Mine baby is 8 years old today! That’s insane & unbelievable. It seems like just yesterday we were going to the hospital to have her. She’s the sweetest, most caring and compassionate person I have ever met. And she’s ridiculously cute!
I busted out the ol’ photo mill (Nikon Df, 50mm & 85mm 1.8G) for some birthday pics. We used 1 light (Nikon SB-900 flash triggered by a SU-800 commander) with 3 different modifiers used in 4 different ways.
The first setup was the good old shoot through umbrella. It produces winning light all the time. It’s soft. It’s directional. It’s fool proof, quick goto lighting. It’s also pretty boring. Good thing Phoebe is cute. I said that already though.😎
Next, was a small soft box. The LumiQuest Softbox III to be specific. It introduces more shadow tonality. A bit more depth and interest to the shots. It’s pretty cool light, especially when used in close to the subject.
Then it was a Honl grid. Deep shadows. Much more intrigue and edginess, almost teenaged light. But she’s only 8 so we had to back it off and bring the shadows up a notch.
So viola! We went back to the umbrella but this time I bounced the light off the white ceiling and back down through the umbrella that she was holding as a prop. It gives a double defused ultra soft giant look to the light. Shadows are very, very soft and silky smooth.
The kids wanted to go looking for crocuses yesterday. So did I. So we went out back and found a few little bunches. I’m not sure if they are just starting to come up or are nearly done. Normally they’ve come up even through a light snow. But this year the weather has been wonky so say the least. I feel a special attachment to crocuses as they are “Saskatchewan’s Flower” at least anecdotally.😉 I’ve seen more crocuses than tiger-lilies, I’ll put it to you that way. heehehe…..
About the technique for nabbing these photos. I went out with a collapsible reflector/diffuser to block the harsh sunlight that was pouring in. I had my D800 & 105mm macro for this detail-rich gig. I was shooting at apertures of f/16 or f/32 so I needed more light reach this at ISO 100 and 1/250. I used my Orbis ring flash and SB-900 synced with an SC-29 cord. I basically was able to set the Orbis on edge on the ground, which doubled as a rest, and shoot right through it. It worked great.😎 The macro detail that the D800 can capture is really tremendous! Here’s a 100% crop and the full shot beneath.
Rider Pride, Nation Wide. That’s our motto and our mantra. From the moment of conception, all Saskatchewan residents are born Rider Fans. Some more crazy than others. To support our team headed to the 101st Grey Cup on Sunday, I wanted to do a little photo shoot. I had the idea in my mind and wanted to try out some cool lighting that is along the lines of Heisler-esque. I was stoked with how the interplay of colour took place in this image. I’ve included a BTS photo to explain how I made this shot come together.
Well, as you can see, it’s shot in my car hold. It’s a total of 4 lights. Black sheet background clamped onto some cupboard doors. The key light is an SB-600 in a soft box overhead via a C-Stand. It’s got 1/2 CTO on it which really makes this image. Two rim lights behind me on left and right. The camera left rim is pointing up at me and the right is coming down. It really chisels the outline with thick green theatrical gels on 2 LP180s. And the last light was a special for the banjo. The SB-900 was simply put on the floor in an Orbis ring light to circle the drum of the banjo. I couldn’t have made a light mod match a subject better! I had originally set it up as on axis fill but on the ground worked so much better and added to the overall dramatic feel. It was a fun way to spend an hour or so.😎
So cheer on the Saskatchewan Roughriders to Grey Cup victory on Sunday! Green is the colour, football is the game!
Finally got a chance to use the X100s in a real world scenario. My good friend Susan from Susan Hill Photography had a wedding gig lined up and I asked if I could tag along as second shooter to really try out the Fuji. She graciously obliged. Not only was I using the X100s, I also got to try it out with my new pocket wizard plus x triggers. I’m happy to report that everything worked amazingly well.😀 I confess though, that I’m naturally a telephoto-eyed shooter. So, I couldn’t leave my D800 at home. I had it with my 85mm f/1.8 on a black rapid strap as well as the Fuji. It truly was a dynamic duo as you get a pretty nice 35mm equivalent FOV from the Fuji and decent telephoto from the 85mm. And, the Fuji is so nice as a second camera because it is super lightweight. You can carry it around all day and not get played out. So all in all, it was a sweet mix. I just swapped the pocket wizard trigger back and forth from camera to camera as I needed to. I was using a simple one speedlight rig in a Photoflex octodome NXT XS on an ultralight LumoPro stand. It was a perfect on the move, versatile lighting setup.😎
I really wanted to push the Fuji on this gig. So I tried to use it as much as possible and it didn’t disappoint. Despite being a wide-ish angle lens, you can really get some nice subject isolation with it. The colour and skin tones are amazing. I shot everything in RAW and JPEG but the images on this blog entry are all JPEG – they are simply that good. And, they tweak very nicely in post.
Some stuff though is just made for telephoto and I did find myself swapping in the D800. I still believe that people look best shot with telephoto focal lengths. But the variety of having both cameras and not having to change lenses (hence lugging around WAY less kit) is pure awesome.
This wedding session was all formals with some candids with the big family at the end. We setup in the Carnduff golf course because after all, it’s May and there is still snow lying around… shudder.🙄 But, we did our best. So we found this little tranquil spot and knew we could do something with it. When I got home and looked at the file, it struck me. This image looks fake! It looks like my 1985 kindergarten portrait studio backdrop! I think it’s attributed to the being able to nuke the sun with the deadly combo of the Fuji’s built in 3 stop ND filter and higher sync speed. This one was f/2.8 at 1/500 via Pocket Wizards. Sweet sassy! I’m gonna like that capability more and more me thinks.
