Monday, November 30, 2009

Stocking stuffers!

Well, my wife is the good sort of wife, and she let me stuff my own stocking this year. I understand her point, photo gear is not something I would really want someone else picking out for me. I hit Don's Photo today.

So, not much of a surprise but my stocking this year will contain:

- Tamron pinch-style lens caps for both my macro and kit lens
- Two lens cap keepers
- Screen protector for my XSi
- A LensPen
- Eight Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries and a charger for my SpeedLite

Merry Xmas to me! Here's hoping that I get some gift cards as well so that I can continue to sink scads of money into this hobby!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Not much shooting again...

A busy week last week, a busy week this week, topped of with an emergency run out for a new crib last night. Thanks so much Storkcraft. Being heavily addicted to Dragon Age: Origins is not helping much either!

I do have some ideas for some more lightbox shoots, so I'm planning on setting aside at least a few nights next week. I might manage another walk around at work this week too, although the temperatures are falling rapidly around here...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A few shots of the week.

So, another week with not much shooting, but as I mentioned before, this is about learning. Here are a few more other shots I liked this week.

One more shot from my training sessions at Riverview Health Centre. This one is a tight shot of a wonderful Blue Spruce on the grounds of the hospital itself.

Blue Spruce

I was hesitant to post this shot earlier, because the composition is not particularly strong, but I think the pale foreground colours work well with the darker background. Not a great shot, but not a bad one I hope.

This morning, my wife and I took the kids to a craft show at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, and there were some limited opportunities to shoot. I didn't bring the big flash (should have) so I had to rely on the pop-up with a the puffer for diffusion. The lighting was less than optimal even with the flash though, so only one salvageable shot:

Craft Show Candy

I liked the deep colours and the repeating shapes. If you blow it up though, the focus was a bit too much on the back row, and the DOF was too narrow. Still, it kinda works.

Somedays, you just have to take the 'kinda' shots :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A walk along the river...

Today was the first day of a new training course that I am attending at Riverview Health Centre, a building I actually worked at for short while a few years ago.

One of the nicest features at this facility is, as one would guess, the view of the Red River. Given the current season, however, the view is rather less green and lush than usual. Still, given fifteen extra minutes at lunch time, I grabbed my camera and went shooting.

There are communal vegetable gardens along the berm that separates the river from the facility, and beyond that a strip of forest filled with trails used by joggers and bikers whenever there is no snow on the ground. Although we have dodged the snow, the temperatures are still just above freezing, and the trails are lonely at the moment.

Riverwalk Path

One of the nicest features of these little trails and paths are the handmade birdhouses that are literally everywhere. I counted at least fifty in the ten or so minutes I had to actually shoot pictures. The birdhouses, like the trails, are waiting for the spring to return.

Riverwalk Birdhouse 2

Riverwalk Birdhouse

All these shots were taken with the 60mm macro. I honestly don't think it's left my camera since it arrived.

My last shot for today didn't come from the river walk, but from a quiet moment with my daughter.


I went monochrome with this shot again. I'm not sure how you decide which shot should be converted to mono, but this one is more moving in mono. Maybe that's the only criteria?

Anyhow, I think it's important to point out that the dog's tongue is being coloured purple. I wish I had a purple tongue.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest we forget.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, the analog to Veteran's Day in the US.

My Grandfather served with the Canadian forces in WW2 as an anti-aircraft gunner, and was injured by a bomb blast while listening to a baseball game on the radio with his friends. He was the only one to make it out of the truck alive, and became a Military Policeman after the injury. He served in Italy, France and the Netherlands.

He once told me that everyone must know the true scope of the horrors of the war. The Military Police, and he himself, were amongst those that helped to try and bring order and peace to the concentration camps scattered across Europe. He made sure that we knew that the deniers were wrong, that he once stood next to a pile of skulls that was taller than he was.

Thank you to my daughter for helping me to take this shot. She will be told what I was told when she is old enough. My Grandfather's words will not die with me, or with her, or with her children.

Lest we forget.

Lest we forget.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm down with the Geckos.

Today was a busy day, but I told myself to take some time to shoot something. As I was feeding all the animals in our zoo before settling in for some quality couch time, I decided to quickly set up my lightbox and have some one on one macro time with our smaller Crested Gecko, whom my dear Daughter has thoughtfully named 'Duck'. The big one is 'Drake' by the way. I blame my wife's genes.

