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.
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.
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!
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.
When chuck wagon racing season is over and winter rolls around… your life gets 17% more fun! We had a blast today going out with Ross & Lee for a 2 Horse Open Sleigh ride! What made it even more fun was tying on some sleds to pull the kids behind. They had an absolute riot! The weather was really perfect for the ride, no wind and a reasonable winter temperature, if slightly below normal.
I threw in the X-PRO2 (which hasn’t left my hands since I got it) with the 35mm f/2 and decided to shoot straight up Provia film simulation. You know, for a simple colour JPEG, it really rocks. Every time I look at the photos, the Fuji just nails colour. Little nuances of colour. Big bold colour. Colour of any kind, Fuji wins. The redness of the cold cheeks, the fluorescent yellow, the skin tones… bang on. I love the look of standard Provia!
I have been shooting ACROS since I got the X-PRO2 and I LOVE it big time. But even converting a Provia JPEG to black and white works. The X-Trans has oodles of dynamic range even in the JPEG. I shot this one of Ross with a backlit sky and then pushed the levels and upped the clarity in Lightroom. It makes a for a cool gritty portrait.
These colour Provia shots have basically no editing other than resize for web. All shot auto white balance. To my eye, the colours rock the set. I’m always blown away with how great the files look straight out of camera. They are contrasty, colourful and have a metric tonne of pop! In camera settings were H Tone -1, S Tone -1, Colour 0, Sharp +1. That’s it! The last tree shot did have some colour tweaks to bring out the sky and see how far I could push a JPEG. But I’m still over the moon about the X-PRO2! It’s an amazing camera with incredible results!
In the midst of crazy summer storms, there are cool photos to be had! Next step: tornado in the background. LOL Congrats to Derek & Stephanie!
This past week on June 12 the outdoor classroom at OPHS was dedicated to our dear friend and neighbour Megan Fonstad. She lived to teach, was dedicated to the new school project in Oxbow as well as this outdoor classroom, and her funeral took place at OPHS. The dedication was well attended by family and friends who have not forgotten how awesome Megan was and all that she did for her community and school. Memory Eternal, dear friend!
Today was the annual Family Tradition Black Angus Bull Sale! I look forward to it every year, mainly because I really know next to nothing about the cattle industry. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about cattle production as well as how the purebred game works. I love the descriptors that the auctioneers use to sell them. “This bull has a lot of red meat on him.” “He’s got 40cm testicles.” “He’s as square and stout as any bull you’ll see.” It’s great! And everyone does a fantastic job. It’s really almost more of a family get together than a sale in that everyone socializes after the sale around pie and refreshments. The Frey’s really do know what Saskatchewan hospitality is all about. And, it’s REALLY nice that they have an indoor facility. That wind still is so consarned hornswogglin’ cold!!! 😯 I did nab the shot above of the bulls outside in the viewing pen. It was worth the cold! 😀
But I had fun at the sale with my Nikon Df in tow. I used my f/4 zooms which worked very well. I could shoot the ISO up really high and I didn’t even really notice the f/4 aperture limitation. I could still nab good exposure. I used my trusty expo disc to nab the correct white balance too which is helpful. If anything it dials in a bit too much magenta, but it’s an easy fix. Here’s some highlights from the day.
We took advantage of another AWESOME local concert at the Stewart’s tonight. The band was “The Fretless“. They rocked the set! They’ve got a sweet celtic influenced stringed folk amazingness, with a little step dance thrown in for good measure. I was dying to try out the Df as a stealthy event camera. It did awesome as I knew it would. The quiet shutter was really nice and not very invasive or distracting to others around. All I brought was a 50mm 1.4 and it proved to be a good fit for the homey event. Zooms will always get you more photos when you’re at a venue as a seated guest, but I wasn’t at the event to be a photographer. So I didn’t care. 😎 I wanted to try out the high ISO madness in the
crap difficult lighting situation. It’s actually an insanely difficult situation. There are 4 little halogen spot lights above the fire place that super bright. Then 2 other red floor lamps. That’s it. So you’ve got an overexposed background and a super dim foreground (where the faces are). Very tuff. RAW helps reign the wild pony highlights back in though. I shot from 3200-12,800. Files look great. 😀
The Stewarts have been blessed with more musical talent in one finger than I’ll ever have in my whole body. All of them. They’re all outstanding! We were treated with an impromptu blues performance (hence the cyanotype). Unreal! 🙂
Then, as we left to head home, it was snowing like crazy. I snapped a silhouette of my lovely wife who is happy that it’s not -50C anymore and, who was stoked to take advantage of another awesome live band! 😀
We went to my all time favourite restaurant and all-round place of awesomeness, The Happy Nun on the weekend. As always, the food was AMAZING. And the talent is likewise fantastic. To kick off the deep winter blues festival was Forget, SK resident and Juno award winner Ken Hamm. He’s a tremendous guitar player and I really enjoyed the sound of his vintage tin guitar. It took me back to my Edmonton days of Blues on Whyte. It’s really a tremendous genre of music full of soul and reality.
