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! 😎
The Saskatchewan sunrises and sunsets are incredible. This goes without saying. But time is of the essence. These moments of great light are fleeting and often within a few minutes they are gone forever! Never to be seen again. I guess the lesson is to make the most of the time we have been given; to enjoy and actually live in the moment we are in. This is the miraculous aspect of Photography. It has the ability to freeze time and memories. It gives us the opportunity to return to those fleeting moments and remember them.
It is Cold.
As much as a I hate winter, I love fall. More precisely, the fall colours. Which only last for 3.4 days in the prairies. 😉 Except this year! We’ve had a very nice slow start to autumn and it’s brought a lot of beautiful colour. I love shooting fall landscapes to nab the colours but the photos are never as vivid or as saturated as I perceive them to be. So I decided to do a new twist on shooting fall landscapes. Abstract! 😎 The colours can’t help but pop in their full glory on account of that’s all the photos have going for them is colour. I kinda like it! 😀
Try it for yourself. Don’t be a Photoshop pansy. You can do these shots in camera. I used the superb new Nikon 70-200 f/4 for all of these shots. It’s sharp and light but it also stops way down to f/32. Which is where I shot these. I shot at ISO 100 because it was already bright this morning at 7:30. Crank your aperture down as far it will go and then just adjust your shutter speed down till you get the desired exposure. In my case, I was shooting these at 1/5 of a second. And then comes the twist. Just zoom your lens and you get way cool motion blur and super amazing colour. It’s kinda fun and gives you a new twist on fall! 🙂
Granted, I’m a little late to the party. But I want to set the record straight on the Nikon 1 V1. “It doesn’t suck!” It’s amazing little camera! This image of the kids is straight out of camera with no edits (other than water mark and resize). The colours are amazingly vibrant! All the images are very contrasty and punchy, and I like it! I finally had the chance to go for a little walk around today with it and shot a couple of landscapes. Other than the fact that it was a foggy abysmal day, I found that it set the stage for some cool black and white. I shot in JPEG and RAW and had a good experience with both. RAW always gives more latitude, but the JPEG performance is really nice. The only achilles heel is the high ISO, which is to be expected for a small sensor camera. But it’s not that bad, all things considered. When you evaluate the performance against my current DSLR, the D300s, it doesn’t lose by that much in color and dynamic range. It’s negligible really. ISO get’s punched in the face, but we already knew that. For outdoor day to day stuff, in my opinion, the Nikon 1 brings the thunder. And, its far more portable. But I already mentioned that. 😎
Be sure to watch it in HD! 😀
I just watched a Chase Jarvis video where he did 4 cool time lapse sessions in South Africa. I’ve always wanted to do one and so I setup my camera to do it over lunch hour. Nikon makes time lapse super easy do to the built in interval timer. You just set it up for how many shots you want and how often, then just walk away! Couldn’t be easier. Chuck them into a movie making program, I used iMovie ’11 and away you go. It’s a really cool way to be creative. I’ll look forward to doing more in the future! 😎
We went for a little adventure today that was close to home. Newborns have a way of halting any and all progress in life. heheheeh… 😉 So we grabbed the GPS and went to do a little geocaching. If you’ve never heard of geocaching before, its a high tech treasure hunt using satellites and the internet to locate caches hidden by other people. It’s a super fun, low-cost family activity. We found five caches today and got to see some pretty cool places up in the Moose Mountains and around Kenosee lake. The majority of the caches we found were at old one-room schools. It was neat to drive into the middle of nowhere and bam, there’s a school were oodles of kids went years ago. They’ve become the haunts of birds and coyotes now (and nerds with GPS units). 😎 The last site was in a beautiful open field where we had a picnic and nabbed some photos of the kids. I had a flash with me so we put it to good use in the middle of some dandelions. All in all a super fun day!
EDIT: Here’s the video we made from the day!
