Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stormy Clouds

My obsession with clouds continues. I can't help myself, we don't get such interesting clouds in the bay area, nor do we get storms with thunder and lightning. Its one of the things I miss living in the bay area. This was taken from my parents' deck (by the way we are visiting my parents in Alberta this week).

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 17 TS-E, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 200.


Clouds rolled over yesterday evening and we had some thunder and lightning along with some rain. I liked the way the light was scattered through the clouds and quickly snapped these two images.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 135mm f/2, f/4, 1/500s, 1/400s, ISO 100.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Canon 17mm TS-E

The Canon 17mm f/4 TS-E is a fairly new lens (announced last fall and only now trickling into stores). I was fortunate enough to get a copy and finally had a chance to test it out on the 1Ds Mark 3.

It is simply put a stunning piece of glass. The build and construction is absolutely top notch and has a quality feel to it. The lens is considerably larger than my 90mm TS-E and the large bulbous front element is mesmerizing. The amount of shift possible is also quite amazing.

I did a bunch of boring test shots to evaluate sharpness and CA across the frame when fully shifted. Sharpness is excellent and by f/8 even the extreme corners are very sharp when fully shifted on the 1Ds3. CA is also very well controlled. There is moderate vignetting when fully shifted at f/4 but its well under control by f/8.

Flare will be something to be careful about. In the image above the sun was 90 degrees to the lens and yet there is two (albeit small) flares in the image. Curiously there is almost no flare when the sun is in the image itself.

I only had the chance to take a couple of images at work before heading home. One of the things I really like is the ability to correct perspective distortion. In a lot of urban shots with an ultra wide lens, you end up getting a lot of perspective distortion. Now, you can find a way to use that distortion to enhance your composition but having the ability to compensate for it is definitely very cool.

I know that Canon gets ragged on for their ultra wide angle lenses, but from what I've seen of the 24mm f/1.4L II and this 17mm f/4 TS-E I think we have some excellent high quality ultra wide angle choices.

Monday, June 22, 2009


There's a lot I could do better in this picture but I like the general idea. Time permitting, I'll try to revisit.

Technical Specs: Nikon D700, 105 micro VR, f/3.2, 1/500s, ISO 200.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carmel in background

One of the things I really liked about shooting from a boat in Wednesday was the change in background. This first image has Carmel (although blurred) as the background.

This one has the green hills of the Garrapata State Park in the background.

A video slideshow of many of the images is here.

Technical Specs: Nikon D3x, 200-400 @ 400mm, f/4, 1/500s, ISO 560 (first), 320 (second).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brandt's Cormorants

These are two of my favourite Brandt's Cormorant images from the shoot on Wednesday.

Technical Specs: First: 1Ds3, 800 IS, f/5.6, ISO 800, First: 1/2000s, Second: 1/400s.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shooting long lenses from a small boat

On Wednesday, a friend from work invited a couple of us to go boating off the Monterey coast. The trip had two purposes, one was photography of the wildlife and the coast from the ocean, the other fishing. I figured it would be extremely challenging to photograph wildlife with a long lens on a small boat swaying back and forth on the ocean but I decided to bring my biggest lenses anyway. I also took the opportunity to borrow the D3x from work and had the 200-400 on there. My 1Ds3 had the 800 and in addition I also had a 30D with 70-200 and my D700 with the 14-24.

Photography was even more of a challenge than I had expected. The ocean was relatively calm and even then the boat would rock back and forth considerably. This mean getting a critically sharp image at 800mm on a 21mp body was very very challenging and furthermore careful framing was pretty much impossible. I took many pictures with all the cameras but wasn't very optimistic.

To my pleasant surprise, I ended up getting several images I am very pleased with, images that are critically sharp and interestingly composed. Furthermore, the light was splendid. It was a little overcast early in the morning but while the clouds were lifting the sun would pour through at times with beautiful soft light. Also, being able to shoot with the land (or foggy hills) in the background was great.

I have picked two images for this post, the first is of a bunch of Common Murre. The contrast of the black and white as well as the fog in the background makes of an interesting image.

The second is has several Brandt's Cormorants and Seals. This is probably one of my favourite images with the Cormorants looking all over the place and the little Seal who looks like he's hiding in the rocks.

I'll be posting many more images from the trip over the next few days.

Technical Specs: First: Canon 1Ds3, 800 IS, f/5.6, 1/800s, ISO 400. Second: Nikon D3x, 200-400 VR @ 400mm, f/4, 1/500s, ISO 280.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Peach nub

I borrowed a Nikon D3x from work on Tuesday for a shoot yesterday. I wanted to see how many of my Nikon lenses would scale up to the demanding 24mp sensor. Surprisingly I found that they all did. There's been a lot of stuff thats been said about the image quality of the D3x, especially compared to the Canon flagship 1Ds3. I did a bunch of test shooting with both side by side. In conclusion, the D3x simply rocks is probably the finest DSLR money can buy. Now if only Nikon sold it for half of what they do :)

Technical Specs: Nikon D3x, 105 Micro VR, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 200.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spider on Wood

I was working in the yard today and saw this spider on the fence, so I grabbed a quick shot.

Technical Specs: Nikon D700, 105 micro VR, f/13, 1/200s, ISO 400 (stack of ~20 images).

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Maya B&W

I like the composition of this image so I am posting it here.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 200 f/2 IS, f/2, 1/200s, ISO 320.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Pearl Dragon v. 2

I wanted to try something a little different with the Pearl Dragon. I was looking for two things, one to get more of the natural color and second to have a pastel palette for the background. After a lot of experimentation with hand holding gel-ed strobes and long exposures, I got what I was looking for.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 200 f/2 IS, f/11, 20s, ISO 100, strobes fired.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pearl Dragon

Just an experiment with lighting.

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 135L, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 100. Geled T5D fired.

Sticky Fingers

Not what you want to see when holding an expensive lens about 12 inches from a saucy face. I was fast enough to avoid getting blueberries all over my lens :)

Technical Specs: Canon 1Ds3, 24L II, f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 800.