The only cared for building in the ghost town of Smuts, Saskatchewan.
A quick shot of Mark before heading out with my Pentax K-30 and the Pentax 50-135 f/2.8
I snapped this photo walking by the downtown CIBC tonight while walking home. The photo has a lot going on with the uneaten cake, the pants being down and most of all, someone sleeping in the streets of Saskatoon. It’s a sight that I see more and more of these days despite all of the efforts that are being made.
Hey, itâ€™s Christmas Day this morning.
Like we normally do, we spent Christmas Eve with Lee, Brittany, and Camdyn. Â We often spend Christmas Day with the Reimers but with them in Hawaii and having celebrated with them already, we woke up and opened gifts today at home.Â
Here is what everyone got.
He wasnâ€™t really expecting anything like that so he was pretty blown away. Â Mark had amazing parent teacher interviews and then stopped working so his first report card was brutal. Â He then has worked really hard since then but deep down I think he was expecting a lump of coal. Â Since he is grounded from all television and media until his marks improve, he will appreciate this reprieve. Â I am hoping this helps him the new year. Â If not, at least he can use it to play Angry Birds Transformers. Â
Wendy gave him aÂ VIA RailÂ shoulder bag with a drafting book inside. Â Itâ€™s a murse!
TheÂ dogs got him the same kind ofÂ photography glovesÂ that Wendy also got.
Maggi and Hutch gave him and OliverÂ PlayStation All-Stars Battle RoyaleÂ so you can imagine them beating each other up playing that. Â
I also gave him aÂ andÂ a brand newÂ Pentax 35mm f2.4 lensÂ which shocked him all over again because that is how I roll. Â He had been saving up for the lens for a bit and was pretty shocked that we got it for him.
As for Oliver, Wendy gave himÂ a giant X-Wing fighter. Â It is huge and he was thrilled. Â Attack runs on the Death Star have already commenced.Â
I gave him a toyÂ AH-64 Apache attack helicopterÂ Â
Mark got him aÂ Lego Star Wars Snow Speeder. Â I just realized I now how to help him assemble this thing. Â It comes with two lego characters. Â Luke Skywalker and that guy that was crushed by the AT-AT. Â So yeah, thatâ€™s great. Â
Wendy and I also gave him a Nikon S31 waterproof digital camera. Â It was an old one of mine that I didnâ€™t use once in 2014. Â Maggi and Hutch got him a Calgary Flames camera case that is styled like a mini backpack to carry his camera in.
Wendy also gave him a giant 200 piece art set. Â Heâ€™ll love it.
He asked Santa Claus for some grown up binoculars and old St. Nick came through for him and got him a pairÂ and a tactical flashlight. Santa also surprised him with a remote controlled Ford F-250 truck.
You can imagine how excited he is about all of that. Â You can also imagine how many times all of us have been blinded by his flashlight this morning.
It is her first real prime lens (her other ones are toy lenses) and she is pretty excited about it.
Oliver gave herÂ a new knife setÂ which she has wanted for a while. Â He also gave her a J.A. Henckelsâ€™ Chef Knife that she has been wanting all winter. Â So yeah, we have turned Wendy from a mild mannered person into a well armed killing machine.
Mark gave her a pair of Sennheisser HD 201 headphones.
Mark also gave her a bamboo cutting board and four piece cheese knife set (I had no idea cheese knives were a thing until now). Â Both of these will be used for a large charcuterie board tomorrow afternoon for lunch.
Mark also gave her a pair of Thinsulate photography gloves so she can get outside and use her camera more this winter.
Santa Claus gave WendyÂ a new LED tactical flashlight. Â She wasnâ€™t thrilled that it was bright pink or that it was called the â€œMaidenâ€ but she does love that it is powerful enough to blind Oliver and Mark if shown in their eyes. Â I just told her that Santa was trolling her. Â Santa also got her theÂ same pair of binoculars that he gave Oliver.
I was spoiled for Christmas.Â
Thanks to everyone, I really appreciate the gifts.
Today we will take some cameras out for a walk and then I will be home debating with Oliver whether or not an AH-64 attack helicopter has a chance against a X-Wing fighter.
I hope your Christmas has been as enjoyable as ours wherever you are reading this from.
Looking at what to get the photographer in your life for Christmas? Â Here are some ideas that are sure to make every photographers Christmas season.
