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Road Trip 2017: Day 4

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Day 4 was jam packed with awesome! After learning about the free shuttle on Day 3, we decided to get up early (around 5:30AM) and drive to the Apgar visitor centre so that we could get on the first express shuttle going to Logan’s Pass. This is basically the summit of the Going to the Sun Road and there is a parking lot and visitor centre up there as well. We were very, VERY thankful we got an early start!

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Road Trip 2017: Day 3

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So Day 3 of our epic road trip took us from Waterton, Alberta to West Glacier, Montana. The route took us over the most incredible drive I’ve ever done the Going to the Sun Road. It was created in 1932 solely for tourism. The road only has one switchback and follows the contour of the mountain the whole way. It’s absolutely majestic and words can’t describe how incredible the view is. It is an absolute MUST SEE bucket list trip! Read the rest of this page »

Road Trip 2017: Day 2

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So Day 2 of our epic road trip took us to Waterton Park. It was only a few minutes from our campground and we spent the whole day there taking in the sights. Pictures and story after the jump.

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Road Trip 2017: Day 1

Everyone knows that you don’t go on vacation when you have small kids. You go on trips. For the elaboration on the topic, read this essay. 😉 So our Road Trip this year was exciting and elaborate! The big picture trip was from Oxbow, SK to Waterton Park, Alberta then to Glacier National Park, Montana, then to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Eastend, Saskatchewan and then home again! We were gone for a total of 12 days and they were all amazing! For the entire trip I used only the FujiFilm XE2 camera with the 18-55 f/2.8-4 lens. And then also the iPhone7 for a few water-based photos. Travelling light is the only way to go when you are on a trip like this with the kids. Bringing all my heavy Nikon DSLR gear would have been a real drag. The super light weight of the Fuji mirrorless was the cat’s PJs. I shot the bulk of the trip in Velvia simulation because I love that ultra saturated look for landscapes. But without further adieu, heres the pictures from the first leg of the trip. Read the rest of this page »

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! 😎

Photo Backup Solution

Everyone knows that in the digital world, you need 3 copies of your data for it to exist. This makes the need for back up solutions imminent, especially for professionals whose reputation and bottom line are on the line when it comes to data loss! It’s a very serious situation. But surprisingly, there aren’t many easy & convenient ways to solve this problem.

I have a Thunderbolt Lacie 2 bay drive enclosure configured to RAID 1 for data redundancy. This setup gives me 2 identical copies of my photos. But 1 more is still needed. Most people will suggest that it should be an offsite solution, such as an online cloud backup service. The problem I have with that solution is: 1) it’s a pain to upload that much data (several terabytes) unless you have very fast internet speeds. 2) it continues to cost you money as a subscription. And 3) it’s a privacy/security risk to have a 3rd party in cyberspace in control of your data.

The way I’ve addressed the 3rd data copy is to buy another external hard drive, in my case a 4GB Seagate USB 3 drive, and store it in a fire safe. You can easily take said safe and move it to another location and bring it back when you need to synchronize your working data.

But this process itself has always been cumbersome at best. There wasn’t an easy way to synchronize the updated data. I wanted a simple and elegant solution like Apple’s Time Machine. But unless your photos are on your local drive, Time Machine isn’t going to work for this process. You can buy additional software to do it but who wants to spend more money?! I’m too cheap.

Enter: terminal & rsync.

I’ve recently been exploring the terminal in Mac OS X and it is one seriously powerful tool. Everyone is used to the graphical user interfaces while text terminals are scary at best and for computer nerds at worst! But if you, fellow photographer, will get your nerd on a little bit you will find the solution to your back up woes.

What this command does is synchronize  two folders of data. You have your source: your photos, your lightroom catalogues, your business files, whatever you want, and you have your destination: a backup hard drive where you want the data to be copied. But it’s not merely a data copy function. Rather what makes rsync magical is that it will synchronize your folders. Meaning that after the first backup you do, it will synchronize only the changed data from source to destination. So you’re not re-copying reams of data, only the changed bits. This makes backing up your precious photos and data super easy!

You can checkout this YouTube video for a good tutorial on how the command works. Before trying it on your pictures, I suggest trying it out on some non critical data to get the feel for the command line and how this command works.

After you get the hang of it, the sure awesomeness of the backup workflow will knock your socks off! It’s ultra convenient to hook up your drive, run the command and then kick back and relax as your data is totally synchronized and safe. You don’t have to wonder if you copied these files or those files, they are all there. If you want to get ultra nerdy, you could even write a script and automate the process even further. Check out this video from 8-Bit Guy to see how to do it.

As you can see, it’s not overly difficult. Once the Terminal is demystified, you can harness its awesome power for your photography workflow. Losing data sucks. Losing photos REALLY sucks. It’s a pain, it’s inconvenient, it’s costly. Using a few simple lines of terminal code can really save you a bunch of hassle and keep your data nice & safe. 😎

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!

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