Posts Tagged ‘Canon’

Photographic Gear – Lenses

July 28th, 2017

Continuing the tour through my camera bag, we come to the gear that takes up the most room – the lenses. The previous two articles discussed the bag itself and the camera body. Here are the links if you haven’t read them yet.

Photographic Gear – A Tour of a Photographer’s Camera Bag

Photographic Gear – the Camera Body

It’s interesting that most people when they think of a camera, think of both the body and the lens combined. And granted, one is not much good without the other. One day I was with friends at the horse races and was using my 70-200mm long lens. One of my friends said, “Wow, what a nice camera.” (Here’s a tip; it looks even nicer with the lens hood on.) I doubt she would have even noticed if I had a modest 50mm lens on.

But those of us that have camera bodies with interchangeable lenses know that the body and lenses are two separate components. Together they make up what I like to think of as my artistic instrument.

Before going over each of my lenses I want to revisit something I said in the first article and that is that all my gear is selected to support my creative vision. It’s not the technology that drives my buying decisions but rather a limitation in what I’m trying to achieve. If I want to do something and my gear restricts my vision, it’s time to start looking to either replace it or add to it.

With that in mind, when it comes to lenses my creative vision extends from the broad, all-encompassing landscapes at one end to the intimate landscapes at the other. That means I need a collection of lenses that range from extreme wide-angle to strong telephoto. So, let the tour begin.

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Photographic Gear – the Camera Body

June 30th, 2017

I’m taking you on a tour through my camera bag and the first stop was the bag itself.

Click here to read the article: Photographic Gear – A Tour of a Photographer’s Camera Bag

The next stop is the camera itself. Now, by this, I mean the camera body, not the body and lens. I’ll talk about lenses later.

Like so many of us, my camera got put aside for quite some years. I was very active in photography in the 1970s. I took frequent trips to Yosemite, camping and exploring with camera in hand. I even worked in a photography studio lab for several years, learning the intricacies of color film processing and printing. But then things changed and time for photography dissolved. Until my daughter was about to be born in 1994, that is.

I bought a Canon EOS ELAN with a Tamron 28-200mm lens and shot countless rolls of film, mostly of the new joy in our lives.

clip_image002[4]I resisted the digital movement for a long time, preferring 35mm film. But when I finally joined the movement around 2000, I purchased a digital point and shoot with a big zoom lens. It was a Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS that I cut my digital teeth on with all of its 2.6 megapixels.

I tried to apply what I had learned in the film world for both color slide and negative films to the digital world. I also tried to apply what I had learned in the color darkroom to Photoshop. It took a while to realize that very little of the knowledge and experience I had gained carried over into the digital world. This required a whole new way of thinking, both in the field and in the digital darkroom. For example, with color slides, you normally want to underexpose a little to saturate the colors more. With digital, you overexpose a little to get more detail in the shadows.

clip_image004[4]It was in September of 2004 that I made the jump to a digital SLR when I upgraded to the Canon 10D. With a little over 6 megapixels, I was a big step up from the PowerShot. This is the camera I was carrying around in the duffel bag I mentioned in the previous article.

I did a lot of shooting with the 10D. I was intimidated by RAW processing at first so I shot in JPEG. Sadly, there are a lot of JPEG files that would have been great had I been able to capture them in RAW but, alas…. Eventually, I moved to RAW when I found a software program that made sense. Adobe bought the software when they were developing Lightroom. It made RAW conversion much less intimidating.

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Taking Your Photography to the Next Level

January 13th, 2013

“Did you manipulate your photograph?”  “Did you use a filter?”  “Do you use a Mac?” “Do you crop your images?” “I’ll have a nicer day than you; I’m not shooting a Canon.”  Yes, someone actually said that to me at Bridal Vale Falls in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon in response to my cheery, “Have a nice day.”  I guess when you take the entire population of photographers you will always find those that are prejudiced and closed minded just like any other population.  They think they are right and anyone that disagrees with them is wrong.  It’s that simple.

The current issue of Lenswork magazine, the premier journal for black and white photography, has an article by guest contributor Jim Kasson titled “Previsualization in the Digital Age.”  I couldn’t wait to read it.  In my workshops and lectures I’ve always advocated that an artist interprets reality and communicates that interpretation through her or his art.  In landscape photography I’ve encouraged our workshop attendees to leave their camera gear in the car until they connect with a location and only then set up their cameras to try to capture what is is they are experiencing.  Previsualization, the anticipation of what the finished work will look like, is a big part of communicating what you are feeling.

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Mastering Composition – Working the Shot

October 26th, 2012

There’s no doubt that composition is one of the key elements of a successful image.  You can have all the other factors of a great shot – fantastic light, optimum exposure and appropriate sharpness – but with a weak composition you have a weak photograph. 

I know photographers that work slowly enough to work out the strongest composition before they press the shutter.  I admire these people immensely.  But I don’t work that way, especially in an area I’m unfamiliar with.

A short while ago I was driving south through Utah on beautiful highway 89 traveling between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks after wrapping up a successful photography workshop.  I came upon a stand of cottonwood trees that were in full autumn splendor.  I had to pull over.

I grabbed my point and shoot (Canon G11) and started scouting for photographs.  I like to use the G11 for that, scouting for compositions that are worth the effort of setting up my big Canon.  I found two compositions that were promising.

