Category Archives: Planning

Dec 2014 – all things new

In contemplating this months shot and this years final picture I have been looking back on the past year and forward to the new one.  I have regrets, hurt, losses and failures all piled into the memory of the past year but simultsneously see hope, life, laughter, joy, song, growth, and triumph woven through my memories.   Not all of what happened this past year has been overwhelmingly good.  My classes, my work, my parenting,  my photography, and my spiritual vitality have all been arenas of failure and disappointment.   In spite of that the year has been derinitively positive.  My kids, my pictures, my relationship with my wife and my church have all encouraged and built up my person in the midst of heartache and struggle. 

It is for these reasons that I look forward to a new year with hope and celebration.  I have for no rational reason a firm thought that next year will be better and I welcome the new year with expectancy.   I rejoice in the thought that a new year is opportunity for all things to be new.

Now how do you capture that hope that joy that excitement and celebration in a photo? 

My thought is to shoot a portrait (a photographic weakness of mine) of a child with some backlight and a sparkler creating a picture of joy with a clear party scene.  A little bit of fill light and perhaps a happy new year 2015 hat or banner to round it all out. 
With 2 days left I think I can do it.

In case I don’t have a chance before the clock strikes 12 where you live…Happy New Year!  Keep your chin up. 

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Nov 2014 – Rain

Yup I got rained out on Saturday.  Over a week of -20 celcius and then a weekend of rain.  Never fear the forecast still calls for snow. 
I will have my winter wonderland photo opportunity yet.  Just you wait…

Nov 2014 – Snow

No pictures in today’s post.  That is purposeful.  The internet is abuzz with photos from the incredible buffalo snowfall in new york.  They are definitely worth looking at.  I have no intention of competing with the viral nature of extreme weather but ive lived on the northern plains long enough to appreciate the beauty of snow. 

I am hoping this month for some night shots of falling snow.  The warm glow the festive christmas lights and the large flakes make for magical and inviting photos.  Maybe even a portrait or two. 

My window is tight this month.  Only two nights to shoot but so far the forecast for saturday night is for warm weather and snow.  The combination that produces the largest flakes so I am optimistic. 

I plan to shoot in downtown Regina which isn’t well known worldwide but has some fantastic lights.  Mostly im just excited to go out and shoot pictures again.  After today I am done my semester at school except for exams so I am very much looking forward to that. 

In celebration my camera awaits. 

Share links to your favorite snow pictures in the comments. 

Have a great week!

Oct 2014 – 10 reasons I miss my dslr

Don’t worry.  I kept my dslr.  Both of them.  I’m not crazy, but this weekend I chose to leave them at home when I went on my trip to vancouver.

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I think my smartphone is capable of taking nice pictures.   Even good pictures.  Even great pictures but the creative control I have with a dslr is almost incomparable. 
So here it is, in no particular order, my top 10 reasons for hating my smartphone (or why I miss my dslr):
1.  Dof – I admit since I got my d800e I shoot at some pretty crazy fstop values mostly wide open but there are times when closing down and expanding the depth of field is required. 
2.  Lenses – interchangeable lenses and different focal lengths and distances are occassionally requirements of taking a picture.
3.  Dynamic range –  yes software and sensors in phone cameras have improved dramatically in the last 5 years but being able to bracket and having even wider dynamic range helps to bring out the natural range of the human eye. 
4.  Focus – I have a love hate relationship with autofocus and the speed of a smartphones autofocus is still a major delay in taking a picture.  Moments are fleeting and hard to find and a 1 to 2 second delay in shooting a frame can be costly.
5.  Focus again, a near lack of manual focus means getting soft focus or off axis focus exactly right is next to impossible on a smartphone.  Yes in post these issues can usually be resolved with good source but im a fan of getting it in camera when I can.
6.  Colorcast.  White balance, color cast and bit depth are all still very real problems with smartphones.   The sensors no matter how many improvements are still weaker in a smartphone then a dslr.
7.  Sharpness.  Smaller sensor less light  more software post processing and lower resolution only several reasons why the sharpness in smartphones is lacking.  Even from lens to lens and fstop to fstop the sharpness on a dslr can vary.  Imagine what dust fingerprints etc are doing to smartphone pictures.
8.  Iso.  No manual iso and much higher noise.  Smartphones just dont have the same options for controlling the exposure triangle.
9.  Shutter speed. On exactly the same note as iso it hurts the creative control you have.  When was the last time you changed shutter speed on your smartphone.  Now I get it.  There are apps that will do this but with 3 buttons I can change shutter iso and fstop in beautiful harmony. 
10.  Lack of raw support.  My workflow is so happily integrated with lightroom and developing photos from RAW that the results are obviously hurt by not having raw files. 

