Where Have I Been?

Wow, I just realized the last time I posted on this blog was way back on July 23 2015! What’s up with that and where have I been?

Well, I’ve been here of course but I’ve had some…issues…that are making me lazy and complacent. Those issues all being stemmed around a midlife crisis that makes me constantly question the need to do anything ever. But enough about that…

So, what’s been happening since July?

Well, summer vacation and a very slow summer at work. Photographically it was slow much like the last couple of years but I did get some great photos I’d like to share with you.

Garden Visitor//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsMarshmallow Coals//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

08292015 _MG_1552 50D//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js08292015 _MG_1636 50D//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

It was a pretty fun summer. We did a lot of camping but not as much photography as I had hoped. Still though I managed to get some really nice photos of the Aurora Borealis later in the summer that I’m quite happy with. I’ll share those in their own post.

Sorry for being away so long but sometimes life just gets in the way! I’ll try my best to not stay away for so long going forward.

Chris.

Are You Lichen This Smartphone Photo?

Lichen on LogThis is the power of today’s smartphone cameras. I couldn’t get this with my DSLR unless I had a macro lens. I don’t. So, out came the smartphone. Always, always carry your smartphone for just such opportunities. Oh, and they make phone calls too!

I’m currently working on the smartphone section of my new tips and tricks project. Coming soon.

Chris.

Pushing The Limits With Available Light

I often cringe when I think about available light indoor photos. Sure, if it’s a static subject and you can use your tripod then that’s all good. No problem with a long exposure. But what about those more frequent times when you are at, oh I don’t know, let’s say your daughter’s year end dance recital that is the only time you’ve been able to see her school routine this year and you just know the lighting is going to be terrible?

That is exactly the situation I found myself in this past weekend. I was very worried. I really wanted to get some great photos of her and her dance group so we could look back and remember the day. And of course the theater was going to be dimly lit. At least from a camera’s point of view. What to do…what to do.

I decided I would go for it in manual mode. Normally I shoot in aperture priority mode so I get my depth of field but this time I was more concerned with being able to control the light precisely. No small feat for sure. I ended up really having to boost my ISO up to the upper limits of my Canon 50D. ISO 2500 and up. Naturally these gave me some very noisy photos. But, better a noisy photo than no photo at all. I was able to clean up the noise in Lightroom and still keep the photos reasonably sharp. Most of the blur I ended up with was motion blur due to the dancers moving faster than I anticipated. This worked in most of the photos though giving a sense of movement and flow to the images.

 

Motion Blur

 

 

 

 

This one is my favorite of the day.

You can clearly see the motion blur on the dancers in the background. Also there is nice motion blur on my daughter’s legs and the prop kite she is holding in the foreground but her upper body is nicely in focus. I knew as soon as I pressed the shutter button that this would be my favorite.

The lighting, even though it was quite dark, worked out fairly well for me. I didn’t have to adjust the exposure during post processing although there was quite a bit of noise in the darker areas of the photo. At ISO 2500 on my 50D I expected it but it came out nicely with Lightroom.

I really like this photo. It gives a sense that she is leading the rest of them through the dance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few more from the day that really caught my eye and made me smile.

Dreaming Of The Dance

Contemplating the upcoming dance.

RightBeginning Pose.

Huddle

Pose!Ending Pose.

Group Dance

Group Dance to Uptown Funk. All Dancers from the session. Over 100 of them!

All in all it was a great experience to add to my collection of experiences from which to draw upon in my photographic life. And on a personal note, I’ve never seen her dance better than she did this day. Proud of you Sweat Pea. Great job.

Chris.

Spring Has Sprung And I Feel The Need For Photography!

Spring has sprung here in Edmonton and I feel the need to start taking thousands of photos once again. Ok, maybe not thousands but it would not surprise me in the least. I always feel the need when the flowers start to grow, the grass gets greener, the leaves pop on the trees and the song birds come back.

Spring Song

Even just a quick walk around work this morning gave me such a thrill that I have my camera on my desk just begging for me to blow off work for the day and head out with my camera! Winter in Edmonton is so drab that I find my desire to even take my camera out of the bag isn’t even there. I take very few photos in the winter months. But come spring, I’m back at it.

