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! ☀️🐶
On Saturday August 4 and Sunday August 5th the “Auction of the Century” was held at the Gervais family farm at Alida, SK. I had the gracious invite to come out early and take some photos of the immense collection of Saskatchewan history that was going up for sale. You can check out the Mac Auction site for the sale that includes the complete list of items that were for sale. Words fail 100% at trying to describe the enormity of this collection. It was the lifetime work and passion of Alex Gervais. You can read more in this CBC news article. To say this auction was mind blowing in every conceivable way is a gross understatement!
I went up to check out the sale and took along the FujiFilm XPro-2 with the 23mm f/2 lens. One camera. One lens. One epic location. I primarily shot with my Tri-X film simulation configuration. It’s a very contrasty black and white which helped set the mood for this series of photographs. There was some colour provided also, generally in the Classic Chrome and a few Velvia simulations.
The extreme versatility of the 23mm (35mm full frame) makes it a nearly perfect travel/event lens. It’s pretty fast at f/2. You can get pretty close with it for faux-macro work and yet it’s still fairly wide-ish for the landscape aspect.
And, it’s so, so compact. The more I shoot with my Fuji system the harder it is to return to full frame Nikon setup. I still really like my full frame stuff, but it gets tiresome to lug around all the equipment. The Fuji system makes for a very lightweight, out-of-the-way feeling kit.
I chose to move in and get more detailed/segments of the sale items. This perspective lens a more familiar feel to the images as opposed to a zoomed out/all in aspect that is captured in the sale images. To me it speaks more of Alex’s personal connection to the collection. The vintage vehicles were unbelievable and were in amazing condition for their age. They made for such cool and uncommon photo subjects. The breadth and variety of the Gervais collection was truly staggering.
The detail and character of the vehicles can’t be over stated enough. You could spend hours and hours just staring at the history that was before you!
I regret that I couldn’t be at the actual sale itself. It was the same weekend that my Sister in Law was getting married. I couldn’t really skip out on that as I was officiating the service! 🤣 But the family told me there were thousands and thousands of people that came to partake of this once in a lifetime sale. I was very happy to have been able to capture a bit of the collection for myself in these images.
It’s a super cool experience taking grad photos for people you’ve known since they were little. Shawna is one of those such people for me. It’s hard to believe she’s graduating! The time has gone by far too fast!
This photo below here is Shawna beside a tree she planted on the first day of Kindergarten! How fitting to have a photo beside it when she graduated!
All the best & God bless, Shawna! You’re going to go far!
Well I finally completed my collection of Fuji Lenses. I got the last of the “FujiCron” series – Fuji’s f2 WR lenses. The first was the 35mm (50mm full frame equivalent) which I took to Vegas. Then I got the 50mm (76mmFF) which gets me back to my preferred focal length neighbourhood of gateway telephoto. And finally, I sold my XE2 & 18-55 setup and bought the 23mm (35FF). This whole series of lenses is super fantastic. They are sharp and optically sweet even wide open and above everything else, they are compact. I can carry the XPro2, the 3 lenses, spare batteries and more in a small Domke bag. It’s an ideal travel setup.
I really like the 23mm/35mm focal length. It’s a really versatile way to view the world. I find it superb for environmental portraits. It shows just enough background with emphasis on the subject.
The other night we had our Souris Moose Creek Adventure Club night kayaking and canoeing along the Souris river. I threw the off camera flash bag in as well and waited for the sun to dip a bit. I had with my favourite flash of choice: LumoPro LP180. If Tony Stark invented a flash, it would be this one. It’s all manual for ultimate control. And thrown through an umbrella up close it does a great job.
I was shooting the XPro2 in Astia and Classic Chrome simulations. It kind of made for a cool colour contrast along the water.
All in all I can’t recommend the “FujiCrons” enough. I really love using them and they always do a fabulous job. One of the images in this post is an iPhone 7 photo. See if you can spot which one it is!
Our SMCAC (Souris Moose Creek Adventure Club) recently did an Intro to Trapping & Skinning event. It goes without saying that trapping fur bearing game is no longer a popular activity. In fact, it is looked down upon and even chastised by the politically-correct
cesspool society we now live in. But nothing can change the fact that the nation of Canada was created by the fur trade. It’s a Canadian tradition and is something that should be upheld, not only for nostalgic and historical reasons but also as a humane way of managing wildlife populations – a responsibility that has fallen to all of mankind.
Our event introduced young and older alike to the art of trapping and skinning. The day began with a racoon skinning demonstration by Trent Lyon, and a discussion of various traps and techniques.
The participants then had their chance to try skinning a muskrat. The kids dove right into the challenge! (Though many of the adults weren’t so keen!)
After the skinning portion, we all went out to an abandoned farm to observe an actual racoon trapline. Many racoons often will inhabit an old farm house as it provides great shelter for them, additionally so if there are grain bins nearby that have a ready supply of winter vittles!
