TrulandPhoto

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Project

I've decided to attempt a photography project over the holidays. I'm aiming to post a photo each day of the 12 days of Christmas made with the EOS 5D Mark II and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens, the photo having been made that day or the day before.

I've separated out this camera and lens along with a 430EX II Speedlite, a lightweight tripod and some accessories in a Tamrac Velocity 5X (5765) shoulder bag. I bought this bag for $20 over the summer and despite missing the original strap and some of the inside dividers it fits this gear nicely. I'm not sure I'll use the flash but, you know, there was a space in the bag.

Someone had cut off the waist belt that is a part of this bag so the tripod, a Benro A150EXU, slides neatly into the space the stored waist belt would take up. Here's a photo of the gear.




I got a bit of a head start yesterday by using this setup to photograph decorations at the church my family attends. Here is one of the shots I made. Some more can be viewed here.


Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, f/2.8, 1/180 sec., ISO 1600

I also made some iPhone wallpapers which work nicely for lock screens. To save, simply click on the photo twice and then right click to save. Put the photo in your iPhone library to use as a wallpaper.


iPhone 4 and 4S (640x960)

iPhone 5 (640x1138)


Monday, December 17, 2012

A Week 'Till Christmas

It seems quite difficult to get time to go out shooting lately. I'm still waiting for a nice snow to get on to Peebles Island for some Wintry trail scenics. I'm also still fiddling around with gear and bags.

Even my favorite Holly bush is conspiring against me with only the occasional berry here and there. Here's the best shot I could come up with this season.


Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM + 1.4X II, f/5.6, 1/350 sec., ISO 400

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Breaking My Kit In Two

I usually haul almost all of my gear (everything except chargers) around in a Tamrac Ultra Pro 13 shoulder bag. The gear really fills the bag and it weighs 30 pounds.

For the next couple of months I decided to separate my gear into two separate kits. I've done this before and always go back to the single bag within a few days. This time, though, my two smaller bags are more suited to their purposes and I hope I'll stick with it longer.

In the past, the smaller bags were either backpacks that had to be taken off to access the gear or slingbags that were so large they couldn't be worn comfortably. My solution at this point is a smaller slingbag and a compact but deep shoulder bag.

The slingbag is a Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW which fits my EOS 5D Mark II without the battery grip with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens attached. It also fits the EF 17-40mm f/4L and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lenses together with a 430EX II flash, filters, batteries, remote release and lens hoods. I also picked up a nice, light travel tripod, a Benro A150EXU, which attaches nicely to the side of the bag.


Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW

The shoulder bag is a ThankTank Photo Speed Racer V2.0 which fits my EOS 1D Mark III with the EF 70-200 f/2.8L lens attached with the EF 300mm f/4L IS lens alongside. It also fits a 580EX II flash with better beamer flash extender, EF 1.4XII extender and batteries for the flash and camera.


ThankTank Photo Speed Racer V2.0 

This nice shoulder bag also has a waist belt and is unique for its size in that it will hold a "pro sized" body and longer lenses.


ThankTank Photo Speed Racer V2.0 

While it is possible to carry both bags at the same time, the Speed Racer is the bag I took to New York City for the Photo Plus Expo and it weighs more in this configuration than it did on that occasion. After all, the single bag weighed 30 pounds and the only items of consequence not in one of the two smaller bags from that bag are a 430EX II flash, some light modifiers and a Timer Remote Controller.

The point to two bags is to separate out types of shooting and only bring what I plan on using. I can still always carry both bodies on the dual harness once I'm at my destination.

We'll see how long it lasts this time.

UPDATE: Well, here's the problem with the two bag system. You really need to have both bags anyway. If it's raining or snowing, for instance, and I want to shoot landscapes, I'll want the 1DIII and the 17-40mm lens since both are rain proof. For other purposes I might want the 70-200mm lens to pair with the 5DII.

