Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year


I didn't want to single out Ford in my final blog post of the year but I found this photo rather fitting. I spotted the truck on a walk around the neighborhood this morning. Let me give the shot a title: "Is the World's Economy in a deep freeze"? I certainly hope it is not as bad as what we have heard in the press for the past three to four months. I guess gas prices have come down so owners of trucks like this one may just be smiling again.

Let me wrap up 2008 with a wish to everyone I know (whether you drive a truck or not) for a Happy and prosperous 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Southern Cross at Silver Star Mountain


I just completed a shoot at Silver Star Mountain today. I did interior photos this summer for owners Peter and Leigh Geddes and today I wrapped it up with a series of exterior photos. I was extremely lucky as the the sun came out just long enough to get photos from a few different angles and using a couple of lenses.

The Southern Cross is a beautiful Victorian Style Vacation Home at Silver Star Mountain. Is features 3 bedrooms, large kitchen, great ski in, ski out access and an outdoor hot tub.

Email Peter and Leigh if you are interested in booking this wonderful spot for your next ski trip to Silver Star. lpjdgeddes@bigfoot.com

Skiing Finally


Today we made it out for our first ski... finally. We simply ran out of excuses and took a break from our busy lives and headed up to have a look around at Silver Star first. Silver Star has it's busiest days of the year between Christmas and New Years and judging by the parking lots, today was no different. After the recent cold snap it seemed as if the whole city of Vernon had decided that today was the day to hit the slopes. Conditions are ideal with human temperatures and lots of snow. 

We were cross country skiing today so we headed over to Sovereign Lake and strapped on the skis for an easy first ski of the year. It was great to feel the skis glide on the perfectly groomed trails. I got a pair of fancy new Swix poles for Christmas and I can proudly report that they do a great job. Now we just need to get the guy who pushes these poles in shape. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas - God Jul

If you happen to stumble upon my blog here is my chance to wish you a Merry Christmas. It is still cold here in BC and we have given up on the driveway for a couple of days. We are very fortunate and probably take it bit for granted that we can spend this Christmas Eve inside in a cozy warm house. The presents are under the tree. Candles are lit everywhere and the roast is the oven. In moments like this I count my blessings and hope all my friends and family are having the best of times over the holidays.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thanks Chris


Chris. I don't think I ever thank you enough for helping out with our sidewalk. When it dumps like it did today seeing you come up the sidewalk with your snow blower has everyone cheering with joy.  

How many days to Christmas?


We woke up to quite a surprise this morning. How about 30 cm of new snow to get you up and going. Three of us took care of the drive and did so with a high level of efficiency. There will be little time to rest as I think the snow has accumulated with another 30 cm waiting for us outside. Yes... it will be a white Christmas here. There is no doubt about it.  As you may see from our Christmas count down candle we are a day behind. We celebrate Christmas on the 24th so we have another eleven days to get ready. If you celebrate on the 25th you have twelve. If you are behind like me the whole thing gets even more confusing. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NORAM, Classic Mass Start

Today is one of those days where Vernon is completely in the fog. It is winter and understandably so you accept some of these less inspiring days. On a day like this it is pretty spectacular top hop in you car, drive for 15 minutes until you are above the clouds and hit either Silver Star or Sovereign Lake for a ski. I am back down in the fog now but the sun above the clouds certainly lifted my mood.
The race today was my favorite due to the mass start and sunny skies. Canada's Alex Harvey took first place in the men's race just as he did it on Saturday.





Video captured by Mik Byskov

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seaton Play - Sing a Song of Sixpence



Hurry hurry... if you don't have tickets for "Sing a Song of Sixpence" get them now! Word is out that there are very few tickets left and I can see why. Last night we experienced an elaborate display of theatre production from the Seaton Students and producers. A cast of 60 students gave us a fun filled evening. An evening we won't soon forget.

