Ice Storm

It is supposed to be spring.  I must admit the weather here in Ottawa is leaving a little bit to be desired.  It is going up and down like a yo-yo.  At the end of February it was positively balmy and now that it is mid April we have been getting snow and freezing rain.  In Yellowknife, it is predictably freezing cold for much of the year.  But with a good coat and a pair of mukluks, you are pretty well set for venturing outdoors.  

Today it was so crappy I could barely take Saydee for a walk.  Schools were closed, power lines and tree branches were down and many homes were without power.  I literally had to drop my poochie off at the park and waited by - no hung on to the car as the wind was gusting at about 60km hour.   I did, however, think it was beautiful.  The trees were all glistening with ice as were the roads.  A good day for a photo shoot then.  So off we went in search of beauty amidst the chaos.  

I probably could have used Fuji's new XH1 with in body image stabilization as I wasn't too sure on my feet. 

Here are some of my favourites. 

Print of the Week - Autumn Storm No 196

I have a couple of new years resolutions already and one is to write more often in my blog.  It is not enough these days to just merely be a photographer, one has to be constantly talking about it.  More importantly it is about me not being silent anymore.  To help me with this task, I thought I would begin a Print of the week series to discuss my print work.  As well, it would serve to be a shameless plug for selling my work wholesale via my website before putting it up on Saatchi for a wider audience. 

So given my first sale of a 30x40" print of one of my Aurora Borealis photographs, I thought it would make sense to start the series with that image.


On September 27th of this year, I witnessed one of the most amazing Aurora G2 storm.  Eddie was traveling and Saydee and I were alone with some guests from China.   It started just after 9 pm.  I was thinking I should really get serious about doing a time lapse before we had to leave Yellowknife to go back home to Ottawa.  On previous outings, my friend Bill Braden, who also shoots with Fuji in Yellowknife, encouraged me to be more patient with Timelapse.  Also, Fujifilm Canada kindly let me use their new medium format camera:  GFX50s for this reason.  They were enjoying my photos from Canada's north.  

I didn't have to go far for this scene as I just had to open the back door, take a few steps out past my balcony and there it was.  It was an intense storm which lasted for a couple of hours.  What was unique was that it wasn't very cold out.  It was probably 8 degrees Celsius meaning I didn't have to wear mitts and with a good winter coat I could stay outside comfortably for the entire evening without succumbing to frostbite which is the norm during the winter months. 

I set up the tripod, camera to ISO 3200 to enable a faster shutter speed of 2 seconds which I've learned is essential in capturing the crisp curtain-like effect of the aurora.  I was shooting with Fujifilm's GF23F4 lens which was perfect for shooting the aurora.  It was easy to mark infinity via the LCD screen.  The tilting LCD screen is also genius so that regardless of the angle you are shooting it is easy to see what it is you are doing.  Especially useful when tipping the camera straight up to photograph an exploding korona.  

Anyway, it went on for about an hour and a half and I was somewhat diligent.  Halfway through I thought it would be neat to have a photo with Saydee and I in it.  It was great to have this photo but I have to admit it didn't really add to timelapse.  Oh well.  

In any case, a friend of a friend down south was looking for a large print of an Aurora to display over the fireplace and having shot with the GFX I was pretty confident that I could make a beautiful print of the size they were asking for which was a 30x40".  

For this, I turned to Jim Lamonte, one of Ottawa's premier printers who also teaches the art of fine art printing at SPAO (School of Photographic Arts in Ottawa).  Jim is a pleasure to work with.   He was very considerate about making the print exactly to my specifications and vision.  He recommended Canson Baryta paper as being the best one with the Highest D-Max which is a measure of the deepest black tone a printer/ink/paper combination can reproduce. If properly cared for this combination of Epson inks and paper should see the print last for well over 100 years.  It will outlast me and the people who are purchasing it.  It is a limited edition 1/10 and I can't wait to see it framed!

Huge thanks to all who were involved:  Fujifilm Canada for lending me their GFX50s, Peter Waiser for connecting me with a friend who was looking for what I have to offer, Jim Lamont for helping  me produce this size of print and my husband who is supportive of my work. 