Photographically, it was FujiFilm X-Pro 2 all day long with the 35mm f/2 WR lens. Having it all be totally weather sealed is the only way to go for our harsh Canadian climate. These JPEGs are all from camera with very little post production editing. Provia film simulation for that great Fuji colour. 😎
2017 has been the year of the road trip! Not only did we do our big epic Waterton/Montana/Cypress Hills trip, we also did a few other smaller trips, including our inaugural visit to Grasslands National Park. For Canada’s 150th birthday, all the Federal Canadian parks have their
exorbitant entrance fees waved. We tried to take advantage of that as much as possible this year. I had been wanting to go to GNP for quite some time. But it’s a really different park experience. There is hardly any development in the park, let alone the region. We might associate things like playgrounds, swimming spots and beaches, ice cream stores and the like as “attractions” that will draw people to an area. Grasslands has none of these typical things. Instead, the park itself is the attraction.
The interesting (untold) history behind the creation of Grasslands is documented in the book “Dams of Contention” by Bill Redekop. The book centres around the creation of the Rafferty & Alameda Dams in South East Saskatchewan. The only reason I read the book is that I knew/know Ed and Harold Tetzlaff personally. I have a signed copy of the book in fact. As I read the book, Grasslands National Park was mentioned. In a convoluted and heavily political deal, GNP basically was created as a consolation prize for Saskatchewan after agreeing to translate Saskatchewan’s laws into French & appease/make a good impression for Quebec to sign the Canadian Constitution. This was all during the Mulroney days & the Meech Lake accord (p.131, 165). What a mouthful! When I went to Grasslands, I talked with one of the landowners who had sold their land to the government at the time of the creation of the park. She had no knowledge of this untold back story of the park’s creation.
Regardless of what actually took place in the park’s creation, it is one amazing place. For years it was a ranchers paradise. And by that, I mean it was a darn tough place to make a living. The land is dry and to sustain livestock you need a metric tonne of land. So the ranches in the area go on and on as far as the eye can see. Now the park does too. You feel about 2 inches tall walking around as the landscape is absolutely enormous and unruly. As you drive around and hike, the magnanimous quality of the area becomes abundantly clear.
The park exists in two blocks, West and East. The West has more development but the East is rapidly catching. The park has a very free quality about. Most National parks are tightly regulated. You can’t go off trails. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. Grasslands is free-for-all. You can go hiking. You can go horseback riding. You can drive. You can go where you like. In fact many of the hikes aren’t on trails of any kind. You can blaze your own trail which is refreshing. It’s a glorious dark sky preserve as well with no light pollution to speak of. We had rain every night we were there though. No stars for us. But the blessings of this wild and untamed landscape are also a bit of a double edged sword. Development and services are very scarce. If you go to Val Marie, I STRONGLY SUGGEST you fill up your gas tank. On our way to the East block we though we could fill up at Wood Mountain. Nope. We were panicking on our way to Rock Glen to get fuel!
One of the hikes we did with the family was the 70 Mile Butte hike. What a glorious walk it was. Of course we were on high alert so that the children didn’t get eaten by rattlesnakes. But the scenery is fantastic and well worth it! It was ridiculously hot but as you climbed the butte trail, the winds picked up and it was excellent! Apparently the aboriginals used the top of 70 Mile Butte for get togethers rather than the valley where there is no wind and insects galore. I stitched a panorama together of the view from the top in Lightroom. The photos still don’t do the view justice.
For accommodations, we stayed in the oTENTiks that the park has. You can bring a tent or camper but we elected to stay in the permanent structure. Glad we did. A heinous storm with gale force wind hit that night. The whole time I had visions of the oTENTik being carried off like Dorothy to the magical land of Oz! With no trees on the horizon to slow down the wind, it comes at you with full force! The park also has Wigwams that you can rent and camp in as well. All the sites are primitive camping and you need to bring your own water.
Grasslands National Park is a photographer’s paradise. The landscapes are vast and the perfect place for ultra-wide lenses. But even they fail to capture it all. Also, the opportunities for wildlife photography are endless. There are many unique species of animals from Bison to Prairie Dogs to Ferrets to Rattlesnakes and many others. It’s almost like being on a foreign safari shooting photos in GNP. My gear of choice with the family in tow was just my Nikon Df camera and my 24mm f/1.8 AF-S lens and the 70-200 f/4 AF-S lens. That’s it. It was a simple kit but I wanted to be as light as possible and still use full frame. It did the job admirably. I probably could have brought the 16-35 f/4 though for some extra wide angle goodness.
On our last day we decided to head over to the East Block and check it out. As mentioned previously, FUEL UP when you can! Otherwise there is basically nothing along the way. This aspect of non-development is an obstacle that tourism Saskatchewan should really look at addressing in the near future. The East Block has a lot more badlands than does the West. It was more reminiscent to Big Muddy to us. There are many cool hikes we would have liked to pursue but will have to wait until our kids are a bit older. The Valley of 1000 Devils will definitely be a must see! Grasslands National Park truly is another Saskatchewan diamond in the rough. Get off the beaten trail and goto Grasslands. It’s scenery and landscape are one of a kind. They define the wild spirit of the Land of the Living Skies! 😎
Day 9 saw us travel home from our epic Road Trip. But first, we made one last stop in Eastend, Saskatchewan!
Day 8 saw us travel from West Glacier, Montana USA to Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan Canada. We got searched at the Canadian border (of course) but the border guard took one look at our vacation-smelling mini-van and let us go. LOL. 😎 (more…)