Brandi from 2010.
Brandi from 2010.
Eight months have passed since I last photographed Chloe. Only two things have changed, really: she finally got her braces off and we had to shoot inside instead of outside this time.
But, you know, stripper pole. So. Yeah.
Say hello to 19-year old Riley! Riley first contacted me when she was just 17, curious to learn more about the modeling world. Although there were a few false starts, we eventually got together in December and knocked out these photos at the Hyatt Regency Toronto. Riley’s currently training to be a plumber (hence her crazy guns), drives a truck, and is from a town in Ontario a little more quaint than Toronto — but she cleans up real nice! Follow her on Instagram! (Follow me too, if you’d like.)
You’ll see more of Riley soon, I promise.
You’ve seen Alison on the blog before, but only as a result of my trips to Halifax. She’s bound to be a more frequent face around these parts since she’s just moved to Toronto and we (the city) have no intention of ever giving her back to Halifax. She must stay forever! I mean, just look at her.
These were all photographed with the late day sun at the Hanlan’s Point beach at the Toronto Islands. Even though I lugged a good deal of gear with me on the ferry, I ended up using almost none of it. Just the camera, two lenses (50mm f/1.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8), and nothing else!
It’s been a long time since you’ve seen Randall here on this blog and that’s because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen her. Two and a half years have elapsed since our last photo shoot which ate away at me every day the longer it wore on.
But recently Randall and Ryan (RSQUARED) reunited for a rambunctious rabbit photo shoot in the valley!
I’d spent the week before our session scouting out what I hoped would be the perfect spot, but I couldn’t quite nail down what my brain was envisioning. We settled for what’s practically right in my backyard — Toronto’s Don Valley. Though just mere metres from the highway that runs through it, the Don Valley features abundant foliage and wildlife, so Randall blended right in with her BCBGMAXAZRIA rabbit veil. You keen blog readers will note that I’ve used this accessory once before, but now it’s officially retired. It’s been added to Randall’s repertoire for future costume parties and the like.
This was also my first experiment with smoke bombs, which of course didn’t cooperate nearly as well as I’d hoped but still ended up creating a nice effect.
Top: Forever XXI
We made some non-rabbit photos too!
I headed over to eBay where there’s a myriad of sellers for this product. I settled on ordering from GoodboyStudio who offered a $128.99 price and free shipping to Canada (incidentally, it’s $125.99 on the GoodboyStudio website as of this writing). Considering the $400-800 price tags on Quantum packs, the Godox is a steal.
For those of you who don’t know, the Godox PB820 is an external battery pack that will connect to popular flash units (with the correct cable) like the Nikon SB-900 and Canon 580EX II. It provides much faster recycling times than the AA batteries that usually power the flash — a full-power recycle can be done in just one second, versus five seconds or so with AAs. This is especially handy when shooting corporate events, weddings, and parties, as you can fire shots fairly rapidly without worrying about whether or not your flash has recycled. This benefit is of further use outside, where your flash will almost always be using full-power pops if you’re trying to fill in or overpower the sunlight. Waiting five seconds between shots is agony for your subjects, so the Godox solves this problem easily.
Setup and usage of the Godox PB820 couldn’t be simpler. Plug in to charge, then plug in to your flash to use. There’s a smartly designed on/off system too. Turn the device on without a flash plugged in and the LEDs will light up to show you the remaining battery charge, then the unit shuts off after a few seconds. If the device is on with a flash attached, either pushing the on/off switch or removing the cable will power down the unit. It’s basically impossible to leave the unit powered on accidentally.
I purchased my unit in lime green (pictured above) but it also comes in black. I like colourful photo accessories better than black ones since it makes it easier to spot them in a camera bag or if I’ve set them down on the other side of the room.
The included shoulder strap is pretty useless to me, so I didn’t both attaching it. I’m much more content with the belt clip.
Likewise, the rubber feet on the underside of the unit seem pointless. Yes, the unit can stand upright on these feet. And yes, they actually grip a table surface pretty well. But I can’t envision a situation where I’d have the PB820 standing upright on a flat surface. As with anything tall and skinny and with a small footprint, it’s still prone to tipping over despite the grip of the feet. I’m much more likely to lay it down flat on its broad side (while charging, say), which seems like a more natural orientation for this type of device.
It’s also worth noting that your flash unit still needs AAs to power the LCD screen and some other functions even when an external battery pack is attached.
Overall, highly recommended for the price.
Back in April, Nikon announced the AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens. The usual alphabet soup of letters and numbers is pretty meaningless if you just come here to see pictures, so let’s hop to it. I used the lens for the first time last weekend, at two weddings. First up, Jim and Ashley:
This is a wide lens. It effectively replaces Nikon’s 12-24mm lens in the lineup and provides some competition for Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina, who all have 10mm offerings. Looking through a 10mm lens is a whole different experience. There were many times when I was in danger of colliding with my subjects because I didn’t realize how close I was to them!
The lens focused quickly and accurately in the low light of the reception hall and provided sharp images at all focal lengths. The two shots above were illuminated with a Nikon SB-900 flash while dragging (slowing down) the shutter to get the colourful/blurry ambient light in the background. For much of the night, I stood on the dance floor, camera pressed to my eye, and circled the participants over and over again while pressing the shutter every so often. With ordinary photography, one would want to stay as still as possible to minimize vibration or blurriness; here, though, the flash freezes the subject and my circling movements combined with the slow shutter speed add a little pizzaz to the background.
But what happens when you put this DX lens on an FX (full-frame) camera?
You get a crooked, wavy vignette which looks… kinda cool, I think. The lens doesn’t quite project enough light on to the full-frame sensor to completely cover it, hence some information at the edges isn’t recorded. Here’s another shot, zoomed in a bit to 12mm:
A teensy bit less of the vignette is visible here. Zooming in to 15mm eliminates it completely. Nikon’s FX cameras have the ability to automatically crop the images when DX lenses are attached, but I prefer to disable this function and shoot images like the above. This maximizes the amount of control I have after the fact, allowing me to crop where and how I want, and getting images that are as wide as possible.
The edge distortion at the wider focal lengths is surely noticeable by now, but it can be put to good use if the bride and groom are willing to have a little fun, like Meghan and Mike:
Meghan and Mike luckily didn’t mind the funhouse-mirror approach to photographs and we got some unique shots as a result.
I’ll be taking this lens with me on my July trip to Nova Scotia, where it should excel at landscape images of the ocean and sky. Luckily it takes the same 77mm filters that my existing pro Nikon lenses use, so I won’t have to buy a new circular polarizer. The build quality of the lens isn’t quite the same as my 17-55mm or 70-200mm lenses, but it’s still really really decent for what is essentially an expensive but consumer-grade lens. I own a Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8-4 lens that cost about the same amount when it was new, and it feels very cheap by comparison. Nikon knows what they’re doing when it comes to fit, finish, and refinement.
I’d easily recommend this lens for anyone looking for a super-wide and I look forward to using it on my vacation.