Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Canadian Forces Snowbirds Over White Rock

Canadian Forces Snowbirds in a Big Arrow formation above White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.

canadian forces snowbirds big arrow formation

The Snowbirds in the Big Arrow Formation (Purchase)

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   Earlier this month I had the opportunity to photograph the Canadian Forces Snowbirds flying over White Rock, British Columbia. The 431 Air Demonstration Squadron have been performing in airshows with the Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet under the name Snowbirds since 1971. They fly around 60 air shows in North America per year. I’ve seen them before at the Abbotsford Air Show but as I haven’t attended that event in over 20 years I have not seen their performance in a long time. When I learned that they were performing in White Rock I decided to photograph them for the first time since probably the late 1980’s. This was going to be a lot different than shooting them on film when I was around 14!

Purchase)

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   Armed with my new camera I picked out a good spot along the promenade in White Rock to watch the show. I chose a location that was slightly west of the pier, as I figured that would be the focal point. As the Snowbirds were going to perform around 6pm I decided I’d rather spend time looking south and east away from the sun than looking (and photographing) into it. This proved to work quite well, as I only had to stop tracking the jets through my camera to avoid the sun a few times.

Purchase)

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   Normally I photograph relatively still objects – mountains, trees, waterfalls etc. They don’t move around, and so the focus tracking capabilities of my various camera bodies have rarely mattered. Photographing the Snowbirds is quite a different thing than I usually work with, so I was curious how the auto focus on my new camera would work out. At the end of the evening I had roughly 300 photos of the performance and none of them were out of focus. Normally I’m used to having to delete some photographs with subjects like this as they are blurry but this was not the case this time. Picking the images I wanted to process took a bit longer as I didn’t have unfocused shots to throw out, but I’m not complaining at all!

canadian forces snowbirds big diamond formation with smoke

The Snowbirds starting a loop in the Big Diamond Formation (Purchase)

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   The website for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds shows the various formations they use for their performances. It took me a while but I think I’ve correctly named all the formations and looping/burst maneuvers I photographed. If I had this to do again I’d probably record audio of the broadcast that accompanied the performance to more easily determine all the formation names after the fact.

Purchase)

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For the 23 additional photographs I made of the Snowbirds visit my Transportation Gallery.

I Bought A New Camera – the Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS (and a RRS L-bracket).

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon ef 24-70mm f/4 IS lens and RRS L bracket

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (with Canon 24-70mm f/4 L IS)

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   I don’t write about equipment here often as I prefer talking about locations and photographs. Too many photographers concentrate on the equipment over the experiences and results, and I think that often hurts the photography. I tend to only research and read (and write) about equipment when I need it. I was happy to not have bought a new lens since 2011, and only did so recently due to the camera upgrade. Since 2011 I’ve been shooting with a Canon 7D, an improvement at the time from the Canon 30D I’d been using since 2007. The 7D was a big upgrade from the 30D and I was able to use the same lenses (EF-S and EF) I’d invested in already. One of those lenses, the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS started to break down on occasion just over two years ago. A lens that just refuses to work at exactly the wrong time isn’t a good one to keep around. I put up with this as it still worked for the most part, and would make occasional bad noises before it crapped out on me again earlier this year. I had always imagined moving to a full frame camera at some point, and this lens was part of what got me to do it. If I had upgraded the 30D in 2012 instead of 2011, I might have bought a Canon 6D which is full frame. I’d probably still be happy with that camera and continue to use it as many of my photographer friends still do. At his point the 6D is getting old(er) and I had waited long enough for the much rumored 6D Mark II to be released. It may be released later this year, or not at all. The 7D was made in 2009, and while it is still a good camera (that I will continue to use) it lacks a number of things more modern cameras offer. Higher dynamic range, much less noise at higher ISO, etc. Even the increase in megapixels (a wildly over hyped feature in general) will be handy as the 5D Mark IV yields 30 megapixel files while the 7D was around 18.

   So after months of research I had decided my new camera body had to be a 5D Mark IV but this required upgrading some lenses as well. The 7D has a APS-C crop sensor (1.6x) which worked well with my two EF-S lenses, the 17-55 f/2.8 IS and the Canon 10-22mm. Neither of these will work on a full frame DSLR body, so it was also time to move up in the world of lenses. The 17-55 was a good lens, but after using it’s replacement, the Canon 24-70mm f/4 L IS (which comes with the same price tag), I’m very happy with the quality of the images from it. I replaced the 10-22mm with a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L which is a pretty ubiquitous landscape lens among Canon landscape photographers. I haven’t used the 17-40mm much yet, but I expect it to be a step up from the 10-22.

   I’ve spent a few weeks learning all the features on the new 5D Mark IV and do love the results so far. I’ve only been out for one “real” evening of shooting (in White Rock) but have made quite a few images in the backyard of baby rabbits, birds, and various spring flowers. It has been very nice to shoot at ISO 3200 and get the same level of noise I was used to at around 800! You’ll see those results, as well as the photos of other trips I have planned… soon!

My Top 10 Photos of 2016

   Once again it is time to post my 10 favourite photographs from the past year. I do this yearly as it is a worthwhile exercise, and to take part in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to view photographs and find some new photographers to follow.

