Our Family took an extended May Long Weekend to go to Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba. It just so happened to be only 2.5 hours from where we live so no big deal, even with the near 1 year old baby in tow. I brought along my Fuji Film XPro-2 and all three “Fuji Cron” lenses (23, 35, 50 ~ 35, 50, 76). But I shot the whole trip with only the 23mm (35mm) lens. Mainly because I am used to that focal length from my X100s fixed lens camera. But also because I believe that 35mm is the most versatile focal length for travel photography.
What makes Spruce Woods awesome is that it is a gorgeous sandy desert . . . that happens to have an incredible forest of Spruce, Aspen and Juniper trees growing out of it! As I surveyed the landscape, I was bombarded with “How can this place exist?” It seems like a twilight zone time warp walking around there! We took a Belgian horse drawn wagon tour which was really neat and then did some hiking the next day around the dunes. The two main natural attractions are the dunes and the little spring fed lake called “The Devil’s Punchbowl.” But the whole place truly is something to see.
Back to the Fuji kit. The XPro2 is my fav camera of all time. So compact and versatile in and of itself and when coupled with the little 23mm lens offers a perfect mix of portability and capability. I shot primarily in JPG as I always do with Fuji because the files are THAT good. I switched to RAW for a couple shots where I wanted extended dynamic range if I wanted to make a print later. But the JPGs are so brilliant I usually only shoot that format. There’s quite a bit of latitude for editing even the JPGs but I nearly never have to do anything to the files. They come out of camera so, so sweet. Colours are amazing. Detail is crisp and clear. What’s not to love?
So 35mm. It’s truly a versatile place to live when shooting travel (especially with kids in tow). It’s a ‘pretty wide’ way to the view the world without being toooooo wide, although if you were going for straight landscapes you’d want to be wider perhaps. I’d highly recommend this one lens/one focal length approach for your next trip. See what the restriction brings! 😎
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.
We shot a winter wedding last weekend. Fortunately the freezing rain that was forecast didn’t show up. Instead we had some snowy and blustery cold conditions to contend with. I’ll do a later post with some images from that wedding because it as a lot of fun and the bride chose an amazing venue to do some of the wedding party photos.
It was in the Virdin Auditorium. What an amazing location! We did a bunch of fun group things and then I asked if the backdrop could be brought down and the theatrical lights be used to light a portrait of the bride. I knew I wanted to try the V3 in this setting with the 18.5mm lens to see how it would hold up. It was challenging light for the camera to balance in that it was only lit by CTB and Magenta gelled spot lights.
I thought the camera did amazingly well. This photo is straight from camera, neutral picture control JPG. The colour tones are pleasing and rich. Just for fun, I shot the same setup with my Nikon Df & 50mm 1.8G lens for comparison:
It’s definitely not possible to do an “apples-to-apples” comparison here but it gives you an idea of what the Nikon V3 can do contrasted with a $3000.00 DSLR setup. There is more tonality and colour nuance captured by the Full Frame DSLR sensor, but to be honest, the V3 image is more contrasty which I prefer for the overall look of this photo. Also, the Df at 1.8 is bokelicious wonderland where the V3 keeps pretty much everything in focus at 1.8.
Here are some ~100% crops to see how the V3 holds up at 1600 ISO. The Df is at 800 ISO here just for comparison purposes.
You can see that the V3 detail is noticeably less than the Df, which is expected due to sensor size. But, it handles the noise amazingly well. Her eyelashes are discernible. Her hair is beginning to get a bit mottled together but to my eye, it’s still incredibly good! I’m impressed with the performance!
Here is one more unedited straight from camera JPG. I’m blown away by the skin tones here. They are very pleasing and creamy. The colour reproduction is really quite good as well. This scene has a metric tonne of white in it and the nuance between the snow, the shady snow, the dress, the shirt and the flowers is discernible.
Overall, it’s impressive image quality for a small CX sensor. If I was a person looking to upgrade from a camera phone camera or point and shoot but didn’t want to lug around a big DSLR, the Nikon 1 V3 would totally fit the bill. 😎
Here’s a couple shots from a wedding we did a little while ago but didn’t make the blog until now! We had a super fun time with this wedding in the awesome little community of Miniota, MB. You never know what to expect in small prairie towns but Miniota really brings the thunder. Great little town, super friendly people, gorgeous golf course and a great selection of ales at the liquor store! (We arrived early and the girls hair wasn’t quite done yet so we took a tour). 😎 The ceremony took place at the golf course beneath some beautiful big trees. The weather was great which is always a huge blessing for an outdoor wedding. The only hiccup was that for a short time the rings were lost. #BestManFail! LOL But they found them thankfully and everything went off without a hitch. So congrats again to Jarrid & Melanie! It was a blast!