So all you're doing by storing the gear in two bags is adding another bag to carry. So I guess it's back to one big bag, the Tamrac Ultra Pro 13, for storage with the smaller bags available for the various situations for which they might be useful. This large bag actually holds quite a bit more gear than the two smaller bags combined.

Tamrac Ultra Pro 13

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RIP D14

Well, like only five months ago, one of the Decorah Bald Eagles has been electrocuted on a power pole. That's two out of the three from this year's brood.

D14 had been fitted out with a transmitter, so that future knowledge is now also gone. You can read more about this sad incident on Raptor Resource Project's blog, here.

Still alive, for now, is D1 - a female Bald Eagle hatched at the Decorah nest site in 2011 who also wears a transmitter. You can follow her travels here. D1 has been spending her Summers on Hudson Bay in Canada, returning to Iowa for the Winter.

The parent eagles are building a new nest near the old nest site in Decorah, Iowa so we may not get to see the nest like in the past. Not necessarily a bad thing if they keep getting killed off like this year.

Below is a video of the first branching of the eaglets from June 9, 2012.




Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Snow

Yesterday morning was the first time there was snow in the air and on the ground. An accumulation of about an inch covered everything.

Instead of going out shooting, however, I decided to watch my Hammers defeat Chelsea Football Club 3-1 in an exciting East v. North London Derby. By afternoon, the snow was no longer pristine and fluffy.

I did, however, manage to document the first snow of the season and an Eastern Gray Squirrel with a Maple tree as a backdrop.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, f/4, 1/180 sec., ISO 400

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Stroll

It was a gorgeous, if a bit chilly, morning and I was able to enjoy my traditional Thanksgiving morning stroll around Peebles Island. I was ready for both wildlife and scenics as I started on the trails.

Not long after I started out, I see a deer bounding toward me past where I just came up the trail. I saw what I thought was another following it and thought - this is kind of strange. The deer on Peebles Island don't run much and when they do, its not at you.

As the second animal got closer to me I realized that it was a dog.  That explained the running deer. I ran back the trail a bit to intercept the dog and, when I shouted at it, it stopped and barked at me. So I decided to shoot the dog. But, all I had was a couple of cameras.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm f.4L IS USM, f/8, 1/250 sec., ISO 400

As I had that camera set for wildlife I have no idea why it was set at f/8. Something more open with a faster shutter speed would have been preferable. At least the dog posed patiently.

After a bit, the dog ran off and I headed over that way to perhaps mention to the owner that dogs are supposed to be leashed while on park grounds. I didn't run into the dog or the owner for about an hour and made some decent trail scenics with the 50D Mark II and 24-70mm lens. Again, all are three shot hand held HDR composites. Some are shown below.

But, as I was leaving, I see a young woman with two dogs, one on a leash, one not. The one on a leash was my model from earlier.

I asked her if that was the dog that was loose earlier. She looked at me then said "He likes to take long runs in the woods [pause] and chase deer." I mentioned that being chased isn't really good for the deer to which she replied "It keeps them on their toes." I simply shook my head and moved on.

Here are some of the trail scenics:








I also got a nice scenic of an old mill on the Mohawk River in Waterford which is now an Ursula of Switzerland Boutique. I've never been inside but from their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/UrsulaofSwitzerlandBoutique it seems like what you'd think an Ursula of Switzerland Boutique would be like. This image is also a 3 shot HDR with the 5D Mark II and 24-70mm lens.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Handheld HDR


You're supposed to use a tripod when bracketing images for high dynamic range (HDR) processing. I have always, well usually, followed this rule. This insures that the images line up properly and when over exposing by two stops, the shutter speeds can be a little long for hand holding.

A few weeks ago I was on Peebles Island making trail scenics and decided to bracket exposures by one stop just to have options for post processing the single images. Later, I decided to try HDR processing some of these three shot series despite the fact that I had been handholding during the bracketing. While some were too out of alignment, others worked well enough for combining the images.