Speaking of soul and reality, my noble Fuji X100s was in hand for the event. I love how the fuji can capture the colour so well. Ken was being lit by 2 overhead lights, one CTO as the main on his left side and the other CTB for a fill on his right. I love that look. The vastly different colour temperatures work together to really give the atmosphere a great mood. I shot the rest of the event at a very warm Kelvin temperature. I was really digging that CTO look. That said, I probably should have dialled it to blue to emphasize the Blues. heheehhe… next time. 😎
The only thing better than a house party is a house concert! 😎 Just imagine, your own private concert in your living room with 60 of your friends. Imagine no more! It happens in Oxbow. And that’s a good thing. 😀
We had a blast listening to three amazing musicians Karrnnel Sawitsky, Jake Charron and Daniel Koulack at the Stewart’s home. It was one of my favourite concerts I’ve ever attended because 1) the music was fantastic and 2) the house venue made it very cozy and well, homey! heheheeh. Also, a good friend of mine, Orvina Black, who is well into her 90s got up and jammed with the band. The Westphalia Walz was the song she picked and the band picked up on it right away. It was like they played that song together forever. Truly mesmerizing!
I brought my Fuji X100s along for the event. I love that camera. I’ve said it a bazillion times already, but it’s true. The leaf shutter is as silent as a ninja’s shadow. The high ISO performance rocks the set. All the photos in this entry were shot at a minimum of 3200 and f/2. The X Trans II sensor handles it soooooo good. If it had a tele-lens attachment, it would be completely ideal. But I enjoy using it so much as is. It’s very unobtrusive and respectful of others, especially for an intimate setting like this concert.
So we went up to the grand metropolis of Moosomin, SK last night to take in the Fireworks Competition. This year’s combatants were CanFire Pyrotechnics vs. Canadian Pro Importers & Distributors Ltd. We missed the show on Saturday night, so we don’t have anything to compare Sunday’s offering with. It was still super fun! Everyone always loves fireworks, especially when they are choreographed to music. 😎 Our experience involved screaming and/or puking children so it was doubly rich! 😯 But once we got over that, it turned out to be a nice night. 😀 Put the fuji x100s to work. I am always blown away by that little camera. It is so, so ideal as a walk around, do anything, take anywhere camera.
I played a bit with the fun Q menu and tweaked the contrast of some of these images to give them that crazy “over blackened art look”. But the skin tones in the color images are unbelievable. If I was lost on a desert island and I could only have one camera, it would be the x100s! 😎
I was super fortunate to be able to take my new Fuji X100s for an extended tour of duty as a travel & event photographer. It was precisely for these two applications that I bought this camera, but after using it, it is quickly becoming my “go to” camera. I’ve never owned or shot any traditional film rangefinder cameras and I’m coming to the X100s from a D800 and other Nikon DLSRs. So it was a new experience and a nifty learning curve but this camera fits like a glove. All the reviews of the internet celebrity bloggers like Arias, Hobby, and others have lauded this camera and all I can say is that everything is true. It is THAT good. Even if your friends accuse you of down grading from a DSLR, just smile and nod. 😆
You can look up the tech specs on Fuji’s website. This review is about the user experience and the pure can of whoop @$$ this camera packs into such a sweet little package. Firstly, it is a dream to use. It’s an extremely tactile camera, everything clicks. Nicely. The buttons have a great feel to them and are easy to use. The only gripe I have is that the on/off switch can easily be flicked unawares when putting the camera into a pocket. But that is an extremely minor gripe. The new “Q” button is really, really handy for making changes on the fly. Also the 3 custom user modes are perfect for events as you can switch back and forth to customized presets without having to burn through tonnes of menus. LOVE that feature. During my trip we attended a friend’s wedding and I shot the X100s in Black and White mode mostly because I love the look of the files (and being able to tweak the tonality of shadows and highlights is the bees knees). But, I could switch back to Provia colour in a button flick. It’s a really great experience all round in using the camera. The one fixed 23mm f/2 lens is super sharp and you don’t have to worry about changing lenses. Ever. 🙂
I found that the camera truly was ready for nearly anything. Not even once did I wish I had my D800. The low profile of the rangefinder style is really unique. I found that people were less nervous getting their photos taken by it. The camera changes the photographic relationship if that makes sense. It certainly makes you push in closer to get the shot, which was a bit uncomfortable at first for me. I’m naturally “telephoto eyed”. I love my 85mm 1.8 and I take mostly everything with that. So the 35mm equivalent made me get closer and in so doing created a photo and look that I really enjoyed. While at the wedding service, the paid pro was walking around with a loud Canon 5D Mwhatver and the shutter sounded like a Clydesdale horse plodding through the mud “Clug-clock, clug-clock, clug-clock!” Meanwhile my X100s set to silent mode was like a ninja’s shadow! Truly, it’s totally silent and unobtrusive. Thank you leaf shutter! 😎