The second proved to be the most interesting, at least in terms of how the final composition evolved.  Behind the cottonwoods was a meadow with a dilapidated shack.  It was so Utah!  I set up what I thought would be an interesting composition.

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(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

I positioned my camera so that there would be a narrow opening to the meadow and the shack.  It is a tight composition that draws the viewers eye to the shack which is placed in a very strong position within the frame.  It has a feeling of depth with a strong foreground opening up to the shack in the background.

I was feeling good about this composition and then I noticed a glowing cottonwood just outside the frame to the right so I moved the camera a couple of feet to the right and created this image.

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The golden cottonwoods on the left are balanced by the single, smaller cottonwood to the right.  This arrangement has the effect of placing more emphasis on the autumnal trees.  The eye makes three stops, first at the cottonwoods on the left, then to the right and finally works its way back to the shack in the back.

I was pretty  pleased with these two compositions and thought I had something to work with when I got home.  So I disassembled everything and put  it back in my camera bag, collapsed the tripod and started back toward the car.  I hadn’t gone 5 steps when I looked back up toward the shack and saw there was another blaze of cottonwoods right next to it.  So I swung my backpack back down to the ground and set up again for this shot.

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Now there are three sources of golden light for the eye to explore – the cottonwoods to the left, the one a little further back on the right and the ones way in the back by the shack.  (Odd numbers of things are always good.)  The image is well balanced and every element in it contributes to the entire impression.

There’s a story here, a story of living in this beautiful valley during a time that is gone and will probably never return.  It must not have been an easy life but one of honest, hard work and the satisfaction of living in a place of such splendid beauty.  We would do it differently today with more conveniences and comforts.  And maybe, just maybe, miss out on the more intimate connection with Mother Earth that living in such a simple shack must have provided.


I’d be interested to hear which of the three compositions you like the most.  Please leave a comment saying which one you like and why.  It will make for a very interesting dialog.

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HDR for Every Day

September 9th, 2012

We landscape photographers tend to avoid photographing during the middle of a sunny day.  The light is harsh with no color.  We prefer golden hour or twilight.

But there are times when we have no choice as to when we can shoot.  When we’re on vacation with family we can’t wait until sunset at every location that sparks our interest.  So we get the shot and hope for the best.  But there’s a technique we can use that will greatly enhance our chances of capturing a more compelling photograph.

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Lightroom Tutorial – Polarizer Filter

July 27th, 2012

A Polarizer filter is generally the first filter a landscape photographer buys.  It is so versatile.  It can darken blue skies, reduce harsh reflections and intensify colors.  Many photographers put polarizers on their lenses and never take them off.

But this is a Lightroom tutorial.  So why in the world am I talking about polarizer filters?  Well, it’s because I have a trick I’d like to share with you, one that I’ve never seen discussed anywhere else.  It’s what you can do in Lightroom to create the polarizer effect without a polarizer.  In fact, it can be better than the real thing, especially if you are shooting with a wide angle lens.  Because, the angle of view can be so great that part of the sky will be affected by the polarizer and the rest will not.  So it looks pretty unnatural when the sky in part of your image is dark and the rest is washed out.

So, what’s the trick?  Well, consider this image taken on a recent trip to Hawaii.  I shot it with my Canon G11 and I don’t even own a polarizer filter for it.  It’s a photograph of the ongoing eruption in a crater in the Kilauea caldera.  In the bottom of the crater is a lake of lava.  The smoke you see is a plume of noxious gas.

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(Click on the image for a larger view)

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Lightroom Tutorial – Importing Photographs

March 19th, 2012

An important part of post processing is importing your photographs into Lightroom.  The goal is to copy the files from your camera or laptop and store them on your desktop computer.  At the same time you also want to make a backup of all of your files.

You might be interested in the configuration of my desktop computer.  It has about 5 terabytes of storage.  This is where the image files will be stored.  I also have several terabytes of external storage – external hard drives.  This is where the backup copies go.

In this example I’ll be copying files directly from the camera.  The plan is to copy the files as they are to the backup storage.  But the files I store on the desktop storage will be converted to DNG format.  More on that in another post.

So with the big picture in mind, let’s get into the details.

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Be Prepared

December 27th, 2011

Often times when out shooting with other photographers I hear them say, “I wish I had brought my grad ND filter.”  Or maybe they didn’t have the lens they needed.  “Where is it?” I ask.  “It’s back in my hotel room,” is their response.  “Why didn’t you bring it with you?”  “I didn’t think I would need it,” or “It’s too heavy.”

Truth to tell, I don’t understand the rationale of selecting the gear you think you might need when going out on a shoot.  Why not take it all?  I suppose if you have 20 lenses (I exaggerate) you can’t take them all with you.  But a normal complement of gear that gives you the flexibility you need isn’t that hard to pack and carry.

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Canon 1Ds Mark III Sensor Clean #2

July 29th, 2008

I got dust on the sensor of my Canon 1Ds Mark III and couldn’t get it off.  The vibration on startup and shutdown didn’t dislodge it.  I tried cleaning it witn a sensor brush and that didn’t work.  So I took it into the local Canon Express Service Center to have them do it.  I was expecting to pay about 50 bucks for it but was delighted to find out they did it for free.  That put a smile on my face.  Another satisfied Canon customer.

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