Yesterday, on a nice sixty degree November morning, I decided to intentionally try and bracket three handheld images for HDR processing as I hiked the island.

Knowing that alignment would be the important issue I made some decisions to minimize any problems. First, I only bracketed over and under one stop from the metered exposure. Second, I made sure that the slowest shutter speed was fast enough for sharp handholding. Third, I set the camera for continuous shooting and held the camera steady as if it were one long exposure.

I think the results were decent and I didn't notice any of the shots being blurry due to misalignment.

All images were made with a Canon EOS 5D mark II with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens at f/6.7 and ISO 200. Shutter speeds ranged from around 1/125 sec. for the over exposed shot to around 1/500 sec. for the underexposed shot. Here are some of the results:










As far as HDR processing goes, for this series I used Photomatix Essentials and it's "Photographic" presets to process the unaltered RAW images. Then the JPG images were sharpened a bit and saturation increased a bit in Digital Photo Professional.

A better workflow might be to sharpen and deal with white balance and lens aberrations in DPP first, save the RAW files and then apply the HDR processing. I have done that when using the 17-40mm lens to correct peripheral illumination and distortion. Since I've still got the unaltered RAW images, I can always do that at some point in the future with these shots.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Shooting - 5D Mark II

I'm breaking this post into two parts. I was out on Peebles Island this morning with both the 5D Mark II and 1D Mark III. Each post will detail shots with one of the bodies.

This first day of Eastern Standard Time was nice for early light shooting at a time that leaves you something else to do with your day. Yesterday I was on the Island at around 8:00 AM and as I was leaving a little after 9:00 AM the haze was just starting to burn away and what colors are left on the trees were contrasting nicely with the boue sky.

Today, 8:00 AM was yesterday's 9:00 AM and conditions were ideal. Here are some of the images I added to the Trail Scenics Project. All were made with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens. Some of these are HDR processed and some are just processed with Canon's DPP software.










Sunday Shooting - 1D Mark III

I'm breaking this post into two parts. I was out on Peebles Island this morning with both the 5D Mark II and 1D Mark III. Each post will detail shots with one of the bodies.

While I was shooting Trail Scenics with the full frame body, I had the 300mm f/4L IS USM on the 1.3x crop sensor 1D Mark III. I'm not going to get landscapes with this setup but look for more isolated subjects or wildlife. While yesterday there were some deer, today they were evidently hiding from all the dogs that get walked on the Peebles Island trails.

I did get a couple of nice images on the island this morning:


Canon EOS 1DIII, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, f/4, 1/750 sec., ISO 200

Canon EOS 1DIII, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, f/4, 1/180 sec., ISO 200

Later in the day, as I was out doing a bit of shopping, I noticed a US Air Force C-130 doing practice approaches at the Albany International Airport. As I happened to be right under the plane as it repeatedly circled the airport I decided to get set up and see what kind of shot I could get.

The nice sun of the morning had been replaced by an overcast sky with no color and poor lighting. But the 1DIII managed to focus nicely and with the image stabilization on the lens set to panning mode the shots are not bad.

These two images are the closest before the plane passed overhead and the first after it was small enough to fit in the frame again. Neither are cropped other than to remove some distracting empty space to the right side of each image.


Canon EOS 1DIII, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, f/5.6, 1/750 sec., ISO 200

Canon EOS 1DIII, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO 200



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shots From PhotoPlus Expo 2012

The main purpose for attending a photography trade show is to get a chance to handle cameras, lenses and gear. But there are also interesting photo opportunities at various booths and stages around the floor.

By far the biggest aisle clogger was the body painting being done at the Unique Photo booth.



Dancers, jugglers and models were to be found in front of backgrounds lit with continuous lighting.