Show times this week:
Wed. Dec. 10th, 7:30 PM
Thu. Dec. 11th, 7:30 PM
Fri. Dec. 12th, 7:30 PM
Sat. Dec. 13th, 2:00 PM
Sat. Dec. 13th, 7:30 PM

Synopsis:
In the magical kingdom of Cornucopia, trouble is brewing; the evil Witch Watt has hatched a plan to steal King Ferdinad's Magic Crown. Luckily, a hero has just arrived. Prince Valentine has only come to seek Princess Rosemary's hand in marriage in order to keep his own kingdom from going bankrupt, but finds himself pitted against the Witch in a battle for love and honour.

Photos from the show has been posted on my SmugMug site. You can view the photos and share with friends and family or order prints at reduced rates.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

More NORAM races at Sovereign and Silver Star

I have just received a message that there will be more NORAM races this coming week at Sovereign Lake and Silver Star. This is due to lack of snow at the Nordic Centre in Whistler. Here are the races:

Thursday, December 11th, Mass Start Skate Race, 1 PM, Sovereign Lake
Friday, December 12th, Classic Sprint Race, 9 AM, Sovereign Lake
Sunday, December 14th, Individual Start Classic Race, 10AM at Silver Star Mountain

I will probably cover one or two of these races.  

Sunday, December 7, 2008

NORAM XC Skiing, Individual Skate Race

Canada's George Grey took the gold in the men's 15K individual skate race on Sunday while Caitlin Compton from the USA won the women's 10K. Photos from Sunday's race action are now online. Check my SmugMug Gallery for more. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

NORAM XC Skiing, Sprints, Sovereign Lake


Day one of racing at Sovereign saw the sprinters come out in the fog. Things did clear up a bit towards the end of the races.  Canada's Alex Harvey and American Laura Valaas had first places finishes today. You can catch all the action in the Noram Sprints Gallery

Seaton Choir, Christmas Concert



I always enjoy the atmosphere in the Seaton Theatre. We have seen so many great shows and choir concerts there. It is a place where you are easily moved by the kids. They will make you laugh and they will make you cry as the put their whole hearted efforts forth. Last night was no exception. We saw a great solo performances, duos, guitarist singer songwriters, a pianist, the choir and honor choir. I enjoy the show tremendously. All entries were great but the the last song, a rendition of "Why Must I Be a Teenager In Love" had everyone smiling ear to ear. Thanks Lana for all you work with the choir and thanks kids for giving us these unforgettable experiences. Follow the link to more photos from the choir concert.
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Friday, December 5, 2008

New Studio Lights - Elinchrom 500 BXRi kit


I am building a studio in my house and for some time now I have been researching lighting options. I have narrowed it down to the Elinchrom BXRi 500 kit. The kit arrives next week and in the new year I will be offering portraits sessions and product photography.  The kit is portable so I will be able to bring it on location for corporate portraits, weddings or family shoots.  

If you are interested in knowing more about Elinchrom strobes I found this YouTube video quite helpful. 


Monday, December 1, 2008

NORAM races are coming


It's time to get in shape for next weekend. I will be shooting the Noram cross country ski races. Here is a shot from last year's events I covered in Canmore. For more information on the races go to www.sovereignlake.com

Shooting cross country is one of the most challenging things for my equipment. I quite often keep batteries in my gloves in order to keep them warm. I will typically go through about 4 or 5 batteries shooting just a couple of races. 

Last year was the first time I had a chance to cover races using my Canon EF 300 2.8L IS. It was a real joy breaking in that lens for the XC races. I have contemplated adding a Canon 1D series camera several times for sports but so far my 5D is doing the job just fine. 

You can view hundreds of cross country ski photos at my SmugMug site.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Canon EF 70-200mm 2.8L - Lens Review


An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov - mfoto.ca


I added the 70-200 2.8L in the fall 2005 after selling my EF 70-200 4L. While I had been happy with the 4L the 2.8L is a much better lens for me. It is sharper and the extra stop adds so much in the form of being able to control depth of field and of course makes it possible to shoot at lower ISO maintaining faster shutter speeds.


