Sharpness Tests

I took to the park tonight to take some sharpness test photos. I’m trying to figure out which of my lenses works best at which distances. So I set up some duct tape marks on the ground at 5, 10, 15 and 25 feet from my subject. I took test shots with each lens at each distance trying to keep the each one in it’s aperture sweet spot. Usually between f5.6 and f8.0 depending on the lens.

I used my Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, Canon 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6, Canon 50mm f/1.8 and my Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3. All good lenses in their own right even though they are not “L” series lenses. They are all still better than anything produced 20 years ago.

Canon 18-55mm Kit Lens Test. 5 feet away.

All You Need Do Is Ask.

My son and I were heading down to Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market here in Edmonton to take some more portraits and test the location for future portrait use. I got the idea to ask on Facebook if anyone wanted to meet us there. As fate would have it, an old friend was going to be in the area and was willing to be a subject.

We are having amazing weather here in early November. Normally it’s snowing and cold by now but it’s been record breaking warm temps and no snow. So what better thing to do than catch that late afternoon sun for some portraits.

I captured some great photos of Ryan. As you can see here. It’s not hard when your subject is willing and very good natured.



11052016-_mg_5129-50d 11052016-_mg_5133-50d

Ryan, it was really good to see you buddy. We will have to get together for a drink soon.

I also got some really great shots of my son. He’s really getting into this whole be Dad’s model thing.

Jacob chillin' on the tracks for a bit.

Jacob chillin’ on the tracks for a bit.

Relaxed Made Him Smile Brick Wall Confidence. Black and Red.

What a great location and what great shots we made!

Decisions Have Been Made.

I’ve made a few of decisions over the last few days. I thought they would be hard decisions but they turned out to be quite easy when I got down to it. It was surprising.

Decision #1. The need for the Adobe Creative Cloud Photographers bundle.

I’ve been using Lightroom for cataloging and editing my photos for quite some time but I’ve come to realize that sometimes I really need to use Photoshop. So I’ve been thinking about signing up for Adobe’s photographer bundle of Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC. It’s really not all that expensive when you look at it. Only $10 US (ish) per month. So, I’m going to be signing up for that very soon. Getting all the updates and the support network is one of the deciding factors for me on this one.

Decision #2. I need to make the style of photographs I like.

Too long now I’ve tried to please others with my photography. I’m always worried about what others think of my photos. I never really take them the way I like them. I prefer a gritty grungy portrait. Not some smooth porcelain skinned high fashion model. People don’t look like that. Ever.

This is what I prefer…(click on these images for a new tab with a larger image)

Deep In Thought



Fall Shoot #13

Fall Shoot #11

Fall Shoot #17

As you can see, they are not warm and fuzzy with super smooth skin. With the boy, it’s quite the opposite. I went for a really gritty feel. He’s a 7th grader that wants to be seen as more grown up than his 4th grader sister. For her, I didn’t go quite as gritty but it’s still there.

Will this be my style for ever? Possibly not. But for now, this is how I like to make portraits. Oh, speaking of portraits, that’s what I like to shoot. People. I love making photos of people that their friends and family will enjoy. But if you want me to make you look like a high fashion model, well maybe we shouldn’t work together. Sorry. I don’t want to waste your time and money.

Decision #3. It’s time to start a business.

For a long time I’ve longed to start a photography business. What has stopped me? Fear and common sense. Well mostly fear. As I stated in decision #2 above I was always trying to please others with my photos and as a result I was never happy with them and doubted my skills. But desire to do good work and get paid for it has eroded my fear. I have realized that all the excuses I used to make, just aren’t going to cut it anymore. Things like, I don’t have time, I’m not good enough, my gear isn’t good enough, people won’t like my photos, etc, etc. These are all based in fear. So what if all these are true. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I don’t get any clients. Big deal. I don’t have any now! What a bunch of lies we tell ourselves.

So, I have begun the process of starting a home based photography business. Here in Alberta, Canada we need a simple municipal permit and we are good to go. I don’t plan on having a home studio so I’m not worried about any building permits.

There is a lot to think about with the idea of running a business. But, I need to begin before I ever get to ask questions like how much to charge.

Once the business is open I will start a Facebook page, Website and begin a new blog attached with the website. Once I start that blog, this one will most likely be left behind so I can focus on the new blog and my clients needs.



Inspired By My Son

This is not a photographic post. Well not completely anyway. There are some pretty great photos if I do say so myself.

My son is studying Taekwondo. He’s been going for 2 1/2 years now and is close to his black belt. This past weekend he tested for his Red Belt. There is only 1 between that and black. He has spent 6 months at the Red Stripe level and was struggling with the board break. The self defense, pattern and sparring was all there within a month or two but that break just kicked his ass.

He didn’t give up though. He just kept plugging along practicing and practicing and going to class. A few weeks ago he mastered the break and was ready for promotion.

This was no ordinary promotion for him. It was the first time he was not 100% sure of himself. But, he went anyway. I’ve noticed something very inspiring about him. He knows how to be mindful and focus on the task at hand when the pressure is on. I struggle to do what he does naturally.

Focused. Calm. Ready.

Here he is calm and focused before the testing began.


Even here as he just finished up practicing his pattern, he is focused and calm.

Moving In For The Kill.

Once it all began, he moved through the motions with focus and calmness. Bringing the power and skills he has within him.

Getting Ready To Spar.

Painfull Block.

The Bruce Lee Pose.

Too High.

That's How It's Done

In the end, his testing went better than any up to this point. He broke the board, mastered his pattern and gave his sparring partner a real run for his money.