It’s been quite busy as of late! We’ve been campin’ up a storm all over Saskatchewan and most recently Manitoba. Child’s Lake has a really terrific campground, as well as tons of other cool stuff. It’s been my in-law’s campground of choice for years. This year we had great weather but the bugs were heinous verging on horrendous. Lots of water = lots of mosquitos. Our poor children looked like walking mosquito bites, despite slathering them down with all manor of DEET bearing spray known to mankind! 👿 But we always have a good time. Weather was good. There was only one rogue black bear in the campground to worry about so that’s not bad either. 😎
My favourite shot from the trip was the banner image from this post. I was really wanting a nice sunset image of Child’s Lake. But the sunset was quasi-lackluster. And boats galore were chopping up the lake for some last minute water skiing and tubing. So I had to with them out until it was almost too late. Plus I was getting eaten alive by the winged vampires – despite the army of dragonflies eating them by the metric truck load above my head. I had the Nikon Df on a tripod and made the 13 second exposure with the 24mm AFS f/1.4 lens. That lens is a cracker jack piece of glass! When I’m travelling I only ever bring a prime kit (24, 50, 85), or just my FujiFilm X100s if I want to be truly ultralight. I opted for the Df because I knew I wanted to make this image that required a bit wider of a lens than the X100s has. The super long exposure turned the water into a polished mirror. As the seconds ticked by the haunting call of loons filled the lake. One notch off of paradise I’d reckon. 🙂
I am not making this up! A true blue wedding between a Lewis and a Clark! And what an adventure! First of all, we got lost on the way to the shoot. Twice. Nearly got hung up in sinking cesspool of iniquity muddy road. No cell service. Barely made it out alive! But, in our process of getting lost we stumbled across the most incredible yard full of red leaves. We made a mental note and knew we’d be back later. And we were super glad we were. It was incredible. We had a great time photographing Lewis & Clark making history. Congrats to Justin and Kelly, you guys rock the set! 😎
And, as one final note at the end of the night, we got to play with sparklers. Everyone loves sparklers! 😉
For the record, children should be dressed up as fuzzy animals always, all the time! 😎 We were camping at Adam Lake, Manitoba last week and we decided to do a little photo shoot of Ethan dressed up as a Kunk. He’s a kunk because he can’t say “sk”unk yet. Well, that’s not true. He can make the compound sounds, he still just doesn’t do it on principle. hehheehhe… So anyways, he’s our little fuzzy Kunk.
I wanted to get these photos in a forest setting and it was loads of fun. Normally he can be a bit of a punk for taking photos but he was super into it with the costume on. +1 for photo madness. 🙂
A little BTS of the shoot, I brought a light stand and a shoot thru umbrella, but I left half the cover on, essentially making a quick strip box. It was cool because it let the light fall off quick.
We also had the rest of the non-kunk based family there too and I was able to nab a few more shots of the kids.
A couple of weeks ago now we went to the grand province of Manitoba to visit Meandher Creek Pumpkin Patch – Where Fun Grows! And let me tell you, fun does indeed grow there! There were tons of activities for the kids and a zillion photo ops. First of all, it was inexpensive to get in the door. Admission was $3bucks each, Ethan got in free. So for less than $10 bones, you’re into pumpkin madness. Second of all, there is no shortage of stuff to do when you get in! They’ve got a hay ride to tour the farm. There’s a little tractor pulled wagon ride. There’s a store with snacks and tickets for all the activities. There’s a zip line, corn maze, hay labyrinth, pumpkin catapult, corn canon, petting zoo, etc. There’s a metric tonne of fun to be had. Plus, they sell (bet you didn’t guess it) pumpkins of every shape and size and variety. It was super fantastic! 😆 We highly recommend checking them out if you want a great way to spend an afternoon. The farm is near Oak Lake, MB which is 186km from Oxbow ~ so less than a 2 hour drive. Cool stuff!!! 8)
We were able to sneak away for a few days to Adam Lake, MB for a little camping trip. Located in the Turtle Mountains, I was skeptical if we were turtley enough for the turtle club! But we were. 😉 In short, Adam Lake campground is chock full of beautiful awesomeness. The camp sites are very well treed and you can’t see your neighbour easily at all, which I love. And, there are awesome hiking trails, one that leads to a wildlife viewing tower. The beach is manicured sand and the water is shallow and warm, the kids could walk out for a long way. Not too mention the $150,000 dollar new play park right near the beach too. The park entrance fee was waved again for 2011 and fire wood is provided free of charge. The campfire pits are big and have grates across the top for grilling if you so choose. The bathrooms are all up to date, heated and clean. The showers are free! In short, this is my new favourite campground of all time!! We owe a hat tip to Jenny B for letting us in on her families’ secret campground extravaganza! 8)
The photos are a mix of dSLR & Point & Shoot shots. We also did some light painting with really cool colour changing LED flower lights. They make for a really cool effect. Also there are a couple of HDR shots in the mix, but they are subtle. See if you can spot them. 😆