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Mark Cooper

Oliver Cooper

Testing out a new lens as Mark and Oliver wandered by.


Kayaking at Waskesiu

Power lunch

Oliver at LunchHeavy Drinkr

Cracking up

Cracking up

Trapped by the ice

The Prairie Lily

I wandered down to the Mendel Art Gallery and took some photos of The Prairie Lily as I played around with my 28mm lens.  I was kind of curious how it handled being in the frozen South Saskatchewan River and from what I can see, it has such a shallow draught that very little of it is in the water (according to the website, only about 4 feet).  The other thing that impressed me was that despite being kind of abandoned all winter long, no one seems to touch either one of the boats which is pretty cool.

Pro Tip: Cameras for Politicians

Ever since working at Don’s Photo, I have been contacted by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum and asked what kind of camera they should be using.  Basically they want something small but takes better photos than the $129 camera they have now.  While Brad Wall might have an entourage to make him look good, even cabinet ministers do things by themselves and don’t have a camera crew surrounding them.

Here are my two picks

Sony RX-100 / Sony RX-100 II

Sony RX-100 II

The Sony RX-100 and RX-100 II are the two best compact cameras on the market.  They are amazing in low light which is where you spend most of your time.  I am not talking about back rooms or seedy hotel rooms but rather indoors like your office or in community centres for photo ops.  That is where this camera excels.  In fact the New York Times called it the best camera they had ever seen.

The problem with these camera is that the RX-100 is around $650 and the RX-100 II is $850.  I think they are worth it but unless you are in Alison Redford’s cabinet, you can’t expense something like that or you would have the Canadian Taxpayers Federation all over you.  The last thing you want is to be the person that took the media focus off of Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.

So if you are going to get one, make sure you pay for it out of your salary or get your constituency organization to pick it up.  To be honest, you will like this camera so much that you will want to pick it up yourself.

Canon S120 (or S200)

Canon S120

Canon also has an amazing compact camera optimized for low light and that is the Canon S120.  It’s smaller than the RX-100 but has a good build quality and fast f1.8 lens.   It has a powerful image processor and can be found on sale for around $350.  The S200 has a slightly slower lens (f2) but can be had for $250.  The best value may be the older S110 which can be had for $250 but still has the faster lens that the updated S120 does.  The Canon has slightly more zoom but the Sony is faster zoomed out (giving you better photos when zoomed out)

Both cameras are small enough to go anywhere but more importantly are powerful enough to take good photos of you and the event you are at in poor light without a flash.  They also take 1080p video at nearly broadcast quality (which would have helped Stephane Dion the night he gave his ill-fated coalition speech).  With metal build quality, they will also stand up the wear and tear of the rubber chicken circuit (even if you won’t).

If you are a politician and rely on good photos as part of your public image, ditch the camera that you have, put down your iPhone and get one of these, preferably from your local camera shop.

Russian Scorpion

Russian Scorpion Submarine

Pentax 28mm Lens

Pentax 28mm lens

I dropped $25 and bought a Pentax 28mm wide angle lens today.  It is manual focus which is fine because I enjoy shooting in aperture priority mode and can manually focus a lens reasonably well.

On my APS-C Pentax, it magnifies out at as about a normal lens (a normal lens is a lens that mimics how your eye sees life) which makes it a lens I am looking forward to using.

It’s fairly sharp at f2.8 and gets better until its optimum setting at f8.  It still looks really good at f11 with the rather boring test shots I have taken so far (there is a polar vortex people, let me me shoot in peace).  I love my 50mm but this will get used a lot as a walk around lens.

I don’t think it will get used a lot as I still need to pick up Pentax’s new 35mm prime lens and get a decent walk around lens but there is something to be said about using some old manual lenses while out for a walk.  Street photography has been shot this way for decades and it is something that I want to keep doing.

The other reason is that I have it is that my mom had a Pentax ME.  Without us realizing it, she tossed it out while battling brain cancer (the cancer won) or else I would still have it.  I may not have her camera but it is nice to know I still shoot photos using some of the same gear she did.

Either way, in the limited time I had to play with it today, it looks nice, has a decent bokeh, is sharp and was only $25.  What more can I ask for?

Hi-Grade Furniture

Hi Grade Furniture

13 Most Popular Photos of 2013

Flickr tracks your most popular photos based on page views, favourites, and comments.  Here are my 13 most popular photos of 2013 that I have posted to Flickr.

Fish Creek Church

Fish Creek Church

The historic and abandoned Fish Creek Church.  We first photographed it a couple of years ago and returned this year on a trip up to Prince Albert.

Ukrainian Catholic Ascension Church

Ukrainian Catholic Ascension Church

A rural Ukrainian Catholic Church on Fish Creek Road north of Saskatoon.

Midtown Plaza

Midtown Plaza

Village Guitar & Amp

Village Guitar & Amp

If there was a sign that Riversdale’s revitalization was here to stay, it was a high end boutique guitar store moving onto 20th Street.

Nikon Df

Nikon Df

The 525

The 525

RCMP Dragonfly Quadcopter Drone

RCMP Dragonfly Quadcopter Drone

Safeway on 33rd Street

Safeway on 33rd Street in Saskatoon

Carl Zeiss Spotting Scope

Carl Zeiss Spotting Scope

The Saskatchewan Legislature

Saskatchewan Legislature

Behind the Scenes in Riversdale


Ground & Pound

Ground and Pound

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Project

La Colle Falls Hydroelectric Dam

Inspired by Dave King’s 12 most popular photos of 2013

Prairie Wind

Prairie Wind

This landmark consists of 25 15m-tall steel poles, each on a rubber bearing pad. This allows the poles to sway in the wind, giving the impression of prairie grass. Sixteen LED floodlights illuminate the landmark from the base, and can be programmed to change colour.

Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink at PotashCorp Plaza

Cameco Skating Rink at Potash Corp Plaza

Wendy and I went for a walk down to the Cameco Meewasin Skating Rink at PotashCorp Plaza (that’s a lot of sponsorship for an outdoor skating rink) and took some photos Thursday night in the balmy -6 degree Celsius weather.  It was a great night to be out and about.  Sadly I had both my 50mm 1.7 lens and tripod with me but decided to shoot this handheld.  I was planning to go back tonight or tomorrow and take some sharper photos but with the weather the way it is, I’ll wait a bit.

My most popular photo of 2013

Most popular of 2013

This was my most popular photo on Flickr in 2013.  It is the marina at Arlington Beach and I snapped it while out of a walk with Wendy, Mark, and Oliver on Thanksgiving weekend.  Click here to see an enlarged version.

Saskatoon Civic Conservatory

Saskatoon Civic Conservatory

Went to the Saskatoon Civic Conservatory yesterday and tried out an old Sears 135mm macro lens.  Mine seems to be an odd version of the lens as it has a macro zone but does not have the feared Ricoh pins, despite being labelled with PK.   From what I read, Sears sold several variants of the lens so it could either be an odd lens or modified at some point.  Either way it was fun and interesting to shoot with.

For those of you who live in Saskatoon and hate our cold, dry, and monotone winters, the Conservatory is a great (and free) place to find some warmth, color, and humidity.  For years I have found a cup of coffee or tea on one of their park benches every week made January and February blahs go by a lot quicker.


Mark Cooper playing charades

Mark playing charades at the Reimers on Christmas Day (as I try out my new 50mm manual lens)