Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 120, A little effort goes a long way

I've been doing a little spring cleaning all week and I've been amassing a pile of gear I no longer use. Time to sell some stuff.

Now, I could of just snapped a few pics with everything layed out on the floor, like you see all the time in classifieds..... Nope, not me. I figured I may as well make it look decent. This could of turned into an all day event if I was shooting for a magazine but I think this will serve my purpose, I only spent about 15 minutes setting up.

Everything was set on a white piece of poster board that was curved so you don't see edges. A diffused flash on eah side with a reflector for fill in the front, and voila! I have my photos ready for my ads.

If you don't want to get as involved you can just use your camera on auto with a white poster board as a background. A clean background will make your subject stand out and be more appealing.

Nikon 70-300mm f4.5.6 ED Lens $220

Think Tank Digital Holster 20- $40
Nikon 70-300mm f4.5.6G Lens $120

Revisiting old favourites

Every now and then I'll go back and look thru some older photos and see if I missed anything. This was already one of my favourites but I decided to re process the image now that I have silver efex pro 2. I'm much happier with the results this time around. I call this one "Alone".

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 119, What is it?

Here's something I've been meaning to try out on the blog for awhile. This is a new segment called "What is it?" I'll take an obscure abstract photo of something random and you guys try and guess what it is. This first one should be fairly easy. So......... What is it?

Post your "guesses" on the blog so others can see.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 118, Room Light

Had a quick little portrait session with Jacob this morning. The photo above was my favourite. He always has that Curious look about him.

Amy Jo really liked this one, so might as well put up both.

The next part is for those of you who are interested in the technical aspect of photography. If all you were looking for was cuteness, scroll back up.

It was pretty dark in the room this morning, seeing as how it's cloudy outside and there is only a small window in his room. When it's that dark you have a few options. One thing you can do is bump up the ISO. I tried that at first but even at ISO 1600 it was still too dark at f4. I don't like going much higher than that or you start to loose too much quality. I could of set up a bunch of umbrellas, softboxes and reflectors, but in a small room like that, it's not very practical. And it was a little too much effort that early in the morning. Then there's on camera flash........ not that it's a valid option. Unless you enjoy "Deer in the headlights" portraiture.

So, without being too fancy, I grabbed a flash on a stand and pointed it at the white door in the room. The closet door now became my large diffused light source. My camera was set to ISO 400. I wanted to be able to keep my flash power setting at around 1/4 power for faster recycle time and I didn't want to zap my baby with full power flash pops (just an annoyance, small flash isn't bright enough to cause harm). With my camera set to manual with an aperture of f5.6 (I find it gives good depth of field and still knocks out the background) I started my shutter speed at 1/60 of a second. Now, changing my shutter speed does not affect the power of the flash, because the flash duration is over in 1/250 of a second. So any change under 1/250s only changes the ambient light, which I used for my fill light. At 1/60s the shadows were pretty harsh, so to increase the ambient light all I needed was a longer shutter speed, which would then decrease the contrast. So I decreased the shutter speed to 1/30s, still had hard shadows, so I slowed it down some more. At 1/15 s I had the look I was looking for. You might be thinking that at 1/15 of a second your pictures will be blurry, well, luckily the flash freezes the motion, so no worries, even after three cups of coffee...

So the settings for both photos above were: ISO 400 f5.6 1/15s with flash set to 1/4 power bounced off the white closet door. With everything in manual like that, I could walk around the room and know that my lighting would stay the same. This set up took 5 minutes to put together. Hope that all made sense, my first time trying to explain anything. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 116, Off camera flash is fun

One thing I'll be working on this summer is my lighting techniques. I love working with small off camera flashes. I was being lazy and didn't feel like going out to take a photo today so I grabbed 1 flash, a reflector, a house plant and my camera and spent about 5 minutes playing around. This is what I came up with.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 114, No Molly, that is not a dog and he doesn't want to be your friend.

Lots of animals out in the early hours of the day. Had to grab Molly when she wanted to go "play" with a couple coyotes this morning. Once I had her on a leash I took a couple photos. Kinda hard to get a sharp image when you have a dog pulling on the arm you are trying to stabilize the camera with. This one turned out alright.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 113, Gotta love spring

Beautiful day in Cold Lake today. I wonder if these Geese where intentionally following the outline of the skiing trail? Either way, it made for an interesting composition that leads you thru the image.

It was nice to photograph them for a little while. They didn't seem to mind me too much. And then came Molly.........

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 112, Happy easter weekend!

Found the easter bunny tonight! The provincial park is full of these little guys. If you go to the boat launch just before sunset you are guaranteed to see a few of them. Drive slow, cause they are all over the road.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 111, Open Water

Finally have some open water for some reflections. Molly was standing on a piece of ice on the edge and it broke. So she had her first unintentional swim of the year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 110, We're back!