   I hope you enjoy my selections here and am curious to hear if you have a favourite. If you click on each photograph you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. Many of these photographs have corresponding blog posts that I’ve linked to underneath the thumbnails here. These aren’t in any specific order, but I did place the photograph “Rainbow over Hatzic Lake” at the beginning as I think this is the first time I’ve photographed a rainbow (successfully at least) outside of my backyard. I was also shielding the camera from a rainstorm with my body, so the photo deserves extra points for that. 😉

Here are my top 10 photos of 2016:

rainbow over hatzic lake in the fall
Rainbow over Hatzic Lake

(Mission, British Columbia)
Blog post: Rainbow over Hatzic Lake

top 10 photos - sailboat in the salish sea in british columbia
Sailboat in the Salish Sea

(Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver, British Columbia)
Blog post: Sunset at Juniper Point in Lighthouse Park
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2017 Nature Calendar Now Available!

cover for 2017 nature calendar - hatzic lake rainbow

2017 Calendar Cover – Rainbow over Hatzic Lake and Hatzic Island

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   My 2017 Nature Calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia and Washington State. Most of these photographs were made in 2016, though a few are from earlier years but previously unpublished in my calendars.

30% OFF! Use the code 10THDAY20 (case sensitive) for 30% OFF at checkout through Dec 16, 2016.

You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the button below:

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT

My new Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

canon speedlite 430EX III-RT flash front

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash – Front

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   Last month I mentioned I have plans to photograph a few new sujects and posted a photograph of Blueberries in a bowl shot in a lightbox I made out materials I had on hand. One of the limitation I found in photographing new things in new ways was that I didn’t own a “real” flash. The built in flash on the Canon 7D is a bit lacking. So I did some research and I purchased a Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash earlier this month.

   It has been a long time since I’ve purchased a new piece of equipment. I’ve stuck with the gear I slowly accumulated between 2007 and 2011 for the most part. The important part is using the equipment, not talking about it, debating gear choices online, or otherwise obsessing over it. Perhaps that will be a post all its own soon. I knew nothing about flashes, so I had to do a bit of research before I settled on this one. That was the easy part, learning to use it will be a bit more interesting.

canon speedlite 430EX III-RT flash back

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash – Back

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   I made these photos in that same lightbox. I spent a few days learning about a few settings, how to trigger the Speedlight with my 7d’s on camera flash, and a number of other things new to me. Having done this, it was a bit frustrating to try to make a photograph of this flash unit without being able to actually use it for the photo!

Trying something new – Blueberries, a Lightbox and Lights

Freshly picked Fraser Valley Highbush Blueberries in a bowl.

fresh organic highbush blueberries from the fraser valley in a bowl

Experimenting with my lightbox – a bowl of blueberries (Purchase)

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   In early 2015 I decided to try something new photographically, which is probably a good idea to do from time to time. Occasionally I want to photograph something that isn’t a landscape, nature or macro subject. I’d seen many tutorials on how to construct your own lightbox on the internet, so last spring I built one. Then I didn’t use it for a few months as I made excuses about not having the right equipment (I didn’t) or subjects (I did). When I was picking blueberries at the end of last summer I decided I would try to get a “product” shot of these fresh blueberries in a bowl. Typically my blueberry related photography has been more along the lines of blueberries still on the bush. Next it was a matter of finding a relatively photogenic bowl which was harder than I’d first anticipated.

   After a number of exposures only using my Canon 7D’s built in flash and two desk lamps shining in the sides of the lightbox, I fully realized that this was a whole new kind of photography thing altogether. I’ve never tried to artificially light subjects, and not owning a dedicated flash seems to be a bit of a drawback in that regard. However, trying something new shouldn’t always be easy, and so there were many ugly exposures before this one came to life. So, thinking this was my best effort so far, I put it up on the blog here which drew my attention to how “white” the background of the image is (or isn’t, in this case). That is my point here though – I’m trying something new and that is not something that usually starts with success right away. I am hoping I will soon regard this image as a failure, even though right now it is the best of its type that I have – because that would mean progress has been made.

   I believe I will soon be buying a flash for this kind of photography and a few other uses I have in mind. Once I spend some actual cash and not just time putting together a cardboard and poster paper lightbox the real “pressure” will be on!

My Top 10 Photos of 2015

   I consider these lists more of a top 10 favourite photographs of that year than the “best”. Which of my photographs are “the best” is probably better left for others to decide. Once again, I am making this post so I can be a part of Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. Look for his post early in the new year with all the entries from a wide variety of photographers. His project is always a great place to find new photographers and their work.

   I hope you enjoy the following photographs and I am curious if you have a favourite. Clicking on each photograph takes you to my Image Archive but below you’ll also find links to corresponding blog posts if they exist. While these are in no specific order that first panorama of Bagley Lakes might be my favourite overall. Here are my top 10 photos of 2015:

top 10 photos - bagley lakes panorama fall
Panorama of the Bagley Lakes at the bottom of Table Mountain and Mount Herman

(Mount-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington State)
Blog post: Bagley Lakes Panorama

fall foliage colours reflecting on deer lake
Fall foliage colours reflect on the surface of Deer Lake

(Sasquatch Provincial Park, British Columbia)

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Holiday Print Sale – Save 20%

It is time for my holiday print sale! From now through January 8th, 2016 all of my Fine Art Prints and Canvas Wraps are 20% off! Just use the code HOLIDAY20 (case sensitive) at checkout.

holiday print sale fine art prints and canvas wraps

Lower Falls on Gold Creek (Purchase)

   Select the photograph(s) you are interested in from my Image Library, add your desired product and size to your cart, and use the coupon code HOLIDAY20 at checkout. More about my prints and ordering information can be found on my Purchase page in the menu above. If you are interested in a photo that is not yet in my Image Library but instead found here on my Photoblog (or on a social media site), please send me an email indicating which photograph you are interested in and what size/product you wish to order – the discount will still apply!