The image quality is outstanding. I shot the camera at 3200 ISO nearly the whole time I was at the different events on my trip and when I got home to look the files over, they blew me away. The files aren’t D3s clean but there’s no noise. It’s a silky grain that adds to the character and personality of the camera. The color. The color is unbelievable. I can’t get over how amazing and beautiful and rich and vibrant and . . . you get the idea . . . the color is. I love color and the Fuji files pop off the screen with scrumptious tonality. The photo of the roses was shot in a Costco under those heinous “sodium-vapourizer-punch-your-auto-WB-in-the-face” lights. Auto white balance and like all the photos on this review, SOOC JPG.
This window light portrait was shot at ISO 400, f/2.8. I really love the over all look of the files. The skin tones are amazing, the colors pop. What more can I say?! The files are gorgeous straight out of camera, as is my smokin’ hot wife. 😀
I feel about the X100s the same way I felt when I got my first DSLR (Nikon D40) – Romeo & Juliet. I’m in love! 😎 But the best part is, we’re not star-crossed in any way. The camera is a finely revised version of an already great model. It brings the thunder in every way. It’s no nonsense. The user experience is great. The autofocus speed is slick. The files are pure awesome. It’s literally anything anyone would want in a compact travel/event camera in nearly any situation. If you are a rangefinder retro-style junkie, buy this camera. If you have an X100, buy this camera. If you want a camera that you can pick up and feel that it is an extension of your photographic creativity and skill, buy this camera. It’s a 5 out of 5 star camera only because I can’t give it 6 out of 5. It’s cooler than the other side of the pillow. 😀
Eve of Destruction 2! This time, it’s not Eve of Destruction 1! 😎 The event is pure awesome! Last year it was a combine smash up derby, this year, a truck and trailer figure 8 crash up! hehhhehe… But not only is there the main event, there is also lots of other amazing performances from exploding cars to MX stunt dudes to car flips to truck pulls. But I wasn’t there for any of it. My job was to take some pictures of the Lord of the Speedway, Byron Fichter. He’s an Estevan area photographer who specializes in landscapes and motor sports. His work at the Estevan Motor Speedway is exceedingly well known and he knows his craft. Be sure to check out his images at his website ByronFichter.com. I had fun following Byron around and taking some shots of him in action.For a guy who is known for his work at the track, it’s nice to actually get some shots of him at the track. 😎 People were saying to him “Are you the guy from the track?” Now they will see the photos and know. It was lots of fun shooting Byron and being able to nab a few shots of the event. The MX bikes were 80 feet in the air when doing their stunts! Unreal! I’m glad I was on the ground with a camera. 🙂
The Estevan fair was really quite sensational. And I’m really not kidding! It was a boat load of fun!! It was doubly so for me because I got to take some family photos of the Mercers in a really incredible backdrop of colour and lights. 😎 After we had completed our photo shoot I wandered around a bit longer and waited for the light to fall a bit darker for some fun “lights at night” shots. Thankfully the thundershower held off and we were able to get our shots and not have to worry about the rain. All we had to worry about was the carnie’s grip on our wallets! hehehehheh….. (I have it on the highest authority that the fair is a bigger rip off than even the circus!) 😉
Yesterday was the big day! We baptized Pria out at the historic Trinity Lutheran Church by Willmar. It was truly a blessing to have all the family down for the event. Dad took some photos from before and during and after the service and I got Jimmy to use my camera to also nab a few shots hither and thither. All of our kids have been baptized in a gown that was made from Regan’s wedding dress. She had a wrap that draped over her arms (or whatever they do, I’m a boy). 😉 Point being, it’s a really cool thing for us to illustrate how our marriage has brought forth our family and how that union continues to be part of our families’ spiritual lives as well. The only other baptism I’ve done out at Trinity was for another little baby who was baptized in a 100 year old gown that had been handed down through the family through the ages! It’s a very historic place taking part in a very historic ritual of the Christian faith dating back 2000 years. Being that I’m the pastor as well as the papa, it has an extra special aspect to it. I personally get to be the one God uses to bring the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation to my own children. It’s a very cool moment! 😎
Oxbow’s Wood Tick Prevention Program is a huge success again this 2012! I for one am super encouraged to see those little vampires go up in smoke! Nobody likes wood ticks. 😉 Just kidding! (But it’s true). The fire department were having fun doing a controlled burn just south of town tonight. They’ve got it down to a science and it made for some really exciting photos, especially as the light started to fade. I followed the burn from the first plumes of smoke till all the light was gone. Our firemen are awesome! They do a great job honing their fire fighting skills. Oxbow Enniskillen Fire Dept. No. 5, I salute you! Keep up the great work! 😎
This past weekend was the big rip roarin’ shin dig in Moose Jaw. My Dad turned 60 big ones whilst my youthful wife slid into the big Three-O (30 in layman’s terms). 8) Anyways, it was super fun! We had cakes and drinks and food and merriment all round. And now, Dad can get a senior’s discount. Maybe he’ll take us out for breakfast at Smitty’s. heehheehe… 😆
CLICK HERE to see the whole Gallery on Flickr.