I also have the EF 135 2L and the two are close in performance. The 135L still looks that little bit sharper to me and is a favorite for portraits due the great bokeh. The shot below was taken with the 70-200 2.8L.


In many shooting situations however the 70-200 2.8L adds so much in the form of versatility. When looking at the 70-200s the 2.8L IS of course was an option but I chose not to get it after trying it out. I find the non-IS sharper and easier to handle. Perhaps a non-issue for some but I found the IS just that little bit too heavy. While the IS is paramount to some I found it a bit gizmo like and found the picture quality better for the non-IS. The new EF 70-200 4L IS is getting rave reviews from most users and should be considered if you are looking for lighter weight option and image stabilization. It would indeed be a great lens for travel use. I mostly use my lens for sports and as of lately in the studio.



I've used this lens with a 1.4x converter on the 5D with acceptable results. I've shot sports, events, some scenics, concerts, theater and much more with the lens and warmly recommend it.

View photos taken with the 70-200 2.8L in my SmugMug Gallery.



Canon EF 135mm 2.0L


An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov - mfoto.ca


The Canon EF 135 2.0L has a perfect weight balance on the camera. It is a light weight lens and features the very fast f/2. This comes in handy in for low light photography and has helped me immensely for stage photography especially. Pictures from this lens are full of color and are contrast rich even at f/2. The ability to throw the background out of focus is the other real strong point with the 135L and it produces a very pleasant looking bokeh.

I often use this lens in portrait session paired up with an EF 85L II. I find that some people do not like the camera too close. The 135L solves this problem and is still a very good focal length for portraits.


The extra f/ stop gained with this lens compared to my EF 70-200 2.8L has saved me many times especially when shooting concerts or theatre.


The lens is very sharp, even wide open. I rarely leave home without it and on two recent trips it was a part of my 3 lens kit as I wanted to travel light.


View shots taken with this lens in my SmugMug Gallery.



Canon EF 85mm 1.2L II - Lens Review


An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov - mfoto.ca



When I decided to go to a full frame sensor with the Canon EOS 5D, a natural companion to this camera would be the EF 85 1.2L II. I had tested the original Mark I version a couple of year prior to taking the plunge for the Mark II.


Going back to the film days I’ve had different portrait lenses over the years; the Canon FD 85 1.8, Nikkor 105 2.5, Zeiss 85 1.4, Zeiss 135 2.8. I have also had a couple of Canon EF 85 1.8s. The 85 1.2 can be a tricky beast to shoot with especially when shot wide open. You have to know its strengths and limitations. The difference really comes in to effect when shooting at f/1.2 – 1.4 -1.6. In this range the 85L really shines. It creates a distinct look which is very appealing to me.


Many photographers often find themselves debating the EF 85 1.2L versus the EF 85 1.8 due to the exuberant price difference. I like the 85 1.8 but once you have used the 85 1.2L there is no looking back. It is a piece of photographic equipment in a league of its own. Also photographers often debate the Canon EF 135 2L versus the EF 85 1.2L. The 135L has faster focusing and works better for close ups or candid. You can also add the 1.4x converter to the 135L which makes it quite versatile. I rarely use the 135 with a teleconverter. Then why the 85L? It is a pleasing focal length for portraits and the look of your f/1.2 will have you wondering – how did I do that?


I have used this lens for a huge variety of topics, from portraits to landscapes - from weddings to travel - from product photography to tourism. It is easily my most often used lens.


Check out shot taken with the EF 85mm 1.2L II in this SmugMug Gallery:



Canon EF 300mm 2.8L IS - Lens Review


An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov - mfoto.ca


I first set out to get the Canon EF 300mm 2.8L IS back in 1992. I had actually ordered it and before it shipped I got cold feet and went for the f/4 version instead. Clearly I had wanted this lens for quite some time before I acquired back in November 2007. I have now had the lens for a little over a year and feel I can give some input.