Long story short I’m not saying I won’t take pictures with a smartphone or all of them are garbage.  Im just saying given the option I still see the value in a dslr. 

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Overall not a bad set of shots but would still have liked to go that much further. 

Anyway this month I will be attempting a high speed photo with the theme superhero. 
I am hoping to capture a lego man with a cape of liquid frozen in time.

Wish me luck!

Sept 2014 – mistakes were made!

After a couple of days to process through in my head what happened on shoot day (Saturday)  I have finally come to the point where I can be happy for the oportunity to learn from my mistake.  While still spending countless hours trying to fix images that are unlikely fixable I have processed most of the stages of greif.
1 Denial – everything is fine.  That will work I can fix it in post :p
2 Anger – at circumstance (light weather etc.) At myself.  At my gear.  At the unknown factors of fate that failed to align for that magical moment…
3 Bargaining – maybe I can take it again.  I dont have to publish this month.  If only I had more lights…
4  Depression – which I will call sadness in this case cause really my life is pretty full of rejoicing so having a bad shoot can’t really lead to the deep depression of grief for me.  But still I was feeling pretty upset and insecure.  Full of sadness and regret.
5 Acceptance – here I have arrived to share with all of you. 

I am well aware of a number of things that I will change for the next shoot. 
My lense choice my lighting (more on that later) my itchy trigger finger.  My reluctance to shoot more (yup that is a contradiction).  My setup etc. 

Now that I have put everything into context it would be great to shoot again. 
The overall vision isn’t flawed.  I think it will work with the exception that I completely miscalculated the proportions of the roof to the height of the model. 

Overall the experience was a good one for me and my inexperience shone bright to the point of me missing a critical focus on a shot that I absolutely love otherwise.  I let autofocus refocus behind the subject and lost my favorite fram from the whole day.  Overall I do have some useable pictures not the magic light I was hoping for but at least I can say it wasn’t a waste.  I learned something I improved as  a photographer and I enjoyed my time.  I even got a pretty good shot of my wife with my homemade flash modifier. 

I guess I forgot to post my storyboards earlier.  So here they are now. 

Hope you can make them out. 

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You can see I thought the subject would be 2/3 of the way from the floor to the roof but in reality the roof is 2 or 3 times higher.  I will post some of my shots and hopefully give one of you some better ideas going forward. 

Maybe next year when the autumn light is out I will try again….  but then maybe I’ll have an even better idea.

Sept 2014 – shoot day

Well today is supposed to be shoot day.  Im not sure I have a model confirmed and the weather (thunderstorms in september?) Is not cooperating. 
Assuming as always things find a way of working out I should be taking some pretty cool pcitures today. 
Yesterday I unfolded the cloth that I will be using and the sheer fabric may introduce more miore than I expected…also in certain light it looks purple so some color hrading is going to be essential. 

My batteries are charged my bad is loaded my memory card is clear I’m ready to go. 

I am going to try and make a strip lighy out of two prungles cans.  The idea came from another website (popphoto.com)  and I think it is a great fit for my shoot today. 

Now hopefully I can confirm a time…

Sept 2014 – that one time I remembered all the details…

Doing a photoshoot where other people are involved and create direct dependancies creates layers of complexity.  Just the task of organizing more than one schedule means I can’t simply shoot when I have time or good light or my camera.  It takes coordination, patience and time.  Hats off to the pro photogs that deal with this on a semi weekly basis. 

As I have tried to coordinate multiple photoshoots with a model I continue to run into issues I was not prepared to address.  Wardrobe make up additional lighting modifiers.   All will have significant impacts on the final image and yet I had completely overlooked all of them.  If I wanted to do this well I would have someone for wardrobe and a changing booth l, a stylist and a meeting with the model and test session ahead of schedule (until I was comfortable with the team and the process).  That is a lot to fit into my life right now with school kids and work all competing agressively for my time.  Long story short there is going to end up being a lot more “winging it” than I had anticipated.   I will have to work with the styles and wardrobe chosen and available to the models themselves. 

I am really happy that a few people responded to my ad and desperate plea for help.  I am not even sure how to coordinate multiple models as I would like to try and complete one day of shooting with more than one model just to try and maximize my chances of success. 

The other impact I failed to address is the relational.  Working with another live person requires a certain level of comfort which for me is difficult to establish with a complete stranger.  Couple that with the natural distance created by hiding behind a camera and you get real challenges try to achieve natural and expressive facial expressions.

I guess if the weather holds some of these unknowns will be answered tomorrow.  Looking forward to it….maybe?