What can I say. This was the funnest shoot ever!!! 😀 Take three crazy friends, the weirdest location in the universe and a deranged photographer half-high on amoxicillin and presto! You’ve got these photos! 😎 Bwahahah….. It was a total riot! Fun, wild and crazy pics at every turn. We were blessed with a beautiful day and we made the most of it. We ended up with a truly eclectic mix of photos, wide angle to telephoto, natural light & flash. It was a photog’s dream and I think we all had a blast! 🙂
Winter has moods all its own. It can be happy and vibrant with colours or it can be dismal and bleak with fog! Living in the prairies gives you a taste of everything – and if you don’t like it, just wait 20 minutes and it will change! 😉 I was able to get out for a little walk two days ago and today and nab some landscapes. It’s such a wild difference in the mood of the photos. We had some nice sun on the 1st which made for beautiful skies that were cheerful and bright. But today was pea-soup fog that didn’t let up all day. The photos are so bleak and void of life that it’s depressing! Capturing both moods makes for a “cool” contrast in prairie winter scenes. 😎
Quick walk out back with the dog today, try out the new lens in some light. I really dig how it handles color. All the oil pump photos aren’t edited at all (save the watermark). It renders the sky magnificently! 😎 The one of Ethan I plain screwed up the exposure. Left it on a previous setting and it blew out the rest of the shot except for him! Works as a high key black and white. hehehehehe…. 😉
Bells will be ringing for Lucas and Kayla as they cross the threshold of happily ever after this summer. I was happy to nab some photos of them the other day to help celebrate their engagement. It’s official: I’ve added engagement photos to my repertoire! 😎 Winter photos always bring that extra wee bit of somethin’ somethin’ – frozen extremities and rudolf noses! 😉 But we jumped in and out of the truck to warm up in between the shots. It was a whole lot of fun! Can’t wait for the wedding!
This is a brief tutorial on making HDR images. There’s zillions of other posts/pages on the information super highway already so you can look up more info there about it. But this is how I do it. Which makes it infinitely better. 8) Just kidding! 😉
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s been around forever conceptually, even since film days. But now, with digital it’s easy and fun. Get a camera and a tripod and find a scene that has loads of contrast: lots of lights and darks. The idea behind this kind of photography is to keep all the detail in the darks and in the light parts of the image. Because the camera currently cannot capture the same amount of dynamic range that the human eye can see, in one camera photo you don’t get as much range as you see with your eye. So, you take 3-7 photos of varied exposure and layer them together with software. I use Nik’s HDR eFex Pro. It’s super slick and comes with many final image presets you can apply to stylize the final image, making it look as surreal or as realistic as you want.
OK, here’s a sunset one I took the other night. And in all truth, it’s not how I typically do it. I was on top of my roof with my 70-300 lens and I did this handheld, which isn’t optimal. Get a tripod so there is no camera movement.
So, the first image: bang. Here it is.The camera meters the scene and determines that this is the best balance of light and dark. We get all that rich colour in the sky & the river. But the valley hills have gone dark and silhouetted the evergreen. This was at ISO 400 f/8 70mm and the shutter was 1/100.
The next shot speeds the shutter up to 1/200, recording an even darker, more saturated image. This one gives the mad colour, but kills off almost all the detail in the hills.The third image washes out the sky but it lifts the details up out of the hills with a slower shutter speed of 1/50. All three images are 1 stop of light apart from each other.
Now, technically, it would be better to get a couple more images here to further lift the details out of the dark regions. But, as I mentioned, this was handheld. If you have a tripod it’s easy to do.
Then, after feeding the photos into the Nik software (I use it as a plug in with Aperture) you can arrive at the final HDR image. There’s loads of darks and lights, rich colours and highlight detail that otherwise would have been lost. HDR is having your cake and eating it too. 8) When you stylize the image, you can make it look wild with texture, like I did here to make the clouds go boom. But you can also finish them to look realistic too which I did for this photo of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Regina. The light pouring in from that window would have made getting a balanced exposure difficult.
So I had this big idea that we should go out and do a family photo for the Christmas card before it was really really too late. It’s already too late to nab fall colours which would have been nice, so we decided to do some texture shots at the old stone house (before it falls over completely – it’s really become a cesspool of dilapidated iniquity!). Anyways, I had the vision for the family shot and it went well (look for it at Christmas time…) 8) But before going home, I decided to do an environmental portrait of just the three of us (Me, Regan and baby III). The sun was setting and approaching delicious golden light. The other two kids were screaming in the truck because it was too cold to be outside and they hated their lives in the car seats. But close the truck doors and viola! No more noise problem! 😉 tee hee…. Anyways, we did the setup and got the shot. All in all a pretty fun 45 minutes on the old timey prairie. Read on for photo photo geek disclosure…
Nabbed a quick shot last night before I rushed off to a meeting.