First of all I debated between the 400 and 300 as I shoot a bunch of soccer. The weight and not at least the price made the decision quite easy though. I’d have to say I am glad I went with the 300 as it is very versatile. I use the lens mainly with a 5D and the setup is much lighter than I expected – especially if you take the grip and tripod collar off. I’ve used it like that for a few cross-country ski races where I find myself running all over the place. For soccer I use the grip and stick the combination on a monopod.


The 300 2.8L IS is everything I knew it would be. Great color, great bokeh, focuses fast, it’s sharp and a delight to use. I rarely leave for a shoot without it. I’ve shot a variety of sports, theatre, landscapes, birds and more.



Feel free to check out some of my shots in this EF 300mm 2.8L IS Gallery


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Toronto


What a City. I haven't been in Toronto since 1994 and it is every bit as big as I remember. Coming into the city on the 401 you have eight lanes of highway going in each direction. When you drive in over a hill this sight is quite amazing and most certainly a contributor to some carbon monoxide release.

I was in Toronto to visit friends but also to pay a visit to Vistek - one of the largest, if not the largest, camera store in Canada. I am shopping for studio lights these days and I am going through the usual research. Getting into to lights is new to me but I have decided to make the move so I can offer studio sessions, corporate portraits and in general being able to light my scenes differently. We did make a quick stop at the CN Tower. Amazing at 563 meters I believe it is the third tallest in the world. The picture above is from the CN Tower.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jenn & Don's Wedding



We are back from Ontario. We were guests and photographers at Jenn and Don's wedding, which took place in St.Marys at the golf course where Don works. It was great to see everyone again but what mostly sticks out for me from this wedding was the look in Jenn and Don's eyes. It was easy to see that they are head over heals in love and really enjoyed the day. Here are a couple of my favorite captures. You can see many more in Jenn and Don's wedding gallery.



A little bit about gear. The Wedding was shot with my 5D exclusively. I had my 20D as a back up but did not use at all for this wedding. I had only brought three lenses to Ontario: EF 16-35 2.8L, 85 1.2LII and the 135 2.OL. It ended up being a good choice in the end. Although it was a nice day in St. Marys it was still too cold to shoot outside for longer periods of time so we ended up doing family photos inside by the fireplace in the club house.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Seaton Performance: Last Words




The Seaton Students never fail to deliver a great performance. This time we were treated to three one act plays at The 27nd Street Theatre Company. Check out all the photos from the show on my SmugMug site. Prints are offered at reduced rates from these performances.

I rely heavily on my fast primes for theatre photos. Mostly I use my 85 1.2 or 135L but I usually try out a few shots with the 300 as well. I do bring out the wide zoom for a few shots as well for each show. If the lighting allows manual exposure is the way to go but if the light changes too much I will usually shoot on AV and underexpose the shots at various grade.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Denmark - a visit back home



It had been about five and a half years since I last took a trip back to Denmark. I grew up there and lived there till I was 28 years old. This time around I decided to make it a surprise visit. It was a great way of doing it and I will never forget surprising my brother in Copenhagen and my cousin and the rest of the family on the West Coast in Lemvig. I spent a few days in Lemvig where I grew up and then took the train to Copenhagen where I spent a few days with my brother. I wish I could have stayed a bit longer so I could have visited more of my friends and family but I will have to save that for next time

Of course the camera was never out of reach. One of the places I visited was the fishing town of Thybor√łn. It is usually extremely windy in this part of the world so I couldn't believe my luck when I had a sunny week and hardly any wind.
I decided to travel light so I had left my longer lenses at home. I just took the 5D no grip, the 16-35L, 85L and 135L . Follow the link for a trip to Denmark

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mark Knopfler in Kelowna



After long anticipation Mark Knopfler came to town today. I have followed Dire Straits since the very beginning back the late seventies. Just like a good wine Mark gets better with time and I am probably more excited about his solo albums than the old Dire Straits tunes.


If you are a Mark Knopfler fan I have two must have links for Mark Knopfler content. First check out the amazing Tour Diaries from Guy Fletcher.

Second you should take a trip with Issac across North America. He has followed Mark Knopfler and band to all the shows on the American leg of the "Kill to get Crimson" tour. Check it out: