Black and White: Less Color, More Expression

I was recently challenged to a photo challenge on Facebook. With all of the hype on high dynamic range sensors and general HDR photography, we often forget the simplicity found in a black and white photograph. I’m a firm believer that the best camera is the one you have with you, and while your cell phone, point and shoot camera, or even an entry level DSLR may not be capable of incredible detailed pictures, they are not all “bad” pictures. 

If you’ve got a great camera, black and white photos are even better. The vivid detail captured with high contrast and no color saturation can be spectacular. I was given the 5 Day Black and White Photo challenge by Jay Morrison. This got me looking back through some old photographs and while I couldn’t post all of my favorites in that five days, I am posting some extras and a few different ones here.

I hope you enjoy and get some time to go outside and take some pictures and don’t worry about capturing the photos highest dynamic range. Capture some great shots, take out the color and show your creativity – without resorting to cheap HDR tricks to impress.

Rosewill Brightens the Future

Product: Rosewill RL-W73001-4P LED Lights
Provided By: Rosewill
Price: $44.95 Online at time of publication ($11.24 / bulb)

Today I’m going to briefly cover a product that is becoming more and more popular since North America has pretty much banned the production and sale of incandescent bulbs. These “legacy” bulbs have been around forever and they are not all that efficient. They have been replaced with CCFL (twisty) bulbs that are a step in the right direction, but those too get quite hot as well and excess heat is energy that is getting used up as heat – and not light.

That’s where LED bulbs come in. They are a step farther down the path toward energy efficiency and while they are a dramatic leap forward, I’m sure that this technology will mature and we’ll be getting better and better products as time marches on. I’m going to look at a four-pack of Rosewill RL-W73001 bulbs today.

 

First Look:

To keep things interesting, I’ll take a look at the box and specifications – just as we do with other products I review over at BCCHardware.com. As you can see below, the packaging is pretty minimalist and the box includes a few details including features and specifications. It is pretty basic.

Continue reading Rosewill Brightens the Future

This Ain’t no Toyota

There are a lot of drivers on the road that really shouldn't be. There are also a lot of trucks on the road that are not safe. Thankfully on Wednesday we experienced a truck that was safe – but that was being driven by a driver that wasn't. This happened just outside our residence and thankfully no one was hurt – and evidence even suggests that no pants were soiled in this mishap.

I'd like to make sure to give credit to Tia and William Heide for taking some of these photos as well. It was a crazy day that could have been avoided if the guy actually made a wide turn. It was that simple. It was also very expensive as they spent over 6 hours doing recovery and cleanup – and the truck and trailer are probably a write-off.

Son of a Gun

I'm a farm kid and learned responsibility in life from my Dad when I was very young. I guess the slogan rings true, "Only you can prevent forest fires". You are responsible for your own decisions, your own actions and when you screw up, you have yourself to blame. Also growing up, my dad taught me to respect firearms.

When I was 10 I received a pellet gun and learned safety, responsibility and to value life. When I hit 11, my dad figured I'd proven myself responsible (not the kind where when something went wrong, I was responsible) and he purchased me a Lakefield .22 single-shot rifle. This gun was good for plinking and small varmints such as gophers that ate up thousands of dollars worth of crop-land. I learned to always pay attention to my field of fire and to make sure I hit what I was aiming at because "bullets ain't cheap, ya know."

I shot that .22 so much that I eventually wore out the bolt so I purchased an incredible gun – a .22 Lakefield repeater from my grandpa when I was 17 years old. That gun too met it's end a few years later as I shot so many gophers that I wore out that bolt as well. Both of these firearms were pretty cheaply made and when they wore out, they weren't worth the cost of a bolt to fix them.

Fast forward about 20 years and I now just bought myself a replacement .22 as I picked up the Ruger 10/22 autoloader. I went cheap on my purchase and picked up a standard birch stock as I had a plan to get an adjustable stock that my kids could learn to shoot on and use. When I picked up the gun, the great staff at Fly's Etc. in High River one of the staff there commented that he's spent about $1,200 his Ruger 10/22 build and I scoffed at the amount of money he's spent on his $200 gun. He did remind me however that he spends more time with his Ruger 10/22 than he does his hunting rifle, so why not make it custom and special? Point taken.

I decided that I wouldn't and couldn't follow the same route though. I don't have that kind of money – and other than a tactical stock, what more did I really need? The answer is a bit embarrassing as I've added a Tango-Down fore grip, BX-25 mags, mag loader, 1×30 red-dot sight with Butler Creek flip-covers, and a full Power Custom Match trigger job. I also did a slight modification to the bolt-lock and it's not set to auto-return instead of returning using the pain-in-the-backside release catch.

All in all, I still haven't spent much money on this gun as parts have been purchased on sale, and I've done some modifications myself rather than buy the $50 plate that does the same thing. Still, if you're going to shoot and to teach someone else to shoot, have some gun and enjoy the gear you have. Make it yours. A good rifle (.22 or otherwise) can last you a lifetime and a cheap one will always give you problems. I can't blame my dad for my own decisions, but I do thank him for teaching me responsibility and respect when it comes to life and to firearms. I hope I can impart the same knowledge and love of sport-shooting to my boys and family.

Calgary International Auto & Truck Show 2014

I had the good fortune and the pleasure of being invited to the Calgary International Auto and Truck Show here a couple of weeks ago. We were the guests of Ford, but got a chance to ogle other vehicles as well. Take a look at our Ford coverage below and then an image of a very nice Italian automobile below.

 

 

I did remove some of the distracting background on this car – but I haven't touched the car itself.

 

Night Lights

Tonight on the way home from a meeting for an upcoming youth event in Vulcan, I noticed a beautiful aurora in the sky.  I know that they are up there, but I live within 100km of Calgary and often the light pollution is too great out our way.  Thankfully tonight things were a bit darker as I was farther south and I noticed some beautiful lights in the sky.  I just happened to have my D600 handy – as well as a tripod, so I made sure to capture the moment.  I'm pretty impressed with a couple of these shots.  Enjoy!

DSC_4883-2

DSC_4875

I have a few more, but I think I'm going to just be happy with these!

This bugs me

Living in the country has so many benefits and interesting things going on.  One of the things that can be either good or bad are the number and variety of insects you might find.  I don’t mind bugs – well, most bugs, although I would not let everything crawl on me.  For example, this rather large water beetle crawled up to our house looking for a drink.

image

Like any good citizen, we gave him a drink, got his “autograph” and returned him to the wild.  Good times.

Airdrie Airshow Wallpapers

This summer was crazy busy with medical issues and regular life, but I did manage to get a few photo sessions in around the country.  One of my favorite was the Airdrie Regional Airshow.  I love planes, flying and heights and have been fascinated with flight ever since I was little.  To me, flying is freedom.  Flying is liberating and flying just feels right!

While I didn’t get to go for a flight at the airshow, I think I captured some of the essence of the show in the images below.  Please feel free to check them out and download them.  I’ve included 1920 x 1080 version of most of the files for your enjoyment.

Drive to Camp

Today we delivered my 11-year old son to a Wilderness Mountain Camp out West.  This is his first time at camp without brother and while he does have a couple of his cousins with him, it will be a change for him without little brother tagging along.  On the way, we spotted some pretty nice country and on the way back we took a bit of a different route and found ourselves in some very scenic country.

The first image is of an old coal mining works that was still being worked today.  They were cleaning up a small amount of coal and loading it onto trucks instead of the train that was parked in the foreground.

The other image is of the Oldman Dam that was running wide open a couple of weeks back in order to help prevent some flooding of smaller towns up river.  Today it was silent – and dry.

 

Happy Birthday – Now Hit Me!

I do enjoy my family and taking photos.  Often I find myself taking photos of other people though and end up missing out on some fun opportunities.  Tonight we did a belated “birthday” shoot for our 11-year old son and of course his brother wanted in on the action as well.  This is all good times and we did some classic shots as well as had some fun boxing, guitar and more.  Remember – shoot lots.  Shoot RAW and have some fun with artistic expression in your images.

The images attached are tweaked for interest sake, and while hardcore anti-retouching types with say that they aren’t “photos” anymore, they are nevertheless images that capture the mood and the essense of my kids.

Enjoy!