.

Some friends since Kindergarten graduated high school this year. They thought it would be cool to do a friends photoshoot before heading off to University. So we got together one evening at the old farm. We thought it would be cool to some nice casual stuff but also to get the money’s worth out of the grad dresses! What a riot it was!

20160831-3friends-011These girls are absolutely stunning! They all have gorgeous long hair that just screamed fashion lighting. We did some cool clamshell beauty stuff but as twilight came in, I wanted to push the envelope a bit. It was a typical Saskatchewan hurricane wind evening which made for a pretty slick wind machine. We got the girls on the road and drove an SUV up behind them with the high beams on to provide some continuous light for hair/dress motion blur. Then we froze the shot with flash at the end of the exposure. It makes for a pretty studio-esque photo shot on location!

Here’s a few more favs from the shoot. It was a total blast and we wish the girls all the best in University! 😎

 


Grad 2016

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Wowza! Been super busy with grads this year! It’s been great and we managed to get some keepers. Also, we’ve moved to USB drives for digital file delivery. Thanks to JF Custom Engraving for the laser work!

Congratulations to all the grads from Arcola, Carlyle, Oxbow and Carnduff! God’s blessings on the future!