Well a camera is a pretty big gift but there are some spectacular options from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Pentax in 2014. Â Take a look below.
It was the announcement that everyone was waiting for this fall and it is now here. Â The Canon 7D Mark II features:
- 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and ISO 100-16000
- High spped continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps
- 65-point all cross-type AF system
- Stunning Full HD video with Custom Movie Servo AF (speed and sensitivity)
- Dual Pixel CMOS AF enables you to shoot video like a camcorder
- Body Only is $1799 & Canon 7D II with 18-135 lens is $2149 at Amazon where it is their best selling DSLR
While Canon has their hit camera with the Canon 7D Mark II, Nikon has their own hit with the Nikon D750 which is the successor to the famous D700.Â
Here are the Nikon D750â€™s highlights.
I have long been a long time Pentax user and for me, this camera personifies everything that is right with Pentax right now. Â
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, selectable on/off of anti-aliasing filter
- 8.3 frames per second continuous shooting
- 27-point AF system with 25 cross sensors and 3 low-light AF sensors
- ISO 80-51,200
- 1080 60p/50p/30p/24p HD video (H.264)
If you are considering making the switch to a mirrorless camera, then you really need to look at the Olympus OM-D lineup, especially the E-M1 and the lower priced E-M10. Â Both using the Micro Four/Thirds mount and have in body stabilization. Â The combination means there are countless lens from Olympus, Panasonic, and most recently Sigma that can all be used.
- The body only version will set you back $699 while the kit with the included 14-42 lens will cost you $799
Sony has three current Sony RX-100 cameras, all at different price points. Â All of them are 20 megapixels, compact, and great in low light. Â The reason you want one is that they are a remarkable camera to have you at all time and are being used by photographers like Bryan Scott (publishes Winnipeg Love Hate) and CTVâ€™s Tom Podolec who have captured amazing images with the RX-100â€™s over the last year or so. Â The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have raved about the camera. Â Basically if you donâ€™t Sonyâ€™s RX-100, you didnâ€™t want a compact camera in the first place.
So you get the perfect lens or camera on Christmas morning and then realize that it is -22 degrees Celsius out where you want to try it out. Â Wonderful. Â Now you have to wait till March. Â
There is another solution and that is the Thinsulate Freehands photography gloves. Â Keeps your hands warm while giving them the freedom to take the photos you want.
The Theta from Ricoh is a compact and lightweight (3.3 oz.) camera that has a lens on both the front and back, allowing you to take full 360 Degree spherical panoramic images in with one shot and 3 minute videos. The device is synchronized with smartphones, where images can be immediately transmitted via Wi-Fi and viewed with a dedicated free app. The app also allows images to be pinched, swiped or rotated to edit size, shape and composition. Images uploaded to theta360.com can be shared on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as Microsoft Corporationâ€™s Photosynth. IOS and Android free apps for viewing and capturing images.
There is a better way to carry your camera and it is a Black Rapid strap
A great stocking stuffer for the photographer on your list. Â It features an old school colourful design which is a lot more exciting then the strap that came with your camera.
Tripods that can do this are surprisingly useful.
I Shoot People
Perfect gift for the portrait photographer on your list.
Best photo editing software on the planet and you can get it for PC or Mac. Â Amazing gift if they are still using Picasa or iPhoto.
This kit provides 375 Watts of continuous lighting and it is a very good start for beginners. Entire kit sets up in minutes, and very easy to operate. Â An incredible gift to someone who is thinking of setting up an in home or portable studio, a documentary project or just wants some good lights at their disposal.
Sometimes itâ€™s best you not take your DSLR with you (like into the pool or ocean). Â I personally love this camera. Â Small form factor, ruggedized and it takes great photos.
You can pay a lot for a camera bag from ThinkTank, Kata, or LowePro or you can get this bag from Amazon for $30. Â Your choice.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. Â There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Â Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Â Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.
What do you get for the teenaged boy on your Christmas list. The easy way out is cash and gift cards. We arenâ€™t going to take the easy route out. We are doing this the hard way and come up with a list that any teenager would love.