So, what’s the point here? Well, how many times do we as photographers doubt our skills and maybe pass on some great opportunities that would push us through to the next level? All too often I think. Even as I took the photos at this promotion test, I questioned my skills. The light was not the best, the ISO had to be so high. Why was I questioning my skills? These photos are for me and my son, not a paying client. Even then, my skills were more than enough. I’m very happy with the photos and, more importantly, very proud of my son.

Thank you little man for inspiring me to be my best, have faith in my skills and improve when and where I can.

Snow Portraits

I’ve been giving some thought to doing portraits this winter. Plenty of people love winter and all the snow filled fun that comes with it. The more I think of it, the better it sounds. Why not take photos of people in the winter environment they love so much?

I had the chance this past weekend when we went out to the lake for the Thanksgiving long weekend. It snowed. It snowed a boatload! So, other than building a snow family, I took photos.

Dreaming of warmer days.

Dreaming of Warmer Days.

Tamarack Portrait

Tamarack Portrait.

I think, given the results I got this past weekend in the snow, I’m going to make a push for some paid gigs this winter and hopefully people will respond well.

Visitor At Work

We had a coyote running around the yard at work yesterday chasing rabbits. By the time I had grabbed my camera, it was out on the road chasing mice in the grass. I gave a whistle and it looked over to me at just the right time. I grabbed this great shot.


It’s nice to have such great subjects running around every now and then.

My Student Continues To Learn!

My daughter is continuing her adventures in photography. It is very exciting for both her and I! I thought I’d post some samples of her work. Keep in mind that I helped her with the editing. Suggesting things and keeping them to her preferences. She is quickly developing the photographer’s eye.


Trail Bear. Red Grass Grass Seeds

A smiling goat at the Edmonton Corn Maze.

A smiling goat at the Edmonton Corn Maze.

Happy Goat Eating Hay

I can’t wait to see where she is in a year or five or ten! Keep it up Padawan.

A Sparked Interest.

My Daughter came to me a week or so ago and told me she wanted to learn to “do photography” as she put it. I practically jumped off my chair when she told me that. I’ve been looking for something she and I could do together to bond us closer. This is it.

I was given a Pentax K-x DSLR about a year ago and could not get it to work properly but this was the push I needed to figure out the problem. The problem is the scroll wheel on the back of the camera. It just didn’t work at all. It took days of searching to find a solution that didn’t involve me sending it in for repair. I just needed to take the camera apart and clean the contacts for the wheel. No problem. No, really, it only took me 5 minutes to fix it!

So, now my daughter has this…..

My Padawan

She is very excited to be sharing the DSLR journey with her dad!

We began her lessons this past Saturday evening. I started with explaining exposure then moving on to Aperture. Aperture priority is where I tend to stay. I love the control over the depth of field.

I let her use my favorite coffee cup as a subject out on the deck.

Lesson 1 - Aperture

She is beginning to understand the whole depth of field idea but we will take it very slowly. She’s a quick learner but she is 9 after all.

Later in the evening we came across this scene out our back yard and called it a night.

Last Rays Of Light

I’m really looking forward to teaching her more and watching her grow as a photographer. Who knows, maybe it will take her places.

More to come!


Where Your Attention Lies.

Where your attention lies is what you will be most focused on.

Where your attention lies.

I love photography. I feel happiest when I’m making photos, editing photos, sharing photos, viewing photos…anything to do with photography really. I just love it. But, I tend to lose my desire when I spread my focus (pun intended) across too many things.

I listen to a lot of podcasts on a variety of different topics. Health and fitness is another one I get really deep into and when I do, I tend to be a healthier more fit person. But then something will catch my attention and I will shift over to that and suddenly, I’ve gained 15 lbs because I’m not paying attention to my eating habits!

Over the last few years, I’ve been jumping from topic to topic never really focusing on any one or two of them. As a result, the last few years have been ones of mediocrity. Nothing has really been satisfying at all. My photography has most certainly suffered, my blogging has become very sporadic, my health has suffered as well. I got caught up in a few ideas a couple years ago, I won’t mention them, that I was very excited about at first but soon realized that it just was not something I was really interested in. Photography on the other hand just never seems to fall away. I just love it.

So, I have come to realize that where my attention lies, is what I’m going to be focused on. So I need to pick a couple of things that really get me going and focus on them. Really dig in deep with them and make them part of who I am once again. No more of this all over the place who am I kind of thing. Photography and health and fitness are the ones I’ve decided mean the most to me. Two very broad subjects to commit myself to.

How about you? Do you have just a handful of passions that you really love and devote some serious time to or do you tend to jump from one to the next to the next like I have been doing these last few years? I find it helpful to fill my free time up with learning and studying the passions that I have and want to focus on. It might just be me but I just cannot dive into one after another and never really give all I can to any one of them. For that reason I have picked the two. They are of course fairly broad and give me lots of breadth and depth within each one to explore but the main ideas are only two. Perhaps this approach may work for you as well. Who knows? Maybe it won’t even work for me!




Plans For The Blog.

In the past, I’ve run my blog centered around photography. It is after all my passion. I love photography. But, I’ve also run a midlife crisis blog, until I realized that a midlife crisis is all about selfishness, and some little eCommerce sites that did me no good.

With this new start to this old blog, I’m going to change things up a bit. While still being primarily a photography blog, I’m going to mix in some life lessons as well. Just to keep things interesting.

I’m into photography of course but I’m also into videography, minimalism, tiny homes, Buddhism, archery, parenting and a whole slew of other topics that I may from time to time touch on. Hopefully I can bring some good ideas and thoughts into the light.