Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Snakes on a Plane!

Well alright, they're not on a plane, but they are in my room! My girlfriend bought me a new snake for my birthday this month. It is a baby Jungle Carpet Python which I've named Bumblebee. As he grows and sheds he should get bright yellow and black. Average size for Jungles are around 5 to 6 feet long. I am posting two quick shots I took of him the day I brought him home. He is only a couple of months old.

Baby Jungle Carpet Python

Close up!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Want to get the most from your lenses?

Have you ever taken a photo only to look at it on the computer and notice that it isn't very sharp. Maybe you focused on the person's eye in the photo and the tip of their nose is what is in focus. Annoyed? Confused? Sometimes, due to tolerances, you may find that your lens front or back focuses. In order to help photographers adjust their lens to get the sharpest photos possible a lot of the newer Canon cameras have a feature called Microadjust. It essentially allows you to adjust the focus of the lens from front to back so that what you focus on is the part of the photo that is sharp.

Now, you can set up some rulers and books on an angle to try and adjust the focus to get it spot on, but with the amount of money you have spent on gear, why not get something that is accurate, easy to setup, and repeatable. Lens Align Pro, designed by Michael Tapes, looks to be an awesome system that allows you to see exactly where your lens is focusing and adjust it as needed.

I just ordered my Lens Align Pro system and I should have it next week. I have been putting off microadjusting and checking my lenses because I didn't think I needed to do it. After hearing about this system and reading favorable reviews I am very excited to try it for myself. Keep an eye here for an update late next week when it arrives.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Engagement Shoot

   I had the pleasure to shoot some engagement photos for my sister and her fiancĂ© Ken this past Saturday. We had a very short amount of time in the middle of the day so we worked with what we had. They had a specific idea in mind for their Save The Dates, so I tried to capture that for them. These are the Save The Dates I created. I am really happy with the way these turned out!


Monday, August 30, 2010

New tele lenses from Canon!

News came out from Canon that they "Will Exhibit Prototypes Of Two New Telephoto Lenses Under Development,"EF500mm F4L IS II USM" "EF600mm F4L IS II USM" At Photokina, 2010"

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., August 27, 2010 – "Canon Inc. today announced the development of two new telephoto lenses, EF500mm F4L IS II USM and EF600mm F4L IS II USM for use with all EOS single-lens reflex cameras. Canon Inc. will exhibit prototypes of these new lenses at Photokina, being held in the city of Cologne, Germany from September 21 to 26.

Both EF500mm f/4L IS II USM and EF600mm f/4L IS II USM have been developed as luxury lenses having high-performance Image Stabilization. These lenses are designed to help produce high-quality images with high levels of resolution and contrast as well as be lightweight. They will utilize particular optical material such as fluorite lens elements to help minimize chromatic aberration and eliminate color blurring around the edges of the subject.

These two lenses will be the successors of the EF500mm F4L IS USM (Launched in July, 1999) and EF600mm F4L IS USM (Launched in September, 1999) which were highly regarded by professional users. The goals for the development of these two new lenses are high-quality images with higher levels of resolution and contrast at the largest aperture, enhanced dust and water resistance, sufficient for use under challenging conditions such as press photography, sports photography and nature photography.

Canon plans to continue to respond to various needs of professionals and advanced amateurs and enrich the photographic experience with single-lens reflex cameras by expanding its EF lens lineup and seeking improvements in performance."

This press release came direct from Canon's site.

Canon 5D: Still relevant

   I have been tempted many times this year to pick up a full frame camera to compliment my 1.3x crop bodies. With the price of a new 5D Mark II over $2,000, I knew it wasn't financially possible to pick one up at this time. That left me with the good old 5D. A 12 mega pixel, full frame, 3 fps workhorse since its introduction in 2005. This camera has a cult like following for landscape photographers and photojournalists. Now that you can pick up a used one in good condition for around $1,000, it is a great deal!

  The 5D is a camera I have always been interested in purchasing. It just took me a bit longer than I imagined before I was actually able to get one. I wanted a camera that would allow me to photograph massive landscapes....now I just need to find those landscapes!


Mint 5D Package

   Once I decided to pick one up I scoured the normal places to look for one; Ebay and Craigslist. I also was able to browse the Fred Miranda and Photography On The Net Buy/Sell forum which is a great help. I was able to see what the average price was for a camera, how much they were actually going for, and what kind of demand their was for them. Even looking now to see what is out there, the average asking price is around $1,100 shipped. At this price, the sellers usually include some original accessories as well as a spare battery or two. Shutter count can vary, but I have seen cameras for sale with an average of 15k-25k clicks.

   I am very anal about the condition of my gear. I wanted a 5D that somebody loved like their own and took care of religiously. Upon checking Craigslist one last time I found that camera! It was a local gentleman selling a 5D, Grip, and 24mm TS-E lens for $2,200. I was in contact with him and he was willing to break up the package because I didn't need the lens. We agreed on a price and I picked it up the next day.

   I got a wonderful deal on a camera that was barely used and very well taken care of by it's original owner. My deal consisted of a 5D with an estimated 300 clicks! Yep, you read that right, three hundred. Not three hundred thousand, not three thousand, but three hundred! He used it for one client shoot and then never really used it much after that. It is a newer model with the Mirror fix already completed from the factory. Also included was a like new Canon battery grip, 2 batteries, Magic Lantern Guide, Canon Remote Shutter release, Canon EX15 eye extender, Ee-D focusing screen and all the original boxes, manuals, warranty cards, Cd's, and cables for everything! To say this was a good deal is an understatement. I picked up everything for less than what I see the camera bodies going for alone.