$150 for a cutting edge tablet? I’m okay with that. The Asus MeMo tablet runs a 1.33 GHz Quad-Core Intel Atom processor, Android 4.4 KitKat, more than enough RAM to run the latest applications and 16 gb of storage for videos, music, and homework. It also has a .3 megapixel front facing camera and a 2 megapixel rear facing camera
We gave Mark my old Pentax K-x to him for his birthday and he loves it. The advantage of Pentax over other DSLR’s is build quality. The K-50 has over 80 water seals in it. This means that the teen you are shopping for can take it far more places and adventures than other DSLRs. The other advantage is the amazing price. At under $500 (with a 18-55mm lens) it is one of the least expensive DSLR’s out there right now.
The PENTAX K-50 is a mid-level DSLR with fast, advanced functionality, all wrapped up in bold colors. Featuring specifications of a top level DSLR, enjoy a 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, fast continuous shooting at six frames per second, high sensitivity shooting up to ISO 51200, 100% field of view, innovative in-body shake reduction, and an advanced auto focus module with four optional focusing screens, not to mention the PENTAX-original weather-sealing. Also enjoy full 1018p HD video capture, and eye-fi card compatibility for fast and easy image sharing.
At the end of the day, you arenâ€™t buying your teen a DSLR for them, you are buying it for the family time you will spend together shooting it. This summer Mark, Oliver, Wendy, and I went for countless walks, hikes, and adventures together for no other reason than to shoot from photos and see what we could see together.
If you are wondering about available lens for Pentax, check out my guide to Pentax DSLR lens that I wrote this summer.
- You can purchase a Pentax K-50 DSLR at Amazon for $486 which is an amazing price for a DSLR.
There is a good choice that your teen has an iPod or phone that plays music already. The music is great but one overlooked thing is what do you play it on. Sennheisser headphones are a great bet. The Sennheiser HD201 Stereo Headphones prove to be a low priced alternative to high-end studio headphones.With great clarity, the Sennheiser HD201 headphones are the ideal entry into the world of powerful stereo sound. These excellent headphones also boast great attenuation of ambient noise and outstanding comfort at an affordable price.
- $25 at Amazon. $50-75 everywhere else.
Tursion is making tablets affordable for use by anyone, not just artists. This high-quality Tursion drawing tablet is priced just right, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of a graphic tablet. It includes several software utilities, such as PenSigner and PenMail, which allows you to use handwritten signatures, adding a personal touch to what is usually thought of as an impersonal medium. Easy to install and to use,
We gave one to Mark last year for his birthday and he has loved it. It works with almost any kind of Windows XP/Vista/7/8 software has allowed him expand is skills and talents as an artist.
Royal & Langnickel Sketching and Drawing Easel Set is a comprehensive 104 piece collection of artist materials ideal for the beginner, student, or artist. This set features a wide assortment of pencils, pastels, and paints fitted into a convertible, two-drawer chest that opens to reveal a third tray of product. The storage chest converts into a sturdy table-top easel. An outstanding collection of tools for your studio or an ideal gift for an artist or serious art student.
There is always going to be a debate between Windows Netbooks and Google Chromebooks. The Acer Aspire makes a compelling argument for the Windows Netbook. Check out these specs.
- 11.6" HD Widescreen ComfyViewâ„¢ LED-backlit Display: (1366 x 768) resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio
- IntelÂ® CeleronÂ® N2840 Dual-Core Processor 2.16GHz with IntelÂ® Burst Technology up to 2.58GHz
- Windows 8.1 with Bing
- IntelÂ® HD Graphics
- 2048MB DDR3L SDRAM Memory
- 32GB internal storage
- Digital Media Card Reader – Secure Digitalâ„¢ (SD) Card
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN
- BluetoothÂ® 4.0
- Acer Crystal Eye HD Webcam
- High Definition Audio Support
- Two Built-in stereo speakers
- 1- USB 2.0 Port
- 1- USB 3.0 Port
- 1- HDMIâ„¢ Port with HDCP Support
- 3-cell Lithium-Ion Battery (2640mAh)
- Up to 5-hours battery life
- 2.84 lbs.
Another cool part of these Aspire E-11â€™s is that they donâ€™t have fans so they are completely silent.
You arenâ€™t just giving a gift when you give a telescope as a gift. You are opening up the wonders of the universe. All of Celestronâ€™s PowerSeekers include a full range of eyepieces plus a 3x Barlow lens that provides an increase in viewing power hundreds of times greater than that of the unaided eye!