To purchase your own copy see Fine Art Prints

30x40 Aurora 196-171211-06.jpg

Christmas Tree Farm

We pushed off our annual outing of going to get our Christmas tree until the snow came.  It just didn't seem right otherwise.  Here it is almost mid-December and finally, we got a couple of centimetres of snow last night.  So today was the day.  

We decided to go to the Fallowfield Tree farm.  We had been there three years before - the year before traveling to Yellowknife.  It was a mild -3C so given that we are used to -30C at this time of year, that was no big deal.  I was looking forward to photographing the typical Canadian winter scene of hay rides, Christmas trees, goats and horses.  Since I still have Fuji's medium format camera I wanted to try it out at the tree farm.

So here are some favourites from the day.  

Nine and a Half Apples

One can never truly know the importance of a photograph.  I received a call not too long ago from someone who was wanting to surprise their father at Christmas.  It seems that approximately 30 years he had purchased a framed photograph of nine and a half green apples set against what looked like a cement wall.  Four apples were cradled in a ridged white bowl.  That photograph had been hanging in the family's kitchen for over 30 years.  The children had grown up with it.  The problem was that it was fading and was horribly dated.  Could I recreate the photograph for them?  It would be a print of 12.25" by 33.5".   I thought the GFX50s would be just perfect for this project and the kind people Fujifilm Canada kindly leant me their camera along with the 23mmF4 and the 120mm lens. 

The camera arrived and I got busy looking for a similar white bowl to the one in the photograph, ten apples, a background and cloth.  I ended up purchasing a kitchen counter for the background and a painter's dropcloth for the table.  

apples.jpg

The GF120mmF4 with its macro capabilities turned out to be perfect for this job.  The trickiest part was balancing the apples in the bowl.  

Anyway, here is the final image and I must say the print at 33.5" was spectacular!  The apples seemed larger than life and ready to eat. 

nineapples-171202-6 final-20171202-1.jpg

Thank you to Fujifilm Canada for the use of the camera for this project. 

Ingrid and Marc

I had done a business portrait for Ingrid a couple of years ago and while we were still in Yellowknife she emailed and asked if I was around to do another shoot?  The good news was that we were planning on moving back to Ottawa and I would be around just about the time when the fall colours would be at their peak in mid October.  We met at the Arboretum of the Experimental Farms - which is always a great place for a photo shoot regardless of the season.  The reason for the photo shoot if there needs to be one is that they were celebrating their 60th birthdays. 

Anyway, I thought I would share a few of my favorites from their session.  All photos were photographed with Fuji's GFX50S medium format camera and the 120mmF4 lens. 

 

 

North of 60 with Fuji's GFX50s

A couple of years ago when Fujifilm had asked us if we had interest in a Medium Format camera, my gut reaction was a decided no.  In my mind, I had just downsized and replaced my heavy Nikon D800 and lenses for the Fuji XT1 system with money left over to boot.  I had the perfect system and when they launched the Fuji XT2 I was even happier.  I couldn't imagine it getting any better. Sigh.  

Then the GFX was launched and everyone who is anyone in the Fujifilm world was having a go at it.  Even friends who were decidedly not going that route, preferring instead the sleek pocket XF100F which is generally the preferred camera for street photography, were trying it out and writing reviews.  Everyone was blown away by the files.  They were saying that the images shown on Facebook or Instagram simply did not do them justice.  To make a long story short, and against my better judgement my curiosity got the better of me and I asked Fujifilm Canada if I could try it.    I explained that we would be moving south soon and the Aurora season was just about to start up again and I was hoping to do some portraits of some Northerners. I say against my better judgement because I sensed that I was going to really like this camera.  

Fujifilm Canada graciously agreed and sent me the GFX50s, the GF23, 32-64, 63 and the 120.  It arrived about a week later.  

The full kit.  GFX50S, GF23F4, 63F2.8, 32-64 and the 120F4

My first thought when I picked up the camera was that it fit so comfortably in my hand with the grip and that it wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be.   I was also pleased to see that Fujifilm had beefed up the camera strap hardware.  Coming from the Fuji XT2 I found the dials, buttons, and menus quite familiar and was able to quickly navigate around the menus. 