The other killer thing with a small, lightweight camera is that you can hand hold slow shutter speed shots no problem. There were a metric tonne of kidlets around for the big family photo and I thought, lets get them buzzing around the bride. With the ND filter still on, I cranked the aperture up to f/11 and dialled the shutter down to 1/30s. The bride is sharp handheld, the kids are pleasantly blurred. My only regret is not popping a wee bit o’ flash on the bride. It would have made for a stellar image. But one gets caught up in the moment.😳
All in all, it was a super fun 2 hours on duty with the Fuji. I love that it’s small, lightweight and ready for anything – like when all the kids in the family decide to start rolling down a goose crap encrusted golf course hill.😆 It’s just there and ready to rock!
From engagement to wedding to maternity to newborn, I’ve had the blessing of taking all of Lucas and Kayla’s life event photos. It’s been a blast! And, this last shoot was just as exciting as the others have been. It’s a truly amazing moment to see all of life come together in the next generation.😎 This was my first shoot managed and edited with Lightroom too. Still getting to know the software environment so I was noticeably slower than I was with Aperture. However, the speed at which Lightroom can edit and deal with D800 RAW files with amazing, blows Aperture 3 out of the water. One thing that was better in Aperture was the healing/clone brush. Lightroom’s spot retouch works better, but Apertures brush was nicer than having to do everything with little circles. I also miss Aperture’s file handling. It was so much easier to backup everything into vaults. But, the trade off is well worth it. I’m really enjoying Lightroom and glad I made the switch.
Here’s some highlights from the shoot. But first, a video of Mr. Burns talking about the Jade Monkey. (I couldn’t resist.)😉
Bokehlicious! It’s a term blatantly stolen from DigitalRev TV presenter Kai. Bokeh, that lovely Japanese word for “the stuff not in focus in the image” is awesome. Normally we think of big apertures like f/1.4 or f/2 to get amazing bokeh in an image, but you can squish a background with a long telephoto lens and get a similar result. I shot this self portrait (mainly because it’s infested with wood ticks back there and nobody else would go as my subject)😉 tonight as the sun was beginning to get low and directional. It was super cloudy so it was diffused nicely. I put a speed light on a stand camera left and shot it through a Lumiquest Softbox III light mod. It’s a sweet little modifier. I mainly wanted that new growth poplar behind me to go into bokehlicious heaven. And I think it did nicely for being shot at f/5.6 @ 270mm (which on my DX Nikon actually is like 405mm)!😎 All you get is a background that goes smooshy and gooshy, like a painter’s canvas. Certainly, this would have been even more pleasing had I shot the photo at f/2.8 or f/4. But even at 5.6 I like it! I just love that green bokehlicious background!
Kid photography is tough. They’re uncooperative. Combative. Scary! Now you know why kid photographers charge the mad scratch.😉 hehheheehe…… I was trying to get some Christmas pictures of our kids the other day, which is always a gong show. It’s all my fault for breeding in the hatred of the camera to my kids. I’ve taken waaaay too many photos of them and now they won’t smile nice and look at the camera. Doh! But every once in a while, they will cooperate. This little shoot was an example of not! It was one ensuing comedy of errors after another. The other complicated thing was using a lighting setup. The kids have to be in a certain place for it to work, which simply doesn’t work super great with wiggly worm toddlers. Now you know why kid photographers use fast primes and shoot in natural light! hehheheeh……. 8)
It’s human nature to think we always have loads of time left before winter. Delay putting up the Christmas lights well into fall, procrastinating the yard clean up, forget the winter tires for another weekend, etc. ad nauseum. Then, BAM! Winter hits and it’s a mess. We’re scrambling to get everything done! Boo hiss!👿 But we live in Saskatchewan, we shouldn’t be too shocked when Ol’ Man Winter rears his ugly head. Unless of course we’re trying to nab one last outdoor family photo before the mercury drops too low!😉 We were able to sneak one in on the weekend and it turned out really nice, even captured some snowflakes in mid flight too. Proudest accomplishment yet in my photographic career: the family AND three pugs all looking up at the same time!😀 Gotta love that!
Stop Reading Here unless you’re a Photo Geek
Photo Geek info:
Outdoors is special when it comes to lighting, especially in the windy province. Normally I do umbrellas as my goto light modifier, but it was way too windy for that on this shoot. I’ve been trying to find a good use for the Gary Fong Lightsphere and it worked swimmingly well for this setup. One flash high up on a stand with the lightsphere on gave the light enough spread and softness to mimic an umbrella, but without the tip over tendencies. It’s quick and fast which is perfect for cold nasty days. I also used a second flash to help light up the dark pugs who where blending into the shadows of the junipers behind the boulder. All in all it worked! And not a moment too soon as Jack Frost was nippin’ at our noses!😉
Yipee! I got a new light mod! I’ve wanted a soft box for a long time now and I finally pulled the trigger and got the Photoflex Octodome NXT XS. I got it as a kit from B&H that came with the soft box, speed ring, light stand and umbrella swivel head & all the coldshoe hardware for flashes. It’s the bomb! Plus, if I ever get/use studio lights, the speed ring is full-size to accommodate those lights too. It works just spiffy with speed lights though and it gives a super nice quality of light. I put it together when I first got it and did some quick test shots with the kids. It’s amazing light, soft wrapping and because it’s an octa, you get a round catchlight similar to a beauty dish. 8) Love it! I also used it on a recent family session shoot for a 3 month old baby and it worked wonderfully. I even used it for a small group shot and it was nice light, considering it’s only 15 inches or so in diameter!😀 I’ll do a full review of the product soon.