- The Celestron PowerSeeker is Amazonâ€™s best selling telescope an is only $99.99. With it you will be able to explore more of the Milky Way than you ever thought possible.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.
Each year I put together some holiday and Christmas gift guides for the people in your life. Wendy wrote the first one and here is my first one; a holiday and Christmas guide for the women in your life.
Wendy is hard to shop for. She never makes a list until itâ€™s too late and doesnâ€™t really crave a whole bunch of things which makes Christmas (and birthday) shopping hard. In case your wife is awesome like Wendy but hard to shop for, here are some Christmas gift ideas to consider.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
The alluring Original Star K Heart Shape 8mm Love Pendant, crafted in 925 Sterling Silver. This beautiful design is set with 1 Heart Shape stone prong set , 1 stone prong set colorless Round Cubic Zirconia. This product measures 8 mm wide, 18 mm long and is a great looking while affordable necklace and pendant.
Why would you get her a iPod Nano when she probably has a smart phone. Two reasons. Smartphones tend to fill up with apps and if you have a 8gb or even a 16gb iPhone, she may not have enough room to have much music on it. The second reason is that she may have an Android or a Blackberry meaning that managing your music with iTunes is a pain in the neck.
An iPod Nano gives her 16gb of storage in an extremely compact package. It may not do everything that her phone or an iPod Touch does but it plays her music really well at an affordable price.
Wendy has always loved music and has always wanted a massive stereo system. Since we have a small home, the dream has never come true. Lucky for Wendy there are some excellent compact speaker systems as options. Here are a few of them.
I have traditionally recommended the Bose Wave home audio system. It provides legendary sound, is $499 but has fallen behind the times. It bugs me that even with the new version you have to add an optional and costly Bluetooth receiver to stream music wirelessly from your iPod. Yet if the women you are shopping for still prefers CDs to iTunes, it is probably the best audio system you can get for her.
For the iPod/Android crowd, I am suggesting you get her a Big Jambox.
The Big Jambox turns any mobile device (phone, tablet, media player, computer) into a portable, hi-fi sound system that wirelessly delivers amazingly clear, full audio at any volume.
- They are available from Amazon and are $277. If cost or size are a factor, check out the Jambox Mini for $99.
Help keep her warm this winter with a faux fur blanket. Perfect for outdoor, watching TV. Stay warm this winter and feel great with this faux fur throw. Unbelievably soft and plush. Dynamic decor piece to throw over a couch or chair, it serves as a fashionable, functional accent piece. Perfect blanket to cuddle up on a chilly evening without any of the guilt and cost of using real mink fur.
I bought Wendy an Olympus PEN last year and she loved it. Over the year we added a couple of lens (I recommend the Olympus 40-150mm, the Olympus 45mm f1.8 (Wendyâ€™s favourite lens), the Sigma 19mm, 30mm and 60mm prime lens) a new ThinkTank sling bag, and some other gear. The result was we took a couple of thousand photos over 2014 and had a great time together.
The advantage of a mirrorless camera system like Micro 4/3 system (which is used by Olympus and Panosonic) is the size of the cameras and the lenses. It means in practical terms that you take this camera places you would not take a DSLR. With 16 megapixel sensors, good (but not amazing) low light sensitivity (if you want great, you need a Sony A7s), you get amazing photos that you can enlarge to almost any size.
If you want something small but with a traditional DSLR form factor, take a look at the Olympus OMD E-M10 for $750.
If she is looking for more traditional DSLR, then look at the Canon Rebel T5i with the 18-135 lens. She will be impressed at how simple it is to create breathtaking photos with ease. The incredible image quality and performance starts with an 18.0 Megapixel sensor and Canon’s DIGIC 5 Image Processor. A continuous shooting speed of up to 5.0 fps allows for fast action capture. 9 cross-type AF focus points help ensure crisp focus throughout the frame, and the Hybrid CMOS AF system enables speedy and accurate autofocus when shooting in Live View mode. In addition, the camera is compatible with Canon STM lenses for smooth, quiet AF performance.
You get full HD video, the ability to plug in a shotgun or lavaliere microphone, and access to the enormous Canon EF-S lens family. You can get a kit with a 18-55mm lens but for the extra $200, the extra range of the 18-135mm lensis worth it.