Photo Geek Commentary: I was shooting my 50 f/1.4 for the majority of the shots. I tried my 105mm at 2.8 too, but I needed as much light as I could get so I went back to the 1.4. I did a combo of available light stuff for some of the candids, as well as placing an SB-900 strategically around the deck and triggering it with my SU-800. It made for some more interesting shots. It was all the realm of high ISO for the available light stuff, 1250-1600 for many of them. It produces grainy looking shots, but let’s face it, we’re not gonna blow these things up. They’re candids of moments so the picture quality trumps pixel quality. One other thing of note I did for the portrait of my Dad and his pal Al, was to match the light colour output of the tiki torch. I used a 1/4CTO gel and an umbrella to diffuse the light and make it look like the torch was lighting the whole shot. The tell tale sign of the umbrella flare showing up in Al’s glasses gives it away (and I was too lazy to clone out the glare). 8)
We went to Moose Jaw Friday night for my Auntie’s 50th Birthday. The threshold hath been crossed. There’s no turning back! 8) It was a metric tonne of fun to see all the relatives even if it was whirlwind visit. It’s nearly impossible to get the whole clan together anymore so it’s always a good time when we can show up and see the fam. I brought along the camera and my trusty 50mm f/1.4 lens. I love that lens. It was the perfect choice for this event, especially later, after everyone came back into the house for drinks and merriment. It was evening and I didn’t bother with any flash setups, going for the more natural candid shots. Besides, my dad had his 580 EX II pocket wizarding all over the place. Another flash and we would have all had epileptic seizures! 😉 So natural light when there’s not much light. It’s truly the realm of f/1.4. You need primes to do this, opening up the camera’s eye as wide as it will go to harvest as many photos as possible. You’re not gonna get these shots with a zoom, even a f/2.8 zoom. (OK, OK, maybe on a full frame camera where ISO isn’t as big a deal). That said I was still shooting the majority of the inside shots at ISO 1250 – 2000. On a DX body, that’s huge. So the pixel quality starts to look like a cell phone image. BUT the picture quality is awesome. The shots are still sharp and have way cool depth of field. When I’m doing candids I’m more interested in picture quality than pixel quality. White balance is a gong show in a house that has a nasty mix of old fluorescents and incandescents, but I still left it on cloudy for the most part. RAW files make switching it a 3 second thing later anyways. But it was a super fun event and a great way to catch up with family and make some cool memories with the ol’ picture mill.
We made a whirlwind trip to Grenfell and back yesterday for the birthdays of two very special people. My Father in Law & Sister in Law share the same birthday. How slick is that? It saves one whole extra trip to Grenfell each and every year! 😉 Just kidding. It was super fun! And while we were there, my Brother in Law needed a picture of his sweet restoration car for a car show calendar. We drove it on over to the local tire shop and tried to work the old tire pile into the photo. The only bummer was somebody parked a giant 5th wheel right by the pile and we couldn’t get the optimal location we wanted, so we had to work with what we had – and fast as the light was fading behind a ginormous cloud bank. I’d never actually shot a vehicle before but I knew it needed some kinda strobist option. So I used the sun as the key light with hard direct lighting and I setup two SB-600 strobes to light up the chrome on the front. I used one straight flash (flagged to prevent ground spill) and the other with a 1/8 grid spot. It worked out not too shabby! 8)