So good to be home again. If you don't follow my facebook page, we had to unexpectedly go to Edmonton for the early arrival of our son Jacob. He's going strong as you can see in the above photo so we were able to come home yesterday. I did keep taking photos everyday while I was in the hospital, mostly with my iPhone, you can check them out on my facebook page, there's a link to the right of this page. Now that our house is back in order the daily photos will resume once again. It's good to be back!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 96, Tree Abstracts

Had the day off today. So I spent hours at the park calculating zoom ratios, lens swing speeds, camera twists and counter vibrations to create these works of art. They were absolutely not created by accidentally depressing the shutter while moving.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 93, Black and White................ and Blue

Still playing with Silver Efex. I went out with the intention of finding a B&W photo today. I thought this tree was a good candidate but I just couldn't get rid of the blue sky. So I brought the colour back in the sky and left the tree in black and white. I like it.

Day 5, Winter Magic Photography Tour, March 5th 2011

The morning of the 5th was definitely the best sunrise we had during the trip. Darwin delivered as per usual and got us to the best place to photograph that morning. It was almost stressful trying to decide which crack in the ice to use as your leading line. The clouds were perfectly lined up with the sun and mountain, just streaming right back in our direction. What a good start to the day.

We stuck around for quite a while that morning. So many interesting ice structures to photograph. I really enjoyed this particular piece that was jutting out.

After the sunrise we headed back to the lodge to warm up and have some coffee. Then we drove to Mistaya Canyon, wow, what a beautiful place. We had to snowshoe down to it from the highway. I would of never stopped here on my own, I'm happy we did.

Darwin gave us an assignment for this particular location. We where to set our cameras to RAW + JPeg and at the end of the day pic our two favourites from Mistaya. We were allowed to change the picture control to whatever we wanted to but couldn't edit the files. That night we would view them all as a group and vote for our favourites.

The light was a bit too harsh for me to get any decent canyon shots so I pretty much bypassed it and went to the other side (and my tripod legs were frozen shut). The above photo shows how beautiful it was. I didn't choose this photo for the contest because there was 7 of us lined up pretty much getting the same shot. So I wandered off to try and find something different that would stand out.

Well, this is what I came up with. This version is edited with silver efex pro but the one I submitted was a B&W Jpeg from the camera. Everything just fell in line for me in this image and it got the most votes! Congrats to Alan and Rob who also won prizes. It was really fun to see everyones unique vision of the same location. So many good photos.

This is another version that I also enjoy.

After making my squirrel tracks image I kept trudging thru the snow looking for some nice open water in the shade. I was rewarded with this beautiful untouched scene further down the river. And I found water in the shade.

This was actually my second image that I submitted for the contest that day, in B&W tho. I left it in colour after noticing how colourful the rocks were. Really happy I got this shot, moving water with ice was on my checklist of shots I wanted out of this trip.

We had pulled over on the side of the road and Darwin was pointing at the sun saying how there was ice crystal rainbows in the clouds. I had no idea what he was talking about but I stopped down my exposure and took some shots anyways. Now I know what he was going on about. I googled cloudy ice crystals, I guess it's when the water in a cloud freezes it creates a whole bunch of small crystals, that's how you get all the colours. After this shot I took my Polarizer off my lens and noticed it was cracked...... First casualty of the trip...... Sing Ray Polarizers are not cheap either...

Last location of day, Darwin brought us to photograph the ice bubbles from "The belly of Abraham". Of course I didn't listen to his directions and just assumed I would see them..... Well I went right where he said go left. I'm pretty happy with what I was able to do with this nice fissure I found. It was crazy windy at this location. I have a few more great photographs from this sunset but they are taking forever to edit because of the amount of snow that kept blowing on the lens. And yes, the horizon is straight. It's the way the tree line is in proportion to the mountain that makes it look crooked. I could of made it look straight but I decided on leaving it the way it really was.

Not bad of a sunset for the last official night of the tour.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 92, Silver Efex Pro 2

Just purchased Silver Efex Pro 2 today to hopefully make better Black and white photographs. I tested it out on a few photos so far and am quite happy with the results. The presets get you close to where you have to be and then the specialized tools for black and white make it easy to create the rest of your vision. Expect a few more B&W's this week as I work on learning this new tool.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 91, I am Molly... hear me roar

Molly thinking she's the Queen of the wilderness. I was trying to backlight some trees and then she walked right in front of my shot as usual. It looked good so I went with it.

While I was editing this photo, I found out that her grey fur on her legs is perfect neutral gray! A photographer couldn't ask for a better dog/grey card combo.