May 29, 2019

A Fuji Camera Test (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original
A fellow member of ViewPoint Gallery recently liquidated their DSLR equipment in favour of a Fuji mirrorless camera and pair of lenses. Upon finding out I had a significant interest and attraction to the Fuji mirrorless cameras (in part because of their 56mm f/1.2 APD lens), I was offered the loan of the camera for a week, to put it through its paces.
Digital original
In the end, I just used the camera for a single morning, and it was a gray and wet one at that. But it couldn't have been a better test for the tools. The camera performed amazingly well, with both the image stabilization and mid-ISOs (400-1600) working wonderfully to help me capture some bright, luminous images of flowers. The auto focus system was responsive, and manual focus easy to implement when necessary. But the best part of the camera was using manual exposures - the camera can be set to provide highlight warning BEFORE an image is I just adjusted exposures until I saw a warning, then backed up a single click, and photographed away. An amazingly fast system to get perfect exposures every time. Absolutely stunning.
Digital original
In the end, the camera was fabulous to work with (and made me wish I could afford a couple) but the lenses left me flat. This is not a surprise, as I am used to high quality prime lenses, and the two Fuji lenses were consumer zooms, but it did make me realize I would have to follow a similar approach to one I used in the past, should I ever move to building a Fuji camera system. In the fall of 2008, when I was planning a shift from Nikon to Canon, I bought an 85mm f/1.2 portrait lens...and then three months later, my Canon 5D MKII arrived.

May 25, 2019

Lucie's First Outdoor Session (Atlantic Coast, Nova Scotia)

I can't recall a cooler, wetter spring; this session was literally the first day in Halifax in 2019 with a temperature above 20 degrees Celsius. In previous years, by this date, it has been hot enough to work with models in rivers, but to date, this year has just been too wet and cold to work outdoors (Miranda and I did make one image outdoors in March, but that was an exception, in several senses of the word).
Digital infrared original, 3 frame stitch
I first worked with Lucie in a candle-lit session in February, but her real interest as in working outdoors. Unfortunately, she is moving from Halifax at the end of May, so any outdoor session has to be before then. With that in mind, we've been watching the weather...and sighing - until the Saturday before her departure - the one day with a forecast temperature of 20 Celsius (and no rain). Fortunately it worked out that both Lucie and I were available that afternoon, so we headed to the coast, hoping for warm air and a light breeze.

As it turned out, the day could not have been better - the temperature, while by no means hot, was more than pleasant, and what little wind there was came off the land, carrying even more warmth. As Lucie and I had previously worked together, the session had none of the "getting started" jitters that can often be part of a first session, so within 10 minutes of reaching the coast, we had already made the first striking image, working with the angular sunlight and a small water pool.
Digital infrared original
While I had my colour camera with me, I didn't take it out for this entire session; the afternoon sunlight was pretty harsh, and the natural contrast would have been challenging to deal with. The infrared camera, however, was perfect for the day, and even the sky for the most part co-operated, providing me with some light cloud to put some drama in the wider-angle compositions.
Digital infrared original
As the session began to move towards its end, we made some more experimental images, drawn in by the massive boulders that are scattered on the glacial barrens. These in some ways relate to a series of Images I made in 2009 with Vanessa, where the figure is dwarfed by the granite rocks, but in this case, I encouraged Lucie to be experimental with her pose, which lead to a more dynamic result that the more posed look of the image with Vanessa.
Digital infrared original
The last image sets of the session were made on the line between the rocky shore and the scrub that covers much of the rest of the coastline. As we were walking out, I saw this wonderful dead tree, knocked to a sharp angle by a winter storm. With some effort, and even more care, Lucie was able to work her way into the sun-side of the tree, and arch into the evening light - providing a perfect finish for a great first (and sadly, perhaps final) session working with her.

May 19, 2019

Iris Portraits (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 7 image focus stack
After my earlier garden explorations, where focus stacking was used a little, in a manual implementation, when the iris began to bloom, I returned to the garden, but this time with a focusing rail, ready to do things correctly.
Digital original, 31 image focus stack
I was fortunate that the morning was almost breathless, as the tall plant was quite prone to waiving in the wind...but with some patience, and a lot of "oh well, let's start again", I managed to make a number of very pleasing focus stacks - mostly of details of the lovely flower.
Digital original, 34 image focus stack
The most obvious outcome of the exploration of focus stacking with living subjects is that repetition is the name of the game - but I also wonder about getting some power cords, and trying the Stackshot - I suspect it would be faster than working manually, and while working with a laptop outdoors would have challenges, it might just be worth the hassle!

May 11, 2019

A Sign of Spring (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 13 image focus stack
The first blooms of spring have come out in my garden (in this case specifically, the first of the bulbs I planted last fall) - so I had to photograph it! After making images in situ, I plucked one, and photographed it on the deck, against black velvet!

May 10, 2019

A Spring Garden (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Digital original, 2 image focus blend
This is my first year with a truly planted garden (where plants were selected and then planted as bulbs or seeds, so it is quite exciting to see the new life sprouting from the ground, and photograph it.
Digital original, 3 image focus stack
Combined with this new found interest in foliage is a realization that focus stacking, long a staple in my indoor macro work, has to be brought into the greater outdoors, as the large aperture backgrounds are so lovely and seductive...but lead to too little depth of field for any of the flowers...thus this session was primarily focused on manual focus stacking.
Digital original, 8 image focus stack
As the photography progressed however, I recalled how much I love focus stacking, so by the last images (of plants close to the ground, like the above image of a Lady's Mantle leaf just beginning to spread) I used extensive focus stacking...but next time, I shall tackle the garden with a focusing rail!