Sunday, September 30, 2007

Diving in Monterey

The past two weekends, Kim and I have been taking a course to become PADI certified open water divers (a course offered at Diver Dan's). Last weekend was a combination of classroom work and getting a feel for things in a pool. This weekend we had the chance to do 4 dives (2 on each day) at Breakwater Cove in Monterey. It was a pretty grueling experience but in the end I think it was worth it and I find swimming along the bottom of the ocean to be quite relaxing. During our dives a few things I managed to see were: many varieties of Sea Anemones; a couple of Nudibrank, including the Spanish Dancer; a couple of different types of fish including a small Halibut; lots and lots of starfish; and a large dead sea lion.

With the busy schedule, I only had the chance to take a couple of pictures. I'm also hoping that as I gain further experience diving, I'll get comfortable enough to hold other gear in my hand (like an underwater camera).

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 35L, f/4, 1/800s, ISO 100.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shady Lady Orchid

This is a Shady Lady Oncidium Orchid. Its bold purple color is quite vibrant and the spots are remarkable. This variety does come in a few different shades and the patterns also tend to vary.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 180mm macro, f/11, 1.6s, ISO 200.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

At the airport (from the weekend)

I took this a few minutes after we arrived in Phoenix from Albuquerque. The plane in the picture was the one that we took. The sun was rapidly setting and the light seemed good. The plane and ground vehicles weren't as well lit so I decided to shoot a series of 3 exposures for an attempt at handheld HDR.

In order to get a sufficiently high enough shutter speed to shoot handheld, I had to boost the ISO to 1600. I was a little worried if there would be a lot of shadow noise in the tone-mapped image due to the use of high ISO. This is also an interesting test because unlike my previous handheld HDR attempts the scene isn't entirely static. There is the baggage getting luggage and the luggage itself moving on the conveyor belt. There's also a luggage vehicle moving just behind the plane.

Overall the motion blur isn't too bad. Shooting at a reasonable shutter speed at 10 frames / sec seems to have kept the motion blur looking natural. I also noticed a little bit of shadow noise in the tone mapped image but it wasn't that bad. A very slight amount of noise reduction was sufficient to eliminate it without affecting detail.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-105@24mm, f/5.6, 3 shot HDR (1/80,1/25,1/8).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A weekend in New Mexico

How do I select just one picture from a weekend in New Mexico? This is one of my favourites so it wins.

Kim and I left for Albuquerque on Friday evening and returned last night. On Saturday we also drove up to Santa Fe, Taos and visited the Bandelier National Monument. On Sunday we drove from Santa Fe to Albuquerque via the Turquoise Trail. We also had a chance to wander around Historic Old Town Albuquerque before heading to the airport.

I really enjoyed the food this weekend. With some excellent research and planning, Kim had arranged for us to dine at some highly recommended places. In Taos we had lunch at the Appletree Restaurant, where we focused on New Mexican cuisine. We had dinner in Santa Fe at another locals favourite focusing on New Mexican cuisine. On Sunday, we had lunch at La Crepe Michel, a French crepe/cafe/restaurant. I think I prefer New Mexican cuisine to the Mexican food we get in California, so I'm looking forward to going back. I also want a chance to try some real South-Western food.

Overall, I'd really like to return one day and perhaps drive around and explore southern New Mexico.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 24-105@47mm, f/9, ISO 200, 3 exposure HDR.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Banff and the Bow River in IR

I shot this multi-row panorama from Sulphur Mountain (using the Banff Gondola). You can see Banff in the middle left and the bow river as it winds between the mountains. The panorama managed to align fairly well, so I'm looking forward to making a large print from this image.

Technical Specs: Canon RebelXT IR, 24-105 @ 24mm (8 image multirow), f/8, 1/100s, ISO 100.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Handheld HDR

I was recently reading Uwe Steinmueller's Canon 1D Mk III experience report where he talks about using the camera's fast 10 fps rate to do handheld HDR. Having just received the camera before leaving for Alberta, I tried doing handheld HDR a few times during our trip through the mountains. A quick side note, the new UI and menu layout system in the 1D Mark III is fantastic, I am able to select how many shots to bracket, turn on highlight tone priority (if needed) and switch high speed continous in under 2 seconds. The new 40D with the same UI and reasonably fast 6.5 FPS should be able to produce similar results at a much lower price tag.

Many of my handheld HDR attempts seemed to have turned out, what hasn't worked well is Photoshop's tone mapping, so I've been using Photomatix. I don't remember where this was taken and I could have probably gotten similar results using shadow/highlight in Photoshop but I am still pleased with this result.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 17-40 @ 17mm, f/8, ISO 400.

UPDATE: High Speed HDR article at OutbackPhoto.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sunwapta Falls

This weekend Kim and I went on a trip through Banff and Jasper National Parks with my parents (I'm still in Red Deer visiting them as I write this). In addition to seeing various water falls, we also went up on the Columbia Ice Fields and on the Banff and Jasper Gondolas. This was taken on the last day during a quick stop at the Sunwapta Falls and Gorge. I had neglected to pack my tripod, so I had to rely on resting the camera at an odd angle on the top of the protective barrier. I think that without LiveView, it would have taken much longer to shoot this image (I managed to get this one my first try).

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 17-40 @ 19mm, f/22, 1s, ISO 100.