I’m a fan of silhouettes at Sunset. In the top image I tried to frame the silhouette tree branch on the right and just a smidgeon of horizon below at the very bottom of the picture. The dark cloud structure on the top of the frame helps further frame the overall image. The second image is more of an abstract example of cloud texture and amazing colour. I love how it incorporates the blue and gold and the pinky red on the clouds. 8)
Saskatchewan has an abundance of wind. Almost all the time. It’s not any real surprise to prairie folk to feel the wind and see it’s effects as it blows through leaves or crop or grass. But to capture it with a still camera is tricky. It’s much like capturing water as it moves, you use the same technique. Setting your camera to either Shutter priority mode or Manual, you can slow your shutter speed right down and capture the motion blur of the wind. The slower shutter speeds capture the blurred motion, giving the picture the look and feel of movement even though it’s a still photo. Another useful tip is to stop your lens down. Way down. As far as it can go to restrict the amount of light getting into the camera on a bright sunny day. This will give you the luxury of getting slower shutter speeds. Also, dump your ISO down as low as it will go. The shot above was taken at ISO 100 f/32 at 1/15 of a second on a very breezy/sunny day. 8)
Challenge of the Day: Summer Time.
Woke up to a thick blanket of fog this morning. Grabbed the camera and walked out back with the dog. My jeans were soaked to the knee in the first 50 yards! heheehehe… it was super damp everywhere, just like a rain cloud had settled on the ground. I was able to nab a few frames before the wind picked up and blew the fog away. The number 1 challenge of the day was not being eaten alive by 10 zillion billion mosquitoes, who also kept annoying me by flying in front of my lens. How inconsiderate those little vampires are. 😉 The picture at the end is my pants soaked right up to the pockets, just from walking through the long grass!
I was out and about yesterday and over the lunch hour, I stopped to nab a couple of HDR shots while we had our one-day-a-week allotment of sunshine. 😉 I knew all I wanted to do was get HDR photos so I put the camera on a tripod and setup my bracketing for 5 images. Using my camera’s sweet ability to do interval timer shooting (might as well call this HDR mode), I set that up for 5 frames and pressed OK. click-click-click-click-click! Got ’em, 5 shots all one stop apart. Couldn’t be easier. I’ve been wanting to get out and get some old rundown prairie HDR shots for a while now, but our weather has just plain sucked. Had hail this morning the size of a marble to boot. Yeck. Gotta make photos while the sunshines!
Today was beautiful! We played outside with the kids this morning and finally got some serious rays. My bald head got red! And it was great! 🙂 I also cleaned the garage, but who cares about that. I went for an evening drive to get obtain the fine water from Alameda’s well and threw the camera in just incase any photos were lingering in the setting sun. There were! Here’s what I came up with this evening. 🙂
The definitive sign of spring on the prairies – besides wood ticks – is the crocus. Yesterday when Jimmy was out running his new greyhound dog, he and I were kibitzing about this and that. I looked down and behold! I saw some tiny little friends just starting to poke through the grass. This is the last sign that spring must finally be here, despite the snow we had yesterday. The crocuses don’t lie, even if they are closed for business. 😉 I don’t blame them for not opening up yet. Too darn cold. The forecast for today is Cloudy with sunny periods. High plus 4. UV index 5 or moderate. 🙂
The weather warmed up a ridiculous amount today. So much so that it was nice enough to go for a walk. And if you’re going for a walk, you might as well bring your camera! Truth is, I messed up my back shovelling snow the other day and sitting is no good for me. So out the door with the dog I went.
What’s there to take pictures of in winter? The landscapes are bleak. Everything is dead. Color has turned into shades of grey. Most of the time it’s too cold to be much fun – especially on the prairies where you have to worry about the windchill. Can you even get pictures worth taking in these conditions? I asked myself that question before I ventured out and hurdled the barbed wire fence behind our house. I tried to do the photo walk Jay Maisel style. Just go out walking – slowly – and take a look at what you’re lookin’ at. The slowly part was no problem for me today. I tried to keep out of the deep snow by walking on old snowmobile trails that nicely packed the terrain. Most of them have been covered over thanks to the driving wind, but you can still see them. At one point though, I ventured off the packed trail and I sunk down to my pants pockets. Great… 😦 But, as I was pondering how to get out of this without wratching my back any further, I noticed a picture.
Seems the coyotes aren’t quite as fat as I am! Must be nice to float across the top!
It’s true though, the faster you rip through an area, the more pictures you miss. Take a few steps, look around. Take another few steps, look around again. Pictures are everywhere. Another thing I noticed about the way Jay Maisel goes out on his photo walks is that he only takes one camera with one lens. So I did the same. I had my D300s and my 70-300. It’s actually quite freeing and fun to try to make shots work with just one lens. The obvious pitfalls – not having wide angle – makes life interesting! As does shooting in Manual, which is pretty much all I shot today. While I was watching Hanky burn off some energy, I happened to look down. I saw the picture, but I couldn’t get it because I had too much glass. I needed to back up a few feet in order to focus on this “last of the survivors” of winter.
I guess the lesson is, there are always pictures around us all the time. We just need to slow down and take a look at what we’re looking at! 🙂