Truland Photography

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Color Is On The Way

Canon EOS 50D, EF 17-40mm f/4L USM at 40mm, f/5.6, 1/90 sec., ISO 400

I was a bit bored on an overcast day earlier this week and decided to take a short walk with my 50D and 17-40mm f/4L lens. I haven't used this combination since I picked up my first full frame body a year and a half ago.

The combination results in a 27-64mm equivalent field of view with a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches. Normally for this range I would use my 5D Mark II body with the 24-70mm f.2.8L lens but I've been trying to decide if I should pick up a refurbished EOS 7D to replace the 50D - or not.

The 7D has significantly better autofocus and continuous shooting speed than the 50D and has upgraded weather sealing but image quality wise there isn't really a great difference. Since the 50D is now four years old and the 7D is three years old it might make the most sense to wait for a new crop sensor body to arrive. Or, wait for the price of the 5D Mark III to come down since that camera has a much improved autofocus system and a continuous shooting speed almost twice that of the Mark II.

Both the 5D Mark II and the 5D Mark III are full frame cameras and I've always felt comfortable having two identical cameras to use either together or having one as a backup. Back in the day, it was two Minolta X700 bodies. More recently two Canon EOS 50D bodies, then two EOS 5D bodies.

The question is, am I better off with two full frame bodies or one full frame and one crop sensor body? Absent winning the lottery, my lens collection is pretty much set for the foreseeable future. My four L series lenses, the 17-40mm f/4, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/4 are the set I've settled on. Together with the 1.4X extender I've got everything from 17mm to 300mm (except 281mm to 299mm) and then 420 covered.

Now, if you factor in both a full frame body and a crop sensor body the options multiply. For instance, I could have a full frame body with the 17-40mm lens and a crop sensor body with the 24-70mm lens and have the equivalent of 17-112 all ready to go. I could also have a crop sensor body with the 17-40mm lens and a full frame body with the 70-200mm lens and have the equivalent of 27-200mm (except 65mm to 69mm) all ready to go. For scenics and nature I'd go with the former. For events like proms, weddings or conventions I'd go with the latter.

On the other hand, with two full frame bodies I can have 24-200mm available at all times, with wider or longer focal lengths as needed.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

High Dynamic Range Processing

I've mentioned High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing a few times and now have created a label to help organize posts that deal with the technique. What I haven't shown yet is the finished product with the separate images used to create the final image.

On my walk this morning, I spied a nice reflected water image with a sun about an hour old. I knew I'd have some good material for HDR processing.

To create an HDR image you start with three or more images bracketing normal and two stops under and over exposed. I always use three because that's how many shots my cameras will automatically bracket. The software then combines the exposures to create a combined image. There are many different ways to process the image to get different looks. Generally, a more natural feel is preferable for landscape images.

It's important to use a tripod so that the three images line up without blurring or ghosting. Today, however, I managed to lean the camera on a bridge railing with acceptable results.

First, I'll show the three base images from which the HDR image was created. All these shots were made with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with EF 17-40 f/4L USM lens at 26mm. The scene, of course, is the abandoned Cluett, Peabody and Company textile mill on Peebles Island.

Normal - f/8, 1/125 sec., ISO 100

Underexposed - f/8, 1/500 sec., ISO 100

Overexposed - f/8, 1/30 sec., ISO 100
As you can see by the shutter speeds, there are two stops of difference between each of the three images.

I have several different software options for HDR processing. I used two different methods and preferred the result from Photomatix Essentials. Here is the result of the three images above, together with a landscape orientation of the same scene.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cooperative Doe

This nice White-tailed doe didn't seem all that bothered as I hiked past her on one of the trails on Peebles Island last week. It's not unusual for the deer on Peebles Island to just stay and watch you as you walk on the trails but usually, if you stop to shoot them, they will run off. Maybe less so if they're laying down.

In any case, I took about 2 1/2 minutes shooting the doe, moving a bit along the trail for different perspectives. Usually when I'm approaching, or passing by, wildlife I start shooting early on in case the critter decides to exit the situation. If it doesn't, the early shots usually get discarded in favor of later, closer shots.

In this case, I was right up on the deer when I first saw it between the trees in the first shot. All of these shots were made with a Canon EOS 50D, the EF 300mm f.4L IS USM lens at f/5.6, using spot metering and ISO 400. The shutter speeds range from 1/125 of a second to 1/250 of a second depending on the lighting.

These images are not cropped at all and, as you can see, 300mm is plenty of lens for deer on Peebles Island with a crop sensor camera. Usually, the biggest problem is getting a clear view without underbrush, leaves or branches in the way.

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Better Beamer Flash Extender

Back in July, I wrote about the Better Beamer Flash Extender. That post, with a picture of the extender mounted to the flash, can be read here.

Yesterday, I used the Better Beamer to make some shots of birds in the shade of trees to add to the Avian Fieldguide which you can visit via the link on the left.

The first is a White-breasted Nuthatch. In addition to the caption information, I used a Canon Speedlite 580EXII with the flash extender attached.

Canon EOS 50D, 300mm f/4.0L IS USM with EF 1.4XII, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 200
The second shot I got to add to the Avian Fieldguide was of a female Northern Cardinal. The bird was up in the tree canopy and backlit by the sun. The flash had not recycled for one of the shots so I can show you what the scene would look like without the flash and extender firing.

All in all, the shots are softer than I would like. Next time, I'm going to leave off the 1.4X extender and just shoot with the 300mm lens.

Canon EOS 50D, 300mm f/4.0L IS USM with EF 1.4XII, f/8, 1/45 sec., ISO 200

Canon EOS 50D, 300mm f/4.0L IS USM with EF 1.4XII, f/8, 1/250 sec., ISO 200

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

High School Girl's Soccer

It's that time of year again. Soccer (football, in civilized parts of the world) is my favorite sport and there are lots of opportunities to photograph high school, college and elite club teams in my area.

There are certain things in terms of gear that are helpful, if not necessary, to get professional looking shots of action sports A camera body with a good auto focus system and a high frame rate is an asset in any light. To shoot under the lights, either outdoors or indoors, a body that has acceptable noise levels at higher ISO settings is desirable.

Fast lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 are helpful to keep shutter speeds high enough to freeze subject movement. An f/2.8 lens also helps to blur backgrounds so that the action on the field stands out. For full frame bodies, a 300mm lens is needed to shoot field sports from the sidelines. a 70-200 zoom is nice with a crop sensor body.

Canon's newest 300mm f/2.8 lens costs $7,299. The just upgraded version still costs $4,879. I can use my 300mm f/4 lens with my 5D Mark II but the auto focus and frame rate of that camera are not intended for sports shooting. I love my 70-200 f/2.8 non image stabilized lens and it pairs nicely with my 50D body. But, the 50D auto focus system is also not ideal for sports and the high ISO performance of the 50D is not stellar.

In any case, my first chance to shoot soccer this Fall season came last evening at a high school girls game. I used the 50D, my 70-200 f/2.8 and a monopod.

The game started in overcast, almost raining, light and ended under artificial lights. The ISO I set on the camera went from 400 to 800 to 1600 as the light changed. As the ISO increased so did the noise level in the photographs. I still had difficulty keeping the shutter speed high enough to capture sharp images.

Here some samples with exposure information in the captions.

Canon EOS 50D, EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM at 200mm, f/2.8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 800

Canon EOS 50D, EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM at 108mm, f/2.8, 1/750 sec., ISO 800

Canon EOS 50D, EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM at 70mm, f/2.8, 1/350 sec., ISO 1600