The Crocuses have once again returned to the prairies. I saw the most perfect one ever today out back on the prairie and I went back to get a couple macro shots.
Here is the hi-tech lighting setup. Full noon day sun through a reflector scrim. Really nice wrapping and soft light. Nikon D800 with the 105mm macro lens.
They truly are a magnificent aspect of prairie life! 😎
Hey! When winter time rolls around, my cameras basically never see the light of day. If they get any use, it’s all indoors. I’ve got some posts coming up about indoor macro work I have been doing but in terms of getting outside, forgetaboutit! It’s way too cold and miserable for me to mess around with gear.
That said, I couldn’t help myself yesterday. There were the most incredible sundogs I’ve ever seen! It was -50 BillionºC but I ran out with the D800 and 16-35mm f/4 lens. There was this “double rainbow” sundog that I’ve never encountered up above the complete ring around the sun. It was worth freezing my baguettes off! 🤣
They were impressive enough in the landscape orientation but even with 16mm I couldn’t get in that top reflection so portrait orientation won the day! ☀️🐶
So we had some really neat chunky snow flakes the other day. I ran out early in the morning and nabbed a few macro photos while the wind was low. The trusty 105mm Nikkor and the stalwart Nikon D800 were the weapons of choice for this hunt – maximum resolution and resolving power!
It’s incredible to see the intricacies of frozen water up close like this. I have included a square cropped image here of the larger picture to see more of the detail.
It’s pretty wild stuff to see!
The “ball” images above here are frozen chokecherries. They are almost the same image, the only difference is lighting. On the darker blue image I lit the chokecherry with a flashlight in close and feathered a bit to give the image some shape and specular highlights – which we didn’t get with the flat cloudy ambient light. #Sparkle 🤩
In this block of images you can see the crops of the above. The creative genius of God on display for our viewing pleasure! 😎👍🙏
This is just a quick blog post showing how I was shooting some macro shots of my favourite cameras this evening.
This behind the scenes iPhone shot shows the exceedingly crude setup. Main light is an AlienBee 1600 through a gridded Photoflex soft box. I setup my home made scrim as a big reflector and did a simple blue gelled flash pointed at the back wall to give a bit of colour. Very simple setup with a decent result.
I also shot the good ol’ Nikon Df with an old 28mm manual focus lens from 19 diggity 5. I took more of a macro approach with this shot and used that same blue flash to add that hint of glancing colour to the shadow side. The blue sets it off just that extra little bit.
I shot the same kind of angle of the X-Pro2 but it doesn’t work as well to me. The X-Pro2 is more minimalistic in its design, lending to a more covert external appearance anyways (which I like). There’s just not as much going on for the accent light to bring attention too. Anyways, just a fun little shoot for something to do.
Here’s a link to the Nikon photo in 4K resolution. I shot all these files with the Nikon D800 RAW so there’s resolution to burn. 😎👍
I was out for a little nature walk the other day. I took the D800 and my 105mm Nikkor macro lens which I haven’t shot in a long time. With macro, you need a good tripod to be locked down tight. And, you need cooperative subjects (read: not windy) that stay still. But this particular day I didn’t bring a tripod. In fact, I didn’t even focus. On purpose. With most macro and landscape photography, you want hyperfocal focus and even focus stacking to get a big, crisp, tack sharp photo as the end result. But what would happen if you did nature photography out of focus??
It creates a pretty wild, abstract, bokehlicious result! Give it a whirl! 😎👍
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.
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.
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.
2017 has been an amazing year of travel and travel photography opportunities! This last venture took us to Waskesiu to stay in Prince Albert National Park at the tail end of September. It’s Saskatchewan’s favourite park (read BUSIEST) and so it was great to go there and not have any crowds and enjoy minimal bugs! We stayed in an oTENTik – which was nice but severely overpriced. They wanted $120 a night for a tent with no bathroom or lights. A bit of a rip. But the location is worth the money. The fall colour peaked a few days before we arrived but it was still absolutely glorious! I brought along the big Nikon gear to sop it all up in the dynamic range of the D800. 24mm 1.8G lens & 85mm 1.8G are all I took. I was hoping to get some cool flash shots of the kids in the colour but it rained too much and put a kibosh on my off camera flash dreams.
The Elk rut was still on too which meant raspy bugles could be heard throughout the park. We managed to approach one bull and a harem of cows but they were hanging out on the golf course. It makes for pretty crappy wildlife photos to have them eating fairway grass! So we continued on our way and did a hike through the Boundary Bog. It was incredible! Tiny Tamarack trees were everywhere in a brilliant display of yellows and reds. I can only imagine how insane the mosquitos would be here during the summer months. Very glad to hit up the location in the fall!
We were able to do one more hike down by the Waskesiu River before the next big rain storm hit. It really hampered the photo opportunities but I was able to snag a few more shots along the boardwalk before having to head for the hills.
Our last night cleared off quite nicely and I was able to get some cool milky way shots through the trees in the campsite. That’s where the 1.8 lenses really shine. Prime Time baby! [cool]
We had a good time in Waskesiu, taking advantage of the Canada 150 no entrance fee perk. It was a great time to be in the north, dodging the crowds and the bugs. We could have probably stayed another couple of days which would have been great to maybe avoid the rain. But you get what you get and you don’t get upset! On to the next adventure!
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!
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.
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.
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! 😎
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.
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. 😎