Hatching!

 

The returning birds are one of my favorite subjects to photograph in the summer. Most of them are only here for the summer then the leave in the fall again for the winter.

Best of all are the pretty yellow flowers we call dandelions. 🙂

Pretty Yellow Flower

A Field Of Yellow

Gone to seed already!

 

Ah, I love spring.

 

Chris.

The Photograph Not The Gear.

It’s not about the tools you use. It’s about the photograph.

So many photographers these days are suffering from an acute case of G.A.S. That’s gear acquisition syndrome. Always needing to have that new gadget or camera. The “if only I had that, my photography would be so much better” thinking. I’m not pointing fingers here, I’m one of them. Or I used to be anyway. A professional photographer will for sure need the best of the best but what about us amatures that just love taking photos.

It’s not really our fault. Camera manufacturers want us to buy their new gear so they show us all the features and benefits drawing us into the desire for the latest and greatest regardless of whether or not we even need it. And so they should. They are in the business of selling cameras. We as photographers are in the business of making photographs. The newest and most expensive gear does not make you a better photographer.

The tools are important.

I propose we start thinking of our gear as simple tools. Like a carpenter who has a cabinet full of hammers, saws, drills, screwdrivers and such we must learn to treat our gear as tools to help us in our efforts to create that timeless photograph.

A camera is nothing more than a light proof box for capturing photographs. Sure, some are more sensitive to light than others, Some are smaller than others, some more robust, some shoot at really fast frame rates. These are all well and good if you need those features but they are all still a box for capturing a photograph.

Lenses are probably the most important of all the tools. It is responsible for transmitting the light from the scene to the sensor (or film plane if you are shooting analog) as sharp as possible for the make up of the lens. Each lens has it’s own unique properties that help you do this. Some are wide angle, some are telephoto, others are a zoom but they all do basically the same thing. The better the quality of the lens, the better the resulting image. More or less. Keep in mind here though that a wonderfully sharp image of a boring subject is still a boring photo.

There are many, many other tools we can use to make photographs. Tripods, speedlites, studio lights, etc. All these tools have their uses but they are still that, just tools.

Creative Vision is what you really need to focus on and develop (puns intended!)

If you want your photography to improve the most, I believe you must work on your creative vision.

This is, however, not as easy as it sounds. I’m not even sure vision can be taught. But, the best way I have found to try to develop my creative vision is to look at lots of photos. I mean lots. Thousands of them. Look at them find the ones that speak to you. Di-sect them. What is it about them that you like? What don’t you like about it. Try to replicate them. Yes learn by copying others until you develop your own style.

Photograph what you know, what you love, things that get you excited.

Here are some examples from my work that I feel were made when I was truly in the creative zone.

Storm On Fork Lake

 

Sometimes getting a great photograph is part luck. Being in the right place at the right time. But you still need to make the image. Take the above photograph of mine for instance. My most popular by far. I just happened to be out at the lake the weekend this storm blew through and I just happened to recognize what the sudden wind gusts signified. Still though, I had to decide when to press the shutter button and how to process the image after if at all. I had viewed many storm photographs in the past so when this one came along, I already knew what I was going to try to capture with it.

 

A Blur

08092014 _MG_8537 50D

Daily Life Snap Shot - August 28 2013.

I'm That Cute!

It's That Time Of Year Again...

Deep Blue

 

I hope to get many more photos that make me feel like these do.

Chris.

Black & White – Lego Figurines

I rarely work in black & white.

I believe the world is in color for a reason and I like to show the world in all it’s colorful glory. But every now and then I find a subject that lends its self to black and white photography. Lego figurines for example seem to look quite good in black & white. A friend at my day job asked me to do some photos of her son’s Lego collection, in black & white, that she could have printed up on some 16″ x 20″ foam board to hang on his wall. She had seen some examples of this in a decorating magazine. I, of course, was more than willing to give it a go.

02162015 _MG_9909 50D

02162015 _MG_9916 50D

02162015 _MG_9925 50D

 

Both her and I are quite happy with the results. It took me quite a bit of experimentation to get them just the way I wanted but the hardest part was the editing. I’m not used to editing in black & white. Still, I am quite happy with the end results.

 

Chris.