Unfortunately, the EVF didn't work at all which was a bit disappointing.  There seemed to be a problem with it as it kept shutting off.  Rather than send everything back I simply learned how to shoot solely with the LCD screen.

Since I've had this camera I have photographed a Dene First nation wedding, several portraits, landscapes, urban and of course the Aurora Borealis. I too was blown away by the image quality. I had never seen anything quite like it.  What was it about these files?  The colour, the nearly impossible dynamic range and the tonal quality and creamy bokeh noticeable even with the GF32-64mm F4 zoom lens!  

Almost every bride in Yellowknife wants to have their portrait done at the top of Pilots Monument under the usually bright sun.  I brought with me the GFX50s to see what it could do.   I used also a  bit of Fuji's EFX500 fill flash as well.  I probably could have used an off-camera flash with an umbrella but it was pretty windy up there.  I was pretty happy with the results anyway.  

GF32-64 ISO200 F6.4 1/1250 SEC. 

The photographs seem to have a 3-dimensional quality almost as if you are stepping inside the scene.  I also liked its native 4/3 ratio especially for the Aurora as you can get more sky in the frame.  I was also impressed with the battery performance as I worked the entire time with only one battery.    

The camera has a few quirks though.  The zone focusing routinely gets stuck in a bottom corner requiring you to turn off the camera and reboot it.   I don't think this is a serious issue though as Fujfilm has an excellent reputation of fixing these little quirks in future firmware updates.  

Also, it isn't the fastest camera around and it certainly isn't designed for sports or wildlife shooters.  Although it wouldn't surprise me to see some sports and wildlife photography done with this camera as I was able to capture my beloved Saydee full sprint in the park with the GF23mmF4.  

GF23MM ISO 100 F4 1/640 sec.

In addition to the files being exquisite, they are rather large.  Raw files are about 115mb each so I hardly minded cropping this one of the husky relaxing on the roof. 

 GF63mmF2.8 ISO 100 1/450 sec

GF63mmF2.8 ISO 100 1/450 sec

I have to say the camera along with the GF23F4 really nailed it for the Aurora Borealis.  The files were clean and crisp with hardly any noise at ISO3200 F4.  Also check out the Time Lapse at the end of this post. 

For portraiture I used the GF32-64, the 63F2.8 and the 120mmF4 and I have to say I like them all. I wish I could be one of those people who shoots only one kind of thing one way with one lens.  It would make things more affordable.  However, I do enjoy variety and sometimes I feel like making an environmental portait and at other times I want to zoom in.  

So much detail! 

This camera however, at $8,124 for the body only, is not to be taken lightly.  However, in comparison to a Hassleblad at $11,000 Canadian it would be more within reach of the serious photographer.  It would be an excellent camera for those commercial, landscape or studio portrait photographers who demand the very best for their clients and can command a good price for doing so in the marketplace.  

To conclude, I would love to have this camera and I can definitely see adding it to my gear bag in the future.  Since I plan to focus my photography more on portraiture and selling fine art prints when I return to Ottawa, I would start with the GF63F2.8 and the GF3264 for my nature urban images followed by  the GF120mm.  

Huge thanks to Fujifilm Canada for allowing me to spend my last month in Yellowknife with the GFX.  I'm only sorry I'll miss shooting in pristine winter wonderland with the GFX. 

A time lapse of a G2 Aurora Storm in Yellowknife, NT September 27, 2017.

 

 

Leah and Kelvin

On Saturday I had the honour of photographing the wedding of a young couple from Behchoko.  Kelvin is a wildlife officer with the Government of the Northwest Territories and Leah is studying business at the Aurora College.  They have two beautiful daughters.  They were wed at the Legislative Assembly by a Justice of the Peace with many friends and family as witnesses.  Following the ceremony, we went to Pilot's Monument and a few other places for photographs followed by a potluck dinner at the home of the Bride's sister.  It turned out to be a beautiful day.  Here are a few of my favourite pictures.  

All photos were shot with Fujifilm XT2 and GFX50S.