I call this shot, "Gecko on the Edge!"

Gecko on the Edge

Duck is sitting on the tip of my index finger in this shot, so that should give you a sense of scale. I like the sharpness of that rented 70-200mm, but this 60m Macro is just freaking razor sharp. There is detail in this shot that is hard to make out with the naked eye.

The second shot I liked from tonight is called 'Thumbs up for Geckos!"

Thumbs up for Geckos!

Yeah, that's my thumbnail. Yeah, that's not pretty.

Anyhow, in this shot, I like to imagine he's looking back at the camera with a knowing smile for all the Gecko ladies out there. Aw yeah...

Once again, by the way, the Speedlite was invaluable. The 60mm and 580EX II are both proving to be very good purchases.

Friday, November 6, 2009

More macros!

I selected a few of my favourite shots from the rest of the night of macro shooting with my friend Paul. There were 40 keepers in total, so not a bad haul.

Once again, this is really a gallery of Paul's painting, not my photography, but it was a great learning experience!

To give you an idea of the scale of these pieces, here is a Napoleonic infantry unit in 25mm scale, with Paul's hand for reference:

Napoleonic Gunline for scale

Now here is the full unit so that you can see the detail in the modeling and painting:

Napoleonic Gunline

Check it out in full size on Flickr to get a better idea of the detail.

From the same scale, a unit of Saracen Cavalry:

Cavalry Unit

I used the blue backdrop to make more of a scene for this shot, but it really, really affects the available light. Speedlite to the rescue!

Finally, two shots of some of his western era miniatures. First, a Saloon and one of it's, um, employees:

Western Saloon And Gal

Second, a gang of western hoodlums:

Western Gang

Thanks once again to Paul from Saber's Edge for providing me a chance to play with my new toys, and thanks for reading my blog! Comments are always wanted and welcome!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Macro shots ahoy!

Last night's shooting went well. I was working with the lightbox, the 60mm Macro, my new 580EX II Speedlite and a Sto-Fen Omnibounce for diffusion. All in the all the results were good, and I had a lot of work adjusting the flash power on the fly. I really learned a lot fromt his shoot, and by the end I was snapping proper exposures on the first shot or two.

I have a lot of post processing to do on the shots still, but I have two samples to share at the moment.

These shots are of wargaming miniatures, and they were painted by my friend Paul of Saber's Edge Hobbies and Games. Really this is not a display of my photography, but of Paul's painting skill. For reference, these figures are only 28mm tall.

First up, everyone's favorite scalliwags, a band o' murderous pirates!

Band o' Pirates!

Controlling depth of field was key here, and I was shooting most shots at somewhere between f/8 and f/16 to try and get focus across all the figures. This meant using fairly high power on the flash (anywhere from 1/8th to full power), and long exposures. My tripod and cable release were critical here. This shot was at f/9, 1/8th second exposure at ISO 200.

I was playing with depth of field on some shots though, and I like the effect it gave on larger groups of models or larger individual models, like in this shot:

Space Wolves Dreadnaught

This bad boy is a Space Wolves Dreadnaught from the Warhammer 40,000 wargame. This is a larger model, probably 40mm or more in height, so there is more detail and more to get in focus. As such, I thought about some DoF effects, and came up with the shot above, focused in on the claw and let the remainder of model fall into bokeh. I think it worked, and I like the shot. For comparison, this was shot at f/2.8, 1/40th second exposure at ISO 800.

More pics will follow as soon as I have time for post processing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another new toy...

I think I have a problem...

Speedlite 580EX II

Having taken delivery of my 60mm Macro, I sold the 50mm f/1.8 and my extension tubes. They strike me as being a bit superfluous, and the funds raised helped to buy a used flash. Now, this flash is a year old or so, but it was *spotless*. I seriously doubt anyone could tell it from new.

I apologize for a lack of content the last two weeks or so. I've been shooting a lot, the shutter count on my camera is very near to 3,000, but I haven't been overly happy with the shots, frankly. What occured to me tonight, though, is that I forgot the purpose of this blog, which is *learning to shoot*. I shouldn't be worried about posting only my better shots, I should be posting anything that taught me a lesson, good or bad. I forgot that, and I'll rectify that this week.

I'll finally be taking those website product shots on Wednesday night, so that will be a good test for the new flash and the photobox. I'll be sure to post some of them here, good or bad.