Front


Rear

Top


   I am just starting to get a feel for it before I shoot my first wedding using it. It is a bit different using the 5D after shooting with the 1Ds week after week.The shutter sounds different, it's lighter, and I have to get used to just how wide 17mm actually is on a full frame camera. When comparing it to my 1DIII and 1DIV I have a few things I don't like.

  1. Lack of a self-cleaning sensor - I've read that dust is more of an issue with this camera and it requires more frequent cleaning.
  2. Bland LCD screen - The colors don't really pop compared to the newer LCD in the 5D Mark II. (The 5D's 2.5" LCD has 230,000 dots compared to the 5DII's 3" LCD which has 921,000 dots).
   As you can see when it comes down to it, this is still a phenomenal camera! It is no wonder there are still such a vast amount of photographers using it. I plan to pinch some pennies and pick up a Canon 15mm F/2.8 Fisheye soon. I look forward to using this camera for a long time!

   For a whole bunch of photos and info on the 5D check out the POTN 5Dc thread

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beginning Shooter: What is ISO?

This is the first Beginning Shooter of many. I enjoy trying to help others fully understand their camera and how it works to get the best images possible from it. I am creating this to help newcomers to digital photography understand their cameras controls and settings. Enjoy!_________________________________________________________________________________

ISO on DSLRs is the equivalent of the speed of the film (i.e. 400, 600, etc.). The higher the number the more sensitive the image sensor and the possibility to take pictures in low-light is possible. The problem is that the higher the number, the more "noise" you will see in your photos. Noise is to digital cameras like grain is to film cameras. Some photographers enjoy noise as they feel it adds something to a particular photo while others can't stand it.

The problem is that low level cameras (such as Point and Shoots or older DSLRs) don't do too well with high ISO settings. When I say high I mean anywhere from 1,250 and up. Some of the older bodies have noticeable noise at even ISO 800.

Another thing to understand is that if the photo is underexposed while shooting with a high ISO, noise will be even more apparent, especially in the dark areas of the photo. I would rather my photo to be slightly overexposed than under when using a high ISO setting.

The good news is that cameras are just getting better and better at allowing the user to shoot high ISO while resulting in cleaner noise free images before post processing.

For example, a properly exposed photo from my Canon 1D Mark III is usually fine up to an ISO of 3,200. A little bit of noise reduction software and its rarely noticeable. On my Canon 50D I am OK shooting at an ISO of 1,000, but prefer not to go higher than 1,000 unless I absolutely must.

I received my Canon 1D Mark IV about two weeks ago. The day it arrived I figured I would try some high ISO shots.

A lot of wedding photography usually takes place in dimly lit churches, halls, and rooms which we need the best low light setups possible in order to capture the moment.

The following photos you are going to see are shot at an ISO of 51,200. YES! Fifty one thousand and two hundred! Sure, it isn't native ISO (it is expanded), but it's still pretty crazy. The first shot is direct out of camera. Its a bit dark, the noise is noticeable in the dark left hand side as well as in the shadows on her face. The final one has a few adjustments (Temperature, Contrast, Highlight Recovery) done to it, as well as noise reduction software run on it in Photoshop. You can see a purple cast on her lower left cheek which is the light from my computer monitor. I could have adjusted it, but I am just using these photos to show how sharp the photo still is so I just decided to leave it be.

Shot at:

1/160th
f/4.5
24-70 2.8L at 70mm
ISO 51,200

Before


After:


Do some tests with your camera to see what ISO you can go up to and still get usable images. I used to be afraid to shoot at a high ISO for fear of too much noise. It is better to have an usable, in focus photo with noise, then it is to have an unusable, out of focus shot without.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Canon 1D Mark IV Video Tutorials

I just happened to stumble across Canon's Digital Learning Center 1D Mark IV Video Tutorials while looking at Canon's site. There are 13 videos to watch in all and you can even download them to your CompactFlash card and play them back on the 1DIV! Pretty cool! This is a great way to get familiar with your new camera.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Canon 60D: It's here!


For the full press release click HERE.

Quick specs:
18.0 megapixel CMOS imaging sensor (APS-C size)
5.3 fps;Burst Rate - 58 Large/Fine JPEGs, or 16 RAW images
First EOS camera ever with vari-angle LCD monitor (over 1 million dot resolution)
Full HD 1920x1080 video; manual exposure control, and sound level control possible

Canon Introduces New L-Series EF Lenses

Today, Canon announced new lenses as well as new versions of both the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens - retail price of $1,400


Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens - retail price of $1,500




Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens -retail price of $7,000


Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens -retail price of $11,000




Canon Extender EF 1.4x III & Canon Extender EF 2x III - retail price of $500 each




What do I think? I honestly don't know. I don't see myself picking up any of those telephotos, mainly due to them being way out of my budget. If money wasn't an object I would pick up that 300mm f/2.8L II in a heartbeat! I was really hoping for updated versions of the 24-70 f/2.8L and 16-35 f/2.8L myself. The 8-15mm fisheye sounds cool, but I would have to play with one to see if it is really worth it to pay the premium over the standard fisheye lens.

For the whole press release, click on the link below and read up on all the new goodies.

Full Press Release

Welcome!

    Welcome to my Photography Blog. I figured it was about time I created one. I will be updating this blog with photos, new Canon gear announcements, photography tips, and reviews of gear. I've been into photography for many years, and hope I can help others get into it as well. I enjoy all types of photography, from wildlife to motor sports, but mainly I have been shooting weddings.  Be sure to follow along and subscribe. I hope to be able to eventually hold some contests once I get the blog underway and people start subscribing.

-James