Here are some examples, all made with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens at f/2.8 and ISO 800:






I mistakenly brought far too heavy a shoulder bag to the event. Next year I will definitely slim down the weight and probably opt for a backpack/sling bag to save the shoulders.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Foliage Comparison - Year Four

It's time for this year's photo comparison of some maple trees I began photographing in 2009. This year I'll repost all of the photos with a brief summary of that year's weather statistics.

Weather statistics are for the period June 1 to September 1, are obtained from the National Weather Service and are taken at the Albany International Airport, only a few miles from the photo location.

Interestingly, each photograph has been made with a different camera body, which I will identify in the caption along with the date the photo was made.

2009

18.5 inches of rain - mean temperature .5 degrees below normal

October 22, 2009 - Canon EOS 30D

2010

9.25 inches of rain - mean temperature 2.5 degrees above normal

October 19, 2010 - Canon EOS 50D

2011

18.12 inches of rain - mean temperature 1.5 degrees above normal

October 20, 2011 - Canon EOS 5D

2012

9.16 inches of rain - mean temperature 1.8 degrees above normal

October 20, 2012 - Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Friday, October 19, 2012

More School Soccer

I decided to try and get some decent photos at a girl's high school soccer game earlier this week. The game was held at night under the lights.

The lighting created a couple of different problems. First, there's really not enough light to keep shutter speeds fast enough to freeze the action. Second, metering - even spot metering - can be all over the place due to the uneven light depending on where the spot happens to be aimed.

I sort of solved the shutter speed problem by choosing the camera's highest ISO setting of 3200 and using the 70-200mm lens wide open at f/2.8. I would have liked to use my 300mm lens but f/4 simply wasn't fast enough. I guess I need an f/2.8 300mm lens. I think the discontinued non image stabilized version can be found for under $3000.

Of course, ISO 3200 brings with it lots of noise which needs to be fixed in post processing. Here are some 100% crop samples of before and after added noise reduction in Canon's Digital Photo Professional:

Before added noise reduction

After added noise reduction
The metering issue I eventually resolved by simply metering the green artificial turf and setting that exposure manually for the rest of the game. Here are some shots from the game, all with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM at f/2.8, 1/1000 second, ISO 3200.






Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Little Shooting Lull

Weather and schedule seem to have conspired to keep me away from being out shooting much the last couple of weeks. But, yesterday morning, although cold (27 degrees F), was bright and sunny and because I had not yet been on the Peebles Island trails since the beginning of October, I made a couple of hours available.

There are not a lot of maple trees on Peebles Island so brilliant Fall color is isolated. Yellow and gold seem to be the predominant coloring throughout the area, at least this season.

I did not bring the tripod setup for bracketing exposures this trip. I also needed to get in a bit of walking exercise and standing, moving a short distance and standing again seems to be the procedure when using the tripod.

Although I did not bracket exposures for HDR processing, because I process RAW files on the computer rather than have the camera do the processing and save the resulting .jpg files, there is a lot that can be done to improve images.

Below are similar images, the first with just the standard settings in Canon's Digital Photo Professional software and the second after I had adjusted the standard settings to correct white balance, bring more detail in the shadows, even out the lighting a bit and slightly increase color saturation.


Canon EOS 5DII, EF 24-70 f/2.8L at 24mm, f/8, 1/30 sec., ISO 200

Canon EOS 5DII, EF 24-70 f/2.8L at 24mm, f/8, 1/30 sec., ISO 200

Here a couple more shots from yesterday and, as always, the entire Peebles Island Trail Scenic Project can be seen on Zenfolio with the link to the right.


Canon EOS 5DII, EF 24-70 f/2.8L at 24mm, f/5.6, 1/750 sec., ISO 200

Canon EOS 5DII, EF 24-70 f/2.8L at 24mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec., ISO 200

And, a cooperative White-tailed Deer did provide me with my second "deer on the trail" shot of the project.

Canon EOS ID MarkIII, EF 300mm f/L IS USM, f/5.6, 1/90 sec., ISO 400