The ultimate garden book â€“ both a collection of gardens from around the world and a resource for those seeking inspiration on garden design and planting. Featuring over 250 permanent gardens by leading garden designers, horticulturalists and landscape architects, from the 14th century to the present day, and covering all key types and styles of garden, this wellâ€illustrated compendium combines images, text, key information and captions for each of the featured gardens, appealing to both amateur and professional gardeners, as well as garden designers.
Samsungâ€™s Chromebook laptop has been deemed by many to be a success. Lightweight, inexpensive and practical as everything operates off your Google Drive, the Chromebook is great for any career woman on the move.
Chromebooks are great if you are comfortable with using Google Apps but if she is the type that wants to do more with a computer, check out the Acer Aspire E-11 Netbook.
It runs Windows 8.1, has 2gb of RAM, and is totally silent as it is cooled passively. No fans means no noise. It’s only $200, runs iTunes, some games, Microsoft Office (or Open Office). An amazing netbook for the money.
Jean Dubost Laguiole 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set is a great holiday gift for anyone who loves hosting a great dinner party and doing so in style.
This set of cheese service knives includes a spreader for soft cheeses like Montrachet a serving knife for Gruyere and Gouda and a cleaver for hard cheeses such as Parmigiano. Sparkling stainless steel handles carry the signature logo of the Laguiole ‘Bee’. A wooden gift and storage box completes this gourmet set.
Wendy has sensitive skin and watches irritate her horribly. So when I gave Wendy this Timex Ironman watch, she had some serious doubts over whether or not she could wear it. A year later, she is still wearing it every day. Because the watch and band are all one piece, it is an incredibly comfortable watch to wear. Because it is from Timex, it takes a lickinâ€™ and keeps on tickinâ€™.
It is only $27 at Amazon and if you ask Wendy, she will tell you it is worth five times that amount.
Here is what you want to know: Yes, the Kindle Voyage is better than the Kindle Paperwhite. Itâ€™s thinner, faster, brighter, lighter, newer, has a better screen, has more memory (4GB vs last yearâ€™s Paperwhiteâ€™s 2GB) commands more magical elf armies, owns a Ferrari, and is nicer to your grandmother.
The iRobot Roomba 880 is the ultimate high performance robotic vacuum cleaner. Featuring the revolutionary new AeroForce Performance Cleaning System and AeroForce Extractors, itâ€™s proven to remove up to 50% more dirt, dust, hair, debris and harmful allergens from all floor types and is virtually maintenance free.
Of course the best part of this gift is that it saves you and her time, time that you can spend together.
So there you go. I assume I have forgotten, many, many ideas so let me know what I have forgotten the comments below. You can check out the other Christmas and holiday gift guides while you are at it.
While the rest of the world celebrates Queen Victoriaâ€™s birthday this weekend, we are celebrating Mark turning 14 at the cabin.
He has been saving up for a DLSR camera for months. Â When I upgraded my Pentax K-x, he thought I traded it in for a new camera. Â Instead I took it upstairs and have been saving it to give him for his birthday.
After having the cameraâ€™s sensor cleaned, I bought him a new 16 GB memory card and cleaned all of the lens up perfectly (if you donâ€™t have a Lens Pen, you are doing it all wrong). Â
Wendy and I had bought him aÂ a new Roots sling camera bagÂ and placed the camera in along with some of my older lenses. Â Along with the camera, I gave him this 18-55mm lens that came with the camera, a really sharp manual 50mm lens,Â a Pentax 100-300 lens, and a Takumar-F 28-80mm manual lens (that to be honest, really sucks) but it will give him a macro to play with. Â I have an older Sigma 70-210 lens that I may give him as well but I am awaiting a replacement for it. Â Until then he can borrow it.
To celebrate his birthday we are heading north from the cabin for a long nature walk along the shores of Last Mountain Lake where we will hopefully get some shots of some birds and someone can test out his new camera. Â I expect you will see some photos of the day as soon as we get back into the city.
Mark blogs about his birthday here.
To take a photograph of a cityscape once the evening has come, find a spot that shows off all the buildings and office lights that are lit. Place the camera on a tripod, and turn the mode dial to AV (aperture priority) mode; we want f/8 and upwards for a greater depth of field. Use your cameraâ€™s self-timer or a cable release to take the photo with absolutely no blurring. The best time for this kind of shot is during the two â€œgolden hoursâ€ which are the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.